North East Fire Company

North East, Maryland
October 13, 1921
At a meeting called by Mr. George Owens to organize a Fire Company in G.A.R. Hall, in which a large number of citizens participated.
            After hearing report of carnival Committee Treasure, which showed receipts of $8,291.04, expenses of $2,230.75 with some other bills not yet presented, $5,060.29 on hand.
            Report of Committee on plans for organization of Fire Company then made the following report:
            “Mr. Chairman. Ladies and Gentleman. Your Committee appointed to formulate plans for organizing a Fire Company and securing members for same beg to report as follows and recommend.
            1st. That the organization be known as The North East Fire Company to be Incorporated.
            2nd. That the Par Value per share shall be $5.00 per share, and that no person shall own more than one (1) share. The ownership of a share of stock makes owner thereof a member of the company.
            3rd. The following Gentlemen have subscribed to one share of stock at $5.00 per share. Reading 157 names followed.
            The reading of this list and the fact than the money covering the table subscriptions was placed on the table caused some applause.
            On Motion by John H. Dean duly seconded that any who wished to become members could do so by paying $1.00 at this time balance f $5.00 to be paid $1.00 each months for four months was adopted.”
            Officers were elected, and George C. Rawson was chose as the first President and later he was issued share of stock number one. James Rittenhouse was elected Treasurer and Abel Cameron, Secretary.
            Another meeting was held on October 17, 1921 and at this time approval was given to elect a Board of Directors. The Town was divided geographically into five districts, each entitled to two (2) Directors. One person from each district was elected for a term of two (2) years and another for a one (1) term, enabling the panel to holdover members each year.
            The following men formed the first Board: R.C. Reeder, J.E. Davis, George C. Rawson, S.S. Reynolds, J.F. Voshell, Dr. V.H. McKnight, R.K. Wells, William Rutter, J.M. Rittenhouse, and Dr. C.B. Collins.
            The districts were as follows:
            District One. All that portion of Town and vicinity situated North of a line formed by the North East Creek and Dean’s Bank.
            District Two. All that portion of Town South of the line named above and North of and including both sides of Cecil Avenue and Bridge Street. (Bridge Street was part of what is now West Cecil Avenue.)
            District Three. All of the portion of Town South of the above line and the Run at the Star Office (Herb’s Barber Shop).
            District Four. All that portion of Town situated between the run at the Star Office and Lowe’s Run (Along side of Jean Marie’s Lunch).
            District Five. All that portion of Town and vicinity South of Lowe’s Run.
            It is only speculation as to why these districts were formed. But possibly it was to keep one section of Town from getting control of the Fire Company.
            A Committee was formed at the meeting to write By-Laws.
            Meetings were held the first and third Mondays of each month. On November 14, 1921 the membership was informed that an Attorney advised it would be necessary to have an odd number of Directors, and a motion was passed to have on Director at Large elected each year for a one (1) year term. C.E. Day was chosen.
            On November 28, 1921, the decision was made to buy a Ford Chassis to be outfitted with a body to be used as a Chemical Truck. This work was done by members.
            At an earlier meeting, a Committee was appointed to purchase a Pumper and had considered a White, Mack, Stutz, and American La France. A delegation went to New York City to see a Mack and decided it was not suitable.
            The company voted to buy a Model 38 American La France at an approximate cost of $10,000.00. This model was equipped with a Chemical Tank, which was not purchased, however; the solid tired were replaced with pneumatic tires. A down payment of $5,000.00 was made, with the balance to be pain in three (3) years.
            The pumper still in the Company and has been restored for the 75th Anniversary.
            A survey f the Town revealed that it would be necessary to have 2000 feet of hose and various designated pumping station to protect the town. This hose was purchased.
            The By-Laws Committee made their recommendations at a January 19, 1922 meeting and the By-Laws were enacted. Amendments were made over the years, and they were rewritten in 1996.
            An Indoor Carnival was held in January 1922. The minutes do not name the location of this affair. Stands were provided for Blankets, Boxed Candy, Fancy Work, Home Made Candy, Novelties, Flowers and Plants, Fish Pond, Electric Goods, and Hot Dogs. This venture made $411.76.
            The first annual Stockholders’ Meeting was held on February 6, 1922. Officers elected at the October 13 meeting were continued in office. Addition officers were Vice President Charles Baynard, Assistant Secretary George Phillips, and George Rawson, Chief.
            Several meeting were held at the Town Hall on Bridge Street (Cecil Avenue) and the Town agreed to lease the building to the Fire Company, but there was not enough land available adjacent to the structure to permit an addition to house the equipment.
            The Fire Company joined the Maryland State Fireman’s Association on March 6, 1922 and has been a member since that time.
