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Couple donates land for fire substation

March 16, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

ROHRERSVILLE - When fire strikes in the southern part of Washington County, there is no close fire station to douse the flames.

Volunteer fire companies in Boonsboro, Dargan and Sharpsburg are all 12 or more miles away from the Rohrersville area along Md. 67. What was once largely empty farmland, however, is one of the fastest growing parts of the county.

That has led the First Hose Company of Boonsboro to seek permission to build a substation. Fire officials will make a presentation before the Washington County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.

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"It's one of the fastest-growing areas around," said Donald Shumaker, president of the fire company. "We just want better coverage. Minutes are lives. When we get a call, we have to figure the worst."

The proposed substation would house a pumper, mini pumper, brush truck and chase car, Shumaker said. Fire officials hope to build the substation off Md. 67 across from Kaetzel Road on a 7.3 acre plot of land donated by retired attorney Robert Millard.

Some fire officials have reacted to the idea with apprehension, fearing the proposal is a power grab by Boonsboro.

The Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Co. opposed the idea last May, citing concerns that the company would muscle into its fund-raising territory.

But Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President Jay Grimes said the companies have worked out their differences.

"All disagreements have been settled," he said. "That particular area is starting to grow, probably a spinoff from Frederick County."

Millard, who lives on Gapland Road, said he donated the land because he is concerned about fire services in the area.

Millard said he has had two fires in the last 30 years, including one that killed a man about nine years ago.

"They are far away,'' he said. "Dargan, for instance, is quite a run. Even Boonsboro, it takes them 20 minutes to get down here.''

The substation would also cut down fire insurance for people who live down here.

Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said he thinks the substation will get a favorable hearing once commissioners examine response times. Noting the Community Rescue Service substation in Maugansville, he predicted substations will become more widely used for both fire and ambulance companies.

"I think ultimately, substations are going to be the wave of the future all over Washington County," he said. "We need to have a thorough discussion. We haven't had a thorough discussion yet."

Bowers also said substations could play an important role if the county restructures its fire and rescue services. Forming a countywide fire department, merging existing companies and setting up substations could eliminate territorial disputes, he said.

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