Union Bridge Volunteer Fire Company history

Union Bridge Volunteer Fire Company history
Mike Hess, an engineer at the Union Bridge Fire Company, performs the daily equipment readiness check on Engine 81 at the station on May 24, 2018 (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

A fire in 1868 that destroyed the Western Maryland Railroad shops remains one of the worst in the history of Union Bridge, and the one that sparked the creation of the town’s fire department.

Within the next few years, Union Bridge purchased two extension ladders, two hook ladders and 15 rubber buckets, kept in a shed at the Western Maryland Railroad yards. In 1887, 30 men established the town's fire company.


That was also the first year the members held a festival to raise funds for the fire company, which continues as the annual weeklong carnival, beginning Memorial Day Monday each year.

Short after the company organized, the town furnished two hose reels and a hook and ladder wagon, which was kept in the town hall on East Broadway.

In 1889, the fire company purchased a Main Street hardware store belonging to William H. Wood, a member of the company. Many renovations were made to store the equipment and, in 1891, a tower and bell were installed on the roof to summon the firemen when help was needed.

The Union Bridge Fire Company, Inc., became a charter member of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, along with 11 other fire companies from across the state, in 1893. It remains a member of the association.

In January 1925, the Main Street firehouse was sold and the company purchased the town hall on East Broadway for $3,500. The building gave the company room to store its first piece of motorized equipment, a 1925 Stutz pumper. A bell tower was added and the Main Street bell was moved there. That bell is now located in the company’s Fire Service Memorial at the front of its current station on West Locust Street.

While a group of women, mainly firefighters’ wives, had been helping raise funds for the fire company almost since its inception, the Union Bridge Ladies Auxiliary did not officially organize until 1939. Today, both men and women are part of the auxiliary, which supports the company through various fundraisers.

In 1947, the company received its first ambulance, donated by Hartzler & Sons Funeral Home. That ambulance was replaced a year later with a brand new Buick ambulance. Shortly thereafter, Union Bridge became a training leader in emergency medical services. Several members attended the first EMT class in Baltimore County and by the mid-70s, more than half the EMTs in Carroll were members of the Union Bridge fire company.

The first Junior Auxiliary Department of the Union Bridge Fire Company was organized in 1901, but there are few records to show how long this group continued. In 1962, the Union Bridge Junior Fire Company was formed for young men, ages 15 to 17, with hopes to become firemen as they got older.

After 42 years at the town hall, the company’s equipment was outgrowing the space, so it began work on its current building on West Locust Street, and moved in March 1967. In 1985, an addition was built to create a social hall for fundraising events.

8 W. Locust St., Union Bridge, MD 21791

Phone: 410-775-7422/410-857-5880