Fuquay-Varina Fire Department(s) History

Last updated: July 17, 2020




1915, Fire district resolution passed by town officials. From town minutes. (November 1, 1915)

1916, two warehouses burn. The Farmers' Warehouse and the Banner Warehouse are destroyed in a morning fire about 2:00 a.m., along with about $10,000 worth of tobacco. One of the owners has about $7,000 insurance. The fire starts in the Farmers' warehouse and spreads to the second, by a "wind that sprung up after the fire started" reports the January 17, 1914 issue of the Raleigh Times. The wooden buildings were to be replaced with new brick buildings. (January 27, 1914.)rt17jan14

1916, downtown block of Fuquay Springs burns. Three store buildings and an iron storage warehouse are destroyed.

The fire started in the early morning hours and gutted the businesses of the Fuquay Drug Company, Deitz & Isaacson general merchants, the Fuquay Hardware Company; Dr. C. E. Cheek and Dr. J. R. Edwards dentists; and A. J. Fletcher, lawyer. The post office across the street "barely missed destruction" and the "big plate glass windows" of the Fuquay Bank burst.

The fire was intentionally set, and did $45,000 to $50,000 worth of damage. Source: Evening Dispatch (Wilmington, NC). Note: This fire has been incorrectly cited as 1919, in retrospective stories published after later fires. (June 13, 1916)

1922, first fire truck. 1922/23/24 Model T truck with 50 gallon chemical tank.



1925, first [formal?] fire department organized (for Fuquay Springs), with W. Lee Rowland serving as first fire chief.fdr 


1931, Fuquay Springs fire protection equipment described as "chemical truck, 500 feet of hose, and other apparatus" in News & Observer, August 9, 1931.mjl

1937, first water system connection made at Bank of Fuquay. (September 6, 1937)tws

1937, Fuquay Springs Town Manager authorized by board to purchase 500 feet of "Underwriters hose" from lowest bidder. (December 6, 1937)fstm

1938, Fuquay-Varina Volunteer Fire Department formed.

From News & Observer, February 2, 1938:

Wake Town Forms Fire Department

Fuquay Springs Completes Organization of First Fire Fighting Crew

Fuquay Springs, Feb. 12 - Formal organization of the Fuquay-Varina volunteer fire department took place in the town hall this week with Lee Rowland, chief of the department, presiding over the meeting.

Although the department is just now being organized, it is prepared to fight fires immediately. Several months ago the town purchased a fire truck and other modern firefighting equipment sufficient to take care of the town's needs.

Officers of the department, in addition to Chief Rowland, are S. A. Satterwhite, assistant chief; W. G. Ragan, secretary; and T. L. Cordle, treasurer.

Members of the department are Chief Rowland, John Thomas, W. G. Ragan, W. A. Hamilton, A. A. Tingen, Horton Poe, C. B. Ellis, S. A. Satterwhite, J. L. Kestler, S. L. Rowland, R. K. Rhodes, Woodrow Johson, Jack Riley, and Mr. Clark. Satterwhite, Ragan and Tingen have had previous experience in other cities where they resided before coming to Fuquay. (February 1938) no13feb38

1938, first Fire Chief is W. Lee Rolland. Serves until 1963. fdr

1938, Fuquay Springs town board board informed of "the purchase of a 1936 Chevrolet truck chassis for $207.73 as the basis of a fire truck. Prices had been requested on rebuilt siren. The city of Durham Fire Dept. offered a used fire truck body for $75.00. However, the town manager reported that he thought that he could obtain a better price through the City Manager of Durham.". (March 7, 1938)fstm

1938, Fuquay Springs Town Manager reports to board that a fire truck body has been purchased from the City of Durham for $40, and a reconditioned 5HP siren has been purchased for $180. (April 4, 1938)fstm

1938, Fuquay Springs authorized by board to investigate the cost of installing switches to [the town of Varina] and the central office for turning in fire alarms at those points. (May 9, 1938)fstm

1938, Fuquay Springs town board passes ordinance with misdemeanor penalties for persons interfering with a fire alarm. It's unlawful for any person to tamper with any fire department equipment belong to the town, or tamper with the town fire alarm, or turn in a false alarm. They will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $25.00, nor more than $50.00, nor imprisoned more than thirty days. (May 9, 1938)fstm


1946, main block of Fuquay-Springs burns.

Blaze begins in repair shop of Proctor-Barbour Company, Wake County's largest farm supply and general merchandise store. Employees are repairing a tractor when sparks from an acetylene torch ignite a bucket of gasoline, used for washing their hands.

Fire breaks out about 1:45 p.m. on a Thursday. Fanned by a strong southwest wind, flames spread rapidly destroying four businesses and damaging five others.

All other town businesses close immediately and every available person heads to the scene, including children, to help either extinguish the fire of carry furnishings and merchandise from stores. Other contents are moved out of buildings, such as office equipment and records. Nearby farmers see the flames and come into town to investigate.

Volunteer fire departments from Angier, Apex, Dunn, and Lillington assist. The Raleigh Fire Department, located 15 miles away, is also called.

Traffic is detoured around the main part of town.

Both the town and visiting firefighters are plagued with problems. The town's only fire truck has to be pushed two blocks, from where it's stored, before it can be started.

