Our first responders work tirelessly to save lives in the Potomac community. Many of them are volunteers, and we want to thank them wholeheartedly for their service. We remember them during the holiday season as they work oftentimes on holidays away from their families. Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department Station 10 serves Potomac and the surrounding communities. Station 10 consists of fire rescue volunteers, EMTs/paramedics and swift water rescue on the Potomac River. Both stations 10 and 30 responded to 3,834 calls in 2017 involving fire, emergency medical services, rescues and service requests.

Chief Corinne Piccardi is the only female chief of a volunteer firehouse in Montgomery County. She is also a career paramedic in Carroll County, Maryland. Corrine took over as Cabin John Park’s Chief in January 2018 following the retirement for health reasons of Chief James Seavey, who died Sept. 4.

James served as chief of Cabin John Park for 26 years and established a regional, national and international reputation. He held several positions, serving on the board of directors of the National Volunteer Fire Council, National Fire Rescue Group Purchasing Order, International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer and Combination Officers Section and the International Rescue Symposium. He also served as chairman of the executive committee of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association and president of the Eastern Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. 

James also worked to further the U.S. fire service on an international level, fostering a foundation for international fire service cooperation and understanding. He created an opportunity for cultural, technological and educational exchange between the U.S. and German fire services, and in recognition of these efforts, the German Fire Service awarded him with the bronze, silver and gold medals as well as the German Silver Cross. He also was instrumental in working with the Embassy of Chile and the Chilean Navy on the acquisition, transfer and hands-on training on a retired fire engine from Cabin John Park VFD.

In 2009, James was nationally recognized by Fire Chief Magazine as Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year. He also received the Leslie B. Thompson Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, the group’s highest honor, and was recognized locally by the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association as Firefighter of the Year for life-saving efforts. 

Cabin John has 75 operational volunteers who ride the fire apparatus and ambulance. They may well live next door to you. They range from high school students to those of, well, mature age. There are also administrative and auxiliary volunteers. One such volunteer is Mary Morgal, a resident of Cabin John and president of the Auxiliary, which provides financial and other support to the department. She has been in the position going on 58 years. 

Cabin John Park runs community programs like the new Stop the Bleed initiative, which teaches any member of the public how to save a life by shutting down blood loss from a severe wound. Birthday parties at the station are a favorite local tradition. One of their members, who is also a Montgomery County police officer, had his birthday at the station as a child.When he was old enough, he joined up and already has qualified to be a Life Member by serving at least 15 years.

The River Rats, as the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Swift Water Rescue Team is known locally, deploy from the two Cabin John Park stations to the Potomac. Members are both career and volunteer. The team responds not only to water rescues but also for injured hikers, bikers and climbers on the C&O Canal and in particular the Billy Goat Trail. In the first eight months of 2018, the swift water team has responded to 61 water rescues, ice rescues, stranded hikers and cars in the water. Because of its unique expertise, the team was deployed earlier this year to help deal with the Ellicott City flood. Corrine was part of the team that was sent to Baltimore in 2003 to help deal with flooding from Hurricane Isabel.

As this article went to print, Greg Bastien, Cabin John Park’s training officer, was named Leslie B. Thompson Firefighter of the Year by the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association. Many thanks to Greg and his colleagues, whether they volunteer as fire rescue, provide paramedic service or proudly call themselves river rats; we thank you all for your contributions to the community. Happy Thanksgiving to Cabin John Park Station 10! We cannot thank you enough.