Genealogy services

Salisbury Fire Service will celebrate 150 years of service

By Susan Canfora

Salisbury Fire Service celebrates milestone anniversary – its150e – with a parade, demonstrations, tours, refreshments – and certainly stories shared by the men and women of its distinguished ranks.

Scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday October 22, the parade will start on Main Street near Royal Farms and end at Station 16 on Cypress Street.

At 11 a.m. at the fire department, guests will meet Sparky the fire dog, watch live rescue and rappelling demonstrations, and listen to government officials offer congratulations and praise.

Fire apparatus, engines from Parksley, as well as Delmar, Ocean City and Fruitland will be on parade, with Fruitland displaying its antique chief’s car and other antique equipment, Deputy Chief Bryan Records said, a 44-year-old career firefighter.

Records, who will retire in January, has written a hardcover book on the history of the fire department, now under the command of Chief John Tull and with 111 career staff and 46 volunteers who cover 48 square miles. In 2021, the department responded to 3,839 fires and 11,321 EMS calls.

Salisbury has three stations and Deputy Chief Darrin Scott, a 37-year-old, told the Salisbury Independent the town could use a fourth.

“To have the 150e birthday is great. We’ve been here since 1872. It all started with a bay downtown, on the Route 50 side of Downtown Plaza,” he said.

The second fire station was built in 1930 by what Records described as “local well-to-do businessmen and following several disastrous fires in the industrial factories on the east side of town”.

“A new station was built across from the old Station 2 and dedicated in 2016. The station is now one of the busiest in the city,” Records wrote in the story.

“This parade and ceremony will show the town what they have in their own backyard and it will give us a chance to brag a bit,” said Scott, who has had an interest in the craft since childhood. firefighter and who joined the fire department after high school.

“We didn’t have any cadets back then. We have them now. I signed up as a volunteer and then got hired in 1990,” he said, recalling the years when firefighters lovingly cared for live Dalmatian fire dogs and offered them formal services. at their death.

“We had Spanner and Boots. We no longer have a living dog. We’re too busy,” Scott said.

Dalmatians were favored by firefighters beginning in the late 1700s when horse-drawn fire engines were used. It is said that dogs had a way of calming horses, were loyal, barked loudly and had incredible stamina.

Today, Sparky, a human dressed as a dog, is Salisbury’s mascot.

Also today, emergency personnel respond to around 40 EMS calls each day, and that number equates to 80% of calls, said Scott, whose son, father, uncles and brother are all involved in the fire services.

Fire department personnel are involved in “EMS, plus HAZMAT, special ops, murders, shootings, stabbings, car crashes, building fires, house fires,” said Records.

“We’re just everywhere all the time. Over the past year, the fire department received 15,300 calls for service and that number will be even higher this year. When I started in 1979 they had about 500 calls downtown and 250 to the other station and 1,800 ambulance calls. Now we’re in the 15,000 range. It’s just crazy the way things are going and it’s not going to stop,” Records said.

Firefighters from the history of the Salisbury Fire Service are featured in his book, filled with photographs showing black smoke and orange flames. Many photos are black and white, from decades ago, of firefighters and blazes that shaped the city’s history.

“The fire department was officially organized in 1872. That’s the date they use on our crest. At that time they had bucket brigades. Citizens helped if anything happened. Fires were less frequent then, but when they did they were big,’ Records told the Salisbury Independent.

“They reorganized in 1879. They bought a steam pump which is still there today and things continued, but we burned the town twice, in 1860 and 1886, and came very close in 1899 We had a fire where Farmers & Planters Too is, on Mill St. We had the liner on the second fire.

“In 1899 there was the Jackson Mill fire. They had another steamer sitting in the Greer Brothers Shop waiting for sale in Snow Hill. Luckily Mr. Greer, Chief Greer, said, ‘Go looking for that steamer,” Records said.

Titled “150 Years of Service and Tradition,” the book is expected to arrive at the publisher in the middle of this month and be available for purchase early next year. The price is $39.

“I received the mission to write it in May. Lots of guys want it. There will be an introduction from the mayor and chief, photographs and the story, then in each section I have included historical stories that I used to write for their quarterly newsletter. I thought, “What a waste not to use them,” he said.

Biographies of leaders who have served over the years are included, along with details of the apparatus, distinguished members and general membership. There are photographs from the Civil War era and the founding members.

“There are stories about the Peninsula Hotel fire in 1929, the Civic Center fire. The last chapter groups all the photos of the members by shift and by station. I’m pretty excited about it. It was fun,” Records said, adding that after his retirement he will continue to volunteer for the Fruitland Volunteer Fire Department and will remain available to help in Salisbury whenever requested.

“I will never be too far. I am a third or fourth generation firefighter. I will continue to help them when they need me,” he said.

His son, Brandon, has been involved with the fire department for 15 years and he has a 2-year-old grandson who is already showing interest in playing with a small fire truck.

“I’m going to miss the camaraderie, that’s for sure. There is a great sense of family atmosphere. You come in, you spend the day. You share meals. You share experiences. You share the tragedy and you help each other. I’m sure I’m going to miss it, but I’ll never be too far,” said Records, the firefighter historian.

“That’s how they look at me,” he laughs.

“Nobody else got into it like me. My mom is big on history. She does all the genealogy. My dad had a love for firefighters and he instilled that in my brother and me- I get this love and passion for the story from both my parents.

“There was a period in my life when I thought I would be in professional sports, but I always thought I was going to be a firefighter. I went to New York after high school. I thought that was where I was going to end up, but these agencies had so many applicants and Salisbury was my hometown.

“He had his challenges. In this business, you are at the mercy of political things. Some years you do very well. The other years are terrible. I’ve been through furloughs, other things, but in the end I wouldn’t change a thing at all,” he said.