Apex's pumper arrives within twelve minutes, but its firemen can't connect to the town's fire hydrants due to different hose threads, and the pumper cannot be used. Angier's fire engine arrives and also cannot be used, with the same problem.

Dunn's fire truck arrives, but finds Fuquay's water pressure too low to supply it. Raleigh's fire truck breaks down while en route, and is delayed only fifteen minutes on its eighteen-mile run.

Headed by Raleigh Fire Chief R. W. Butts, they have has adapters allowing Dunn's tanker to be used, thus saving the Bank of Fuquay from sustaining more than roof damage. They can also connect to the town's fire hydrants, and their one pressurized hose line does "much to check the blaze."

Damages are estimated at $150,000. Destroyed are:

Damaged are:

Three days later, the town council plans to consider proposal to "standardize fire hydrants" at their next meeting, reports the Raleigh Times. Apex and Angier firefighters helped battle the blaze, but were "handicapped because fire hydrant hose connections were un-standardized." Raleigh firemen, however, were able to use their hose, "by means of an adapter." (March 10, 1946)rt10mar46

1946, apparatus purchase: 1945 Mack Type 45 pumper. The truck is purchased after an emergency resolution by the Town Board to upgrade Fuquay's firefighting capacities. A bid by the Mack Truck Company is presented and accepted for $5,555.80. The Mack company representative is Kenlon Brockwell, son of state Fire Marshal Sherwood Brockwell. (July 1, 1946)tm

1948, New Deal Warehouse No. 1 destroyed by fire, along with other structures.

The fire also guts a nearby "Negro home" and almost completely destroys three others. It causes partial damage to another house, and a storage warehouse of the North State Tobacco Company.

Reported about 9:00 a.m., the fire rages for almost an hour before being extinguished by firefighters from Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, Angier, Apex, Dunn, and Ft. Bragg. The building was already heavily involved as the first firefighters arrived, and it collapsed just as they reached the scene.

Damage is estimated at more than $128,000 for the 75,000 square-foot warehouse. The wooden warehouse is valued at $60,000, and the contents at $25,000. Some burning tobacco sacks were pulled out the building, after the tin was "knocked off" one end of the building.

Approximately 30,000 pounds of tobacco were damaged by water and fire. (November 22, 1948)rt, no23nov48


1951, new municipal building dedicated at 131 Fuquay Avenue. The one-story brick building houses fire, police, and water departments, the jail, recorder's court, and municipal offices. It also includes a "well-ventilated three jail" and single bay for fire apparatus. Constructed started about a year ago, but work stopped for about six months due to a shortage of steel. It was financed by a $45,000 bond. (August 22, 1951) no12jul51

1954, rural fire department formed. Incorporated as Fuquay-Varina Rural Fire Department on May 21, 1954.

The sponsor of the project is the Farm Bureau of Fuquay-Varina.

The election of a Board of Directors was held on Monday, May 10. They were: Sherrill Akins, Carl Bennett, Leo Betts, T. j. Bridges. E. C. Hare, B. O. Holleman, Claude Jones, Donnie Marcom, Henry Rawls, Bill Stinson, and John W. Smith. Also present were Fred Hunt, vocational agricultural teacher, and Win Donat, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. Donat reported on the filing of the corporation's charter and by-laws, and the findings of a committee investigating the equipment and financing plans of Apex and Zebulon rural fire departments.fvi20may54

Also on May 10, an election was held that named Leo Betts as President, Sherrill Akins as Vice-President, Win Donat as Secretary-Treasurer, and Fred Hunt as Advisor. fvi20may54

The first organization meeting was held Monday, May 17, in the Vocational Agricultural classroom of the high school. R. L. Wilkins, presidential of the local Farm Bureau, acted as temporary Chairman. There was group discussed various approaches to financing, and other issues.fvi20may54

The Board of Directors adopts a financing plan at a meeting on May 24, 1954. The initial fee is $5 for all rural dwellings or commercial buildings up to and including $10,000 of value. Homes and commercial buildings valued over that amount will be charged an additional $1 per $1,000 over $10,000. Farm properties will be charged $5 per dwelling, plus $1 per building on the farm, and with the same dollar amounts and additional charges as above.fvi27may54

Memberships are solicited of rural property owners who live within a seven mile radius of the corporate limits of Fuquay Springs. The membership drive is underway by June 1954.fvi24jun54

They're placed in service in the spring of 1955. Two trucks were reported as nearly ready for service in March 1955.

The town siren, which alerts the town fire department, is considered for the rural department use, and rejected as a second siren is purchased, with a different sound. The rural department plans for at least six qualified apparatus drivers to be available day and night. The siren will be operated from a push button station at a sidewalk position, or from the police department office.

