In September 1890 during the fire company’s organization, two hose carriages were initially purchased as fire apparatus. Hose Carriage 2 and associated equipment would be stored in a small hose carriage house that was already in place to the rear of the Harford County Jail. The jail was located behind the Harford County Sheriff’s house and office on Main Street directly across from the Harford County Court House.
The issue was with where to locate the other hose carriage. Hose Carriage 1 was temporarily located on Ellendale Street, near Gordon Street, at the livery stable of Henry B. Bruns, who was the Division 1 Foremen, while permission was sought from the school board to erect another hose carriage on their property on Gordon Street, as this would place one hose carriage in each half of the town.
The school board would continue to debate and consider the request for several years, until finally on November 1893 a committee was appointed to locate a suitable location for the Hose Carriage 1 after permission could not be obtained from the school board. It was decided that Hose Carriage 1 would remain at the Ellendale livery stable location permanently.
In July 1897, Hose Carriage 1 was relocated to the Gordon Street property carriage stables of fire company member Henry B. Bruns, who happened to be the Chief of the Department at the time and would become the President the following year.
On March 3, 1898 the town commissioners rented two rooms in the ferry building on Courtland Street between Main Street and Bond Street. These two rooms were for the fire company to use for meetings, offices, etc.
Also at this time, space had to be secured for the new Hook and Ladder carriage that was in the process of being purchased. Luckily space for the carriage would be found at Shannahan and Smith’s livery stable on Main Street.
These arrangements would remain until 1907 when the Courtland Street fire station was constructed.
On November 4, 1906, a committee was appointed to seek suitable housing for the fire company and its apparatus. The committee was tasked with also coming up with the funds for such an endeavor. At a meeting held in the Harford County Court House the fire station committee reported that the necessary funds had not been obtained and that they had done all that could be done. The committee asked to be dismissed, but was asked to continue serving. The town commissioners were asked to call a public meeting to try and arouse enthusiasm for this project.
The town commissioners met on December 5, 1906, to determine the best method of inducing the taxpayers of Bel Air to contribute to a voluntary tax to build a permanent fire station for the apparatus. A resolution was adopted that a letter be sent to each taxpayer in the town urging them to contribute a voluntary tax of forty cents on the hundred to build suitable quarters for the fire apparatus and also rooms for the town commissioners and fire board to meet.
The issue came to a head on January 3, 1907 when the issue again came before the town commissioners. Notice had been received from the Shannahan and Smith livery stables that Hook and Ladder Carriage 1 would have to be moved and no longer housed at that establishment.
On January 11, 1907 a decision was made and authorization given to a committee to purchase a lot on Courtland Street from Clarence Purcell for $150 dollars. The first payment was made on February 1, 1907.
In May of 1907 several offers were made to the town for land for sale or rent for a fire station. One lot was offered at a cost of $1800 dollars and another lot on Pennsylvania Avenue, which contained an old blacksmith shop, was also offered but it was subject to ground rent. The town refused these offers as a lot had already been purchased.
Construction of the fire station was started in June of 1907. The building would be a 20 x 40 foot single story structure with a small loft and double inward swinging doors for the apparatus and a small pedestrian door. The final cost of the fire station was $495 dollars.
This was the first fire station in the history of the company and it consolidated all the hose carriages and the hook and ladder carriage under one roof.
In October of 1919, the fire station would be remodeled slightly to accommodate the arrival of the fire company’s first piece of motorized apparatus, a 1918 Ford / American LaFrance Type “E” Double Tank Combination Chemical and Hose Car.
With the advent of new fire apparatus being purchased, the fire company purchased property on Main Street for a new fire station. It is believed that the town retained ownership of the building and lot when the fire company officially moved to the Main Street location.
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During 1923 the fire company realized that it was outgrowing the Courtland Street fire station and would need more room to house both the current Ford American LaFrance hose wagon and the newly ordered Seagrave pumper. In December of 1923 a deal was finalized with the Whitaker Estate for the property located at 34-36 North Main Street in Bel Air. The property consisted of a store and the adjoining house. The purchase cost was $5,000 dollars.