            On May 1, 1922, the Academy Building on Main Street, which formerly housed North East Classical Institute, was brought from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union for $1000. Am Addition was constructed ad it was home to the Fire Company until moving to the present location in 1955.
            The North East Laundromat occupies the site of the first Fire House.
            Corporation papers were executed and ratified by the State in March, 1922.
            George C. Rawson was re-elected President in 1923, an office he held through 1928, and continued as Chief for the same period.
            What was to become an annual Christmas Treat was first held for the children of the Community in 1923. This was well-attended by youngsters who received candy and fruit. In later years along with the candy and fruit, handkerchiefs and scarves were given to girls and boys received hats and gloves.
            Prior to 1924, the Chief Driver, Hoseman, Suction Horseman, Nozzleman, Ladderman, and Chief of Chemicals were elected by the Stockholders. The By-Laws were amended in 1924 and these Officers were elected by the Directors.
            A committee was appointed at the annual meeting in 1926 to get information to be used in acquiring another piece of apparatus.
            The main source of income at that time was a Carnival held in the Summer and a parade was held during this event. A Town Band was formed in 1922 and allowed use of the Fire House at no charge, and a Fire Company Marching Club organized in 1925. This group participated in many Parades in other communities, marching with the Band. The relationship with the Band continued for many years with different financial arrangements. Communities co-operated on date, preventing two (2) Carnivals being held at the same time.
            A Model 91 American La France Pumper was purchased in 1928, and was equipped with an eight gallon Booster Tank. It was housed on June 1 of that year. The minuets indicate that ice cream for the occasion was donated by Henry Mitchell of Elkton and $6.77 was spent for bunting. This piece of equipment was given to the Charlestown Fire Department in 1949.
            Marion E. Rose was elected President in 1929, an office he filled until 1938. Phineas Craig was the second Chief of the Company and served in the capacity through 1935. They By-Laws were amended that year stating that no member could hold more than one elected office.
            A dam was constructed in the stream on Cemetery Road in 1930 to make a reservoir for a source of water for that part of town.
            New uniforms were acquired for the Marching Club in 1930. In May, the steamboat Brandywine was charted for $600.00 to go to the State Convention in Baltimore. The ship had a capacity of 700 and departed from Chesapeake City. Tickets were sold for $1.00 each, with the Band and Boy Scouts riding free. No mention is in the minutes of financial outcome of this trip.
            In 1932, the Directors were concerned about the condition of the bridges over the North East Creek in town and Bay View that might hamper their fire fighting efforts. These concerns were known to the State Roads’ Commission.
            The Depression began, and the Fire Company joined with other organizations in the area to form a Welfare Committee to aid the needy.
            The first of many Tag Days was held in 1932 with door to door solicitations. Collections totaled $925.00. Today, a yearly Fund Drive is conducted by mail.
            In 1933, it was decided not to have a Carnival due to economic conditions of the County. The Carnivals were reassumed in 1940.
            In June of 1933, three Delegates were sent to the Maryland State Fireman’s Convention with instructions to invite that organization to hold its meeting in North East in 1934. When the Delegates made a report on their return, no mention was made of this request, and there is no record of the Convention being held in North East.
            The local Bank had closed, along with others in the Nation, and needed $100,000.00 to re-open the Fire Company purchased ten (10) shares of stock at $200.00 each to aid in this endeavor. The stock was held until August of 1939.
            The Fire Company Joined with the high school to stage a play in 1933, and a parade was held in town to publicize the production. The band wanted $20.00 to participate: The Committee said they would parade without the band. The presentation cleared $61.32. This is an indication of the money situation during the Depression Years. American La France charged $1.50 per hour, plus expenses, for their Mechanics in 1933.
            Ten men were sent to the Fire School of the University of Maryland in 1934, the first time this was done. Today, most training is available locally with qualified instructors. The first record of money being received from the County, $400.00, was also in 1934. Today, a yearly appropriation is received, based on assessable property in this Fire District.
            The Fire House needed painting in 1935, two members were paid to do the job at $.40 per hour. The cost was $29.60.
            Rudolph Meekins was elected Chief in 1936, succeeding Phineas Craig, and he held that office through 1939. An amendment was made to the By-Laws allowing any Member in good standing to nominate a candidate for Director, regardless of the residence of the person making the nomination. Heretofore, a Director had to be nominated by some in his District. In January of this year, the directors established a minimum age of 16 for membership.
            The highlight of 1037 was the awarding of the Chief’s Cup to President Rose by the Maryland State Fireman’s Association for outstanding service.
            New Marching Club Uniforms were bought in 1938 at a cost of $555.00 and the practice of sounding the siren each week-day at noon was begun. This has been discontinued.
            The Stockholders elected Phineas Craig President in 1939.
