A big day for a big rescue truck


October 18, 2001|By Joni Guhne | By Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A LARGE CROWD at Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company's open house Saturday witnessed the dedication of the station's newest - and biggest - piece of heavy equipment.

A little less than 40 feet long, the company's new heavy-duty rescue truck replaces a retired vehicle, and its size allows the department to carry more firefighters and equipment to emergencies. It has been in action for about a year, which is fortunate considering that it barely survived its introduction to Maryland.

Less than two weeks after the truck arrived in July last year - at a cost of about $500,000, which helped pay for such features as a "Jaws of Life" and a system for refilling air tanks - it was broadsided in a collision in front of the station, at Ritchie Highway and Earleigh Heights Road. No one riding in the truck was hurt, but the passenger side sustained $32,000 in damage. The vehicle was in the shop for more than three months.

The truck, known as a "squad" in the firehouse, is the largest of the company's vehicles. Five county fire companies, along with the city of Annapolis, own such vehicles.

Another recent acquisition at Earleigh Heights is a thermal-imaging camera. The camera, which cost $22,000, is considered a necessity. The camera makes it possible for firefighters to find people by their body heat in the darkest, smokiest setting.

The volunteer company is able to purchase the expensive, high-tech equipment because of financial donations from the community and the endless planning by the company and its auxiliary for fund-raising activities such as carnivals, bull roasts, shrimp feasts and bingo nights.

At Saturday's open house, which drew more than 500 people, the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce presented a check for $6,000 to Earleigh Heights to help pay for the camera. Funds are still being sought.

To promote patriotism and to raise money for projects, which include Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, the chamber of commerce from Severna Park is selling American flags for automobiles. The flag costs $15. To order, call the chamber at 410-647-3900.

The more the community supports the company and its activities, the more high-tech equipment the company will be able to buy - and put to use protecting the community.

At the open house Saturday, the rescue squad truck was dedicated to the community. Assistant Chief Michael Sohn of Pasadena said the dedication is to be painted on the vehicle.

For Sohn, 42, fighting fires is a family affair.

His wife, Patricia, is a member of the Earleigh Heights women's auxiliary, his son, Bryan, is a volunteer firefighter in his father's company, and his 13-year-old daughter, Nicole, is a county fire prevention queen. The family's devotion is typical of the volunteers.

Chuck Austin, president of the fire company, is a 41-year-old firefighter who was once a volunteer at the Naval Academy Fire Department. Austin, 61, is kept off the trucks these days by a medical disability, but he maintains his connection to the fire corps by managing the station.

He looks forward to doing everything from washing trucks to collecting tickets at bull roasts and calling bingo games.

And he can still describe the dedication that drives the volunteers. He said one of the most exciting rides in town is aboard a fire engine heading to an emergency.

"Your adrenaline is so high, especially for the younger guys just coming in," he said. "They know they're going to be there to protect somebody and help somebody out if they need them."

Apple sale

Thanks to the Severna Park Kiwanis Club, the purchase of fresh apple cider and fall apples is about as easy as pie.

The cider, pressed within 24 hours of its sale, and the apples, harvested just days ago, are from Baugher's Orchard in Westminster, Maryland.

The club will hold its annual apple and cider sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Oct. 26 and 27 at the Community Center at Woods parking lot, the Benfield Road Safeway parking lot and the Arnold Safeway parking lot.

The selection of eating and baking apples includes Red and Golden Delicious, Empire and Stayman. Prices are $19 for a bushel, $10 for a half-bushel, $6 for a peck and $4 for a half-peck. Cider costs $4 a gallon and $3 for a half-gallon. The world's best apple butter - this writer's experienced opinion - sells for $2 a jar.

As usual, all Kiwanis proceeds go directly to the club's beneficiaries, which include the Community Center at Woods, Partners In Care and the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Information: 410-544-5648, 410-647-8361 and 410-647-2013.

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