The first decade of the 21st century has brought Bel Air more fires, rescues, EMS calls, and automatic alarms. From 2000 – 2006 fire calls increased thirty percent and EMS calls increased thirty five percent.
In 2000 the fire company appointed a committee to being looking into the replacement of the 1990 Spartan Saulsbury Rescue Pumper. The committee spent many months looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In October of 2001 the fire company voted to purchase a Spartan Saulsbury Heavy Rescue Pumper. The unit was a Spartan Gladiator cab and chassis with an E-One\Saulsbury Stainless Steel body. The unit was a fully equipped Class A pumper and Heavy Rescue unit, featuring a Detroit Diesel Series 60 500 HP engine, Allison 4000 EVS 5-Speed transmission, RUDD snow and ice chains, a Hale QMAX Single Stage 1500 GPM pump, 750 gallon tank and an integral 150 gallon foam tank with a Feecon AP-2 around the pump foam system. The hose bed contains 1200 feet of 5 inch hose, 400 feet of 3 inch hose, two 200 foot 1 ¾ preconnects and one 100 foot 1 ¾ front bumper mounted trash line. The unit had a 1000 GPM pre-piped monitor above the pump panel. The unit carried all the NFPA 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 also has a Harrison PTO-Driven 10 KW hydraulic generator, front bumper mounted 12 12,000 lb hydraulic winch and a portable 12 volt 5000 lb, winch with side and rear receiver ports. It carries the AMKUS Ultimate HRT System with 4 reel lines and a full complement of seven hydraulic rescue tools. It also carries high and medium pressure air bags plus a wide assortment of specialized rescue tools, power tools and hand tools. The unit was delivered to Bel Air in December of 2002 and after being placed in service, the unit was found to be overweight, as it originally had a single rear axle, due to an engineering error by Saulsbury. The unit was placed out of service and returned to the factory for remanufacture in October of 2003. The remanufacture would consist of adding a second axle to the chassis and installing a longer body. The unit remanufacture was completed in February of 2004 and returned to Bel Air. The unit was placed in service on March 2, 2004 and answered its first alarm that same day. The call was for an automobile accident on Churchville Road, just east of Bel Air.
In 2000 the fire company appointed a committee to begin looking into the replacement of the 1988 Spartan LTI aerial tower. The committee spent many months looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In November of 2001 the fire company voted to purchase an American LaFrance Eagle LTI 100 foot aerial tower. However, during the process, the officers of the fire company determined that the amount of calls where a second truck would have been used was sufficient to warrant an outright purchase instead of a replacement. In January of 2003, the officers brought the decision before the company for a vote and it was approved. Bel Air would become the first fire company in the county to have two truck companies in service. The chassis was built by American LaFrance and then sent to LTI (Ladder Towers, Inc.) to have the 100 foot ladder and custom body built and installed. The unit was equipped with a Detroit Diesel Series 60 515 HP engine and an Allison 4000 EVS 5 speed automatic transmission. The unit featured dual 1000 GPM monitors, one remote controlled, pre-piped breathing air system to platform and turntable, David Clarke intercom system, Harrison PTO-Driven 20 KW hydraulic generator and carries 240 feet of ground ladders. The unit also carried a full complement of NFPA required tools of a truck company such as axes, hooks, halliagan bars, smoke ejectors, rope, extinguishers, various tips for the ladder pipe, etc. The unit was completed and delivered to Bel Air on November 1, 2002, and went in service on December 2, 2002, and promptly answered its first alarm. The call was for an automatic alarm sounding at the 578 Bel Air Road.
On January 31, 2000, Engine 314 with Lieutenant Dave Cox arrived to find a large dwelling in the 400 block of Prospect Mill Road, well involved on arrival. Chief Eyre requested a second alarm for this fire.
In January 2000 the fire company had to rechassis Ambulance 391. The 1998 unit would be involved in an accident on January 4, 2000. As a result of this accident, the unit would require major repairs so the decision was made to rechassis the unit with a 2001 chassis. The new unit was 2001 Ford Horton Type III “Model 502” ambulance.