Telephone operators will be provided the names and phone numbers of the drivers, and each major rural area will have a group of members assigned the duties of meeting the truck on the road, and directing it to the fire. Once both units are in service, drills and training will be held, to "coordinate all the factors of the unit to give the best possible service."sos, fvi10mar55

1954, first rural Fire Chief is Tom Bridges. Serves until 1959. wcfa

1954, first rural fire station is tin shed / shelter in vicinity of 134 Fuquay Avenue.oh

1954, first rural fire apparatus:

The loaned pumper is a four wheel-drive unit with a 300 gallon tank. It's located in Columbia, SC, reports the Independent on November 18, 1954, and will be brought to town as soon as possible.fvi18nov54

The tanker was still undergoing construction in early March. It was equipped with a 550 gallon tank, and had "not yet completed its mechanical overhauling."fvi10mar55

The 1954 Ford/Howe pumper is delivered after a 700-mile drive from Anderson, IN. The driver is a Control Engineer from Howe. It arrived on Sunday afternoon  and the engineer remained in town through Monday, to help members of the rural fire department "acquaint themselves with the orientation of the new" truck. fvi24mar55

The truck's specifications were a combination of the requirements of the NFPA, the NC Rating Bureau, and the Wake County Fire Commission. Three companies presented bids. The contract was awarded to Howe on November 9, 1954. The cost was $9,713, and it's delivery was only a few days behind the expected schedule. There was a delay due to the chassis arriving in late December, and the factory unable to start work until the first week in January.fvi24mar55

On Monday, a "practical workout" of the truck was made behind the Town Hall, with fire department members present. Later, the truck was driven out to Barefoot's Lake, for a "demonstration with the portable pump and tank in every possible combination." Train for drivers and crew was expected to start soon. On April 22, a dedication ceremony for the truck, and a celebration of the rural fire department's launch, was planned at the annual Fat Cal Show. The department still owed $2,700 to Howe, for the truck. (March 20, 1955)fvi24mar55

1955, rural fire department siren connected to four telephones answering the number 580. The procedure for reporting a fire requires the caller to both dial 580, and stay on the line until someone answers. The four telephones include three at the bedside of three equipment operators, who will answer the phones at night, along with their wives. The fourth telephone is located in a box on the pole near the siren. The siren was purchased by the rural department, because a different sound was needed from the town siren. (May 13, 1955)fvi19may55

1955, rural fire department begins service. (Spring 1955)

1955, in their first year of operation, the rural fire department answers 68 alarms, and saves $391,400 worth of property. (December 31, 1955)rt04jul56

1956, by July 4, the rural fire department has 400 subscribers. There are eleven volunteer firemen, and twelve members on their Board.rt04jul56

1958, new (rural?) fire station completed. (Fall 1958) wcfa1, oh


1963, Clifton Keith becomes City Fire Chief. Serves until 1972 fdr

1963, community changes name from Fuquay-Springs to Fuquay-Varina with merger of post offices. tws

1965, rural fire station completed at 128 Fuquay Avenue. Construction started in 1964. Cost $1,100. The prior structure was an "old tin garage" in the rear of the property.fdr, oh, fvi16mar72

1966, rural fire station dedicated in memory of Chief Thomas J. Bridges. He was a driving force in the organization in 1953, and served as chief until 1964, when declining health forced him to step down. Bridges practically donated the land for the building, selling the property to the department at the original price he paid years ago. He spent many hours working on the building, but died two months before it was completed. (January 23, 1966)fdr, fvi16mar72

1967, seven firefighter's wives meet at the Fuquay-Varina courthouse to organize rural fire department's first ladies auxiliary:

Guest speaker is Sherman Pickard, later Raleigh Fire Chief. Mary Joyce Magnum is elected President and Charlotte Mangum is elected Secretary. Another meeting is scheduled to elect remaining officers. (April 14, 1967)fdr

1967, firefighters vote to approve Ladies Auxiliary. Mary Joyce Mangum serves as first president. (June 1967) fdr

1967, Ladies Auxiliary holds first fundraiser, a bake sale at Rollins Jewelry on S. Main Street. Total profit is $110.20. (June 10, 1967) fdr

1967, first Fireman's Day parade held. First parade Chairman is William Oliver. (October 14, 1967) fdr

1968, Big Top tobacco warehouse on U.S. 401 burns. The fire department is called at 3:15 a.m. and the fire was already beyond control, when firefighters arrived. It was "beyond the capacity of the fire department" said the fire chief. The Fairview Fire Department was called, and assisted with battling the blaze and protecting surrounding buildings. Garner and Swift Creek fire departments were put on stand-by. The $200,000 building housed fertilizer and insecticides valued at $35,000. The fire was still burning that afternoon. (April 17, 1968)no18apr68

1968, Ladies Auxiliary holds "Summer Fashion Show" at Fuquay-Varina High School Auditorium. Admission to 8 p.m. event is $1.00. (May 17, 1968) fdr

1968, Stephens Supply Company burns. The building is gutted by the Saturday night fire, reported about 11:30 p.m. The hardware business was the largest in this area of the state. (December 15, 1968)fvi19dec68

1968 (?) apparatus delivery, 1968 Ford/Bean pumper, 750/500.

1969, Town Board and rural fire department Board of Directors meet for some three-and-a-half hours, in effort to settle some differences between the town and rural fire departments.

Though they are run as separate organizations, with different fire chiefs, most of the firemen are members of both groups.

The town fire department is run by Town Engineer Clifton Keith as Fire Chief, and is financed by the town budget. This year, the budget was $6,000. To purchase "needed equipment", it has to ask the Town Board at the monthly meeting.

The rural fire department is run by Fire Chief Ed Schemeltzer. Their funds are provided by dues from rural people who use their services, and fundraisers such as barbecue suppers and turkey shoots.

Most of the differences expressed at the meeting "seemed to stem from the fact that the firemen feel there is a lack of leadership, communication, and discipline between the two fire departments" noted the Independent on November 11, 1969.

