Grasonville VFD celebrates 60 years of service
GRASONVILLE — Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 60th anniversary Saturday afternoon, Aug. 18, at the fire house. All the fire trucks were removed from the truck bays, and the formal ceremony took place inside. GVFD President Matt Coursey welcomed ever yone, introducing guests: Delegate Steve Arentz, Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Jim Moran and Jack Wilson, Sheriff Gary Hofmann and Maryland State Fireman’s Association President Mark Bilger. Pastor Jon Rediger offered an opening prayer for the ceremony.
GVFD Fire Chief Jason Anthony spoke, presenting a detailed and interesting history of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department. He first read, in a
solemn manner, the names of all 36 men who founded the fire department 60 years ago in 1958. The first name on the list, read in alphabetical order, was the late Donald Anthony, Jason’s father, who was one of only seven fire chiefs Grasonville has ever had. Jason made note of that small number of fire chiefs, as it has led to stability in the fire department, with Jason being the seventh.
Only a few founding members are still alive. Charles Bryan was one of the surviving members who was present. Bryan made a comment from the audience which Anthony recognized from the podium. Bryan said, “Somebody deserves a lotta credit for all the good that has happened here over the years!” Anthony agreed.
Anthony then told the history, “These 36 men, together with nothing more than a desire to serve their community, founded one of the finest fire companies in Maryland. They started with absolutely nothing more than a vision. They purchased a used fire engine from Civil Defense for $100. It was housed in a garage behind the Grasonville Post Office.
“How did they respond to fires, one might ask? When there was an emergency, residents would telephone either Leonard Smith’s store or Holly’s Restaurant, where members often gathered. In this modern era of computeraided dispatch and radio pagers, anyone half familiar with fire service in days of old must shake their heads in bewilderment, but it worked for them.
“In 1960, Governor G. Millard Tawes presided over the dedication of the GFVD fire station we stand in today,” Anthony continued. “This fire house has serve us well the past 58 years.”
He listed several firsts Grasonville boasts for the county: it had the first rescue company; it was the first to have a Hurst “Jaws of Life” rescue tool; and, in 1999, it became the first to have a thermal imager.
He also mentioned the beginnings of the purchasing of the fire company ladder trucks, the first one being bought in 1957 for $27,500 from the Owings Mills VFD in Baltimore County. It was paid for by funds from the Oyster Cove Development. Other more modern trucks followed over the years.
“As the GFVD stands today, we have roughly 90 members, numerous major firefighting/rescue apparatus, a fire boat, two ambulances, and more importantly, the respect and admiration of the community we serve,” Anthony said. “The fire service has changed dramatically in only 60 years. Firefighters now are expected to handle hazardous material calls, complicated rescue situations and calls involving weapons of mass destruction. Our fire department has progressed to responding in half a million dollar fire apparatus to an ever-changing community. The one thing that has always remained constant, however, is the desire to serve their community.”
Following the history, several recognitions were presented. First, Arentz presented a Certificate of Recognition from Governor Larry Hogan to the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department, followed by another from the Maryland House of Delegates, also from Arentz.
Arentz commented following the presentations, “We don’t appreciate all they do here at the fire departments in serving our communities.”
Anthony recognized firefighter Carlton “Skippy” Haddaway for his 40 years of service as a member of Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department. Anthony remarked, “I’m not even 40 years old! We should marvel at the service Skippy has provided as an active member all these years.”
Coursey then recognized Pete Risley for his 50 years of active membership with Grasonville VFD. Risley was one of the seven former fire chiefs. He served for 20 years as chief.
Both men received standing ovations from the audience when their special firefighter plaques were presented.
Finally, Anthony called Grasonville VFD Chaplain Jon Rediger forward and presented him a parting gift as Rediger is moving to Clinton to take another position serving at Independent Baptist Church.
Anthony told Rediger, “We’re happy that you had this opportunity to move on in your life, but we’re sad you’re leaving.”
Rediger remembered the good times and the challenging moments when lives of firefighters had been lost in efforts to save others. He thanked the members of the fire department for not being afraid to step forward in service to others when danger presented itself.
Rediger gave the closing prayer for the program and specially asked God to bless GVFD with the ability to generate the funds they will need to build a new state-ofthe-art fire station to better serve the community in the years to come.
The formal program ended with everyone being invited to celebrate in the air-conditioned hall where free food was served for the occasion.
Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department honored two longtime volunteers during the department’s 60th anniversary celebration Saturday afternoon, Aug. 18. Former Chief Pete Risley was recognized for 50 years of service; “Skippy” Hadaway for 40 years. From the left, GVFD President Matt Coursey, Pete Risley, “Skippy” Haddaway and GVFD Fire Chief Jason Anthony.
Grasonville Fire Chief Jason Anthony, right, presents a gift to Pastor Jon Rediger, who has served at GVFD chaplain for more than a decade. The anniversary celebration was Rediger’s last official appearance as chaplain as he is moving to Clinton to serve a church there.
Maryland State District 36 Del. Steve Arentz, left, presents Grasonville VFD President Matt Coursey with a certificate of recognition from Governor Larry Hogan for the fire department’s 60 years of service to the community, Saturday, Aug. 18.