Cary Fire Department


Last updated: October 20, 2020

Before 1980 | After 1980

Change Log:

  • July-October 2020
    Numerous and ongoing updates.
  • April 2017
    Updates on Rescue 2 history.
  • March 2017
    Still more updates, formatting, link to fleet history.
  • February 2017
    Adding two-alarm and other major fires, of recent decades.
    Adding more detailed information about apparatus deliveries, companies in service, and truck/company changes.
  • January 2017
    Continuing general updates started late last year.

See also Western Wake County fire departments family tree - JPG | PDF


Cary Lumber Company burns. (1902)no26feb08

Cary's largest building burns. Grist mill and office building owned by F. R. Gray and Brother contains the Gray Brothers grist mill, two flour mills and one corn mill, a cotton gin, private offices, the post office, two store rooms, a coffin establishment, three lodge halls, and the Episcopal chapel. The Raleigh Fire Department is summoned, and Fire Chief Frank Simpson brings the horse-drawn steam engine and hose on a special train. (February 25, 1908)no26feb08


Demographics. Town has 645 people and 1.00 (?) square mile.

Western Wake Highway completed, linking Cary and Raleigh. (August 20, 1920)


Town makes arrangements with Raleigh for "a fire truck and crew of firemen to answer any alarms for fire within the Town of Cary." (June 8, 1921)cb


First fire inspector appointed, Lloyd Matthews, for Town to comply with State laws. (March 14, 1922)cb

First fire company organized after Town Alderman appoint L. A. Cathey to organize same, so the town no longer has to rely solely on neighboring fire departments for help. Town Board also passes resolution to purchase fire engine. (June 6, 1922)cb

First fire engine purchase. Bid accepted for purchase of first fire truck from American LaFrance Fire Engine Company. (October 23, 1922)cb


Fire fire engine delivered. American LaFrance chemical engine on Ford Model-T one-ton chassis, equipped with two 35-gallon chemical tanks. Registration #F-849, ship order #75740. (February 7, 1923)cb, peckham-database

First Fire Chief appointed, H. H. Waddell, with D. C. Page serving as Assistant Chief. (May 1, 1923)cb

First firehouse, metal garage for housing fire engine, purchased from C. D. Pruden Corporation of Baltimore, Maryland. The location was described in 1935 as a "more remote location" from the main part of town. (Spring 1923)cb


First water lines and fire hydrants placed in service.cfdr


Second fire engine purchased from Nash Motor Company. Cost $1,100. New chassis for American LaFrance chemical equpment? (September 10, 1926) cb

Fire department has 12 volunteers with Raleigh FD member R. Lee Matthews acting as part-time training officer.


West Side Inn in Cary burns.

The Raleigh Fire Department is contacted and Engine Company 4 responds, unleashing a "speed burst" with a 12-minute run. Firefighters arrive in time to save the lower half of the two-story wooden structure. The town's firefighting equipment is already in use. Select furniture is saved and the kitchen is not damaged. The entire upper story is destroyed, however, with only the frame work remaining. Cary is located 10.17 miles from old Station 4 at 505 Jefferson Street in Raleigh. The fire department's 12-minute run averages 60 mph. (May 5, 1927)no06may27, rt05may27

Six men named town firefighters:

  • W. L. Jones
  • L. E. Sturdivant
  • T. F. Wilkerson Jr.
  • Royce Ellington
  • Marvin Breeze
  • Robert Atkins.

The firefighters are not paid, but excused from paying poll tax. (July 21, 1927)cb

Six additional men appointed to Fire Department:

  • Arthur Womble
  • S. T. Smith
  • Jack Murdock
  • H. R. Adams
  • E. J. Byrum
  • Pat Gray, Jr. (November 17, 1927)cb

Demographics. Town has 909 people and 1.00 (?) square miles.


1931 Chevrolet pumper purchased from Peter Pirsch & Sons, specs TBD. Front-mounted pump is fan-belt driven. (January 11, 1932)cb

Town board instructs L. R. Hunter to sell chemical tanks from old pumper and purchase siren to alert firefighters. (January 11, 1932)cb


Fire department accredited by North Carolina Fireman's Association.


Fire station moved. The building is moved into the "main part of town" from a "more remote location" and reported completed by September 12, 1935, in the next day's News & Observer. On August 24, 1935, the town council ordered the fire station moved to its new location, behind the Masonic Lodge at the corner Chatham and Academy streets. The lodge building later becomes Ashworth's Drugstore in 1977. (August-September 1935)cb, no13sep1935

Town board authorizes Mr. Phillips to [re]organize a fire department. For their services, the volunteer firemen are to be exempt from paying poll tax. (August 24, 1935)cb


Town board calls special meeting to comply with August 24, 1935, resolution, with following individuals forming new fire department: 

  • M. R. Conner, Chief
  • L. E. Midgette Assistant Chief
  • C. R. Craddock
  • Clyde B. Hawkins
  • W. R. Matthews
  • Norwood Northcutt
  • Clarence Oakley
  • Walter Pendegraph
  • C. R. Penny
  • Alf. Pleasants
  • Ivan Ruth
  • Alvin Sloan. (February 18, 1936)cb

Town Board grants permission for Chief Conner to attend North Carolina Fire School in Wilmington, April 21-23. He is instructed by the Board to "economize on all expenses." (March 1936)cb

Town Board gives permission for fire department to join North Carolina Fireman's Association, and purchase twenty badges for firefighters. (May 7, 1936)cb

Town agrees to pay for cleaning of firefighter's clothing when soiled in line of duty. (May 7, 1936)cb

Town Board waives Captain Lee Matthew's dog tax in exchange for services coaching fire department. Matthews is a career fireman in Raleigh. (May 7, 1936) cb

Town Board authorizes Assistant Chief Midgette to purchase fire hose. (December 8, 1936)cb


Law passed fining $25 anyone found guilty of turning in a false alarm. (January 15, 1937)cb

Town Board authorizes expenses for one man to attend fire school in Durham. (April 12, 1917)cb


Demographics. Town has 1,141 people and 1.00 square miles.

Town board authorizes two firemen to be sent as delegates to the state firemen's association convention in Salisbury on August 26, with town paying expenses. (June 7, 1940)tm

Department has fifteen members, plus Chief and Assistant Chief, as noted in town minutes. (August 2, 1940)tm


Fire station site sale approved by town board, to J. Glenn Hobby and wife, along with second tract, for $550. Town also agrees to pay $5.00 annual rent, for use of site until a new fire station is erected elsewhere. (April 17, 1942) tm

Fire station relocation. As noted in town minutes on April 17, 1942, town officials were apparently seeking to build a new fire station, as their approval of the fire station site included mention of "regulations of the United States Government with respect to the purchase of materials of building a new firehouse elsewhere, will allow a new firehouse to be built by the Town elsewhere." [Such restrictions on building materials were one of the domestic impacts of the country's involvement in World War II.] (April 1942)tm

Fire station note. The town budget for Fiscal Year 1942-43 included $104 for "Guard on Fire House." (July 30, 1942)tm


L. E. Midgette appointed Fire Chief. (June 1, 1944)tm


Town minutes: Delegation from the fire department appears before the town board and requests that firemen be paid $3.00 for each fire and $2.00 for each drill, and be required to attend at least six (6) drills before receiving any pay for drills.They also suggest that the town purchase a one and one-half inch fog gun [nozzle], install a fire alarm system. issue helmets and suits to protect clothing, [purchase] smoke masks, and build a firehouse. (June 6, 1946)tm


Town board receives report on improving the town water supply from Richard H. Moore, Engineer. He notes that the town again finds itself without "an adequate supply of water to furnish their customers, and still maintain a reasonable excess for fire protection."

The current town suppose consists of five deep wells, from 150 to 300 feet in depth, and that yield from seven to twenty GPM, for combined total of 57.5 GPM. Water is stored in an elevated tank with a capacity of at least 75,000 gallons.

On October 29, 1947, the town had only 10,000 gallons in the tank, instead of at least 75,000 gallons. This was caused by the failure of pumps in two wells. The pumps have since been repaired.

