The Early Years
In 1734, the first settlers arrived in what is now known as Delta, Pennsylvania. The small town grew and was officially named in 1853. It was incorporated as a borough in 1880, and the borough council and chief burgess (mayor) were elected.
The town flourished and had several stores, two banks, three hotels, numerous churches, a post office, and a school by the early 1890’s. Edy’s Store and dwelling were destroyed by fire in 1890, so the town talked about getting together some type of fire protection, but the movement died off. When Holloway’s Drug Store burned in 1895, the town again discussed fire protection and purchased some fire grenades to use. The water main and fireplugs were installed over the next three years. No formal fire protection plan was formulated until late 1897 when the borough purchased a reel and 500 feet of hose.
In February 1898, the Delta Herald and Times advertised that a meeting would be held on February 9th of all men interested in forming a fire department. At the February 9th meeting, Albert J. Matson was elected temporary chairman and the meeting was adjourned until a constitution and by-laws could be written. A second meeting was held on February 16th. The by-laws were passed, and the secretary loaned the new company $100 for expenses. The Union Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 of Delta, Pennsylvania was officially organized.
The charter members were as follows: Albert J. Matson, Charles Sidwell, Oliver Weiser, Samuel Harrison, Harry Pymer, Samuel J. Kinsler, James Crawford, Charles Denbow, Benny Harrison, J. Rob Ramsey, Charles E. Hawkins, Henry Hitchcock, Sproll Heaps, L.K. Stubbs, J. Ross Ramsey, J. Howard Stubbs, Stockton W. Holden, Vallie Wheeler, J. M. Moore, Hugh E. Hughes, John W. Jones, and B.Y. Blaine.
On February 25th, elections were held. J. Howard Stubbs was elected President and Albert J. Matson was elected Fire Marshal (Chief). By April, plans were made to fix up a room in the rear of the Odd Fellows Building (old Delta Post Office) to store the carriage and hose.
There are no records of company activities until February 1904. Per the Delta Herald and Times, Delta had had no fires of any consequence since the company was formed and they did not need an engine.
On February 13, 1904 the company met to reorganize. Revamped officers included Foreman (Chief), Assistant
Foreman, Hose Director, Assistant Hose Director, Pipeman, Chemical Man, Ladder Man, President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Trustees. At this meeting, the members voted to purchase a new hose carriage.
The first fire since reorganizing occurred on March 13th at Jones' Brothers Store.
Plans were made to purchase the new wagon. The Holloway Cleo Company of Baltimore declined to build the hose carriage, so it was ordered from the Leonhardt Company at a cost of $440. The Ladder Wagon and Chemical Apparatus arrived on July 2nd by railroad from Baltimore. The Union “fire boys” celebrated the arrival of the wagon on July 4th with a parade, music, speeches, and a supper. This celebration became an annual event, which is now our annual carnival. Two to three thousand people attended the festivities. The men wore blue shirts and rubber hats in the parade and marched proudly throughout the streets. They also posed for their picture (see inside front flap).
The apparatus is best described by a July 8, 1904 article in the Delta Herald and Times, entitled “The Fourth in Delta.”
The wagon is a fall platform, gear painted canary and striped with maroon, straight body painted maroon and striped and lettered in gold. On each side is the inscription “Union Volunteers, No.1, Delta, Pa.” The body is mounted with a brass hand railing and brass patent spring attachments for holding fire axes, pick axes, crowbars, etc. It will carry 1,000 feet of hose. In the rear is attached a platform, step and tool box. Fastened over the body is the ladder rack, containing one 16 feet roof ladder, one 19 feet single ladder and a 32 feet extension ladder. To each of the four corner posts of the rack is fastened a brass patent spring bracket, holding a heavy brass lantern. Along the outside of the brackets are fastened two pike poles. On each side of the body in front of the rear wheel fender is a bracket holding one of Holloway’s six gallon chemical extinguishers. These were procured at a cost of $80. The wagon is to be pulled by hand. A removable tongue with four nickle-plated hand holts, and a 60 feet dray rope, attached to an adjustable reel, gives ample space for the number of boys necessary to pull the truck, which, when loaded, will weigh about 1250 lbs. On the rear axle is attached a 12 inch automatic gong, which strikes twice for every revolution of the wheel.
