Like many of Carroll’s fire companies, it was a large fire that occurred in the community that prompted the residents of Gamber to gather and decide to organize a fire company.
In Gamber’s case, it was a barn fire in July 1963. The barn, owned by Bernard Potts, a Baltimore attorney, was a total loss. Potts posted a petition at Ford’s store at the intersection of Md. 32 and 91, and mailed out notices to those who had signed up. After two meetings at Gamber Baptist Church, the company organized and elected officers.
It took a little while to prepare a constitution and bylaws, and in May 1964, a charter establishing Gamber & Community Fire Company as a legal corporation was received, and a used Chevrolet pick-up truck, Gamber’s first motorized equipment, was purchased shortly thereafter.
By early 1965, the company’s first authentic piece of fire equipment was ordered and delivered in December. Also, in early 1965, land and a building located at the intersection of routes 32 and 91 were purchased. The company was accepted into the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen’s Association in May 1966.
A raffle for 50 shares of stock in Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, was held in August 1966, raising $1,768.83, the largest fundraising effort so far by the Gamber company, according to a history posted on the company’s website.
In late ’66, a vehicle crashed into and demolished the front of the fire house, damaging the two vehicles inside. The Manchester Volunteer Fire Company loaned Gamber an engine while the vehicles were repaired.
The company’s first weeklong carnival was held in 1967 and the carnival grounds, off London Bridge Road, was purchased in 1971. The Ladies Auxiliary raised $1,000 for a pole shed on the carnival grounds the next year. Gamber’s first annual banquet was held in 1969.
In 1974, a parcel of land at the corner of Md. 32 and Niner Road was purchased for the purpose of building a new engine house and social hall. The company moved into its new headquarters on Sept. 6, 1975, just nine months after construction began, and as a result of successful fundraising, the company paid off the building mortgage by 1980.
The company purchased its first ambulance in June 1977 and its purchase along with members who received Emergency Medical Technician training, allowed Gamber to qualify as an ambulance company. It would become a medic company in 1985, when Gamber reached the minimum allowable number of training Cardiac Rescue Technicians under Maryland rules.
In the ’80s, after about a decade of hosting the carnival at the London Bridge Road property, the company sold the land and used the proceeds as a down payment for 10 acres of property adjacent to the firehouse on Niner Road to use as the new carnival grounds.
Gamber added newer and larger equipment over the years to keep up with the needs and calls for service from the community. In 1986, the company was investigating what was missing from the emergency needs of Gamber and Carroll County and decided a dive rescue team was an appropriate addition. The company approved the purchase of a Zodiac rubber boat, outboard motor and trailer in that year.
After this addition, it was realized more space was needed to house the eight pieces of apparatus at the Gamber station. Two additional bays, as well as a second floor with men's and women's bunk rooms, bathrooms, offices and a classroom were added through 1987 and ’88.
In 1988, a Chevrolet one-ton step van was donated by the auxiliary to be used as a dive team van, a light truck or by the auxiliary for canteen service.
The original 1965 International/Howe engine was showing signs of age in the fall of 1988. Mt. Aetna Body Works began work to restore Engine 132, but the company went bankrupt, leaving Gamber with the “shell of an engine and a box of parts.” Fire Fab III in Pennsylvania was later selected to finish the work, and Engine 132 was returned functional as new in February 1990.
In 1993, Gamber freshened up its station with a new roof and other upgrades as it was preparing to host the county firefighter’s convention. The company also went smoke-free throughout the building that year, the first station in Carroll to do so. As more equipment was added in the coming years, a three-bay addition, weight room, a single restroom and an engineer shop were added to the station in 1999.
In 2000, EMS calls had been on the rise and the need for another unit equipped for EMS was needed. A Chevy Suburban equipped with advanced life support equipment and room to transport a patient was the answer. The unit was named Life Support 13.
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With EMS calls on the rise, a Chevy Suburban equipped with advance life support equipment and room to transport a patient was added in 2000.
A K-9 search team was added to Gamber’s water rescue team in 2003.
In 2006, the Gamber carnival expanded from six nights to eight. Gamber’s carnival kicks off the summer season, beginning the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and running through the following Saturday.
3838 Niner Road, Finksburg, MD 21048