Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department

2017 Incidents
Fire EMS
Jan 452 437
Feb 346 408
Mar 405 432
Apr 441 439
May 196 214
Jun 185 178
Jul 212 210
Aug 174 259
Sep 156 194
Oct 173 207
Nov 220 241
Dec 206 263
Total 3166 3482

2018 Incidents
Jan 210 265
Total 210 265

Past Incidents
Fire EMS
2017 3166 3482
2016 5268 5276
2015 5095 5812
2014 5707 5466
2013 5670 4085
2012 5146 4241
2011 4778 4551
2010 4091 4213
2009 4661 4981
2008 4277 5082
2007 3999 4455
2006 3433 4443

Web Counters
Website Visitors
January 1, 2011
Visitors Today
May 21, 2019

History of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.

The possibilities of air raid attacks with accompanying disastrous results during any emergency of World War II led to the organization of various kinds of civilian groups for the purpose of protecting life and property. The citizens of the Beltsville and Vansville Community did not lag behind in this respect and among the groups organized in this manner early in the emergency period was one which would give assistance to local fire departments in combating fires which might occur as a result of air raids or sabotage.

The local men who made up this early group of “firefighters” were:
John D. Smith Otto J. Meyers Sam Williams John T. Gaffney
Paul C. Underwood Joseph A. Chaney Robert J. Huston Fred R. Ridgeway
Leonard C. Carpenter M.H. Davis George Beers Charles A. Brady

This group was constantly prepared both with men and equipment to take action in case of an emergency. A pumper mounted on a trailer was obtained, maintained, and ready for use at all times. A first aid station equipped with stretchers, bandages, antiseptics, etc. was set up in the Beltsville Elementary School and the men were trained in the principles of first aid in order to make use of the equipment.

At the conclusion of World War II, the Civilian Defense groups were disbanded. The interest in local fire protection; however, still remained. From the time of discontinuing the Civilian Defense group until the summer of 1946, activities of the firefighters remained static. But the continued growth of this community, the response time concern, and the increased load which was thrown upon the fire departments of Branchville, Berwyn Heights, Laurel and other nearby localities pointed out the need for a local fire department.

The members of the original Civilian Defense group together with others (totaled 12 in number) who had become interested in this local need again got together and started a movement to organize a volunteer fire department which would eventually be brought under the Maryland State Fireman’s Association. A charter was applied for and the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated under the laws of the State of Maryland in January, 1947.

Corporate members of this original corporation were:

John T. Gaffney John D. Smith Fred C. Knauer Sam Williams
Otto J. Meyers R.D. Mahoney Fred T. Ridgeway Robert J. Huston
Paul C. Underwood M.H. Davis L.C. Hemmstra Joseph A. Chaney

Between the time of initiating the request for a charter and the time of approval in January 1947, membership had grown to a total of 43. The men who were Charter Members of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department were:

Stanley Bean Daniel P. Corrigan William Kremann Delmar L. Bloem
Pierce M. Damewood David C. Lee Hans Borgwordt M.H. Davis
Howard M. Mabry S.G. Brafford James A. Fitzgerald Robert D. Mahoney
Clinton E. Bowman Curtis B. Forrester Otto J. Meyers Ben Brandon
A.F. Forrester Nolan P. Miller Andrew V. Breen John T. Gaffney
Lawrence J. O’Dea James D. Breen Richard Goehring Melville H. Peters
Henry J. Breen Preston Gregory Fred T. Ridgeway Wade Breen
Louis C. Hemmstra Harold R. Schomer Albert Behnke C.R. Horton
John D. Smith Joseph Chaney Robert J. Huston Paul C. Underwood
William Clark Fred C. Knauer Henry C. Vaught Paul Clements
Charles J. Kremann Sam Williams Roy Wood William Chilcoate

One of the requirements to become a Charter Member of the department was that each member had to agree to pay a $1.00 annual dues fee. This annual due fee continued as a requirement of each member that joined the department through 1950.

John D. Smith was the leader of the Civilian Defense group from the time of its organization and he continued to be until the first set of official elections for offices were held.

The first meeting at which official minutes were recorded was held on January 29, 1947. At this meeting, a temporary (skeleton version) Constitution and By-Laws were adopted for a period of three months and a committee was appointed to draw up a permanent Constitution and By-Laws. Also at this meeting, a copy of a letter submitted to the War Assets Corporation was read authorizing Fred Ridgeway to purchase, in his capacity as a War Veteran and a member of the department, a war surplus fire truck. Representatives of the Branchville Fire Department were also present at this meeting and upon invitation, submitted numerous and valuable suggestions as to the organization and conduct of the department. They also disclosed plans to solicit funds in a house to house canvas of the residents of the Beltsville and Vansville Community. In-as-much, the Beltsville and Vansville Community would for some time be dependent upon the Branchville Fire Department for protection. Their campaign was endorsed by the membership and a suggestion was made to the needs of the Branchville Fire Department to be brought to the attention of the citizens of the community at the next meeting of the Beltsville and Vansville District Citizens Association meeting.

