ON THE CORNER - RITCHIE AND 11th - EIGHTY YEARS OF FIRE FIGHTING IN BROOKLYN PARK, MARYLAND
On the Corner – Ritchie & 11th Eighty Years of Fire Fighting in Brooklyn Park, Maryland by Joseph B. Ross Jr.
This story is based on a presentation I conducted for the Brooklyn Park Community Association at the Elementary School in April, 2017.
There are not enough words or space to discuss and describe the progress, successes and unfortunately, the tragedies, experienced by the career and volunteer members who staffed and supported the Brooklyn Park Fire Station, located on the corner of Ritchie Highway and 11th Avenue in Brooklyn Park, Maryland.
There have been many changes over the past 80 years such as building expansions, additions, demolition and reconstruction. Changes in purchased or assigned apparatus. We have progressed from gasoline powered trucks and engines to diesels. What goes around comes around, such as ladder trucks. They have changed from the original straight chassis to tractor trailer back to straight chassis. Colors of the apparatus have changed from all red, to lime yellow, to white and now back to red.
The most important changes are in people. Many firefighters and officers have past. Others have retired and many are still on the job, continuing the professionalism, high standards and traditions that were set down many years ago.
Actually, the story doesn’t start with the station on the corner of Ritchie Highway and 11th Avenue; that event is still 28 years away. The story begins in 1910, when what is now the Baltimore City portion of Brooklyn was still a part of Anne Arundel County.
Conflagrations were very common in cities and dense urban areas before and after the early 1900s. Conflagrations are fires that spread from building to building, engulf large areas covered with structures, or consume buildings in the wildland-urban Interface.
These fires typically occur during long periods of dry weather and are usually accelerated by heavy wind. Today, California experiences conflagrations every year.
Years ago, notorious conflagrations occurred in Chicago, (1871), Baltimore (1904) and San Francisco (1906). American cities, towns, and villages took fire very seriously. Brooklyn, Maryland, was no different.
So in 1910, the small but growing town on the eastside of the Patapsco River in Anne Arundel County formed the Brooklyn Volunteer Fire Department. The next year they spent $5,990 to build a two-story brick and wood fire station at 5th Street and Pontiac Avenue. Starting with a bucket brigade, the company acquired a tank wagon pulled by farm horses.
(The Brooklyn VFD Fire Station today. The building has been home to many community organizations over the years. From 1919 to the mid-1960s it was the home of BCFD Engine 35 and Truck 21. Photo - JBR)
The next nine years the Brooklyn Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) thrived in the region along with the East Brooklyn (Wagner’s Point) and Curtis Bay VFDs. Fire alarm pull stations (or boxes) were placed strategically throughout Brooklyn’s tree lined streets.
When the pulling mechanism was activated, the box telegraphed a signal to the new station. The signal printed out on a ticker tape the street location of the alarm box and simultaneously activated the siren in the station’s cupola.
On Sunday, February 7, 1915, around noon, the siren began to wail from the cupola atop the Brooklyn Fire Station. Mr. Huber's horses were hitched up to the station's firefighting wagon and off they galloped into the crisp winter air to a reported fire at the new Saint Rose of Lima Church. Despite the volunteers efforts, the fire completely destroyed it.
In addition to providing fire protection, the volunteer stations became community landmarks. Meetings, dances and other fundraisers were held periodically on the building’s second floor. However, all of that would come to an end in 1919.
(Members of the Brooklyn VFD with their tank/chemical fire fighting wagon on the Pontiac Avenue side of the two-story brick fire station. circa 1910. Photo - Courtesy of Ron Fleischmann)
Brooklyn, Wagner’s Point and Curtis Bays businesses and manufacturing plants flourished along the waterfront. These profitable industries could provide revenue to neighboring Baltimore City.
Therefore in 1919, the State of Maryland’s General Assembly passed legislation to allow Baltimore City to annex more than sixty square miles of adjacent metropolitan area, including the towns of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Wagner’s Point, Fairfield and Hawkins Point.
As a result, the city disbanded the volunteer departments and replaced the volunteers with around-the-clock professional crews. The station at 5th and Pontiac streets became Baltimore City Fire Department Engine 35 and Truck 21.
During this time period a young boy, Joseph Neil, would hang around the station helped out and listened to the firefighters’ stories. Neil would be a future chief of the Brooklyn Community Fire Department.
In February of 1936, a group of civic minded citizens met and formed the Brooklyn Community Fire Department. The corner lot at 11th Avenue and Ritchie Highway was deeded to the new organization by John K. Culver.
A two-story, two-bay station was constructed, and an engine was purchased from the U.S. Fire Apparatus Company of Wilmington, Delaware in 1938. Brooklyn’s first engine was rated as a 750 gpm pumper and carried a 750 gallon water tank. The engine was affectionately referred to as the U.S. or Engine 1 (its official designation).
The new department's first chief was William G. Bauer. Brooklyn’s first fire response occurred on midnight, September 28, 1938, for a blazing chicken coup at 307 Townsend Ave.
The company added a second engine in 1942, a 1935 Dodge that had a pump rating of 350 gpm. This engine was primary used for woods and brush fires.
(Engine 2, '32 GMC and Engine 1, the U.S., in front of station circa 1942. Photo - Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
Frank Homberg, an active member with the company was hired as the first engineman or “Chauffeur” as driver/pump operators were referred to at the time. Frank started work on January 1, 1939 at $100 per month. Today a new firefighter’s salary is around $39,000.
(Frank Homberg, in the station's alarm room standing by the two-way radio)
Frank was like the “Godfather” of the organization. He was the one that would get things going. If a station project needed to be tackled – Frank Homberg was the one the members called on.
Homberg would later become assistant fire chief, and a part-time instructor with the University of Maryland Fire Service Extension (now MFRI). Frank would also be involved in forming the county’s first firefighters’ union designated as the A.A.Co. Enginemen’s association in the early ‘60s. The Enginemen’s Association was the forerunner of today's AFL/CIO Firefighters Local 1563.
(Anne Arundel County Engineman's patch)
Homberg lived across the street from the station on 11th Ave. He and his wife raised a family there and he always held a couple of part-time jobs. He passed away in the fall of 1971 while still employed with the county fire department.
Later in 1939, member Joseph Jager was the second engineman hired. Joe and Frank were A.A. Co. employees and were managed through the A.A.Co. Commissioners office. They would take turns working nights and days and sometimes for 24 hours straight. Volunteers who were qualified to operate the engines filled in when the enginemen needed to take off.
(Engineman Joseph Jager, wheeling the new "Mack" engine purchased in 1948)
Jager would work until the early 50’s where he transferred to the county police department. He was patrolling Belle Grove Road on January 30, 1956 and drove up on the Arundel Park fire in its early stages. He picked up his radio mic, reported the fire and requested that every ambulance available be dispatched.
In the ‘40s the company boasted of having 30 active firefighters, 25 trained in first aid. A ladies auxiliary and a membership of 300. An ambulance was added to the fleet and radios linking the apparatus with the A.A.Co. Police Department were installed.
