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Fire company books available

September 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - When the "History of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company - 75 Years of Tradition" rolled off the presses, it was never meant to be a moneymaker.

But Larry Iseminger, president of the fire company and author of the 431-page book, was hoping the sales would be a little more brisk.

"We've sold about 120 copies," Iseminger said. "We gave away about 200 at the 75th anniversary banquet in November 2005."

There are now 1,500 copies for sale.

Iseminger said he thinks the book would make an excellent Christmas present and hopes people with ties to Funkstown - and an interest in fire companies in particular and history in general - will purchase a copy.

The book costs $22 if obtained at the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. on Westside Avenue at Alt. U.S. 40. By mail, the cost is $26. The mailing address is Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., Box 670, Funkstown, MD 21734.

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The idea for the book was conceived by the anniversary committee, which began making plans in 2004. A banquet, parade, an open house, a video and T-shirts were all planned for the celebration.

Iseminger said the perfectly preserved records of the company through the years helped make the book a reality. "From Day 1, we have the minutes of that first May 22, 1930, meeting," Iseminger said.

While it's not unusual for volunteer fire companies to trace their origins to a big fire that mobilized a community, Funkstown has the distinction of having its current fire station at the actual site of that blaze.

"In 1929, an old flour/paper mill along the banks of the Antietam Creek burned down," Iseminger said.

After organizing a year later and moving to a number of locations, the fire company's volunteers bought the current site in 1950.

"The cost to build the current building was $25,000," Iseminger said, drawing from the extensive archives of the company. Additions to the building were constructed in 1967 and 1978.

For some history buffs who might recall an earlier fire company in Funkstown, Iseminger said there was an effort in 1826 to organize one but it only lasted until 1830.

From then until 1930, the town had to rely on Hagerstown firefighters to respond to Funkstown fire calls.

As work on the book progressed, interviews were conducted with former members and older members of the company.

"While we were writing, Jim Kershner was collecting pictures," Iseminger said.

A fellow member and past chief, Kershner said he got pictures from former members who found them in their basements and attics. And there were a lot of archival photographs on the walls at the fire hall and in the trophy cases.

At the banquet, each generation in the fire company shared stories - some serious and some funny - about their years of service.

Many of those stories are in the book, Kershner said.

"Larry put a lot of time into it," he said. "It's a real gift to the department. Larry is a true ironman."

Iseminger, who has been president of the company for 11 years, said everyone is proud of how the book turned out.

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