The “fire boys” would attach the hose to a fire hydrant and pressure from the hydrant would force water to the fire. The hydrants had about 75-85 lbs. of pressure. There was no hydrant system in Cardiff, so a bucket brigade was used. Black horses were used to pull the hose cart in parades. The horses were borrowed from the local undertaker.
In May 1904, the company appointed a committee to organize a Ladies Auxiliary. The committee members were J. C. Crawford, William Lowe, and C. E. Hawkins. On July 9th a meeting of all the ladies interested in forming the auxiliary was held in the high school building. Twenty-six ladies met. In 1905, the Ladies Auxiliary was officially organized, and dues were set at 10 cents. The officers were: President, Mrs. W.H. McCurdy; Vice President, Mrs. S.J. Barnett; Secretary, Mrs. James C. Crawford; Treasurer, Mrs. Ashael Steward.
The borough council decided to install a fire alarm system, which was completed in November 1905 at a cost of $172. The system included five alarm boxes with 12-inch gongs (later replaced with 16-inch) and eight call boxes with the necessary wire, batteries, etc. The fire alarm was tested every Saturday at noon. But the system was not without some flaws. A horse shaking one of the poles caused a false alarm. It was hitched to a pole and shook it, causing the alarm to sound, and the entire town to arise during the wee hours of the morning.
On November 17, 1905, the new apparatus was used for the first time. A chimney flue on a house owned by A.J. Scarborough caught fire causing $2 worth of damage. Ironically, a company member, Captain William Lowe, occupied the house.
In November 1906, the company was officially incorporated as the Union Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 of Delta, Pennsylvania.
Early in 1906, the company set about obtaining land to build a building to house the hose wagon. They bought a lot for $47.78 and developed plans for a 34’ by 34’ building but the seller cancelled the purchase. They continued searching for a lot for the next year, and finally, in 1908, purchased a lot from John Baer for $450. This is the lot where the firehouse is located now. Building began in 1909, and was completed in 1910. The building ended up being 42’ by 45’. The mortgage on the new fireman’s hall was $1200 with 6% interest and was held by Albert J. Matson. On June 3, 1910 the first company meeting was held in the new hall.
Now the task at hand was to raise money to pay the mortgage. Both the fire company and ladies auxiliary sponsored events to raise money. They had suppers, plays, and entertainment for the town to enjoy. They even sponsored a jousting tournament. Minstrel shows were also very popular, as in those days there was no television. Plays held included “Queen’s Carnival,” “Hezekiah’s Country Store,” and “Hezekiah’s Picnic.” Prices were 25 cents for reserved seats and 10 cents for regular seats. “Hezekiah’s Country Store” had net proceeds of $70.44, of which $5 was paid to the orchestra. The Ladies Auxiliary gave a “Conundrum Tea” at the Golden Eagle Hotel where they chanced off a silver service at 10 cents per chance.
The most popular event was the July 4th festival. It was the custom to have a parade on the Fourth of July and a supper afterward served by the Ladies Auxiliary on the Delta High School grounds. A large tent was used as kitchen and tables were set out in the grove. An orchestra provided music. The Fire Company had stands that sold cigars, pop, sandwiches, ice cream, and candy. They had a cane stand, a doll stand, and a guessing contest. The proceeds for 1910 were $169.08. The Ladies Auxiliary was in charge of the cake table and the supper.
In 1911, a moving picture company rented the hall and started showing moving pictures. The Fire Company was able to buy folding chairs from Highland Church to outfit the hall for the pictures. In 1913, the Fire Company bought out the moving picture company and continued showing the movies for many years thereafter. On occasion, a “smoker” was even shown. The hall was also used for basketball games.
An addition was added to the fireman’s hall by the end of 1912. Other improvements included a light for the hitching grounds and three stoves for heat. In 1919, after considerable discussion, the men voted to put a toilet in the building.
The bylaws were changed in 1915, and the Foreman was now known as Chief.
The only fire company fatality occurred on Thursday, September 18, 1919. Clifford “Tippy” Findley was killed on the way to a fire at Whitaker’s Ice House (located to the rear of the railroad turntable). He was helping pull the hose wagon and fell under its wheels.
The Motorized Era
The 1920’s started with a bang. In 1920, the company voted to seek prices on a motorized fire truck, and, in 1921, purchased a chemical outfit on an International chassis for $2800. Also in1921, the company paid off the building loan.
The company uniform of a white hat, blue shirt, white tie, and dark trousers was established. In 1924, the first fire helmets were purchased.
