ARBUTUS VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT INC.

Rapid Growth In The Early Years

In 1942 the Arbutus Community Association relocated across Linden Avenue to a new building at their present location (Town Hall). The AVFD bought the old community hall which was next door to their small firehouse. The upstairs of the old hall was converted into a recreation room and sleeping quarters for those who would spend the night on duty. The firemen continued to use both buildings for the next 22 years.

During this year the Department replaced their apparatus. They bought a new 1942 Ford/Ward LaFrance, 500 pumper and a Buick Limited Sedan which was converted into an ambulance. These were also the war years and the Civil Defense Headquarters for the 13th district of Baltimore County was set up in the sleeping/meeting room on the second floor of the original firehouse.

In 1945, an addition was built onto the back of the old community hall building. The basement level of the addition had room for the parking of two more pieces of apparatus behind one large garage door. About the same time, a Chrysler station wagon was bought for use as an “emergency vehicle”.

In 1947, the Department went into the rescue business. A 1947 International Panel Truck was purchased for use as a floodlight/rescue squad and was later designated Rescue Squad 353. This vehicle transported a floodlight system, boat and grapple hooks, portable cellar pump, and an acetylene torch. Also, that year, a 1947 Seagrave-750 GPM pumper (later Engine 351) replaced the 1942 Ford/Ward LaFrance. The old Ford/Ward LaFrance was sold to the newly formed Liberty Road Volunteer Fire Dept. as their first engine.

A new 1948 Buick Road Master Ambulance was acquired the following year. This ambulance was outfitted to carry up to four patients at one time. This was known as the “swoop and scoop” era. Ambulance personnel were instructed to a minimal of first aid skills as compared to the standards of today. Ambulance attendants would “swoop” down on patients and “scoop” them up to be rushed to the hospital with little or no medical treatment. The ambulance carried a two-body Emerson Resuscitator, one oxygen inhalator, first aid equipment, and a two-way Police radio operated under the direction of the Baltimore County Police Department.

Although growing, the community was still largely rural. Much of the surrounding area was still wooded and many of the original farms were still in existence. A brush vehicle was added to the Department in 1951. The four-wheel drive, 1947 Willy’s Jeep Forest Firefighter was bought to aid the firemen in fighting brush fires.

In 1955, a 1954 Dodge Floodlight/Rescue Squad was bought to replace the old rescue squad. This bigger truck was much better suited to handle more technical rescues. It was equipped with an acetylene torch, power saws and drills, railroad jacks, grapple hooks, asbestos suits, smoke ejector fans, portable generator, floodlights, and many other rescue tools. The new Dodge became Rescue Squad 354 and the old International was retained by AVFD until 1960 when it was sold to member Harley Bush.

One year later, a 1956 Cadillac Ambulance (Ambulance 356) was added to accommodate the growing number of medical calls. This may have been when AVFD became a “double ambulance” company. This Department had become largely responsible for ambulance service in most of the southwest corner of Baltimore County as well as parts of Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

In 1958, a 1957 Seaking-14ft flat-bottom aluminum boat (Boat 350) and trailer were purchased to replace the old boat. This boat, after more than 40 years, is still in service for appropriate uses such as ice rescues.

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