Six Forks Fire Department (1956-2002)

History


1950-1959

1956, established.

  • Originally named Six Forks Road Volunteer Fire Department, Incorporated.
  • Protects 600 homes in Chestnut Hills, Millbrook, Crestview, Farrior Hills, Northwood, and Belview Terrace, in unincorporated areas along Six Forks Road north of the city limits.
  • Road named after original intersections of Six Forks, Strickland, Baileywick, and Lead Mine roads. Incorporated on June 5, 1956.sos, rt27nov56

1956, first fire truck is 1956 Ford/American pumper with front-mounted Barton pump, 500/500. Cost $7,500. Delivered by September 1956. Later sold to Falls Fire Department.rt27nov56, oh

1956, second fire truck is a military surplus tanker, 1500 gallons, and obtained through the federal government. It was delivered by September 1956.

1956, first fire station is converted barn on south side of Howells Store at 4129 Six Forks Road, which was located just south of the second/southern section of Lassiter's Mille Road and Six Forks Road. Later location of Firestone Tires at North Hills Mall. The barn had room for one fire engine, and a canvas tarp covering the opening. There was a 7.5 HP siren on a pole beside the barn. The barn was being used as a fire station by September 1956.oh

1958, two-way radio installed at fire station. Radio equipment shipped from Motorola Communications & Electronics Inc., as sold to the Wake County Volunteer Fire Association and confirmed in a customer confirmation letter dated January 27, 1958.

  • One CD/L43GGB-2 SP17 station transmitter and receiver, with "S" filter and with quickcall, operating frequency 154.190 - $368.00
  • One instruction book - No cost
  • One P-8629J/G Decoder, Group L-H, DL-HC - $36.00
  • Four P-7810 Vibrasponders, 1-D, 1-L, 1-H, 1-C - $10.00 each
  • One TU-475 handset - $28.50
  • One TU-527 hangup - $15.00
  • One P-8851 antenna, operating frequency 154.190 - $35.00
  • One TK-173 Line Kit 100-feet - $30.90
  • One base station installation - $150.00

Shipped on March 12, 1958.nwfd

1958, home at or near Lassiter's Mill burns. The four-room frame house catches fire about 8:00 a.m. Reported the Raleigh Times on February 12, 1956:

Forest E. Reel, 37, local repairman, his wife Frances and their three sons--Raymond, 9, Morris, 7, and Ellis, 2, sat down to breakfast as usual at about 8 o'clock this morning.

The water pipes were frozen, though, and Reel brought a fire pot to light it from the fire in fireplace, and [to] take it outside to thaw the pipes. As he did so, the pot blew up in his hands.

And almost before he could turn around, the fire had spread completely around the ground at the table, cutting off all possible exits.

There was only one chance for escape, and Reel took it. He herded the family up the stairs to the second floor. There he broke a window, jumped out on the roof, and from there to the ground. He then got a ladder and helped the rest of the family to climb out.

Reel suffered burns around the his ankles, but the rest of the family escaped unhurt. However, they lost everything they had.

The house, built in 1906, was destroyed. It was leased to the Reels by the Lassiter's milling Company. The company had owned it since 1943.

The story included a photograph by Ed Chabot of the Six Forks pumper and firefighters spraying water on the burning home. (February 12, 1956)

1958, the main building at Lassiter's Mill is destroyed by fire.

The early morning fire is discovered about 2 a.m., with flames seen breaking through the roof of the decades-old grist mill. About 25 volunteer firemen from Six Forks and New Hope fire departments respond. The fire is well underway by the time they arrived. The Raleigh Fire Department also responded.

Crews battled the blaze until 7:00 a.m., and prevented the flames from spreading to the nearby lumber mill. The small office and the warehouse of the grain mill were also not damaged, nor was the bridge over the creek.

Two fire engines pumped water from Crabtree Creek, which was the source of the mill's power. As the News & Observer reported, "they sprayed the flaming wood building for three hours." The Raleigh Times added that "flames licked as high as 80 feet, searing the trees which towered above the mill."

