Firefighters respond to dozens of emergencies every day in Cecil County, rushing into burning buildings, extracting people trapped in automobiles, and providing pre-hospital medical care. Mostly these calls are routine for the emergency responders. But on what seems to be the most ordinary of runs these dedicated men and women face great danger while ensuring the safety of the community and sometimes these public servants give everything, falling in the line of duty. The Service was reminded of this last Saturday as Captain David R. Barr was laid to rest.
Three fire department members have fallen in the line of duty here and it is important we make sure their ultimate sacrifice is never forgotten. Perhaps someday there can be a Cecil County memorial, a place to carve their names in granite as a permanent memorial to honor the memory of these heroes who gave everything protecting the community.
- Captain David R. Barr, Jr., 64, a veteran Cecil County Firefighter, lost his life in the line of duty while on a call with the Community Fire Company of Perryville. The Captain was on-the-job at an accident on Route 40 in Perryville on October 25, 2013, when he was struck by an automobile. He succumbed to his injuries on November 7, 2013. The career firefighter devoted his life to the fire service and to serving the citizens of Cecil County. Whenever there was an emergency or something needed to be done in the firehouse, he was one of the first to volunteer and was often tapped to lead important functions. He joined the Water Witch Fire Company of Port Deposit when he was 16 years old in 1966. Professionally he worked as a federal fire fighter, serving 34 years at the Perry Point Veterans Hospital, retiring from government service with the rank of Lieutenant. In 2000 he joined the Community Fire Company of Perryville and was serving there as a Captain when he answered the final call.
Steward W. Godwin, 56 — On December 8, 1963, as lightning periodically illuminated the cold rainy night, five airliners flew in a holding pattern above Cecil County, awaiting clearance to land in Philadelphia. Just before 9 p.m. Pam American Airways Flight 214, carrying 81 passengers and crew was struck by lightning and exploded. A general alarm was sounded for all available ambulances.From the North East Fire Company, a unit rushed toward the cornfield just east of Elkton. On that dark stormy Sunday night, as fire company search lights illuminated the field, emergency responders searched the scene, looking for survivors. About 1:30 a.m. Steward W. Godwin, 56, of North East suddenly collapsed into the arms of Andrew Scarborough, another North East member, the News Journal reported. He passed away at Union Hospital, the death being attributed to a heart attack. He had been a member of the fire company for 18 months, according to the newspaper.
- Richard L. Loller, 37 – On May 18, 1956, the Chesapeake City Fire Company responded to an urgent call to assist Galena with a fire at the Kent Oil Company. While battling the dangerous blaze, several explosions rocked the tank farm, the final one coming about 8:30 that Friday morning. That last death-dealing explosion of a 6,000 gallon tank filled with gasoline sent part of the huge vessel soaring through the air. Flying debris killed two firefighters and the extreme heat from the flash burned a dozen or more people close to the scene. Richard L. Loller, 37, of Chesapeake City and Robert Harry Brice, 24, of Betterton were killed after being hit by limbs falling from a tree.