Local Emmitsburg Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) First Responders played important roles on Friday, January 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C., during the Presidential Inauguration. Neither political nor partisan in nature, their public safety duties included filling in at a District of Columbia fire station, due to the fact that the City’s normal call volume can increase three-fold on this particular day every four years, plus many D.C. emergency services units are committed to responsibilities directly associated with the day’s public events (from which they cannot be easily released). Emmitsburg personnel, along with other emergency personnel from Frederick County’s emergency services, were approved for their unique duty assignments (after having been cleared to serve by the U.S. Secret Service, the DCFD, and our own Frederick County Government / Department of Fire and Rescue Services).

Frederick County provided a total of four ambulances, two engines, two ATV’s, and a Battalion Chief. VHC members staffed Emmitsburg’s Engine 63 and were assigned to D.C. Fire and EMS Station 20, located in the Tenleytown section of the City (on Wisconsin Avenue, just south of Tenley Circle in upper northwest), plus special assignments like staffing an EMS ATV (all-terrain vehicle) near the Washington Monument and driving an ambulance stationed along the parade route.

VHC Chief Chad Umbel, who for weeks helped plan the support effort, said, “It was a great honor for our small department to be selected, and our people were treated very well,” adding that, “their day started before 4:00 a.m., not getting back home until 9:00 p.m., followed by cleanup of the unit. It was something our personnel are certain to always remember.”
Leading the crews were VHC Lieutenants Alex McKenna and Doug Yingling, along with President and former Chief Frank Davis, who drove the Engine. In addition to Davis, McKenna, and Yingling, staffing Engine 63 and accomplishing related duties in the Nation’s Capital were VHC Firefighters Matt Boyd, Vance Click, Greg Sterner, Shawn Wetzel, and Dave Zentz.
Adequate coverage here on the home front was planned for in advance, knowing that a number of VHC’s operational response personnel were helping to assure an orderly transition of American power—a hallmark of the nation’s democracy.

VHC Engine 63 became ‘Engine 906’ for the day, their assigned designation under the Washington Council of Governments’ regional emergency services plan (Frederick County units use the ‘900’ series while each county in the metro area has its own unique designation to avoid confusion in the event of a major regional disaster.

Pictured left to right are Matt Boyd, Shawn Wetzel, Greg Sterner, Dave Zentz, and Alex McKenna.

Share →