The final copy of the Constitution and By-Laws was presented and adopted at a meeting on March 7, 1947. Officers were also elected as provided for in the newly adopted Constitution and By-Laws at this meeting. The first officially elected officers of the incorporated organization were:

  President: John T. Gaffney  
  Vice-President: John D. Smith  
  Secretary: L. C. Heemstra  
  Treasurer: M. H. Davis  
  Fire Chief: Fred C. Knauer  
Robert J. Huston Robert J. Mahoney John D. Smith Otto J. Meyers
  John T. Gaffney M. H. Davis  

Fred Ridgeway and Fred Knauer were authorized by the trustees to negotiate the purchase of a used fire truck belonging to the U.S. Government at this meeting which was done February, 1947. The purchase price was $400.00 for a 1917 World War I Army Pumper. The balance of funds reported at this meeting was $135.00.

Under the permanent Constitution and By-Laws, any person who was eighteen years of age or older, a resident of the Beltsville and Vansville Communities, or a property owner in the Beltsville and Vansville Communites was eligible for membership in the department.

To raise money for the department, the department held dances in the Beltsville Elementary School auditorium. The first dance was held on April 24, 1947 and grossed $74.97. Dances held on May 8, 1947 grossed $31.25 and May 22, 1947 grossed $25.47. It was decided to continue to hold monthly dances as well as the following activities to raise money for the department:

  • A horse show was held October, 1947 which was very successful and the net profit was approximately $900.00.
  • A turkey shoot that was held in a chicken coop located across from the Beltsville Elementary School.
  • Raffles
  • Dinners
  • Carnivals
  • Bingos which were held by the Ladies. The first bingo was held in June, 1947.
  • Oyster Roasts
  • Shrimp Feasts

A number of these activities continued through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

It was announced at a meeting held in May, 1947 that a Firemen’s Training course at the University of Maryland then known as the University of Maryland Fire Service Extension was being held once a week for 25 weeks which was attended by 24 members of the department. A resolution was passed by the membership to welcome the Ladies Auxiliary into the department.

Two main issues stood out as the most important at this stage of the organization. One was the obtaining of property and erecting a building for a fire house, and the other was the purchasing of apparatus and equipment for fire fighting purposes.

It was decided that the logical move was to obtain a lot, construct a building, and then obtain equipment. Through the generosity of Mr. Sims Jones, manager of the Beltsville Land and Improvement Company, a large lot located on Old Powder Mill Road (now known as 4911 Prince George’s Ave.) was deeded to the department in June, 1947.

A Building Committee was appointed and plans were drawn for a building which would consist of three bays to provide housing for three pieces of apparatus, and provide a much needed Community Hall on the second floor for the use of citizens as a meeting place as well as aplace to hold fund raising activities.

Building the firehouse began November, 1947. Financing and procedures for constructing this firehouse became a major issue. The decision was made to proceed on the pay-as-you-go plan, using volunteer labor as much as possible rather than speeding up construction through the use of borrowed funds which would place a heavy obligation upon the members and the community. Labor for construction had been entirely donated, with the exception of $400.00 which was paid for skilled work not available from local citizens at the time it was needed. Small sums of money, not in excess of $250.00 in total, have been borrowed to help out in construction work, so the policy of pay-as-you-go held true. During the construction of the firehouse, the department decided the pay-as-you-go wasn’t working and that they needed additional funds. Therefore, the department applied and received a load of $2,000.00 for a period of 6 months from the Citizens Bank of Riverdale.

The need for an adequate public meeting place was noticeably evident when the firemen were arranging for the continuous meetings during the construction of the firehouse. It was also necessary to keep up interest and to make desired progress in the department’s growth. The Beltsville Elementary School, the Episcopal Parish Hall, and the Birmingham Lodge (Masonic Hall) were temporarily used for this purpose. They also used a chicken coop located across from the Beltsville Elementary School at times to hold their meetings. The Birmingham Lodge offered the use of the 1st floor lodge hall to the department for a fee of $1.00 for meetings that were held on the 4th Friday of each month. An extra $1.00 was charged if the building was used when heat was needed. The use of these buildings while waiting for the firehouse to be completed was an important contribution by the community.

The Ladies Auxiliary was organized in November, 1947 and they gave invaluable support to the project in the way of furnishing funds raised through their own efforts and in helping the firemen to carry out their financing activities. The first meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department was held at the Beltsville Elementary School. Mrs. Schmidt of Capitol Heights and Mrs. Burnett of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department addressed the group, discussed the value of an auxiliary, and the various ways of raising money to aid the firemen. The ladies would provide lunch and dinners to men working on the firehouse.

The first use of the new firehouse was on July 22, 1949 when an official meeting of the department was held in the uncompleted building. At times, meetings were held in one of the unfinished bays using cinder blocks under two-by-eight planks as benches.

The first carnival was held July 12 thru 18, 1947. The department received 25% of the receipts from the rides, and 50% of the concession rentals and receipts from the booths. The department net profit was $653.61. The carnivals would be held at the Pepsi Cola Baseball Diamond which was located on at the intersection of Howard Ave. and US Route 1 (which now the home of the Wonder Bread Company) until the mid/late 50’s at which time the carnivals were moved to the parking lot to the right of the firehouse. The parking lot was small and was just barely big enough to hold the rides and concession booths. Bingo was held in second floor meeting hall, and food was prepared in the second floor kitchen and carried down to a booth to be sold. A long shed type building was built along the back of the property to house the concession booths. In the late 50’s, the department purchased the land across the street from the firehouse which would enable the department to build a large building to be used for bingo, a permanent concrete BAR-B-Q pit and a structure for preparing the food (known as Fred’s Diner) along with a number of moveable booths. Once the department moved the carnival to the firehouse location, it enabled the department to hold a parade which included a majorette and drum corps, fire equipment from surrounding companies, and other companies across PG county and the state. Through the 60’s, the carnivals were held across the street.

