This week, Oct. 6-12, is Fire Prevention Week. According to the National Fire Protection Association the theme for this year’s fire prevention week campaign is, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”

The thrust of this year’s fire safety and prevention initiative is about “small but important actions [that families] can take to keep themselves and those around them safe. ... In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.”


Fire prevention is serious business. Please don’t say that it will not happen to you. The basics of fire safety are something that every family needs to practice daily.

Fortunately, there is a rich history and tradition of citizens coming together to volunteer their time for the 14 fire companies in Carroll, for our safety. Efforts to support and maintain fire protection began, in what we know today as Carroll County, long before the county was formed on Jan. 19, 1837.

In 1808, when our section of Maryland was still part of Baltimore and Frederick counties, the Maryland General Assembly passed an act authorizing a lottery in Westminster to raise money to pay for a fire engine. The predecessor to the current Westminster Fire Department, “The Union Fire Company,” formed in Westminster in 1823.

We have been blessed with many generations of extraordinary citizens who step up to the plate to do the hours of training and volunteer their time to the community in a selfless commitment to our safety. Next chance you get, visit and get to know your local fire company.

In the Gamber and Finksburg area, the Gamber and Community Fire Company first organized on Aug. 22, 1963 and was incorporated on May 11,1964; after a “major barn fire occurred in the Louisville area of Carroll County in July 1963,” according to a history posted on its company web site. “The first elected officers were president Oscar Brothers, vice president Irvin Ellis, secretary Virginia Brothers and treasurer Wilbur Burke...”

The Pleasant Valley Fire Company was incorporated on March 20, 1931. It is around this time-period that a number of fire companies were formed in Carroll County. Lineboro was formed in 1919; Mount Airy in 1926 and Sykesville in 1933.

The Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Company was incorporated on April 7, 1948 after discussions had begun in “Caple’s Garage” over a year before, according to a history on its company’s web site. “Lexly Caple, Sterling Shipley, Harry Woodward, Cleveland Knight, Russell Knouse, Chester Taylor, Joseph Taylor, Irving Blum and Holloday Blizzard where in attendance.”

In the Sykesville-Eldersburg area, there are several references to a “Sykesville Fire Company” in various old newspaper articles after Sykesville incorporated in 1904 but it appears that it was not until the summer of 1933 that the predecessor to what we now know as the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department was formally organized.

For more information on fire safety, and fire prevention week, the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 will host a public education, safety, and recruitment open house on Oct. 12 from 12 to 5 p.m., the same day and time as the 5th Annual Downtown Westminster Oyster Stroll Festival.

“Stop, drop, and roll on over to the fire department for a fun-filled day … food and drinks will be for sale,” said the fire department treasurer and coordinator for the open house, Caroline Babylon. “Learn to use a fire extinguisher. Activities for children include the junior firefighter obstacle course; fire prevention information, a Health Department booth; museum tours with antique fire equipment … and much more.”

For more information call 410-848-1800.

The oyster stroll that is taking place the same day, “is designed to raise awareness about the importance of oyster aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay. Stroll through downtown Westminster as you delight in fresh oysters, live music, and samples of wine, spirits, and beer. Shop artisans and enjoy free trolley rides to transport you about town,” according to information provided by Heather Mullendore, assistant director, City of Westminster Recreation & Parks, in a text interview. “Farm raised oysters are a sustainable product that is bringing jobs to rural portions of Maryland, while helping clean the waters of the Bay. This event directly supports CCA Maryland’s Living Reef Action Campaign.” For more information, go to or call 410-751-5501

The fire department open house is located at 28 John Street, just off of West Main Street, at the west end of the oyster stroll. So stroll up Main Street at the oyster stroll and then visit the fire department.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at