This Date in CHVFD History
Starting on September 1, 2013, and running through August 13, 2014, the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department will highlight defining and distinguishing moments in our century of service to the Town of Capitol Heights and Prince George’s County. “This Date in CHVFD History” will be profiled on our website, Facebook and through articles or news releases.
April 23, 2016 Lifetime Member William Hawkins in inducted into the Maryland State Firemen’s Association’s Hall of Fame at their annual convention in Ocean City, Maryland. Bill plays a key role each year in helping to organize the annual convention and handle the logistics of making the convention a success.
April 23, 2016 Alice Long, Past President of the Ladies Auxiliary celebrated her 100th birthday with a party at the firehouse. During the party Alice was presented with a vintage leather fire helmet and bestowed the title of “Honorary Firefighter” for her 70 years of dedicated and faithful service to our department.
April 23, 2016 At the department’s regular business meeting, a motion was passed to make Walter Stommel, Sr. an honorary lifetime member.
December 25, 2013 The officers and members of The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department wish you and yours a Merry Christmas! This photo was taken during the 50's of the old firehouse located at Capitol Heights Boulevard and Central Avenue (now the town hall).
September 19, 2013 The Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association (PGCVFRA) will kick off their annual convention with opening ceremonies and the first meeting. During the annual convention, individuals from member companies are inducted into the PGCVFRA Hall of Fame.
August 1, 2013 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department kicks off year-long celebration of 100 years of service. The department will hold a series of events culminating with a formal in August 2014 around the 100th anniversary of our incorporation.
April 27, 2013 Career and volunteer personnel participated in the 25th annual Christmas-in-April project on Ventura Avenue. The project included installing a wheelchair lift for a disabled child. The project was featured in the Washington Post the next day.
January 21, 2013 Ambulance 805 provides support during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. The ambulance stood by along the parade route on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC while President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden were sworn in.
May 19, 2012 Lt. Rob Fralin was returning home from work when he came upon a car that was stopped in the roadway. He found the driver in cardiac arrest and immediately initiated CPR using a plastic bag for barrier protection from body fluids. The patient was resuscitated and made a full recovery. Rob was later awarded the William E. Brown Rescue Squadsman
March 15, 2012 While President Obama was scheduled to visit the campus of the Prince George's County Community College, Lifetime Member William Hawkins, working as a Public safety Aide for the Prince George's County Fire / EMS Department. Driving his department vehicle on Route 50, approaching the Capital Beltway, he noticed a pickup truck in front of him weaving wildly across lanes as they took the sky ramp over the beltway. Hawkins activated his emergency warning devices and maneuvered his vehicle to match that of the weaving truck to keep traffic back.
September 25, 2011 After years of delays, the renovations to the current firehouse were completed. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the building was dedicated to Chief James McClelland, Sr. The renovations provided newly improved sleeping quarters for both male and female personnel, a new station alerting system, upgraded utilities and fire alarm / suppressions systems.
February 19, 2011 Prince George's County firefighters called for mutual throughout the State of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia to battle several large brush fires, fire in a large mulch pile and several structure fires. Several homes were lost from the brush fire. On this historical day, the department responded to over 800 calls for service.
January 26, 2011 Heavy snow fell in the area causing power outages, fallen trees and other hazardous conditions. During a 12 hour period that evening, the engine responded to 16 back-to-back incidents, including a working house fire on Alton Street in Boulevard Heights, with people trapped inside.
September 25, 2010 Past Ladies Auxiliary President Alice Long was inducted into the Founders’ Circle, located at the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building.
April 15, 2010 Governor Martin O’Malley holds his cabinet meeting at the Capitol Heights fire station. As part of the Town of Capitol Heights’ 100th anniversary celebration, the town was designated as State Capital for the day. The meeting was held at the firehouse because it was the largest venue in the town. It was a good day for the Capitol Heights Volunteer
February 5, 2010 National Guard troops and Humvees were deployed throughout the area. One Humvee operated out of the Capitol Heights fire station for several days making sure that emergency medical crews could get to sick or injured people and that fire apparatus could be pulled from the snow if they became stuck. Firefighter Dwayne Frost, Sr. was assigned to ride with them to operate the portable radio and act as the navigator.