The company bought the Frank Gibson property for $1200 and a “paylot” for $250 in 1923. Later on, the house next to the firehouse was moved so a street (Bunker Hill Avenue) could be made to connect Main Street and Chestnut Street.
As the area grew, the company decided another piece of firefighting equipment was needed, and, so, ordered a pumper. On May 30, 1924, the American LaFrance engine arrived by train and was unloaded at Broad Street. It had a rotary gear pump and a soda and acid tank connected to a booster hose. The mixture of soda and acid created a chemical reaction that extinguished fires. The old hand-drawn hose wagon was sold. On December 31st the first call for the new pumper was received. The Washington Inn, one of Delta’s hotels, was consumed by fire.
The International chemical wagon was sold to Fawn Grove in 1925 and replaced by a Locomobile roadster. The Locomobile had two chemical tanks and could carry four men.
According to published accounts, the most severe fire ever in the borough to date occurred on February 28, 1926. A fire started in Max Tobin’s shoe repair shop on Main Street and spread to McCreay Tin & Paint, causing $10,000 in damages. Pearl Findley died from shock and a heart problem, as the fire threatened her house and she had to be evacuated.
The Auxiliary met with the firemen in June of 1926 to discuss the purchase of an ambulance. Arrangements were made and a 1927 Nash ambulance was purchased in July for $1500. The Auxiliary bought the ambulance and all of the supplies. The Fire Company was responsible for gas, oil, and repairs. The Auxiliary appointed all of the drivers. Many of the ladies drove the ambulance, including Mrs. Ruby Butler and Mrs. Ada Stifler. Patients were transported to local doctor’s offices and hospitals in York, including the West Side Sanatorium (which later became Memorial Hospital), and Baltimore, usually Union Memorial, Maryland General, or the old Franklin Square. These hospitals were the closest at that time. Lancaster hospitals were not available since there was not a bridge across the Susquehanna.
In December of 1926, there was a serious fire at Highland School. Charles Stubbs was injured fighting the fire and taken to a Baltimore hospital.
The firemen participated in numerous parades and celebrations during this era. One of the most prestigious was the 150th Anniversary of Continental Congress in York in 1927. And, in 1928, the York County Fireman’s Convention was held in Delta.
In 1928, the Locomobile needed to be replaced, so the company purchased an REO Speedwagon fire engine. “Tig” Jones went to Lansing, Michigan, and drove the new truck home. This engine also had chemical tanks.
During the early years, the company covered a wide territory. They responded to calls from Route 1 in Dublin north to Airville and west to parts of Jarrettsville. Many of the fire companies we have today were not in existence then, and ambulance service was not widespread or only provided by undertakers. For example, in 1930, the company responded to the Susquehanna River near the old Conowingo Bridge to search for a drowning victim. They used Chief Harkins’ boat and located the victim.
During the 1930’s, the company’s focus changed to include fire protection for Cardiff, as well as Delta. The charter was changed in 1930. The official name of the company was now the Union Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 of Delta, Pennsylvania, and Cardiff, Maryland. The company also had an official agreement with the Cardiff Fire Company to provide fire protection to the area. No records of the Cardiff Fire Company exist, but it is known that they had a hand-drawn extinguisher that was kept in a shed near the Heaps Motor Company. In 1935, a financial agreement was established between the two companies, and the Union Volunteers took over the operation of the Cardiff Fire Company. Since then, the company has been known as Delta-Cardiff, but the name was not officially changed until 1976.
The use of the ambulance flourished. During the week of December 18, 1930, the ambulance had made 5 transports. The community was very enthusiastic about the new ambulance service and an article appeared in the Delta Herald praising it. The committee in charge of the ambulance that year included Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Stifler and Mrs. Jennie Wilson. In 1935, a new Ford ambulance was purchased from the Heaps Motor Company. It was made by welding two Fords together. It had a bell mounted on the front bumper.
It is interesting to note that any member using profanity during a meeting was fined $1.
An era came to an end in December 1933, when the company voted to stop showing moving pictures.
In 1934 one of the first company banquets was held at Car-Del Hotel. Company banquets are still held annually.
Another significant fire occurred in 1934 when the J.H. Myers Lumber Company burned. Witnesses recall it being a huge fire.
On November 30, 1936, an explosion occurred in a slate mining tunnel at the Funkhouser Quarry, killing seven men.