Other issues included that the town Fire Chief has his hands tied, when the department needs equipment or such. He has to go before the Town Board. Also, because he's also the town engineer, he doesn't "have enough time to fully develop the town fire department."

The two departments are across the street from each other, and there is a great deal of fellowship among the rural staff. They have had "enough room and equipment to meet and to discuss what they should do after they drill." But they don't have enough room or equipment in the town department "to do anything." And they don't have a say-so in how it's run, said one member.

The firemen say that the town is more dependent on the rural fire department, than vice-versa.

One outcome is a suggestion by Mayor W. E. Medlin that the town board the town fire department meet twice a year, for an appreciation night for the town fire department. He also suggested that that each department send its chief and another spokesman to the monthly Town Board meeting, to report on their activities and needs. (November 11, 1969)fvi11nov69

1969 (?) apparatus delivery, 1969 Chevy/American LaFrance pumper, 1000/500.


1970, special committee of town investigating prospects for a full-time Fire Chief position, reports the Independent on September 17, 1970.

1972, apparatus delivery for rural department: 1970 Chevy/Bean pumper-tanker, 350/1200. Cost $16,000, and includes "electric reels" and a 14-foot and 24-foot ladder. It will be paid for with fundraisers, such as donations, memberships, turkey shoots, and barbecues. Delivery reported in March 16, 1972, edition of the Independent. (March 1972)

1972, new fire alarm siren installed. The ten-horsepower siren replaced a three-horsepower model.

The new siren serves the newly merged town and rural fire departments. It was replaced as the older model wasn't adequate for alerting the firemen. With help from the Fuquay-Varina Civil Defense Office, matching funds from the federal government were obtained for the cost of purchase and installation, which totaled $3,000. The siren also doubles as a Civil Defense warning system.

The fire alarm signal is a series of rapidly alternating high and low pitch sounds. The other two signals are the nationally known alert warning and attack warning sounds.

The alert warning is a steady three to five minute sustained, double tone blast, used to alert the general public of a possible threat to the community.

The attack warning is a high and low note combination, that moves distinctly from low to high volume, with a wavering effect. This signal is used only for warning of an "actual enemy attack." (September 1972)fvi?21sep72

1972, St. Augusta Free Will Baptist Church burns.

Fire is reported about 9:00 p.m., but the fire is well underway when firemen arrive. The roof collapses only minutes after they arrive. Many grass fires are started, from sparks flying from the church. Water is also sprayed on an oil storage tank outside the church, to prevent it from catching fire.

ire and smoke can be seen all over town, as flames reach over a hundred feet in the air. Hundreds of people head to the scene, and onlookers park their cars in the middle of the narrow road to the church. This hampers firefighters transporting water back and forth to the fire.

 One fire engine (Unit #2) falls of the road, into a four-foot ditch, and has to be pulled out. The water had to be emptied, to lighten its weight, which rendered the truck useless for fighting the fire. It was inoperable for nearly an hour, but sustained very little physical damage. (December 21, 1972.)fvi28dec72

1972, municipal department merges into rural department.

The merger is effective in June 1972, notes the Independent in a retrospective article on June 14, 1973.

Combining the two departments is a move toward greater cooperation and unity. It merges the organizations under the administration of one fire chief, and allows the sharing of the "unified alarm system, Central Dispatch, which originates in Raleigh."

The merger allows the town firemen to also use personal radio monitors, which help them be continually aware of events throughout the area, and respond to emergencies more quickly and effectively.

The charter of rural fire department is amended on December 27, 1972, to include service into town. ncsos

In June 1973, there are about 40 firemen in the combined department. They are all volunteer. Wayne Worthham is the Fire Chief. Ed Schmelzer is the Assistant Chief for the town division, and James Mauldin is the Assistant Chief for the rural division.

County taxes pay the basic support for the department, but they also rely heavily on donations and fundraisers.

1972, Fire Chief is Wayne Wortham. Serves until 1973.fdr

1973, Fire Chief is James Mauldin. Serves until 1974.fdr

1973, first fire department sponsored turkey shoot held. (Fall 1973) fdr

1974, apparatus delivery: 1974 Ford/FMC/Bean pumper-tanker, 450/1200. Delivered the week of June 20, 1974. The addition gives the department the ability to carry over 12,000 gallons of water to a rural fire. It will be paid for by "donations, barbecues, turkey shoots, and other fundraising activities" reports the Independent on June 20, 1974.

1975, Fire Chief is Douglas Knott. Serves until 1976.fdr

1975, Hilltop Free Will Baptist Church on Highway 401 north burns. The fire is discovered about 10:30 p.m., shortly after a wedding and reception. It started in a secretary's office and destroyed a major part of the building, which was located about four miles north of town. The fire was bought by crews from Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Fairview, Swift Creek, and Garner. The church was eight years old. (February 14, 1975)no15feb75

1975, second annual Fireman's Banquet held at the Hickory House in Garner. Walter Howard honored for 50 years of service to fire department. (February 27, 1975) fdr

1975 (?), apparatus delivery: 1975 Ford/Bean pumper, 1000/500.