November 11, 2009 The Veterans' Page, on the department's website goes live on Veteran's Day 2009 to recognize and honor the service and sacrifices made by our military veteran members. Each year since the debut of this page enhancements have been made as we identify additional veterans and find out more about them. The Veterans' Page features information on members who served during the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, War on Terror and peacetime service.
May 20, 2008 Bicycle riders from 24 states and Ireland arrived at the Capitol Heights fire station for rest and nourishment before heading to Washington, DC to testify before Congress. The riders were part of the National EMS Memorial Bicycle Ride traveling from New York City to Lexington, Kentucky and then to Roanoke, Virginia to the National EMS Memorial. This event was held
September 29, 2007 Past President Oscar T. Poore was inducted into the Founders’ Circle, located at the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building.
September 21, 2007 Past Presidents Robert M. Russell and Vivian Boyd made history when both Presidents of the Prince George’s County Fire & Rescue Association and the Ladies Auxiliary were elected and from the same fire company.
September 19, 2007 Lifetime Member William Hawkins, working as a public safety aide for the PGFD, responds to the 10100 block of Marlboro Pike on Breathing Air Unit 845, for a report of two unconscious workers in a sewer. Not having the right rescue equipment on the scene yet, Bill dropped a high pressure air hose into the manhole and began pumping air.
June 9, 2007 The fire safety house was purchased through a grant from FEMA and was a big hit.
May 30, 2007 Just after midnight units were dispatched to a reported building fire in the Holy Hill Condominiums in the 7100 block of Donnell Place in Forestville. First in units found heavy fire conditions on all four (4) floors and requested the 2nd and 3rd alarms immediately. Engine 51 responded as the first due engine on the 2nd alarm. They laid the
April 26, 2006 Alice Long received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Governor Robert Ehrlich during National Volunteer Week for her 70 years of service to the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary.
January 31, 2006 Metro Support Unit 5 (MSU5) was placed out of service, marking the end of an era. MSU5 was placed in service in 1985 and was purchased by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and equipped with forty (40) self-contained breathing apparatus, rated at one hour, for use in operating in the tunnels of the Metro Rapidrail System.
December 31, 2005 Volunteer and career personnel completed an 18 month project to go door-to-door to every residence in our primary response area handing out fire safety literature, checking and installing a smoke alarms or changing batteries as necessary. On November 8, 2006 Fire Chief Lawrence Sedgewick presented career and volunteer personnel from Capitol Heights with a Unit Citation for this project. Chief Sedgewick also presented a Unit Citation on behalf of Firehouse Magazine.
October 29, 2005 Engine 52 returns from Emergency Vehicle Specialist (EVS) in Hagerstown, Maryland, where it spent several months out of service for an extensive rehabilitation project. The 1989 FMC pumper needed the rehabilitation efforts to extend it's useful life while the department looked for ways to replace it. Engine 52 remains in active service today, as one the oldest front line pumpers in the County. The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department continues to seek grant funding for the replacement of this pumper. The pumper was dedicated to Treasurer Emeritus Ernest E. Moreland in 1989 at the department's 75th anniversary banquet.
November 3, 2004 Truck 5 responded to a 5 alarm fire at the Prince George's County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro. The crew set up for ladder pipe operations and they flowed water for hours. Truck 5 was featured on the cover of Firehouse Magazine.
October 9, 2004 CHVFD Ladies Auxiliary Past President and Past President of the Maryland State Fireman's Association Ladies Auxiliary, Magdelene Schmidt was inducted into the Founders' Circle at the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building.
June 14, 2004 Chief James McClelland was presented the Firefighter of the Year Award for 2003 by the Maryland State Firemen’s Association.
February 1, 2004 Units from Capitol Heights, Seat Pleasant, Chapel oaks and Boulevard Heights participated in a mock incident at the Capitol Heights Metro Station. The drill was scheduled to demonstrate to a delegation of visitors from Thailand how emergency personnel handled an underground subway incident.
February 22, 2003 Several days of heavy rain followed a heavy snow fall. Ice packs on roofs prevented trapped rain water from draining. Several roof collapses occurred. The most significant was the roof collapse at the Toys R Us store in New Carrollton. The collapse happened during business hours and without warning. It was not known if anyone was trapped under the rubble.
