During the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s membership grew partly as a result of the University of Maryland students that joined the Department. This was due to the students’ interest to experience the busy atmosphere of the Department, gain knowledge of Truck and Squad operations, and live in the fire station free of charge while attending college. It was during this period that the Department gained a peculiar popularity and notoriety among out-of-state volunteers who wanted to become a part of Berwyn Heights and the Prince George’s County Fire Service.
In 1982, the Department organized a Hazardous Materials Response Team and “HazMat 14” was placed in service to serve the needs of the ever changing community and environment in which we live. The County Fire Department also recognized the need for such a service and implemented similar programs throughout the county. During the next several years “HazMat 14” was the busiest response team in the county. However, due to extenuating circumstances, the unit was placed out of service in 1990 and responsibilities were shifted to the College Park Fire Department.
In 1988 tragedy struck the Department for the fourth time in its history. On January 29, Deputy Chief Jim Yvorra was investigating an automobile accident on the Capital Beltway near the Baltimore-Washington Parkway when he was struck by a passing motorist. His injuries required that he be flown by helicopter to Baltimore for medical treatment by a specially trained trauma team. But his injuries proved too severe and he was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the hospital.