Barlow Volunteer Fire Company (10/16)

BY ELSIE MOREY / October 2016

Barlow Volunteer Fire Company (BVFC), from its early beginning, today demonstrates the tremendous growth of the service organization and what they can do for the community. Concerned citizens of Barlow held their first meeting on Feb. 10, 1931, to discuss the formation of a fire company to help protect the citizens of the area. To assist in organizing a fire company, James. B. Aumen and D. C. Stallsmith of the Gettysburg Fire Company attended to give their expertise, and an election was held to elect officers.

The Barlow firemen hosted the county firemen’s convention in September 1933. As the fire company still did not own a fire house or a fire engine, the county firemen’s parade formed at Mount Joy Lutheran Church and proceeded down the Taneytown Road to Rock Creek below the bridge in order to give a water hose demonstration.

The trustees began to seek land for the BVFC and chose to purchase a parcel of land from Harry Maring. For further information of the BVFC early history, I refer you to the Dec.29, 2012 article by Tom Clowney.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower voted at the BVFC, and an honorary membership was given to President Eisenhower in 1955. The Cumberland Township Historical Society (CTHS) is working with the BVFC to have a commemorative sign placed there.

The equipment was continuously updated and more land was acquired until the station now occupies two acres. Presently, the fire house has four major pieces of equipment. Two engine trucks, Rescue 22, purchased in 2009, with all of the gear, cost $1.25 million. Rescue serves as a fire engine. Hoses may be attached to any fire hydrant and can pump at the rate of 1,500 gallons of water per minute. From a tank of 750 gallons of water with its inductor system from a 35- gallon tank of a “soapy” solution, it can mix the two to produce foam when needed. Rescue also carries two “Jaws of Life” as well as a light tower to illuminate light the work area. Other items include the trauma box, AED and CPR equipment. The cab of Rescue 22 is air conditioned to allow firefighters to rehabilitate from the heavy equipment they wear. The service vehicle contains an arrow board as well as cones, portable strobe lights, specialized cutters of all kinds for seat belts and devices to break car windows.

Mergers are becoming a necessity because there is not enough help. Barlow, for some time, has been discussing the possibility of merging with the Gettysburg Fire Department. In the 1930s, Barlow Volunteer Fire Company had 165 active members, but today they have only 100 with 36 active firefighters. At the present time, Barlow has been running more fire calls with Gettysburg. Barlow went from three fire calls a year to almost 180 calls. The increase is not necessarily fires, as they respond to 911 calls which advise Barlow to send what equipment is necessary, so that may be to check on alarms or smoke in the area or traffic accidents.

Recently the CTHS held its fall walking tour at the BVFC. James Brown, president of the fire company, gave the presentation of facts about the fire company’s history. The society was able to view all the equipment. Brown was assisted by Ross Maring on that part of the discussion. Ross is now the fourth generation of Maring’s who have serviced this company from Harry, the purchase of the original parcel of land, to Donald to his son David who has served since 1994 to the present and is the fire chief, and now his son Ross. Sources: Adams County Historical Society, Geiselman, J.P. 1994, Reflections p. 216, Personal Communication with James Brown.

Elsie D. Morey is the chair of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.