History of the CBVFD
The Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department got its start in March 1894, with a resolution passed at the 35th meeting of the town council, promising cooperation with the property owners in raising funds to purchase a fire extinguishing apparatus to be operated by a volunteer fire company. A committee was appointed in October 1895, to ascertain the cost and determine how much money interested citizens would contribute towards its purchase.
A request was received in July 1896, from the Howe Pump and Engine Company of Indianapolis, in to demonstrate a piece of fire apparatus in Colonial Beach, VA. The apparatus was to be drawn by a team of two horses, and would be operated by eight men four on each side of the pump by cantilever action. It would be capable of dispensing 60 gallons of water per minute and was equipped with 500 feet of 2 ¼ inch hose. One of the rear wheels had a striker, which hit a gong with each revolution of the wheel. The apparatus was purchased in August 1896, for $875, a far cry from the $250,000 to $800,000 required to purchase one today. Since the fire department did not own any horses, it was agreed to purchase a set of double harnesses and that a premium of $2 be given to the first person to reach the fire house with two good fast horses and hookup to the apparatus.
Today’s fire sirens, beepers, and radios are a far cry from the way fire alarms used to be sounded. The first alarm used in colonial Beach, was by striking a metal triangle with a hammer and later on a large ring was struck with a sledge hammer. Both the triangle and the ring are displayed at the fire station on Colonial Avenue.
In August 1896, a bid was submitted by Charles Pfeil to build the first fire house for a sum of $24. A year later, Pfeil was appointed fire chief at a salary of $3 per month. His duties were to keep the apparatus, fire house, and fixtures clean and in ready condition. The fire house was moved to the old town hall in March 1907 and did not move again until another fire house was built in 1940. In 1952, a second story was added with the help of the Ladies Auxiliary. A brand new building was built in 1961 on Colonial Ave and is the current firehouse, which has had numerous renovations including a new bay floor in 1999.
During early 1993 discussions had begun among the members of the department about the lack of qualified apparatus driver/operators available during the day to respond to calls. It was decided it was in the best interest of public safety to explore hiring a full time driver/operator to work weekdays 7am to 3pm. February 1993, Teddy Trowbridge was hired as the department’s first full time firefighter. In 1995, the department received its basic life support non transport EMS license from the state, which enabled the department the chance to assist the rescue squad on all life threatening trauma or illness calls. In April 1996, the Colonial Beach Vol. Fire Department suffered a great loss with the sudden death of their fire chief, Charles Catlett Jr. Charles had been a member for over 16 years and fire chief for 7 years. Charles played a huge role in the growth and development of the department in the early 90’s. He will always be missed and never forgotten.
In April of 2001 Engine Co. 1 was dispatched to a working fire at the Colonial Beach Yacht Center. Thus the hard work from the department and surrounding departments this would come to be the largest dollar amount fire losses in CBVFD history. The Marina was written off as a total loss and many boats were destroyed. Several years later, in 2004 the department decided to buy its first fire boat, a 24 foot Monarch, aluminum hull. The department also purchased its first tanker in 2005, which replaced engine 11.
The first 113 years of the Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department have been an exciting time of service and growth. The department has always stayed one step ahead of its peers with new, innovative thinking and proactive programs. Their members have committed themselves for over 100 years now with a sense of pride, tradition and service to all those in their community. The Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department vows to continue to carry the high level of professional service that has become their hallmark into the next century, protecting the citizens of the community through the next 100 years.