On the 19th day of March, 1930, the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated to “control, prevent, limit and combat damage by fire…” Since 1930 we have grown into a large, professional volunteer department that takes pride in serving our community. The Bethesda, Potomac, and Cabin John areas have rapidly grown, and we have responded to our area’s needs by improving and expanding our emergency service.
The Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1930 by Mr. Charles E. Benson and ten other founding members. The group’s first meetings were held in a room over Mr. Benson’s store. Later, as the department grew, meetings were moved to the auditorium of the Clara Barton school.
The first fire apparatus purchased by the department was a Ford Model T pickup truck equipped with a 100 gallon portable pump. This vehicle was stored in a shed owned by Mr. Carper at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and 77th Street. In 1930, construction began on the original fire house. The structure was built on property donated to the department by the Touhey family of Cabin John at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Seven Locks Road. The first meeting was held at the new station in 1932, and this station was occupied until our present quarters on River Road was opened in 1984.
The growth and development of the Potomac area which was experienced during the 1960’s made it apparent that further fire protection services were needed. In 1967, the department placed an engine in service in a garage on the site of the present Potomac Veterinarian Hospital in Potomac Village. Volunteers bunked in an adjoining house donated by members of the community. In 1970, Station 30 was opened at its present site at 9404 Falls Road.
Our service has changed greatly since 1930. Today, in addition to fire prevention, education, and suppression activities, we also are the primary care providers of emergency medical services, river rescue services, and heavy rescue. The unique nature of our areas gives us many diverse operations, ranging from rescues along the Potomac River and C&O Canal to high rise fire protection in downtown Bethesda. Interstate 495 and the Clara Barton Parkway provide accidents that may range from routine fender benders to large hazardous materials incidents such as the Interstate 270 Tanker Fire in the fall of 1992. Despite all of these changes, one thing has remained constant; the proud service of the members of our department to our community. That single fact binds our members today to the founders of our department in 1930.