Hampstead Volunteer Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 history

Hampstead Volunteer Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 history
The Hampstead Volunteer Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 station along Md. 30. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

In Hampstead, the tradition of a fire company carnival actually predates the company itself. In April 1899, a meeting of town citizens was called for the purpose of organizing a carnival both to promote the history of the town and to raise funds that could be devoted to some public purpose, according to a history of the fire company posted on its website.

Roughly 3,000 people attended the carnival, held May 27, 1899, with proceeds of $67.30. In January 1900, the committee invested the carnival proceeds to purchase a hook and ladder truck from the Baltimore City Fire Department for $75, delivered by hay wagon. Later that month, plans for the organization of a volunteer fire company and the election of first officers was completed, and it was chartered in February.


In October 1901, the company approved a purchase of a 600-pound bell, which was used to broadcast the location of a fire. The first member who arrived to the firehouse would toll the bell twice for the northern district, four times for the central district, and six times for the southern district.

In 1902, H.R. Lippy acquired a property in the center of town and offered a portion to the fire company. Later that year, the company approved construction of a two-story brick building with a metal roof to serve as the fire hall. The hall was dedicated in September 1903, with a parade and bazaar raising $487 toward the roughly $4,179 in total construction costs.

The Hampstead Ladies’ Auxiliary was organzied in 1905 and purchased leather harnesses to hitch horses to the company’s two pieces of apparatus. The auxiliary would purchase and provide many other necessities for the company over the years, including help paying off the debt to build the hall.

The company operated horse-drawn apparatus until 1918, when it purchased an American LaFrance 350 gallon-per-minute combination pumper for $7,200. In 1920, it acquired a used automobile chassis, which was modified to transport the hook and ladder truck that had been drawn by horses.

An early morning fire on June 21, 1921 broke out in the rear of Keller’s Garage, later proving to be the most disastrous blaze in the Town of Hampstead’s history. The first destroyed the garage, the house, and the Merryman Overall Company. The fire spread along both sides of Main Street as residents formed bucket brigades to ward off flames. In total, the fire resulted in a loss of nearly $55,000.

In 1923, the company constructed an addition to its fire hall to support space for community suppers and social gatherings, as well as additional equipment to house.

At three locations throughout the town, the fire company constructed reinforced concrete reservoirs to contain approximately 20,000 gallons of water each. On June 22, 1931, a fire broke out at 4 a.m. in the Central Garage. The fire destroyed the garage, four apartments, a theater, a barbershop and three other garages, as well as multiple vehicles. The total loss was appoximately $100,000. The Hampstead fire company’s website notes that the recent construction of the reservoirs likely saved the town from “general conflagration.”

Later, the company advanced the municipal government of Hampstead $4,000 to move forward with a town waterworks system for fire protection and other purposes.

In 1946, the company purchased a Flexible-Buick ambulance with modern equipment for roughly $6,000. With the ambulance and three other pieces of apparatus, the building needed to grow as well. Improvements were completed throughout 1947 and ’48 at a cost of about $15,000.

The Hampstead Volunteer Engine and Hose Company No. 1 celebrated its 50th anniversary on March 17, 1950, honoring Dr. Edgar M. Bush with a gold certificate evidencing his filling of the office of President of the Company for 50 years.

Two properties on North Main Street in Hampstead became available in early 1970, which the company would purchase with the intent of building a new home. Over the next few years, the company raised money through Christmas tree sales, money bingo, bake sales, a chicken fry, dances and pancake breakfasts.

Construction on the new firehouse and kitchen was completed in 1975 and in November 1976, the new digs hosted the annual Convention of the Maryland Fire Chief’s Association and Auxiliary.

Later in 1977, the company would purchase land north of the firehouse to expand the grounds for the carnival, which had been taking place in the smaller town parking lot. In the 1990s, the company purchased additional property to further expand the carnival.

Silbaugh Memorials installed a marble stone at the front of the fire station in 1990. The stone is inscribed with a Maltese cross and the date the company was organized.


1341 N. Main St., Hampstead, MD 21074

Phone: 410-239-4280/410-374-2424