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Company History

Patch      OOn the night of March 23, 1922, a store on Bladensburg Road -- directly opposite the present fire station -- was completely destroyed by fire. A small group of visionaries recognized the need for fire protection in their community. On the following evening twenty-seven men sat down to organize the Cottage City Fire Company and elected Mr. Charles Barrick as its first Fire Chief.
     With the aid of $144.50 from the Cottage City Citizens Association, the founding members of this fire company purchased a hand-drawn hose reel, several lengths of hose, a nozzle and a small electric siren. Since there was no station, the equipment was stored at several different locations around town. In April of that year, Chief Barrick resigned for personal reasons and Mr. T. W. Scott, Sr. was elected the department's second Fire Chief, serving until 1927.
     The drive that began the organization never died out and in January of 1923 the company's first capital campaign was under way to purchase motorized apparatus. It was so successful that by April the company was able to buy and place in service a fire engine. 1923 was historic for another reason as well. In January, Cottage City joined with three other nearby departments to organize the Prince George's County Volunteer Firemen's Association. Cottage City was designated Company 2. In May, Company 2 also joined the Maryland State Firemen's Association.
The Old Barney Street Station.      In 1924 the company purchased a plot of land on Barney Street, now called 38th Avenue. With their own hands the members of Company 2 built a firehouse on that spot. Construction was not completed until 1926. The building still stands and serves as a local landmark. In the fall of 1924, T.W. Scott, Sr., was installed as President of the County Firemen's Association and in December 1924 the Ladies Auxiliary was organized.
     Despite the general prosperity of America in 1925, neither money nor supplies were plentiful in the Cottage City Fire Company. Nonetheless, second fire engine was purchased to meet the needs of the local community. This also made the department the equal of any other in the county. In August of that year, the company hosted its first county convention. And though the company was still quite young, a new engine was purchased in 1926 to replace an aging vehicle. On May 1, 1926, the company formally incorporated and became a private non-profit. And though the general citizenry continued to support the volunteers with donations, welcome aid was forthcoming when the state legislature and the voters of Cottage City approved a town fire tax in 1929.
The Original Ladder Truck.      With the expansion and growth of Cottage City and of Colmar Manor as well as the surrounding area the need arose for ladders. To meet this need, Company 2 purchased a cities-service ladder truck in 1931. This was one of the first ladder trucks in the Washington metro area and in its day ran emergency calls throughout the county and into neighboring jurisdictions.
     But as we all know, with success comes paperwork. The crushing weight of administrative business led the company to create business officers to assist the Fire Chief. As a result, in 1938 Mr. Donald Pitts was elected the department's first President.

The new Bladensburg Road Station.      1939 was a time of progress and setbacks. While that year saw the Ladies Auxiliary disbanded, it also saw some progress. The company approved plans and authorized the construction of the present Bladensburg Road Fire Station. Once again most of the labor was performed by the men of the department. On February 22, 1940, the building was dedicated by Dr. "Curly" Byrd. At the same time the company put a new Seagrave 500 gallon pumper into service.
     During the 1940s the volunteers of Cottage City went to war. To fill this manpower shortage the company admitted auxiliary firemen for the first time. These became the forerunners of today's Junior firefighters -- teenager boys and girls who train and drill so that they too can one day be volunteer firefighters. As the war ended, construction boomed. To fill the new specialized needs of the post-war world, Cottage City Fire Company purchased a new hydraulically operated 65 foot Seagrave aerial ladder truck in 1945. In June, 1948, the company took delivery of its first 1000 gallon pumper, one of the first of the large capacity fire engines in the area. In 1953 the company purchased a second modern pumper giving Cottage City/Colmar Manor and Prince George's County one of the best fire suppression attacks in the metropolitan area.
Some of Cottage City's Equipment.
     In 1953 the old '39 pumper was converted into a heavy duty rescue squad. The combination of a modern ladder truck and heavy rescue squad responded to all areas of the county in its service to the public. The Ladies Auxiliary was re-established in 1954 with Mrs. Ethel Beck as its president. It continues to this day as a valued part of the station.
Old Squad 2      In 1955, keeping with a tradition of maintaining the finest equipment to protect the area, the volunteers purchased a new Seagrave rescue squad to replace the aging converted truck. The company also purchased and placed in service a 16' motor boat for rescues during flooding along the Anacostia River. These expansions came at a hefty cost. To support its growing budget, the company held numerous fundraisers.
     The building boom in the early sixties created the need for bigger and more modern ladder equipment. In March 1961 the department took delivery of a new Seagrave 85' aerial ladder truck. The new economic realities of the workplace also brought about another change.
Engine 21.      Gone were the days when the volunteers could drop their work and run back to the fire station in an emergency. To augment daytime response, the department hired its first paid firefighter in July, 1964. September and December of 1967 brought two more and in January, 1968, the department placed its first paid fire officer on duty. A combination volunteer/paid system continues to this day to provide the highest quality fire protection at the minimum possible cost. In October 1967 the department accepted its first 750 gallon cab ahead pumper.
     1972 was a year of tragedy. George "Buster" Duvall III was killed in a tragic accident while serving in the line of duty. He remains the only Cottage City volunteer to make the ultimate heroic sacrifice while protecting his community. In 1976 the officers, members and Ladies Auxiliary of the Cottage City Fire Company dedicated the station to his memory.
Truck 2 as it looked when purchased.      The 1970's also saw two significant mile-stones. In 1975, under the direction of Don Catts and Terry McGuire, the station received its first license to start bingo. Bingo is still our main source of income. In 1978, Cottage City Fire Company purchased its first $100,000 piece of equipment when it placed in service a new Seagrave 100' rear mount aerial ladder. This ladder truck is still in service today.
Engine 22      Over the years the volunteers of Cottage City have performed admirably in protecting the surrounding community. The extraordinary devotion and service of Vincent A. Simmel and T.W. Scott Sr. was recognized in 1981 when they were elected into the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Hall of Fame. The 80's saw movement into the future as well as the recognition of past courage. It was in this decade that the first female firefighter joined the Cottage City Fire Company. Another step forward occured in 1989, when the company took delivery of a new Seagrave fire engine. Capable of pumping 1500 gallons of water per minute, this pumper rivals most engine companies in the area. It is still in service today. Also in 1989 the company started hosting Vegas/Casino Nights as fundraisers. While this proved a great money raiser, changes in state law forced them to end as quickly as they began.
Squad 2      The 1990's continue to forward trend of the 80's. In 1990 George P. Duvall Jr., at times Chief and President of the Company, was elected into the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Hall of Fame. The company also continued the modernization of its equipment in 1992 by taking delivery of a new Ferrara Rescue Squad to replace the 1962 Seagrave. 1992 also saw another landmark. In that year the members of the Ladies Auxiliary also became menbers of the Fire Company. To continue the tradition of providing the best and most complete emergency protection possible for the community, an ambulance was added to the station's stable of equipment in 1995.
     Now on the cusp of a new Millenium the Cottage City/Colmar Manor Fire Company continues to look forward. We are in the process of
raising money to purchase an aerial platform to replace our aging ladder truck. Our volunteers continue to protect the citizens of our towns and the neighboring areas as needed. Our units continue to respond to emergencies throughout the county. Units from Cottage City were among those that responded to the tragic Fort Lincoln fire in Washington, DC, in which two DC firefighters lost their lives. Our service was recognized by the DC Fire Chief with letters of commendation. We have served the community for most of this century and plan to do so in the next as well.

Photos courtesy of the Cottage City Fire Company Archives and Lt. Ronald Smith.

                        © 1999 Cottage City Fire Company, Inc. All rights reserved.