The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway has a long history dating back to 1949 when the company was first established. All starting with the name of our Company. At first, the name “Halfway” would certainly sound like an unusual title for anything. Especially a fire department. This was one of the thoughts of the founders of this volunteer fire department, which was to serve approximately 500 homes in 1949. Several names for the department were discussed. Not wanting to have a common name, the decision was made to use the “nick-name” of halfway that area residents had given their small unincorporated community that lies halfway between the City of Hagerstown and the Town of Williamsport. The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway, MD, Inc. was established by charter on March 16, 1949 to provide fire and emergency service protection for the community of Halfway, MD. The Company was organized by a small group of citizens who were concerned with the community’s rapid growth and building fire loss potential.
Our First Call
Our founding members worked towards forming the organization and were able to purchase a used fire truck. The truck they were able to acquire was a 1945 International with a 500 gpm pump. The pumper was purchased and placed in station in mid 1950. The 1945 International served as our primary piece for around six years. Once the truck was outfitted with equipment, the company was ready to be put into service and were ready to respond in March of 1951. On March 16th of 1951 The Volunteer Fire Company was alerted for a Bulldozer Fire on Lincoln Avenue Extended. We were official in-service and ran our first fire call.
Our Second Pumper Arrives
We ran with the only the International Pumper for six years before ordering a second pumper. In 1957 the new pumper was ordered upgrading our services to two pumpers.
A New Station Is Built
In 1966, the community around us was rapidly growing and with it, the need for additional equipment which meant the need for a bigger firehouse. The decision was made to construct a new metal butler building on the site of the old Halfway School house. Upon completion of the new building, plans were already in progress to purchase a new pumper to replace the 1945 International. In 1969, we took delivery of a 1969 International Maxim Pumper. The new pumper featured a 1,000 GPM Hale Fire Pump and a 500 gallon water tank. The company also saw the need for more water with the rapid rural growth of the are and acquired a 1958 International navy tanker a 2,000 gallon water tank. The company ran the tanker for four years before having it refurbished in 1973. The company purchased 1973 Ford 900 series truck to replace the tanker's chassis. The water tank was transferred over and a 450 GPM/PTO pump was installed. A group of our volunteers lead by Chief Joe McDaniels worked to get the refurb of the tanker done saving the company thousands of dollars.
The First Ladder Truck
By the mid 70s, the little community of Halfway had grown so much and was still rapidly growing. With the recent construction of the Valley Mall and the future commercial growth in the area, officer of the company began discussing the need for a Ladder Truck. We didn't want to depend on other departments to have to cover the area we were here to serve. After multiple discussion it was agreed and a committee was formed to begin planning the purchase of a new Ladder Truck. After months of meetings and planning, the company placed an order with Pierce Manufacturing in 1975 to order an 85' elevating platform ladder truck along with a Pierce Mini-Pumper as a package deal. The company took delivery of the Mini-Pumper in 1976. The unit was outfitted with hose and equipment and was designated as Engine 26-4. The ladder truck ordered took a little longer since the truck was being built from the ground up to meet the departments specifications. After two years of waiting, in 1977 the company took delivery of their brand-new 1977 Pierce / Hendrickson 85' LTI Elevating Platform equiped with a 1250 GPM pump and 1,000 feet of 4" supply line. The two closest Towers similar to the one purchased were located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Gaithersburg, Maryland.
A Silver Lining
As the year fly by and the call volume continues to rise, so does the risk our crews take each time they go out the door. In 1980, our department lost our 1973 Tanker in a near fatal tragedy. While responding to a brush fire on Interstate 81, the truck rolled over at the Route 11 and Halfway Boulevard intersection. Both the operator and co-driver were trapped in the cab but were able to be pulled from the wreckage by a service station attendant before additional help could arrive. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. Due to the rural area And limited water sources, the tanker was an invaluable piece of equipment for our department. Without hesitation, the planning quickly began to replace the unit. In less than a year, our department took delivery of a 1981 CF Mack / Pierce pumper-tanker foam unit, and was designated as Engine 26-3. This unit was powered by a Mack 686 350 HP engine with an Allison automatic transmission HT 740. The unit had a 1250 GPM Waterous two-stage pump, a 2,000-gallon water tank and a 1400 GPM Fecon around the pump proportioning foam system with a 150-gallon foam tank. The enclosed cab was added to seat upto six in 1990 at Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton Wisconsin. Engine 26-3 carried 1,000 feet of 4-inch diameter supply hose, numerous pre-connected hose lines, and a full compliment of tools and equipment for engine, tanker and foam operations.
