Event company

Groundbreaking marks new era for Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company – Baltimore Sun

Around 200 people gathered behind the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company on April 4 for groundbreaking ceremonies for the first phase of construction of the new Fire and EMS Operations Station and Events Centre.

The ceremonies began with the opening address by Jim Dwyer, President of the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company. Attendees included Ed Stagner, the longest serving member of the fire company and former president, and Dana Seipp, a former chief and the last surviving member of the current station construction committee.

Also in attendance were Carroll County Commissioners Dick Weaver, Steve Wantz, Ed Rothstein and Dennis Frazier. Joining the commissioners were Carroll County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Director Mike Robinson; Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin; City Manager Tammie Ledley; Zoning Administrator Jim Roark; Sharon Callahan, Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission; and Board Members Wayne Thomas, Debbie Painter and Diane Barrett. Several members of the department’s mutual aid fire departments were also present.

Dwyer began by explaining why the fire company determined it was important to build new facilities for the fire department.

“The Fire Company was founded in 1900,” Dwyer said, “by concerned citizens who came together to provide protection against fires, disasters, accidents and injuries. This commitment to serving the community still exists today and is the primary responsibility of the fire company.

According to a fire company history found on the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company website, “the organization of a fire company…was the direct result of action on April 15, 1899, during ‘an assembly of citizens of the town convened for the purpose of considering the holding of a carnival.

“The purpose of holding a carnival was twofold: first, to promote interest in the city; and second to raise funds, which could then be spent on a public purpose.

“A committee was appointed, and as a result of their active labor a carnival was held on Saturday, May 27, 1899, from which the committee realized a net proceed of $67.30. It was estimated that three thousand people were present.

“On January 2, 1900, the committee decided to invest the profits of the carnival in the purchase of a hook and ladder truck. On January 6, just before sunset, a four-wheeled hook and ladder was towed to Hampstead by a hay wagon returning from Baltimore. The truck, purchased from the Baltimore City Fire Department, was equipped with four ladders (10′, 18′, 24′, 35′ in length) as well as axes, pickaxes, hooks, tongs, gum buckets and other devices. It was equipped with a tongue and a handle and could also be pulled by hand. The cost of this ladder cart was $75.00.

According to Dwyer: “The original [fire station] was dedicated in September 1903, on Main Street; it still stands today, serving as the home of Towne Pride. In 1947, we expanded our services and purchased our first ambulance, to meet the needs of the community. Over the next few years, as the size of the device grew larger and heavier, it became apparent that a new building was needed, and in 1975 all the devices were moved to the current fire station .

Hampstead continues to grow with new homes and businesses. “I think a lot of people come here for the quality of life,” Dwyer said. “Hampstead reminds people how a community works together for the good of all, we all succeed and grow together.”

“In 2020,” according to Dwyer, “the fire company determined it was time to build a new facility to provide 24/7 accommodation for emergency operations crews.

“The recent pandemic has really highlighted the need to separate emergency operations from fundraising and social activities. And together with our building committee and our contractor, Wickersham Construction, we have drawn up a plan for two buildings.

“The first building to be constructed will be a temporary operations building to house aircraft and crews for about a year. This building should be operational by December 2022.

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“At that time, we will demolish the old station and build a new emergency operations center on Main Street.

“Following the completion of the new emergency operations building, which we expect to be in operation from January 2024, we will convert the temporary building into an event center which will open in the spring of 2024.

“The new event center, with seats [for] up to 324 people, will be available for rental as a resource for the community, for weddings, meetings, parties, dances, bingo, etc.

“We believe this two-building approach provides the best solution for ensuring the safety and security of emergency operations, while providing an excellent facility for fundraising and the community. …

“To help focus our fundraising to meet this financial obligation, we have set up a fundraising campaign. Mark Schaefer is the chair of the capital campaign; we also enlisted the advice of local business leaders Todd Mitchell and Ken Wright as members of the campaign to provide information and a business perspective.

Donations to the building fund can be made on the fire company’s website at www.hampsteadvfd.org/content/donate.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His column Time Flies appears every Sunday. Email him at [email protected].