Three explosions were also heard, likely the sound of tires exploding. One truck was destroyed, and "five tires on the truck burst in the holocaust," noted the Times.

The damage was estimated at $100,000. Neither the mill, nor the machinery, nor the stock were insured. They typically stored from 1,000 to 2,000 bushels of corn in the building, along with a lot of meal.

The cause was not determined. Some suspected a heating stove, but the mill's owner and operator Miss Mary V. Lassiter said the heater hadn't been used since the last winter.

Production and distribution of corn meal and feed was expected to continue, with Lassiter continuing service to customers through their "miller friends." Most grocery stores in Raleigh were supplied with meal from the mill. She also noted that they planned to rebuild. [The mill was never rebuilt.]

The mill was founded in 1907 by the late Cornelius J. Lassiter, and father of Mary. He operated it until 1945. The road that the mill was on was since named Lassiter's Mill Road. The mill was sold in 1945 to Mary, her brother, and a brother-in-law. In 1948, Mary purchased the entire estate. The newspaper noted that she was the only female grain mill operator in the nation who was a member of the Operations Miller Association. (November 8, 1958) no09nov58, rt09nov58

1958, David H. Pattishall is Fire Chief.

1958-59, duty schedule lists the following members:

  • Squad 1
    •  Paul Long
    • Andrew H. Ward
    • Robert L. Hawkins
    • Charles Peterson
  • Squad 2
    • Allen Thompson
    • H. L. Wicker
    • Harry Goodman
    • Roger Bostic
  • Squad 3
    • J. W. Huff
    • Bob Denton
    • J. B. Upchurch
    • John Brady
    • Joe Eason
    • Jerry Stephens
  • Squad 4
    • Raymond C. Jones
    • Russell Nicholson
    • J. Boyd Smith
    • Daniel B. Dixon
    • Raymond E. Jones
  • D. H. Pattishall
  • W. T. Hall
  • Charles Newton
  • Walter Boothnwfd

1959, May - David Pattishall is Fire Chief.

1959, circa, second fire station is a tin structure with a gravel floor in the 4400 block of Six Forks Road, on the east side of Six Forks, about mid-block. The building had room for two trucks, and a pair of pivoting doors. It was erected by March 1959. The fire department vacated its original location behind Howell's Store.oh

1959, September - Raymond C. Jones is Fire Chief.

1959, September. Fire department signs agreement with Carolina Power & Light Company, for electric power for fire siren, from September 18, 1959, to September 18, 1964, with automatic extension every five years. Did the fire station have electric service prior to this date? To be determined. (September 17, 1959)nwfd

1960-1969

1960, home and former school building at Millbrook burns. The house, valued at $15,000, originally contained two rooms had been recently remodeled with five more added. The fire department poured water on the fire for several hours before bringing it under control, reported the Raleigh Times. Mrs. Charles Billing, a widow, lived alone in the home. Defective wiring in the attic was cited as the probable cause. (May 9, 1960)rt60may10

1961, Norwood Lumber Company at Millbrook burns. The main plain mill and about 8,000 to 10,000 board-feet of lumber id destroyed. The fire starts about 10:00 p.m. Firemen from SFFD, Stony Hill, and New Hope respond. The fire is controlled before midnight. Residents near the mill heard an explosion just before the fire was discovered. It apparently started in a tool said, said the firemen. The firm was one of the oldest lumber companies in this part of the state, noted the News & Observer on March 7, 1961. The planing mill and its machinery were located in a 40 by 80 foot open building. A truck parked next to the building was also burned. The burned lumber was stored in and around the building. Crews noted that the damage would have been greater if there had been any wind on the other largely windless night. The mill is located just east of Old Wake Forest Road. (March 6, 1961)

1961 (?), apparatus delivery: 1961 International pumper. Later donated/sold to North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, and becomes first fire engine at zoo.