Halfway Expands to EMS
The department entered into the world of EMS starting with one-P/L Custom 1995 Ford E350 Custom Medallion Ambulance. Our career EMS staff began with 1-full time EMS Coordinator/Paramedic and 13-partime advanced life support personnel (Paramedics / Cardiac Rescue Technician)
On September 19, 1995 Medic 26-9 ran its first Call for a seizure patient with Paramedic Matheny and EMT’s Anderson and Carter.
Fire Station Expansion
On October 16, 1995 The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway proudly held a Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Fire Station Expansion Project. A second project was also started around 1995 with the Company as a whole. The growing number and size of the apparatus along with the growing membership called for a larger station. After multiple meetings, a construction project began into the rehab of the firehouse. The firehouse we built back in 1966 was reformed in a two-year project to what we have today. The project when complete gave us four drive through bays, a new watch office, a new lounge and kitchen area, a new training room, new living quarters for Fire & EMS crews as well as a new locker room area. We were also able to add additional offices as well as a fitness room for our personnel to us.
LODD- Joseph Kroboth, Jr.
Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway ~ Washington County ~ Maryland May 3, 1998 Captain Joseph Kroboth,Jr., appropriately wearing a reflective safety vest and utilizing a flashlight with safety wand, was directing traffic at the scene of a serious motor vehicle collision on I-81 near Hagerstown. The scene was very busy and a medevac helicopter was in the process of landing. Suddenly, a passing pick-up truck changed lanes, striking Captain Kroboth and throwing him some 150 feet. He died of massive head and chest injuries. Captain Joseph Kroboth ,Jr, was 59 years old and had served for 39 years.
Halfway Begins to Downsize the Fleet
In 2015, Halfway was beginning to see more of a decrease in Volunteerism which was being felt throughout the country. A large decrease in firefighters and qualified operators forced the company to re-evaluate some of its practices in operations. With a decreased need for Tanker services in the first due, the decision was made to place the 1981 Mack CF Engine Tanker into reserve status and later being advertised to be sold.
Arrival of Engine 26-2
In 1981, a second Engine was also purchased the same year to replace the 1957 International. The 1981 Mack CF pumper is powered by a Mack 686 350 HP motor with an Allison automatic transmission. This unit has a 1250 GPM single-stage Waterous pump. The pumper designated as Engine 26-2 carried 1,500 ft of 4 inch and 750 ft of 3 inch Angus supply hose. Attack lines include four 200 ft 1", one 300 ft 1" and one 200 ft 2" all Angus Hi-Combat hose. Engine 26-2 carries a full complement of tools and equipment for engine operations.
Arrival of Mini Pumper 26-4
In 1985, the company took delivery of our new Mini-pumper Engine 264. This engine replaced the current mini-pumper. The unit is one of the most run pieces of apparatus. Our highest number of runs consists of Medic Assist calls and vehicle accidents with this unit was first out the door. Engine 264 was re-Chassid in 1994 and fully equipped with ALS equipment.
On February 2, 1993; this Pierce Lance II designated as Engine 26-1 was designed for firefighter safety and ease of operation. The cab has a command post and seating for eight. The unit is powered by a Detroit 450 HP diesel engine with a four speed Allison automatic transmission. Engine 26-1 is equipped with a Waterous two-stage 1250 GPM pump, 750 gallons of water, 80 gallons of Class B foam, a Fecon 400 GPM around the pump proportioner, 1500 ft of four inch and 750 ft of three-inch Angus supply hose. The attack lines include four 200 ft 1", one 300 ft 1" and one 200 ft 2" Angus Hi-Combat hose. The most unique feature of this engine is the electronic pump panel. All of the discharges are equipped with Akron Epic electric valves. There is only one master intake and one master discharge gauge on the pump panel. All other discharges are equipped with Span Flowminders that have red L.E.D. digital readouts. This feature allows the pump operator to know the actual GPM flow instead of using hydraulic calculations. E-26-1 meets county standards for a Rescue Engine with all Hurst Jaws of Life rescue equipment to include a spreader cutter combo, rams and air bags. All other equipment included meets all local, state, and NFPA 1901 standards.
