ELKTON — Without question, Frank W. Muller Jr. desired to be a firefighter when he joined Singerly Volunteer Fire Company (SVFC) in 1971 at age 16.
But Muller, who was an Elkton High School student at the time, cannot deny that he also was motivated by social considerations.
“All of my buddies were joining Singerly Fire Company, so it was kind of like a peer thing. My buddies were joining, so I joined, too,” Muller acknowledged matter-of-factly.
Muller, 66, of Warwick, imparted that background information to the Cecil Whig on Saturday night inside SVFC’s packed banquet hall, moments after he was recognized for his induction into the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Hall of Fame — a distinction that, in his case, was earned with 50 years of tireless, effective and varied emergency service.
He was honored for his Hall-of-Fame induction at the conclusion of SVFC’s 129th annual awards banquet.
Muller received a standing ovation as he walked from his table to the podium, front and center, after his name was announced by the emcee-presenter, Russell J. Strickland, executive director of the State Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown and one of the honoree’s longtime friends.
SVFC President Steven G. Horah, who had made the official Hall-of-Fame nomination several months ago, presented Muller with a framed Maryland State Firemen’s Association Hall of Fame certificate.
Muller then posed for several photos, including ones with his two adult sons; Robert Muller, who serves as SVFC EMS captain and works as program manager for emergency health services at the Community College of Baltimore; and Will Muller, who has worked the past 15 years as Deputy First Class with the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.
Afterward, Muller made his way down a receiving line comprised of Maryland Del. Kevin Hornberger (35A); Hornberger’s wife, County Executive Danielle Hornberger; County Council members Bob Meffley (president), Al Miller and Bill Coutz; and Elkton Police Department Chief Carolyn Rogers.
“This is very humbling,” Muller told the Whig, after returning to his seat.
Although clearly appreciative of the honor, Muller quickly qualified,”I was always surrounded by good, hard-working people, and we just did what we had to do.”
After joining SVFC 50 years ago, Muller gained notice for “thrusting himself into taking as many fire-related courses as possible,” Strickland told the audience, reading aloud from a bio of Muller that was submitted as part of his nomination.
“He then realized that this was the path that he was meant to follow,” Strickland read.
After the ceremony, Muller commented, “I don’t know. I guess it was just in blood.”
Muller then noted that his father was born inside an apartment above Collingdale (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Company’s station house in 1924, before joking that maybe that had something to do with his chosen career path nearly 50 years later.
In March 1973, Muller was recognized as the Fireman of the Year by the Cecil County Fire Chief’s Association, according to his bio.
Successfully completing training that extended his services beyond firefighting, Muller earned his Maryland Emergency Medical Ambulance (EMT-A) certification in May 1973; his certificate of completion from Baltimore City Hospitals for Cardiac Rescue Technician in November 1974; and his certification from the Maryland Board of Medical Examiners in December 1974.
He would go on to earn certification as an Advance Life Support (ALS) provider and then instructor. Muller taught the first class for Cardiac Rescue Technician for Singerly Volunteer Fire Company. (Moreover, he went on to serve as Cecil County’s ALS coordinator from 1986 to 1991.)
Muller was appointed SVFC captain in 1979 and again in 1980, after serving as the Unit Engineer for the Snorkel. Strickland told the audience that Muller’s “extensive leadership skills were recognized” in 1983 when he was named SVFC assistant chief and, one year later, deputy chief.
It is noteworthy that during the early 1980s, Muller joined the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy while continuing to volunteer with the fire company.
“This was during a time when many of the local fire companies became strained due to the influx and volume of EMS calls. Recognizing the extreme need for additional EMS providers, he proposed a new program that would enlist the usage of patrol deputies. Many were trained to the level of CRT, EMT and IV-techs by him and, as a result, they began responding to emergency medical calls while also handling police matters as well,” reads a passage of his bio.
That led to the formation of the Deputy Medic Program in 1983.
Muller would leave the CCSO in 1989, after nine years of serving as patrol deputy, because he was appointed to the position of EMS Coordinator for the county’s EMS program.
While continuing to volunteer in the 1990s, responding to scenes as a Cardiac Rescue Technician, having earned his Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic certification in March 1990, Muller started working at the county’s “fire headquarters” as a fire and ambulance dispatcher and 911 operator.
In 1997, after the retirement of his predecessor, Rosemary Culley, Muller received a gubernatorial appointment to the position of director of Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.
Much more recently, County Executive Danielle Hornberger appointed Muller as a consultant and liaison between the Department of Emergency Services and the volunteer fire companies in Cecil County in December 2020.
During his decades as a volunteer and as a paid emergency services employee, Muller received numerous Governor’s Citations and other major accolades for his dedicated work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing him for his “outstanding dedication and commitment” to the enhancement of emergency medical services in Cecil County and across Maryland.