1962, third fire station location is 5305 Six Forks Rd. Three-bay building constructed. Present location of EMS station #3. The 7.5 HP siren is moved farther north on Six Forks Road, to a spot near Northclift, near Sandy Forks Road. The alarm on the building itself is a 12-volt, battery-powered vehicle siren. oh, wcrer

1963, city opens Fire Station 9 at 4465 Six Forks Road, across the street and slightly north of the prior Six Forks fire station location.

1964, June. Fire department has the following radio equipment: base station, three mobile units, and seven monitor receivers. Source: Wake County Fire Radio Net Equipment and Contract Maintenance Cost Per Month - June 30, 1964.nwfd

1964-65. Annual county budget appropriation is $1,200. Source: 1964-65 Budget Request Wake County Rural Fire Districts. nwfd

1964-65, members listed in attendance record book, covering July 1964 to September 1965.

  • Averette, Hunter
  • Barham, David
  • Bass, Hugh
  • Bass, William - Crossed out, no attendance
  • Bell, Ward - Crossed out
  • Beal, Billy - Crossed out, no attendance
  • Champion, Norman - Crossed out
  • Daniely, Danny - Crossed out
  • Goodman, Harry - Crossed out
  • Huff, J. W. - Crossed out
  • Kelly, Thomas - Crossed out
  • Jeffreys, Bennett
  • Jones, Raymond
  • Moore, Jack
  • Morgan, Bob
  • Nicholson, Russell
  • Powell, Herman - Crossed out
  • Pritchard, Charlie
  • Richardson, Frank - Crossed out
  • Rogers, J. B.
  • Sanford, Bernard E., Sr.
  • Sanford, Bernard, E. Jr.
  • Terry, Frank
  • Terry, Joe
  • Truelove, Robert - Crossed out, no attendance
  • Ward, Andrew - Crossed out
  • Wilder, David - Crossed out
  • Stoffregen, Billy - Crossed out
  • Custer, Richard, L. P.nwfd

1965 (?), apparatus delivery: 1965 Chevrolet tanker, 1500 gallons. Originally painted yellow.

1970-1979

1971, fire department profiled in the Northside News, a local newspaper. Personnel for July 1971 to 1972:

Officers

Chief - Hunter Averette
Asst. Chief - Dan Danleley
President - Graddy Long
Vice President - Jack Moore
Secretary - Fred Lynn
Treasurer - Russill Nicholson

Roster

Hunter Averette
Dan Danieley
Fred Lynn
Don Adams
Hugh Bass
Fred Stephenson
Larry Ritchie
Bennett Jeffreys
Howard Benton
David Barham
Jack Moore
Donnie Moore
Grady Long
    Cecil Wilkes
Russill Nicholson
Rodney Warner
Judd Ammons
Joe Terry
Joe Lynn
James Kornegay
Dan Taylor
Raymond Jones
Bernie Sanford
Sandy Sanford
Kamel Mansour
 

See bottom of page for full article text. (June 16, 1971)

1972, Norwood Lumber Company at Millbrook burns. The sawmill area is destroyed.

The fire begins shortly before 3:00 a.m. The Bay Leaf Fire Department is dispatched, and they arrive to find the tin-roofed sawmil engulfed in flames. The shed was about 30 by 80 feet in size. "Firemen from the Wake-New Hope and Six Forks departments were also summoned almost immediately" said Bay Leaf Fire Chief George Norwood in the Raleigh Times on March 23, 1972.

The mill was owned by Norwood's brother John H. Norwood and his nephew Jack E. Norwood. "Electric motors, saws and other electric mill equipment" were destroyed. Neither the Bay Leaf nor New Hope fire chief had any idea how the fire started. It was spotted by a woman who lived beside the mill. She notified Jack Norwood, who called BLFD.