(Brooklyn's First Ambulance, a 1935 Buick, purchased in 1941 from Baltimore City FD - Photo Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
(Engine 3, a 1937 GMC pumper, 500 GPM/140 GWT. Purchased in 1943 and photographed here in front of the 11th Ave. bay door - Photo Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
(Circa 1947, a third bay was added to the station. Photo - Doegen - Helfrich Collection)
In order to accommodate the new 1948 Mack, a third bay was added to the station. The residence on the left is important to note also. The family who lived there in the 60’s, through the 80's, the Driggers, would sacrifice tremendously for the county fire service.
In 1948, old Engine 2, the '32 GMC, was replaced with a new "Mack" 750 GPM/500 GWT. Here, members of the Brooklyn VFD clean up the engine.
(Members clean Engine #2. From left: Norman Thomas, "Smoky,
Jim Rhodes, Frank Homberg, and Fred Evans. Photograph circa 1956. (Courtesy of the Hearst Corp.)
(Brooklyn's 1947 Cadillac Ambulance - Photo Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
(Brooklyn VFD, circa early 1950's. Large shed in the back of station where the addition would be built in 1959. Photo - Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
(The "Blue" Ambulance, possibly purchased from the military. Standing in front are two of the company's chief officers. Chief Joe Neil is on the right. Photo courtesy of Doegen and Helfrich Collection)
At some point during the late 1940s to early 1950s mobile radios were installed in fire and medical apparatus throughout Anne Arundel County. All companies were designated numbers. Brooklyn became Company 31. It is believed that the number was derived from the geographic tax and voting precinct the station was located in.
(By the mid-1950s, the Brooklyn Community Fire Department was becoming a viable fire suppression and medical response organization in its own right. Photo - Courtesy Doegen and Helfrich Collection)
(Three photos showing the fire damage of the Riverside Grocery Store - Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
On October 26, 1954, a fire damaged the Riverside Peoples Grocery Store located on the southeast corner of Arundel and Riverside roads. The Brooklyn VFD received the call at 3:50 a.m. and responded along with units from Linthicum and Ferndale. The fire in the one-and-a-half story wood-frame dwelling was extinguished and units left the scene at 9:40 a.m. The cause of the fire, that appeared to be in the basement, was listed as unknown. The building was owned by a Mr. Felt and torn down within the year.
(Brooklyn VFD members line up to kick off the "Firemen's Carnival" held every year with a parade. Les Helfrich, with cocked hat is standing behind the pony. Circa early '50s. - Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
The "Firemen's Carnival" was held every summer in the field across Ritchie Highway from the station. Carnivals, along with bake sales and Spaghetti dinners were held to make money to purchase needed apparatus, equipment and supplies. The department's "Ladies Auxiliary was integral in all of these events.
In the late '50s or early '60s, commercial retail stores were built on the property and the carnival was moved to the rear parking lot of the Ritchie Highway Shopping Center just south of the station.
Circa 1953, Joe Jager left the fire department to take a job with the county police department. Member Edwin "Eddie" Utz replaced Jager as Engineman. Utz, a veteran Navy Corpsman, was very active in the company as a volunteer.
Later Utz would be promoted as a supervisor (Lieutenant) in the new Fire Department communication’s center (Fire Alarm) in 1966. Three years later he was promoted to Division Chief. Throughout the 1970's he would command a number of major fires. Ed Utz would retire in 1976 to take a position with the Motorola Communications Company.
(Engineman Ed Utz, as well as a lieutenant with the Brooklyn VFD, walking along the engine on Hammonds Lane. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
(Engineman Ed Utz checks out the pump panel on the new (quint) Pirsch ladder truck. circa 1960. Photo credit to the photographer)
Lester Helfrich joined the Brooklyn VFD after his family moved from Linthicum to a farm located on Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park circa 1945.
He was very active with the fire department and was an avid student of fire protection. He attended every fire training opportunity that was available through the University of Maryland’s Fire Service Extension program (today’s MFRI), attended every station and Fifth District regional firefighting drill. Helfrich was a certified instructor with the Fire Service Extension program.
He responded to fires and rescues, took photos of incidents throughout the county and drew diagrams of apparatus and hose line placement that occurred on the fires to be used in training sessions. Helfrich along with member Harry Zlotowski would join the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) in 1957. Helfrich would rise up through the ranks of the BCFD, spending many years in the training division. He retired as a deputy chief in 2000.
(Lester Helfrich would later join the Baltimore City Fire Department in 1957 and retire as a chief officer in 2000. Photo circa 1954 - Courtesy of Helfrich family)
(Helfrich and Utz sitting in the U.S. in front of station. circa 1954. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
(Active member Raymond "Ray" Smith at the station watch desk circa 1954. Smith would be hired by Company 32 (Linthicum)'s Chief Al Parlett for the Engineman's opening at Station 32 in 1957. Ray would have an impressive career with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department starting with his promotion to division chief of training in 1967).
TRAGEDY AT ARUNDEL PARK
On January 29, 1956, a raging fire devastated the Arundel Park, located on Belle Grove Road in Brooklyn Park. The fire killed eleven people and injured hundreds more making it the worst public assembly disaster ever to occur in Maryland.
Engineman Ed Utz responded with the first engine, the U.S, and crew. After maneuvering through the crowded parking lot, they laid a supply line from a hydrant to the northeast side of the building. Lieutenant Charles "Charlie" Doegen was riding shot-gun and called for additional alarms.
Les Helfrich, who was finishing adding dry hose to the Mack, backed in the metal shed in the rear of the station after a training class, drove the Mack as the second engine to the fireground. On location, Helfrich tied into the hydrant and supplied more pressure and water to Utz with the U.S.
(This photo of the Arundel Park fire was on the front page of just about every major news paper in the country. Photo - Courtesy of the Hearst Corporation)
The fire that started in the kitchen ceiling, spread quickly across the combustible assembly ceiling during an Oyster Roast with approximately 1200 people attending. See "Arundel Burning" The Maryland Oyster Roast Fire 0f 1956 for more information.
(Engine 3 a 1942 Dodge, 500 Gpm Pumper. It was purchased from the Curtis Bay Coast Guard yard and refurbished by the fire company. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
(As it's predecessors, Engine 3 responded to brush, woods and dump fires. Placed in-service 1957. Photo - Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
(Fire Training. Upper left, Ed Utz supervises the training for a new relief driver/pump operator. Middle Photo, the U.S. drafting at the gravel pit pond off of Belle Grove Road. Upper right. University of Maryland Fire Service Extension Class being held at the station. Instructor Frank Homberg sitting in middle wearing suspenders. circa 1956. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
(Salvage 1. 1952 Ford Salvage Unit. Photo - Courtesy of Joseph MacDonald)
The Brooklyn VFD was very progressive and forward looking. They built this unit themselves to carry salvage equipment like mops, brooms and canvas covers to protect structures from water damage. The search lights proved very useful at accident scenes, structural fires and the many drownings that used to occur at the gravel pit ponds. The unit was placed in service circa 1957.