November 11, 2001 Truck 5 and Chief James McClelland responded a 4 alarm fire at the Michael's Arts and Crafts store in Bowie. Chief McClelland, who lives nearby was the first to arrive, reported that the building was fully involved, established the Bowie Command and requested the second alarm. As the incident escalated, Major Marc Bashoor (now Fire Chief) assumed command and Chief McClelland was assigned as the Operations Section Chief. The building was a total loss. The fire loss was estimated at $3,000,000.
September 11, 2001 Terrorists attacked the United States. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. One plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. and another in a field in Shanksville, Penn. before reaching its intended target. Engine 52, staffed with career and volunteer firefighters, was transferred to the District of Columbia to protect the Nation's Capital.
June 1, 2001 In their annual review of national run statistics, Firehouse Magazine identified Truck 5 as the busiest ladder truck in Prince George’s County for 2000 and 104th busiest in the United States.
January 6, 2001 Crews participated in the first of several live burn exercises at the apartment buildings on Parkway Terrace Drive in Silver Hill. The old 1940 era apartment buildings were being renovated and some demolished for more green space. All fire stations within Prince George's County and some other jurisdictions participated in these live burn exercises to hone various skills in firefighting tactics and skills evolutions. Several stations were scheduled at the same time so units could respond in as if it were an actual emergency and carry out their assignments. Participating chiefs also used these evolutions to practice their incident command skills.
October 19, 2000 Past Fire Chief Frank P. Briguglio was inducted into the Founders' Circle at the Cranford-Graves Fire Service Building.
February 5, 1998 Units were dispatched to the 5500 block of Brenner Street for a reported house fire. Upon arrival, the engine reported heavy smoke conditions and a fire on the first floor of a 2 story house. It was reported that several children were trapped upstairs.
December 2, 1995 Units were dispatched to the 6800 block of Walker Mill Road in District Heights for two children trapped in a house fire. The house was very cluttered, making it very difficult to search but the two children were located and removed from the house. Despite heroic efforts to revive the children, they succumbed. One of the rescuers was Captain John H. Weaver was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor in April 1996 for his efforts to rescue the children.
November 9, 1993 Volunteer Lieutenant William Hawkins, from the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department and career Lieutenant Richard Rahilly (assigned to Hillside - Company 6) left the United States for a three (3) week tour of duty in war torn Bosnia. The purpose of the mission was to follow-up and ensure that donated fire apparatus and equipment to support firefighters in Bosnia was reaching its destination.
September 1, 1993 Truck 5 was placed in service and responded on it's first call for an apartment fire on East Marlboro Avenue in Kentland. The 1986 Spartan / Maxim 100 foot tractor drawn aerial was purchased from the Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department. Past Chief David Breeden drove the ladder truck on the first call for service.
February 20, 1993 Engine 51 was dispatched as the first due engine company for an apartment fire at 5290 Marlboro Pike in Hillside. When they arrived they found heavy fire conditions on all three floors of the building. The fire escalated to a 3rd alarm and was the result of arson. There was one fatality. This was the first incident where the engine utilized the recently acquired large diameter supply hose (LDH).
January 19, 1993 Engine 52 and Chief 5 provide fire protection support at the Capital Centre for a Presidential Gala as part of Bill Clinton's Presidential Inauguration. The crew was directly responsible for making sure that the President was protected in case a fire broke out in the arena.
January 13, 1993 Lifetime Members John Weaver and James McClelland participated in the making of "Honor and Glory," a martial arts film originally titled "Zong heng tian xia" in Hong Kong.
January 1, 1991 On New Year's Day, a 3 alarm fire heavily damaged the 1st Baptist Church of Capitol Heights. Units were initially dispatched for a report of a church fire at Central Avenue near Suffolk Avenue. While enroute to that location Truck 6, from the Hillside Volunteer Fire Department, came across the correct location of the church fire on Capitol Heights Boulevard, just off Central Avenue. Units worked for most of the day to bring this fire under control and get to fire travelling the void spaces.
November 26, 1987 On this Thanksgiving Day, the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department responded to a tragic house fire on 69th Street in Seat Pleasant. Units arrived to find heavy fire conditions throughout the house and reports of numerous children trapped inside the house.
February 5, 1979 Farmers protesting agricultural policies descended on Washington, DC. The protest was organized by the American Agricultural Movement and become known a "Tractorcade." When two (2) feet of snow fell on the Washington metropolitan area the farmers used their tractors to get nurses and doctors to and from hospitals and helped plow streets or tow vehicles that were stuck and blocking the streets.
