Coolahan, AVFD Historian
In November of 1937,
a bitter dispute at the Violetville Volunteer Fire Department
(VVFD) resulted in the splitting of the company. Seventeen men
seized a fire engine, ambulance, and other property and formed
the Community Volunteer Fire Department of Violetville.
After a year of litigation the court awarded control of all
assets to VVFD. With the suggestion of the Chief Engineer of
the Baltimore County Fire Department (BCoFD), the
defeated men relocated in the growing town of Arbutus.
Community Association leased a portion of their property to
the firemen and donated lumber to help them with the
construction of their firehouse. A small, two story, wood frame
building was erected to house a 1927 American La France
fire engine & 1932 Kissel ambulance downstairs and
provided living quarters upstairs. A Ladies Auxiliary was
formed and in 1939 was among the charter organizations of the
Ladies Auxiliary to the Baltimore County Volunteer Fireman’s
In 1940, AVFD bought the
community hall building when Arbutus Community Association
moved across the street to present day Town Hall. Five years
later an addition was built onto the old community hall building
to house additional apparatus.
A new 1942 Ford/Ward LaFrance
engine was purchased and was later replaced by a 1947
Seagrave engine. A 1947 International Harvester
panel truck was purchased for use as the first rescue squad and
that was later replaced by a 1954 Dodge. In 1951 a 1947
Willy’s Jeep was purchased and replaced by a 1967 Jeep
CJ-5 and in 1958 a 1957 SeaKing aluminum boat replaced an
older aluminum boat. Many different ambulances passed through
AVFD in the early years including a 1948 Buick Road
master, 1952 & ’56 Cadillacs, Pontiacs, an
Oldsmobile, Fords, and Chevy’s in the ‘60’s,
‘70’s, and ‘80’s.
The 1960’s brought about the
lowering of the age limit for members from 21 to 18. In 1963
the Ladies Auxiliary was reorganized after a hiatus. In 1965
member Ed Kelly developed a reliable device for the suctioning
of fluids from patients mouths. Although his design was the
standard used for many years on ambulances everywhere, he was
never truly credited for his work because he was denied a
On May 4, 1964 ground was broken
for a modern fire station and on October 20, 1964, AVFD moved to
its new quarters at 5200 Southwestern Blvd. The new station
provided necessary room for the apparatus and men with offices,
recreation & bunk rooms, and a banquet hall. The two old
buildings were then razed for parking.
The sixties and seventies
brought more modern fire apparatus. A 1966 Mack engine
replaced the ’47 Seagrave, and a 1969 Brockway
replaced the ’54 Dodge in 1971. A 1973 Boston Whaler
power boat and ’73 Chevy pick-up truck were purchased
after Tropical Storm Agnes wreaked havoc on the east coast in
1972. After about a year the boat was sold when it was realized
that it was not needed. In 1978, an additional engine (‘78
Seagrave) was purchased with a new lime green/yellow color
scheme and the ambulances became modern Paramedic (medic) units.
By 1980, women were
finally accepted as regular members of AVFD although it was not
without a fight. Many believed strongly that women had no place
in the firehouse but the ladies have competently filled nearly
every position at AVFD since then and to this day the Department
still boasts a higher than average percentage of female members.
The 1966 Mack
engine was replaced with a ’87 Hahn and that was replaced
with a 1999 Pierce. A ‘97 Pierce replaced the 1978
Seagrave, which was nearly identical to the ’99 Pierce.
The 1969 Brockway Rescue Squad was replaced by a ’93
Spartan and the medic units were now state of the art
Advanced Life Support units on heavy duty Ford and GMC
chassis’s. With the new ’93 Spartan squad came the return
of a red over white paint scheme which would again become the
Once again in 1995, the age
limit was lowered from 18 to 16 with parental consent. The
following year AVFD became a specialized company in Swift Water
Rescue. The 1988 Ford medic that had been replaced was
re-designated as a Swift Water Rescue Response Unit.
In 1990 the Ladies
Auxiliary had again disbanded but a group of ladies revived the
Auxiliary in 1997 and opened it up to male and female members.
In 1998 they made a presentation of new Holmatro rescue
tools (jaws of life) to replace the 1970’s era Hurst
system. They would continue to work hand in hand with the AVFD
raising funds to purchase needed equipment for AVFD.
An ambitious plan to add much
needed space to the station commenced on January 17, 2004 when
Arbutus native, Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Comptroller/Former Gov.
William Donald Schaefer were amongst the dignitaries who helped
break ground on a building addition. Phase I of the project
added a three story addition to the south side of the existing
building with three additional bays, large dormitory areas,
meeting rooms, and a working brass slide pole from the closed
station of Baltimore City FD E-24. The Department moved in on
October 7, 2005 and an official dedication was held on April 30,
The 1998 Ford/Horton Medic-356
was transitioned into a more reliable Swiftwater Rescue Unit
(SU-359) when a new 2007 GMC Topkick/Horton was ordered as a
replacement for M-356.
The Department is proud to work
with a diverse membership of over 200 members, the largest of
any volunteer department in Baltimore County. In part, this can
be attributed to a partnership with neighboring University of
Maryland Baltimore County that allows us to welcome students
from across the U.S. as well as international students.
AVFD’s newest addition is our
new Squad 354. A 2012 Pierce Impel, Heavy Rescue Squad
officially arrived at the station on September 21, 2012 at
6:17pm. It was placed in service December 13, 2013 replacing a
1993 Spartan Gladiator/ American Fire & Rescue. The old squad
found a new home at the Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department in
AVFD has reached its 75th
year of commitment to the community. Through the efforts of the
membership, the Department has reached an enviable position
among the volunteer fire companies of Baltimore County.