1977, Fire Chief is Edward Schmelzer. Serves until 1978fdr

1977, fourth annual Fireman's Banquet held at the Hickory House in Garner. Jasper Weathers presented award of Fireman of the Year. (February 19, 1977) fvi

1977, seven businesses on South Main Street destroyed by fire.

Fire burns buildings between Raleigh and Vance streets Businesses destroyed or extensively damaged in the block of one- or two-story buildings:

Only building on block not damaged is Fidelity Bank of Fuquay on north end of block, saved by a solid brick fire wall.

Same block burned in March of 1946 and all buildings were destroyed. New buildings were subsequently erected with fire walls, but, over the years, the fire walls were altered and false ceilings erected to join stores.

Fire is discovered about 1:30 a.m. by passing police officer on his routine patrol, who spots smoke in Country Garden Flower and Gifts while checking stores. Fire department is dispatched at 1:32 a.m.

Shortly after firefighters arrive, pressure from the heat inside the flower shop blows out the plate glass windows in the front of the building. Flames were burning through the roof of the flower and gift shop, on arrival. The wind also shifted as they arrived, sending smoke into the street, and blinking and choking them.

Crews thought the fire had been contained to just three stores, but the flames suddenly spread through false ceilings along the entire block.

Holly Springs and Fairview fire departments also responded, requested as mutual aid. Fuquay Rescue Squad was also on scene. Some 25 to 30 firefighters battle the blaze, with a total of 60 to 70 emergency personnel including rescue squad members and police officers.

They also tapped a sixteen-inch water main from Raleigh, to supplement their water supply. Also because of the town's new water tank, some 800,000 gallons of water was available for firefighting. The Firemen's Auxiliary also assists, serving breakfast that morning to the weary firefighters.

Damage estimated at $500,000 or more. One firefighter suffers minor injury, fireman Tim Matthews whose foot slips through a false roof, and is slightly burned on head and face. He does not require hospital treatment.

Authorities later blamed altered fire walls and joint ceilings between buildings for the spread of the fire. (March 1, 1977) no02mar77, rt01mar77

1977, Adams Concrete Pipe Company on Highway 401 north of Fuquay suffers two fires in two days. On Sunday, a parked tractor-trailer catches fire. Damage to the tractor is estimated at $10,000. On Monday, just minutes after employees depart for day, fire is reported on roof of building. Damage is estimated at around $28,000 to both the roof and the contents of the building. Business owner James Adams asks the Sheriff's Department to investigate the cause of the fire. Fire Chief Doug Knott also plans a routine investigation and will contact the State Bureau of Investigation arson team if anything unusual is found. (April 7, 1977) na

1977, groundbreaking ceremony held at fire station site at 301 South Fuquay Avenue. Just as ceremony ends, fire alarm sounds and firefighters respond to woods and grass fire. (August 1, 1977) rt01aug77

1977, Fire Chief is Edward L. Sclmelzer. (August 1, 1977)rt01aug77

1977, fire apparatus stored in several locations:

1977, Ladies Auxiliary holds bazaar to raise funds. Copies also sold of cookbook compiled by members of the Firemen's Auxiliary. Some of the special items to be sold at auction include:

1978, fifth annual Fireman's Banquet held at the Hickory House in Garner. Assistant Chief Johnny Jones presented award of Fireman of the Year. (February 18, 1977) fdr

1978, new fire station dedicated at 301 South Fuquay Avenue.

The one-story, 9,300 square-foot building has five bays with two entrances each, to hold ten trucks. It also includes a kitchen, radio room, meeting room, all-purpose room, Chief's office, and both maintenance and storage space. Building also has showers and sleeping areas in the event the town later forms a full-time, paid fire department.

Cost is $202,000, (partially?) financed with a Farmers Home Administration loan and is constructed on two-acre site formerly owned by Hudson-Belk. The architect is Enviroteck of Raleigh and the builder is Metal Building System of North Carolina, Inc. from Sanford. (December 3, 1978).oh, rt01aug77

1979, Rogers Gulf Service and the Friendly Flower Shop on S. Main Street destroyed by fire. (April 17, 1979) na

1979, anniversary parade held to commemorate 25th anniversary of rural fire department. Event begins at 2 p.m. and consists of about twenty fire trucks and marching bands. Fifteen different fire departments plan to participate. Trophies are handed out for best-appearing fire trucks in various categories. (October 6, 1979) na

1979, Fire Chief is Johnny Jones.fdr


1980, The Food Center burns. (April 1980)fvi17apr80

1980, woods fire burns about 60 acres across road from Bazzel Creek Baptist Church. Firefighters spend about six hours battling blaze reported about 2:30 p.m. State Forestry Service assists. Fire thought to have started by spark from a cutting torch at a salvage yard on Wilbon Road. Flames are controlled in areas threatening homes; portion burning in woods requires assistance of Forestry Service plough.na

1982, tanker transporting "dangerous chemicals" overturns on Highway 401 at Crumpier Hill. Resulting leak results in evacuation of about 70 area residents. (January 1982) na

1982, Southside Warehouse at corner of Highway 401 and Slaughter Pen Road burns. Blaze is discovered by patrolling auxiliary firefighter at 2:12 p.m. The 34-year old, 70,000 square-foot wooden structure is nearly destroyed by the time firefighters from Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs arrive. Strong winds spread burning pieces of roofing materials. Crews were positioned along Slaughter Pen Road, and sprayed water on nearby houses to prevent their roofs from catching fire. (April 28, 1982) fvi02mar82