The fire was confined to the sawmill area, and no lumber was burned. The nearby lumber was "green", which helped. About 60 firemen answered the call, and remained on scene until 4:40 a.m. The mill was one of the oldest in Wake County. (March 20, 1972)

1974, fourth fire station location is 1431 Lynn Rd. Three-bay building measuring 50 x 50 feet constructed. Or the following years and decades, the building is renovated four or five times, with expansions and addition including added bays on either side of original three, added bays in rear, and demolition of the added rear bays and construction of a two-story rear addition. Siren is also moved from Northclift location to outside station a couple years later, or retired and not moved to the station. [Conflicting accounts.]oh

1976, fire department members form Six Forks Rescue Squad. Only rescue squad in Wake County not affiliated with a municipality. For first ten years of operation, members must be either member or spouse of member of Six Forks Fire Department. See EMS and rescue squad histories. oh

1977, fire engine donated to North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro.

The 1961 International pumper becomes the Zoo's first fire engine. The apparatus is received by December 1977, when a High Point Enterprise story from December 13, 1977, recounts: "Itís big, red and has four wheels and a siren, and itís a Christmas present to the North Carolina State Zoological Park from firemen across the state. Itís a fire truck equipped and refurbished at a cost of $6,000. Zoological Park Director Bill Hoff said that he and park officials were very happy to get the truck as a gift."

The story also notes that the idea to give the truck to the zoo originated in 1973 when the Wake County Firemenís Association set up a zoological committee to raise $30,000 to buy a new fire truck for the zoo. The Wake County firemen got the ball rolling by donating $500 and then asked the other fire districts across the state to contribute.mjl-blog: source

1978, apparatus roster

Year/Make/Model Specs
1971 Ford F-900/American LaFrance pumper 750/500
1977 Dodge Custom 300/American LaFrance mini-pumper 250/250
1965 Chevrolet tanker 0/1500
1970 Chevrolet 90 Series utility van  
13000 KVW generator and complete lighting system  

 

Apparatus deliveries:

  • 1970 Chevrolet 90 Series van, used as utility unit.
  • 1971 Ford F-900 / American LaFrance pumper, 750/500.
  • 1977 Dodge Custom 300 / American LaFrance brush truck, 350/250.
 

1980-1989

Apparatus deliveries:

  • 1980 Ford C-8000/EEI pumper-tanker, 350/1500. Hale pump, ladder track across top. Also used as service truck to transport extension ladders. Wrecked in 1987, with cab, body, and engine replaced and tank reduced to 1000 gallons.fdr
  • 1982 Mack CF/EEI pumper, 1000/500. Waterous pump.
  • 1985 Mack CF/EEI pumper-tanker, 1250/1500. Hale pump.
  • 1986 Mack CF/EEI pumper-tanker, 1250/1500. Hale pump.

Also delivered early in the decade was a Eagle Air/EEI tandem-axle mobile air trailer. It was typically pulled by the brush truck, and responded as requested to Raleigh and other county departments, for mutual aid requests.

1990-2002

1993-94, roster:

  • Fire Chief - 100 - Don Adams
  • Asst. Chief - 101 - Dave Campbell
  • Asst. Chief - 102 - Fred Stephenson - Equipment, maintenance, daytime operation
  • Asst. Chief - 103 - Phil Woodlief - Safety, haz-mat, training
  • Ann Lynn - Support Staff - Education, inspections, PIO, station activites
  • Unit 121
    • Capt. F. Lynn
    • Lt. B. Edmunson
    • E. Moxin
    • G. Bonner
    • T. Warner
    • T. Lesslie
  • Unit 122
    • Capt. B. Stephenson
    • Lt. L. Cockrell
    • J. Vanderbee
    • A. Bass
    • R. Edmundson
    • D. Lynn
  • Unit 125
    • Capt. M. Schell
    • R. Johnson
    • B. Jeffreys
  • Unit 126
    • Capt. R. Warner
    • Lt. M. Howard
    • E. Tate
    • M. Davidson
    • J. Emory
  • Unit 128
    • Capt. R. Chappell
    • Lt. J. Fialka
    • E. Dew
    • T. Damon
  • Unit 129
    • Capt. H. Bass
    • J. Gray
    • W. Wilson
  • Junior Firefighter
    • C. Warner

1994, apparatus roster

Unit Year/Make/Model Specs
121 1986 Mack/EEI pumper/tanker 1250/1500
122 1982 Mack/EEI pumper 1000/500
125 1991 Chevy step van/mobile air unit  
126 1985 Mack/EEI pumper/tanker 1250/1500
128 1980 Ford C-8000/EEI tanker 300/1000
129 1976 Dodge/American LaFrance brush truck 350/350

Apparatus deliveries:

  • 1991 Chevy panel van, with Eagle Air mobile air system transferred from the trailer.
  • 2002 American LaFrance Eagle pumper/tanker, 1250/1750. Delivered August 2002, post-merger.