The continued growth of this organization, the erection of a firehouse which served public needs, the acquisition of apparatus and equipment which were a valuable asset, represent a commendable achievement. These achievements were an honorable reflection upon the citizens of this Beltsville and Vansville Community who had sacrificed their own time in the construction of the firehouse. They had generously donated funds and supported activities through which these accomplishments where financed.

With the Beltsville and Vansville Community interest and support, start-up of the department and the construction of the firehouse insured the success of this organization. The confidence displayed by generous public backing continues to make it possible for the department to achieve any justifiable goal it desires to reach.

The first ambulance was acquired in May 1950 as well as the first new piece of fire apparatus which was a 1950 L170 International/American 750gpm pumper. The Beltsville and Vansville Communities as well as the department were justly proud of this outstanding addition.

In August, 1950, the department became a member of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Firemen’s Association and the following month became a member of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association. Through the years, the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department has participated in all aspects of fire protection, fire prevention, and rescue service to their community, county and state, and has fulfilled the dreams and wishes of those very first organizers.

Additional growth of the community and the need for more firefighting equipment necessitated an additional bay to be added to the firehouse. The adding of the additional bay (right of the main building) and additional floor space to the second floor meeting hall was completed in 1955. Another 750gpm R190 International/American pumper was delivered in 1955. A new 1957 Cadillac Ambulance was purchased to replace one of the original used ambulances.

In 1960, there was a need of more space in the firehouse to allow the department to house additional equipment. Therefore, the construction of a two bay addition (left side of the building) as well as a adding a meeting room, board room, administrative offices and a bunkroom on the second floor was started. At that time, firefighting equipment included a Dodge Power Wagon for fighting brush fires. The Dodge Power Wagon was purchased from Maryland State Surplus on March 18, 1958 for $100.00. In 1960, the fire department also found a replacement for the 1950 pumper, a 750gpm International/Pirsh that served the department for 20 years.

The final two bay addition and the second floor additional space to the firehouse was completed in 1964. The Dodge Power Wagon was replaced by a Jeep brush truck, an International Custom build 250gpm pumper and a new 1964 Cadillac Ambulance were purchased.

Another new Cadillac Fleetwood/Miller-Meteor Ambulance was purchased and placed in service in 1968. Because of rising costs and lack of working space in the Cadillac, this was to be the last of its kind used by the department. The department decided to switch to a converted International Carry-All type unit which were larger module type units. While not as fancy as the Cadillac, this new module type unit would provide the space for extra equipment and work area needed by the Emergency Medical Service staff.

In 1967, the first custom Ward LaFrance Ambassador Ultra-Vision 1000 / 500 pump, 1000gpm pumper was delivered. The 1955 International/American was donated to the University of Maryland Fire Service Training Program.

In April 1969, Beltsville VFD purchased a 1949 American LaFrance ALF 700 Series 75’ Aerial Ladder Truck from the District Heights VFD for the sum of $17,000. This ladder truck was the first due ladder truck on alarms in the north side of the county as well as the second due ladder truck in the new community of Columbia in Howard County for a number of years. The members would ride in the two buckets on both sides of the truck and sometimes in the ladder on top of the truck. This truck had an SMALL, open cab which made it very difficult to read a map book in bad weather as well as trying to put on the air pack. This truck didn’t have any power steering and there were times when we ran calls to Howard County (Columbia area) that we would change drivers on the way back. The truck also had vacuum windshield wipers which sometimes would not work resulting the Officer manually operating the windshield wipers.

The department became aware of the developing community of Calverton in the West, and concern arose that additional coverage was needed. It was decided another station was needed. Therefore, the department began the process of looking for land on which to build a second station. In 1970, a condemnation suit was started on the property at the intersection of Powder Mill Road and Beltsville Drive. On June 1, 1971, in the interim, Mr. Albert Turner, the developer of the Calverton community, permitted the department to use a portion of his warehouse (metal type construction) building located on Beltsville Drive (now the Calverton Apartments) to house one piece of firefighting equipment. The space provided allowed for a small lounge area, 4 bunk beds and space for one engine. One of the department’s paid professional firefighters was assigned to the station during the day time hours. Members from Station 31 were asked and sometime mandated to man the station in the evenings, weekends and sleep-in at nights. The following are some things that the members had to deal with while operating out of this temporary location:

  • There was no running water in the space provided.
  • No kitchen type facilities.
  • The bathroom was an outdoor facility at the end of the construction building.
  • A race car was stored in the construction building. Sometimes, they would work on this car late at night. Every time they started up this car, the building would shake and you would feel like you were at the race track.
  • Water would come through the building at the floor level every time there was a strong rain.
  • Heat during the winter months was at a minimum.
  • There was no air condition during the summer months --- used a lot of fans.
  • At times, the engine had to go through water and mud to get onto Beltsville Drive. It was very hard to keep the engine cleaned.

On February 15, 1973, the county erected a temporary structure using temporary school rooms, next to the Calverton Elementary school (across the street from the warehouse building). This temporary structure had room for an engine bay, lounge, kitchen, bathroom facilities and a small bunkroom. This temporary structure was like haven compared to the warehouse building and would serve as Station 41 until the new station was built by the county and dedicated in July, 1975. The new station is located at the intersection of Powder Mill Road and Calverton Blvd. The station had 3 drive through bays which was room for two engines, a brush jeep unit and an ambulance. Some of members from Station 31 became members of Station 41 and new members joined Station 41 which allowed the members from Station 31 to stop manning the station.

