(9/20) During a Sept. 18 meeting, the Frederick County
Board of Commissioners agreed to help the National Fire Heritage Center get
established in Emmitsburg.
“The interest in the fire heritage museum has been growing
since May of last year,” said Austin Abraham, Frederick County Management
Services Division director.
The National Fire Heritage Center would house a county fire and
rescue museum where the current Emmitsburg Ambulance Company bays are and a
national archive of fire service documents, books and manuscripts at the back
of the ambulance company building where the social hall now is.
“Logically, for a site, it makes a lot of sense,” said Clarence
“Chip” Jewell, chairman of the fire museum committee. “Emmitsburg is the seat
of the nation’s fire service.” This is because of the presence of the National
Fire Training Center and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in town.
Besides requesting to be able to lease the ambulance company
building for $1 a year when the new ambulance company building is opened, the
Frederick County Fire and Rescue Museum and Preservation Society requested that
the county perform some initial light maintenance work and operational funding
for the building for first two years.
The county costs would be $16,700 for the current fiscal year
and $10,000 in the next fiscal year.
“I think it is a minimal investment to protect the history of
the county fire service,” said Commission President Jan Gardner.
One of the major changes to the building once it becomes a
museum would be to add a facade on the front of the building so that it looks
like an old fire hall.
While Commissioner John L. Thompson, Jr. said the cause was
worthwhile, he said he couldn’t support the effort.
“These kinds of things are best funded by the philanthropic
members of our community,” Thompson said, adding that he would be willing to
make a personal donation.
The commissioners voted 3-2 to supporting the fire museum and
providing the needed funding.
Eventually the archive portion of the building will be moved to
its own location since it is expected to outgrow the social hall area of the
ambulance company in about five years.
“They are looking for land actually in the Emmitsburg area for
an actual archive facility,” Jewell said.
Jewell said the next step will be to make a presentation to the county fire
association, set up membership parameters and begin fund raising. He is hoping
to have the museum portion of the building open by April 2008. The archive area
could open earlier.
“I’d love to see us participate in the museum season next
year,” Jewell said.
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