2002, department merges with Bay Leaf Fire Department.

Due to continued annexations of their district by the city, their territory has been reduced to 3.8 square miles. To ensure their future, they join forces with nearby BLFD. They protect roughly 1,500 households, and in February, letters and ballots are sent to each household. Every adult in the coverage area is eligible to vote. The merger does not affect Six Forks Rescue Squad, which shares quarters with the fire department.

The Board of Directors President is Patrick S. O'Boyle. He worries about bad publicity from a recent public audit that revealed mismanaged funds at the Knightdale Volunteer Fire Department. He tells the News & Observer in a February 1, 2002, story, that without the merger, the department's funding will shrink until it cannot operate. Already each year, he notes, the department dips into its reserve funds.

SFFD operates on $225,000 per year, and hasn't purchased new equipment since 1984. Notes O'Boyle, "3.8 [square] miles doesn't generate a lot of revenue." BLFD, meanwhile, has two stations and adds taxpayers to its coverage area almost daily. They're also busier than SFFD, which averages less than one call per day. BLFD responded to 660 calls last year.

The Six Forks district includes several neighborhoods surrounded by city land. Because they don't pay taxes, the city doesn't want to become their fire service provider. Plus, notes O'Boyle, the fire hydrants in those neighborhoods don't match city specifications. Thus fire trucks with more water than the city typically carries must be used.

Thus their fire station is still needed, notes Raleigh Fire Chief Earl Fowler. "It's not outdated and they're not going anywhere," he tells the paper, "It's just that their response area has become so small."

Approval of the merger by the households in the district is expected. The county is also planning to prepare next year's budget with the combined departments.

Upon the merger, Bay Leaf will receive all Six Forks assets, including the mortgage-free fire station on Lead Mine Road, five fire trucks, an air support unit, and thirty firefighters, eight of whom are paid. They also receive rent from the facility, paid by the tenant (Six Forks Rescue Squad?).

By the February 7 deadline, reports the News & Observer on February 15, 2002, voters overwhelming support the merger. Of the roughly 1,500 ballots mailed in late January, twenty percent are returned. Only four of those are against the plan. The merger will be executed on July 1. The fire station will phase in the Bay Leaf name.

Before merger, Six Forks Fire Department is oldest fire department in Wake County not affiliated with a municipality. (July 1, 2002)no01feb02, no15feb02

More History

Northside News - June 16, 1971

Volunteer Fire Department Renders Great Service

It all began for the Six Forks Fire Department back in 1956. The first fire station was located where the present Wachovia Bank sits in North Hills. The single fire truck was kept in an addition to Bill Howell's store.

Next, the station moved across Six Forks Road to the area where the NCNB North Hills Branch stands. And in 1962, the station found its present location.

Now, the Six Forks Fire Station is sentinel for over $14,000,000 in personal property. The 26 men of the fire department and their three trucks have an awesome responsibility. The area covered by the department runs from the west of N.C. number 50 all the way to the Old Wake Forest Road. They serve as far north as the Six Forks community.

Although the Six Forks Fire Department is an all-volunteer group, it is extremely professional. The firemen are dedicated men who know their business. Their equipment is also of high quality. The most recent acquisition, a 1970 American LaFrance pumper with a 500-gallon capacity. It is, appropriately enough, Engine number 1. Engine number 2 is a 1961 International pumper and number 3 is a 1500-gallon 1965 Chevrolet tanker.