One of the members brought his pet monkey to the station one day and the monkey stayed and became the station’s mascot. Station 41 was known as the ‘Monkey Den’. At times, this monkey would have free run of the station, which allowed him to get into the

 food and jump on the members trying to sleep at night. 

Early 1970, the department took delivery of two Ward LaFrance 1000gpm pumpers. One pumper was placed in service at Station 31, and the other was placed in service at the Station 41. In late 1970, Prince George’s County Fire Department placed an International Bomb unit at Station 31.

In 1971, a bump-out type watch office was added to the front of the firehouse at station 31.

On April 27, 1972 the Ladies Auxiliary of the Beltsville VFD purchased a modular ambulance from Potomac Fire Equipment for the cost of $9,187.86 for the department.

In 1977, Prince George’s County purchased a 100 foot rear mount ladder truck which was assigned to the Station 31 replacing the 1949 American LaFrance 75 foot ladder truck. In the late 1970’s, Prince George’s County Fire Department placed an International Bomb Unit at Station 31.

The following is a list of some of the equipment that the department purchased in the 80’s:

  • Prince George’s County converted a street swiper into a 2,000 gallon tanker that would become Tanker 41.
  • A new Chief’s vehicle, an Oldsmobile Cutlass, was purchased to be used by Chief 31.
  • The County began replacing the ambulances assigned to both stations and this practice has continued.
  • In 1982, as a result of the need to replace or over haul some older apparatus, the department sent the 1967 Ward LaFrance out to get a complete rehab. The unit was totally rebuilt with a new body being installed.
  • The department purchased a 1984 Jeep Scrambler to be used at brush fires. This unit became BR 31 and replaced the 1966 Willys Jeep.
  • A 1984 Ford F150 pick up was placed in service as a Chief’s vehicle at Station 41.
  • As the department grew, it purchased a 1988 Ford Bronco to be used as Chief’s vehicles.
  • In 1988 the department purchased an American Eagle pumper to replace the 1969 Ward LaFrance assigned to Station 31.
  • In 1989, the department purchased a 1969 Ward LaFrance pumper from the Hyattsville VFD to be placed at Station 41.

Prince George’s County converted a street sweeper into a 2,000 gallon tanker that would become Tanker 41.

In the 80’s, there was a need to made some changes and upgrades to Station 31 which consisted of remodeling the kitchen, bathrooms, offices and the second floor meeting hall. The 1990’s brought the department into a new era with new visions. In October of 1995, the department took delivery of a 1995 Pierce Bronto Sky lift 134’ Aerial Tower. This unit would be the first of its kind on the East Coast. The addition of the aerial would forever change the look of Station 31. Due to the height of this new apparatus, the truck bay had to be modified and raised 2 ft higher. This resulted in the meeting room above the truck bay being shortened from 8 ft to 6 ft. A short time after this modification was completed, it was determined that the meeting room was no longer usable for meetings. Therefore, it was decided to expand the bunk room which resulted in the meeting room being made into a bunk room. From this time on, the meeting hall was used as the department’s meeting room.

In early 1996, the Department purchased and placed in service two 1996 Broncos to be unutilized as Chief’s vehicles.

The Department purchased the house and property next to Station 31 in the 90’s from the people that lived in the house since the station was built. This additional property would give the department the space and area needed to build a new station when funds became available. The house is currently used by the Active Riding members as an additional place to live.

Due to the urgent need for a replacement pumper at Station 41, the department purchased a 1990 Simon Duplex Saulsbury 1500 GPM pumper from the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company in 1999. This unit replaced the 1969 pumper at Station 41.

Once again, the department recognized the need for replacing the 1967 Ward LaFrance at Station 31. In 2001, the department purchased a Pierce Quantum 1250 GPM pumper. After over 30 years of dedicated service, the 1967 Ward LaFrance was placed out of service, but is still owned and maintained by the department.

On September 24, 2001, around 4:00pm, Station 31 received a phone call from PGCO Communication informing the members to prepare for a tornado which was hitting the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland area and its path was heading to the Beltsville area. They informed the members that we should open all bay doors because the power to Beltsville area was being cut-off and they should get the equipment ready to respond to emergency calls. Within minutes, they could hear the sound of the tornado passing by the station. It turns out that it was a rapidly intensified F3 strength tornado that hit the College Park, Beltsville and Laurel areas tossing cars, knocking down trees, damaging buildings, and destroying property.

A well-formed wall cloud and tornado hit the College Park, Beltsville and Laurel, Maryland areas. The tornado remained on the ground for 17.5 miles.

The Beltsville area damage was encountered from Interstate 95 to Route 1: Chestnut Hills (Sellman Rd and Montgomery Rd) , mid Beltsville (Cedar Ln and Powder Mill Rd) and ended in the upper part of the Beltsville Heights area. The maximum winds were up to 160 mph. It felled thousands of trees and numerous power lines. The roof of the St. Joseph’s School on Montgomery Road was blown off into an adjacent building.

A large brick building in the Chestnut Hills Apartments complex, Beltsville, Maryland had a portion of the wall blown out by the tornado.

The tornado briefly reached F3 strength in Laurel, with maximum winds over 160 mph. Approximately 150 to 175 homes and businesses were damaged in Laurel, including Laurel High School.

In 2004, the department replaced the 1988 Bronco Chief’s vehicle with a new 2004 Ford Expedition.

