|Around Pasadena: Longtime firefighter shares passion for profession|
|By Member John Long, Jr.|
|May 29, 2018|
By Atalie Day Brown Contact Reporter
Firefighting is in 84-year-old Russell Schlick’s blood.
Nearly every inch of Schlick's Green Haven home is filled with firefighting iconography: paintings of fire fighting, trophies from fire equipment competitions, awards and official citations awarded during his 70-year fire fighting career, and there's his 12-year-old dog, "Sparky," that is, of course, a Dalmatian.
His passion can be seen by anyone who passes his house; fire equipment is parked in a lot next to two tall garages housing four pieces of equipment. He also has a firefighter statue in his yard.
Until he suffered a hip injury last June, Schlick was the oldest volunteer firefighter in Maryland still riding fire equipment. He remains an active volunteer member at Pasadena's Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company.
For most of his life, Schlick has dedicated himself to saving people's lives and property. His life-long tenure began in 1946 when he became a junior firefighter at Green Haven Volunteer Fire Department at 12-years-old. In 1948, he became a full member.
Schlick has fond memories of his years at Green Haven VFD. He recalled the station had "such a camaraderie" between the firefighters who worked there. Schlick says if the station still existed, he would still be there.
From 1968 until 1990, he was the fire chief at Green Haven VFD. He estimates spending 90 percent of his time at the station, although he also ran a street sweeping company.
While volunteering at Green Haven VFD, Schlick met fellow firefighter Tim Johnson when Johnson joined in 1974. The two became friends, sharing a mutual appreciation for fire fighting and equipment.
In 1990, Green Haven VFD permanently closed, merging with Powhaten Beach Volunteer Fire Company and forming Armiger Volunteer Fire Station, both in Pasadena. The closure of Green Haven was an unsettling time for Schlick and Johnson.
After the merger, Schlick transferred to Armiger VFS. When the station dissolved its corporate charter, members were reassigned to Riviera Beach VFC in 2002.
"This is all I've ever done," he said.
Schlick says he has saved many lives during his decades as a firefighter. Years ago, he helped deliver triplets, several years later, he rescued the same children from a house fire.
He said firefighting isn't for everyone, "you've got to have a heart to do it."
In 1977, Schlick purchased his first firetruck, a retired D.C. Truck 1.
His collection also includes the front of Engine 143, originally owned by Green Haven VFC. Following the closure of the Green Haven station, Engine 143 was sold to a fire company in Canada. Despite several warnings of the truck's speed, fire fighters wrecked it three times before it was totaled.
Schlick drove to Canada to remove the front of the vehicle, taking it home as a token of his days at Green Haven VFC. He had the piece transformed into a bar which sits in his house. He said he recovered the front end because it has "a lot of memories."
Over the years, Schlick's fire equipment collection has continued to evolve. He owns eight retired pieces of fire equipment including Engine 1, a 1954 Seagrave fire engine or pumper, and a 1976 Peter Pirsch Quint.
Quint 1 is capable of four different jobs: fire, rescue, ladder, and pumping water. Schlick is preparing to sell this engine and his 1936 Chevy custom deluxe chief car to make room for a recently purchased 1973 Ford rescue squad.
Schlick also owns Engine 131, a 1956 Maxim which was gifted to him by Riviera Beach VFC about a decade ago with the understanding Schlick would care for it. A sign above one of Schlick's garages reads: "Riviera Beach VFC, Home of Retired Engine 131."
When Johnson suggested to Schlick some of the equipment be painted green and white in honor of the Green Haven VFC, Schlick immediately called a painter. Schlick said his decision to paint the trucks green and white, "keeps Green Haven's name alive."
Six years ago, Schlick and Johnson formed the Green Haven Volunteers. Along with several other part-time members, the duo exhibit Schlick's fire engines in firefighter's funerals, conventions, schools, parades, competitions, events, and Santa runs. Schlick and Johnson never charge money to participate in events.
About 10 years ago, Schlick and Johnson took over Green Haven's traditional Santa run because other fire stations were not covering the neighborhood. On Christmas Eve, they parade fire equipment around the neighborhood, sirens blaring, with Santa Claus in tow.
As families run outside to watch the procession of fire trucks and wave to Santa, it gives Schlick "a good feeling."
"We do (events) because we care about the community," Johnson added.
Schlick asked Johnson to continue Green Haven Volunteers when he dies. Johnson agreed.
Knowing Johnson will be his predecessor makes Schlick "feel great." He says he plans to leave his collection to Johnson because he knows Johnson will follow in his footsteps by continuing the legacy of exhibiting his fire equipment.
Schlick has been inducted into the100 Club of Anne Arundel County, Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association Hall of Fame, and was Anne Arundel County Volunteer of the Year in 1986.
After years of service, Schlick has no plans of slowing down. "I've got my whole heart in the fire service," he said.
For more information about Green Haven Volunteers, call Johnson at 443-677-8477