The department has fought its share of the big fires. They were called to aid in the battles against blazes at the Angus Barn, the Raleigh Stockyards, the Six Forks Community Grocery, the Millbrook High School Field House, and the Capital City Auction Building. The men of the department have also seen their share of tragedy. They answered the call to a home in the Bayleaf Community where three people died in a blaze.

The bizarre has teased the firemen on several occasions. They vividly remember the night when an all-day rain had turned into snow and sleet. It was the kind of weather that made any kind of fire seem to be an insult to nature's efforts to wet the world. But it happened. At 3:00 a.m., the call came in. The dispatcher said that there was a tree fire, and the firemen at first couldn't believe it. Had ice and snow started burning? Hurrying to the scene, the men found a mammoth oak tree at least four feet in diameter, burning away in the snow and sleet. They proceeded to douse the flames, but that fire has entered the annals of the department.

Distance means nothing to the Six Forks volunteers. They have rushed to the scene as far away as Franklinton and Henderson. The volunteer departments in the north Wake County area have an agreement whereby each will help the other. The other departments in the understanding for mutual help are the Durham Highway department, Bayleaf, Wake New Hope, Falls of Neuse, and the Fairgrounds.

The above departments are all volunteer, and their support is the best buy around for the property owners in the districts served by the departments. The property taxes of the district pay the way for maintenance and equipment acquisition. Ten cents of each property tax dollar goes to the local fire department, and although the county offers adequate support for the fire department, buying a new pumper can be a task of major proportions. At Six Forks, the new American LaFrance pumper cost about $24,000.

Costs for the citizen and the county are minimal when placed beside those of the individual fireman. The fireman receives no compensation. He is on call any time, day or night. He carries a portable monitor with him in his car and to his home. His wife may be assigned a base station monitor for the week. If an alarm sounds, she must call all of the firemen on her list whether they be at home or at work. She then calls other base monitors to make certain that the other women have alerted the firemen on their lists.

The alarm system is quite intricate. No call actually goes to the Six Forks Station. Instead, all calls go directly to the central dispatcher at Fire Station Number One downtown. As the call is taken, the dispatcher presses a button which sets off the alarm on Six Forks Road, and at the same time, the portable monitors and the base monitors manned at the firemen's homes.

Chief Hunter Averette stressed the point that it is best if the person calling in a fire will take his time and give complete information. The alarm is set off once the dispatcher knows the area of the fire. Additional details will in no way slow down the firemen's getting to the scene. They will receive the additional facts about the fire while on their way to the station or to the actual scene. Chief Averette says that talking a little more will get the firemen there all the quicker.

The firemen realize that the siren near Northclift is quite loud, but they said that whenever it pierced the air, someone is in serious trouble and needs help.

The siren goes off for one short blast every Tuesday night for an equipment test. And if you hear if at 7:00 p.m. the first Monday night of each month, it is a Civil Defense test. If you find the noise irritating, just let it pass, for the sound of security should outweigh any momentary discomfort.

Chief Averette said that any call is as important as another, and that the department didn't know a rich man from a poor man when it comes to fighting a fire. He also said that people should not be embarrassed to report a fire, whether actual or suspected. He said that one should not feel that his problem is not important enough to call the fire department. If you even think you might have a bad situation, the chief says that you should call in.

The thoughts of Chief Averette reflect the philosophy of the volunteer firefighters of the Six Forks Volunteer Fire Department. They are men dedicated to service. Their reward is the knowledge that they can help their fellow citizens in times of trouble. They face dangers on every call, yet they know more of life at its crisis moments. The spirit of fellowship and companionship among the firemen themselves is another rarity in the life of a growing metropolitan area.

Working as a team for the betterment of their community, the men of the Six Forks Volunteer Fire Department reflect the true spirit of American democracy.

This transcript originally appeared as a Legeros Fire Blog posting on August 27, 2010.

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).

Vehicles

See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).

Photos

Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.

Sources

  • cfd Cary Fire Department records
  • dah NC Department of Archives and History
  • fdr Fire department records
  • oh Oral history
  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State
  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association records
  • wcrer Wake County Real Estate Records

Last updated: July 24, 2007


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