In 1938, the company purchased a new Ford engine to fight smaller fires.
The Ladies Auxiliary continued to be active during this period of time, but no official records exist of their activities.
During the late 1930’s, the company responded to several large fires. In January of 1938, a $5000 fire occurred at Funkhouser’s Quarry. A 30’ x 30’ office building was destroyed. Three mushroom houses burned at Whiteford Brothers in 1939, causing damages of $4000. Delta-Cardiff fought the fire with the assistance of Fawn Grove and Bel Air Fire Companies. During April of 1939, Agnes Johnson was killed in a house fire at Slate Hill. The fire also caused several hundred dollars of damage.
The War Years
During the early ‘40’s, the company continued as it had been, responding to calls and holding fundraisers. They even responded to Bel Air in October of 1941 when the Acme store and two other buildings burned. The seven-hour fire caused $100,000 in damages. They responded to Bel Air again in 1948 when the Korner Restaurant and several other businesses were destroyed by fire.
The company was still holding the carnival but in 1941 had to cancel it due to the infantile paralysis restrictions in York County. All children were quarantined at home because of the disease.
The company joined the Maryland State Firemen’s Association during the 1940’s, and it has been a company tradition since joining to attend the annual convention of the Association.
Many of the firemen were called to fight for their country during the war, including Chief Hugh Dooley, who was drafted in the middle of his term. He was replaced by Assistant Chief Aus Jones.
In November of 1943, disaster struck the company as a devastating fire destroyed the fire hall. On the 13th, the Delta High School held their senior play in the hall. Later that night, a smoldering cigar caused a fire to start in the second floor auditorium ticket booth. The firemen were able to rescue the engines and ambulance. The ambulance had to be pushed out of the building because the Ladies Auxiliary had the keys. The firemen were also able to save Myer’s Lodge Hall next door. The loss was covered by $15,000 insurance. Fawn Grove and Bel Air Fire Companies assisted in putting out the fire.
The company recovered quickly and had plans for a new hall drafted by February 1944. The fire station was completed later that year.
After the war, the Ladies Auxiliary turned the ambulance over the company, and women did not ride the ambulance again until the 1970’s. The company set up an ambulance division to govern the ambulance and added the office of ambulance captain. The first recorded ambulance captain was John R. Williams, who served for many years in this capacity. The first Cadillac ambulance was purchased in 1946. The first resuscitator was purchased after a young girl tragically drowned in a quarry. Funds for the device were solicited by the Cambria church minister and given to the company.
In 1945, the Auxiliary presented a check for $10.00 to the “fire boys” for life saving equipment, and held meetings in the firehouse for the first time. Usually meetings were held in a member’s home. During the ‘40’s, the Auxiliary opened their first stand at the carnival, selling sandwiches and baked goods. They purchased black and white uniforms. To raise money, they had bingo and card parties, held dances, purchased war bonds, and even had a wiener roast.
Until 1953, fires were alerted by the telephone company’s operators. These ladies received the call for the emergency and then blew the siren. Since there were no two-way radios, the firemen would call the operator by phone and give her a password, and she would tell them the location of the fire. If they did not know the password, they would not get the location. Some of these operators were: Myra Williams, Hilda Kilborn, Addy Holden, Alice Bennington, Dorothy Wheeler, Alice Jones, Patty Rutledge, Louise Green, Eleanor Stewart, Esther Snell, Francis Snodgrass, Elizabeth Wayne, and Mrs. Jack Neff.
After 1953, the Fire Company had their own operators and emergency phone number. These ladies had an emergency phone and a button to blow the siren in their houses. They volunteered in shifts to man the phones. The siren was sounded one blast if the fire was in town, three blasts if it was out of town, and was blown for three minutes if it was a large fire. This operator system was used until the early 1970’s. Some of these operators were: June Adams, Arlene Williams, Jane Williams, Jean Cantler, Eleanor Strickler, Blanche Jones, and Mary Robertson.
The late ‘50’s saw the addition of two-way radios and a brush truck to the company. During 1955, the company purchased a base station for radio communications and a surplus army vehicle. The men took the six-wheel drive Dodge and re-equipped it as a brush truck at a cost of $1115. The company also purchased high-pressure nozzles around this time. The nozzles could be switched from straight stream to fog and could maintain pressures of up to 800 pounds per square inch.