(Crown Station Fire, 6000 blk of Ritchie Hyw, January 19, 1959. It was a vehicle fire caused by sparks from a welder’s torch. It looked worse than it was. The structure was saved. Photo - Courtesy of the AACo. Fire Prevention Bureau)
The year 1960 would see some big changes at the Brooklyn VFD. A new ladder truck was placed in service and the members built a large two story addition on the 11th Avenue side of the station.
The new ladder truck was a very needed unit not only for Brooklyn Park but for north Anne Arundel County. Specifications for the new unit were drawn up by Company 31 members. It was designated a quint, meaning a multi-purpose vehicle that includes a water tank, fire hose, pump, an aerial ladder or platform and portable ladders.
The new truck was purchased on December 31, 1959 and placed in service within the month. As a result, Salvage 1 was dissolved and the unit reverted back to the station utility truck since salvage equipment was now carried on the new truck.
(Brooklyn's new ladder truck. It would become T-315 in the early '60s then re-designated T-31 in the '70s. Here firefighters are performing a demonstration or a service call at the old Sun Ray Drug Store in the Food Fair Shopping Center across from the fire station. Photo - Courtesy of the Starling Collection)
(T-31 pictured here circa 1980s. Note how the rear compartments were altered and steps were added so firefighters could ride on the side of the truck. Also note the three-bay addition with a new bunk room on the second floor. Photo - John Floyd)
(Ritchie Drive-In Fire March 7, 1960. One of Truck 315’s first fires. Photo - Maryland Gazette)
The Ritchie Drive-In Open Air Theater had a manager's office and an apartment built in the bottom of the screen for the manager and his family.
March 7, 1960 was a very cold day and plumbers were using torches to thaw freezing pipes in the apartment which started the fire.
(Drive-In fire photos - Credit to the Photographer)
(Truck 315 in the Summer Firemen's parade on Ritchie Highway near Church Street. Frank Homberg riding officer with Edwin Utz driving. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
(Truck 315 setting up for a ladder pipe operation for a training exercise. Photo - Doegen/Helfrich Collection)
House burning exercises were very beneficial for firefighting training. Home owners who wanted to tear down their structures would allow the fire department to burn them down.
In the photo above, Truck 315 is setting up for a water tower operation to protect an exposure next door to the dwelling to be burned. These drills could take all day as small fires were set in various rooms and firefighters were sent in under supervision to extinguish them.
After crew members experienced many rotations on the nozzle and hose line, all members were relocated to the exterior and the dwelling was burned down. This drill was conducted on Belle Grove Road in the Community of Pumphrey, July 1960.
Circa 1961 - 1965 all county fire stations went to a two to three-digit numbering system for all fire and medical apparatus. The company number was first with the engine or apparatus number second. For example Engine 1 became Engine 311, Engine 2 - Engine 312 so on and so forth. Brush units were designated 4, ladder trucks and tankers were 5, and rescue trucks and squads were 6 and 7. Ambulances were 8 and 9.
On 12-9-61, Brooklyn VFD (Company 31) and units from Linthicum (Company 32) and Ferndale (Company 34) responded to a very tragic fire at the Vernon Listman residence located at 766 Riverside Road near Fifth Avenue.
Someone poured some rocks into Listman’s vehicle’s gas tank. He was in the basement of his house washing out the tank when vapors were ignited by flames from the furnace and an explosion took place.
A flash fire ensued igniting the contents of the basement and Listman's and his son's clothing who was watching his father work.
Listman saved his four-year-old child by beating the fire out of his clothing. The child received many second degree burns. Listman received many second and third degree burns and ran outside.
When alerted to the incident, neighbors Jimmy Miller and Santiago Hernadez rolled Listman in the snow that was on the ground in attempt to extinguish the burning man's clothes. Despite their efforts to save Listman he died a couple of days later at Saint Agnes Hospital.
Listman as a teenager was a volunteer firefighter with Earleigh Hgts in the 1940s. He saved a three-year-old who fell in a well. He was a hero and he was considered a hero for saving his son. Never use gasoline to do anything inside a structure.
AACo. Engineman's patch.
In January 1963, Anne Arundel County Commissioners added a third Engineman to the schedule throughout the county's fire stations. At the Brooklyn station, Engineman Frank Homberg was assigned to "A" Shift, Edwin Utz to "B" Shift and Harry Zlotowski to "C" Shift. The enginemen worked 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty.
Zlotowski had been a member of the company since 1955 and helped fight the Arundel Park fire in 1956. In 1957, he joined the Baltimore City Fire Department with colleague and friend Les Helfrich and was drafted into the Army a couple of years later.
The Walton Tannery facility was located on the Anne Arundel County side of the border of Baltimore City near Curtis Bay. The huge two-story wood constructed 10 ½ acre complex was built in 1920 by Charles Walton for $500,000 off of Open Street. At that time it was the largest tannery in the U.S.
On a snowy Sunday night, January 11, 1965, the main building, vacant for a number of years, was set on fire. The fire went to 9 alarms (four from the city).
A second large fire, 3 Alarms, occurred on August 10, 1966, completely destroyed the facility. Brooklyn VFD, (Company 31) was first due on both fires.
In January 1965 Charter government was enacted which established the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. The Brooklyn Station or Company 31 was now part of a countywide firefighting system that included 22 other fire companies.
One of the first projects the fire department's new fire administer Harry Klasmeier carried out was the construction of a fire headquarters building in the Millersville area of the county. The new fire headquarters would be constructed across the street from the recent constructed Police Headquarters.
(Anne Arundel County Fire Department Headquarters, Millersville, Maryland. Photo - AACoFD, circa 1966)
In addition to Klasmeier's staff and the Fire Prevention Bureau's offices, a communications and fire alarm center would be built in the basement of the new headquarters building. The new fire alarm center staff would be made up of some county employees from the Brooklyn station as well as a couple of its volunteer members.
Enginemen Edwin Utz and Harry Zlotowski were promoted to shift supervisors/lieutenants as well as the hiring of volunteer member Frank Homberg Jr. Volunteer member David Bond would be hired as a fire alarm dispatcher.
During 1966 and 1967, there would be some new faces at Brooklyn's Station 31. Joseph Angyelof, an active volunteer firefighter and officer with Company 12 (Earleigh Heights), transferred from Company 19 (Cape St. Claire) to cover Harry Zlotowski's engineman's spot on "C" Shift.
Burton Phelps, an active volunteer firefighter and officer with Company 33 (Glen Burnie) was hired to cover Ed Utz's spot on "B" Shift. Angyelof and Phelps both put in a couple of years with the Friendship Airport Fire Department.
After 29 years as Engineman on "A" Shift, Frank Homberg transferred to the Fire Prevention Office and his spot was covered by active Brooklyn VFD member Bernie Pulz.
The Brooklyn VFD has contributed many knowledgable and experienced individuals to serve as firefighters and officers in the AACo.FD.
