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History of the Department

In November of 1937, 17men from the Violetville Volunteer fire department started the Community Volunteer Fire Department of Violetville in the growing town of Arbutus.

The Arbutus Community Association leased a portion of their property to the firemen and donated lumber to help them with the construction of their firehouse. A small, two story, wood frame building was erected to house a 1927 American La France fire engine & 1932 Kissel ambulance downstairs and provided living quarters upstairs.

In 1942 AVFD bought the community hall building when Arbutus Community Association moved across the street to present day Town Hall. Three years later an addition was built on to the old community hall building to house additional apparatus.

A new 1942 Ford/Ward LaFrance engine had been bought and was later replaced by a 1947 Seagrave engine. A 1947 International Harvester panel truck for use as a rescue squad and that was later replaced by a 1954 Dodge. In 1951 a 1947 Willy’s Jeep was purchased and replaced by a 1967 Jeep CJ-5 and in 1958 a 1957 Seaking aluminum boat replaced an older aluminum boat. Many different ambulances passed through AVFD in the early years including a 1948 Buick Roadmaster, 1952 & ’56 Cadillacs, Pontiacs, an Oldsmobile, Fords, and Chevy’s in the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s.

The 1960’s brought about the lowering of the age limit for members from 21 to 18. In 1963 the Ladies Auxiliary was “reorganized” and in 1965 member Ed Kelly developed a reliable device for the suctioning of fluids from patients mouths. Although his design was the standard used for many years on ambulances everywhere, he was never truly credited for his work because he didn’t secure a patent.

On May 4, 1964 ground was broken for a modern fire station and on October 20, 1964, AVFD moved to it’s new quarters at 5200 Southwestern Blvd. The new station provided necessary room for the apparatus and men with offices, recreation & bunk rooms, and a banquet hall. The two old buildings were then razed for parking.

The sixties and seventies brought more modern fire apparatus. A 1966 Mack engine replaced the ’47 Seagrave, and a 1969 Brockway replaced the ’54 Dodge in 1971. A 1973 Boston Whaler power boat and ’73 Chevy pick-up truck were purchased after Tropical Storm Agnes wreaked havoc on the east coast in 1972. After about a year the boat was sold when it was realized that it was not needed. In 1978, an additional engine (‘78 Seagrave) was purchased with a new lime green/yellow color scheme and the ambulances had become modern Paramedic (medic) units.

By 1980, women were finally accepted as regular members of AVFD although it was not without a fight. Many believed strongly that women had no place in the firehouse but the ladies have competently filled nearly every position at AVFD since then and to this day the Department still boasts a higher than average percentage of female members.

The 1966 Mack engine was replaced with a ’87 Hahn and that was replaced with a 1999 Pierce. The 1978 Seagrave was replaced by a ’97 Pierce which was nearly identical to the ’99 Pierce. The 1969 Brockway Rescue Squad was replaced by a ’93 Spartan and the medic units were now state of the art Advanced Life Support units on heavy duty Ford chassises. With the new ’93 Spartan squad came the return of a red over white paint scheme which would again become the standard.

Once again in 1995 the age limit was lowered from 18 to 16 with parental consent.

In 1996, AVFD became a specialized company in Swift Water Rescue. The 1988 Ford medic that had been replaced was re-designated as a Swift Water Rescue Response Unit.

In 1990 the Ladies Auxiliary had disbanded but a group of ladies revived the Auxiliary in 1997 and opened it up to male and female members. In 1998 they made a presentation of new Holmatro rescue tools (jaws of life) to replace the 1970’s era Hurst system. They would continue to raise funds and purchase needed equipment for AVFD.

Also in 1998, AVFD and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) developed a partnership which would allow UMBC students to gain Emergency Medical Service (EMS) experience through the Department by becoming University Members. Eventually, a substation would be opened on campus with one AVFD medic unit housed and staffed by University Members during the school year.

For the year 1999, AVFD responded to 1019 fire/rescue calls and 1615 ambulance calls. After more than 60 years of commitment to the community through the efforts of the members of AVFD, the Department has reached an enviable position among the volunteer fire companies of Baltimore County.