In the first part of 2006, the Pierce Bronto Sky Lift 134 ft Aerial Tower was involved in an accident and was considered totaled by the insurance company. Come mid 2006, the department ordered a new aerial truck to replace the Pierce Bronto Sky Lift Aerial Tower as well as purchase a new engine. The Tower was sold to a company that later sold it to a Tree Removal Service which uses the unit to assist in the removal of trees. In December of 2006, the department took delivery of a new Pierce Dash 105 ft aerial truck.

In January of 2007, the department took delivery of a new Pierce Arrow XT 1500 GPM pumper. This unit replaced the 1988 American Eagle at Station 31 which was moved to Station 41 as a reserve unit.

On July 15, 2007, the department held a ceremony to honor 60 years of service and dedicated the two new units during this ceremony at Station 31. During the dedication, Engine 311 was dedicated to the 43 Charter Members and Truck 31 was dedicated to the 49 Life Members of the department. During the dedication, Chief Al Schwartz was asked what was on the department’s wish list. Al said the department was set for awhile with the two new units and that the department has purchased enough property around Station 31 to be able to build a new Station 31 when funds become available sometime in the future.

On June 27, 2008, BVFD Life Member Rich Scott Findley, also a Prince George’s County Police Officer, was killed in the Line of Duty performing his duties as a Police Officer. The members of the department were deeply saddened by this misfortune. Rich joined the department in May of 1988; he had been a dedicated Active Life member. Rich had held several positions, including Lieutenant, and was a member of the Board of Directors at the time of his death. Through the years, he received awards for being one of the top responders during the calendar year. He received letters of recognitions for several fire department incidents. You know the saying “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone”, well that is so true. His smile, his laugh, all of those noises and the sound effects that came from him will always be remembered. Gone but not forgotten, the department forever honored fallen member Rich with a memorial glass case that contains his department helmet, running coat, running pants and a plaque at Station 31. His memory will always be remembered and celebrated at Station 31.

The department hosted the 86th Annual Convention of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and the 78th Annual Convention of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. This would be the first time that this department had every hosted the convention which was held on September 13th through the 20th, 2008. BVFD dedicated the convention book to the memory of Rich Scott Findley.

The Washington Metro area encountered three major snow storms starting with a storm hitting area on December 18-19, 2009. This storm dumped between 25” to 30” of snow. Then the area had two back-to-back ‘Blizzard Type’ storms. The first was on February 5-6, 2010, by 10am on Friday the 5th, the visibility was reduced to ½ mile. By early evening, visibility further dropped to ¼ mile in moderate to heavy snow, eventually falling to 1/16 of a mile with 35 mph winds. Visibility remained extremely poor through Saturday the 6th. The snowfall was between 30” to 35”. The second was on February 9-10, 2010, this time conditions degraded rapidly. MDOT ordered snowplows to halt operations as visibility is areas was reduced to less than 100 feet at times. The snowfall for this storm was 30” to 35”. During these storms, members left their homes and familys to stay at the station so they could man the station. The conditions made it VERY difficult to response to emergency calls. Some calls require a snowplow to response with the equipment and there times when the crew had to leave their equipment and walk through the heavy snow to get to the house/person that needed the emergency help. At lot of areas lost power for days/weeks. It was days before conditions got back to normal.

In March, 2010, the department purchased a new 2010 Ford Expedition command vehicle.

In August, 2010, PGCOFD was dialing with MAJOR budget problems resulting in removing the professional firefighters from a number of county stations. Unfortunately, station 31 was one of the stations that had the week day as well as the 24/7 shift crew removed. This meant the volunteer members had to man station 31 24/7. The Chief’s had a difficult task of scheduling members to man the station 24 hours a day. The volunteer members stepped-up and were able man the station without any problems until the professional firefighters returned February, 2010.

Chief Al Schwartz was the first member of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department to be awarded the Fire Fighter of the year. This award presented to him by the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department in 2010.

On Sunday July 25, 2010, a strong thunderstorm hit the area causing a tree to fall on a car killing the driver. Chief Al Schwartz held the passenger’s hand (mother-in-law of the driver) who was trapped in the car. He spoke to her throughout the challenging extrication process to free her from the vehicle. Al discussed everyday things. She knew someone was there. Al tried to make it personal, who said he didn’t believe he was in any danger during the rescue. He said, it was one of the most emotional calls that he had every been on – he got personal with the patient. Chief Al Schwartz was presented the Bronze Medal of Valor by the PGCOFD Fire Chief. Congratulations to Chief Al Schwartz.

On Saturday February 19, 2011, strong winds, mild temperatures and extremely dry conditions turned the region into a tinderbox, contributing to dozens of wildfires, snarling traffic. The BVFD members were dealing with a large fire at a Laurel mulch plant which was one of the most troublesome. It started before noon and was still burning out of control at 6:45 p.m. The facility included about 100 piles of mulch, each 30 feet tall and 100 yards long, and the wind caused the fire to jump from pile to pile. Eventually, burning materials crossed into the median of I-95, and Maryland State Police closed the highway in both directions. The highway was closed for more than four hours. The fire wasn’t extinguished until Sunday. Prince George’s County professional firefighters were battling this blaze and several others, prompting PGCOFD Fire Chief to call every professional firefighter in the county back to active duty and open the county’s emergency operations center. Also in Prince George’s, a brush fire believed had started at a farm damaged as many as 20 structures, including homes, sheds and barns. Firefighters from northern Virginia were called in to assist because the county fire departments were stretched so thin.

