County to mark its 166th birthday honoring firefighters

Historical society event is today in Westminster

January 19, 2003|By Emily Benson | Emily Benson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

As Carroll County celebrates its birthday today, the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department will display a modern ladder truck outside the party and antique helmets inside. The Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company will screen a video that features four still-active volunteers who were around when the company was formed a half-century ago.

The Reese firefighters will also show off a 1967 brush truck, the oldest piece owned by the department. It is still used to put out fires.

The Historical Society of Carroll County traditionally sponsors a celebration on Jan. 19 to mark the date in 1837 on which the county, formed from the western part of Baltimore County and the eastern part of Frederick County, was incorporated.

For the county's 166th birthday, the society chose to honor county firefighters.

They `donate lives'

"These men and women donate lives," said Keith R. Bryan, director of development for the historical society. "They give a lot back to the community."

In years past, the historical society has marked the county's incorporation by, for example, celebrating its acquisitions of historic buildings. One year, the society opened an exhibit of bricks, millwork and other architectural artifacts on the county's birthday.

The society had hoped to honor the firefighters at last year's celebration, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. But the celebration was snowed out.

This year's affair is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Best Western Conference Center in Westminster.

Speakers, band

Doug Bostian, president of the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association, and Michael Walsh, chairman of the historical society's board of trustees, are scheduled to speak.

Entertainment will be provided by the Westminster Municipal Band.

Admission is free, and the public is invited.

Equipment and artifacts from at least six of the county's volunteer fire companies will be displayed, Bryan said. Larger equipment, such as fire engines and ambulances, will be parked outside. Smaller items, and information on the companies, will be displayed inside.

The Reese company will display pictures of its first firehouse and the department's charter members. The video traces the company's 50-year history, from its beginnings in an old firehouse across the street from its current home. Five original members of the Reese fire company are in the video, including the four who still help out today.

The brush truck is a four-wheel-drive vehicle that is a sort of combination pickup truck, jeep and fire engine.

It is able to carry 200 gallons of water and can be used to draw water from streams for fighting rural fires. It is used instead of a fire engine to fight brush fires in fields and to go through woods.

Jerry Dayton, assistant chief of the Reese company, is a big fan of this year's theme.

"We're not looking for thanks, but it's nice to have people recognize that we were an intricate part of the county's history," he said.

Bryan said the firefighters deserve the recognition.

"We hope for an awareness of what these men and women do," he said.

To ensure that another year doesn't go by before the firefighters are honored, organizers have scheduled a snow date: Jan. 26.

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