Gov. Larry Hogan visited the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department on Wednesday to say thanks and give a governor’s citation.
Hogan said he wanted to honor the department’s personnel and volunteers for their service and dedication for nearly 18 months in a global pandemic.
“I know it takes a heck of a lot of dedication for you to come out here and do all the things that you do to keep people safe,” he said. “We’ve got an incredible volunteer fire department. It’s amazing you were able to keep every shift running and without getting sidetracked with COVID, as so many other people did.”
Hogan took a tour of the fire station and checked out the 1930s antique fire engine and ambulances. He saw the department’s newest addition: a state-of-the-art white-and-blue fire engine.
The new engine was dedicated to James “Jim” Seavey, a former chief who led the department for more than 25 years. He died in September 2018.
The white-and-blue engine, purchased in 2020, cost the department $750,000.
“For a volunteer fire company, it’s a huge chunk of change,” said Chief Corinne Piccardi, the first female volunteer fire chief in Montgomery County.
A combination of community fundraising and Maryland 508 funding covered the cost of the new engine.
Maryland 508 funding refers to a bill that was passed to financially assist Maryland fire, rescue and emergency medical service departments.
Piccardi said the red fire engines normally seen on the street are funded by Montgomery County and paid for with county taxes. The white-and-blue Cabin John fire engines at the volunteer fire department are owned by the department.
Piccardi hopes that one day all of the department’s engines and apparatuses will be white and blue.
This year, the department received $9,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.
Volunteer fire departments rely on fundraising. In a normal year, the fire department would host birthday parties and other fundraising events and activities, but that was not possible due to COVID-19.
During the visit, Hogan went for a ride on the new engine. Afterward, Piccardi named Hogan as an honorary member of the department.
“Wow, that’s an honor! They saw how good I was on that engine,” Hogan joked.
Hogan’s visit and recognition of the department’s work during the pandemic was especially significant because some volunteer members had friends and family who were sick or died from COVID-19.
Still, members came in to train and serve.
“We have 16-year-olds who came in during the pandemic and are now working their way through the system, and phenomenal youth,” Piccardi said. “As well as our other members, [who] showed up every single shift during a pandemic. It’s huge to have the governor here to recognize that commitment.”