Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company No. 1

Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company No. 1
Rick Hartle, who works as a paid engineer at the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company, outside the fire station on May 23, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

An ordinance was enacted in 1835 in the City of Taneytown to organize citizens into fire companies. It commanded that “all white male citizens between the ages of 18 and 50 shall be organized into one or more fire companies,” and that “each of said companies shall consist of a president, vice president, one or more engineers, two ladder men. two hook men, two axe men, two linemen, one or more key keepers, and as many pump, bucket and rope men as are contained within the limits of said town,” according to a history of the company written by the Rev. W.H. Luckenbach in 1876, and revised by Dr. C. Birnie in 1894.

If the men did not come together and elect officers, a president was to be appointed by the municipality; he would report absentees from fire drills, which could result in a fine of 25 cents each time someone refused to participate.


In October 1897, the existing Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company was organized, with Birnie elected as its first president. In December of that year, the company was instructed by Taneytown’s government to purchase ladders, hooks, axes, buckets, lanterns, six coats, six caps and one two-wheel truck and ladders. Thirty-six badges, not to exceed 25 cents each, were also required, but each member would pay for his own.

In 1898, the company rented a storage room to keep the reel and hose, and a committee was named to write the company’s bylines. The Taneytown company joined the Maryland State Firemen’s Association that year, and during these first few years it held entertainments, dances, suppers, picnics, parades, solicitations, etc., to raise money to carry on volunteer fire work.

While a housing committee was formed in 1898 to go before the town council about a building, it wasn’t acquired until several years later. A deed dated in 1902 conveys a lot, the site of Taneytown’s present-day City Hall and police station, from a local family to town officials.

On October 28, 1923, the company joined the Carroll County Firemen’s Association.

The Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company has little other information regarding its earliest days of existence.

Two large fires occurred in the 1940s, according to a 2003 Carroll County Times article about the company’s history. One occurred at the Cambridge Rubber Company on York Street, which burned down, leaving nothing but charred ruins. Another was at the A.W. Feeser canning company, also on York Street.

It’s unclear when the first Taneytown fire carnival took place, but the tradition was going strong in the 1950s. The carnivals then were held at the city’s old fairgrounds, where the Taneytown Shopping Center now stands along Route 140.

In the 1950s, the company also had its first fire queen contests, a tradition that continued until 1973.

The company had three engines and an ambulance, working out of the current city hall at 17 E. Baltimore St. in the ’50s. After it purchased a larger engine with more water storage, the company eventually needed to expand, purchasing the adjacent building in the mid-1960s.

The first female firefighter joined in the 1970s. The early ’70s also marked the start of the company’s junior firefighter program. Juniors would help clean up the firehouse and learn by watching and being around the older firefighters.

In 1972, the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company built its current fire station at 39 E. Baltimore St. for $235,000.

During the 1980s and ’90s, the company received funding from the county to purchase more up-to-date equipment, including air packs, turnout gear and small tools. In 1994, an $850,000 expansion of the fire station was completed.

39 E. Baltimore St., Taneytown, MD 21787

Phone: 410-751-0506