He recommends either extending the supply of well water, or using a surface water source, either connecting to the Raleigh system, the Apex system, or constructing their own. Board approves continuing to use the well supply and, at a future date, when there's sufficient property valuation, to hold a citizen vote for a bond, for other improvements. (November 28, 1947)tm


L. E. Midgette appoitned Fire Chief. (May 5, 1949)tm

Fire department reorganized, as reported to town council on August 5, 1949. (Summer 1949)tm

Firehouse lot on Academy Street approved for sale by town board. To be sold at public auction, and, if the sale price is "unsatisfactory to the board," the property to offered at private sale. (August 5, 1949)tm

Town board approves waiving license plate fees for all fire department members, an action apparently customary [in prior months/years? Or in other communities?]. (November 3, 1949)tm


Demographics. Town has 1,496 people and between 1.00 and 2.60 square miles.

Fire district adopted by town board. (February 2, 1950)

Fire station relocated to water tank lot [located behind the Guess House at 215 South Academy?]. The move is approved by the town board on September 7, 1950. The completed relocation of the "shed" is reported to the town board on October 5, 1950. On that date, the property is directed by the town board to be sold. [ The lot is apparently unsold as late as June 8, 1951, as the town board discusses the advertising of the sale. ](September-October 1950)


James Lee Murdock appointed Fire Chief. (May 10, 1951)


Apparatus note: Town board approves purchase of a fire truck from Durham for $750, contingent on the truck's availability. [ No such truck is purchased. ] (April 17, 1952)

Fire station at 100 W. Chatham street completed. Brick veneer and cinder block building measures 30 by 20 feet, has one apparatus bay, and is adjacent to Town Hall. Building costs about $4,000, which is the amount in the budget for Fiscal Year 1951-1952. Site location selected by town board on October 4, 1951. To be erected "next to and immediately west of the old Post Office Building." (Summer 1952) 

Fire department members appear before town board, requesting that they be allowed to provide "rural service" to those living outside the town limits, and in hopes of "getting some financial aid" from those residents. Fire Chief proposes serving the area of Cary Township, that no more than five fire department members provide service at any given time, and that fire equipment "should always be provided for the town." Fire Chief and Mr. Philbrick are appointed as a committee, to work out the details for providing rural fire protection. (August 7, 1952)

Fire station on Academy Street demolished after lot sold to J. G. Hobby, to raise funds for new fire station planned at corner of Cedar and North Academy streets. (Fall 1952)

Fire engine fails at house fire.

Burning structure is reported just beyond Town limits. 1931 Chevrolet pumper "is pulled from the tin-roof shed" and arrives "in no time flat" writes The State Magazine. Firefighters lay a line into the well and switch on the fan belt-driven pump. Water squirts all of ten feet and the firefighters watch helplessly as the dwelling burns down.

Firefighters subsequently meet with the Town Board and leave with a proposition: if the volunteers raise $3,000 for a down payment on a new fire engine, the Town will handle the remaining balance. Intense fundraising follows and soon an order is placed with the Seagrave Fire Engine Company in Columbus, Ohio. ts

Fire Chief is James L. Murdock. H. B. Jordan is Assistant Chief.


Movie theater in downtown Apex burns. Fire is discovered about noon. Entire inside of theater burns out and quickly destroys a wood partition between the theater balcony and the storeroom over a feed store next door. When the fire appears to threaten the business district, fire departments in Cary and Raleigh are summoned. The Cary fire department sends newly delivered 1953 Seagrave pumper. With Cary and Raleigh's help, the fire is brought under control. (April 4, 1954)

First Annual Fireman's Day held.

Day-long celebration is expected to attract more than 5,000 people. Mile-long parade starts at 3:00 p.m. along Highway 1, beginning at R. O. Heater's home on Harrison Street and concluding at Cary High School. The fire siren signals the start of the parade with a single blast. From 4:30 to 5 p.m., a demonstration of the new fire truck is conducted on the school athletic field.

A barbeque supper is held at the school cafeteria, sponsored by the Junior Order of the United Mechanics, Wake County 125" and a square dance is held from 8:30 to midnight "on the parking apron of the Piggly Wiggly and Ken Ben stores" reports a newspaper article. A "$10 cash prize" is given by the fire department for the "best picture taken at the parade."

Nearly $500 of prizes are donated by local merchants "to those holding lucky tickets" and are displayed "in the Adams Building between the Cary Bank and Post Office." Each store features a "special item for sale" and everyone is eligible for a prize, "even though he has not bought anything in a particular store."

The new Seagrave pumper is featured during the day's activities. Tom Stewart, representing the Seagrave Company of South Carolina, presents the truck to Mayor Waldo H. Rood.

For next 23 (?) years, first Saturday in May is celebrated as Fireman's Day. (May 2, 1953)no

New Seagrave pumper delivered. The 1953 Seagrave has a 750 GPM pump and 500 gallon water tank, and a 12-cylinder, 202 HP motor. It cost $15,000 and is driven from the Seagrave plant by two members of the fire department, because the planned delivery date was later than the scheduled Fireman's Day celebration. The bid is awarded on September 4, 1952, with initial arrangements for a "yearly rental-purchase option." (April 1954)

Snapshot. As of May 5, 1953:

  • Fire department has 21 volunteers.
  • Fire Chief is James L. Murdock.
  • Paul Matthews is Assistant Chief. 

James L. Murdock appointed Fire Chief. (June 4, 1953)


Second Annual Fireman's Day held. (May 1954)

Refurbished pumper displayed at Fireman's day. Work by firefighters started in Spring 1953. The 1931 Chevrolet/Pirsch pumper receives a new engine, brakes, tires, paint job, 350 GPM front-mounted pump, and 250 gallon booster tank. (May 1954)

New tanker displayed at Fireman's day. Built by firefighters using an ex-military tractor and a converted gasoline tanker trailer, it carries 4,700 gallons and has a 350 GPM portable pump. It's assembled from donated parts and after more than 4,000 man-hours of firefighter labor during the past four months.

The idea for the tractor-drawn apparatus came from the Wake County Board of Commissioners, which set up funds to purchase tank trailers for rural fire departments that obtain tractors to pull them. Legal problems prevented the funds from being used, but the Cary Fire Department went ahead anyway.

The tractor was purchased at Camp Lejeune as military surplus, a 180-horsepower International truck tractor with 10 forward speeds and two reverse speeds. The 4,000 tank is donated by Bryan-Cooper Oil Company of Raleigh and mounted on a wheeled chassis by firefighters, who also install new tires, brakes, and lights.

Mounted at the back of the tank is a 350 GPM portable pump that can be used to power water streams or fill the tank. The inside of the tank is given a special coating, so drinking water can be transported.

The tractor has a 1,500-watt AC generator mounted, ten new tires and tubes, and a brilliant red paint job. The engine, brakes, and other parts are overhauled. The bell from Cary's first fire truck, a Model-T in 1924, is re-plated and placed on the truck.

The entire project is completed by the twenty fire department members without funds from the Town treasury. Instead, they're assisted by a host of individuals donating equipment and other things. (May 28, 1954)

Second 2 constructed on 100 block of Cedar Street.

The 20 by 65 foot tin shed is erected on a Town-owned lot, behind the present location of Rogers Motel. Firefighters furnish the labor and obtain the materials for building. Timber for framing is cut from another Town-owned lot. By August 1954, as shown in News & Observer story, the building has been erected and occupied. Firemen plan to add flooring and doors. (Summer 1954)cfr, no__aug54

Cary Rural Fire Department, Inc. incorporated. (November 1, 1954)sos

Town council approves the participation of the Cary Rural Fire Department in the Wake County rural fire department sysatem, and authorizes the use of the Chevrolet fire truck outside the town limits effective November 1. (November 4, 1954)

Home on East Chatham Street burns. Residence of N. G. Gullie is damaged but not destroyed.rt

Firefighters help Morrisville organize a fire department.rt

Fire department answers 27 calls during year, including six in Wake County and two for mutual aid to Morrisville and Apex. They reach Morrisville eight minutes after the call is received.rt


Third Annual Fireman's day held.

Parade starts at 3:00 p.m. New "emergency service truck for Civilian Defense" is presented at 5:00 p.m. in front of the "American Legion hut," with the presentation made by Fire Chief J. C. Griffis to Cary Mayor W. H. Rood "accepting the equipment on behalf of the town" reports the The Raleigh Times. Activities at 9:00 p.m. include "and card and coin game in one quarter of the town" and, in honor of Mother's Day, all mothers are "taken for rides on the fire truck." Children get their turns from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (May 7, 1955)rt

Civil Defense rescue truck displayed at Fireman's Day.

Built from ex-military, GMC mobile machine shop, carries $8,000 worth of equipment including 5,000-watt portable generator, 2,500-watt generator, two-way radio, $600 resuscitator, block and tackle, ropes, a portable oxygen acetylene cutting torch, in all "196 different pieces of equipment, all new." Same is also the only Civil Defense rescue truck operated by a volunteer fire department in North Carolina. (May 1955)

Robert Elder appointed Fire Chief, and T. H. Griffis appointed Assistant Chief. Their appointments are effective May 15. (May 5, 1955)

1949 Buick Roadmaster purchased for Fire Chief. Vehicle is purchased used.

Station 2 expanded. Addition built to house rescue truck. Town board approves funding for addition on April 5, 1955.rt


Town board authorizes one-year trial of mutual plan, to assist with firefighting in Raleigh, Apex, Fuquay, and Morrisville. (January 4, 1956)

Fire Chief is Bob Elder and the Assistant Chief is Bob Heater. (April 21, 1956)

Fourth Annual Fireman's Day is held.

Event attracts 5,000 people. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. Fire engines parade from Apex, Garner, Morrisville, Raleigh, and Cary. "Musical airs" are furnished by the "Drum and Bugle Corps from State College" and senior and junior bands from Cary High School. Parade also features "Girl Scouts, Wake County fire chiefs' cars, lots of floats and cars carrying pretty girls" reports the May 7 edition of The Raleigh Times. Activities also include "Quizno" from 6 until 11 p.m., a "legal cousin of outlawed Bingo." Fireman's Day concludes with a street dance and the music of "the Mills Brothers Hillbilly Band." (May 5, 1956)07may56

New tanker displayed at Fireman's day. The ex-military International Harvester, 2,500 gallon tanker is equipped with a 100 GPM pump. Rebuilding was supervised by Jackie Hunter. (May 7, 1956)

Plans announced to build $75,000 fire station on 100 x 120 foot site on southeast corner of Cedar and N. Academy St. Fund-raising begins on Fireman's Day. Cornerstone bricks are auctioned off for a total of $2,035.00. (May 7, 1956)

Proposal for paid fireman adopted by town board on August 23, 1956:


The person employed for this position must be a white male between the ages of twenty-one and forty. He must be a resident of Cary, N. C. and known not to have any physical handicaps or mental conditions. Have a working knowledge of hand tools and mechanical equipment. He must have three acceptable letters of reference. This fireman will report and be responsible to the Chief of the Cary Fire Dept.


The primary duty of this paid fireman is to set the pattern for the expansion of the Cary Fire Department in the paid fireman field. His duties will include keeping all fire equipment in first class mechanical order. Each piece of fire apparatus including the Chiefs Car and maintenance truck will be washed, polished or waxed so as to be in parade-able condition at all times. He shall return all equipment to service after each fire and see that all coats and hose are dried before returning to equipment. Each Monday and Thursday and more often if necessary, each fire station
shall be policed and washed down. This shall include washing all windows and disposing of all trash. Also as a primary duty this fireman will receive all fire calls during the times prescribed and listed below in Phase #1 and Phase #2 of the Duty Hours. In Phase #1 and Phase #2 immediately after receiving a fire call, the General Alarm will be sounded and the fire location noted as required by Department Policy. As soon as the General Alarm has been sounded and the fire location noted, the appropriate fire apparatus will be started and standing by. This fireman will then stand by for instructions from the Fire Chief or his representative.


During the hours 6:00 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at all Fire Department Meetings or Functions the paid fireman shall wear a uniform agreeable to the Fire Department members. It shall be his responsibility to keep this uniform clean and pressed at all times.

Work Schedule:

Phase #1 Phase #2
Monday 6:00 to 10:30 P.M. 10:30 p.m. to 7:30
Tuesday same same
Wednesday off same
Thursday same same
Friday same same
Saturday same same

First Sunday each month off

Housing: This paid fireman must maintain residence within one block of the No. 1 Fire Station, Cary, N. C.

Salary: The salary for this paid fireman shall be $2,400.00 per year. This position will receive all
employment rights now enjoyed by other Town persons and shall be subject to dismissal as other Town employees.

Phones: Station #1 (two way), Town Hall (one way), Hobby's [store?] (one-way), Station #2 (two-way), Fireman's Home (one way)

Fire department has 25 members and two fire stations of September 22, 1956. Fire Chief is Bob Heater.

Boyd Wilson Morris becomes first paid firefighter. Newspaper advertisement for position authorized by town board on September 6. Hiring authorized by town board on September 20. (October 1, 1956)


Town receives upgraded fire insurance rating, from Class 8 to Class 7. Reported at town board meeting on April 4, 1957. (March-April 1957)

Town board recommends hiring of Eley Stancil as a paid fireman, as town employee. (April 18, 1957)

Fifth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Celebration starts at 2:30 p.m. with a parade including "the Air Force ROTC marching airmen, the army ROTC drum and bugle corps and the Army ROTC Pershing Rifles crack drill team, all from State College" reports the May 3 edition of The Raleigh Times. From 3:30 to 5 p.m., "the fire department and the Civil Defense rescue team" display equipment and "provide entertainment for children and adults on the high school football field." Starting at 5:30 p.m. is a fish-fry and at 6:30 p.m., a "gasoline-powered kiddie automobile will be given away." Games and dancing are also featured, with activities ending at 11:30 p.m. (May 4, 1957)rt

Appointments by town board on June 20, 1957, for fiscal year 1957-58:

  • Fire Chief - W. E. Henderson
  • Paid Fireman - Eley Stancil

Two-way radio system installed. Base station installed in Station 1 with "stand-by receivers" at Fire Chief's house, Town Clerk's office, and ready room at Station 2. Radio equipment also installed in all fire apparatus, the rescue truck, and the Chief's car. The frequency assigned by the FCC is 46.06 with a maximum output of 500 watts. Town board receives report on November 21, 1957, that all radio equipment has been installed.

Fire department has one full-time and 24 volunteer firefighters as of December 9, 1957. Fire Chief is W. E. Henderson. Assistant Chief is J. P. Matthews.cfdr

As of December 9, 1957, fire department equipment consists of:wcfa

1 1954 /1931 Chevrolet Pursch, 300 GPM, 200 gallon booster tank, 1000 feet of 2 1/2" hose, 500 feet of 1 1/2" hose, four Indian tanks.
2 1953 Seagrave, 750 GPM, 500 gallon booster tank, 1000 feet of 2 1/2" hose, 500 feet of 1 1/2" hose.
3 1954/19__ International/Cary FD tandem tractor tanker - 350 GPM portable pump, 4,700 gallon tank, 500 feet of 2 1/2" hose, 250 feet of 1 1/2" hose, one Indian tank.
4 1955/19__ rescue truck - 2500 watt generator, 5 kilowatt generator, complete set Civil Defense tools and equipment.
5 1956/19__ International/Cary FD tanker, 100 GPM power take-off pump, 2,500 gallon tanker, 200 feet of 2 1/2" hose, two Indian tanks.
Chief Car 1949 Buick, two Indian pumps


Jack Morris approved by town board to be hired as a paid firefighter, employee of town. He had been serving as a "temporary paid fireman" since the dismal of Eley Stancil in late October/early November. (January 23, 1958)

Sixth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Firefighters continuing fundraising for new fire station, auctioning ten "green bricks" with the highest bidder to have their name engraved in one of the first stones in the new building, planned since 1956 and expected to be completed in 1961. (May 3, 1958)rt

J. Paul Matthews appointed Fire Chief, for period of June 1 through May 31. (May 8, 1958)

Apparatus note: Town board grants permission for fire department to transfer fire equipment from the old Chevrolet fire truck onto another chassis, supplied by the Cary Rural FD, provided that the transferred equipment remain the property of the town. [ Was this action taken? TBD ] (November 6, 1958)

Fire department increases to 28 members.


Seventh Annual Fireman's day held.

Celebration begins at 3:30 p.m. with a parade. Other events include a fish fry, door prizes, and a square dance "in the Winn-Dixie parking lot on Chatham Street" reports the April 29 edition of The Raleigh Times. (May 2, 1959)rt29apr59

Fire Chief is Paul Mathews. Assistant Chief is Earl Williams. (May 1959)

J. C. Griffis appointed Fire Chief. (August 6, 1959)

Construction started on Station 1. Plans have been drawn for $75,000 building with basement and two stories. Funds have been solicited during five years of fundraising. Firefighters perform most of the work after hours. Completion is due in


Demographics. Town has 3,356 people and 2.60 square miles.

Eighth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Schedule includes "a parade at 3:30 p.m., supper at the high school cafeteria from 5 until 8 p.m., games from 6:30 until 8 p.m., and a street dance from 8 until midnight." Fried fish is served in the cafeteria, prepared by firefighters, their wives, and members of the Fire Auxiliary Association. Drawings are held for "various prize merchandise" and an open house is held "at the emergency shelter" set up at the Cary Methodist Church from noon until 4:30 p.m. (May 7, 1960)na, rt

Fire Chief is J. C. Griffis. R. B. Heater is Assistant Chief. (May 7, 1960)cfdr

Firefighter Vernon Lee Thompson, 28, is killed and Firefighter Willis Edward (Billy) Henderson, 32, is injured when their tractor-drawn tanker overturns near Meredith College.

The accident occurs about 10:00 a.m., while they are turning from Highway 1 onto a service road that runs between college property and the State College animal husbandry farm. Both are thrown from the open-cab apparatus.

Thompson is pinned under the cab and dies after gasoline leaking from the fuel tank under the seat is apparently ignited by an electrical short. Henderson is transported and admitted to Rex Hospital for cuts, bruises, and shock. Raleigh firefighters and other rescue workers spend nearly two hours recovering Thompson's body. The first wrecker sent to the scene is unable to raise the truck. A larger, second wrecker is called and lifts the cab enough for Thompson's body to be removed.

Both Thompson and Henderson were state employees working at nearby Camp Polk prison farm and were en route to extinguish the rekindling of a trash fire near the prison dump from the night before. Henderson was driving about 15 miles an hour when the accident occurred. Pavement markings stretched about 120 feet, created by the pressure of the heavy, slowing truck. The cab of the tanker was destroyed; the apparatus was not returned to service.

Funeral services are held on June 18 at Cary Baptist Church, with burial at Cary Cemetery the same day. Thompson was a volunteer member of the Cary Fire Department. (June 16, 1960)

J. C. Griffis appointed Fire Chief, J. H. Crumpler appointed Assistant Chief. (June 23, 1960)townminutes

Mayor Waldo Rood suggests town establish its own fire department, "a volunteer group to work under the direction of a paid chief who would also be the new police chief" reports The Raleigh Times and which "would be separate from the present Cary volunteer department which serves not only the town but the surrounding rural area." Firefighters "could choose whether to come with the town or remain where they are." The Town Board subsequently adopts a resolution in support of the Mayor. Townspeople and firefighters disagree with the proposal and "a committee is appointed to work out the differences." (June 1960)

Fire department adopts new policy on July 6, 1960:

The Cary Fire Co. will routinely answer fire calls only within the 2 and˝ mile radius as set up on the YRAC Fire District map with the exception of calls for mutual aid by other surrounding fire depts. However the Cary Fire Dept. requests that the Chief, or highest ranking officer available. of the department be endowed ·with the authority to dispatch at his discretion fire equipment to distances up to 4 miles but only where an inhabitable building is on fire or is seriously threatened by fire, or where lives and/or valuable property is on fire or seriously threatened by fire, or where life-saving services are needed, resulting from natural or man made catastrophes, and so long as the location of the request for aid is not within the area of protection of another fire department.

Policy is presented to town board on July 7, 1960, for their endorsement. This compels the town board to request a meeting with the fire department officers, to "consider the entire matter of the relationship of the town and the fire department." The meeting is called for July 14, 1960.townminutes

Town Board approves purchase of "accidental death and disability income insurance" for fire department members, reports The Raleigh Times. Question of insurance arose at town meeting one week ago, with eleven firefighters threatening to resign unless the issue was discussed immediately. After the volunteers "carried out their threat," the Town Board immediately "sent a negotiator to the fire station and a compromise was worked out whereby the resignations were withdrawn on condition the board purchase the insurance at a special meeting to be held soon after." (July 13, 1960)rt

Read blog posting with detailed account of these events.

Fire department split into two entities, newly created Cary Fire Department serving town, and Cary Rural Fire Department serving unincorporated areas.

J. L. (Pete) Murdoch is appointed Fire Chief of both departments. Paul Matthews is appointed Assistant Chief of the town department and Willie Crumpler is appointed Assistant Chief of the rural department.

The 24 members of the fire department are split equally between Town and Rural departments, with more men needed "to build up both departments" reports the September 10 edition of The Raleigh Times. Applications are available at the Town Hall and applicants must be between 19 and 40 years of age, in good health, and willing to follow all fire department rules and regulations. Two "paid firemen" are to be hired, so "at least one well-trained fireman is on duty in town at all times."

Yet worked out is the "division of property" as "some of the equipment that has been used by the previous department is owned jointly by the town and rural departments." Both departments are expected to "fall short of the necessary equipment when the property is divided." (September 15, 1960)rt10sep60

Hiring of Calvin Beck as paid fireman authorized by town board. (November 10, 1960)townminutes

Construction on Station 1 abandoned during dispute among volunteer firefighters and town officials. Basement has been dug and foundations have been laid. Approximately $15,000 has been spent on the uncompleted 


Ownership of Station 1 site at 100 N. Academy Street transferred to town. (January 1, 1961.)wcrer

Town minutes: Board receives report from Fire Chief that the Seagrave pumper is now equipped with equipment belonging only to the town. Also, board authorizes up to $200 for the purchase of uniforms for the paid firemen. The town has two paid firemen, Calvin Beck and ____ Morris. (February 9, 1961)townminutes

James L. Murdock appointed Fire Chief. Also, Calvin Beck as Captain and Jack Morris as Lieutenant. The position of Assistant Chief is temporarily left open. (April 20, 1961)townminutes

Town minutes: Board adopts Ordinance Organizing the Cary Fire Department as Chapter C of the town code section for Fire Protection and Prvention. (April 20, 1961)townminutes

Town minutes: Board receives report from Fire Chief that the Cary Rural Fire Department Inc. had elected as officers Fire Chief Paul Matthews, Captain Calvin Beck, and Lieutenant Jack Morris. The board members affirm that Murdock is still Fire Chief. Other organizational matters are also discussed. (May 4, 1961)

Ninth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Event includes a parade, "bands, pretty girls, and lots of fire units" reports a newspaper article. Three school bands from Cary appear, along with others from "Knightdale, Millbrook, Erwin" and "Corinth-Holders." Fire units come from "New Hope, Apex, Garner, Swift Creek, Fairgrounds Rural and the Raleigh departments. And, of course, Cary's town and rural departments." "Perched atop a convertible," Molly Jo Waters, Miss Cary, is "resplendent in a white dress" and "other pretty girls rode the FHA float." (May, 1961)

Special meeting held with town council to discuss problems related to the fire department organization and fire protection. The CRVFD members then call a meeting and authorize a resolution to proceed with a merger of the corporation into the town, and operating under the supervision and control of the town. (May 9, 1961)townminutes

Town resolution adopted consolidating the services of the Cary Rural Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Cary. Reported as having happened prior to the June 19 meeting of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. (June? 1961)

Civil Defense rescue unit retired or usage scaled back. Reported at meeting of Wake County BOC on May 11, 1962, that the unit has not been active during the past year. (Summer? 1961)wakeboc11may62

Town minutes: Council adopts Fire Prevention Code, Edition of 1960, as recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. (August 10, 1961)townminutes

Town minutes: Council receives report from Mayor that Calvin Beck has been appointed Fire Marshall. Also, council votes to continue providing rural fire protection for residents of the new Yrac Fire District, until the department is organized in the coming months. (September 7, 1961)townminutes

Town minutes: Committee created to "decide upon all details of transfer of property" from the "independent organization of the Cary Rural Fire Department" to the town. Also requested is that ten bricks "bearing the initials of donors" to the CRFD be "placed in the cornerstone" of the new fire station building. (November 9, 1961)townminutes

Yrac Volunteer Fire Department organized by former Cary Fire Department volunteers. See separate history. (December 1, 1961)

Billy Henderson appointed [or announced as having been appointed?] as Fire Chief, and Jack Winstead of Assistant Chief. (December 7, 1961)townminutes


Tenth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Yrac Fire Department is "wholly responsible for putting on Fireman's Day this year" reports The Raleigh Times, though "municipal fire department members" participate individually and the town enters "its units in the parade." Proceeds, however, "go to the new department." Parade starts at 3:00 p.m. Street dance is held from 8 to 12 p.m. "at the Winn-Dixie parking lot." Prizes given away include "a Hereford steer, boys and girls bicycles and other items donated by local merchants." A grandstand "for special guests" is set up "in front of the Baptist Church" and Buck Sloan serves as announcer. (May 1962)rt

Town minutes: Council receives architect's report on requirements for completing the building donated to the town by the CRFD. The architect estimates a cost of $200,000 to complete [as originally designed?], a cost of $85,000 for a fire station only, and a cost of $90,000 for a separate municipal building. (May 10, 1962)townminutes

Apparatus purchase: Town council authorizes purchase of a new fire truck "for which specifications had been submitted." They direct $5,000 "now on hand" to apply to the purchase. [ Is any apparatus purchased? Don't believe so. ] (February 7, 1963)townminutes

Eleventh Annual Fireman's Day held.

Celebration begins at 3:00 p.m. with a parade which includes "fire equipment from a half-dozen or so Wake County departments and an antique fire truck from the Chapel Hill fire organization" reports the May 3 edition of The Raleigh Times. Miss Cary rides in the parade, as does Miss Yrac, whose identify is "kept secret until she appears." Door prizes include "a fat steer and a boy's or girl's bicycle." A "country music band" provides music for the street dance. Proceeds benefit the Yrac Rural Fire Department, though members of the Cary fire department assist with activities. (May 4, 1963)rt03may63

Calvin Beck appointed as the first full-time Fire Chief.

Salary is $4,587. He joined the department in 1960, hired as a Captain and a Training Officer, after serving in Durham and Chapel Hill. Beck, 36, is a graduate of arson schools at UNC and Cornell University, and has attended the state fire inspection school in Greensboro. He's also an instructor with the N.C. Industrial Education Center Firemanship School. (By August 1, 1963)cfdr, no01aug63


Apparatus purchase: 1957 Chevrolet service ladder truck. Purchase authorized by town council on January 2, 1964, upon recommendation by Chief Beck that a "utility truck be purchased for the purpose of carrying ladders and equipment to fires." Council authorizes $2,000 be spent on the truck.no22nov64, townminutes

Ladder truck stored at Public Utilities building behind fire station. Hole is knocked out of wall, for temporary housing of the Chevrolet service truck. Fire engine is longer than the concrete-block building, so plastic cloth protects front of the apparatus which protrudes from the shelter.no22nov64

Twelfth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Activities begin with a 3:00 p.m. parade which includes "marching bands from Apex, Wake Forest, Clayton, Knightdale and Cary Schools, the first official appearance of Miss Cary, a Miss Yrac and other fire department queens, fire apparatus from all Wake County departments, a Model T fire truck, political candidates, town officials, floats from various businesses in the area, scouts, clowns, and a U.S. Marine display" reports the April 29 edition of The Raleigh Times. Parade marches "from Urban Drive down Chatham Street and onto Academy Street." A fish-fry is held at the junior high school cafeteria and street dancing in the Winn-Dixie parking lot. Music is provided by "Red Rose and the Dixie Mountain Boys." And a 1964 "Ford automobile" is given away as a door prize. (Saturday after April 29, 1964)rt29apr64

Fire department has three full-time and 15 part-time firefighters as of November 22,

Town council authorizes construction of the Academy Street fire station. Cited in December 18, 1964, Raleigh Times story.


Donald "Don" Tripp hired as Fire Chief.

He's a Chapel Hill firefighter, age 25. He's a graduate of the Charlotte Fire College, Maryland State Fire School, the Fire Administration School at N.C. State, and the Wilson IEC school. His salary is 4,632 annually. Department has two other paid employees: Sherwood Thorton and D. R. Baker. The resignation of Chief Beck is presented to town council on December 21, 1964. (January 1, 1965)rt18dec65, townminutes

Apparatus delivery: 1965 American LaFrance pumper, 1000/750, open cab. "Emergency purchase" authorized by town council on April 15, 1965. [ Was a demo truck purchased? ] Town council told on May 6, 1965, that it would be delivered in the "coming week." (May 1965)cfd

Thirteenth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Event is sponsored by Yrac Rural Fire Department and begins with a parade at 3:00 p.m., followed by games, a fish-fry, a street dance, and the "giving away of a color television set" reports the April 30 edition of The Raleigh Times. During the parade, fire and police officials direct traffic "from US 64 to NC 54." (May 1, 1965)rt30apr65

Town minutes: Council informed that Fire Chief has been instructed to hire two additional firemen immediately, due to the "shortage of paid firemen." (August 19, 1965)

Station 1 completed on 100 N. Academy Street. Plans for the station are approved by town council on April 8, 1965. Construction bid was awarded on May 6, 1965. Reported as having passed inspection, and final payment to builder authorized on September 23, 1965, and that the fire department would soon be occupying their new quarters. (September 1965)


Seaboard Railroad boxcar on N. West Street, behind Suttons Service Station catches fire. Alarm is reported at 10:30 a.m. by telephone. Engine 1 responds with six firefighters, who extinguish the fire with a booster line. "Grease on brakes" is cited as the cause of ignition. No damage is reported. (January 8, 1966) fr

Station 1 dedicated, with an open house held from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event had originally been scheduled on January 30. (March 20, 1966)townminutes

Fourteenth Annual Fireman's Day held.

Event is sponsored by Yrac Rural Fire Department and begins with a "square dance festival" at 2:00 p.m. reports the May 7 edition of The News and Observer. From 4 to 6 p.m., children are given "free fire truck rides." From 4 to 8 pm., a "fish fry" is held in the cafeteria of the junior high school. Games, door prizes, and a "dance in the school gym" are also held. (May 7, 1966)nt

Assistant Chief John W. Ward appointed as Acting Fire Chief, after Chief Tripp resigns on October 14 for personal reasons. (October 15, 1966)

John W. Ward named permanent Fire Chief. (November 29, 1966)townminutes

Garage apartment at corner of Ward and Cedar streets burns.  Alarm is reported at 3:45 p.m. by both telephone and person coming to station. Engine 1, Engine 2, and Ladder 1 respond. Fourteen firefighters battle blaze, one suffering first- and second-degree burns on "hands, forearms, face, and small part of back." Fire is confined to apartment, with $6500 loss. Cause is cited as "faulty oil heater." 1,400 feet of 2 1/2" hose and 800 feet of 1 1/2" hose utilized. (December 11, 1966) 


Fifteenth Annual Fireman's Day held.

More than 5,000 people attend. Proceeds benefit Yrac Rural Fire Department. Events include "free rides on the department's big red fire trucks," a "gospel singing contest," and "a dance in the junior high gym" reports the May 8 edition of The Raleigh Times. Profits will go to the rural fire department's "building and equipment fund." (May 8, 1967)rt08may67  

R. Lee Mathews hired as acting Fire Chief.

He's hired after Chief Ward resigns on January 17. Matthews is a retired Asst. Chief of the Raleigh Fire Department with 37 years of service. A Cary resident for many years, Matthews took the job reluctantly be cause he really was enjoying retirement but came to help us out of a jam and is doing a fine job of running things for us. He 's helping us get reorganized, said Town Manager L. L. Lane. (January 21, 1967)mjl-blog

Town minutes: Council approves loaning the fire siren to the Yrac FD, that had been recently disconnected in the Russell Hills subdivision. (April 25, 1967)tm

C. Frank Ayscue hired as Fire Chief.

The twenty-four year-old had served five years with the Henderson Fire Department. He served until July 15, 1968, when he was hired as a firefighter for the City of Raleigh. He retired from Raleigh as a Senior Firefighter in 1989. (May 1, 1967)mjl-blog

Town minutes: Council receives detailed report from Insurance Rating Bureau, noting the additional equipment required to produce a reduction in individual insurance rates:

  • New hydrant on East Chatham between Academy and Walker
  • Additional 900 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose
  • Four additional volunteer firemen who work in the town during daytime

Also at the meeting, the Fire Chief requests that Council allow the building of a training building on some property owned by the town. Approved. (September 14, 1967)tm


John L. Dew hired as Fire Chief, after resignation of Chief Ayscue on July 15. (July 30, 1968)

Town minutes: Council receives report that the fire department is "fully staffed" with the employment of two new [additional?] men. (September 12, 1968)tm


Billy Henderson hired as Fire Chief, after resignation of Chief Dew on February 6. (February 7, 1969)

Apparatus note: 1953 Seagrave pumper "completely overhauled", with repairs performed in town by a factory-training representative. (April 1969)tm

Apparatus note: 1965 Amercian LaFrance taken to Atlanta for major repairs ($1,400), including installation of a metal hose bed cover costing additional $500. (June 1969)tm

Town minutes: Council receives report that the "labor situation" hasn't improved, and firemen were working on off-duty days "mowing grass, grading and oiling streets, and spraying for mosquitos." (August 28, 1969)tm

Fire department has five full-time and 17 volunteer firefighters.cfdr


Demographics. Town has 7,640 people and 6.01 square miles.

Town minutes: Council receives report that a new Fire Chief would be reporting for duty as of August 1, 1970. [Did Chief Henderson resign?] (July 9, 1970)tm

Town minutes: [Asst. Chief?] Frank Stancil appointed Fire Inspector. (September 8, 1970)tm

Historic Page House destroyed by fire as Town is preparing for Centennial celebration. Fire starts at 2:30 a.m. in electrical wiring on the first floor and has spread to the second floor by the time the first firefighter arrives. The nearest fire hydrant on Academy Street proves dry and before another hydrant can be located, the fire truck's 500 gallon water tank is emptied. Firefighters race to the next hydrant, near the Yrac fire station, laying 2000 feet of supply line. By the time more water is flowed, flames are almost through the roof. By dawn, only a handful of charred timbers of the main house and a lone smokestack are standing. (September 22, 1970)aac

Town minutes: Council told that town is still "negotiating with a prospective fire chief." (October 22, 1970)tm

Fire department has six full-time and 19 volunteer firefighters.cfdr


Terry L. Edmondson hired as Fire Chief, after resignation of Chief Henderson on January 3. (January 4, 1971)

Facility note: Council awards contract to architectural firm for proposed new fire station. (January 28, 1971)tm

Apparatus note: Council approves immediate purchase of additional fire truck, after advised of an "emergency situation", because the engine of one truck had "blown up" and the American LaFrance company had loaned a truck to the town. (May 27, 1971)tm

Donald McLamb is Assistant Chief. (May 1971)coy

Town Safety Committee makes recommendations for improvements to fire department. Report cites "growing pains" and the results of a four-week inquiry into "all phases of the Fire Department." Recommendations include:

  • becoming a "fully paid department when funds are available"
  • the immediate installation of a new radio system
  • building an addition to the "present Central Fire Station"
  • drill scheduling
  • creating a "Code of Conduct" that should emphasize "drinking habits, driving habits, and any other personal habits which would reflect on the individual, the Fire Department or the uniform." (September 23, 1971) 

From blog post:

In September 1971, the Town of Cary Safety Committee released a report with recommendations for improvements to the fire department. CFD like other town departments--indeed, like the community itself--had experienced growing pains. From 1960 to 1970, the town population explosion 121.4%, with expected 14% growth each year from 1970 to 1980.

The fire department was presently protecting 7,500 residents and property valued at around $30,000. They had a full-time fire chief, Terry Edmundson, hired January 1, 1971. And he had brought new ideas to the department, though, as the report noted, "there were naturally some questions raised for changing of old procedures or techniques." He established guidelines and rules and regulations that both paid and volunteer members were to adhere to. And failure to meet those standards resulted caused problems, including the dismiss of one fireman.

On the other hand, noted the report, the fire department had been built up through the years by volunteers who "built up loyalty and pride [to] the present [department]." And some of those members were not measuring up to the high standards set down in years past. Thus, said the report, the Chief, the volunteer firemen, and paid firemen had "failed to communicate with each other" and this caused a morale problem.

Thus Mayor Fred Bond requested that the Safety Committee--consisting of Councilman Thomas Griffis, Chairman, and Russell Secrest--to "make an inquiry into all phases of the fire department." The investigation took about four weeks, and the committee talked with most of the paid and volunteer firemen.

They found, in general, that there was a "conflict in personality" on a "number of incidents" [instances?], a "lack of communication" between the chief and the firefighters, and "the absence of an organizational structure." Though there was a structure present, it had "failed to prove itself" as effective. And which made sense, as the Chief had only been employed for a short time, his Assistant Chief was "from the ranks of the volunteers," and the two lieutenants had a "minimum amount of administrative training."

Thus, upon concluding their investigation, the committee made a list of recommendations. Those are below. They also made recommended some immediate actions to the Town Manager and the Fire Chief. One of those was that Chief Edmundson was to immediately cease using his personal pick-up truck in any capacity with the fire department. He was to park away the truck away from the fire station, and "do everything possible to remove red lights, radios and other [identifying] emblems," so it couldn't be identified as "official Cary Fire Department equipment."

Also, Chief Edmundson was living at the fire department at that time [!] and was instructed to immediately find living quarters away from the fire station.

For the department in general, their recommendations were:

1. After interviewing both volunteer and paid firemen, their opinion was that a fully-paid [career] fire department should be created "when funds are available."

2. When there's a promotional opening, all qualified firemen "should be given a written examination" and the promotion based on "their qualifications and examination."

3. Rules and Regulations should be updated, each member furnished a copy, and one or more meetings held to review the rules with the members.

4. Minimum salaries should be "raised upward as soon as possible" and which will "assist in employing trained personnel."

5. The addition to the "Central Fire Station" should be completed as soon as possible.

6. A new radio system should be installed immediately.

7. The Fire Chief should hold a staff meeting at least once a month with himself, the Assistant Chief, and his Lieutenants, to keep them "informed on activities, policies, and problems within the department."

8. Volunteer firemen should not be permitted to be members of other fire departments or police departments.

9. Volunteer firemen who fail to meet the "minimum drills and meetings" for two successive month, without excuse, should be removed from the roster.

10. All drills should be conducted when scheduled, and there "should be serious consideration before cancelling" any.

11. A code of conduct should be established "setting forth [expectations for] personal habits." It should emphasize "drinking habits, driving habits, and any other personal habits which would reflect on the individual, the fire department, or the uniform."  

Fire department has nine full-time and 18 volunteer firefighters as of September 23, 1971.

Town minutes: Council informed by Fire Chief that Charles W. Frye has been appointed as Fire Inspector. One month earlier, at the September 23, 1971, town council approved that the Fire Chief be allowed to appoint a fire inspector with the assistance of the Town Manager, and with recommended rank and pay of Lieutenant. (October 28, 1971)tm

Apparatus notes:

  • 1971 American LaFrance pumper delivered, 1000/500.
  • 1953 Seagrave pumper refurbished.cfdr

Two-way radio equipment replacement program started. Radio system also tied into County-wide radio system.


Fire department begins dispatching Cary Area Rescue Squad. (Mid-August, 1972)

Cary Area Rescue Squad starts service.

