EMMITSBURG, Md. – As the government was shutting down this week, a community in western Maryland was stepping up.
“We knew they were going to need help, so we gave them a call,” said Vigilant Hose Co. Chief Frank Davis.
With the campus where the National Fallen Firefighters’ memorial is located closed, organizers were scrambling to adjust and juggle.
Watch the vigil and memorial service on Firehouse.com.
In addition to changing the venues of the candlelight vigil and memorial service, staff also had to find a place for more than 300 people to stay and eat. Several hundred had already purchased meal tickets.
“We knew we could handle the meals. That was not going to be a problem for us. We offered, and they took us up on it,” Davis said.
Within a matter of days, the volunteers decided the menus, purchased the food and set the tables.
Although they prepared for about 200 Friday night, only about 50 showed up to dine on fried shrimp, roast beef and baked potatoes.
“I guess it was because everyone was just getting here, and some are staying in Howard County,” the chief said.
Several hundred, however, showed up for breakfast Saturday morning.
As the meal was winding down, the volunteers were alerted for a squad call for a wreck. As they grabbed their gear and headed out the door, the crowd applauded. Some rose to their feet as well.
Just before the alarm sounded, the visiting firefighters were jokingly ordered to resist the urge and remain seated.
Davis said firefighters shouldn’t go away hungry either. They’ll be getting a full breakfast as well as hearty lunch and dinner. “We’ve been getting compliments…”
Across town at the Emmitsburg Vol. Ambulance Co., the staff of the National Fallen Firefighters’ Foundation has set up its office in a large second-floor classroom.
Since the shutdown has left them “officeless,” they’ll be calling it home for at least three weeks.
“We’re happy to help. They have use of the kitchen too,” said Eric Stackhouse, vice president. “We want them to feel at home.”
In addition to computers, documents and regular office supplies, the workers also brought along Honor, the NFFF bear.
Some local departments also opened their bunkrooms to visiting firefighters as well. Crews also are staying on cots at Howard County Fire/Rescue training center.