Volunteer fire units are being honored

Historical society ties event for companies to county's birthday

January 18, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

In celebration of Carroll County's 165th anniversary, the local historical society will honor the county's 14 volunteer fire companies tomorrow.

"Celebrating the History of Carroll's Volunteer Fire Service" will feature historic photographs and memorabilia. Several pieces of firefighting equipment, including engines and ladder trucks, will be on display.

"The tragic events of Sept. 11 made us all more aware of the contributions these firefighters make every day to protect our community," said Keith Bryan, director of development for the Historical Society of Carroll County. "We felt it was an appropriate time to show our appreciation."

The county's Volunteer Firemen's Association was founded in 1923 to serve residents of Carroll County, which was carved from Baltimore and Frederick counties and formally approved Jan. 19, 1837. The county was named after Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a Maryland signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1923, six fire companies were in Carroll County - Hampstead, Manchester, Taneytown, Westminster, Lineboro and Union Bridge. Members of each company were volunteers who formed bucket brigades to fight fires. Motorized pumps were hard to come by, and protective gear had yet to be developed.

"I'm hoping some of the old-timers come to the celebration and tell their stories," said Malcolm Helwig, president of the firemen's association. "It's great to see them get recognition."

After last year's terrorist attacks, firefighters across the country are enjoying support, according to a national firefighters group.

"From Kansas to Alabama, I've been told that people are stopping firefighters on the street just to say `hello' or `thank you,'" said Craig Sharman, a member of the National Volunteer Fire Council in Washington. "It's happening everywhere, in big cities and small towns."

The local event will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Best Western Catering and Conference Center on Route 140 in Westminster. It is free and open to the public. About 150 people, including Republican state Sen. Larry E. Haines, chairman of the county's legislative delegation, are expected to attend.

"We're hoping people come away from the event with an appreciation of just how old Carroll County is and what we take for granted with our volunteer fire service," Bryan said.

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