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You can’t buy happiness but you can buy books and that’s kind of the same thing face mask
At 91 years old, Jack Fleischman’s day usually starts with a cup of coffee at the oldest volunteer fire company in continuous operation in the state.
Members of Independent Hose Company in Frederick say you could set a watch to his routine. They tell the rookies to make sure the pot is on before 6:30 a.M. When Jack walks into the room, someone offers him a place to sit. If they don’t hear from him, a member will drop by his house. He means that much to them.
Fleischman doesn’t ask for special treatment, but it’s something his fellow firefighters believe he’s earned.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Fleischman can’t socialize at the station like he used to, but his friendships remain strong.
Fleischman joined the department at 16 years old in 1945. Before the World War II draft took most of the men, you had to be at least 18 to join.
He’d been around the station from a young age. His father Earl was a member and his mother Ella was part of the auxiliary.
“It takes a lot of time and you’ve got to be dedicated,” Fleischman said.
As a young man, he had plenty of examples of dedication to look to. There’s been a Fleischman from his family at Independent Hose since it formed in 1818.
The equipment Fleischman used as a young firefighter was quite different from today. They didn’t have state-of-the-art breathing apparatus, they had canister air masks. And if you did any real work while wearing one, he said, you couldn’t breathe well. The turnout gear was stiff and heavy, made from cotton duck fabric and canvas.
When Fleischman joined, they had two engines. Now, Independent Hose has that, plus six more apparatus.