The Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department, like many volunteer departments, was formed to provide fire protection for the community. The nearest Fire Station was eight to ten miles away.
Members of the committee responsible for setting up a volunteer department were Joe Fusco, Jim Hartman, Harry Sumner, Joe Wilmer and Lou Wright. Joe Wilmer, age 79, is the sole living member of the committee formed in 1946.
Organizing a fire department was not an easy endeavor but the committee remained committed to the task.
A 1919 American LaFrance chain driven pumper was given to the department by the Bethesda Chevy Chase Fire Company. It was quickly named ‘’Old Bess’’. It was housed in a garage behind a tavern owned by Joe Fusco. Meetings were held in homes of committee members until a building could be built. There were many meetings held to seek Anne Arundel County approval. The Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department joined the then Anne Arundel Volunteer Fireman’s Association in 1948.
The committee had several novel and interesting fundraising projects. With the permission of the owner of Beverly Beach Club (a bathing beach) the newly formed volunteers collected fifty cents parking fee for all vehicles on weekends. Money was collected in a tin fire hat.
While this was most beneficial to the fledging volunteer fire department, it was obvious that other fundraising methods were necessary. One of the members came up with an excellent idea. It was recommended that the department issue non-interest bearing one hundred dollar bonds redeemable in ten years. This idea was highly successful and raised enough money to purchase land and materials to erect a firehouse. The site was chosen between Quantico and Old Town Roads.
Local businessman enthusiastically supported the foundation of a volunteer fire department and contributed their money, time, talents and services. For instance, block was laid by Jack Riley, Floors by Babe Luzi, plumbing by the Stansbury’s and electrical work by Frank Duckett. Thus, the original portion of the building was completed.
Some of the “first” include the following:
- The first chief was Tim Timmerman.
- The first fire call was the Golden Slipper Restaurant fire.
- The first engineman or pump operator was Harry Sumner followed by Guy Pearl. When the third engineman position was county approved, Tom Southwick was hired.
- The first ambulance was a 1950 Packard.
Fire prevention was the department motto and goal. Over the years, the Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department initiated and excelled in many varieties of programs designed to promote Fire Prevention. The department won local, national and international awards in recognition of excellence for its dedication to the worthy programs. WBVFD received certificate of excellence from governors, Tawes, Lee, Hughes, Mandel, Agnew and Schaffer.
The ladies auxiliary was formed in the early 1950’s and continued to mid nineties when most of the ladies joined the Fire Department as associate members. Through their years as the auxiliary, the ladies contributed to the department’s success financially. Their dedication to help was truly outstanding. No task was too great.
The department has grown and is proud of its commitment to provide to provide the very best to the communities it serves.
In 1998, the department elected Curtis M. Dye “President Emeritus” and Joseph (Mac) Connell ‘’Chief Emeritus’’ in recognition of their efforts to the department.
The Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department currently has three of its members in the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Hall of fame. They are Joseph M. (Mac) Connell elected in 1977, Curtis M. Dye and Roy L. Shirkey. Further, Ladies Auxiliary member Marion Shirkey, past president of the WBVFD ladies auxiliary and the Maryland state Firemen’s association was inducted in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Maryland State Fireman’s Hall of Fame.
As the department continues to grow, we are thankful for those who have served, those who now serve and to those who will serve. The support of our friends and neighbors will always be remembered and appreciated.