The 1990’s brought more and more changes for the fire company. The population in our first due area was increasing; development was on the rise with seemingly no end in sight. Fortunately for the fire company the capable leadership from previous years had set the stage for the coming decade by taking a strong position with recruiting new members and retaining its current members.
In April of 1988, the fire company appointed a committee to look into the replacement of the 1977 Seagrave Pumper \ Squad. The committee spent many hours looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In December of 1989, after receiving bids, the fire company voted to purchase a Spartan Saulsbury Custom Rescue Pumper.
The unit was a fully equipped Class A pumper and Heavy Rescue unit, featuring a 1250 GPM pump, 600 gallon tank and an integral 150 gallon foam tank and around the pump foam system. The hose bed that contained 1200 feet of 5 inch hose, and a 150 foot 1 ¾ preconnect and one 200 foot 1 ¾ preconnect. The unit had a pre-piped monitor above the pump panel that could be made portable. The unit also carried all the standard tools of an engine company such as ladders, axes, hooks, halligan bars, smoke ejectors, rope, extinguishers, and various tips for the monitor, etc.
The unit had a Harrison hydraulic 15 KW generator, front and rear 12,000 lb winch, 3 AMKUS HRT power units with preconnected spreaders, cutters and rams. It also carried high and medium pressure air bags plus a wide assortment of specialized rescue tools, power tools and hand tools.
The unit was completed in March of 1991 and arrived in Bel Air on March 28, 1991. The unit was placed in service on May 29, 1991 and answered its first alarm that same day. The call was for a Hazardous Materials incident on Conowingo Road, just north of Bel Air.
In April of 1989 a committee was appointed to acquire a new command vehicle. The committee recommended a Ford Econoline 150 XLT be purchased and outfitted. The company approved the committee’s recommendation and purchased the unit in November of 1989. The unit was placed in service on February 1, 1990.
The fire company purchased in April of 1990 2 Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulances. The ambulances would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. Ambulance 391 was delivered to Bel Air in September of 1990 and placed in service in October of 1990. Ambulance 393 was delivered to Bel Air in November of 1990 and placed in service in December of 1990.
On the afternoon of February 2, 1991, the company was alerted for a building fire at the Bel
Air Middle School. Upon arrival, heavy smoke conditions were present and a second alarm was requested. Hand lines were advanced into the building and the fire was found in a storage room. The fire was quickly extinguished but the extensive cleanup and smoke removal took several hours.
On the night of April 9, 1991, Bel Air was alerted for a building fire at the Harford Mall. The mall had been the scene of several major calls in the department’s history and this one would not be the exception. Upon arrival, the first engine found heavy smoke conditions in several stores and the hallways behind them. The fire was located inside one of the electrical rooms and the cause was a transformer on fire. BGE responded and after disconnecting the power feed, the fire was quickly extinguished.
On July 22, 1991, the fire company was alerted for a building fire at the Quality Tire Store on Bel Air Road. Responding units were advised that the building was heavily involved in fire. 2nd Assistant Chief Pete Caudill arrived at location before any equipment and advised, “Chief 3-2 on location, large working fire, 2nd Alarm.” The fire took a half-hour to control and several long hours were spent overhauling and checking hot spots.
In August 1991 a committee was appointed to replace three of the fire company’s pumpers. The committee spent many hours looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In November of 1992 the fire company voted to purchase three Saulsbury pumpers on Simon Duplex D-9400 chassis. All three pumpers were delivered to Bel Air on November 11, 1993.
The pumpers were equipped with the following: Detroit Diesel Series 60 450 HP engines, Hale 1500 GPM pumps, 750 gallon booster tanks, 50 gallon foam tanks, Feecon around the pump foam systems, Onan 7.5 KW generators, DDEC pressure governors, hydraulically operated valves, pre-piped monitors above the pump panel that could be made portable, RUDD automatic snow chains, a hose bed that contained 1200 feet of 5 inch hose, 400 feet of 3 inch hose, two 150 foot 1 ¾ preconnects, one 200 foot 1 ¾ preconnect, and one 250 foot 1 ¾ preconnect and a 100 foot 1 ¾ front bumper preconnect. In addition the pumpers had double high side compartments, and a hydraulic ladder rack containing an aluminum 3 section 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.
Engine 312 was also fitted out with a complete AMKUS hydraulic rescue tool system. All of the three pumpers had been configured so that they could carry a set of rescue tools that could be moved from pumper to pumper with just a few compartment shelf reconfigurations. This was done so that the fire company could always maintain a backup squad to Rescue 351 or handle a second rescue box assignment.
Engine 311 was placed into service on December 23, 1993, and that same day responded to its first alarm at 6 Colgate Drive for a building fire.
Engine 312 was placed into service on January 12, 1993, and that same day responded to its first alarm at 29 South Main Street for an automatic alarm at the Red Fox Restaurant.
