Volunteer Fire Company

Sub Stations History

The fire company began discussions of building a sub-station in the mid 1950’s with an eye to building in Magnolia the idea being to place one engine in Joppa and one in Magnolia. The idea was dropped most likely for a lack of funds. The development of Joppatowne in the early 1960’s by the Panitz Brothers again brought up the subject of sub-stations. The Panitz Brothers had envisioned an area in the center of the development to include a shopping center, library, fire station, swim club and other amenities. There was property offered to the Fire Company for a sub-station but due to financial restraints and other concerns it was not accepted. Panitz Brothers went bankrupt, and the town center project was not completed.

The fire company continued to grow and by the early 1970’s they had added a third engine and a ladder truck to their fleet. The fire house had been expanded to 6 equipment bays and at this point they had 8 pieces of equipment. The solution to this problem was to build a new building to house the ambulances. This building would be technically the first sub-station. It had three bays to house the 2 ambulances and a combination bunk room and lounge. The south bay was later converted into restroom and shower facilities. This was the first sleep-in and lounge facilities for the members of the company. The building was also used to store the carnival equipment and at carnival time it served as the bingo building. During the carnival the bunkroom was used as the carnival committee headquarters.

There were several more discussions of sub-stations but it was not until the mid 1970’s that a piece of property was purchased on Magnolia Road east of Hanson Road with the idea to build a sub-station to serve both Edgewood and Joppatowne. That site met with community opposition and other problems and later the property was sold. The Fire Company call volume continued to increase in both the Edgewood and Joppatowne areas. The Fire Company realized that building sub-stations were needed to improve response times and membership in the two areas. Traffic along the route 40 corridor was delaying the response of members from the east side of route 40 to the fire house located on the west side of route 40. The Fire Company purchased 5 acres on Trimble Road west of Joppa Road and in 1978. The property had a house that the fire company rented out to raise funds for the sub-station. In 1979 the firm of Albert K. Broughton & Associates was hired to draw up the plans for the new station. The fire company also hired Frank Gettner & Sons to build the building. The new station was designated as “Company 8, House 2”. The building had 3 equipment bays, a lounge, bunk room, tool room, bathroom with a shower, and the basement was a training room. Engines 811, a 1964 Mack CF series pumper and 812, a 1976 Seagrave pumper were assigned to the station as well as Air 861, a 1966 step van and Brush 841, a Kaiser-Jeep surplus 1 ton weapons carrier brush truck. The first sub-station was dedicated and opened to serve the Joppatowne area in March of 1980. The sub-stations first officers were 2nd Assistant Chief Lewis Brown Jr. and Senior Lieutenant Donald R. Moore.

This sub-station continued to grow in membership and a medic unit and a chase car were added in 1989. In 2001 the fire company started planning for renovations and expansion of the Trimble Road sub-station. The fleet had grown to 5 pieces of equipment being housed in three bays. The company realized that in order to attract members and continue to grow a suitable station with a larger lounge, larger bunk rooms, and kitchen facilities was needed. A committee was formed to look at all alternatives and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. The acquisition of another site was found to be too expensive. It was decided to remodel and expand the existing station. Several designs were offered but funding was tight. Harford County allocated $75,000.00 for architectural and engineering services and the firm of Edmeades & Stromdahl was hired to develop the concept into drawings. Harford County then allocated $225.000.00 toward the cost of construction of the project and the fire company allocated the other $375.000.00. The project was put out for bids and the successful Bidder was Jaeger Incorporated. Construction began in August 2002. The project consisted of complete renovation of the existing building including new roof, new heating and cooling system, new electrical wiring, new lighting, and changing existing spaces to different uses. The project also included the construction of a new equipment bay, radio room, lounge, kitchen and dining area, rest rooms, shower rooms, and bunkrooms. The facility was brought up to modern codes with the addition of new electric service, oil separators for the engine room floor drains, new telephone system, new fire alarm system, and the storage areas had fire sprinklers installed. The project was substantially finished in May 2003 and an occupancy permit was issued. The total cost for the construction phase of the project was $596,293.06.

The building was designed not only for the needs of the fire company at the present time but also looks toward the future. The new equipment bay is large enough to accommodate any large piece of apparatus that may be needed including units such as mobile command units, disaster abatement units, or ladder trucks. It will also accommodate two pumpers, one behind the other, if a reserve unit is stored here or an additional pumper is added. The building is also designed to be expanded as necessary. The building can be expanded to the East with additional equipment bays or administrative offices. There is also room to expand to the south with whatever is needed for future growth of the fire company.

With this sub-station up and running the fire company turned to the prospect of a sub-station in the Edgewood area, a committee was appointed in1988 to research properties and do a preliminary design. Several properties were considered and for various reasons were found not suitable. Then the area known as “The Pines” on Hanson Road was discussed and seemed like a good location. The property is owned by the U. S. Army and was not for sale. There was a lot of time and effort put forth by Congresswomen Helen D. Bentley and the Director of Engineering and Housing for Aberdeen Proving Ground, Colonel Wood. A long term renewable lease was written for the property and after many environmental and use studies, the lease was signed on October 29, 1990 with the Army Corps of Engineers. A construction loan was obtained from Forest Hill State Bank and the contract to build the sub-station was awarded to the firm of Peter J. Scarpola Inc. The sub-station consisted of 3 drive through equipment bays, a radio room, bunk rooms, EMS supply room, tool room, and a combination kitchen and lounge. The sub-station was completed and opened in the spring of 1992. The station opened with Engine 814, a 1981 Mack CF series pumper, Truck 831, a 1992 Simon Duplex with a 110 foot aerial ladder, and a Medic unit.

The sub-station during construction was surrounded by a chain link fence and was soon dubbed “Fort Hanson”. The sub-stations first officers were 2nd Assistant Chief Tom Eser, Captain Ted Anderson and Lieutenant Leroy Edmonds.

The Fire Company does not break down numbers of calls by individual station because all three stations are alerted for all calls, but the Hanson Road Sub-station has been the most active of the three stations. The volume of calls has increased in most years since the sub-stations opened with medical calls leading the increase. In 2010 the fire calls for the three stations totaled 1346 and the medical calls were 3512. The fire company is in the planning stages of remodeling and expanding the Hanson Road sub-station. Depending on funding this may be possible within the next five or ten years. The 1991 Ladder Truck that was assigned to the station when it opened has recently been replaced with a new Pierce 100 foot Aerial Ladder truck at a cost of $800,000.00.