With this edition of our “Innovative Rigs on the Street” series we have completed our first year of traveling around the country to review and discuss some well-designed apparatus serving in all sizes of communities. Over the years, the appearance of fire apparatus has changed dramatically. Early units produced during the 1920s were equipped with a small bench seat for the driver and officer and often lacked doors and even windshield protection. Most apparatus built up through the 1960s were open-cab units without a roof, with the crew riding in an exposed position on the rear step. While some departments opted for enclosed-cab apparatus during the 1970s for protection of members from civil disturbances, the four-door cab did not become the industry standard until 1991 due to changes in the NFPA 1901 document.
Today’s fire apparatus, particularly engine apparatus, can have a very similar appearance with full-height, rescue-style bodies and roll-up doors. At times, it can be difficult to easily distinguish one model from the next with even ground ladders disappearing from the side of the engine. Over the past decade, the mission of many fire departments has evolved from one of just fire suppression operations to include many other facets of emergency services. The current theme in many organizations is to brand themselves as an “All Hazards Agency.” With these changes come an increased amount of tools and equipment that must be carried, in addition to the standard hose and appliances that we have operated with for many years. How to safely and efficiently carry all of this equipment can be accomplished in many ways. One excellent example of this equipment packaging can be found in Owings Mills, MD.
The Department Today
The Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Company was organized in September 1921 and operates as Station 310 in Baltimore County, MD. Their first-due area encompasses a large number of commercial and office complexes and is one of the fastest-developing areas of the county. Today, the station is under the command of Captain Kevin Wallett and operates seven units from a single fire station located at 10401 Owings Mills Boulevard. During 2009, the station responded to 2,257 fire and 2,269 EMS incidents in their first due area and other locations in Baltimore County.
Over the years, the Owings Mills Fire Company has operated with many unique rigs and was the first volunteer company in Baltimore County to operate a ladder truck, in 1957, with a Maxim 65-foot midship aerial ladder. The fire company’s first motorized apparatus was a 1924 American LaFrance Type 38 500 gpm pumper equipped with a 35-gallon chemical tank. Through the years, engine apparatus operated by the fire company include a 1967 Hahn 750 gpm pumper, a 1982 Seagrave 1500 gpm pumper as well as a 1967 Ward LaFrance engine and a 1991 Duplex/Saulsbury pumper, both of which were acquired from other fire companies in Prince George’s County, MD.
Owings Mills has operated a number of ladder truck units over the years, including a 1951 Mack L-model 75-foot quint and a 1957 Ward LaFrance 85-foot ladder, both of which were equipped with Maxim midship aerials. In 1974, the fire company placed into service a unique Imperial 100-foot rear-mount Grove ladder that provided seating for six personnel with forward-facing jump seats. In addition to the engine and ladder company apparatus, several special units have been utilized by the fire company including a 1974 GMC hose and manifold wagon, a 1982 International front-mount pumper and a 1995 Ford/Marion mini-pumper.