Changes and New Ideas

Age Restriction Lifted

At AVFD, the year 1961 brought about what probably seemed to be a radical change. In an attempt to lure new members, the age requirement was lowered from 21 to 18. This change came, but not without a fight. There was probably a great deal of resistance to letting in young members. The 18 to 21-year-old members still needed parental consent and were not considered full members until their twenty-first birthday.

Ladies Auxiliary Finally Recognized

The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Dept. Ladies Auxiliary was “reorganized” in 1963. This group of ladies were the spouses of members and were a supporting unit of the Department. Not only did they help in fund raising for vital equipment and expenses but offered moral support as well.

Design of Suction Unit

1963 was also a year of an invention which contributed greatly to the work of ambulance personnel but has been, for the most part, forgotten about. The design of the suction units found on ambulances for many years was the idea of AVFD member Ed Kelly.

Several Arbutus firemen, including Mr. Kelly, were attending ambulance school at City Hospital. Their instructor, Dr. Wilder, suggested a more efficient means of operating a suction unit by means of the ambulance’s engine intake manifold. Used to suction fluids out of a patient’s mouth, the old suction devices were run off an oxygen cylinder and were wasteful and unreliable. Mr. Kelly made a prototype system on his own car and then applied it to the two ambulances at AVFD.

New Equipped Ambulance

One of the newly equipped ambulances was taken back to Dr. Wilder for a demonstration. Dr. Wilder photographed the device and showed it to the Baltimore City Fire Dept.’s Chief of Ambulances. Soon afterward all of Baltimore City’s ambulances were outfitted with the system.


This was a true advancement and became widely accepted as a standard in ambulances for many years. Unfortunately, Mr. Kelly’s design wasn’t patented, and he was never credited with his invention outside of AVFD.