12/17/14 993 W, 4 I - + 8 - 11 UPDATE #4: Fort Fisher Fire Departments

December 17, 2014
Research complete. Read about the histories of the fire departments at Fort Fisher Army Air Field, Fort Fisher Air Station, and Fort Fisher Recreation Station.

December 11, 2014
Narrative revised from December 9. Four vintage photos also added. Still collecting more information. From the 701st Radar Squadron (RADS) Facebook group, here are four vintage images from the 1980s. See this photo album for larger versions. Credits unknown. Click to enlarge:

December 9, 2014
The Fort Fisher Air Station Fire Department is being discussed in the Fire Trucks at War Facebook group. Here's a Google Maps view of the old fire station. The structure still stands on Riverfront Drive. Here's my latest, greatest description of the fire department:

Fort Fisher Air Station operated from 1955 until June 30, 1988. It was created as a radar facility, from part of Fort Fisher Army Air Field, which operated from 1940 (?) to 1944. By the early 1980s, the fire station was a two-bay metal building located across from the bowling alley. It housed the fire truck and an ambulance. They operated a Class 530B, which was replaced by a P-8D Ford C-800/Pierce (81L606) loaned from Myrtle Beach AFB. The latter served as late as 1988 and possibly until the time of the base closure.

On July 1, 1988, the air station closed and Fort Fisher Recreation Station opened. The military recreation area was also used by the North Carolina National Guard, which opened a leadership facility on the site. By around May 1991, an NCANG Asst. Fire Chief was assigned to the site to build a fire training facility. That fall, they began conducting USAF fire training classroom classes. About that time, fire department was reactivated after a small dormitory fire, with a Mack CF pumper that had been stored at the station. They also obtained a P-10 Chevy rescue and a P-4 crash truck for training, but which were also used for structural protection.

In early 1993, the fire training program was eliminated at Fort Fisher, and moved to Fayetteville (and later also to Charlotte). No props were constructed at Fort Fisher due to varying reasons. The fire department was also deactivated. Today, the Air Force recreation area is co-located with the Fort Fisher Training Center as operated by the North Carolina National Guard.

As recalled by the base Fire Chief, the fire department in the mid- to late-1980s had a single assigned person by skill code. They managed all aspects of fire protection on the site. The remaining firefighters were volunteers (called augmentees) and numbered around fifteen people. They trained once a month. In the event of a fire, the base siren was sounded, members ran to the fire station, got their gear and responded. The department also had hose cabinets around the base that could be operated with hydrant pressure like an industrial site. In addition to protecting the dozen buildings and 20+ base housings, the FD had an inter-agency agreement to protect 2,000+ acres of pine barrens across the river, that belonged to Sunny Point Marine Ocean Terminal. The FD also responded on mutual aid calls with Kure Beach and Federal Point fire departments. It was closed when the base was deactivated in the late 1980s. Source: Oral histories.

 And here's a Google view of the site today and the former fire station building:

March 26, 2012
Fort Fisher Army Air Station
Let's add a little history about Fort Fisher Air Force Station, also on Kure Beach and that also had a fire department at one time. See comments below for some first-person perspective, found via Google. Same started as Fort Fisher Army Air Field in the early 1940s. It was constructed as a self-sustaining anti-aircraft training facility, attached to nearby Camp Davis. That base was built in December 1940 and closed in 1944. At the time Camp Davis closed, Fort Fisher AAF covered several hundred acres. Among its features was a 2,500-foot unpaved runway. From this Bing Maps aerial, the outline of the runway appears visible in present day. Click to enlarge:

Bing Maps

What sort of fire protection did the airfield have? Probably the standard compliment of military crash trucks. See Fire Trucks at War for some of those historical details. In 1955, part of the base was retained by the Air Force as a radar installation. It operated until 1988, when the site was decommissioned. The FAA continued operating same until what looks like 1995. After its closure, a portion of the base was turned over to the state, which turned much of it into a park and historic site. The Air Force retained the housing complex and it is a recreation area for military personnel. Read more via Wikipedia.

Regarding later fire protection at the base, from reader comments below, looks like they had a fire chief (called a fire protection specialist), a squad of assigned volunteers, at least one engine, and a two-bay fire station. One of the early engines was a Class 530B. It was replaced by a P-8D, which Google says was a Ward LaFrance custom-cab pumper was a Ford C-800/Pierce. A reader also recalls the base having a Mack CF pumper, believed later donated to the now defunct Federal Point FD.

March 25, 2012
Kure Beach Former Firehouse
Found another former firehouse this weekend, this one in Brunswick New Hanover County. The Kure Beach Community Center at 118 N. 3rd Avenue is the former town hall slash fire station. Haven't researched when built, but the fire department was formed in 1947. The current fire station is located behind the current town hall and looks a good 20 years old or older. Beginning presumably in the 1940s, Fort Fisher Army Air Field also had a fire department. It subsequently protected the radar facility later added at that location. The base was closed in 1989. Maybe a wandering Google searcher will find this page and add some more information, either on the fire station or the base fire department.

(Kure Beach is New Hanover County.)
The old Fort Fisher Air Base fire station was two bays if I remember correctly. I was a grommet then. I think it had an old Mack CF Engine which they donated to Federal Point after they closed. I don’t think the building is still there.
Ryan - 03/25/12 - 23:18


When Ft. Fisher was an active operation there was one fire protection specialist (the fire chief) assigned to the station. He/she had about 15 augmentees (polite military term to tell you that you’re a volunteer) assigned to assist during fire operations. We got those people one day a month for training. Other duties for the chief were everything else that dealt with fire protection. I also had the additional duty of site safety officer. We had a 530B pumper (later replaced by a P-8D). If there was a fire they blew the base siren and everyone ran to the fire station and called operations on the phone to see where to go. It was definately an interesting assignment.
Google Find - 03/26/12 - 12:04

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