10/27/11 591 W, 2 I - + 5 - 7 Old Elm City Fire Station?

Who hasn't looked at an old building like the top picture, photographed by Lee Wilson, and thought "that looks like an old fire station." Same is located at 107 S. Railroad Street in Elm City. That's Wilson County. The present fire station is shown in the second picture, beside the present EMS station. Let's see what the Great Internet Oracle can tell us. Elm City had a population in 2007 of 1,209 people, and an area of 0.7 square-miles. Thus the fire department probably also protects a substantially larger unincorporated area. When was ECFD formed? North Carolina Secretary of State corporation records list 1983 as the year Elm City Emergency Services Inc. was incorporated. Is that the same entity as the fire department?

The corporation records list a different mailing address as the fire station, 106 W. Main Street versus 102 W. Main Street. Sounds like ECES is the EMS agency. Google finds this Wilson County web page that tells more. ECFD is actually named Elm City-Toisnot Volunteer Fire Department, and they were incorporated in 1971. They serve the Toisnot Rural Fire District as well as the town of Elm City. Returning to the state corporation records, there's a Toisnot Rural Fire Department listed with an incorporation year of 1971.

Does that mean that two entities at one time existed, Elm City FD and Toisnot Rural FD? Could be. Maybe. There's no corporate record of the former, which would make sense if a city-run fire department had existed. Or maybe the town had a fire engine and some equipment that it funded, and a loose group of volunteers, but one that never pursued private incorporation. Our readers to the east can certainly tell more. Alternately, the current fire department might be the only fire department that ever existed, and they took their name from a pair of differently rated insurance districts. 

Lee Wilson photos

But what about the building in question? The thing looks several decades old, and could have started its life as a garage or stable. But it seems too old to have been built as a fire station, unless the town itself is really old. Let's see what the Wilson County property records say. Lo and behold, the building at 107 S. Railroad Street is listed as owned by the Town of Elm City Fire Department. Well, that answers a couple questions right there! The records say the structure was built in 1900. But was it built as a fire station? We need some information on Elm City itself, which we find from this page.

Elm City was originally named Toisnot, and renamed in 1913. It was railroad town and looks like its grown period was the 1910s and 1920s. Thus the number of turn-of-the-century buildings that are present, and the reason that town's historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here's an inventory of the district (map and inventory document on another link).

Alas, the old fire station is not included in the inventory. But in general, a bustling town in the 1910s probably did have a fire department. Maybe a hand-pulled chemical cart. Maybe a hose reel or two, if a water system was present. Maybe even a fire engine, say an early triple-combination. Looks like we still need some reader input. Or a random phone call to the local history library there. Anyway, here are Lee's photos from his visit. And thus concludes our early morning history lesson. We'll find out soon enough if this blogger-historian knows what the heck he's talking about!

My dad happens to be the Assistant Chief there. I will ask him if two different fire departments ever existed.
Marcus - 10/28/11 - 14:40

I want to get pic’s of the Elm City fire trucks Marcus.
lee - 10/29/11 - 02:10

Lee, send me an email with some dates that you are available and I am sure that I can work something out.
Marcus - 10/30/11 - 05:09

i will say that yes elm city fire dept and toisnot fire dept are two different agencys, elm city fire dept no longer exists with toisnot making a contract with elm city in the late 90’s at one point they were combined, elm city ems is not affiliated with the fire dept. also the old firestation was the original fire dept, the trucks were too big and a new station was built where t exist today
jason osborne (Email) - 01/18/12 - 10:43

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