It should be noted that until the Ladies Auxiliary was reformed in 1950, the men returned from a fire, cleaned up, and then ate at a nearby restaurant. The Ladies Auxiliary has since provided these services and participated in many fund raising activities as well as performing many administrative duties.
The 1950’s saw the implementation of a civil defense system in Harford County, with the fire companies participating. With the threat of a war on the United States always a distinct possibility with the invention of atomic weapons, a civil defense network was organized and implemented. It would eventually link civil defense workers, police and fire departments in an area network. During the years, there were many civil defense drills and training exercises, including atomic bomb and air raid drills, held throughout Harford County.
In 1950 the fire company would purchase a new ambulance to replace the 1941 Henney Packard. The 1941 ambulance had experienced a blown engine while on its way to Harford Memorial Hospital with a maternity case in early July. Because of the mileage and wear and tear on the unit, the company had already started to look into a replacement unit. The company immediately purchased a 1950 Henney Packard ambulance from the A. G. Geissell Coach Company of Philadelphia at a cost of six thousand seven hundred and forty dollars. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. The ambulance was a demonstrator and was immediately delivered to Bel Air. After some post delivery work, such as undercoating, it was placed in service on July 10, 1950.
1953 saw the purchase of another new piece of apparatus for the fire company. The company was looking to replace the aging 1939 Dodge tank truck that had been acquired and built in 1944. The new unit was designed and ordered in 1952 from F.L. Anderson Company of Baltimore for over nine thousand dollars. It was delivered in early 1953 to Bel Air and was placed in service in February of 1953. It answered its first alarm on February 23, 1953 for a field and woods fire on the Miller property located on MacPhail Road. The unit was equipped with a Barton-American Class B 500 GPM Front Mount Pump, a 800 gallon booster tank, 2 booster reels, mounted behind the cab, carrying 250 feet each of ¾ inch hose with Hardy nozzles, 400 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, 250 feet of 1 ½ inch hose, a 24 foot extension ladder and a 14 foot roof ladder. It also carried all the necessary appliances and tools. A special feature of this unit was that it carried a 200 GPM portable pump.
1953 saw a spectacular event happen in Bel Air. On December 9, 1953 a B-57 jet aircraft out of the Glen L. Martin plant at Middle River exploded over Bel Air. The pilot was picked up by the ambulance in critical condition after bailing out and rushed to the Army Chemical Center Hospital. The other crewman died shortly before another ambulance could reach the scene. The majority of the wreckage came down in the area of the present day John Carroll School. One very large piece, a generator, fell on the front lawn of the St. Margaret’s School on Hickory Avenue in which the children were eating their lunches. Because sections of the plane were scattered everywhere, and the real danger of fire from jet fuel existed, the fire company positioned apparatus all around the town.
In 1954 it was decided to enlarge the fire house once again. It was decided to renovate the building and add on a two story addition. The addition would be used for a kitchen and storage room for the Ladies Auxiliary on the first floor and the second floor would be for a radio room for the proposed new central fire control alarm system in the county. The renovations were started in May of 1954 and completed in August of 1954. On September 3, 1954 an open house event was held for the public so they could see the newly renovated station.
In May of 1955 Harford County’s new central fire alarm system was placed in service. Based in the second floor radio room at the Bel Air fire house on Bond Street, the system was monitored 24 hours a day. The radio room also contained the controls for every siren in Harford County. Previously the fire companies were equipped with radios, but worked through the sheriff’s office. Now the radio system for the fire companies would be separate from all others. The new system did not change the routine of a citizen who discovers a fire. That person still called the nearest fire company. From that point on, the method was different. When a unit responded, it radioed the headquarters that it was 10-8 (in service) and enroute to the fire scene. Upon arrival at the fire scene, the unit radioed headquarters that it was 10-3 (at location). The location was recorded on a large chart in the radio room. Should that unit require help, assistance was only a radio call away as they would have merely radioed in and requested help, and the radio operators would then radio the nearest company to respond with mutual aid. The system was designed to also be used by the Civil Defense officials in time of emergency, as one push of a button and all the sirens in the county would sound.
In 1957 the fire company would again purchase an ambulance. The 1950 Henney Packard had accumulated 68,000 miles of hard service since its purchase. The company purchased a 1957 Superior Cadillac “Rescuer” Model ambulance and it was delivered to Bel Air in July of 1957. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. It was placed into service on July 19, 1957.
The fire company also made a new fire apparatus purchase in 1957. The unit was designed to be a combination brush truck and quick attack pumper. This unit was ordered in 1957 from F.L. Anderson Company of Baltimore. The chassis was purchased from Hopkins Motors in Bel Air and the body and pump were completed by F.L. Anderson and Weimer Bodies of Baltimore. The unit was delivered to Bel Air in August of 1957. It was a 1 ton 4 wheel drive chassis with a 6 cylinder engine and 5 speed transmission. The pumper had a HALE PTO driven 150 GPM pump and a 225 gallon booster tank. It had twin booster reels mounted high behind the cab. Each reel carried 200 feet of 1 inch booster hose with Hardy nozzles. The pumper also carries one 150 foot preconnected 1 ½ hose line with a 50 GPM fog nozzle. Besides the standard tools such as axes, hooks, pry bars and Indian tanks, it also carried a custom made 22 foot 3 section aluminum extension ladder. After a time, it was decided to modify the unit and equip it as a squad type vehicle. F.L. Anderson again did the work and added a compartment to the right side of the body that would carry a 10 ton Port-A-Power. The unit was equipped with more rescue type tools.