Without question, one of the most important services the Aberdeen community has ever been blessed with is the Aberdeen Fire Department which, according to remaining records, is determined to have been established in 1889. That was three years before the incorporation of Aberdeen in 1892, and eight years before the installation of the "water works" in 1897.
The Aberdeen Fire Department is even older than the Maryland State Firemen's Association, which was established in 1893. Over the years, those volunteers have seen Aberdeen through the three big fires of 1907, 1918 and 1976.
All of the security of having such an organization is due to the efforts of tireless citizens who have put their lives on the line for their community. The names of J.H. Swingley and William B. Richardson were early pioneers in the organization.
At the annual banquet on the evening of March 9, another outstanding citizen, who has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment and priority to the concerns and safety of firefighters, was honored with this year's Safety Award.
In his presentation, John F. Bender, of the Aberdeen Fire Department Board of Directors, stated: "On behalf of Chief Hinch, President Piper, and the entire membership, we are proud to present this year's Aberdeen Fire Department John F. Bender Safety Award to Past Chief and Past President Daniel B. Smith Sr."
Continuing, "This recipient of this years award has earned just about every fire service recognition there is at the state and local level, which is a testament to the respect and admiration that he holds among his fellow firefighters. However, for the purpose of this award, let me just focus on the legacy that he has created in all of us who have had the privilege and honor to train and serve under him, and with him, and have learned firsthand his guidance for firefighter safety."
Just to relate some of the credits to "D.B." He joined the Cecilton Volunteer Fire Company in 1937, serving on numerous committees and held several offices, including Fire Chief, which he held when he moved to Aberdeen. He completed his first MFRI class, the Firemanship Short Course in 1938, and participated in the MFRI classes years thereafter.
Chief Smith joined the Aberdeen Fire Department in 1949, to be closer to his employment as a firefighter at Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department. H eventually progressed to become Chief of both Departments.
His service to Aberdeen include almost every Administrative and Operational position, including Presidential Chief. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for over thirty consecutive years. He also has served as a member and chaired numerous committees which aided in the development of the Department.
D.B. was for many years a top responder in EMS, serving as an active E.M.T.
For two years, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. During the invasion of Okinawa, he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart. This was his only break in service in his fire service career! Prior to joining the Corps, he served as Chief of the plant fire brigade at the Triumph Explosives Inc., a large explosives manufacturing plant.
D.B. Smith has received many honors and awards over his exemplary career. In 1984, he was inducted into the MSFA Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was inducted into the Harford-Cecil Hall of Fame. He has been named an Honorary Life Member of Level Volunteer Fire Company for developing training classes for the newly-formed Fire Company, and Honorary Fire Chief of Joppa-Magnoilia Volunteer Fire Company.
In 1977, The State of Maryland awarded him the Certificate of Distinguished Citizenship by Governor Marvin Mandel.
In 1968, he received the Aberdeen Fire Department Outstanding Service Award. In 1989, he received the Aberdeen Fire Department Commendation for serving fifty years of continuos service. In 1990, he received from the Harford County Fire and Ambulance Association the award for fifty-five years of service.
Back in 1978 the Aberdeen Fire Department presented his with the Firefighter of the Year Award.
In 2004, he received the Aberdeen Fire Department's 55 years length of service pin. In the same year, he received the MSFA Generations Award.
For this year's Safety Award presentation, John Bender stated it well when he said: "The lessons he taught have been passed down through several generations of firefighters, in his own family, as well as in this department and around the state."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun