Zebulon Fire Department(s)


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1919, mass meeting held in Town Hall to discuss installation of water system. (February 2, 1919)th

1919, contract awarded for construction of water system. (June 5, 1919) tm

1919, constructed started on water system.  Addition made to "power plant building" to house "water plant." (August, 1919)th

1919, purchase authorized for 1500 feet of fire hose from Euraka [sic] Fire Hose Co. at $1.10 [per foot?]. (November 3, 1919) tm


1920, purchase authorized for fire hose from US Rubber Co. (July 6, 1920) tm

1920, Baptist Church on Sycamore street burns during summer thunderstorm. Work is not complete on the water system, but water is flowed in hopes of saving the church.  Both water and firefighting equipment are inadequate and the structure burns to the ground. (summer 1920)th

1921, tax discount approved for all members of the fire department, for amounts of "$7.50 on 1920 taxes and $15.00 on 1921 taxes." (January 3, 1921) tm

1921, purchase approved for $160.00 of "firefighting goods" for fire department. (January 12, 1921) tm

1921, purchase approved for "a suitable whistle to be used for fire alarm." (February 7, 1921) tm

1921, penalty approved of $5.00 for "anyone using fire hose and reels for purposes other than firefighting or practice." (March 7, 1921) tm

1923, fire department consists of one company of 15 volunteers and three stations.  No motorized apparatus.  Alarm is sounded via whistle at Town power plant on E. Vance Street, present Parks and Recreation warehouse.sm2

1923, fire department has three stations and the following apparatus and equipment: sm2, oh

Station Location Apparatus Equipment
#1 Church Street
[ beside present location of Eva Liles residence ]
hose reel 500 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)
#2 E. Horton St.
[ at present location of Town Council chambers ]
hose reel 500 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)
hand-drawn hook and ladder two 2 1/2 gallon approved chemical extinguishers
#3 W. Vance Street
[ at present location of Whitley Galleries showroom nearest Church St. ]
hose reel 450 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)

Water supply includes four miles of 6" and 8" water mains and 42 double hydrants.sm2

1924, contract approved for concrete floor for firehouse. Cost $244.50. (February 4, 1924) tm

1924, penalty approved of $10 for anyone entering firehouse unless a firefighter or Town officer. (May 12, 1924) tm

1924, installation of electric line from power house to fire alarm on [water?] tank approved. at cost not to exceed $250.00. (December 15, 1924) tm

1926, charter and ordinances of Town amended to include "The Fire Committee shall have supervision of all buildings to be erected in the fire district of the Town of Zebulon, and shall make such rules and regulations which they may deem wise for the prevention of fire within the corporate limits of said town." (June 1, 1926) tm

1927 (?), charter and ordinances of Town modified to include following sections for "Prevention of Fires:"

  • Section 1. No chimney shall be erected in town limits of any other material than brick or stone.  Any person offending against this section shall pay a penalty of five dollars, and each day shall be a distinct and separate offense.

  • Section 2. No person shall deposit wood shavings or straw in any public place out of doors within thirty feet of any building under a penalty of $5.00 for each offense.

  • Section 3. No person shall erect any building or make any additions, alterations or repairs to any building within the fire district as herinafter designated without first obtaining the written permission of the Board of Alderman.  The fire district shall be bounded by Sycamore Street on the north and Barbee Avenue on the south and extended 400 feet from Arendell Avenue in either direction.

  • Section 4. It shall be unlawful for any person to store any gasoline or kerosene within the fire district, or any where within the town limits within less than one hundred feet to any building, provided, this restriction shall not apply to standard underground gasoline tanks with the approved safety appliances.  Any person violating this ordinance shall pay a penalty of $10.00 and each day's violation shall constitute a separate offense.

  • Section 5. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to install any new electrical apparatus or wiring, or to add to or repair any electrical apparatus or wiring already installed without first obtaining a written permit from the Light Superintendent.  Any person, firm or corporate failing to comply with this ordinance shall pay a fine of not more than $5.00.

  • Section 6. No person, firm or corporate shall perform any electrical work of any sort in the Town of Zebulon without first obtaining from the Electrical Inspector of said Town a permit to perform such work.

  • Section 7. Any person, firm or corporate before erected in the Town of Zebulon any building, shall first obtaining from the Building Committee of said town a permit, for which a fee of $1.00 shall be charged.

  • Section 8. That no one shall use the fire hose or reels for any purpose other than practice under a penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 9. That the fire district be changed as follows in Block 17 and 22 on Arendell Avenue between Horton and Sycamore Streets, to extend 200 feet east and 200 feet west of Arendell Avenue.

  • Section 10. That any person breaking open the fire hose houses unless a member of the fire company, in case of fires, shall do so under a penalty of $10.00.

  • Section 11. That any person driving over the fire hose while the same is in use or in any way interfering with the fire hose or equipment while in use by the fire department, shall do so under penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 12. That any person who shall use anything in place of fuse for electrical purposes in any residence, or place of business, does so under a penalty of $1.00.

  • Section 13. That the members of the fire company shall receive $20.00 per year as compensation for their services.  Any member being absent from either practice of in case of fire, shall forfeit $2.00 of this fee for each delinquency.

  • Section 14. That is shall be unlawful for any one, except he be a town officer or member of the Fire Department, to enter the firehouse, unless on invitation of some member of the Fire Company, under a penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 15. That any person using the fire hose or reel for any other purpose than fighting fire or in practice, shall do so under a penalty of $5.00.  That any member of the Fire Company absent from service, shall do so without good excuse, under penalty of $2.00.

Wakelon High School in Zebulon burns. The building, located in "district No. 4, Little River Township, white race," is destroyed by an early Wednesday morning fire. Discovered in the basement, the $60,000 conflagration consumes both the building and its entire contents. Zebulon's fire department and a truck from Raleigh respond to the 4:00 a.m. alarm. The lack of a sufficient water supply prevent firefighters from saving the structure. The two-story, brick building was built two years ago to "relieve congestion" in the older school building. Zebulon is located 20.73 miles from Raleigh. References: "The Raleigh Times," November 14, 1928 Wake County Board of Commissioners Minutes, November 22, 1928. (November 14, 1928)

1928, first fire truck purchased by Town. th




1944, fire department summarized as

  • partly paid department

  • one chief, partly paid

  • one driver, partly paid

  • five men partly paid and three volunteers

  • one Ford motor hose truck, 700' 2 1/2" hose

  • one hand reel, 350' hose

  • 45' of ladders

  • partly motorized

  • one fire station

  • no alarm system

  • alarm by siren at city water tank and by telephone.sm1

1944, fire station is located south side of W. Horton Avenue, west of Arendell Street.

1946, apparatus purchase: 1948 Mack Type 45 pumper, purchased new for $7,150.00. It is  equipped with a 500 GPM pump and carries 150 gallons of water. The open-cab engine replaced the town's first fire truck, a Ford Model A truck adapted by firefighters in 1928.


1950, bonds issued totaling $50,000 for construction of municipal building, with space for fire station.

1951, municipal building constructed at 111 E. Vance Street with ground floor space for offices, jail, and fire station.  The Town Hall and court room are located on the second floor.  Fire station consists of two bays. fdr, th

1953, rural fire department formed, organized as project sponsored by Zebulon Farm Bureau with Robert Ed Horton, Bureau Secretary, in charge. Incorporated at Zebulon Rural Fire Department Inc.  (February 2, 1953) sos

1953, rural fire department purchases first fire truck. 1953 International. Cost $10,000.  Funds obtained in drive conducted by Zebulon Farm Bureau as project in "Finer Carolina" contest sponsored by Carolina Power and Light company. (November 1953) no08nov53, wcfa

1953, dedication of rural department's first fire truck held at Municipal Building. th (October 3, 1953)

1958, (Town? Rural?) Fire Chief is Willie B. Hopkins. wcfa


1961, building housing Raper Tractor and Implement Company and Wakelon Fertilizer Company burns. Fire starts about 9:00 p.m. and is brought under control by 11:00 p.m.  Both Zebulon and Wendell fire departments respond.  A crowd estimated at over 1,000 people gathers by 10:30 p.m. to watch.  Fire is prevented from spreading to nearby Wakelon Grain Company.  Total losses expected to run over $500,000.  Three firemen are injured, including a Wendell firefighter who is rushed to the Wendell-Zebulon hospital with a cut artery in his left land. (June 17, 1961) rt, no18jun61

1964, storage building and adjacent Wenlon Supply Company  in Lizard Lick burnsFire is discovered about 1:00 a.m. from window of owner's home across Highway 64 bypass. Firefighters from Zebulon, Wendell, and Knightdale keep fire from spreading to two nearby dwellings.  Charred remains of a body are discovered just inside the storage building about 2:00 a.m.  Identity of individual is not immediately known. (March 23?, 1964) no23?mar64

1965, Hepler's Auto Supply downtown burns.  Fire is discovered about 8:40 p.m. and are contained after "two hours of hard firefighting" notes Fire Chief Willie B. Hopkins.  Help is summoned from Wendell, which sends a pumper.  "That Wendell truck was a blessing to us," notes the Chief," there was a lot of rubber and paint in the building, and that makes a fire rough to fight under the best conditions."  Also hampering firefighting efforts is the weather, which freezes the water on the firefighters closings and a supply of shotgun shells and rifle bullets stored in Hepler's store.  "They were going off like fireworks," Hopkins says. No flames reach the office of Dr. Perry Grogan, but the heat and smoke ruin equipment and destroy some records.  Smoke damage is also suffered by Zebulon Furniture Company, which shares a wall with the recapping room, where the fire starts.  About 30 or 40 volunteers help the store owner move furniture away from the wall. Damage is estimated at $100,000 for all businesses affected. (January 17, 1965) no18jan65

1969, Zebulon Gin Company on Wakefield Street burns twice.  First fire starts in "lint house" at 11:30 a.m. but does little damage.  Second fire destroys all cotton in the "molt house" just after 3:00 p.m. (January 10, 1966) no11jan66

1968, five die in house fire.  Blaze occurs three miles east of Zebulon.  Fire truck arrives eight minutes after alarm.  House already burned to ground.  Grandmother and four great grandchildren killed.  Great aunt escapes after jumping through window. (Sunday before January 18, 1968) glf18jan68

1969, three downtown buildings burn. Fire is reported about 1:30 a.m. at Theo P. Davis and Sons print shop and is brought under control at 5:30 a.m., though firefighters remain on the scene through the day guarding the smoldering ruins.  Fire is apparently started when cleaning fluid being used by a print shop employee ignites.  With his clothing on fire, Daniel Stancil runs to the police station where officers extinguish the blazing attire and send him to the Zebulon branch hospital.  He's later transferred to Duke Hospital.  Some 35 firefighters, including 15 from Wendell, battle the blaze in subfreezing temperatures and with a brisk wind fanning the flames.  Two buildings occupied by the print shop are destroyed, a third adjoining building used by the Bargain Center department store is also destroyed, and a fourth building, occupied by Zebulon Furniture Company, is damaged.  Losses are estimated at $750,000. (November 15, 1969) no16nov69


1970's, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1960 Ford tanker, converted from DOT truck, 500 GPM, 1200 gallons.fdr, wcfa

1971, Town department apparatus purchase:  1972 Ford / Howe pumper, 750 GPM, 500 gallons.  fdr, wcfa

1974, new fire station constructed at 113 E. Vance Street.  Building consists of seven apparatus bays, classroom area with kitchenette, and bathrooms.  One bay is utilized by Zebulon Rescue Squad from 1974 to 1977.fdr

1974, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1977 Ford / FMC/ Bean pumper, 750 GPM, 750 gallons.fdr, wcfa

1977, the 1946 Mack is sold for $750 to a town resident.  He subsequently restores it for parade use. oh

1978, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1978 Ford / FMC / Bean tanker, 450 GPM, 1200 gallons. Cost $30,482.52.fdr, wcfa

1979, Town department apparatus purchase: 1979 Chevrolet / FMC pumper, 1000 GPM, 750 gallons.  Cost $50,000.fdr


1982, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1970's Chevrolet tanker converted from fuel oil delivery truck.  Replaces 1960's Ford tanker.fdr

1983, Whitley Furniture Gallery at 100 W. Vance Street burns. Blaze begins about 10:45 p.m. in snack room for employees on ground floor of two-story brick building. Passing police officer sounds alarm. The fire starts in the snack room. Firefighters from Wendell, Knightdale, and Hopkins helped bring the blaze under control by 1:30 a.m.  (January 7, 1983) rt, no08jan83, zr

1984, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1980's Chevrolet / E-One mini-pumper.  Cost $50,000.  Replaces brush truck purchased in 1976.fdr

1985, Town creates Supplemental Retirement Program funded from Relief Fund appropriations to provide additional retirement income to (Town?  Town and Rural?) firefighters.fdr

1985, Town department starts annual Fireman of the Year program.fdr

1987, Wakelon Agri Products on W. Vance Street burns.  Firefighters work on and off for a day and half extinguishing blaze.  Fire first reported at 1:41 a.m. after police officer spots smoke.  Both Town and Rural fire departments respond.    Fire is initially extinguished at 4:30 a.m., but rekindles when company workers begin digging out debris. (March 6, 1987) zr

1987, mobile home at 311 Stronach Ave. burns.  Two residents are killed, a mother and child.  Cause of death is extensive burns.  Fire is reported at 5:01 a.m. but firefighters are unable to rescue occupants as trailer is fully involved upon arrival of first fire truck at 5:05 a.m.  Cause of fire is believed to be pan of hot grease left on stove around 4 a.m., prior to residents going to sleep. (July 12, 1987) rt

1987, fire station remodeled. Original classroom space removed and additional apparatus bay space added.fdr

1987, Town department apparatus purchase: 1987 Grumman 102' aerial platform, 1500 GPM, 250 gallons.  Cost $400,000, drawn from reserve fund started last year when Glaxo underwent voluntary annexation. Apparatus is delivered November 19. fdr, zr

1988, Rural department starts annual Fireman of the Year award program.fdr

1988, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1988 GMC / FMC pumper/tanker, 1000 GPM, 1000 gallons. Cost $107,229.  Replaces 1953 International pumper.fdr

1989, Town departments begins per-call reimbursement.fdr


1990, fire station expanded.  Offices, storage rooms, and day room area added.  Existing office space converted to additional apparatus bay.fdr

1990, Town department hires first full-time firefighter.fdr

1991, apparatus modification: Rural department Chevrolet mini-pumper body remounted onto 1991 Chevrolet chassis.fdr

1992, use of siren on Town water tank discontinued by decision of Town Board. (Monday before April 9, 1992)fdr, zr

1992, Town department hires second full-time firefighter, the Fire Chief.fdr

1992, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1992 GMC tanker, 2000 gallons.  Cost $131,179.  Replaces 1970's Chevrolet tanker.fdr

1992, Town department receives ISO upgrade to Class 5 within corporate limits.  Former rating is Class 6.fdr

1993, P&W Auto Parts on East Vance Street destroyed by fire. Arson later suspected. (April 4, 1993)

1994, fire departments begin responding to all vehicle accidents with injuries, regardless of severity.fdr

1996, tornados strike town on Zebulon around dinner time. Storm destroys or damages 100 homes and causes only minor injuries. (April 15, 1996)

1996, Fire station roof is blown off during Hurricane Fran.  Lands in parking lot next door. (September 6, 1996)fdr

1996, Town department hires third full-time firefighter.fdr

1996, Town department assumes responsibility for fire code enforcement in Town Planning Department's jurisdiction. fdr

1996, apparatus modification: Rural department Chevrolet mini-pumper body remounted onto 1996 Ford Chassis.fdr

1997, Town department apparatus purchase: 1997 Pierce pumper, 1500 GPM, 500 gallons.  Cost $249,807.  Replaces 1979 Chevrolet pumper.fdr

1997, Rural department apparatus purchase: 1997 Freightliner/EEI pumper-tanker, 1500 GPM, 1250 gallons. Cost $200,861.  Replaces 1974 Ford Pumper and 1978 Ford tanker.fdr

1998, Queens Wholesale and Salvage at 124 W. Vance Street burns. Both of Zebulon's fire departments battle the eight-hour blaze along with Wendell, Knightdale, and Hopkins. Damages are estimated at $100,000, though the fire is prevented from spreading to other buildings. Over 100,000 gallons of water is used. (May 29, 1998)fdr

1998, Town department hires fourth full-time firefighter.fdr

1999, fire departments begin compensating one volunteer to stay overnight at fire station.fdr

1999, Rural department begins providing First Responder service.


2000, Town and Rural fire departments merge.fdr

2000, fire department assumes responsibility for vehicular extrication after Zebulon Rescue Squad moves to provide only patient care.fdr

2000, fifth and sixth full-time firefighters hired.  24 hour coverage begins with one person per shift.fdr

2000, sleeping quarters added to fire station.fdr

2001, abandoned nightclub burns. Thad's Studio 39 gutted in early-morning blaze. Fire takes two hours to extinguish. (Friday before November 24, 2001)no

2001, fire department receives ISO upgrade to Class 3 within corporate limits and Class 3/9 in County areas.fdr

2002, seventh full-time firefighter hired.fdr


See Wake County apparatus register.


  • cfd Cary Fire Department records

  • dah NC Department of Archives and History

  • fdr Fire department records

  • oh Oral history

  • rt Raleigh Times

  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State

  • sm1Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, November 1944 update

  • sm2 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, May 1923

  • th Town History (Wake County Bicentennial Commission)

  • tm Town Minutes

  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association records

  • zr Zebulon Record, March 12, 1987

Last updated: June 16, 2004


Copyright 2016 by Michael J. Legeros