For 3 decades, an inextinguishable love of firefighting


FOR MORE THAN 30 years, Robert "Barney" Cross traveled from Pleasant Valley to Baltimore County and punched in at the same location every working day.

Not very remarkable, until you learn that Cross -- who retired April 1 -- was a career firefighter at the Randallstown station.

"That's a rarity in this business," said Wayne Cuffley, his most recent supervisor. "The way things go today, people get promoted or transferred and move to different stations."

Cuffley, who has been a firefighter for 28 years, said he has worked in about five stations during his career.

But Cross stuck to Baltimore County's Station 18, driving its hook-and-ladder truck since the station opened Nov. 1, 1969. The only two other stations he has worked with are in Towson, where he was placed after completing his training in 1967, and the Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Company, where he grew up.

"My dad was a volunteer [in Ellicott City], so I started to volunteer myself," Cross said, adding that he began his firefighting career as a paid volunteer when Ellicott City took on those positions. "A lot of kids like riding firetrucks. When I was a kid, I liked it. It's something I've enjoyed all my life."

A dependable worker, Cross rarely missed a day of work and was always willing to help out his fellow employees during his off time, Cuffley said.

"He was very hard-working, very respectful to all the other employees, not just his ranking officers," Cuffley said. "He got along with everybody on his shift and would do anything he could to help."

Cross said the job provided him with "something different to do and something different every day. I always liked it."

But Cross said it's time to lay down the ladders and hoses and begin something else.

"It's a young man's job," he said.

Pulling their weight

Come see the best weight-pulling machines in the area at the annual Carroll County Tractor and Truck Pull at 9 a.m. Sunday at the county Agriculture Center off Smith Avenue in Westminster.

The daylong event will begin with the stock, or unmodified, farm tractors pulling weights at 9 a.m.

At noon, the kids can compete in a pulling contest using various pedal tractors, and at 1 p.m., the modified trucks and tractors will begin pulling their weights in the show ring.

Lunch will be available all day.

In the event of rain, the event will be held May 7.

Entrance fee is $10 per person, with children under 7 admitted free.

All proceeds benefit Carroll County Agriculture Center.

Information: 410-848-6704.

Compete in the water

Young swimmers age 5 to 18 can sign up from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday for the Westminster Recreation Swim Team at the Community Building off Royer Road.

City officials will also take applications from 9 a.m. to noon May 6 at the same location.

Registration must be completed in person by the swimmer's parent or legal guardian.

Pool membership and some swimming experience is required.

Information: 410-848-6262.

Music on the Hill

Come hear the Western Maryland College Show Choir perform its spring production at 7: 30 p.m. Wednesday in Baker Memorial Chapel.

Admission is free.

Information: 410-857-2599.

Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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