            The seed for a new fire house was planted in 1940 when President W.C. Harvey established a building fund. The initial money was raised for this cause was an Easter Club, netting $129.00. Later that year bricks were sold for this project. Charles Brown was elected Chief that year and he and President Harvey continued in office for the next three years.
            The Harford-Cecil Volunteer Association was organized in 1941 with North East Fire Company as a member. Several North East Fire Company members have served as officers in that group. Nine members have been inducted into the organizations Hall of Fame. They are: T.K. Blake Jr., John Meekins, Rudolph T. Meekins, James Miller, Charles C. Stewart, Frank B. Conway Sr., John Hamilton Jr., James Pennhollow, Terry Deamond and Vincent Piatelli.
            The main concern after Pearl Harbor was Civil Defense, and the core locally for that program was the Fire House. The absence of most of the active firefighter called into service was felt, and many of the older members resumed answering to take up the slack.
            The Building Fund was invested in War Bonds and additional Bonds were purchased as the war progressed.
            Rudolph Meekins assumed the Presidency in 1943 and Frank B. Conway Sr. was elected Chief and this team fulfilled the duties of these offices during the War. Chief Conway did a tremendous job, when often his crew consisted of boys from the high school.
            A Service Flag honoring those from the Community who were in the Armed Services was placed over the Main Street in front of the Fire House. It was dedicated on September, 1943, and George Rawson, whose son Warren was killed in an accident while in the Army raised the Flag.
            A Civil Defense Pump was acquired in 1944 and placed on a Ford Chassis. A body was made that contained two, 275-gallon tanks that provided a source of water until a pumper could draw from a remote source. This unit was used until 1983 and was a valuable addition to the Company.
            In 1946 applicants for membership were required to serve a year of probation before being accepted as a Stockholder. The requirement is still a condition for membership.
            The first Halloween Parade and Street Dance was held on 1947, and was successful and fun-packed evening. The affair was not held when Mauldin Avenue was being widened and was not resumed.
            A decision to buy a new Pumper was made at a Special Stockholders’ Meeting in July, 1948. Later that year an American La France Invader with a 500 gallon Booster Tank was delivered by Rail Car to Charlestown and placed in service. It was sold to a collector in 1995.
            Rudilph Meekins was elected President in 1949, and John Meekins, Chief. They were voted back in office the following year. Frank B. Conway Sr. was elected President and Austin Conway, Chief in 1952 and 1953. Blake resigned in 1953 and Starrett Smith was appointed by the Directors to be President. He headed the organization through some critical months.
            In September 1953, a special Stockholders’ meeting was called to choose property for a new building. A site had been debated since 1948 and included possible building on the Main Street location. A decision was made to by seven lots on Mauldin Avenue from the Sadowsky for $500.00 per lot. An adjoining lot was acquired for $750.00. An architect was hired to draw plans for the building.
            Paul Crouch was awarded a contract to erect the new Fire House in 1954.
            Rudolph T. Meekins began a thirteen-year reign as President in 1954 and T.K. Blake, Jr. was elected Chief, a position he filled until 1962. A new pumper was bought, a Ford Chassis outfitted by American La France.
            The new Fire House was dedicated in November, 1955. W.C. Harvey, a charter member and former president laid the cornerstone.
            The old Fire House was sold to Albert Cramer.
            Bingo was started in January 1956 and is still being held on Thursday night, another major fund-raising activity.
            The first ambulance was put in service that year, a Buick costing $2,250.00. Additional lots behind the Fire House were bought, and the company became a member of the Cecil County Firemen’s Association in September 1956.
            The Catholic Church began holding services at the Fire House in 1957 while their Church was under construction. An Ambulance Club was started and continued until the County Emergency Service was initiated.
            Additional lots were purchased from Sadowsky’s in1958, and the Buick ambulance was replaced with a Cadillac. A generator from Aberdeen Proving Grounds was placed in the building to supply electricity during power outage. This unit was replaced in 1986. It comes on when a failure occurs and fills the needs of the company, including activating the siren.
            A Ford panel truck was added to the list of emergency vehicles in 1960, and was equipped with a portable pump, generator, floodlights, and other accessories. The mortgage was paid in October, approximately six years after moving into the new quarters.
            Otis Goodnow was elected chief in 1962, and a new Cadillac ambulance was bought. A chief was not elected at the 1963 annual meeting and Otis Goodnow was appointed by the Directors to stay in office. The Civil Defense unit was place in a new Dodge Chassis. T.K. Blake Jr. returned as Chief in 1964 as was succeeded the following year by James Pennhollow.
            The member selected John Meekins to be Chief in 1966. Later that year stockholders opted to buy a new piece of apparatus, an American La France Pioneer. Plans were made to add four bays to the original bulding.