(First Fire Alarm Supervisors: Edwin Utz, Harry Zlotowski and Frank Homberg Jr. Photo AACo.FD, Circa 1966) Note: the fourth supervisor not pictured here was Kenneth Howard, a member of the Avalon Shores VFD. All four supervisors would retire years later as fire division chiefs.
(Fire Alarm Communications Center. circa 1968. Photo - AACoFD)
(Frank Homberg Jr. checks out the cross street index to locate a report of a fire, while David Bond verbally announces the companies responding along with the location of the incident on the department's county-wide radio system. Photo-AACo.FD, circa 1968)
(David Bond, 2nd from left was a very active volunteer firefighter and officer with the Brooklyn VFD. Here he is receiving an award for AACoFD's first Fire Recruit Training Class in 1968. Far left, Training Division Chief Raymond Smith looks on. Smith was also a member of the Brooklyn VFD. Photo - AACoFD, June 1968)
David Bond would work his way up through the AACo.FD serving as a dispatcher, firefighter, engineman/pump operator, fire and fire Alarm lieutenant. He would retire as a lieutenant assigned to the fire marshal's office after many years as a fire investigator.
(As firefighter recruit James "Jim" Koch stands in the background, classmates of AACo.FD Recruit Class 1, L-R, Nelson Janz and Donald Schultheis pose for the camera during ladder training. Photo - AACoFD)
James Koch joined Company 31 as a volunteer firefighter circa 1966. He was very active with the company. After graduating from AACo.FD Fire Recruit School in May 1968, he was assigned to Company 12 (Earleigh Heights). Shortly afterwards he was drafted into the U.S.Army.
During his tour of Vietnam he was assigned to an artillery unit. Upon his return in 1971, Koch was assigned to Company 31 and would remain at the station as a fire fighter and pump operator until he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Company 21 in January 1979.
In 1980 he transferred back to Company 31 and in 1985 was promoted to Captain assigned to Company 23 (Jones Station). After a lengthly assignment to fire headquarters he was promoted to battalion chief and served in battalion 1 until his retirement. Koch's brothers Andy and Ed also were assigned to Company 31 at various times during their career and both would retire as officers of the department.
(The Peter Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company - Truck 315, Engine 312 and Engine 311. Photo - Credit to the photographer, circa late '60s early '70s)
By the summer of 1967 both the US and the Mack pumpers had been replaced by two Peter Pirsch engines with 1250 GPM pumps and 300 GWTs. The Pirsch’s had jump seats behind the cab where firefighters could now don SCBA enroute to the fire.
(Roving Engineman Virgil Buttrum works on the train garden set up in the rear bays of the new building addition. December 1967. Photo - Baltimore Sun)
Many fire stations in the Baltimore metropolitan region built Christmas Train Gardens for the holiday season. The train gardens were a way to bring the public into the firehouse to share the holiday spirit, hand out fire prevention pamphlets and pick up some donations.
In April 1968, riots broke out in Baltimore City as a result of the Martin Luther King assassination. Building fires burned out of control for three days and civilians were killed. Brooklyn (Company 31) as well as other Anne Arundel County fire stations sent engines and crews to assist. Brooklyn's engine and crew worked with BCFD Engine 37 out of the station located at the corner of Ridgely and W. West streets.
Its important to note here that former Brooklyn VFD member Lester Helfrich, at the time a lieutenant assigned to the Baltimore City Fire Department Training Academy, was instrumental in convincing the city's fire chief, John Killen in calling for the volunteers in Anne Arundel for assistance.
(Baltimore riots. North Avenue, Sunday, April 7, 1968. Photo - pages 124 - 125, In The Shadows Of The Flames - Baltimore's 1968 April Riots)
(Future Baltimore City Mayor and Maryland State Governor, Donald Schaefer, presents AACo.FD Chief Harry Klasmeier an award for sending engines to the city during the riots. Among the county chiefs in the photo, Brooklyn VFD's Chief Charlie Doegen is standing in the top row far right. Photo - Maryland Gazette)
(Dealers Carpet Mart Fire 3/6/71, Ferndale. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
On Saturday, March 6, 1971 a Four Alarm Fire broke out at the Dealer's Carpet Mart, located on B&A Boulevard in Ferndale/Glen Burnie. Brooklyn's Engine 311 responded on the Second Alarm. Truck 315 was transferred to Company 33's station (Glen Burnie) where it formed a task force with two engine companies and responded to fires in the Glen Burnie area.
(Brooklyn's Engine 311 in a "Tandem" hydrant hook up with Engine 151 (Powhaten Beach) at a hydrant located on Eastern Street near Longwood Avenue to supply needed water to the Carpet Mart fire ground. Firefighters Tom Heckner, Co. 31 and Buddy Handschuh, Co. 15 - in yellow helmet, discuss the situation. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
(James "Jim" Swinimer from his AACo.FD Recruit Class 5 graduation photo, March 1970 AACo.FD)
Jim Swinimer started out as a junior member of the Brooklyn VFD during the mid 1960s and was responding on the apparatus circa '67 - '68. He was a very active volunteer until he was hired by the county in 1970.
Swinimer was assigned to Fire Alarm as a dispatcher when he graduated from recruit school 5, 1970. He was one of the first firefighters assigned to Company 26 (South Glen Burnie) when the station opened its doors in April 1973. Later at 26 he was promoted to paramedic and served on Paramedic 26 for a number of years.
In 1990s Swinimer was promoted to Captain and assigned to Company 21, (Harmans-Dorsey). Today his son, Jamie, is a firefighter/pump operator assigned to Company 7 (Arundel).
Brooklyn members Robert "Bob" Stevens and Frank Serio graduated from Recruit School Class 8. Stevens spent many years as a paramedic and was AACo.FD's first PIO assigned to that position in 1981. He would later be promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Company 30 (Armiger).
Frank Serio would serve on busy EMS units throughout his career. He was one of the original medics assigned to Paramedic 21 when it opened in October, 1978.
(The cab of one of Brooklyn's Pirsch engines can be seen on the photo of the left. Photos - Author's personal collection)
The Embers Restaurant fire on the northwest corner of Ritchie Highway and Furnace Branch Road occurred on Veterans Day, October 11, 1971. Brooklyn (Company 31) would have been first or second engine in.
The fire escalated to Three Alarms. This incident would be the first link in a chain of restaurant and bar fires in the Glen Burnie area that would continue for the next nine years.
(Firefighter/CRT Joseph "Rummie" Rumenap, on left, and Firefighter Larry Archer practicing CPR on the Resuscitation Annie simulator on Ambulance 33 (Glen Burnie).
Joseph Rumenap was, a long time volunteer member of Brooklyn VFD from the mid to late 1960s. He was hired by AACo.FD and entered Recruit Training Class 1, in 1968.
Rumenap was assigned to ambulances and paramedic units throughout his career. He was considered the "Best of the Best" of paramedics and would retire from the department in the late 1980s)
(L-R Firefighter Steve Preslipsky talks with District 1 Captain Harry Zlotowski at a fire in Glen Burnie, Circa 1970. Photo Courtesy of Steve Preslipsky)
Harry Zlotowski, affectionally know as Chief "Ski" was promoted to District 1 Captain in 1969 after his assignment to fire alarm and Company 31 as mentioned earlier.