In February, 2000, after an accident involving the 1995 Chevrolet Blazer EMS Support Vehicle, a committee was appointed to acquire a new vehicle. In May of 2000 the company approved the recommendation of the committee and purchased a 2000 Ford Excursion to serve as the EMS Support Vehicle. After being delivered and then outfitted with compartments; etc, the vehicle was placed in service on October 26, 2000.
Then, on February 11, 2000, Assistant Chief Joe Rutherford led fire company units at a mutual aid three alarm fire at the McDonald’s in Abingdon. In all, the fire company had three engines and a truck at the scene. This fire was well advanced on arrival of first in units.
On March 21, 2000, Engine 314 with Asst. Chief Bill Snyder arrived in the 700 block of Fairwind Drive to find a well-involved single-family dwelling. This fire was deliberately set. Two alarms were needed to control the fire that spread to both exposures.
In the early 2000’s the fire company acquired several vehicles for use as command and utility vehicles. A 1991 Chevrolet Caprice, 1993 Ford Crown Victoria and a 1994 Chevrolet Caprice were obtained as surplus from the local police department.
In October of 2000, after many years of planning and months of construction, the new Hickory Avenue fire station was completed and the official dedication ceremony was held on May 6, 2001. This project had been started in 1996 when the fire company placed its plans into the county system to erect a fire station along the Route 22 corridor, the Route 24 corridor and to renovate or rebuild the Hickory Avenue fire station. The first step would be to renovate the main fire station on Hickory Avenue.
In September of 1996 saw the fire company purchase the adjoining property on Hickory Avenue which contained a small two story apartment building. This building would be used for company training exercises until it was demolished when the new construction started. In 1997 the company appointed a building committee to oversee the design and construction of the new fire station. It had been decided not to renovate the existing structure, but to demolish it in phases and replace it with a brand new fire station. The design was completed and approved by the company in June of 1998 and on June 22, 1998 a groundbreaking ceremony was held.
On December 7, 2000, Engine 314 with Asst. Chief Bill Snyder arrived to find a large, historic dwelling on fire. This two alarm fire was down a very long and very tight driveway. Units that got down the lane had mirrors broken and light bars damaged. This building, the “Medical Hall,” was quickly extinguished with four hand lines by Engine 314’s crew of eight men.
On March 23, 2001, Asst. Chief Bill Snyder led Bel Air units at the scene of a mutual aid fire at Kurtz’s Funeral Home in Jarrettsville. The two alarm fire brought three engines and truck from Bel Air.
On July 27, 2001, Chief Russell Eyre was the Officer in Charge at a commercial building fire in the 1500 block of Rock Spring Road. This fire damaged three businesses and the roof of the entire complex. This fire was called in over the radio by a mutual aid ambulance with fire already through the roof at this time.
Later in the year, on October 30, 2001, Asst. Chief Bill Snyder arrived in the 900 block of Redfield Road for the third arson fire in a week in the same apartment complex. A Molotov cocktail had erupted in the second floor lobby. Bel Air firefighters removed eighteen citizens via ground ladders at this fire.
In April of 2002, the fire company purchased two Ford Horton Type III “Model 553” ambulances. Ambulance 392 and 393 were delivered to Bel Air in October of 2002 and placed in service in November of 2002.
In January 2003, the fire company had to rechassis Ambulance 393. The 2002 unit would be involved in an accident on January 23, 2003. As a result of this accident, the unit would require major repairs so the decision was made to rechassis the unit with a 2003 chassis. The new unit was 2003 Ford Horton Type III “Model 553” ambulance.
On January 16, 2003, the Auxiliary began to look into the possibility of a replacement for the Auxiliary Support Unit (U371). The Auxiliary Vehicle Committee worked on this project for several years in an effort to produce an Auxiliary Unit that would support the Fire Company, but could be used to support other fire companies within the County. The Committee members throughout this process were: Chairman, Susan Eyre; Linda Kadolph, Sharon Price, Ray Belcher, John Petrovic, Rick Ensor, John Eid and Board Liaisons, Joe Price and Charlie Walls. In September, 2005, the new unit specifications were sent out for bid. Krammes Kustom Body was accepted to build the new rehabilitation unit. On October 18, 2007, the contract was approved. On January 8, 2009, the fire company placed the new Auxiliary vehicle, designated Specialty Support Unit 388, in service. Its’ first run was on January 10 and January 11, when it traveled to a structural collapse drill in Edgewood.
