The History Of Boulevard Heights Volunteer Fire & Rescue
In March 1923 after a series of fires in the community, The following men met at Albert Stewart’s house to form a fire department. Albert Stewart, Ed Johnson, Ray Samon, George Green, Walter Shipley and Paul N. Tierney, Sr. The first appointment was twelve (12) water buckets obtained from the profits of a lawn party. The first elected chief was William Wolfe who served for three years. In the spring of 1924X congressman Cesar gave the boys two lights a corner of Shadyside and Washington Avenue in the main erected garage 12ft by 18ft to house their hand-drawn cart.
In 1925 they purchased a used 1925 Model-T Ford chassis and build a home-made body and mounted the 35 gal. chemical tank and equipment. The following year they added another 35 gal. chemical tank and another 150 feet of chemical hose. In the spring of 1927 these men built on the fire house to house a new truck which had been ordered. In 1929 in kitchen was added. 1927 they incorporated. The first president was Ray Samon who served for 2 years. Mr. Marion 1 year, Mr. Oscar A. Raba, Sr. From 1923 to 1946. Mr. Walter Shipley from 1946 to 1947, Paul N. Tierney from 1948 to 1951, Vincent Galeano from 1952 to 1956,. Walter L. Shipley 1957, Joe Lumia January to august 1958, Walter L. Shipley august 1958, Ralph N. Small, Jr. 1959 to 1960, Louis Galeano 1961 to 1963, Joe Fusco 1964 to 1966, Frank Aceto 1967 to 1968, Raymond B. Yates, Jr. 1969 to 1970, Donald Bornman part of 1970, Ralph N small, Jr. 1970 and now.
In 1927 the company into the county Fireman’s Association and resigned no. 17. The early days is now the ladies work along with the fireman. Mrs. WE Smith, Mrs. Jane Walker, Mrs. Elizabeth Shipley, Mrs. Mamie Smith, Mrs. Lillian Pryor, Mrs. Elsie Langley, Mrs. Annie Hartman and Mrs. Wolfe were members of the auxiliary. These ladies raffled off a check in 1928 to pay off the first insurance on the men. That cake was one by a little fellow who is now the chairman of this convention Ralph N. Small, Jr. This is the second go-round for Ralph. He was also chairman of the convention when it was hosted by Boulevard in 1958. Then in 1928 they bought a new Ford one ton chassis the men built their own body, mounting a 150 gal. pump 100 gal booster tank, 300 ft of 1 1/2″ inch hose ladders, axes and all equipment of a modern fire truck.
In 1930 they joined the Maryland state Fireman’s Association. Then in 1933 the company ordered a complete fire truck built by Peter Pirsch fire equipment on a Diamond T chassis with a 350 gal pump and all the equipment carried by a modern fire truck. In spring 1941 built a whole 32 by 40 for dances and community affairs. Then in 1945 the company ordered another complete fire truck from Oren fire apparatus company on a Diamond T chassis with a 500 gal. Pump to replace the 1928 Ford, which was retired with a wonderful record.
In 1952 remodeled hall into Engine Room to take care expanding company. In 1954 tore down old engine room and replaced with new a kitchen, furnace room, toilets, meeting room and recreation room and office toilets up stairs. In 1954 purchased an aerial 65ft Seagrave ladder with a 750 gal. Pump from Bryan-Mawr, PA. In 1955 purchased a new Pontiac ambulance and went into ambulance service. In 1955 purchased house and lots next door from the fire house. This was torn down to make room for a new fire house and addition which was built in 1958. Also in 1958 we bought a 750 gal. C-85 Mack Pumper and purchased through civilian defense a Chevrolet station wagon and a Chevrolet carry-all. We were also host to the 36th annual county convention and our 35th anniversary, which made for a very busy year.
In 1961 seeing the area growing Boulevard Heights hired its first paid fireman of its own volition, Wayne Snyder, a member of the Seat Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. Wayne is now a dispatcher with the Prince George’s County Bureau of Fire and Rescue Communications. In 1963 Wayne left and we hired one of our own members, Theodore Harris, as a paid man. We purchased a used 1956 Cadillac Ambulance to replace the 1954 Pontiac Ambulance, which was sold to a Volunteer Fire Department in Arlington county, Virginia.
In 1965 we hired our second paid man. We also purchased a new 1965 M&M Cadillac Ambulance to replace the 1956, which was given to the Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department when they organized. On June 16, 1967 we lost our first volunteer man in the line of duty, Philip E. Tierney, who died as a result of a heart attack while fighting a fire in District Heights, Maryland. In 1968 another 750 gal. Mack pumper was purchased to replace a 1945 500 gal. Oren Pumper, which was sold to mount savage for one dollar. We also purchased a new 1968 Cadillac M&M to replace the 1965 Cadillac.
In 1969 due to the increasing amount of apartment house fires we purchased a 1969 Ford Econoline and equipped it with a 15,000 watt generator, 4 large fans, 4 small fans and 12 circle “D” lights. This equipment was to be used on all large fires, etc. Also in 1969 we purchased a Ford pick-up with a crew cab to replace the Chevrolet carry-all purchased through civilian defense, which was sold to the Silver Spring Fire Department. Also In 1969 we purchased a 1969 Ford station wagon to replace the Chevrolet station wagon purchased through Civilian Defense.
In 1970 we bought a new Cadillac M&M ambulance to replace a 1968 Cadillac. We also received delivery of a 1970 Seagrave 100 ft. Aerial, which was also to replace a 1941 Seagrave 65 ft. aerial, which was sold to a Fire Company in the city of Mellen, Wisconsin. The new Ladder truck was Dedicated to Past Chief Ralph N. Small, Jr. at ceremonies held in may of 1970. In January 1971 because of many of the members moving away the Fire Department had to go to a Compulsory Sleep-in Program, where each member stay two nights each month. Since this program was stated we have averaged twelve men night Sleep-in. This cause a problem with bunk space and required the construction of a second bunk room in part of the engine room. Two charter members are still living, of which one is still active. They are Paul N. Tierney, Sr., now residing in Florida, and our active member Walter L. Shipley.
During the depression the department gave baskets to the needy families of the community during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The company had 40 men in service. The only lost in action was John Sullivan. In the last few years the company has been very active in parades and hook-ups. They have won many cups for their efforts. We are honored to have one of our members a Past President of both County and State, Ralph N. Small, Jr.
The Men Who Served as Chief
Current Equipment Operated By Boulevard Heights VFD, Inc.
- Engine 171:
1958 Mack-750 GPM- 300 Tank
- Engine 17:
1968 Mack-750 GPM- 300 Tank
- Engine 173:
1952 Oren-750 GPM- 300 Tank
- Truck 17:
1970 Seagrave 100 ft. Aerial
- SU 17
1969 Ford Econoline 15,000 Watt Generator
- U 17:
969 Ford Pick-up Crew Cab
- Ambulance 179:
1970 Cadillac M&M
- Car 17L:
1969 Ford Station Wagon