The completion of the railroad in the 1870's brought increasing prosperity to Gaithersburg. As the town grew so did the need for protection from the ever present dangers of fire. In September of 1892, a committee of volunteers formed the Gaithersburg Rescue Fire Company. Often with only bucket brigades to extinguish the flames, these early volunteers valiantly fought the city's fires. Two of the most significant turn-of-the-century fires were the Summit Hotel fire in 1895 and the original Belt Building fire shortly thereafter. By 1895, the fire department had purchased a new engine and constructed the first fire station on Diamond Avenue.
These and other advances assisted these brave volunteers as they continued their heroic fire fighting battles. In 1914 a fire destroyed two private homes: ten years later a fire consumed the Thomas Feed and Fertilizer store; and in 1926 a fire destroyed Etchison's Store, the Post Office, and Brewers Real Estate offices. After Gaithersburg and nearby Washington Grove had suffered terrible losses from fires, they joined forces and in 1928 chartered the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department. Fully manned by volunteers, early operations of the department were funded with contributions from its volunteers as well as community fund raising events, such as the Labor Day Parade. In 1967, the first career fire fighters joined the department. Today, the brave volunteers, career fire fighters and emergency medical personnel of the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Fire Department continue in the courageous footsteps of their noble predecessors as they heroically serve our community. To learn more about the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Fire Department, visit the Fire Museum in Olde Towne Gaithersburg.
(Photo caption): The Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department, circa 1930
(Dedication in the lower left-hand corner of marker): This plaque is offered in grateful tribute to the brave men and women who serve in the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department and in memory of Captain Wesley Briggs who lost his life in the line of duty in 1952