In May of 2003 the fire company purchased a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria for use as a command and utility vehicle. The unit was placed in service on August 31, 2003.
On August 24, 2003, a single passenger plane crashed in the 2300 block of Rock Spring Road. The pilot, tragically, died on impact. The plane ignited everything in the back yards of the dwellings nearby.
On September 18 and 19 of 2003, the fire company was very busy running calls caused by the remnants of Hurricane Isabel. In thirty hours, Bel Air suppression units handled approximately one hundred calls for service.
In October of 2003, the fire company purchased a 2004 GMC Yukon for use as a command and utility vehicle. The unit was placed in service on November 10, 2003.
On May 10, 2004, Deputy Chief Snyder arrived on scene of a working fire in a large garage that had been converted into apartments. On his arrival, a male subject was laying in the road in front of the house with severe burns. Fire was showing from both floors. Two alarms were needed to fully control the fire.
In August of 2004, the fire company purchased a 2005 Chevrolet 2500 4 x 4 pickup for use as a command and utility vehicle. The unit was placed in service on September 15, 2004.
On August 14, 2004, Past Chief Millard Purcell passed away. Chief Purcell was an active member for 65 years. He had answered 35,416 alarms answered in his career. He was given a full fire department funeral and was taken to his final resting place down Main Street in the 1939 Mack that he operated for many years.
In 2005 a committee was appointed to replace three of the fire company’s pumpers. The committee spent many months looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In April of 2006 the fire company voted to purchase three Seagrave Marauder II pumpers from Fire Equipment Supply Company (FESCO). The pumpers were equipped with the following: Detroit Diesel Series 60 515 HP engines, Hale QMAX 1500 GPM single stage pumps, 750 gallon booster tanks, 50 gallon foam tanks, Feecon around the pump foam systems, Harrison PTO-Driven hydraulic generators, Elkhart hydraulically operated valves, RUDD automatic snow and ice chains, a 1000 GPM pre-piped monitors above the pump panel, a hose bed that contains 1200 feet of 5 inch hose, 400 feet of 3 inch hose, tone 150 foot 1 ¾ preconnect, two 200 foot 1 ¾ preconnects, one 250 foot 1 ¾ preconnect and a 100 foot 1 ¾ front bumper trash line. 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.
All of the three pumpers are also configured so that they would also be squads and carry an AMKUS 220V HRT System. All three pumpers were delivered to Bel Air in March of 2007. Engine 311 was placed into service on June 7, 2007 and that same day responded to its first alarm on Melrose Lane to assist the ambulance with a helicopter standby. Engine 312 was placed into service on April 5, 2007 and answered its first alarm on April 6, 2007, for smoke in the area call on Bel Air South Parkway just south of the town. Engine 313 was placed into service on April 10, 2007, and that same day responded to its first alarm at 2200 Candice Court for an automatic alarm.
In February of 2005, the fire company began EMS supplement staffing with paid ambulance crew members. This program had been discussed for the past year as the amount of EMS calls had increased each year. The program was designed to assist the company’s volunteers in answering over 6,000 EMS calls a year.
On March 3, 2005, Lieutenant Ricky Davis led Tower 331’s crew on a four alarm church fire on Market Street, in Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania. On this cold night, Tower 331 flowed water with Stewartstown’s truck to knock the bulk of the fire down.
On May 5, 2005, Bel Air units arrived at a working townhouse fire in 1200 block of Athens Court. Firefighter Ferguson responded from his house one block away. He found an unconscious female on the first floor and removed her out the rear of the dwelling. The basement fire was quickly extinguished by the other arriving units.
On June 27, 2005, Lieutenant Dave Cox arrived on Engine 314 with a well-involved townhome that had already spread into two adjacent units. Deputy Chief Bill Snyder requested three alarms. Unfortunately, one child died in this fire and one other person was badly burned.