On the weekend of September 24, 2011, the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Association held it’s 89th Annual Convention at the Laurel Fire Department. The Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department was fortunate to receive the following awards:

  • Michael Alexander was presented with the Junior Member of the Year award.
  • Louis Kavakos and Del Walcker were inducted into the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire Department ‘Hall of Fame’.
  • The Department along with the Berwyn Heights VFD were presented the Calvin Lee Cowboy Coder Rescue of the Year award.

On October 12, 2011, 28 Volunteer Firefighter and EMT from the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department were recognized for 2 different incidents. The first incident has been called one of the busiest days in Prince George's County history on February 19, 2011 units from Beltsville operated on a house fire in College Park, Large brush Fire in Laurel/Beltsville area and a 2nd alarm at Laurel Center Mall. The day started with the house fire in College Park just before 0600 and BVFD cleared the brush fire incident at 0200 hrs on February 20, 2011.

The second incident was a vehicle accident on August 13, 2011 on the Baltimore Washington Parkway. Crews arrived to find a single vehicle accident involving 7 victims. The adults, children and an infant some of whom were ejected, sustained injuries ranging from serious to fatal. This incident tested the physical, mental and emotional resolve or even the most experienced first responder.

On November 5, 2011, The Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association held its annual Tribute Dinner today at the Greenbelt VFD. Reverend Harry and Lois Hetz from Beltsville VFD were honored. Harry and Lois have a combined service of more then 89 years to the ladies auxiliary and fire service. Lois joined the Ladies Auxiliary to the LaVale VFD in 1963. After Harry completed his service in the Air Force, they moved to Beltsville in 1970. Harry joined the Beltsville VFD in April 1970 and Lois joined the Ladies Auxiliary in September, 1970. Both Harry and Lois have held many position’s with the Beltsville VFD and Ladies Auxiliary, Prince George's County Fireman Association and Ladies Auxiliary, MSFA, LAMSFA, Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.

April 1, 2012. The Beltsville VFD donated a 1996 Ford Bronco to the First Hose Company of Boonsboro of Washington County Maryland. The BVFD purchased the Bronco in 1996 and was utilized as a command vehicle until year 2012 when BVFD purchased a 2012 Ford Expedition vehicle.

On April 25, 2012, Billy McNeel was recognized by the Director of Emergency Management and Director of Homeland Security for his dedication to the citizens of Prince George’s County. Billy dedicates many hours working with the Emergency Management Citizens Support Unit. Billy is an active and dedicated member of the BVFD.

On April 26, 2012, Lucy McDonald received the Maryland ACEP Emergency Nurse of the year award. Lucy is an active and dedicated member of the BVFD. Congratulations to Lucy McDonald.

On January 29, 2012, between 9:30p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday night, the most destructive complexes of thunderstorms in memory (id as DERECHO) swept through the entire region. Packing wind gust of 60-80 mph, the storm produced extensive damage, uprooted thousands trees, leaving more than 1.3 million area-residents without power and leaving 5 people dead. Virginia, D.C. and Maryland officials declared a state of emergency as power companies took over a week to restore electricity some people. Authorities rushed to open libraries, swimming pools and cooling centers to give residents respite from the sweltering heat, which was 100+ degrees for several days. The Prince George’s County Fire Chief issued the following statement on July 2, 2012:

What an extraordinary period of activity for the Fire/EMS Department. Whether the microburst, the fatal building collapse, the windstorm, any of the 2nd or 3rd alarm fires, or the other 1,000's of fire and EMS calls over the past 3 weeks - this is just a quick note of thanks and recognition for the many contributions and hours of work by all of our volunteer, career, civilian, and auxiliary personnel. Keep up the good work!

During that Friday and Saturday, the career and volunteer personnel from station 31 responded, working tirelessly, to 55 emergency incidents. Among the incidents that members of the BVFD responded to were: transformers on fire at NASA, a building collapse in Riverdale, a building fire with rescues, wires and trees down in the area from the force of the storm, alarm bells activated by the strong winds and rain, auto accidents, and a variety of medical emergencies.

During the storm the firehouse sustained minor damage when the cap to the firehouse siren was blown off the roof landing on the street in front of the station 31. The siren has been a part of the original building since it was constructed in 1947. It has been used since then to alert volunteer members who live in Beltsville area that an emergency call has come in and that their service is needed to staff the fire trucks and/or ambulance. Although the siren is a part of our history, we consider ourselves lucky that the damage wasn’t more severe. Fortunately, our members were able to make the necessary repairs in order to avoid any water damage to the building from rains that we’ve had since.

On August 4, 2012, Tom (Penny) and Flo Collins were honored at the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and Ladies Auxiliary 2012 Tribute held at the Forestville VFD. Tom has 64 years in the fire service and is a life member of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department. He joined Beltsville VFD in January1948, giving him the distinction of being the first member to join the department after it was chartered. Throughout the years he has held various roles and positions at Beltsville, serving in line officer roles, Fire Marshal and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Tom served as President from 1967 to 1970. He was the first delegate sent to represent the Beltsville VFD at the Maryland State Firemen's Association Convention in 1951, held in Cumberland, Maryland and Tom has attended the annual convention every year since then. Tom has held many positions with the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and Maryland State Firemen's Association and has received many awards during his years of service to all.