Second Ambulance Placed in Service
In July of 1998 we placed in service our second P/L custom 1998 Ford E-Super Duty Custom Medallion Ambulance and between the two units, they responded to 987 calls in 1998. With the delivery of the second unit, a second paramedic was placed on our staff.
Tower 26 Arrives
The 1977 Tower was sold to the Kent Island Fire Company.
Halfway took delivery of a 2000 Peirce Sky Arm designated as Tower 26. Being the only Tower like it in our County, our Truck with the Sky Arm was essential in many rescues across the county. Tower 26 is a Pierce, Dash 2000, 100' Sky Arm platform. It is equipped with a 1500 gpm, 2-stage waterous centrifical pump. All discharges have Class 1 digital flow meters and pressure gauges. The 100' aerial has an articulating 20’ jib that allows the ladder to adjust over a 40’ vertical differential without moving the ladder bed section. The articulating ladder allows basket placement around and over normal obstacles at residential or commercial buildings. The aerial is equipped with a 4” aluminum waterway capable of delivering 1,000 gpm at any angle or elevation. Truck 26 responds to an average 200 calls annually which include; structure fires, service calls, and various rescue assignments.
Delivery of the Current Engine 26-1
On 10/11/2008 Halfway took delivery of the 2008 PUC and was designated as Engine 26-1. It has a 750-gallon water tank along with a 40-gallon foam tank. The pump panel is fully equipped with digital electric valves along with a Husky 12 Foam System. Crews on incident scenes will have better visibility with the new 3,000-watt light tower and all the additional lighting powered by a Westerbeke 15KW generator. The PUC also has a TAK-4 suspension giving the crew on board a smoother ride and giving the operator a shorter stopping distance as well. The PUC is equipped with an assortment of hand tools. Fire suppression equipment will consist of three 200-foot 1 3/4” hose lines which will be side mounted in pre-packed sleeves. The sleeves will be easily replaced after returning from a fire with another sleeve already loaded cutting down on how long the apparatus remains unavailable. Along with the three pre-connects on the side, the engine will also have in the rear a 300-foot section of 1 ¾” and a 200-foot section of 2” pre-connected accompanied by 1500 feet of 4” LDH supply line. The engine has around 500 cubic feet of compartment space and multiple safety features including a mounted ladder in the rear for accessing the top of the engine.
In late October, Halfway took delivery of two Twin Ambulances from Horton. Ambulance 26-8 and 26-9 were both a 2008 Ford E-450 Super Duty Type III Horton's Model 533. These units were equipped with a complete range of both BLS and ALS equipment meeting Washington County and Maryland State requirements.
Downsizing of the Fleet
Considerations continued in the need to down-size so the taxed volunteers had lees equipment they had to worry about getting out the door for calls. Another vehicle that was seeing less use was Engine 26-4. This truck was originally a 1984 GMC Chassis with a Pierce Mini-Pumper box which served until rehabbed with a 1996 Chassis. It served many years as a Quick Response unit responding first out the door on Medic Assists, Vehicle Accidents, and Brush Fires. With changes in staffing and safety concerns, this practice had to change making sure a Class A piece was the first to respond decreasing the unit's responses and its need.
In July of 2016, Halfway responded with Tower 26 to Morgan County West Virginia to a working structure fire at Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department’s Station. A massive fire destroyed the station and several of their trucks were lost in the blaze. With the need for apparatus, Great Cacapon purchased Halfway’s Engine 26-4 and added it to their fleet. This unit served Great Cacapon for nearly a year. As of May of 2020, this unit is still in-service running as Special Unit 55 out of the Need More VFD in Pennsylvania.
Ambulances are Replaced
In May of 2017, Halfway launched a Special EMS Apparatus Fund Drive to assist in the purchase of two new ambulances to replace the current one they have Inservice.
On May 20, 2017, Engine Tanker 26 pulled out of Station 26 for the last time as the truck was purchased by the LeContes Mills Fore Company located in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. As of May of 2020, the unit remains in service with LeContes as Tanker 21.
On July 1, 2017 Halfway placed in service a 2015 Ford F-550 Ambulance / Medic Unit built by Horton. The unit replaced one of the
Second Ambulance is Replaced
In April of 2019 Halfway took delivery of a 2019 Horton Ford F-550 Ambulance