A large fire destroyed the old Roberts Foundry in Cardiff in May 1955. The building was being used by the Heaps Motor Company for storage. The fire caused damage to several other nearby buildings, and damages were estimated at $20,000. Another large fire, which occurred during the early ‘50’s, destroyed the Delta Ice Cream Plant. The plant was located off Bunker Hill Avenue below the firehouse. Several firemen were overcome by ammonia that was used in the freezing process.
A new ambulance was purchased in 1955 for, $9440.87. It could carry four litter patients. Ambulance personnel started to receive some formal training. Some members received training provided by Baltimore City Hospitals (now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center). The training was thought to be the precursor to today’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class. Al Cooper and Al Crowther were some of the first company members to receive this training.
The carnival continued to grow. The company began to raffle off a car. In 1955, a Buick Rivera was chanced off at 25 cents per chance. The Auxiliary ran the Kiddy Ride and Ferris Wheel at the carnival. In 1959, carnival profits exceeded $5500. The company continued the minstrel shows and had other activities, such as card parties.
In 1959, finances had improved and a new engine was received. The engine was a pumper/tanker combination. It was called “Spook” because it ran so fast.
Two new engines were purchased in the ‘60’s to replace the engines purchased in the 1940’s. One was received in 1963 and one in 1968. A hose tower was erected in 1964 so the hose could be hung up to dry. In 1969, a second brush truck was put in service.
The Auxiliary was reorganized in 1968 and became more active in community events. They joined the Harford County Ladies Auxiliary and the Ladies Auxiliary to the Maryland State Fireman’s Association. By 1970, they were able to give the fire company a $1000 donation.
The company had growing pains again in 1969. The old Myer’s Lodge Hall next to the firehouse was purchased and torn down in preparation for an addition to the building. Early in 1970, plans for the addition were approved, and the addition was dedicated in 1972. Three bays, an office, a meeting room, and a kitchen were added at a cost of $105,000. The Auxiliary furnished the kitchen and bought a stove, refrigerator, pans, and utensils. They even made a trip to a pottery outlet in Williamsburg to obtain a service of dishes, which is still in use today.
For the first time, sixteen and seventeen year olds could join the company. The bylaws were changed to allow a cadet program for the younger members.
Radio technology increased and York County opened its first central dispatch center in 1970. Harford County had had a dispatch center for many years, but had also opened a new center two years prior to York County’s. The dispatch centers received all emergency calls and were able to activate the siren, so the telephone operator/emergency phone system was discontinued in 1972.
The company tried some new fundraisers during the ‘70’s. They had horse shows, circuses, motorcycle endurance races, and sold refreshments at motorcycle hillclimbs. In 1973, the company started a fundraiser that has become a tradition—Thursday night bingo. It is still going strong today.
The ‘70’s saw a new avenue of transporting the injured, the helicopter. The Maryland State Police began transporting patients to Baltimore hospitals in 1970. By 1974, the medevac was being used frequently, and a safe place to land it was needed. Fire Company officials worked with the Mason-Dixon Lions’ Club to build a heli-pad. The Dooley Road pad was completed in 1975 and dedicated to Dr. Hunt.
Several major events occurred during the early ‘70’s. The Delta Sewing Factory was destroyed by fire in April of 1971,causing over one million dollars in damages. Hurricane Agnes hit the area in June of 1972, and the ambulance responded to Havre de Grace to help evacuate Harford Memorial Hospital and Citizens’ Nursing Home. The company responded to a multi-alarm fire in 1972 on Main Street in Bel Air when the Red Fox Restaurant burned. On May 1, 1974, the PenMar Theatre burned.
During July of 1974, a devastating fire occurred. A car caught fire in the 400 block of Main Street and then exploded, burning four firemen. Bill Buecker, Dean Colvin, and Ralph Morris were treated and released, however, Bud Strickler was severely injured. He spent many weeks in the Baltimore Regional Burn Center.
During the ‘70’s and the era of liberation, the firehouse was not immune. The first female firefighter, Roxy Goodwin, transferred to the company from Fawn Grove. Not to be left out, three men, Carl Colvin, Roland Parthree, and John Williams joined the Ladies Auxiliary. Rev. Lewis Jiles was the first African-American member of the company.
The company was also affected by the gas shortage. Parades had to be canceled in 1973, 1974, and 1979 due to the shortage.