1983, Creative Products sporting goods store at corner of Main and Vance streets burns. Fire is reported around 9:00 p.m. and by 9:30 p.m. smoke is gushing front and back of building. Firefighters attempt interior attack but are driven back by smoke. Around 10:30 p.m. the roof collapses. About 60 firefighters battle blaze throughout Sunday night and into Monday morning, with Fuquay-Varina Fire Department personnel assisted by approximately 10 firefighters from Holly Springs. Damage is estimated at $90,000. Water used is estimated at 850,000 gallons. (1983) na

1983, turkey shoot fundraisers profiled in November 16, 1983, issue of the Independent. The autumn events started some ten years ago. On a typical night, the department gives away approximately thirty turkeys. They charge $2 per shot. This year's event is held at a shooting range about two miles north of town on Highway 401. (November 1983)

1984, Noles Cabinet company off Highway 401 three miles north of town destroyed by fire. Fire is discovered shortly after midnight and is believed started from electrical causes. Seventeen firefighters battle blaze along with 10 members of Fairview Fire Department. Exploding cans of paint and varnish inside hamper extinguishing effort. One Fuquay-Varina firefighter, Ricky Stuart, suffers hand injury and requires six stitches after attempting to cut a hole in the building. (September 7, 1984) rt07sep84

1984, fire insurance rating for the town improved from Class 8 to Class 5. Resulting insurance rate changes take effect November 1, 1984. The town underwent an examination by ISO last spring, at the same time the county was being re-rated. (October 1984) fvi?17oct84

1984, Fireman's Day parade begins at 11:00 a.m. Other events include water games, fire truck judging, and the raffling of a 23 1/2 inch color television. Tickets cost $1. (October 22, 1984) na

1984, turkey shoot fundraiser conducted as part of special promotion teaming Field and Stream magazine and the National Volunteer Fire Council. (November 1984) na

1984 (?), apparatus delivery: 1984 E-One pumper/tanker, 1500/1000. Alternate year 1985, alternate capacity 1500/750.

1985, annual Fireman's Banquet held at the Hickory House in Garner. David Markle is honored as Fireman of the Year. (March 23, 1985) na

1985, Bay Tree Apartments off Highway 42 west burn. Sunlight reflected from a makeup mirror on the balcony of apartment 109-H starts fire which causes extensive damage to roof above balcony. (April 25, 1985) na

1985, first female firefighter joins, Ginger Bass. She's the mother of two children, manages an upholstery business in the business of her home, and is married to fireman Fred Bass. (November-December 1985)fvi30jan85

1985, apparatus delivery: 1985 E-One pumper/tanker, 1500/1000. Cost $110,496. Funded by "special tax levied to support the rural department" plus income from fundraisers and donations. The rural department (division) now has two pumpers and two tankers, once they sell an older truck. Delivered by July 10, 1985. (June-July, 1985)fvi10jul85

1985, Bazzel Creek Baptist Church destroyed by fire. Alarm is received at 4:30 a.m. and is answered by both Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs firefighters. Firefighters remain at scene until about 6 a.m. Church and its contents are insured for $400,00. Arson is suspected in burning of 119 year-old building and law-enforcement authorities note that two bomb threats have been made in recent weeks. (December 27, 1985)fvi?08jan86, no01jan86

1986, thirteenth annual Firefighter's Banquet held. David Markle honored as Fireman of the Year. (January 22, 1986) fdr

1986, J & L Pet Grooming Service and Tuggles Tavern burn, both located on Highway 401 about five miles north of Fuquay, gutted by flames. Alarm is received at 4:35 a.m.. Both buildings are fully involved when firefighters arrive, who concentrate on stopping the spread of flames and saving the remaining businesses on the block. A fire wall between the tavern and a bingo parlor helps stop the spread. About 15 firefighters respond, assisted by 10 members of Fairview Fire Department. At 6:05 p.m., second fire call received for a small building near the American Legion pond. Four firefighters are dispatched from fire scene and joined by several others who report to station. The building, which houses equipment and materials belonging to the Fuquay-Varina Heating and Air Condition Company, is destroyed. (February 27, 1986) na

1986, air compressor system purchased by County and installed at fire station. (Summer 1986) wcfar

1986, residence near Hidden Valley Golf Course on Highway 55 destroyed by fire.

Fire is reported about 3:20 a.m. and is already engulfed by flames when firefighters from Fuquay and Angier arrive. Fire takes about an hour and a half to bring under control and another hour to extinguish. Water is shuttled by Fuquay-Varina firefighters from a hydrant at Southbound. Later, Angier firefighters pump water from a swimming pool about 50 feet from the burning house.

Two Fuquay-Varina firefighters are injured, Jan Kinton receiving first- and second-degree facial burns and David Keith receiving first- and second-degree burns to hands and wrist. Both are hurt at the front of the two-story house when Keith opens the front door and a backdraft explosion results.

