West Annapolis Volunteer Fire and Improvement Company History

1911

During the summer of 1911, a movement was started by Edward Jesson to organize a volunteer fire and improvement company in the “Village” of West Annapolis.

The idea was brought before the only organization in the village at the time, the West Annapolis Baseball club. A writer was appointed as temporary secretary to notify the male residents of the community to meet at the old school house to organize a fire and improvement company.

The meeting was held in September 1911 and the following officers were elected for one year. Fred W. Shaw Jr. President, Alvin Oaksmith, Treasurer, Clinton S. Shaw, Recording Secretary, Roy E. Proskey, Financial Secretary and Eugene O. League, Foreman.

A building committee was appointed to arrange for the construction of a suitable building and a contract was awarded at a cost of $2,800. The building was completed in the summer of 1912 and the County Commissioners allowed the company an annual sum of $100 towards operating expenses.

The company struggled until 1920 when it was reorganized. This year started the beginning of the Annual Fair which later grew into a highlight attraction as a carnival. In 1922 the WAVFD purchased its first apparatus, a one-ton Chevrolet truck with a 35 gallon tank. The first regular staffing occurred in 1928 with the assignment of a driver.

In September of 1930 the company purchased its first Studebaker ambulance. Men were trained to support the medically equipped ambulance and they responded to calls throughout the county. By 1935 the membership had grown to 100. During WWII, most of the men in the area were drafted into the service, to which many belonged to the WAVFD. There were barely enough men left to respond to calls so twelve to fourteen young boys in the neighborhood were trained to answer the fire alarm -- this formed the junior fire brigade. Women were also hired to drive the company ambulances to augment the shortage. Women were able to join as members of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1926 and were then able to staff the equipment in the late 1970’s. In 1973 the company moved to its present site on Jennifer Road and continues to serve everyone west of the Severn River. As did our ancestors, WAVFD continues to serve our community as volunteers and purchases and equips our apparatus through donations from the community as well as stipends from the County Government.