The 1960’s would see many changes in the fire company. The call volume for both fire and EMS were increasing year after year. New apparatus was purchased, a new firehouse was acquired, the company started a fire cadet program, and a station in the Forest Hill community was explored.
In 1962 the fire company was once again experiencing growing pains. More space was needed and the Bond Street station was too small. Starting in July of 1962 serious discussions were held among the officers and members concerning acquiring a piece of property for a new fire house. One suggestion was to look at the Harford County property at the corner of Churchville Road and Dallam Place (now Hickory Avenue). The property consisted of a large garage type building with some offices that was currently in use by the Harford County Highways Department and Welfare Department. The Board of Directors inquired with the county about the availability of the property but were informed it was not available.
In April of 1963 the property became available and the fire company exchanged the Bond Street property with the county for the Dallam Place property. After all the necessary paperwork had been completed and filed, the fire company began remodeling the new property at Dallam Place in March of 1964. The renovations were finally complete and on September 26, 1964, the fire company moved into its new fire house. The first alarm to be answered out of the new firehouse would be for a field and brush fire on the Shaffer property located on Kalmia Road, north of Bel Air. The only remark noted about this incident on the fire report was that the siren “did not blow from Headquarters.”
The company was experiencing many more ambulance calls than in past years. In August of 1962 the company approved the purchase of a new ambulance, as the 1957 Cadillac Superior was showing its wear and tear. The company purchased a 1962 Pontiac Superior “Rescuer” model ambulance from the Superior Coach Company. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. The unit would be delivered to Bel Air on October 1, 1962, and was in service within days of arrival.
At the company meeting to approve the new ambulance, there was much discussion on the need for two ambulances due to the call volume. Serious discussion was had on the ability of the company to staff two ambulances. When the final vote was called for, the decision was made – Bel Air would now run two ambulances, a first for any Harford County fire company.
A tragic fire took place at 1:00 a.m. on the night of August 2, 1964, at 18 North Bond Street. A total of 22 firemen responded to the call. When the first engine arrived, one man in the building jumped to his death while the crew was setting up the ladders. Another man was rescued unharmed, but took off down the street and was never seen again. Three of the firemen were taken to the hospital with injuries that included cuts, sprains, smoke inhalation and steam burns from feverishly trying to gain access into the burning building. To everyone’s dismay, another man was fund burned to death in the building.
In April of 1965 the fire company decided to replace the 1957 Cadillac Superior ambulance with a new unit. The fire company ordered a 1965 Pontiac Superior “Rescuer” model ambulance. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. The ambulance arrived in Bel Air in late September and was placed in service on October 5, 1965.
For several years the company had sponsored a Boy Scout Explorer Program. In July 1967 the fire company decided to start a “Junior Fireman” program. This would require changes to the bylaws and SOP’s of the company. On July 2, 1968, at the regular company monthly meeting the first Cadets were voted into the fire company. They were: Samuel Dominick, Jr., Ned Overton, Stephan Cox and Thomas G. Russel Smith.
February of 1966 saw the fire company once again looking into purchasing a new piece of fire apparatus, as the age and performance of the current apparatus was becoming a factor. A committee was formed and many different manufacturers’ apparatus was considered. The committee wrote the specifications and bids requested. On October 18, 1966, the fire company signed a contract with Seagrave Fire Apparatus, Inc. for a new Seagrave Model 88-KB-1000 pumper. The pumper was equipped with a 325 HP Waukesha gasoline engine, Spicer 5 speed transmission, Seagrave 2 stage centrifugal 1000 GPM pump, 600 gallon booster tank, rear step mounted booster reel containing 200 feet of 1 inch booster hose, 3000 watt generator, a potable monitor mounted over the pump that was supplied by a short section of 3 inch hose when mounted on the pumper, a hose bed that contained 1600 feet of 3 inch hose that was divided in half for two 800 foot lays, two 1 ½ preconnects of 150 feet and 200 feet with spare hose and one 150 foot 2 ½ inch preconnect with spare hose. In addition the pumper carried an aluminum 35 foot extension ladder, an aluminum 14 foot roof ladder and a 10 foot folding ladder. The standard complement of tools, hooks, extinguishers, smoke ejectors, hand lights and appliances were also carried.