Zlotowski would be promoted to Division Chief, Battalion 1, when four battalions were created in the AACo.FD in the spring of 1978. He commanded many major fires during the '70s and '80s such as the Green Tree Apartment fires in January, 1979 and the Traveler's House fire in December 1980.
He transferred back to the Fire Alarm division in 1984, and was instrumental in upgrading the department communications system to 800 Megahertz in the late 1980s. He would retire as a division chief in the early 1990s.
AACo.FD officer Steve Preslipsky was assigned Company 31 Station Captain in the mid to late '90s and would later retire as a battalion chief.
(Brooklyn's Truck 31 operating a water tower at the Haynie Products Fire. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
On Friday morning, March 3, 1972, Engine 311 and Truck 31 responded on the First Alarm to the Haynie Products Company fire located off of Fort Smallwood Road near the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay.
The fire escalated to Nine Alarms (many from BCFD). In the photo above, Firefighters Warren Daywalt and William Novosel work Truck 31's water tower operation.
Early in the morning, October 3, 1972, Company 31 (Brooklyn) along with other First District companies responded to a tractor-trailer tanker accident and fire under the I-895 bridge at Belle Grove Road.
The tractor-trailer, carrying 7,800 gallons of gasoline, traveling southbound on Belle Grove Road hit the back of a Volkswagen-wagon that was turning into the Bingo World parking lot. The same site as the Arundel Park fire, seventeen years before.
The volkswagon, spun around and slid under the trailer and became entangled in the back wheels of the tractor and the bottom front of the trailer. The tank trailer punctured spewed gasoline as the rigged dragged the Volkswagen along with it, flipped on its side coming to rest beneath the northbound span bridge of I-895.
The truck driver along with two in the Volkswagen miraculously got out of the wreckage just before the tanker exploded hurling all three of them into the Bingo World parking lot.
(The bell on the officer's side of Truck 31 can just be seen on the left as the trailer on the right burns under the bridge. Photo - Keith Hammack)
Initially Truck 31 positioned itself to set up a water tower to protect the bridge that was already collapsing upon their arrival. However abandoned the idea since the application of water may have caused additional spread of the fire.
(It was decided to use High-Expansion Foam to stop the spread of fire and eventually extinguish the fire, however the heat build up between the bridge girders and flaming tank prevented the extinguishment. Photo Keith Hammack)
During the firefight, it was crucial to send the tunnel and state police to the top of the bridge to block traffic. Motorists, anxious to get to work, were crossing the bridge as it was collapsing.
(Gasoline still in the tank is being off loaded by another tank truck. Photo - Keith Hammack)
A crash truck was called in from the BWI Airport Fire Department to use protein foam to completely extinguish the fire.
The Bridge/Tanker Fire operation escalated to Two Alarms. No one was killed, or injured. The bridge was shut down for three-months for rebuilding. Cost was estimated to be $200 - $300,000.
(Fire apparatus parked over the location of where the Arundel Park building stood seventeen years before. Photo - Keith Hammack)
(Company 33 "C" Shift, Circa 1971. L-R Bernie Pulz, Donald Schutheis, Donald Gibson and Clyde Willis. Pulz and Gibson were assigned to Truck 33 during this period. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
Engineman Bernie Pulz, after taking Frank Homberg's spot at Company 31 in 1966 transferred to the "new" Truck 33 (Glen Burnie) when it went into service during 1970. Later he was promoted to lieutenant and captain at Company 32 (Linthicum) and Company 33 (Glen Burnie) respectfully.
In 1978 Pulz was promoted to division chief and was placed in charge of the new Battalion 4. In 1989 he was transferred to Battalion 1 where he remained until his retirement in 1993.
(Division Chief Bernie Pulz, Battalion 1, presents Captain Mike Hall, Company 21 (Harmans-Dorsey) an award for wining the battalion's Station Operational Readiness Inspection competition. Far left Battalion Chief Joseph B. Ross Jr. and to the right of the captain are Firefighter/pump operator Jim Lenz and Firefighter Frank Velez. circa 1993. Photo - AACo.FD)
TRAGEDY ON RIVERVIEW
At approximately 2:30 a.m., on December 26, 1976, AACo.FD Fire Alarm radioed out a box alarm assignment as follows:
“Box 11, Companies 31 (Brooklyn), 32 (Linthicum), 34 (Ferndale) and Truck 31 respond to a dwelling fire at 213 West Riverview Road near Belle Grove Road. Received information that people are trapped."
A family of four were trapped on the second floor of townhouse with a raging fire burning in the basement.
(213 Riverview Road. A day after the fire where two firefighters died. Photo - News Post)
On Engine 312 were, Lieutenant Donald Gibson, Engineman Tom Hnyla and Firefighter Rick Anderson. Responding on Truck 31 were Firefighters (driver) Gary Schekells and Pat Bauer.
By the time the supply hose line was laid from a hydrant, and units were all on location, they found smoke showing. A man needed to be rescued from an awning over the front door and all others were out. A young boy, who fell from the second floor with a head injury was laying on the ground in the rear of the house.
A mixed crew formed with firefighters from 31 and 32. As the crew started hitting and knocking down the fire on the first floor. A crew from Company 34 showed up and four firefighters entered the front door following the hose line. They were all in protective gear and self-contained-breathing-apparatus or SCBA.
The line from the hydrant was charged with water and Company 32's engine was pumping at the hydrant. As the crew inside was advancing the charged hose line down the basement steps, Engine 312's tank ran out of water.
This occurs frequently on a fire ground and the engineman closes the tank to pump valve and opens a valve to allow water to enter the pump from the hydrant. Typically this maneuver is smooth and problem free but not this night.
Simultaneously inside, a flashover occurred where flames shot across the ceiling. The firefighters with no water withdrew up the stairs and into the kitchen. The pump operator can't understand why there is no pressure, the supply hose is hard as a rock. There must be a blockage.
No water. The fire became worse and the firefighters were trapped. One firefighter was able to crawl on his belly and exited out the front door. Three firefighters were able to escape out the kitchen door.
(Rear of the dwelling. Dining room windows, kitchen doorway and second floor bedroom window where a young boy fell out of. Photo - News Post)
One when out a rear dinning room window. Firefighter Pat Bauer got stuck in a side window trying to escape. Scheckells and Gibson pulled him out. Bauer was severely burned. The paramedics on location worked on him and he was transported to University Shock Truma.
Much later, after water was restored to the hose lines, crews found a firefighter deceased on the floor of the dining room. His name was George Driggers. He grew up in the house next to Fire Station 31. All the sixteen-year-old high schooler ever wanted to do was become a firefighter.
(Sixteen-year-old George Driggers. All he ever wanted to do was become a firefighter. Photo - Courtesy of Theresa Driggers Bush, circa 1976)
On George's 16th birthday, the summer before, he joined Company 34 (Ferndale) since Company 31 became all career and volunteers still rode and responded to fires at Ferndale.