Engine 313 was placed into service on December 23, 1993, and that same day responded to its first alarm at 6 Colgate Drive for a building fire.
In 1992 the fire company had to rechassis Ambulance 393. The 1991 unit would be involved in an accident on January 15, 1992. As a result of this accident, the unit would require major repairs so the decision was made to rechassis the unit with a 1992 chassis. The new unit was 1992 Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulance.
On January 18, 1992, the company was alerted for an apartment fire with rescue at the Hickory Hills Apartment Complex. Heavy smoke conditions were present on arrival and as the first attack crew made entry to the apartment, they encountered a fully involved unit. During extinguishment and rescue operations, the lone occupant was found in the living room, but unfortunately, had succumbed in the fire.
On the night of April 29, 1992, the company was alerted for a building fire at Uncle George’s Restaurant on South Bond Street. This was a favorite local hangout for the town teenager crowd. Upon arrival, the first engine found heavy smoke across Bond Street with fire pushing out the back of the building. An aggressive interior attack was made and the fire quickly knocked down.
In the mid-1990’s the fire company acquired three 1985 Chevrolet Impala’s and two 1988 Chevrolet Caprice’s for use as command and utility vehicles. These units were obtained as surplus from the local police departments.
On March 6, 1993, the company was alerted for a building fire at the Harford County Health Department on Hayes Street. Upon arrival, Chief Cox found heavy smoke showing from the structure and he requested a second alarm. The interior attack crew found the fire in a back room and parts of the ceiling. It was quickly extinguished and units remained for several hours overhauling the structure.
On March 16, 1993, the company was alerted for a building fire at the Hard Times Cafe in the Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center. Responding units were slowed by the deep snow that blanketed the area from the previous day’s blizzard. Upon arrival, heavy smoke conditions existed. The initial interior attack crew found the fire in the kitchen and bar area of the restaurant and quickly knocked it down.
On October 2, 1993, the fire company was to experience the largest multiple casualty incident in its or the county’s history. The alert was for an auto accident at the Rout 1 Bypass and Route 24. Upon arrival the first responding units found three buses involved with people all over the intersection. 41 patients were transported to area hospitals by Bel Air and mutual aid ambulances with other mutual aid ambulances covering empty fire stations throughout the county. The scene could have been utter chaos, but the buses involved were carrying U.S. Army troops from Aberdeen Proving Ground. The drill instructors were an essential part of keeping order in the ranks!!
The fire company purchased in April of 1994 two Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulances. The ambulances would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. Both ambulances were delivered to Bel Air in November of 1994 and placed in service in December of 1994.
In May of 1994, the fire company decided to purchase a second brush unit to be stationed at the Forest Hill Station. A committee was appointed and spent many hours looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In April of 1995 a Ford F350 chassis was purchased from Plaza Ford and the tank and pump unit coming from Wajax Pacific. The chassis, tank and pump arrived in Bel Air in August of 1995. The unit was assembled by fire company members starting in 1995 and completed in 1996. The unit was designed as a brush truck and as a winch vehicle on rescues.
Once it arrived the fire company installed a slide in fiberglass 200 gallon tank, a 200 GPM pump, an electric rewind booster reel with 300 feet of ¾ inch booster hose, and all the emergency lights, siren and air horn. The unit also carried the standard tools such as axes, brush rakes, and Indian tanks.
The unit was placed in service on April 23, 1996. Its first alarm was on April 23, 1996, for a field and woods fire at 1523 Southview Road near Fountain Green.
The fire company purchased in May of 1995 a Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulance. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. The ambulance was delivered to Bel Air in October of 1995 and placed into service in November of 1995.
In February of 1995 the fire company decided to replace the current EMS vehicle with a four wheel drive vehicle capable of carrying all the necessary equipment that was now required of an EMS support unit. The fire company tested several vehicles and voted to purchase a Chevrolet Blazer in March of 1995. The unit arrived in Bel Air in April of 1995 and was outfitted and placed into service on June 7, 1995. As an EMS Support Unit it would respond on all Cardiac Arrests and other emergencies. The unit carried all the modern medical equipment and also a Thumper device.
On February 2, 1995, the fire company was alerted for an apartment fire in the Heritage Woods Development. Units arrived on location to find heavy smoke conditions and heavy fire showing to the rear extending from the first floor to the third floor. An aggressive interior attack was made by several crews and the fire brought under control in a half-hour.
In November of 1995, at the fire company meeting, a bylaw was introduced that would make the Auxiliary a part of the fire company. They would no longer be considered a “separate” entity and would become an integral division in the structure of the company. There was some discussion and the vote was called for and the bylaw passed with no opposition.