At the time of explosion, Keith is just inside the house and wearing an SCBA mask but his gloves are too short. About six to eight pairs of the shorter gloves are subsequently removed from service. Kinton is on the front porch, feeding hose to the firefighters inside the house, and is not wearing a breathing-air mask. (August 29, 1986) na

1986, apparatus disposal: 1954 Ford/Howe pumper listed for sale in newspaper. (August 1986)no09aug86

1986, Army National Guard gasoline tanker at intersection of Highway 42 and Main Street catches fire. Blaze begins about 11:55 a.m. under left rear of trailer. Four Guardsmen fight fire with extinguishers until fire department arrives. Police block off highway for about 300 feet until firefighters arrive and suppress the flames. Tanker contains an estimated 5,000 gallons of gasoline and is part of the 230th Support Battalion based in Durham. Damage is estimated at $50. (September 6, 1986)fvi10sep86

1986, fire department asks Harnett County Board of Commissioners to consider establishing fire tax district in northern area served by Fuquay-Varina fire department, or to consider financial contributions to fire department.

Fire Chief David Markle reports that firefighters have answered 316 calls to Harnett County in the past five years for an average of 63 calls per year, a figure representing 20 percent of the department's total calls.

The area of Harnett County covered by the fire department extends south along Highway 401 to a point below Kipling and west to the Cokesbury, Baptist Grove, and Duncan communities. (September 15, 1986)fvi?17sep86

1986, fire department enters contract with Carolina Power and Light Company to provide supporting fire protection at Shearon Harris nuclear plant.

The two-year contract will pay the department $12,000 a year, and the money may be used for any purpose. The first pay will be made by the end of December of this year, the second by the end of December 1987. The contract will then be offered for possible renewal in August 1988.

Under the terms of the contract, the department agrees to make equipment and manpower available to fight fires, including fires with radioactivity, if needed. There is no liability, however, if the fire department is unavailable due to being at other calls.

The contract is retroactive to August 21. And the Holly Springs Rural Fire Department is expected to sign a similar contract that week. Both departments will jointly provide first responder fire support, with whatever agency arrives first as the "lead fire company."

Federal regulations require the company to contract for additional fire protection above the five-person fire brigade that is stationed on site. The outside firefighters would be summoned only if the brigade cannot handle the fire.

In 1982, Apex and Holly Springs entered contracts to supplement fire protection at the plant. The Apex Fire Department recently pulled out of the contract, because of concerns that it might not be able to provide adequate coverage to both its district and the power plant.

The company has no expectation of needed the firemen to fight fires involving radioactivity, but rather for outlying buildings than the nuclear reaction itself.

Training exercises for local firemen were planned to start within the next few weeks. Holly Springs firemen underwent similar training in March. (September 1, 1986)fvi24sep86

1986, apparatus disposal: 1954 Ford/Howe pumper, the first new fire truck purchased by the rural fire department, is sold to Onslow Beach Volunteer Fire Department for $1. Some equipment was also included in the purchase. Since acquiring a new truck last year, the fire department had been using the 1954 pumper as a back-up vehicle for fighting woods and brush fires. (October 1986)??22oct86

1986, fire department begins planning for satellite station in Hilltop.

In a meeting on December 17, 1986, three committees are established, the first of which is for finding land. They establish that as the first priority. One to 1.5 acres are sought, preferably as close to Highway 401 as possible. Creation of the station would establish a new fire tax distract which would extend into Willow Springs as well as north of Hilltop.

The department's plans come as neighboring departments are making plans to extend their tax districts. A law passed a year and a half ago allows fire departments to extend their tax districts from a four-mile area to a five-mile area. Both Fairview and Garner Station 2 are also seeking to extend their boundaries.

For a little more than a year, the department members have been discussing a second fire station. Firmer planning had started in the last two months.

The new station will require new members recruited from the area, and the probable purchase of two tankers and maybe a brush truck. The department already has a pumper than could be moved to the station.

Funding for the fire station would be the responsibility of the fire department. Once the station was built and operational, the taxes raised through the new district would pay for maintenance and additional equipment. (December 17, 1986)fvi07jan87, fvi?24dec86

1987, annual Firefighter's Banquet held at Marriott Hotel in Raleigh. (January 24, 1987) fdr

1987, Piggly Wiggly grocery store on Wake Chapel Road burns.

Fire is reported about 10:45 p.m. with about 60 firefighters battling the braze and successfully preventing spreading to an adjacent pharmacy, insurance company, restaurant, and laundry. Holly Springs, Garner, and Fairview fire departments also respond. The Fuquay Rescue Squad stands by to handle injuries and provide additional lighting for firefighters.

Investigators later arrive from the City / County Bureau of Investigation, the Wake County Fire Marshall's office, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Raleigh Fire Department. The fire is suspect to have started in the rear of the 24-year old building and is brought under control by 11:30 p.m.

Two firefighters receive minor injuries, one treated and released after receiving soot in his eyes and another suffering a bruise on his hand after a hose snaps out of a hose clamp. Firefighters also receive aid from the owners of N.C. Chicken and Fish, who open their nearby restaurant to provide drinks and food. Another onlooker provides donuts. (April 13, 1987) fvi?15apr87

1987, Harnett County Commissioners decline to include funding in 1987-88 budget for reimbursing fire department. (August 1987)???__aug87

1987 (?), apparatus delivery: 1987 Ford/____ brush truck, 300/300.

1988 (?), apparatus delivery: 1988 Spartan/FMC pumper, 1250/750.