The Auxiliary continued to grow. They started an annual Christmas bazaar and served many banquets and receptions. With all of their fundraising, the Auxiliary was able to contribute a lot to the company. They purchased folding chairs for the hall, traction splints for the ambulance, gave $2000 to equip a recreation room for the men, contributed to the new engine and fireworks for the carnival, and bought cabinets for the kitchen. JoAnn Britton represented Delta-Cardiff in the Harford County Ladies Auxiliary by serving as President of that organization in 1976-77.
The company acquired several special pieces of apparatus at this time. A Jeep replaced the old 6WD Dodge brush truck. A 6500-gallon tanker was obtained, along with a rescue truck. The company expanded to an additional engine, purchasing a Seagrave pumper in 1977. A Hurst rescue tool or the “Jaws of Life” was added in 1978.
During the nation’s bicentennial year, 1976, the company made some changes to keep up with the times. They adopted a new patch design. The charter was changed to reflect what the company had actually been called since the ‘30’s—the Delta-Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. The bylaws were changed to establish a board of directors and eliminate the trustees. The Community Hall was turned over to the community, and planning began for a new substation in Maryland.
The new emergency number, 911, went into effect, in York County in 1973 and in Harford County in 1984.
Many changes to the emergency medical services occurred during the 1970’s. An Emergency Medical Technician training course was developed by the Federal Government, and ambulance personnel eagerly enrolled. The first two EMT’s in the company were Bud Strickler and Brian Dowdy. The company decided in 1973 to allow members of the Ladies Auxiliary to ride the ambulance, and rules were drafted. In 1975, Fallston General Hospital opened, so a hospital was a little closer. . Two-way radio communication that allowed heart tracings to be sent to hospitals was developed.
The first box ambulance was received. Delta-Cardiff became the first ambulance service in York County to be recognized under the Pennsylvania Voluntary Ambulance Service Certification program, which outlined minimum standards for ambulance services. A device called a “Thumper” was purchased to do mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on patients.
Training was improving for ambulance personnel. Harford County started training personnel in intravenous therapy. The state of Maryland developed a course called Cardiac Rescue Technician, which taught heart rhythms, defibrillation, and medication administration. This class was the precursor to the paramedic program. The first company members to receive this training were Dick Britton, Brian Dowdy, Roxy Goodwin, and Ray Smith. Unfortunately, these skills could not be used in Pennsylvania until 1988.
There were several large fires during the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. In 1977, Mt. Nebo Church was destroyed by fire. Later that same year, a young boy was killed in a house fire on Main Street in Cardiff, and ten people were injured in an apartment fire on Main Street in Delta. Fourteen firefighters were injured in 1978 fighting a barn fire on Ridge Road in Whiteford. “Super Tanker” responded to multi-alarm fires in Baltimore County three times, twice to Jacksonville and once to Boring. The Town and Country Chevrolet fire in Highland caused $125,000 in damages and injured three.
The planning for the new Maryland sub-station was completed and construction started in 1980. Land was obtained on Route 165 near Route 136 and a Star metal building was constructed at a cost of $120,000. The building was dedicated on January 18, 1981. In 1983, a flagpole was added at the station in memory of Fire Company and Lions’ Club member Paul Scarborough. Lights at the heli-pad were added at the same time.
New equipment received in the 1980’s included a new rescue truck, three new engines, a brush truck, two ambulances, and a new tanker. The Auxiliary contributed heavily to the company’s new equipment purchases and in 1981 purchased electric garage doors for the main station.
Several unusual calls for help were received during the 1980’s. During the Blizzard of 1983, it took over two hours to reach a patient. The ambulance crew had to be transported by four wheel drive tractors and a weasel track vehicle in order to get through the snow. In order to rescue victims trapped in a truck, fire company members had to repel down cliffs in a quarry. In 1984, the Mill Green area was evacuated by boat due to flooding. The company also aided a man who was attacked by a chimpanzee in Bryansville. In 1989, a search was conducted for the Pennsylvania State Police helicopter that crashed in the Susquehanna River. The company also aided victims of a tornado on Ady Road. The company also had to aid two of their own members when they suffered incapacitating injuries while fighting fires. John Williams was injured in 1989 when part of a burning house collapsed on him, and Rusty Leftwich was injured in 1988 when he fell through a floor at a trailer fire.
