On Feb. 11, 2010, the weight of snow from a recent blizzard collapsed the roof of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department. The collapse caused a gas leak, which then ignited into 3-alarm a fire, destroying the habitable portion of the firehouse.
Brian Bowman, the chairman of the Sykesville-Freedom District fire company’s rebuilding committee, explains that there are still a few finishing touches, but everyone is excited as they are finally close to getting back to their house.
Despite being confined to a single room where everyone cooked, ate, watched TV and wrote reports, the members of the department have not let an incomplete facility keep them from doing their job.
Even in 2010, when the members were initially sleeping in mash unit tents with cold winds blowing open the walls of the tent, the company still responded to 872 fire calls and 2,199 EMS calls, he said.
According to the Census Designated Place Data (CDP) for Eldersburg, the population increased by a growth percentage of 10.1% from the year 2000 to 2010.
With this growth rate in mind, the department decided not only to rebuild, but to expand and improve the facility in order to accommodate the growing community.
The new facility now includes a much larger kitchen with seating for 25 people, as well as a living room, workout room, radio room to listen to calls and a quiet report room for firefighters to write their reports.
The company also considered the growing community when they designed the new social hall.
This area of the building is now 49% bigger and able to seat 400 people. It includes chandeliers and flat screen televisions and has a partition that can split the room for smaller or multiple occasions. The restrooms were also updated to accommodate larger crowds.
The side of the building was also built with two classrooms and two administrative offices, which can be rented out for meetings, classes or any other purpose the community may need.
The department did receive money from insurance but it wasn’t enough to cover the $6 million dollar construction costs.
In 2011, the fire company was approved by the Carroll County Board of Commissioners for a $4.5 million loan. With a 20-year repayment plan on the loan, fundraising continues to be a top priority.
While most funds have been raised through raffles and carnivals, the community has helped with this as well.
Carrolltown Elementary School even held a “Jumprope for the Fire Department” fundraiser.
“This gets me right in my heart because normally we are the ones coming out to do things for them," Bowman says. “For them to go and do something like that for us, tears you up a little.”
Bowman said he is excited that that clubs, organizations and restaurants are already coming by to see how they can be involved.
While they plan to put together an official celebration once the finishing touches have been completed, Bowman encourages anyone in the community to come out and see the new facility.