During the early 1940’s, Silver Hill was still in a rural setting. The main road, Maryland Route 5, leading to southern Maryland passed in front of the present station. During WWII, fire protection was provided by a Civil Defense Group using a trailor type pumper with 200 feet of hose. The unit was kept in a garage at the home of Mr. George Rackey, Sr., in the 4200 block of Branch Avenue (currently near the 3800 block of St. Barnabas Road).
In the fall of 1945, there was a serious and costly house fire on Cedar Drive in Silver Hill. The Civil Defense Group was no longer active and the only fire protection came from Boulevard Heights, District Heights and Morningside Volunteer Fire Departments. The Silver Hill Citizen’s Association met in November 1945 to consider the fire problem and formed the Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. The first Fire Chief was H. A. Duke, who also served as President for nine years. There were 13 charter members of the organization.
On December 20, 1945, the company purchased a used “Reo” truck (vintage 1923) from the District Heights Volunteer Fire Department for $500.00. Not having a fire station, it was agreed to keep the fire truck in the Chief’s garage at 201 Park Boulevard. This building is still standing not far from the present station.
In 1946, the department was granted a revocable license to build a fire station on U.S.A. Government property at 3900 Old Silver Hill Road. This building was very expensive because the bricks had to match those in the government buildings on the Suitland track. The majority of the construction was done by the members. A used U.S.A. fire truck was purchased and placed in service in early 1948. During late 1949, a new Mack 750 gpm pumper was ordered and placed in service in early 1950. The members also built a special brush truck to carry young firemen, known as “Brush Apes” to brush fires, a 1951 GMC truck chassis.
The department started a door-to-door fund drive in 1953 to buy an ambulance for the area. In 1954, they placed in service a used 1950 Cadillac ambulance. The rescue squad was headed by F.U. (Skip) Ward and other interested volunteers. The department accepted the group in 1955 after one year of successful operation. In the spring of 1955, the U.S.A. pumper was sold for $1.00 to Brandywine-Baden to start a fire department in their area. In April 1955, the department again initiated action with the Federal Government to get the land the station was built on, but to no avail. By this time, the building and equipment was valued at $100,000, but the company could not use it to borrow money.
The department ordered a new Mack 750 gpm pumper in late fall of 1955 and placed it in service in early 1956. The department also installed, with the help of C&P Telephone Company, a home alert system, which was used until 1979 and was replaced with a paging system.
Again, in March 1955, the department’s request for the land was turned down. Another used ambulance, in 1954, was purchased to replace the 1950 model.
By 1958, there was a need for more apparatus and a sub-station. A new Mack 750 gpm pumper was ordered and placed in service in early l959. Several attempts were made to establish a sub-station. However, the citizens killed the idea since nobody wanted to live near a fire station. A River Rescue boat was operated along with an Underwater Dive Team. Two new Cadillac ambulances were purchased in 1960 and the federal government again refused to deed the company the land.
During 1961, Chief John F. Simpson, Sr., with the help of friends on Capital Hill, was able to get a bill introduced in the 87th Congress by Senator Butler and Congressman Lankford. On October 23, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed H.T. 7781 into Public Law 87-848. This deeded the property, in question, to the Silver Hill VolunteerFire Department. It took another six months before the deed was cleared through the General Services Administration.
Many new high rise apartments were under construction in 1961 and 1962. In the early months of 1963, a new aerial platform truck was purchased and placed into service. This type
of unit was the only one of its kind in Southern Maryland. On July 23, 1964, the Rink Building Corporation started grading the land for the new fire house next to the old station.
An agreement was made with the Smithsonian Garber Facility in 1966. Silver Hill agreed to make a parking area by clearing, leveling and graveling the land adjacent to their property. The parking area was made for the Smithsonian in exchange for fire protection for the next 20 years. The Smithsonian also agreed to allow Silver Hill to use this parking area for bingo and other hall events.
In 1968, the Ladies Auxiliary presented the department with its first low band portable radio. During 1968 and 1969, Chief Charles W. Porter and the Board of Directors purchased two new Seagrave pumpers at a cost of $37,500 each. These pumpers were ahead of their time by design.
A Swab box type ambulance was placed in service during 1970. With five Class A pumpers in service, the 1949 Mack was sold to Richardson, Virginia Fire Department. Truck 29 was sold in 1972 to Birmingham, Alabama Fire Department. This was done because there was a promise made to place a new ladder truck at Station 29.
In 1979, Medic 2 was placed in service at Station 29. This was one of the first Medic Units used in Prince George’s County.
A new Pierce pumper was purchased for $98,000.00 in 1980. This was the first closed cab pumper purchased by the company. Also in 1980, a Dodge Power Wagon mini-pumper was placed
in service. And another new Mack pumper costing $98,000.00 was purchased in 1983 and placed in service in 1984.
In 1985, major renovation work was completed to the present station which included a new kitchen, bathrooms, Bingo Hall, Day Room and Watch Room.
In 1989, Life Membership Rings were purchased for all life members and presented to twenty-one individuals at the Company Banquet.
The company rehabbed their 1984 Mack Engine 291 and 1968 Seagrave Engine 292, and, in 1987, a 1973 Pierce Engine was rehabbed with a new Spartan Cab. During this time, Station 29 housed Ambulance 299, a 1993 model and Breathing Air 29, both owned by the county.
A new 1990 Pierce Arrow, six man fully enclosed cab with a 1250 gpm pump, was delivered and placed in service in October, 1990. And placed in service in 1993, is Engine 292, an E-One Pumper with a 1250 gpm pump and a 500 gallon water tank. Both pumpers are presently in service. In 1994, a Jeep Cherokee was placed in service as Chief 29’s unit, and, in 1995, a Crown Victoria was assigned and is still being used by the company President. A 1976 Mack Pumper was purchased from Silver Hill’s Sister Company in Fayettesville, PA, in 1996, rehabbed and sold around 1998. And a 2002 Chevy Tahoe replaced the Jeep Cherokee and is Company 29’s current Chief’s Vehicle.
Silver Hill has remained one of the busiest fire companies in the country since 1982. A 2004 issue of Fire House Magazine listed Silver Hill as the 13th busiest station in the nation!