One of the saddest days in our history occurred unexpectedly on September 26, 2005. While enroute to Louisiana with his BG&E crew to assist in Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, Assistant Chief Wilson “Skip” Strong passed away in a car accident. Chief Strong was a role model to many and he was definitely just beginning a great career at the BAVFC.
In 2005 the fire company joined with the other companies in the county to establish the new Harford County Technical Rescue Team. Headed up by Captain Rob Smeltzer, Bel Air would be responsible for the Collapse rescue sector. The fire company would acquire a trailer and tools to be used in the event of a collapse event in the county. After receiving bids, the fire company approved the purchase of a trailer and tools in May of 2005. The unit was outfitted and placed in service on September 11, 2005. On July 23, 2014, the fire company sold the unit to the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association. The unit would now be run by them as a Collapse Unit for Harford County
2006 saw the fire company finding it necessary to renovate the Forest Hill fire station. The renovations would include more storage space, bunk rooms, exercise\workout room and improved kitchen facilities. 2007 was spent gathering the necessary paperwork, bidding the job and getting all the contracts signed. In late 2007 the fire station (apparatus, offices, equipment and gear) in Forest Hill was moved temporarily to a building just up the street owned by Benfield Electric. This would be the temporary fire station until the fire station had been renovated. Groundbreaking was in early 2008 and the fire station was completed and occupied in September of 2008.
On March 8, 2006, the fire company responded to its fourth working fire in twenty four hours. In the 700 block of Country Village Drive, Engine 314 with Lieutenant Ricky Davis, arrived three minutes from alert to find a three story garden apartment with fire showing through the roof. He requested a second alarm almost immediately. An aggressive attack stopped further fire spread. March of 2006 was very busy with two hundred and thirty two fire alerts, seven working structure fires and numerous large field and woods fires.
In 2007 the fire company appointed a committee to begin looking into the replacement of the 1988 Spartan LTI aerial tower. The committee spent many months looking at demonstrators from different manufacturers, writing specifications and requesting bids. In November of 2008 the fire company voted to purchase a Spartan Gladiator Crimson 100 foot aerial tower from FESCO Emergency Sales of Elkridge, Maryland. The unit was equipped with a Detroit Diesel Series 60 515 HP engine and an Allison 4000 EVS 6 speed automatic transmission. The unit featured dual 1000 GPM monitors, one remote controlled, pre-piped breathing air system to platform and turntable, Harrison PTO-Driven 20 KW hydraulic generator and carries 237 feet of ground ladders. The unit also carried a full complement of NFPA required tools of a truck company such as axes, hooks, halligan bars, smoke ejectors, rope, extinguishers, various tips for the ladder pipes, etc. The unit was completed and delivered to Bel Air in March of 2010. The unit was placed in service on April 14, 2010, and answered its first alarm on April 28, 2010, for an elevator rescue at 2 South Bond Street in Bel Air.
January 18, 2007, the fire company responded numerous units to multi-fatality dwelling fire at 3407 Philadelphia Road in Abingdon. Deputy Chief Bill Snyder held command of this incident that resulted in five fatalities. The fire had considerable headway prior to fire department arrival.
In May of 2007 the fire company purchased a 2007 GMC Yukon for use as a command and utility vehicle. The unit was placed in service on July 15, 2007.
In May of 2007, the fire company purchased two GMC 4500 Horton Type III “Model 555” ambulances. The ambulances would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. Ambulance 391 and 393 were delivered to Bel Air in October of 2007 and placed in service in November of 2007.
In June of 2007, the fire company purchased a 2005 GMC Sierra 2500 4 x 4 pickup for use as a command and utility vehicle. The unit was placed in service on August 1, 2007.
In March of 2008, the fire company purchased a GMC 4500 Horton Type III “Model 555” ambulance. The ambulance would be equipped with all the modern medical equipment of the time. Ambulance 392 was delivered to Bel Air in August of 2008 and placed in service in September of 2008.
The end of the decade found the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company experiencing many changes, yet it remained in excellent financial condition, under very capable and experienced leadership, and with a well-trained and dedicated membership.