Many residents in the Villages and Highlands probably don’t know from where emergency vehicles originate that respond to local calls for service. Most often, they come from the Urbana Fire and Rescue Department. The Department has been serving the Urbana area since the 1970s. Possibly the lack of familiarity contributes to the lack of greater involvement in and support for Department activities.
Frederick County depends upon 26 volunteer departments (also called companies) to provide fire and rescue services. Each is a private corporation that owns its facilities, buys most of its vehicles and equipment, recruits volunteer staff and manages its affairs. The Urbana company has been assisted by a dedicated ladies auxiliary.
The Urbana company began as a fully volunteer activity, primarily recruiting members who lived and worked within a few minutes of the station. Until the early 2000s, Urbana was substantially country-rural, and families showed strong loyalty to community activities. Country dinners, bingos, raffles and summer carnivals were staples of fire-rescue company fundraising.
The coming of the large new housing developments, combined with changes in the greater American society, produced a dramatic impact on the company. Volunteers now typically work out of the area, and to assure adequate daytime staffing, full-time county staff is assigned to Urbana.
Small numbers of new Urbana residents have been attracted to volunteering or helping at company fund raising activities. The big question exists, what might be done to increase their involvement? If you’d like to learn more about becoming involved, call 301.606.3008 or go to www.urbanavfd.org and leave a message.
An opportunity to support the company includes a large prize money bingo event held at the Department social hall on Friday evening, April 20. The event is organized by the ladies auxiliary. A hot buffet is included. For reservations, call 301.695.8571 or 301.831.8250.
Another local volunteer group in need of help is the Friends of the Urbana Regional Library (FURL). The library is dealing with budget cuts and depends for help from the FURL fund raising. FURL’s primary source of income is semiannual book sales held on the lower level of the library.
Losses from among the founding FURL member group has created the need for an infusion of new volunteers. If you are interested, contact the library at 301.600.7000 and indicate your interest in assisting FURL.
The final topic doesn’t involve volunteerism but was suggested by one of my fire-rescue department colleagues. The topic is the negative impact of rising gasoline prices on Urbana residents. Many, possibly the majority, commute long distances to jobs. Added dollars flowing into gas tanks will leave less in family budgets for paying mortgages and for other living expenses. While drivers can’t do much immediately to influence the situation, they have good reason to keep the current national administration’s anti-domestic oil production and anti-new refining facility construction policies in mind when they go to the polls for the April and November 2012 elections.
Editor’s Note: Rich Terselic is a member of the board of directors of the Villages of Urbana Homeowners’ Association.