01/02/10 431 W, 1 I - + 9 - 12 South Wilmington / North Wilmington Fire Departments

Though a holiday trip to Wilmington wasn't in the cards, Google provided a fine alternative to library research this week. Here's what we learned about a pair of former fire departments there...

South Wilmington Fire Department was incorporated in August 1956, and protected unincorporated (and largely industrial?) areas south of the city. By 1965, their station was located on Vance Street. That year, an annexation absorbed the station and much of their district.

Around 1968, their station was relocated to the unpaved Titanium Road1, midway between Carolina Beach Road and River Road. Around April 1984, another annexation absorbed more of South Wilmington's district. That same annexation also consumed about a third of Winter Park's territory.

By 1987, though perhaps much earlier, South Wilmington also had territory north of Wilmington along Highway 421. In the spring of that year, Cape Industries donated an acre of land on Highway 421 for a second fire station. The lot was located next to Sneeden's Trading post, and near Cape Industries. Say, around the 4600 block?

Though Cape Industries had its own fire protection-- including an engine, personnel, and a pond for water supply-- they also relied on SWFD. The response time for the department to the north side of the city was 12 to 20 minutes (!), as they had to travel through the city. In 1987, SWFD had 28 members that, along with equipment, would be divided between the two stations.

In April 1990, South Wilmington Fire Department was renamed North Wilmington Fire Department. By this time, their second station north of the city was likely operational. Perhaps annexation consumed the remainder of the southern district, and the department moved north and renamed accordingly.

In April 1993, North Wilmington Fire Department members voted to dissolve the department. The county had cancelled its contract with the department, which was expiring that month. They had been facing dwendling numbers of membership, cancellation of commercial protection contracts, and other issues. The department still had debts, including money owed on two of five fire trucks, and its station.2

North Wilmington's rigs ended up at departments outside the county. The station was later used by New Hanover Fire Department. Is the building still standing today? Still serving as a fire station? It still serves today, and here's a Google Street View photo:


1Titanium Road was paved and renamed Independent Boulevard around 1997
2This appears to have been a turbulent time for the county and funding and its volunteer departments. Was New Hanover County FD created soon after?

It is being used by New Hanover County St. 51 and is located at the corner of Hwy 421 North and Sutton Lake Road which is North of Wilmington. I remember years ago the station when it was named North Wilmington FD and when NHC started its own FD I believe this was one of the first stations. I do know they run alot with Pender County, especially Long Creek Grady FD. They have district by road miles which is 14 miles from there station but only 5 miles from NHC St. 51. Talk about response time!
car3550 - 01/02/10 - 22:57

Thanks Benjy! I added a Google photo.
Legeros - 01/02/10 - 23:06

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