With the exception of some company drills, Driggers never attended a formal firefighting training program. On this night he put on a SCBA and entered the fire and never made it out with the others.
(Patrick Bauer was working overtime at Company 31 so another firefighter could be off with his family on Christmas Day. Photo AACoFD)
Twenty-two-year-old Patrick Bauer, previously an active volunteer with Company 27 (Maryland City), graduate of AACo. Fire Recruit School Class 11, with approximately one year on with the department, died the next day.
(Brooklyn's Engine 312. 1965 Peter Pirsch. 1250 GPM and 300 GAL WATER TANK. Photo - Credit to the photographer.)
Later, when Engineman Hynla disconnected the hose line from the pump intake on the engine, he found the strainer caked with small pieces of gravel. He placed the gravel in a bucket.
A test was conducted at the training academy a couple of days later, with the gravel placed in a hose line, than charged by a hydrant to Engine 312. The same blockage that occurred at Riverview took place at the inlet strainer.
Note: For more information on this fire see the article on this website entitled: THE PERFECT FIRE - TRAGEDY ON RIVERVIEW ROAD, 12-26-76, BROOKLYN PARK - THREE ALARMS
As a result of the Riverview fire, strict training requirements would be set in motion for young volunteer firefighters. After a series of tests and interviews, a cadre of line and station officers were promoted to around the clock battalion chiefs.
Today, very few fire departments fight a basement fire from the top of the interior stairs. A transitional attack is performed mostly conducted from the exterior basement door or basement windows.
(Firefighters conduct overhaul operations at the Ritchie Lumber and Building Supplies, 5904 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park - 3 Alarms. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
Brooklyn's Engine 31 and Truck 31 were first due on this fire Wednesday, January 26, 1977. The fire in the 150’ long one-story oridinary-constructed built building surrounded by piles of outside stored lumber was reported at 12:30 a.m.
First alarm units found heavy fire in the show room of the building and attempted an interior attack. While in the interior, a partition or advertising display fell over on a crew of working firefighters.
Fears of another Riverview Road fire scenario (less than a month earlier) permeated the minds of those in charge. The impacted crew was extricated and all withdrew to the exterior. Four firefighters received minor injuries.
Firefighters did a good job protecting the Ritchie Car Wash which was an exposure to the south. Today a two-hour rated concrete block fire wall surrounds the complex to keep any future fire from spreading to adjoining businesses.
In 1980, the Peter Pirsch, T-31 was placed in reserve. It was replaced by a 1976 Mack CF/Hammerly/Maxim/tractor-trailer 100' aerial ladder. This truck when originally purchased was to be sent to Co.5 (Waugh Chapel). Truck 5 was stenciled on the tractor portion and back of the tiller cab. However staffing was never approved so from 1977 until 1980 the truck was used as a reserve throughout the county.
(Brooklyn's new Truck 31. Photo - John Floyd)
County Building & Grounds personnel had to renovate the old Truck 31 bay. A back wall had to be knocked out for the tractor and trailer to fit. The original doorway was not high enough because of the tillerman’s box in the back. They replaced the door with and ugly metal roll up door. The community "eyesore" remained in place until the building was torn down some 24-years later.
(Traveler's House Fire, Crain Highway, Glen Burnie, December 12, 1980. Photo Keith Hammack)
On Friday, December 12, 1980, Engine and Truck 31 responded to a Three Alarm fire at the Traveler's House. One occupant died in the fire. Brooklyn's Harry Zlotowski, Division Chief, Battalion 1, was incident commander. Investigation revealed that the fire was set.
(In 1980 there were a number of ladder trucks throughout the county. Truck 31 was now the oldest and affectionally nicknamed "Bertha." Here as a reserve for Truck 32, Bertha is set up to work the B&A Boulevard side of the Traveler's House fire. Photo - Keith Hammack)
(Smashed and upside-down cab of a tractor-trailer near a B&O RR locomotive. Photo credit to the photographer)
On March 17, 1983, Company 31 responded to a vehicle accident on Ordinance Rd. and RR Tracks near Stahl Point Rd. The truck driver was actually a hero.
He lost his brakes while driving a tractor trailer full of metal pipe. He swerved the truck at the last minute to avoid hitting a line of cars stopped for the train. The cab flipped over near the tracks as seen above.
(Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Thompson assist others in the loading of the injured truck driver into the back of the medic unit. Photo - Credit to the photographer.)
The truck driver was trapped in the crushed cab for over an hour. Firefighter Paramedic Steve Thompson crawled into the cab and provided medical care until rescue teams cut him out.
(Brooklyn's Engine 311, an International/Emergency One. Photo - John Floyd)
In 1981, a strange looking engine appeared at Station 31 along with Stations 26 (South Glen Burnie) and Station 1 (Galesville). It was an Emergency One built International.
It wasn’t as styled or glamored as the Peter Pirsch’s purchased in the ‘60s, but it pumped 1,000 gpm, had a 500 GWT and a large metal box to protect the crew. This no frills fire engine would serve Brooklyn and the surrounding communities well for the next eight years.
(In 1981, despite housing the latest fire apparatus, the Brooklyn station, was showing signs of aging after providing fire protection to the community for the past 41 years. Photo - John Floyd)
(Typically during this time period Brooklyn's Pirsch engines were in reserve, however seemed to be in-service, more than not at north county fire stations, as well as Company 31. Photo - John Floyd)
(With the new sprinkler system not fully operational, 1,200 degree F temperatures caused the mall roof truss supports to collapse early in the Glen Burnie Mall fire. No firefighters or occupants were injured. Photo Baltimore Sun)
Early in the morning on October 24,1981, Brooklyn's Engine 311 and Truck 31 responded first due to a building fire at the Glen Burnie Mall on Ritchie Highway. The fire escalated to Three Alarms.
The mall was just finishing a multi-million dollar face lift of the interior including a complete automatic sprinkler system. When the mall was built in 1963 only the anchor stores such as Montgomery Wards and Food Fair were sprinklered. The sprinkler system was ten days from becoming fully operational.
Fortunately, damage was cleaned up, repaired and the the sprinkler system placed in service just in time for the holiday shopping season. A disgruntled fired security guard set the fire.
(Three aerial ladders are in use, including Brooklyn's "Bertha" on this Five Alarm fire at the Willows Apartments in 1984. (Photo - John Floyd)
The Willows Apartment complex, on Warwickshire Road off of Harris Heights Road, constructed in 1968, was the scene of many working fires during the 1980s.
(Firefighter/Pump Operator Jerry "JR" Ross walking towards camera as Richard "Hobie" Lehr picks up a nozzle while conducting hose testing at the Brooklyn Park Library parking lot. circa 1986. Photo - Keith Hammack)
(L-R Firefighter Jerry Ross, Frank Hannon and Lieutenant Jim Bostic, Company 21, receiving an award from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Circa 1982. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
Firefighter Ross was hired in August 1978 and a graduate of Fire Recruit Class 15. After assignments at Companies 41 (Avalon Shores) and 21 (Harmans-Dorsey), he was promoted to pump operator in 1984 and assigned to Brooklyn's Engine Company 31.