The pumper was delivered to Bel Air in December 1967 on a large tractor trailer with the front tires half flat to reduce height. The unit had to be unloaded at the Kefauver Lumber Company loading dock in Bel Air and driven to the fire house. The members immediately got to work placing the unit in service and it answered its first alarm on January 13, 1968, for a working dwelling fire at 300 Wakefield Drive in Bel Air. After working with this pumper for several weeks the members liked it so much that it was called “The Spoiler” due to the fact that it was fast, handled well, had a good supply of water, and a large pump.
1968 saw the need to once again replace one of the ambulances. A committee was appointed and looked at many different units. In June of 1968 the company accepted the committee recommendation and purchased a Cadillac Miller Meteor “Classic” model ambulance. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. The ambulance was delivered to Bel Air in September of 1968 and placed into service on September 17, 1968.
1968 saw the fire company once again looking to upgrade its fire apparatus. In February of 1968 a committee was appointed to develop specification and request bids for a new pumper. This was fairly easy as the fire company had just written specifications and purchased a new pumper the year before. After receiving and reviewing all the bids, on September 3, 1968, the fire company signed a contract with Seagrave Fire Apparatus, Inc. for another new Seagrave Model 800-KB-1000 pumper. The pumper was equipped with a 325 HP Waukesha gasoline engine, Spicer 5 speed transmission, Seagrave 2 stage centrifugal 1000 GPM pump, 600 gallon booster tank, rear step mounted booster reel containing 200 feet of 1 inch booster hose, 3000 watt generator, a potable monitor mounted over the pump that was supplied by a short section of 3 inch hose when mounted on the pumper, a hose bed that contained 1600 feet of 3 inch hose that was divided in half for two 800 foot lays, two 1 ½ preconnects of 150 feet and 200 feet with spare hose and one 150 foot 2 ½ inch preconnect with spare hose. In addition the pumper carried an aluminum 35 foot extension ladder, an aluminum 14 foot roof ladder and a 10 foot folding ladder. The standard complement of tools, hooks, extinguishers, smoke ejectors, hand lights and appliances were also carried. The pumper was delivered to Bel Air in December of 1969. The pumper was readied for service and answered its first alarm on December 31, 1969 for a dwelling fire on Sharon Road.
In addition to fighting fires and furnishing first aid, the fire company enjoyed many contests with their neighboring fire companies. The friendly rivalry included basketball competitions, first-aid competitions, softball games, etc. In a first-aid team competition held at the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company fire house, Bel Air tied Level for first place in the county competition.
Another facet of the camaraderie between fire companies was the practical joke. The practical jokes between Jarrettsville and Bel Air still continue to this day. One of the best escapades to be noted was the morning Bel Air received an alert for “All members to report to your station immediately.” When the members arrived, they found a small well constructed outhouse had been placed on the front ramp. The building was marked “Company 7 Sub-Station” (Company 7 being Jarrettsville). The outhouse came equipped with flashing lights, siren and was furnished with a toilet seat that raised and lowered automatically. It was a true masterpiece. It would not be long before Bel Air responded in kind to Jarrettsville. The practical jokes between Jarrettsville and Bel Air still continue to this day.
One of the larger fires the fire company would experience took place on November 27, 1969. The main assembly building of the Million-Rutherford Company in Fallston, where grandfather clocks were made for the Daneker Company, was completely destroyed by fire. The blaze, discovered at 3:30 a.m., did an estimated $500,000 dollars worth of damage to approximately 700 grandfather clocks. The building fire was fueled by gas lines and plywood stored in the building. Three additional buildings owned by the M. Rutherford Company were saved during this multi-alarm fire.