More than 200 people gathered at the Lovettsville Fire and Rescue Hall on Saturday night to celebrate the company’s 50th birthday.
Former Mayor Elaine Walker is a member of the 50th Banquet Committee and said it was a “memorable evening” as members of the company, including Fire Chief Rob Berka and Rescue Chief Andrew O’Connell, mingled with local dignitaries, families, friends and neighbors.
The banquet was prepared and served by the parents of a company member, Dick and Lisa Cope, along with their friends and family with the assistance of the Lovettsville Lions Club. Several local businesses chipped in with flowers and other supplies.
Letters of congratulation were received from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring—who served for nine years as the Lovettsville’s town attorney—former state Sen. Charles L. Waddell and from Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services Chief Keith Brower. County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) attended the banquet, along with Lovettsville Mayor Bob Zoldos, Vice Mayor Tiffaney Carder, Councilwoman Kimberly Allar and Councilmen Jim McIntyre and Mike Senate.
It’s the rescue squad component of the combined company that is the oldest, formed in August 1966. The fire company was formed in April 1967. The organization incorporated as the Lovettsville District Fire and Rescue Company, Inc.—still its official name, although the “District” is usually omitted.
Both Walker and her husband, Clifford T. Walker, have a long history in the company. He was an original member of the rescue squad, and she joined the auxiliary when it formed two years later.
Cliff Walker, now 94, ran rescue calls for about 35 years, and was the squad’s treasurer for 30 years. He was also the second recipient of the “Rescue Person of the Year” award, in 1971, an honor that then was given usually for most calls answered. Today, he is the rescue squad’s oldest member.
The former mayor remembered that her husband was a member of the first aid class, taught by Bob Grubb. They still have his “old green instruction book with a red cross on it,” she said, recollecting the squad’s motto of the day—“You call, we haul.”
Elaine Walker’s father, William Painter, was a Lovettsville builder who also owned a sawmill and lumber mill. It was he who tore down the original feed store on the fire-rescue site just south of the town limits on Rt. 287.
The company’s origins stemmed from a 1965 meeting of 12 men interested in starting a fire and rescue company in the Lovettsville area. Prior to that, Lovettsville had to rely for fire service from neighboring towns, such as Brunswick, MD, Purcellville, or the Loudoun Rescue Squad.
In the 1960s, the county rescue squad was based in Hamilton, but also had units in Leesburg and Purcellville. The county squad decided to look into Lovettsville’s request for a unit to be located there as well.
Grubb recalled that he and Dewey Hill were allotted the task of holding the Red Cross Standard and Advanced First Aid Courses that ran from February to May in 1966. But the county rescue squad decided the 12 Lovettsville men who had qualified to become members would have too much voting power in the parent organization, according to Grubb—resulting in the formation of the Lovettsville Rescue Squad.
Assistance came from many, including from Dr. George Hocker, who loaned the company its first ambulance—a 1955 Ford van—and stretcher, which were kept at the Lovettsville Game Club.
When the combined company formed in 1967, its first fire truck was a 1947 Pumper. Member John Lemp recalled some hair-raising fire runs on Lovettsville’s bumpy one-lane back roads. “The equipment, of course, was old and the early drivers only knew how to drive fast. I was trying to hang onto the bar on the rear platform—didn’t think we would ever get there in one piece,” he wrote.
For more information on the Lovettsville Volunteer Fire & Rescue’s history, go to lovettsvillevfr.org and click on the About Us tab.