There are heroes all around us and often they go unrecognized – that is until we need their services. Our local first responders held a panel discussion at the Plains District Memorial Museum on Sunday, October 29 and presented information about their organizations.
Representatives from the Timberville Fire Department, Broadway Fire Department, the Bergton Emergency Squad, and the Broadway Emergency Squad talked about the history of their rescue organizations and how they provide life-saving services to our local communities.
Timberville historian Bev Garber’s father kept a detailed diary for many years and noted that the Timberville Fire Department started in 1916. Current member, Steve Layman, said that the department currently covers 25 square miles and has 20 active members. In 1974, they started running calls with the Broadway Emergency Squad. They ran 520 calls last year.
Josh Lohr is the 4th generation of Lohrs to be Fire Chief of the Broadway Fire Department. Lohr says that Broadway covers 57 square miles, including the longest stretch of Interstate 81 in Rockingham County. The Broadway Fire Department started in 1936 with 12 members. In 1946 they moved into their current building.
Carol DeHart and Kelsey Barb represented the Bergton Emergency Squad. Carol was a founding member. On February 3, 1987, then Broadway Fire Chief, Mike Hoover, visited the Bergton Ruritan Club and suggested that the community start a Bergton substation. About 30 community members attended that meeting and were convinced of the need to start a Bergton Branch. In August of 1987, the Bergton Branch of the Broadway Fire Department officially opened. Broadway provided support to the new substation. DeHart says “Broadway firefighters were the backbone of our training.” She adds “it was wonderful to watch a “seed of an idea grow into an organization that is still vibrant today.” In 1996, the Bergton Fire Department became an independent fire station.
Another Bergton member, Kelsey Barb, also spoke about her experiences as part of the Fire Department. She has been with the department for 2 years and has finished training at the Rockingham Volunteer Fire Academy.
In 1953, several businessmen got together to form the Broadway Rescue Squad. Two of the original members attended the presentation: Gene Nesselrodt and Lowell Will. Other longtime members, Archie Long and Bonnie Fitzwater Caplinger told stories of their experiences with the Rescue Squad.
Our area is fortunate to have such a dedicated and well-trained group of first responders. The Plains District Memorial Museum is currently featuring a display honoring the history and current work of our area’s emergency workers.