After many years of hard work and negotiation, the Ambulance Division finally received designation as an Advanced Life Support (paramedic) unit in Pennsylvania in 1988. What had started in 1975, was finally recognized. The paramedics were Jim Badders, Laura Kelly (Taylor), Glenn Miller, Alice Milwid, David Ritchie, and Alan Rizzuto. The paramedic class included eight months of additional training above the level of the Cardiac Rescue Technician.
A need for expansion was again felt by the company in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. First, the heli-pad had become too small for the larger helicopters that were now being used. Again with the assistance of the Lions’ Club, the heli-pad was expanded and re-dedicated in 1989. The company’s main station on Main Street was also feeling a parking crunch, so property adjoining the station was obtained. A house was torn down, and the parking lot was expanded.
The company has been fortunate to have several of its members honored by awards. John R. Williams received the Marberry Gates Award from the Maryland State Firemen’s Association in 1988. This award was for 50 years of exemplary service. In 1989, the company received dual honors as Rusty Leftwich received the Firefighter of Year Award from the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, and Katherine A. Freeland (Behrens) received Firewoman of Year from the same organization’s Ladies Auxiliary. The Maryland State Firemen’s Association established the Josiah A. Hunt, M.D., Award for excellence in emergency medical services in 1991. Dr. Hunt was the first recipient. In 1994, John R. Williams was added to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Hall of Fame for service to that organization. Several company members have also been named to the Harford-Cecil Firemen’s Association Hall of Fame. These individuals are John R. Williams, Dr. J. A. Hunt, Ralph Cantler, S. Austin Jones, and Rusty Leftwich.
The Auxiliary was very busy during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
Gale Parthree represented the Auxiliary as President of the Harford County Ladies Auxiliary in 1984-85 and again in 1989-90. She was only the second person to serve two terms as president. Gale also represented the Auxiliary by carrying the flag seven times in the Presentation of Colors at the Maryland State Fireman’s Convention.
The Auxiliary served refreshments at bingo and motorcycle endurance races. They continued to operate the French fry stand at the carnival but eventually had to change to commercially made fries from handmade ones. They participated in many fire prevention events, published a cookbook, and served refreshments at fire scenes. In 1987, a step-van was purchased and equipped as a mobile kitchen, so the ladies could participate in even more activities. From the reorganization in 1968 to the present, 30 years, the Auxiliary has donated in excess of $50,000 in cash alone to the Fire Company.
In 1994, the Auxiliary officially changed their name to the Auxiliary to the Delta-Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company.
The company has always been active in fire prevention activities and has had several fire prevention queens. The company is especially proud that one of these queens, Melissa Turner (Hostler), was able to represent the company as Harford County Fire Prevention Queen and Maryland State Fire Prevention Queen during 1995-96. Other queens include Ruth Ann Scotten (Robinson), Shirley Crowther (Morris), and Jayme Atkin.
A water source truck, a utility van, a chief’s response vehicle, a third ambulance, two surplus utility vehicles from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and a heavy duty rescue truck were all obtained during the early 1990’s. As the 21st century approaches, the company has purchased two engines, a brush truck, and an ambulance. In addition, the company has added a new device to the ambulances called an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This device allows personnel, after minimal training, to administer an electrical shock to the heart. The device analyzes the heart rhythm and, through computer technology, tells personnel whether or not a shock is needed.
As the company has grown so has the carnival. It grew so much the company purchased property on Route 74 to hold the carnival. A building was put up to house the food stands and store supplies. Plans are currently underway to build a pavilion on the grounds.
Major events during the late ‘90’s included a series of fatal fires. During October of 1994, a family of four died in a cabin fire on Cold Cabin Road. On January 1, 1995, two elderly women perished in a house fire on Thompson Road. An adult and a child were killed in an arson fire on Front Street in November of that same year.
An unusual situation occurred at a fatal car accident on Route 74. Pennsylvania and Maryland State Police were unable to determine which state the crash occurred in. Many hours were spent on the scene while this was determined. In January of 1998, the company assisted in the clean up of a major heating oil spill at Heaps Oil Company.
In January of 1997, one of the darker times of the company occurred when the company was forced to split by Harford County. The Maryland sub-station became a separate Maryland fire company.
In August of 1998, we will celebrate our 100th Anniversary with a banquet, parade, muster, and a dance. As we reflect on the last 100 years and look forward to another 100, we realize that it has been a long, hard road, but definitely a job well done.