July 21, 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the only line of duty death in RVFD history. RVFD members pause today to remember Private Elwood H. Smith who gave his life in during an attempted rescue of trapped flood victims.
On July 21, 1956, the Washington area was hit with heavy rainfall, causing flash flood conditions. RVFD was kept very busy answering calls for assistance throughout the Rockville area. At approximately 3:30am, Rescue Squad 3 and Boat 3 were dispatched for a report of multiple people trapped in vehicles in high water near the Veirs Mill Rd. bridge over Rock Creek, near the entrance to Parklawn cemetery. RVFD personnel rescued two occupants from one vehicle. While attempting to reach the second vehicle, Pvt. Smith, along with two other volunteer firefighters, were swept away by the rushing current. Two firefighters were able to be grabbed but Pvt. Smith could not be. Overcome by the rushing waters Fireman Elwood H. Smith payed the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to rescue citizens. It was later found that the occupants of the second vehicle had escaped by themselves prior to the arrival of the fire department.