1989, Carolina Gold Leaf flea market on Highway 55 destroyed by fire. The fire started in the right rear corner of the building, after an explosion. One person was injured, a security guard who lost a portion of his finger, "in his rush to flee the building." The fire started just about noon and gutted the wood and metal structure that "was filled with about $1 million in merchandise." (December 11, 1989) no12dec89


1990 (?), apparatus deliveries:

1991, news helicopter crashes off Highway 401.

Three of four occupants aboard Aerospatiale AS350D Astar killed, when the helicopter crashes around midnight in a rural field just off Highway 401. It skipped for about 30 yards and landed upright. The fuselage snapped in two and the front of the cockpit was destroyed. The sole survivor, a sportcaster, walked away from the crash and through a mile of dense woods before finding a residence. The crash was reported at 12:56 a.m., but was believed to have occurred at least 45 minutes earlier.

From NTSB report: news helicopter was returning from a reporting assignment at night in VMC conditions. The sole survivor, a sportscaster, reported that about 20 to 25 minutes before the crash, the engine chip light came on. The light came on and was reset by the pilot 5 to 10 times. There was also a loss of torque on the torque gauge. Subsequently, the engine lost power and the helicopter crash landed in an open field. The survivor's seat belt failed in the crash due to an improper installation, and he was thrown clear of the wreckage. [ Probably cause of accident is ] pilot's improper decision in continuing the flight with a known engine problem, and the subsequent seizure of the number two engine bearing, resulting in engine stoppage. Darkness [is] a related factor. (December 7, 1991) ntsb, fayetteville-observer08dec1991

1991, fire station #2 completed at 5617 Hilltop Road. oh

1993, first paid personnel hired: one Captain and four firefighters for daytime coverage. (August 1993) fdr

1995 (?), apparatus deliveries:

1997 (?), apparatus delivery: 1997 Chevy 1500 pick-up.

1998, apparatus delivery: 1997 Spartan/4 Guys pumper 1500/750. (February 1998) fdr

1999, rural fire department merges with town. The fire department becomes a town department effective January 25, 1999. Corporate files Articles of Dissolution on February 17, 1999.oh, ncsos, bocminutes02feb99

1999, full-time personnel staffing schedule changed to 24-hour shifts. (July 1999) fdr


2000, apparatus deliveries: two 2000 Ford F150 covered-pick-up trucks. (July 2000) fdr

2001 (?), apparatus delivery: 2001 Pierce Dash 100' platform ladder, 2000/300.

2003, fire station #3 opens at 2474 Bud Lipscomb Road. (February 3, 2003) fdws

2007, Apparatus delivery: 2007 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker, 1500/1000. Delivered around May 1, 2007.lw

2009, Apparatus delivery: 2009 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker, 1500/1000. Delivered May 12. New Engine 5. Placed in service on May 23, 2009.lw


2010, Station 1 expansion completed. The 1978 building is renovated and expanded. Work starts by September 2009. Completed by March 2010. Improvements an addition on the east side of building, renovations on the west side of the building, including new lobby area, administrative offices, classroom, and kitchen. (Spring 2010)lw

2011, Apparatus delivery: 2011 International TerraStar/KME medium-duty walk-around rescue. New Rescue 3. Delivered October 28, 2011.lw

2012, Apparatus delivery: 2012 Pierce Saber pumper-tanker, 1500/2000. New Engine 2. Delivered June 2. Placed in service July 20, 2012.lw

2015, Station 2 renovated and expanded. Calvin Davenport Inc. is awarded the construction contract in the fall of 2014, for the amount of $871,734. The 6,000 square-foot facility is renovated, with 2,000 square-feet of living space added along with an additional apparatus bay. The project is funded through a cost share agreement between the town and Wake County EMS. The expansion is needed to accommodate increased service demand.mjl-blog

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.


Fire Chiefs

  W Lee Rowland 1925 1963 38 First fire chief
  Clifton   Keith 1963 1972 9  
  Wayne   Wortham 1972 1973 1 First fire chief of merged town and rural departments
James Mauldin 1973 1974 1
  Douglas E Knott 1975 1976 2  
  Edward E Schmelzer 1977 1978 2 Total 7 years as fire chief
  Johnny   Jones 1979 1980 2 Total 6 years as fire chief
  Charles   Sauls 1981 1981 1 Total 3 years as fire chief
  Edward   Schmelzer 1982 1983 2  
  T C O’Connell 1984 1984 1  
  James   Mauldin 1985 1985 1  
  Charles    Sauls 1985 1985 1  
  David L Markle 1986 1987 2 Total 5 years as fire chief
  Johnny C Jones 1988 1989 1  
  David L Markle 1989 1990 2  
  David L Markle 1991 1992 1  
  Buddy   Walters 1991 1992 1  
  Johnny   Jones 1992 1995 3  
  Mark   Randall 1995 1998 3  
  Ken   Farmer 1998 1999 1  
  Mark   Melvin 1999 2001 2  
  Anthony   Mauldin 2002 Present    
 Rural FD  Edsel   Fuquay 1953 1956 3 Day Time
Rural FD  Thomas   Bridges 1953 1959 6 Night Time
Rural FD  Errol   Coley 1960 1964 4  
Rural FD  Durwood   Stephenson 1965 1965 1  
Rural FD  Edward   Schmelzer 1966 1970 4  
Rural FD  Charles   Sauls 1971 1971    



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