April 10, 1977 Units from Capitol Heights and surrounding communities respond to a fire at the old Maryland Park Junior High School, located at 505 65th Street. The fire heavily damaged two of the three floors of this vacant school building and there was a partial roof collapse. The building had been vacant for about five (5) years prior to the fire. Master
January 19, 1973 Ambulance 59 provides support during the 37th Presidential Inauguration for President Richard M. Nixon's second term. On the evening of January 19, the ambulance crew staffed a first aid station back stage at the Kennedy Center where a program was held featuring many entertainers. Bob Hope was the Master of Ceremonies for this program and spent a lot of time talking with the crew back stage.
November 21, 1964 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary opened the kitchen for pizzas and submarine sandwiches. This fund raising activity remained in operation 46 years until preparations started for the upcoming renovation in 2010.
December 19, 1959 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department responds to a house fire at 822 59th Avenue (now Nova Avenue). Firefighters arrived to find a badly burned man in a bed that was on fire. The man died of his injuries and the cause of the fire was determined to be smoking in bed.
November 10, 1959 Two brothers, ages 12 and 13 admitted in Juvenile Court to setting the October 5, 1959 8 alarm fire at the Stembler & Ford Lumber Company. Both juveniles were turned over to the Child Welfare Department.
October 5, 1959 About mid-day, units were dispatched for a building fire at the Stembler & Ford Lumber Company, located on the corner of Central Avenue and 57th Avenue (now Larchmont Avenue). Units arrived on the scene to find heavy fire conditions throughout the property.
February 3, 1957 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department responded to a 3 alarm fire at the 5 and 10 Cent Store on Central Avenue in Capitol Heights. The building suffered heavy losses. Chief Joseph LiCalzi was in charge of the incident.
September 4, 1954 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department placed it's first ambulance in service and ran it's first call. The 1949 Cadillac ambulance responded to H Street in Hillside for an injured person. Earl Burdette, Jr. was the driver and the crew was Robert "Gene" McClelland, Sr. and John Dorman.
September 8, 1951 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department hosted the annual convention of the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association. On September 8, the firemen's parade was held. Fire Chief Frank Briguglio, the convention chairman, reported that approximately 3,000 spectators watched the parade along Central Avenue.
September 12, 1948 Magdalene Schmidt, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, presented Fire Chief Frank Briguglio with $5,000 in Building Association Stock to help pay for the addition to the firehouse. The addition to the firehouse was needed to house the new 1948 American LaFrance pumper that was just delivered.
March 5, 1946 Assistant Chief Joseph LiCalzi and Secretary Frank Sullivan were appointed to meet with the principal and teachers at Maryland Park High School to formulate a policy for excusing Junior members from school when the department needed them for a fire call.
January 14, 1945 Private 1st Class Julius M. Vajda was killed in action near St. Vith, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. He was buried in Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery but he was later reinterred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Julius received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
May 8, 1944 Staff Sergeant Hersal B. Cralle was killed in action over Lindhorst, Germany. Sergeant Cralle was a ball turret operator on a B-17 bomber, named “Ain’t Misbehavin.” The plane was hit by enemy fire on its way to Berlin for a bombing mission. Only one crew member was able to parachute out before the plane exploded in mid-air. There were no
January 27, 1944 Ensign Michael Henry Korn, a U.S. Navy pilot and volunteer firefighter, was killed during a routine training flight near the Jacksonville NAS, in Florida. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
October 12, 1943 The department received a letter from Mrs. Cooper, a teacher at Maryland Park High School, who wanted to start an auxiliary fire class for students to help out during the war. The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department organized the class and provided instructors.
December 2, 1940 During the 20th birthday celebration of the Ladies Auxiliary, the department celebrated that the firehouse mortgage was "paid in full" by burning the mortgage note.
April 19, 1938 Frank P. Briguglio joins the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, starting a 40 year fire service career. During his tenure with our department he held various positions, including Financial Secretary, Recording Secretary, Captain, Assistant Chief and Fire Chief. He achieved lifetime membership status in 1958. He was elected President of the Prince George’s County Fire Firemen’s Association in 1951. Chief
April 17, 1937 The department holds elections for the delegates and alternates to attend the upcoming Maryland State Firemen’s Association convention in Cambridge, Maryland. The delegates were Charles Smith, George Finger, Neal McFarlane, Herbert Davis, and Jack Brooks. Alternates included B. Glazer, Otto Fankhouser, Walter Oliver, J. Barrett and Wendal Reno.
