Thurmont Grange #409 hosted its First Responders Appreciation Night at the Thurmont Town Park on June 27. After an invocation given by Nancy Wine, all members and guests in attendance enjoyed a covered-dish picnic dinner.
Lecturer Niki Eyler then turned the program over to Grange members who introduced our First Responders.
Graceham VFC No. 18: Jane Savage introduced recipient of Graceham VFC No. 18 recognition award, Julie Fogle. Julie was nominated by Fire Chief Louis Powell, Jr., who in his comments stated, “It is with the utmost honor that I nominate FF/EMT Fogle to be recognized by the Thurmont Grange #409.” Chief Powell stated that FF/EMT Fogle’s hard work and dedication earned Graceham VFC No. 18 the Clint Hughes Departmental Fire Prevention Award at this year’s Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (“FCVFRA”) Awards Ceremony, which was held on April 18 at Walkersville VFC #11. FF/EMT Fogle is in charge of Graceham’s Facebook page, where she posts monthly fire prevention and life safety messages. FF/EMT Fogle previously held the positions of secretary and lieutenant and currently serves on the board of directors and is assistant secretary. She is also the chairperson for Graceham’s Fire Prevention Committee and Banquet Committee. It was her hard work that allowed Graceham to have a great banquet this past year. FF/EMT Fogle meets and exceeds the standards set forth by the FCVFRA to be a Chief officer.
Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department: Nancy Wine introduced recipient of Lewistown’s recognition award, Bethany Wachter. Bethany was nominated by Wayne P. Wachter, Jr. and was nominated as she was the top responder for EMS calls during the entire COVID-19 pandemic. This year, she will have 25 years of service to the community. Bethany helps with dinners, bingos, yard sales, and all other functions the Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department has during the year. She lives in Mountaindale with her husband and two daughters.
Thurmont Community Ambulance Service: Nancy Wine introduced recipient of Thurmont Community Ambulance Service recognition award, Jennifer Frushour. Jennifer was nominated by Judith White of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service. Jennifer was recognized for her service to the department and the community as a whole. She has been involved with volunteer fire and rescue service since she was a youngster and helped her dad with activities at the fire department. Jen became involved with the ambulance company as well; she completed her Emergency Medical Technician training and went on through national registry. She has also trained in Emergency Vehicle Operator, instructor training, hazardous materials operations training, and EMS officer program. She has served as lieutenant and now is the assistant chief for Thurmont Ambulance. She has countless hours of standby and has been recognized by the department as a top responder for multiple years. Jen is also a mentor to new members and EMT students and continues to assist with many activities. She is employed as a dispatcher for the 911 Center in Frederick.
Vigilant Hose Company: Jim Barto introduced recipient of Vigilant Hose Company’s honoree, Matthew Boyd. Matt was nominated by Fire Chief Chad M. Umbel. In his remarks, Fire Chief Umbel stated that it was his honor to nominate Matthew Boyd, who has been a member of Vigilant Hose Company for 10 years and was active as a junior firefighter before obtaining operational status. Matt’s remarkable ability to work with people and effectively organize tasks and priorities have made him a model for others to emulate and has earned him the respect of his peers. Along the way, he has obtained many certifications and awards for exceptional service. At the Vigilant Hose Company, there is no better role model than someone who is humble and modest, who constantly strives to improve his knowledge and skill set toward the betterment of the organization; someone with a vision who is also a good listener, has a sense of humor, and can be decisive when necessary; a person of integrity, always willing to help someone else succeed. Matt has spent many hours at the station and the activities complex, utilizing his mechanical capabilities, working on and fixing whatever needs done. Matt has worked his way up through the ranks and currently holds the position of Captain.
Thurmont Police Department: Jim Barto introduced recipient of Thurmont Police Department’s honoree, Sgt. Dave Armstrong. Sgt. Armstrong was nominated by Lt. P.A. Droneburg, deputy chief of police for the Thurmont Police Department. In his remarks, Lt. Droneburg stated that Sgt. Armstrong joined the Thurmont Police Department in 2012 after retiring from the Frederick Police Department. He has proven to be an asset to the department since the day he began. After serving in patrol and as a first line supervisor, Sgt. Armstrong was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2018. His service has been exemplary. He has responded to numerous call-outs for death investigations and other significant criminal investigations. His work ethic has also been outstanding. In January 2021, Sgt. Armstrong received a compliment from a citizen (excerpt): “The sergeant then took it upon himself to look for my daughter as a missing person (as she had fled the scene), and once he found her, he took her to the hospital. I did not expect the professionalism and great concern for everyone’s safety that the officer provided.” Sgt. Armstrong assumed the role as the agency’s training coordinator after being promoted and has developed a timeline for all mandated training. During this past year, he attended numerous training sessions to improve his knowledge and to better serve the agency. In May 2021, Sgt. Armstrong completed a De-escalation Training Course, so he could be an instructor for the agency. In July 2021, Sgt. Armstrong received a Letter of Acknowledgement from Chief Eyler for his outstanding performance in handling a suspicious death investigation. Also during July 2021, Sgt. Armstrong nominated a citizen for a Certificate of Appreciation for their assistance with a young female found walking along a roadway. This nomination enhanced community involvement and recognition. During this past year, Sgt. Armstrong became an advocate for the skateboarding youth in town and was instrumental in assisting them with their presentation to the board of commissioners, which led to the construction of the Thurmont Skatepark. In October 2021, Sgt. Armstrong worked with the agency’s administrative coordinator to prepare for a significant CJIS Audit. Their combined effort provided the agency with one of the best audit evaluations ever received. Sgt. Armstrong also provides daily supervisory leadership for the officers. His service to the Thurmont Police Department projects a professional image to the community with efficient and quality policy service.