First call is answered at 4:15 p.m. on August 11, 1972. Fire Department discontinues rescue service. Rescue squad is formed by firefighters from Yrac, plus one Cary firefighter. First rescue squad Chief is Jerry Adams. (August 1972)aaac

Station 1 expansion completed. The $78,000, two-story, 5,200 square-foot addition will add additional apparatus room, larger sleeping quarters, a large training room, and more storage area to Station 1. Contract approved by Council on December 1, 1971. Contract signed in February 1972. Construction bid awarded on April 13, 1972. Council receives report on May 25, 1972, that work will start next week, and should be completed in August. Council receives report on September 13, 1972, that fire station should be completed next week. (Fall 1972) tm

Fire department has 12 full-time and 10 volunteer firefighters.cfdr

Vehicle deliveries:

  • 1970 Ford 1/2 ton pick-up truck purchased. Later equipped with "dry chemicals for fighting fuel or gasoline fires."
  • Chief's car purchased. cfdr

New radio base station and new mobile radios installed.cfdr


Snapshot. Fire department roster in May 1973:

Paid Firemen:

  • Chief - Terry L. Edmondson
  • Lt. Charles W. Frye
  • Lt. James A. Moss
  • Lt. Dewey Poole

[Also Paid?] Firemen:

  •  Curtis W. Canada
  • Donald E. Daniels
  • Frank J. Defulgo
  • Delma D. Ellington III
  • Roy W. Ferguson
  • William J. Hanrahan
  • Michael L. Nourse
  • Richard E. Sumler


  • Billy Collins
  • Wm. E. Dorsey
  • Joel Eatman
  • Willis E. Henderson
  • Bruce Horne
  • Robert V. Godbold
  • Carlton Ruth
  • Walter F. Stancil

Source: Town minutes

Fire department has 14 full-time and 14 volunteer firefighters, three pumpers, one equipment truck, one pick-up truck, and one car.cfdr

Fire department hires full-time fire prevention officer.cfdr

New programs involving fire department including servicing and maintaining all fire hydrants and reviewing all site plans for future town development.cfdr


Fire department has 15 full-time and 11 volunteer firefighters as of January 3, 1974.

House fire at 604 Queens Ferry Road kills woman. Fire is reported at 3:46 a.m. Firefighters find Marilyn Powell, 41, "lying 'between the stove and the back door in the kitchen, just 36 inches from the back door" reports the January 18 edition of The News and Observer. Mrs. Powell's twin teenage sons escape. Police officer arrives and attempts rescue, shooting through lock of outside door to bedroom, but cannot enter because smoke is too thick. (January 17, 1974)no18jan74

Twenty-second Annual Fireman's Day held.

Hundreds attend the celebration that begins at 4:00 p.m. with "a special firefighting and rescue demonstration given by members of the Fire Department and the Cary Area Rescue Squad." Also included is a "fish-fry dinner" and a "basketball match between the Cary Fire Department and the Cary Police Department" reports the May 8 edition of The Raleigh Times. Admission to the ball game is a $1 donation to the fire department. Police officers defeat firefighters 39-34. Door prizes "given away at halftime" are "an RCA color television, a Honda motorcycle, a 10-speed bicycle, and a Singer sewing machine." Earlier, firefighters sold tickets for chances to win the prizes. Coincidentally, none of the four prizes are awarded to Cary residents. (May 8, 1974)rt108may74

House fire at 1016 Wilshire Drive kills three girls. Fire is reported at 3:45 a.m. and is caused by careless smoking. Other occupants escape. Fire begins in "downstairs area" and sends "heavy smoke into the upstairs area" where the girls are sleeping, reports the June 10 edition of The News and Observer. Killed are Susan Hagwood, 6, and her half sisters Shirley Hathaway, 15, and Elizabeth Hathaway, 16. All three girls die of smoke inhalation, Wake County Coroner Truman Rhodes later reports. (June 9, 1974)no10jun74

Snapshot: Fire department has 17 full-time members and 12 volunteers. (July 11, 1974)tm

Town Public Information Officer issues press release requesting citizens make "no non-emergency calls" to the fire department "for at least ten minutes after the siren has been silenced," after automobile fire on December 17 results in multiple calls from news reporters and other people, tying up telephone lines needed by the dispatcher. (December 26, 1974)pr 


Land for new Station 2 purchased. Town agrees to buy "slightly over half an acre" at the Cary Village Shopping Center, reports the May 30 edition of The Raleigh Times. Station expected to be operating by March, 1976. The Fire Insurance Bureau told the town in 1970 that it would need a second fire station by the time its population reached 13,000, the Fire Chief tells the newspaper. (July 15, 1975)wcrer, rt30may75

Fire Chief Terry L. Edmundson resigns "amid allegations that he made false alarm telephones to his own department" reports the August 2 edition of The News and Observer. Resignation accepted on July 29, the Town Manager reports to council on August 7.

Two calls on July 28 report fires at the South Hills Motor Inn and Helmold Fire. Voice similarities are noted and a Southern Bell operator tells fire officials that the second caller's number was traced, and was made from Edmondson's home. Edmondson was initially suspended for two weeks without pay. The fire chief cited the charges and previous frustrations as his reasons for resigning. Town officials declined to conduct an investigation. Captains Dewey W. Poole and Macon W. House are appointed acting chiefs. Edmundson is subsequently hired as Fire Chief of the Raleigh-Durham Airport fire department. (July 28, 1975)cn13aug75, no02aug75

Fire department has 17 full-time and 13 volunteer firefighters as of August 1, 1975.

Ned Perry hired as Fire Chief after resignation of Chief Edmundson on July 28, serves until 1993.

Perry is 17-year veteran of the Raleigh Fire Department, with the rank of Captain. He's also president of the Raleigh Firefighter's Association. The salary for the position is $15,828. (October 6, 1975)

Bicentennial colored fire hydrants, painted red, white, and blue, and located on portions of Chatham and Academy street, are approved by Town Council. Fire Chief Ned Perry protests, showing the Town Council "pictures of unattractively decorated" hydrants and noting "problems firemen could have" if the hydrants are not painted carefully. (Thursday before October 15, 1975)cn15oct75


Fire department begins monitoring CB channel 9, the emergency frequency, after receiving base station donated by Cary citizen Larry H. Royster. (January 1976)cn

McDonald's restaurant at Cary Village and next to Station 2 site burns. Two engine companies and one ladder company respond from downtown. The early morning fire, reported at 12:45 a.m., apparently starts "from a wire behind the basement electrical panel box" reports the February 4 edition of The Cary News. Heavy smoke on second floor alerts "a passing motorist who turned in the alarm." Extensive damage is done and firefighters remain on the scene until 2:00 a.m. (January 28, 1976)cn04feb76

Brush fire burns 40 to 50 acres of land between Highway 54 and Hillsborough Road "from the WPTF towers to Wayside Furniture" reports the March 3 edition of The Cary News. Nine fire departments assist the Cary Rural Fire Department, while Cary town and Apex respond to another woods fire in the 900 block of West Chatham Street. Cary Rural Fire Department Fire Chief David Weaver believes first fire was actually "five different fires which were ignited by sparks from the brakes of a passing train." (March 3, 1976)cn03mar76

Last Fireman's Day held.

Twenty-fourth annual event is sponsored by both Cary and Yrac fire departments. Celebration starts with "games at the Cary Office Center on Walnut Street" reports the April 28 edition of The Raleigh Times. Same consist of an "inter-department water fight" and a "bucket brigade race." Next is a "famous flounder fish fry" from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Cary Elementary School. "Quizzo" starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Academy Street fire station with hot dogs "available for refreshments." Live music starts at 8 p.m. "in the parking lot of the Fidelity Bank across the street from the Academy Street fire station." Morning Dew performs. Door prize drawings are held at 10:00 p.m. with "dollar chances" sold for "prizes consisting of a Teaberry C.B. radio, microwave oven, outdoor gas grill," a ten-speed bicycle, and a skateboard. (May 1, 1976)rt 

Apparatus delivery: 1976 Ford/American LaFrance pumper, 1250/500. Bid awarded to C.W. Williams & Company of Rocky Mount on September 26, 1974, for cost of $40,746.00. Delivery within fourteen to sixteen months after contract award. Apparatus was UL tested on May 17, 1976, and acceptance tested on July 15, 1976. Town council receives report on July 8, 1976, that Chief Perry and Captain Poole were en route to New York, to pick up the new truck. Council receives report on July 22 that truck has been tested and is ready to be licensed and put into use. (July 1976)cfdr, tm

Station 2 opens on 875 NE Maynard Road.