September 15, 1936 Department members traveled to Washington, DC in the engine to pick up supplies for the weekly carnival. It was reported that they were double parked while loading the fire engine and that District of Columbia Police impounded the engine.
January 26, 1936 Three firefighters were injured battling a blaze that destroyed a building that was once used as a place to hold town hall meetings. At the time of the fire the building housed an electric repair shop, operated by Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department member Walter Oliver.
December 10, 1935 John "Jack" P. Brooks was appointed Forest Warden for the State of Maryland by Governor Harry Nice. Jack replaced Past Chief George Finger after his death.
October 8, 1935 President Otto Fankhouser appoints M. Stillwell and W. H. Wells to a committee to purchase a boxing ring for fund raising events.
September 2, 1933 A delegation from the National Firemen's Association, including Chief George Finger, laid a wreath at George Washington's Tomb at Mount Vernon, Virginia and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery as part of Labor Day events.
March 18, 1932 The Washington Post reports that a letter was sent to the Prince George's County Commissioners suggesting that the Prince George's County Police Court be moved from the Capitol Heights fire station. No specifics were given, but this happened at about the same time that the fire department was reviewing plans for a new fire house that included a courtroom.
December 23, 1922 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department held it's elections for 1922.
December 9, 1921 The District Commissioners from Washington, DC approved the sale of an old horse drawn steamer to the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department for $125. It has been told over the years that when the delegation from the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department arrived to pick-up the steamer, it was in use at a fire. Once the fire was out, the delegation brought it home to Capitol Heights. The department used a farm tractor to pull the steamer rather than horses.
December 1, 1920 The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary was organized. Charter members included Irene Conner, Marie Davis, Clara Bryan, Freida Fankhouser, Minnie Nuthall, Alice McGuire, Evelyn Jacobs, Elenore Noel, Lulu Miller, Annie Pierce and Dora Quill. The Ladies Auxiliary is believed to the first fire department ladies auxiliary in the United States.
May 1, 1920 A campaign was launched by the citizens of Capitol Heights to raise funds for the purchase of motor driven fire engine. In other efforts to raise funds, the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department announced plans to organize an orchestra to play at fund raising events.
April 29, 1918 Volunteer Firefighter Raymond T. Payne was inducted into the U.S. Army. Private 1st Class Payne was assigned to the World War I Training Center in Waco, Texas. Raymond died on April 8, 1963 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
April 25, 1917 Issac M. Funk dies in a house fire in Capitol Heights. The Washington Herald newspaper reports that “at 11:30pm, a neighbor discovered the fire and spread the alarm. The clanging of the Town’s bell, brought scores of volunteer firemen and the small chemical engine coupled behind an automobile to the scene”. The Washington Herald quotes George A. Adams, head of
April 20, 1915 The Washington Herald newspaper reported on a barn fire in Capitol Heights. The barn was owned by O.B. Zantsinger. Dennis Quill, Property Clerk for the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, credited Buddy Osin, age 15, with rescuing Louis Litz and Crial Harris, both age 4, from the burning barn.
April 17, 1915 Members of the department were involved in local government. Former Mayor Charles L. Sweeney was nominated to succeed Mayor Lyman J. Laughton (both were members of the department) in the upcoming town elections. Candidates for Town Council also included J.W. Beavers, George W. Nairn, T.J. Tudge and Leon Litz (also members of the department).
January 31, 1914 The Washington Times newspaper reports the "the volunteer fire department of Capitol Heights has elected the following officers for the ensuing year: Captain - George A. Adams, 1st Lieutenant - W. Pierce, 2nd Lieutenant - George Litz, 3rd Lieutenant - Arthur Boyington, 4th Lieutenant - Samuel Polo, Secretary - G.H. Lambert, Financial Secretary and Treasurer - William H. McGinnis, Trustee - Lyman J. Laughton and Property Clerk - Dennis P. Quill".
November 8, 1913 The Washington Herald reported that fire destroyed a two story house, a stable and an office building, owned by O.B. Zantsinger . Soon after this incident, Mr. Zantsinger donated land to the department for the construction a shed to store fire buckets and a ladder. The shed later stored the hand drawn hose cart.