In August 1996 a committee was appointed to replace two of the fire company’s pumpers. The committee spent many hours looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In September of 1997 the fire company voted to purchase two Spartan Saulsbury pumpers. Both pumpers were delivered to Bel Air in June of 1998.
The pumpers were equipped with the following: Detroit Diesel Series 60 500 HP engines, Allison 4000 EVS 5 speed transmissions, Hale QMAX Single Stage 1500 GPM pumps, 750 gallon booster tanks, 50 gallon foam tanks, Feecon AP-2 around the pump foam systems, Harrison PTO-driven 10 KW hydraulic generators, Elkhardt electrically operated valves, 1000 GPM pre-piped monitors above the pump panel that could be made portable, RUDD automatic snow chains, hose beds that contained 1200 feet of 5 inch hose, 400 feet of 3 inch hose, one 150 foot 1 ¾ preconnect, two 200 foot 1 ¾ preconnects, and one 250 foot 1 ¾ preconnect and a 100 foot 1 ¾ front bumper preconnect. In addition, the pumpers had double high side compartments, and hydraulic ladder racks containing an aluminum 3 section 35 foot extension ladder, an aluminum 14 foot roof ladder and a 10 foot folding ladder. The standard full complement of tools, hooks, extinguishers, smoke ejectors, hand lights and appliances per NFPA Standards were also carried.
The pumpers were also equipped as squads for a portion of their service life and carried an AMKUS 220V HRT system and a full complement of AMKUS hydraulic rescue tools and other rescue equipment.
Both units were placed in service on July 4, 1998 and both responded to their first alarms that day to the Bel Air Town Center for an automatic alarm.
On October 19, 1996, the fire company had its busiest day to date when a storm swept through Harford County. The fire company answered 78 emergency calls.
In 1996 the company acquired Automatic External Defibrillators or AED’s. This became an everyday part of the EMS Service provided by the fire company and the first use and save recorded in the county was by the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company on June 12, 1997.
In June of 1997 the company approved the purchase of a new command \ utility unit. The unit was placed in service on July 31, 1997. This unit would serve the fire company as a command unit until it was replaced by a newer vehicle, at which time, this unit would become a utility \ maintenance unit.
The summer of 1997 was a very hot one with temperatures commonly in the high 90’s with very high humidity levels. On June 22, 1997, a severe thunderstorm rolled through the county and created a lot of damage. The company was alerted for a house struck by lightning just after the storm had cleared and units responded within seconds. Approaching the scene, the first engine could see a heavy column of smoke and visible fire. The fire was in a converted barn that had been made into a dwelling. The fire went to three alarms and the home was completely destroyed by fire.
The fire company purchased in May of 1998 two Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulances, with a third unit being purchased off the same specifications shortly after. The ambulances would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. Ambulance 391 and 392 were delivered to Bel Air in August of 1998 and placed in service in September of 1998. Ambulance 393 was purchased in February of 1999. The unit was ordered with a 1998 chassis as this cut the cost of the unit. It was delivered to Bel Air in May of 1999 and placed in service shortly thereafter.
On October 24, 1998, the company was alerted for an apartment fire with rescue at 108 South Main Street. Upon arrival, units found heavy smoke conditions. A rescue was confirmed by evacuating residents and rescue efforts were undertaken while other firefighters advanced hand lines on the fire. The victim was found in a rear apartment in the bathroom by firefighters Skip Strong, Walt Holloway, and Scott Panowitz. Removing the victim from the building, she was treated by paramedics on the scene and flown to the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. The fire was quickly brought under control and the victim survived the fire.
On January 10, 1999, in the early morning hours, the company received an alert for an apartment fire on Denise Drive in the Forest Valley Development. The first responding units arrived to find heavy smoke and fire on portions of the second floor, all of the third floor, and through the roof. Captain Bill Snyder made the call for the second alarm as he pulled in on the first engine. Five victims were rescued from the building and master streams knocked the fire down with hand lines mopping up the remnants. Throughout the fire several residents could not be accounted for and were found on the third floor still in their apartment. Unfortunately, firefighters could not get to them because of the amount of fire and degree of collapse in most of the apartment.
On April 20, 1999, the alarm sounded again for an apartment fire in the Dellcrest Development. Units responding found heavy smoke and fire coming from the third floor and attic of the building. Once again Captain Snyder was riding the seat of the first in engine and immediately pulled a second alarm; also, requesting an additional truck company to respond on the box. Master streams once again brought the fire under control and the final overhaul was done with hand lines.
On December 31, 1999, members gathered at the two stations and prepared to face the “Y2K” issue. In the months and weeks leading up to the turn of the century, the fire company officers had planned for any major incident that the company would be called upon to handle. Planning sessions included the local law enforcement communities; as well as, the Emergency Operations Center staff. When the midnight hour struck, everyone in both stations breathed a big sigh of relief when everything remained quiet.