  • The one-story, 4,103 square-foot (current size) facility is located on 0.41 acres.
  • The facility costs just over $200,000, including land and landscaping.
  • Builder Scotia Construction Company of Cary.
  • Council receives report that station is nearing completed on June 10, 1976, and should be finished next week.
  • Station inspected by town officials on June 23, 1976.
  • Council receives report on July 8  that station is not quite ready for occupancy.
  • Council receives report on July 22 that station is ready for occupancy.
  • Council receives report on August 11 that station has been activated.
  • Ceremony and open house held on December 5, 1976.

Sources: WCRER, Town Minutes

Snapshot: Fire department has 26 full-time employees and 11 auxiliary firefighters, four pumpers, and one ladder truck as of December 5, 1976.


Cook Out restaurant at 500 Chatham Street burns. Fire is reported at 3:28 a.m. and firefighters arrive one minute later to find wooden A-frame structure fully engulfed in flames. Fire is under control within ten minutes, but thirty-four firefighters remain on the scene for three hours. More than a dozen cans of pain stored on the second level of the one-story structure may have helped the fire spread. Both the building, valued at $35,000 and $18,000 worth of cooking equipment, are a total loss. Fire is believed started by ignition of several quarts of floor cleaner, perhaps by severe winds causing an electrical shortage. (March 23, 1977)rt23mar77

Land for Station 3 purchased on Kildaire Farm Road. Located near the intersection with the proposed location of Cary Parkway. The property costs $3,180. Eighteen months later, town officials discussed moving the station site, due to rising estimated expenses in the planned station construct. Architect William Keener tells officials that the current lot will require more filling, grading, and shaping than originally anticipated. The parcel is subsequently rejected for the project, and a new site is purchased in October 1984, at 1807 Kildaire Farm Road. (March 1977)cn16aug78

Raleigh Times reports on organizational updates since the hiring of Fire Chief Ned Perry:

  • Firefighters organized into three platoons, instead of two.
  • Work week shortened from 72 to 60 hours.
  • Plans to assign a paid firefighter staff the ladder truck.
  • Plans to house the ladder truck, to protect from wind and weather. Currently, the truck is parked in the lot across the street from the firehouse.
  • New program started, where department members visit schools, churches, and businesses, to help firefighters have faster access to buildings during emergencies.
  • Firefighters organized into two companies, with each company responsible for responding to one-half of the town. (May 30, 1977)

Siren removed from Station 1. (July-August, 1977)yfd

Apparatus note: 1957 Chevrolet service truck designated as surplus town property. (August 11, 1977)tm

Apparatus delivery: 1977 GMC/Alexander service truck.

  • Fleet #922. Cost $27,000.
  • Body designed by Fire Chief Ned Perry and built by Alexander Welding of Raleigh. Enclosed body style keeps ladders dry, freeing firefighters from having to clean equipment after runs during rain. Compartment doors are also lighted and the compartments are custom-fit for the equipment.
  • Bid awarded February 10, 1977. 
  • Note: Model year previously cited as 1975. Alt. delivery date November 8.
  • Reported to Council on September 8, 1977, that the new ladder truck had arrived. 

First female joins as volunteer firefighter.


Freight train derails near Old US.1 just west of Cary. Four empty coal cars on a Seaboard Coast Line train derail in afternoon accident. No injures are reported. (February 2, 1978)no03feb78

Distraught man kills self and wife with bomb at Cary Village Shopping Center.

Blast occurs about noon in conference room of law office, after Jerry Ronald Sowers, 32, threatens to "blow up himself and everyone in the building" unless allowed to talk to his wife alone at a 9 a.m. meeting to discuss a separation agreement. Opening his vest and revealing a six-inch device covered with gray tap, Sowers first demands to take his wife out of the building.

Later, holding a battery in one hand and a bare wire in the other, he demands to spend an hour with his wife alone. About 10 a.m., his lawyer persuades Sowers to have the talk in the conference room. The building is evacuated about 10:30 a.m. Police grant Sowers his requested hour at 11:50 a.m.

Minutes later, both Sowers and his wife, Anne Elizabeth Sowers, 36, are killed instantly. Fire Chief Ned Perry estimates the force of the explosion equal to "several sticks of dynamite." Investigators later say they may never be able to determine if the bomb was accidentally or intentionally triggered. (May 11, 1978)no12may78, no13may78

Joyce Finnerty hired as first fire educator. The thirty-one year old Cary resident is only one of three fire educators in the state. Her first priority is expanding the fire department's school education program. She's also planned to receive training and serve as an active firefighter. (October 1978)cn11oct78

Apparatus note: 1953 Seagrave pumper assigned to brush fire duties.


Apparatus note: 1979/1963 Dodge brush truck placed in service.

Former Air Force ambulance is purchased as military surplus for $700 in 1978. The low-mileage vehicle (11,000 miles) is obtained from an Army Surplus Depot and rebuilt by firefighters, with consultation of town mechanics. The conversion into a brush truck costs $1,500. Work is done at both fire stations and at the Town Shop. (May 10, 1979)

Fire department accepts applications for four positions.

First step in application process is passing an aptitude test administered by the Employment Security Commission. Once past that hurdle, applications face a series of fire department tests including carrying a specific amount of weight for a certain distance and carrying a hose up a ladder. Once hired, incoming firefighters learn to maneuver with equipment and are expected to begin a physical exercise program. During a four-week orientation phase, rookies must learn every piece of equipment on a fire truck. There's also a written exam and dexterity tests. At the end of four weeks, the firefighter is assigned to an officer and company and can officially be called a Firefighter I. The starting pay range is from $10,005 to $13,250. (June 1979)cn06jun79

Town gets 911 emergency telephone service, becoming first Wake County community to adopt the shorter number. Begins operating on Monday, October 8. Anyone with a 467 or 469 exchange can use the number. The old number was 467-6101. Calls are answered in the town emergency communications center, in the lower level of the town hall.  (October 8, 1979)no05oct79

Town revamps pay schedules for all employees, bringing salary levels in line with comparable municipalities. (Winter 1979)cn

Fire hydrants changed to national standard threads.

Threads changed on 900 fire hydrants in town during a seven-day period. The project costs about $41,000. To expedite the program each hydrant is assigned a number. The town is then divided into quarters, and then into routes. Firefighters are divided into teams to install the threads on the hydrants, hoses, and trucks. The existing threads originally matched Raleigh's, and for the assumed purpose of mutual aid, if Raleigh responded to Cary. The threads later evolved into a different "Cary thread," and both types were in use. By changing to national standard, there were several benefits: developers could purchase fire hydrants without special ordering. Such hydrants would be delivered faster. And the fire department could order new hose couplings faster, without customization. The new equipment was provided by Zimmerman and Evans Fire and Safety in Greensboro. (December 1979)cn02jan80

Snapshot, from Comprehensive Fire Management and Fire Prevention Plan:


  • Engine 1 - 1971 American LaFrance, 1000/500 - Station 1
  • Engine 2 - 1965 American LaFrance, 1000/750 - Station 2
  • Engine 3 - 1975 Ford/American LaFrance, 1250/500 - Station 1 - First back-up
  • Engine 4 - 1953 Seagrave, 750/500 - Station 1 - Second back-up
  • Truck 6 - 1976 GMC service truck - Station 2
    Equipped with 16 foot (1), 20 foot (1), 30 foot (2), 35 foot (2), 45 foot (1) ladders.
  • Brush 9 - 1963 Dodge - Station 2


  • Car 1 - 1976 Plymouth Fury - Fire Chief
  • Car 2 - 1977 Plymouth Fury - Fire Marshal
  • Car 3 - 1972 Ford pick-up - Multi-purpose, also response vehicle

Continue reading 1980 and later



cb Calvin Beck, History of Cary Fire Department, 1921-1937
cfdr Cary Fireman's Day records
cn Cary News
dr Department Records
fr Fire or Alarm Record
gn Garner News
mjl Mike Legeros
mjl-blog Legeros Fire Blog
na News article
no News and Observer
noi News and Observer Index
pm Pierce Manufacturing
pr Press Release
rt Raleigh Times
sos NC Secretary of State
tm Town Minutes
ts The State Magazine
wcfa Wake County Fireman's Association records
wcrer Wake County real estate records
yfd Yrac Fire Department records

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