Flo has more than 50 years of service to her local auxiliaries of Beltsville and Laurel, the ladies auxiliary to the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Maryland State Firemen's Association. Flo is a life member of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Beltsville VFD. Flo has held many offices during here 50 years and has been recognized by the LA-PGCVFRA and LAMSFA.

The Fire Department is a family matter with the Allen’s; Robert “Pops” Allen, Sr., his son Robert “Bobby” Allen, Jr, and his grandson, Robert “Pinky” Allen III, are all members of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD). Because of his father’s influence, “Pops” has 3 brothers that, at one time or another, were volunteer Firefighters in Prince George’s County. Bobby, Jr has more than one cousin that is a Firefighter in various jurisdictions. And one relative is working to publish a book which documents the extended families and their involvement in the Fire Service.

Clifford Allen, was a father to 9 children and a volunteer firefighter at the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department. When Robert was about 16; the elder Allen informed his youngest son, that he needed to get out and meet some people. Knowing that his father spent a lot of time at the firehouse, Robert decided that he could have some fun and meet people at the same time; so he joined the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department. Back then weekly dances were held at the Branchville VFD Community Hall and it was here that he met the love of his life. They were married shortly thereafter and soon started their family. “Pops” served the Branchville VFD for more than 20 years, however, when the family moved to Beltsville, “Pops” transferred to BVFD so he wouldn’t have to travel as far to get to the firehouse; he has been a member at BVFD for more than thirty (30) years now.

Bobby, Jr can remember his father taking him to the firehouse as a toddler where he hung out with the firemen and made friends with the other kids. Growing up, the firehouse was a regular part of his life, so it was only natural that as a student at High Point High School he joined the Prince George’s County Fire Cadet Program and when he was old enough he too joined the volunteer fire service. At first, because he knew most of the people there, he became a member at the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department. However, after a few years of going back and forth, he again followed his father and transferred to BVFD and has been a member here for more than 25 years.

Robert Allen, III, or “Pinky” as he’s known at the firehouse, did not grow up under the influence of the fire service like his father did. In fact, his father says he rarely, if ever, brought Pinky to the firehouse to “just hang out”. However, Robert, III did grow up seeing his father and grandfather run off to the firehouse when the whistle blew. When he turned 18, he decided that he wanted to be part of that too and it was no surprise to anyone, except maybe his father, when “Pinky” made the decision to join the BVFD.

Today, all 3 Allen’s are active members at BVFD. Even though he has more than 50 years of volunteer fire service, “Pops” can still be found at the firehouse almost every day cleaning or fixing something, Bobby Jr. is the Assistant Fire Chief, and in 2011 “Pinky” was one of the “top 10” most active firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician’s at BVFD.

On September 22, 2012, the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Association held it’s 90th Annual Convention at the Accokee Fire Department. The Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department was fortunate to receive the following awards:

  • Nathan Sweeney was presented with the Junior Member of the Year award.
  • President Margie Dickey and F/F Steve Corbin were inducted into the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire Department ‘Hall of Fame’.
  • The Department along with the Berwyn Heights VFD were recognized for a auto accident on the Baltimore Washington Parkway.

The Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department has been fortunate to have 5 past Presidents of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association. They are:

Roy Wood, 1967-68   Thomas Collins, 1970-71
William J. Fleshman, 1975-76   Andrew F. Forrester, 1981-82
Pierce M. Damewood, 1984-85    

The department also had 2 past Presidents of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association. There are:

Roy Wood, 1973-74 William J. Fleshman, 1992-93

The department also had one past President of the Maryland State Chief’s Association who was:

William J. Fleshman

The department had six members inducted into the Maryland State Firemen’s Association ‘Hall of Fame’. There are:

1980: Pierce Damewood   Roy Wood
1984: William Fleshman   1991: Bruce Zembower
Thomas Collins   2007: Harry Hetz

The Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire Department has a ‘Hall of Fame’ which is for individuals that have been determined by their department, any other department of the Association, the officers and Board of Directors of the Association, or the members of the ‘Hall of Fame’ Committee to have demonstrated distinguished service to their fire department or rescue service, the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, the Maryland State Firemen’s Association and the citizens of their own community or Prince George’s County. This department is fortunate to have the following members inducted into this ‘Hall of Fame’:

Pierce M. Damewood, 9/17/1981   Richard Goeghing, 9/24/1999
Roy Wood, 9/22/83   Rev. Harry Hetz, 9/2005
Thomas P. Collins, 9/20/1984   Richard S. Findley, posthumously, 9/11/2008
Andrew F. Forrester, 9/20/1984   John Coleman, 9/16/2010
William Fleshman, 9/19/1985   Louis Kavakos, 9/24/2011
Fred C. Knauer, 9/11/1986   Del Walcker, 9/24/2011
Fred T. Ridgeway, 9/17/1987   Margie Dickey 9/22/2012
Conard R. Horton, 9/22/1988   Steve Corbin 9/22/2012

This department is also fortunate to have the following members inducted into the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Founder’s Circle Memorial.

