The Chillum Adelphi Volunteer Fire Department was established in March 1951 and chartered under Maryland corporate laws on June 8th. The CAVFD was established in order to provide fire and ambulance service to the unincorporated areas of the 17th Election District of Prince George’s County, the areas generally known as Chillum and Adelphi.
The department’s first fire station, located at 7901 Riggs Road in Adelphi, was built between November and March 1953. The station was almost entirely built by the membership of the department. The CAVFD’s first apparatus, a 1937 Seagrave pumper and a1937 Cadillac Ambulance, ran from this station. On April 9th, 1951 the station, numbered 34 by the County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, began answering calls for assistance.
During the years following the establishment of the Chillum Adelphi VFD the department underwent rapid growth and change. In 1955 the CAVFD fought for the passing of a tax bill in the Maryland House of Delegates. This bill established a fire tax for the area and allowed Co. 34 to receive tax money raised from its first due area. This tax money helped pay for three full time firefighters hired in 1955.
By 1962 the CAVFD was the second busiest volunteer fire department in the State of Maryland. The rapid expansion of the metropolitan Washington DC area had a great effect on Co. 34′s first due area. Many apartment complexes, residential neighborhoods, and shopping centers were constructed. In response to this rapid growth and response activity the Chillum Adelphi VFD began work on a sub station in 1962. On November 16th, 1963 the sub station, listed as Co. 44, was dedicated at 6330 Riggs Rd. Also on this date the original station was rededicated after a massive reconstruction, including the addition of a second floor and the addition of three new apparatus bays. By this time the CAVFD was responding to over 3000 calls with 4 engines, a 85 ft quint, 2 ambulances, and several support vehicles.
In 1966 a 100 tillered aerial ladder truck was placed in service at Co. 44 and in 1968 a tillered aerial ladder truck replaced the quint at Co. 34. As call volume continued to increase throughout the 1960′s career personnel employed by the CAVFD were placed at Co. 44 and additional men placed at Co. 34. The CAVFD also began to house student live ins at both fire stations. These members, who were attending classes at the University of Maryland, provided much needed staffing in return for free lodging at the fire stations.
The CAVFD was met with disaster on August 10th, 1969 when it lost two members in the line of duty. Privates Robert Harmon and Robert Hobstetter lost their lives while attempting a swift water rescue near the bridge over Sligo Creek on New Hampshire Ave. On August 6th, 1972 Charles Richard Hoffman, a member of the Tuxedo Cheverly VFD, was killed by a burning tree that fell on him while operating with Co.34 in the 1400 block of University Blvd.
The 1970′s, 80′s, and 90′s saw the CAVFD responding to ever increasing numbers of calls. The department consistently saw increases of 10% over each previous year’s responses. The student live in’s at Co. 34 and Co. 44 continued to provide the bulk of the regular staffing for the department. In 1971 the signing of the Prince George’s County Charter saw the formation of the Prince George’s County Fire Department. This event placed all the volunteer fire companies in the County under a single County Fire Chief and made all of the CAVFD’s career firefighters County employees.
In 1992 the CAVFD formally sold its substation to Prince George’s County. The rising call volume and reduced membership in the department forced the department to make the tough decision to cede Co. 44 to the Prince George’s County Fire Department. Today, Co. 44 is staffed with an officer, a technician, and two firefighters, staffing a paramedic engine and an ALS unit.
The changing demographics of the Adelphi – Langley Park area have forced the CAVFD to look outside the region for new membership. As the new century arrived Co. 34 embarked on a new recruitment effort to attract student live in’s. The CAVFD continues to break response records nearly each month. The station is consistently one of the ten busiest in the County. In 2011 Co. 34′s two engines, ladder truck, and ambulance responded to over 7100 incidents.