By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: May 28, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – One of the backbones of a community are the men and women who sacrifice their time and put their lives on the line for their neighbors in order to keep them safe every day and for Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department, that dedication and sacrifice has spanned five decades in the heart of Prince George.
This month, county leaders took time during their regular meeting to formally recognize Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department for fifty years of service to the county and the community of Burrowsville. Joined by supervisors and members of the department past, present, and likely future, a special resolution adopted by the county reflected on their history, which dates back to April of 1969 when a community meeting was held at the former Burrowsville School to see if the community was interested and willing in forming a fire department.
Just a few months later, the Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department was officially established in October of that year with nearly three dozen charter members with James H. Clark serving as the department’s first fire chief.
Thanks to the Curtis family, the old Brockwell’s Store and Service Station served as the department’s first station until the 1970s when a new fire station was built at their current home along Route 10 for $41,000, with the land being donated by the Burrowsville Ruritan Club.
Donations helped the department get itself off the ground and serve their community as some of Burrowsville VFD’s first apparatus were donated by fellow county stations, with their first unit being a 1941 Mack Fire Engine that came from Prince George Fire Department Company 1 and a 1942 International tanker donated by Disputanta Volunteer Fire Department Company 2.
Burrowsville VFD Charter Member Barry Royer and Chief John Nichol join Prince George Board Chairman Donald Hunter in accepting a resolution honoring the department for 50 years of operations and service to the community. (Michael Campbell)
In 1974, Burrowsville VFD reached a significant milestone when they were able to buy their first new fire engine.
While automated calls and other technological innovations have transformed the way volunteers firefighters are altered to calls, back in Burrowsville VFD’s infancy, the original alerting method was a phone line that rang directly to the fire station, which activated a siren to alert members, paired with a phone-tree system the firemen’s wives would use to notify other firemen until the Plectron emergency alerting system became available in the late 1970s.
In addition, the department, along with many volunteer fire department in the county and beyond Prince George’s borders depends on community donations to support their fire protection efforts. Their first fundraiser was a simple, but potentially life and property-saving effort with ashtrays that would prevent unattended cigarettes from falling out and causing a fire for $1. Their fundraisers have evolved to include other events and programs, including their annual Brunswick Stew sale and other initiatives.
Along with fire protection, which, according to county officials, the department is activated and responsive to more than 130 emergency calls for service annually, they carry out hours of training, community outreach, and education programs in the community.
“The Board of Supervisors congratulates and sincerely thanks the members of the Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department for their positive impacts on the quality of life for the citizens of Prince George County,” Supervisors said while flanked by members of the department at this month’s presentation. “We commend the volunteers for their selfless service and sacrifices that have benefited all citizens in Prince George and we offer the gratitude of a thankful county to members both past and present of the Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department, Company 4, for 50 years of service to Prince George County.”
Chief John Nichol shared a few words following the special resolution last Tuesday evening, thank the community for their support.
“We appreciate all of the support that the board of supervisors, county administration, and citizens have given us over the last 50 years and we are looking forward to the next fifty,” he shared to a room of applause.