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Dayhoff: Westminster Fire Department honors eight individuals who died last year

Every year the Westminster Fire Department holds a memorial service to honor members of the department who died in the previous year. I think most fire departments do the same.

We set aside a time to pay our respects to the firefighters and EMS providers who have gone before us. These are individuals who made a difference in our community through their personal sacrifices to help provide a safety net for the community to raise our families, go about our business, and enjoy our quality of life in our community. First responders are a family. We bond and come together through shared common experiences. All too often too many of those experiences are difficult and unpleasant.

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Every year the fire service in Carroll County comes together to honor firefighters and EMS providers who passed away in the previous year. In this picture from April 28, 2004, a firefighter, who was also a World War II veteran, was given a final ride to the cemetery on a 1933 American LaFrance 300 Series Pumper.
Every year the fire service in Carroll County comes together to honor firefighters and EMS providers who passed away in the previous year. In this picture from April 28, 2004, a firefighter, who was also a World War II veteran, was given a final ride to the cemetery on a 1933 American LaFrance 300 Series Pumper. (Kevin Dayhoff/Kevin Dayhoff)

Over the last several decades, the Westminster Fire Department might have one member pass away during the year. Often the department has gone the entire year without losing single member. Last year was different. The Westminster Fire Department lost eight folks that made a difference in the department and the greater community.

Members lost in 2020 include: John Fisher Jr., 64, died on Feb. 3, 2020; Margaret Orlove, 80, died on April 4, 2020; Elwood Kauffman, 88, died on May 12, 2020; Donna Tolle, 69, died on Aug. 3, 2020; Tom Apple, 83, died on Aug. 16, 2020; Marvin Hollinger, 80, died on Aug. 28, 2020; Ritchie Raver, 52, died on Dec. 28, 2020.

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Last year, the fire service also lost one of its major community supporters. Dr. Dean Griffin was a longstanding community leader, prominent physician, and true friend of the fire service. Griffin had a private practice in Westminster, and was the primary doctor who, together with CCVESA, started the annual physical examination program, recognizing the importance of good health, testing, and fitness as a necessary approach to surviving the duties of a first responder. Griffin took pride in looking after the health and well-being of first responders in the community – often uncompensated.

The American flag flies at the top of the ladder on a 1997 E-One HP105 Aerial Platform Ladder Truck at the Westminster fire station on May 16, 2020. It was hung to dry after being displayed at a firefighter funeral.
The American flag flies at the top of the ladder on a 1997 E-One HP105 Aerial Platform Ladder Truck at the Westminster fire station on May 16, 2020. It was hung to dry after being displayed at a firefighter funeral. (Kevin Dayhoff/Kevin Dayhoff)

John Fisher was a former employee of Westminster Fire Department and the first career lieutenant in the department. Most recently, Fisher worked for American Fire Equipment, the dealer the department used to purchase the 1997 E-One Tower back in the late 1990s. Fisher was a retired battalion chief from Howard County.

Margaret Orlove was a member and past president of the Westminster Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, a member of Job’s Daughters and a member of the Westminster VFW Ladies Auxiliary. She was also a member of the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Company.

Kauffman served as a full-time engineer for the Westminster Fire Department in the late 1950s. He then worked for the Westminster and Howard County police departments. He worked for years as a deputy Maryland State Fire Marshal. After his retirement from the Fire Marshal’s Office, Kaufman was a bailiff for Carroll County Circuit Court for more than 12 years.

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A Westminster Fire Department ambulance responds to a medical emergency in the evening hours of June 6, 2020. First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. No matter what the time of day or night, the difficulty or the weather.
A Westminster Fire Department ambulance responds to a medical emergency in the evening hours of June 6, 2020. First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. No matter what the time of day or night, the difficulty or the weather. (Kevin Dayhoff/Kevin Dayhoff)

Donna Tolle was registered nurse. Donna and her husband Charles were both members of the department for many years.

Tom Apple was an active Westminster volunteer fireman for many years. In 1959 Apple and his wife Jane started Westminster Glass & Mirror. Tom was an amateur pilot owning several planes over the years. Additionally, he was an avid boater; racing sailboats in the Magothy River Regatta.

Marvin Hollinger was a life member of the Westminster Fire Department, a member and current secretary of the Westminster Fire Police, member, and current vice-president of the Maryland Troopers Association. Hollinger was employed by the Maryland State Police at the Westminster Barracks for 40 years as a police communications operator.

Life member Raver died Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, at the age of 52. Past EMS Captain Raver served as a member of the department since October of 1986 and over the years became a decorated officer.

First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. No matter what the difficulty or the weather. In this picture from Sept. 25, 2018, firefighters responded to a fire in Westminster during a cold rain storm in which the rain never let up. The rain came down in buckets throughout the incident.
First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. No matter what the difficulty or the weather. In this picture from Sept. 25, 2018, firefighters responded to a fire in Westminster during a cold rain storm in which the rain never let up. The rain came down in buckets throughout the incident. (Kevin Dayhoff/Kevin Dayhoff)

I have often been asked why do men and women serve as first responders? Why do our friends, neighbors, and family members serve as firefighters, EMS providers, police officers, correctional officers, emergency dispatchers or serve in the military? If the truth were to be known – we often ask ourselves the same question. I guess there are many answers above and beyond our sense of duty and responsibility to our families and community.

In August 2018 I attended an agriculture economics conference in San Diego. The keynote speaker at the conference was Kevin Brown, the author of “The Hero Effect,” in which he attempts to explain that everyone has the capacity to be heroes at home, in the community and at work. In his presentation Brown explained that one of the more accepted definitions of hero is, “Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” Brown disagrees with that. Many folks who do extraordinary things are not ordinary people.

The eight individuals who passed away last year were certainly not ordinary folks. They were all extraordinarily individuals who stepped up the plate to serve our community in an extraordinary manner.

The ever-vigilant equipment of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 peers-out from the engine bays Friday evening June 12, 2020. First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year.
The ever-vigilant equipment of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 peers-out from the engine bays Friday evening June 12, 2020. First responders in Carroll County provide our community with a safety net 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. (Kevin Dayhoff/Kevin Dayhoff)

Tucked away in my Bible I have a piece a paper that in part reads that when someone we love has gone away, the greatest gift we can give in honor of that individual is to tell their stories and speak their name. Amen.

In full disclosure, Times correspondent Kevin Dayhoff is a fire, military, and police chaplain with the Westminster Fire Department and the Maryland Troopers Association. He writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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