Ross's assignment to Brooklyn is a record 30 years (1984 - 2014) as a pump operator/engineman. The second longest assignment was Engineman Frank Homberg Sr., 29 years (1938 - 1967).
Other Company 31 firefighters with record "time" assignments are as follows:
Firefighter Edmund "Ed" Rosenberger, Recruit Class 22 graduate, 1985, 31 years.
Firefighter Ray Smith, Recruit Class 12 graduate, 1976, 31 years.
Firefighter/Pump Operator Fredrick "Fred" Tayman, Recruit Class 8 graduate, 1972, 29 years.
(In 1987 Company 31 and 21 received Spartan E-Ones, 1250 GPM, 500 GWTs. Photo - Joseph MacDonald)
Company 31's Spartan was in its tenth year of service when it was involved in an accident. On that fall evening, circa '97, Engine 311 was responding to an auto accident on I-695 at the B-W Parkway bridge. While responding on Belle Grove Road, a car pulled out in front of the engine near Lukes's Tavern.
The engine swerved not to hit the car but ran into a utility pole. The three-person-crew was trapped in the cab for a time since "live" electrical lines fell on top of the engine. Fortunately, other than some bumps and bruises, the crew survived; unfortunately the engine was extensively damaged and would take months to be repaired and placed back in service.
(Engine 311 arrives on a dwelling fire at 11 2nd Avenue, 11-13-89. Firefighter is advancing attack line up the front steps to the dwelling. Lieutenant Roy Phillips standing in lower left corner of photo calling for additional alarms on his portable radio . Photo - Keith Hammack)
On November 13, 1989, a dwelling fire broke out at 11 2nd Ave., Brooklyn Park. The fire escalated to Three Alarms. Fire investigators believe it started as a result of discarded smoking materials in the living room.
(Truck 31, sets up in front of a working dwelling fire on 2nd Avenue, Brooklyn Park. Photo - Keith Hammack)
Damage to the dwelling was $100,000 and $75,000 to contents. There were two occupants in the house when the fire started. One escaped through a window. Both were uninjured.
Firefighters made a quick stop. The house was repaired and it still stands at the same location today.
(Matlack Trucking Company - Two Alarms. Photo - Keith Hammack)
Matlack Trucking Company, Belle Grove Road, just north of 10th Avenue. The company hauled everything from milk to petroleum products in its tractor-trailer tankers during the haydays of the 1950's to the 1980s.
A fire occurred on the morning of January 2, 1992 escalating to Two Alarms. The fire was suspicious. Matlack was the the last remaining building to bear witness to the tragic Arundel Park Fire 36 years earlier. It was vacant at the time of the fire.
Firefighters wisely stay out on the exterior of the fully involved vacant building fire. Photo - Keith Hammack)
(Matlack Company Fire. The last remaining building to bear witness to the tragic Arundel Park Fire 36 years earlier. Photo - Keith Hammack)
A NEW ERA
(In 2000 the county purchased this E-One Cyclone II, 1250 GPM, 750 GWT for Station 31. Photo - Joseph MacDonald)
(In addition to the engine above, this 2000 E-One Hurricane, 100' Rear-Mount Ladder Truck was placed in-service at Station 31. Photo - Joseph MacDonald)
As stated earlier, Brooklyn's Company 31 station was deteriorating. Planning started for the new station circa 2000. Many legal issues needed to be address. Two homes, one behind the station on 11th Avenue and the house just south of the station had to be purchased by Anne Arundel County (AACo) and demolished.
A temporary station had to be erected since the demolition and construction would take at least two years to complete. AACo. worked out a deal with Ollies Retail store across Ritchie Highway to lease an area for the temporary station. Preparations had to be carried out to provide utilities such as electric, sewage and water to be connected to the temporary quarters.
Captain Harry Steiner was assigned to the station. He not only managed the company and responded to calls, he was also overseeing the entire station project.
(Company 31's temporary station on the southside of Ollies parking lot on Ritchie Highway. The structure, a heavy duty tent, only had enough space for the engine and paramedic unit. Construction trailers were used for quarters, storage and office. Truck 31 would run out of Company 32's station in Linthicum until the new station was completed. Photo - Charles Doegen)
Firefighter/Pump Operator Jerry Ross remembers that they had electric, sewer and water hook ups at the temporary quarters. He said that they could control the traffic light at 11th and Ritchie when responding to a call.
Ross said that during the day, the engine and/or paramedic unit would respond via the roadway behind the Oliies store to access 11th Avenue. At night, when the parking lot was free of shoppers and vehicles the crews would respond via the front of the store.
Ross remembers that during a snow storm Truck 31 had to be called from the Linthicum Station to the temporary tent housing the apparatus due to heavy snow on the roof. The weight of the snow was pushing in on the overhead doors - shutting them down. Crews used the trucks' ladder to clean the snow off of the top of the tent to allow the overhead doors to open and close.
(Sign announcing the Brooklyn Station Demolition and Construction. The project would take two years to complete. circa 2001. Photo - Charles Doegen)
(With Truck and Engine 31 providing the backdrop along with the south wall of the station, officials perform the ground breaking ceremony. Chief Roger Simonds looks on as Chief Charlie Doegen, Councilwoman Pam Beidle and County Executive Owens along with others shovel dirt. circa 2002. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
(Tractor works taking down the walls of a station that contained sixty-four years of firefighting history, circa 2002. Photo - Charles Doegen)
(New station under construction. circa 2003. Photo - Charles Doegen)
(Brooklyn’s Company 31’s new station 2004. Two homes were demolished as well as the old station to build this drive-thru facility which includes an elevator for the handicap and seniors, or even tired firefighters. The old station lasted for 65-years. Photo - AACo.FD)
(Former Brooklyn VFD member John McNally would serve the last seven of a 40 year career as Battalion 1. Photo - credit to he photographer)
In addition to the dedicated volunteers who supported the Brooklyn station since its inception over the years, many members we're hired by career fire departments in addition to Anne Arundel County.
Lester Helfrich, as mentioned earlier, served many years with Brooklyn VFD. He joined BCFD in 1957 and retired as a chief officer in 2000.
William "Bill" Kern was active with Brooklyn VFD and was hired by BCFD in the mid-1970s. Bill was very active in the city where he was promoted to pump operator and would later retire as a lieutenant.
During the early 1970s until 1975, there was a cadre of active Brooklyn VFD firefighters who would enter the A.A.Co.FD.
Richard "Hobie" Lehr - AACoFD Recruit Fire School graduate Class 9, November 1973. Firefighter assigned to Company 29 (Jessup), Company 21 (Harmans-Dorsey) and would spend the remainder of his career at Company 31 (Brooklyn Park)
Joseph "Joe" Jedrowicz, AACoFD Recruit Fire School graduate Class 10, September 1974. Firefighter assigned to Company 14 (Green Haven). Joe was later promoted to paramedic circa '76 - '77 and assigned to Company 32 (Linthicum). He was one of the original paramedics assigned to Paramedic 21 when the unit started service in October 1978. In the late 1980's Jedrowicz transferred over to Truck 21 when It was relocated from Truck 32.
Kenny Cofiell - AACoFD Recruit Fire School graduate Class 11, August 1975. Spent many years at Company 26 (South Glen Burnie) as a firefighter. Cofiell was detailed to the Training Academy for many years as a technician video taping many fires for training and critiques. During the 1990s Ken was reassigned to Fire Alarm. Unfortunately he past away before he could officially retire.
David Hoy was also a graduate of Class 11 and was assigned to Company 6 (Herald Harbor) after recruit school. He was a medic for a number of years at Company 31. Hoy was promoted to battalion chief in the late 1990s.
John McNally - AACoFD Recruit Fire School graduate Class 12, September 1976. Firefighter assigned to Company 16 (Lombardee Beach). McNally was promoted to paramedic during the early 1980s and assigned to Paramedic 10 (Jacobsville) and in 1985, Paramedic 32 (Linthicum). In the early 1990s, McNally was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Fire Alarm. Promoted to Captain, he was assigned to Company 17 (Arnold) and later to Company 33 (Glen Burnie). In 2009, John was promoted to battalion chief and would spend the last seven years of his forty-year career as Battalion 1.
Joe Kemper - AACoFD Recruit Fire School graduate Class 19, September 1983. Firefighter assigned to Company 29 (Jessup). He was promoted to pump operator an assigned to Company 28 (Odenton). He would finish out his career assigned to Company 17 (Arnold).
(The county purchased this 2009, E-One Cyclone, 100' Rear-Mount Ladder Truck for the Brooklyn station. Photo - Joseph MacDonald)
(Working Fire, 200 block of West Arundel Road. Photo - Capital Gazette)
At approximately 8:15 a.m. on December 3, 2014, Brooklyn's Company 31 along with first alarm companies responded to a dwelling fire in the 200 block of West Arundel Road in Brooklyn Park near Belle Grove Road.
Thirty firefighters battled the fire for 30 minutes that caused $150,000 damaged to the structure. Oxygen bottles on the front porch contributed to the spread of the fire. Three people were displaced and were aided by the Red Cross.
TRAGEDY ON HILLTOP
(121 West Hilltop Road, Brooklyn Park. This parsonage for the church directly across the street was the scene of a triple-fatal fire on 2/10/15. Photo JBR)
Twenty-two days between January and February, 2015, the A.A.Co.FD along with their mutual aid partners took a fierce beating. During that period there was a rash of working dwelling fires, a plane crash, cars running over people and 9 fire fatalities in two fires. Brooklyn's Engine 311 and Truck 31 were first due on the deadly Hilltop blaze.
(The fire started in this rear addition of the dwelling. The occupant was able to escape. However the heavy smoke worked its way into the two story unit. Photo - Shawn Coleman)
On February 10, 2015, a fire broke out at a church parsonage at 121 Hilltop Road. The fire started in the rear addition. The occupant of the addition was able to escape. A mother and her teenage son were sleeping in the two story unit at the front of the house.
The woman smelled smoke and escaped outside. When she realized her son was still in the smoky dwelling she went back in to find him. A neighbor who lived across the street was alerted to the fire. He decided to enter the dwelling to help.
Company 31 responded along with a full box assignment and sent search crews inside once they arrived. The crews found and removed all three victims. The victims were unresponsive, crews performed CPR, however all were deceased. The incident escalated to two alarms.
(Firefighters take a break after the search and fire was knocked down by hose lines. Photo - Shawn Coleman)
(Brooklyn's Truck 31 getting ready to go back to the station after a very tough night. Photo - Shawn Coleman)
(200 block, West Meadow Road, February 2, 2016. The house was under renovation at the time of the fire. Brooklyn's Engine 311 and Truck 31 were first due. Photo - Credit to the photographer)
(Engine 31's crew performs a transitional attack on the West Meadow Road fire. The transitional attack allows the fire to be knocked down from the exterior and lessen's the chance of an interior flashover as crews enter to complete search and extinguishment functions. Photo - Credit to the photographer.)
(Scene of fatal fire, 5200 block of Brookwood Road. Photo - AACoFD)
On July 4, 2016 at 4:35 a.m., Company 31 responded to a working dwelling fire in the 5200 block of Brookwood Road, Brooklyn Park. Firefighters found a man on the second floor of the home and despite paramedics' attempts to resuscitate him, he was declared dead.
The fire escalated to two alarms when a firefighter fell through the second floor to the first floor and was trapped by debris. The injured firefighter was transported to Shock Truma however was released later in the day. Sixty firefighters responded to the fire that was under control in 20 minutes.
(Truck 31 operating the aerial ladder on Hazel Street, Curtis Bay. Photo - Kevin Ryer)
On July 3, 2017, Company 31 along with other units from AACoFD and BCFD responded to row homes burning in the 1600 of Hazel Street, Curtis Bay, Baltimore City.
The fire escalated to three alarms as fire spread through a common cockloft or attic involving ten row homes, many vacant.
(Truck 31 sets up a ladder pipe operation on Hazel Street. Photo - Kevin Ryer)
(Truck 31 operating on Hazel Street on a very hot day in July, 2017. Photos - Kevin Ryer)
(Working dwelling fire located on Fourth Street, Arundel Village - Brooklyn Park, 12/29/17. Photo Craig Urban)
A constant face for many many years at the Brooklyn station was Charles "Charlie" Doegen. Mentioned earlier in this story, Charles became a member of Brooklyn VFD in April 1948. He is a life member.
Charles served as an officer since 1956. He was appointed Deputy Chief of Brooklyn's VFD in l965 and Chief in 1971 for one year. Charles served on the Board as member of the active body for many years. He was elected to the Board 1972, and Vice-President in October 1989. He was elected Administrative Officer in October 2003. Charles has served on the Brooklyn's Board over 50 years.
(Left photo. Charles is conducting a training session in the apparatus bays. To his right is younger member Harry Zlotowski sitting on the the tailboard of an engine, circa 1955. Photo - Doegen and Helfrich Collection) (Right photo. LT. Doegen is assisting a firefighter in taking out window glass at the tragic Arundel Park fire, January 1956. Photo - Hearst Corp.)
Chief Doegen has also been active in the Anne Arundel County and Maryland State Volunteer associations for over 30 years.
Charles along with Norman and William Ray, Will Gibson, Joe and Phillip Laumann have been very helpful at the station as administration volunteers over the past twenty-years.
I would like to thank Joseph MacDonald, Fred Tayman, Kim Cessna Ross, Jerry Ross and John McNally for their assistance in the writing of this article.
I would also like to thank all of you who have provided little bits and pieces of history over the years that has greatly contributed to the quality and integrity of this work.
Joseph B. Ross Jr.