            William Ewing was elected President in 1968 and James Pennhollow began three-year term as Chief. A contract was awarded in 1967 for the additional four bays.
            Presidnt elected in 1969, 1976, and 1971 were Thomas Sharpless, Gene Price, and Daniel Mahan. Thomas Sharpless was Chief in 1970 and 1971. The by-laws were amended in 1971 and the geographical district for Directors eliminated. Since that time the five candidates weith the highest number of votes are elected for two years and the sixth highest nominee elected for one year.
            Terry Deamond assumed the office of President in 1972 and was re-elected in 1973 and 1974. Members elected E. Leon Demond III, Chief and he served in that capacity through 1976.
            A boat to be used for emergencies on the water was put in service in 1973 and is still operational. A Hurst Tool, better known as the “Jaws of Life” was purchased that year along with an American La France pumper. John Crothers Sr. was chosen President at the annual meeting in 1975 and performed the duties of that office for three years.
            William Maker was the first Black member to join the company, receiving his stock in January, 1977. Later that year Monica Penhollow and Korby Kunsman became the first female members. James Penhollow was elected Chief that year.
            Gary Weaver and Terry Deamond were selected President and Chief in 1978 and a new ambulance, a Yankee Coach, was purchased. An addition was planned to enlarge the auditorium and build a new kitchen. An architect was hired and a contact was awarded for this construction in the amount of $150,000.00.
            Weaver and Deamond were re-elected in 1979 and the new facilities were completed. Bingo was begun again on Thursday nights.
            The members chose John Crothers Sr. to be President in 1980, 1981, and 1982. Terry Deamond continued as Chief in 1980 and was succeeded by Otis Isaacs Jr. in 1981.
            John Hamilton IV became Chief in 1982. Later that year mortgage for the auditorium and kitchen was paid in full and a new ambulance was purchased.
James Miller started a ten-year reign as President in 1983 and Joseph Letts Sr. was elected Chief. A committee was formed to get data on a pumper-tanker. This apparatus, containing a 2500 gallon tank was bought from Pierce and put into service in 1985. John Hamilton IV was Chief in 1984 and 1985.
Buildings to be used as stands at the carnival were acquired from Black Bear in 1984. They were replaced in 1997.
The last charter member, William J. Logan, passed away in 1984.
In 1985 a new van ambulance was ordered. It was decided to buy a combination pumper-rescue truck. A computer was bought to aid with record keeping and business of the company.
The new apparatus, made by Pierce, was put into service in 1986. The old rescue truck was sold to Goldsboro, MD Fire Company and the 1967 American La France Pioneer went to St. Albans, Vermont Fire Department.
Joseph Letts Sr. was picked to be Chief in 1986, followed by John Hamilton IV in 1987, 1988, 1990. The brush truck was replaced in 1987 and the parking lot was blacked topped.
Plans were made to buy a ladder truck in 1988 and to put and addition on the Roney Avenue side of the fire house. Two bays and a display room for “38” were included in this structure.
A second hand car for use by the Chief was secured in 1989 and the 102-foot platform aerial truck, manufactured by Grumman, was delivered in December.
This unit was housed in 1990 and George Hollenbaugh was elected chief.
John Hamilton IV was chosen Chief in 1991, 1992, and a new ambulance was ordered in 1991.
President James Miller died in September, 1992, and Vice-President Patricia Deamond filled out his term and was elected in 1993, the first woman to hold that office. A new Suburban replaced the Chief’s car. Another addition was built on the Roney Avenue side of the fire house, which contained a meeting room for the Ladies’ Auxiliary, pantry, walk-in cold box, and walk-in freezer.
The Ford property was purchased from Sadowsky heirs in 1993 for $250,000.00
Alerbert Alexander was selected to be President in 1994 and when he resigned, Richard McKinney was appointed to the office. McKinney was elected to that office by the members in 1995 and 1996. Terry Deamond succeeded George Hollenbaugh as Chief and was re-elected in 1995.
George Hollenbaugh was elected President in 1997 at the Annual Stockholder’s Meeting, and Steve Piatell, who was elected Chief in 1996, was re-elected to that position.
Today the Fire Company serves the public with an Aerial truck, pumper-tanker, a pumper-rescue, two pumpers, a brush truck, a rescue boat, three ambulances, and six chief officer cars.
At the annual meeting in 1931 the Chief reported responding to 72 alarms in 1930. The number of alarms in 1996 totaled 560. Seventy-seven ambulance calls were recorded in 1956. That number increased to 934 in 1996.
The number of hours spent by volunteers responding to emergencies, training, and fund raising is increasing yearly in Fire Companies nationwide. The North East Fire Company has served the community well over the past seventy-five years.