Break-Up and New BEGINNINGS

The year was 1938 and the surrounding towns just Southwest of Baltimore City were mostly rural villages, still feeling the effects of the Great Depression like the rest of the country. The streetcar ran out of Baltimore, through Arbutus, and into Halethorpe. The many family farms of the area were still producing crops and dairy products. The interstate system and townhouse developments had not yet split the rolling hills. The terms “metropolitan”, “suburbs”, and “shopping centers” were meaningless to the tight knit communities.

At the Violeteville Volunteer Fire Dept.(VVFD) in November of 1937, a bitter disagreement over the leadership of the company climaxed with the departure of seventeen members. Led by Robert D. Lycett, the newly formed Community Volunteer Fire Company of Violeteville seized an American La France Pumper, ambulance, player piano, and a few other items. The two factions of the small-town fire department both elected officers on Friday, February 4, 1938 and battled for dominance over one another in the following months.

The matter was finally settled by Judge C. Gus Grason in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County on Thursday, October 20, 1938. He awarded control of all equipment and assets to the original group and ruled that the others must surrender the apparatus that had been seized earlier. Rather than concede, the men decided to form a new department. Chief Engineer Anthony P. Orban of the Baltimore County Fire Dept. advised the men to locate west of the railroad tracks in Arbutus and he would help them in any way that he could.

The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department of Baltimore County (AVFD) was incorporated at 11:55 am on November 21, 1938. Sixteen original member’s names were recorded on the Articles of Incorporation: Robert D. Lycett, Oliver C. Kendrick, Fred P. Gick, David Harmening, Clarence W. Joh, Everett Nash, James Forder, Joseph F. Marks, Sr., Joseph F. Marks, Jr., William Marks, Howard E. Ittner, Paul M. Rock, Edward S. MacNabb, Fred Suresch, Ernest Cavey, and Maurice W. Scholing. Other sources indicate a seventeenth person, James R. Grimm, as being a charter member but his name does not appear on the articles of incorporation.

The Arbutus Community Association leased a portion of their land on the North side of Linden Avenue to the new firemen and donated their carnival dance floor as lumber for construction of a building. On November 26, 1938 the men met on their new grounds to begin construction of a firehouse. They cut the dance floor up into three parts, which were then used for the first-floor walls. They went into debt to buy the necessary materials to complete the building. The finished product was nothing more than a two-story garage with two doors on the first floor for the fire engine and ambulance, and sleeping quarters upstairs. The first apparatus was a 1927 American La France – 500gpm pumper and a 1932 Kissel ambulance. It is unknown whether or not this engine was that which was seized from VVFD after the split.

With the huge debt facing them and the need for operating expenses, they started holding “Country Store Bingo” to raise funds. Bingo would continue to be one of the major sources of income for AVFD even after sixty years.

In 1939, application was made to the Baltimore County Commissioners for an appropriation to maintain a volunteer fire department. An appropriation of $500 was made for the following two years and after that, $1000 per year. The Baltimore Co. Fire Dept. also donated some used 2 ½ inch fire hose which was greatly needed and appreciated. Later that year, AVFD members Oliver Kendrick, Maurice Scholing, and David Harmening formed a by-laws committee. Soon thereafter, a Constitution and by-laws were adopted.