The fire company took possession of the Main Street property on February 1, 1924, and held the first company meeting in the fire station on February 20, 1924.
The residence part of the structure would be left intact and rented out to help pay the cost of the mortgage on the property while the store part of the structure would immediately be renovated.
The front of the store was torn out and the floor lowered to street level. A concrete floor was laid and two large inward swinging doors installed so that the two pieces of apparatus could stand side by side in the apparatus bay. In addition to the apparatus bay, enough room was available for offices, storage space and a large club room for the members.
The renovations were finished on April 30, 1924, and the Seagrave pumper was moved from its temporary location at the Harford Garage to its new home at the Main Street station.
In January 1930 the fire company addressed an ongoing problem by adding a 35 foot hose tower to the rear of the fire station. The company was experiencing hose failures at fires due to the poor condition of its hose. This was attributed to the fact the company had no proper storage space and no hose tower in which to dry hose when it was wet. The construction of the hose tower followed along the lines of the ones erected recently by Baltimore County companies and also had a platform constructed on top for the future installation of a siren.
With the purchase of the 1938 Continental ambulance in 1939 , space for apparatus was once again becoming an issue. The fire company started looking for another site for a fire station in 1941. Upon the purchase of the Bond Street property in December of 1941, the Main Street property was sold to Mr. Louis Hollander of York, Pennsylvania, who would turn it into a home and auto supply store.
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In late 1941, with the additional purchase of equipment, the fire company was once again in need of bigger quarters. On December 15, 1941, the fire company purchased the old Neuman Ice Cream plant, owned by the Borden Company, which sat directly to the rear of the Main Street fire station for $6,800 dollars. At the same time, it sold the Main Street fire station and adjoining residence to Louis Hollander of York, Pennsylvania. Part of the sale of the Main Street property reserved the right of the fire company to remove the hose tower. It was decided that the tower would not be disassembled, that it would be moved in its entirety to its new location, one hundred and fifty feet away, at the new fire station. On February 1, 1942, members of the fire company gathered with ropes, pulleys and rollers. Being steadied by ropes, the tower was successfully moved into its new position beside the new fire station.
In December of 1943, the fire company erected a new flagpole in front of the fire station. The flag pole contained two flags, one being a large American flag and the other a service flag. The service banner contained a large blue star in honor of the 30 fire company members who were in the service and a gold star in memory of the late Sergeant Meredith Chambers, the first fireman to make the supreme sacrifice.
In 1947 the company was again looking for more space as it now had four pieces of apparatus. In November of 1947, the fire company sold the part of the station that bordered his property to Louis Hollander (who had purchased the Main Street station years before). This sale would help finance the renovation and expansion of the rest of the fire station. Up until this time, the apparatus would exit the fire station into an alley between Bond Street and Main Street for alarms. With the expansion and renovation, the building would have a bay for each piece of apparatus and the exit from the fire station would be reoriented onto Bond Street. The hose tower would not be moved a second time. The hose tower would be demolished and a new tower constructed during renovations.
In June of 1948, renovations began on the fire station with the construction of the new hose tower. After that was finished, the old tower was demolished and work on the building begun. The renovations would continue until December of 1948. The finishing touches were applied in January of 1949 and an open house for the public to come and see the new fire station was held on February 22, 1949. Included in the renovation project were individual bays for the apparatus, new offices, shower stalls, space for gear racks and a recreation room. The reorientation of the apparatus bays facing toward Bond Street would allow for a more efficient exit for the apparatus. The previous station had its apparatus bays facing into the alley beside the station that ran between Bond Street and Main Street. An asphalt apron would extend from the front of the apparatus bays all the way to Bond Street.
In 1954 it was decided to enlarge the fire station 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 station 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, 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.
The fire company continued to call this fire station home until September 26, 1964, when the company moved to its new Dallam Avenue (now Hickory Avenue) location.