Guardian Hose Company: Niki Eyler introduced Brian Donavon, the representative for the Guardian Hose Company. In the company’s remarks, Chief Charlie Brown and President Wayne Stackhouse stated as follows: “We have decided not to pick only one person from the Guardian Hose Company to be honored, but to honor everyone that is a first responder/member in our organization. It is very hard to pick one person over another when everyone in our organization has an input to our success. There are so many people within our organization that provide a very meaningful part of the day-to-day operations, from administrative duties to responding to emergency calls. Without either one of these individuals, we could not function as a whole and be there when residents of Thurmont need us. We want to thank the Grange for thinking about our family at GHC and our mission to do our best to help the citizens of Thurmont remain safe. We hope that we can continue to assist residences in Thurmont for a long time to come.”
Chief Brown also wished to thank all of the people who came out the last week of June and supported the Guardian Hose Company during the carnival. It was a very successful week with lots of support for the town and the residents. He then went on to say that the “Guardian Hose Company has operational members who run the emergency calls, we have social members and also administrative members, all who play a special role in the organization. This past year and a half, the organization received career staff from the county. We have three people 24 hours a day to get the first piece of apparatus out the door. The career staff and the volunteers work hand-in-hand to respond to emergency calls. With the changing world and everyone’s schedule being more involved with family priorities and work obligations, it’s hard to make sure someone is around to staff the apparatus 24 hours, seven days a week. The operational members responded to over 700 calls last year. This year, I think we are going to top that. Our area is currently in the neighborhood of 47.2 square miles of first-due area. Now, we also respond out past the state lines and county lines. We respond to Pennsylvania. We assist other counties: Franklin County and Adams County, Pennsylvania; Carroll County and Washington County, Maryland, and a few weeks ago, we were specially requested to a commercial building fire in Jefferson County, West Virginia, with our air unit. We have over 50 operational volunteers and are always looking for more to help to fill the openings. The Guardian Hose Company was organized in 1887 and provides fire and rescue services to an approximate 84 square miles, mostly all rural area. In that 84 square miles lies the Catoctin Mountain National Park, the Cunningham Falls State Park, and William Houck Area, within which the company provides service as well.”
Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company: Niki Eyler then introduced honoree for Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, Alan Brauer, Sr. Alan was nominated by Linda Northrup, the Awards Committee chairperson. Alan joined the fire company in July of 1963. He is also a member of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company and the Frederick County Hazardous Incident Response Team. He has been active with the fire service and instrumental in company training since joining. He has also held many offices and served on many committees throughout his 58 years, serving as secretary for 14 years, assistant secretary for 4 years, vice president for 2 years, and captain of the Rocky Ridge Fire Police for 11 years. He has served as captain of the fire prevention committee for 13 years, chairperson of LOSAP for the company for 18 years, and Fund Drive Committee for 7 years. He also served as the meat raffle chairperson in 2018-2019 and the drive-through ham sandwich sales in 2021.
Alan also helps with the fire company’s Santa detail two weeks before Christmas, and he helps to patrol the traffic and keep personnel safe. He provides fire police services for any need in Frederick County, especially in the northern part of the county. He is a member of the Frederick County Fire Police Association, and has served as secretary for the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Association and the Executive Committee, and was chairman of the Frederick County Fire Prevention Committee.
At the annual Rocky Ridge Carnival for the past 47 years, Alan has been in the same stand. It just has had a few name changes over the years, from nickel pitch to glass pitch and now dime pitch. Alan has received many awards, including 1988 Lifetime honor member, and in 2018, the Charles Mumma “Firefighter of the Year Award.” He has also received the Millard “Mick” Mastrino Instructor/Safety Award at the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Association Awards Ceremony in 2005, and in 2007, received the State Instructor of the Year Award. He also has participated in several fun activities with the fire service such as the Hook Up Contest in 1971, chairman of the Halloween party, and has participated in a pie-eating contest at the Summers Farm.
He provides Hazmat Refresher and CPR Refresher courses for the local volunteer fire companies. He also provides safety consulting services. He does CPR, OSHA, MOSHS training and other safety training all over the United States. He has developed and implemented compliance training for the biotech, general, and construction industries across the country. He has extensive knowledge in Federal regulations, including OSHA, DOT, and EPA. He has had many years of experience in the fire service, including specialized knowledge in fire prevention, life safety, and hazardous materials.
Alan is also very involved with agriculture and is an active member of the Farm Bureau and the Grange, where he has held several offices in the local, county, and state.
When Alan spoke at the Rocky Ridge Fire Company banquet in January of 2014, he recapped his 50 years in the fire service. His ending comment was “The concept of fighting a fire has not changed from 50 years ago, we just have bigger and more expensive equipment and a lot more training.”
The members of the Thurmont Grange sincerely congratulate all of the award recipients and thank them for their service to the community and the county.
Pictured from left are Julie Fogle (Graceham VFC #18), Niki Eyler (Thurmont Grange Lecturer), Bethany Wachter (Lewistown VFC), Brian Donovan (Guardian Hose), Alan Brauer, Sr. (Rocky Ridge VFC), and Sgt. Dave Armstrong (Thurmont Police Dept). Not pictured: Jennifer Frushour (Thurmont Ambulance) and Matt Boyd (Vigilant Hose).