Since its founding in 1952, the Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department has relied on the support of the town nearly as much as the town relies on the services it provides.
The department once again is relying on that support, as it kicked off a capital campaign Sunday to renovate and expand its aging station. While residents and guests dined on pancakes, bacon, biscuits and gravy, department and town officials unveiled their plans.
“The Laytonsville Fire Department is one of the cornerstones of our town and the surrounding Laytonsville community,” said Laytonsville Mayor Dan Prats. “It is a true volunteer fire department staffed by committed area residents who truly care about us and our safety. We know we can always count on the Laytonsville volunteers.”
Through fundraising efforts such as the monthly breakfasts, the department raised about $500,000 toward the $2 million the project is estimated to cost.
The project will include a 2,793 square-foot addition and the renovation of 2,984 square feet. It will include a new bunk room, locker room, and public restrooms, an exercise room, commercial kitchen, office space, meeting room and training area. Utilities will be replaced with new, energy-efficient models.
Sen. Karen S. Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville attended Sunday’s kickoff event, and pledged state support, saying the District 14 team will soon announce a “substantial” bond bill to help fund the project.
“The District 14 team recognized a need for the Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department to expand,” she said. “Their present quarters are totally inadequate and have been for some years.”
Montgomery said the amount of the bond bill will be announced when the contract has been accepted.
“The future depends on what we do today, and we will get this accomplished,” she said.
Prats said the town is fortunate to have the support of the District 14 state legislative delegation, saying the bond bill funding “would help take a chunk out of the total we need to raise.”
The building permits for the work are in hand, and bids to do the job are due later this month. Construction could start as early as late spring and is expected to take eight to 10 months.
Much has changed since the department began in 1952. Town residents and community leaders purchased Woodmen’s Hall as the site of their first station on the corner of Laytonsville Road and Howard Street and then bought “Minnie,” a 1930 Brockway pumper from the Hyattstown Volunteer Fire Department for $100.
Ironically, tragedy struck in 1965 when the station and all of its contents burned in a fire. Everything was destroyed except for “Minnie,” which had been stored in a member’s barn at the time.
“Minnie” still graces the department today, as a symbol of the department’s history and dedication to the community and will be displayed prominently in the new station.
Following the fire, the community came together to build the new station, which opened in 1966 at 21400 Laytonsville Road. Although the community has expanded more than 10 times, the facility has changed little since then.
Bunk beds are crammed into the sleeping quarters, with little clearance between the ceiling and top bunk. There is limited personal storage space, the locker rooms lack privacy, the exercise equipment is in the dining area, and the kitchen is furnished with standard residential appliances.
Throughout the years, the membership and the apparatus have grown. There are more than 80 members, several living in the station full time.
“We’ve just outgrown it,” said Chief Buddy Sutton. “The expansion and renovation will be better all the way around, and will help us to serve the community better. We’re going to want to be here, which will ensure that service will be as quick as possible.”
Once again, the department is counting on the community.
“The county is not currently funding this project, so we all need to do our part to spread the word and help raise the money they need,” he said. “They just cannot flip enough pancakes to build the new station, so we all have to step up and support them in any way we can.”
For more information or to make a donation, go to www.ldvfd.org or call 301-948-0794.