Pierce M. Damewood, 2001 Fred Ridgeway, 2007
Roy Wood, 2004 Richard Goehring, 2010

The department had a number of members receiving various awards from the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, Prince George’s Volunteer Firemen’s Association and the Prince George’s County Fire and Rescue Department. There are:

  • 1961: The Beltsville VFD – Firemen’s Training, Robert Bruse Criswell Memorial Trophy. This award is given to a department which during the year ending June 3rd, established the best training record as revealed by the records of the Fire Service Extension.
  • 1966: Pierce Damewood – Firemen of the Year, Karl A. Young Memorial Trophy. This trophy is given by the PGCO Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association to an individual firefighter who had performed duties in an outstanding manner bringing credit and glory to their department, the County Association and the State Association.
  • 1973: Pierce Damewood and 1976 Roy L. Wood – President’s Trophy. This trophy is given by the PGCO Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association to an individual firefighter who had done unrecognized good work for the PGCO Association.
  • 1975: Harry Hetz – Rescue Squads Man of the Year William E. Beattie Memorial Trophy. This Trophy is awarded to a individual rescue squads man, selected by the Awards Committee of the Association, for having performed their duties is an outstanding manner, bringing credit and glory to their department, County Fire and Rescue Association, and the State Ambulance and Rescue Associates.
  • 1977-1978: Tom Collins – Fire Prevention Joseph Chaney Britton Trophy. This trophy is given to an individual who does the most to promote Fire Prevention.
  • 1983 and 1991: Pierce Damewood – Norris Beard Humane Award. This award is given to a individual who is selected by the Prince Georg’s County VFRA Board of Directors that continually visit and/or follow-up on the health of the sick volunteers either in the hospital or at home.
  • 1985: Tom Collins– Francis W. Xander Memorial Trophy. This trophy is given by the PGCO Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association Board of Directors to an individual firefighter who is selected for having performed their duties in an outstanding manner bringing credit and glory to their company.
  • 1991: Pierce M. Damewood and 2000: Roy Wood – Fire, Rescue, EMS Individual of The Year, Rodney Lee Gilbert Memorial Trophy. This trophy is awarded on a highly selective basis to a volunteer who had made an outstanding contribution to the future welfare of volunteerism within their company, Prince George’s County, and the State of Maryland.
  • 1999 and 2000: Al Schwartz – Fire Prevention Joseph Chaney Britton Trophy. This trophy is given to an individual who does the most to promote Fire Prevention.
  • August 11, 2009: Lindsey Meehan – Performance Award, presented to her by the PGCOFD Fire Chief.
  • October 8, 2009: Al Schwartz – Rodney Gilbert Award, present to him by the PGCOFD Fire Department. This is the highest award that can be given to a member not including heroism.
  • June, 2010: Thomas Collins – Marberry Gates Award. Given to members with 50 years continuous service by the Maryland State Firemen’s Association.

The following is a list of the past and current Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department Presidents:

1947 Jack Gaffrey   1979 Fred Ridgeway
1948-1955 Milton H. Davis   1980 Pierce M. Damewood
1956 R.E. McDowell   1981-1982 William Fleshman
1957-1959 Milton H. Davis   1983-1984 Pierce M. Damewood
1960-1963 Clinton E. Bowman   1985-1991 William Fleshman
1964 Pierce M. Damewood   1992-1994 Bruce Munro
1965 Andrew Frank Forrester   1995-1996 William Fleshman
1967-1970 Thomas (Penny) Collins   1997 William Alexander III
1971-1972 Pierce M. Damewood   1998 Michael Butler
1973 William Fleshman   1999-2001 William Alexander III
1974-1975 Roy Wood   2002-2003 Andrew E. Bowen
1976-1977 Pierce M, Damewood   2004-2007 Kenny Reising
1978 Andrew Frank Forrester   2008-Present Margie Dickey

The following is a list of the past and current Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chiefs:

1947-1950 Fred Knauer   1974-1978 William Fleshman
1951 Richard Goehing   1970-1981 John Coleman
1952-1955 Conard R. Horton   1982-1984 David Cope
1956-1958 Clinton E. Bowman   1985 John Coleman
1959-1961 Emmett Croson   1986-1988 David Cope
1962-1964 Fred Ridgeway   1989-1994 Andrew E. Bowen
1965-1966 Pierce Damewood   1995-2014 Alfred C. Schwartz
1967-1972 William Fleshman   2015 - 2016Mathew Tomlins
1973 Louis g. Kavakos   2017 Alfred Schwartz/Justin Bassford
    2018 Michael P. Adams

At this present time, Beltsville VFD is still a combination department that operates out of two stations:

Beltsville Station 31 has two engines(311/313), one ladder truck, one brush truck and one ambulance which is supplied by Prince George’s County. This station is manned with 40 Active Riding and 11 Active Non-Riding volunteer members 24/7 and 5 PGCO professional fighters 24/7.

Calverton Station 41 has one paramedic engine, one reserve engine(312), MCU unit and one ambulance which are supplied by Prince George’s County. The department also keeps a BVFD reserve engine at this station. The daytime 6th Battalion Chief and the North Side EMS Supervisor operate out of this station. This station is manned with 4 PGCO professional fighters 24/7. At this time, there are no volunteers that run out of this station.

Both Station 31 and 41 cover an area of approximately 21 square miles with a population of about 23,500 and growing. The area served includes multiple school buildings, a large industrial area, portions of Interstate Highway I-95, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, US Rout 1, the Metro/CSX Railroad Maintenance facilities and a large portion of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center that house many Government Agencies. Both Sections 31 and 41 ran a total number of 5,707 Fire calls and 5,466 EMS calls in year 2014.

Through the years, the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department has participated in all aspects of fire protection, rescue services in the community, county and state. The department fulfilled the dreams and wishes of every charter member who had the insight and will to form the fire department.

Currently, the department is led by Chief Michael Adams, President Margie Dickey and Board Chairman Al Schwartz who oversee the every day operations of the department.

Station 31 as it stands today.
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Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
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