Mr. Elbert C. Bailey joined the Laurel Fire Department in 1908. He had served as President, Chief, Trustee and 27 years as Secretary. He was Past-President of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen’s Association and the Delmarva Firemen’s Association. On January 31, 1972 a motion was made to put a single piece of equipment in Mr. Bailey’s funeral procession.
The 1972 Delaware State Firemen’s Convention was hosted by Laurel and Delmar. David B. Joseph, of Laurel, served as President that year.
On October 19, 1974 a celebration was held at the Laurel American Legion to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Fire Department.
In the mid 1970’s attention turned towards efforts to obtain a new firehouse. On February 16, 1976 the Fire Department voted to purchase land on Tenth Street for the new Fire Station. In April of 1978 the fire department moved to its new station on Tenth Street. This is a state of the art facility with a modern fire station and one of the finest banquet facilities on Delmarva.
October 31, 1977 was a sad day for the Fire Department. A fire alarm was reported at Carvel Gardens Apartments. While responding to the alarm, Past Chief Engineer and Ambulance Captain Clifford Whaley, died of a heart attack. He was found slumped over the wheel of his truck as he attempted to respond to the fire station.
In 1978 orders were placed with Pierce for a 1978 Ford/Suburban Engine and a GMC Pierce Mini-pumper.
On October 8, 1978 one of the largest fires ever to strike the town occurred and the Dollar General Store and Laurel House Hotel were destroyed by fire. A smoke investigation was reported at the Dollar General Store. As firefighters entered the building, they were blown back in the street by an explosion. Before the night was over approximately fifteen area fire companies would respond to the scene.
The 1980’s brought many equipment updates. New pieces of equipment were purchased to keep up with technology. The 1959 ALF Eng.#1 was replaced in 1980 by a Pierce Ford/Suburban Engine.
In 1983 a GMC/Saulsbury Rescue Truck was ordered. The replace the used 1960 Ford that had been purchased in the mid-1970’s from Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
On February 13, 1984 a motion was passed to have the 1924 Ahrens Fox go through a restoration project. The main theme of this was to make her appear as she did when she arrived from Cincinnati, in 1924.
In September of 1985, LFD faced a nightmare that all firefighters dread. Responding to a serious auto accident north of town, they arrived to find one of its own, Engineer Eddie Massey, seriously injured. He died shortly thereafter.
| 1986 |
On the morning of June 21, 1986 another event took place that all involved with the fire department at the time will also not forget. At 4:03 a.m. Emergency Operations Dispatcher Alice Bruce, took a call for a fire at the Paradee Oil Storage Facility on Rt. 13. As the caller in on the phone with Mrs, Bruce the muffled sound of an explosion could be heard in the background.
Those first arriving at the firehouse did not know what to expect. Then firefighter Mark Sheridan arrived and yelled “he did not know what happened, but the windows in his house rattled”. Everyone then knew this would be not ordinary fire. Upon arrival two large storage tanks were fully involved with fire impinging on a others. A large tanker and water shuttle operation was put in place as hand lines cooled the tanks. Any available foam was requested to be brought to the scene. As foam was applied the fire was controlled.
This was the largest mutual aid fire in Laurel’s history. Units responded to the scene from Delmar, Blades, Seaford, Sharptown, Gumboro, Bridgeville, Georgetown, Federalsburg and Greenwood. Hurlock, Salisbury, Denton, Mardela Springs, Pittsville, Milton, Lewes, Dagsboro and Harrington covered for stations at the scene.