Town population 221.
- Organized April 1955.
- Incorporated June 8, 1955, as Morrisville Rural Fire
- Serves communities of
Morrisville, Carpenter, Upchurch, Greenlevel, and the largely
rural farming areas of western Wake County.
- Charter members: Richard D. Knott, Hubert C. Sears Jr., Carl
V. Light, Thomas A. Ferrell, and William F. Jones.
- Initial membership of seventeen active members and
one honorary member, Willie Hester.
- Fire Chief is Richard "Donald" Knott.
- First fire station is tin
shed behind the Red & White store on
Morrisville-Carpenter Road, owned by Ceil Sears and Bill Jones.
- Building is just south of intersection with Highway
54, and directly
across the street from the location of the later fire station.
- First fire truck is a military
surplus "deuce and a half" oil tanker that the firefighters converted into a pumper
with 750 gallon water tank. It was formerly a Korean War-era
- It's equipped with 500 feet of 1.5 inch hose,
and 400 feet of 3/4 inch hose.
- Parrish body works charged $500 for skirting, and Neville
Paint Shop charged $23 for the fire engine red paint. That was
the only work not performed by department members.
- Local blacksmith and honorary member Willie Hester did all
the welding at no cost.
- The department spent $2,500 for a truck that would have cost
approximately $14,000 if purchased new.
- They also spent $1,500 on the equipment (hose, ladders,
- Almost all of the money was contributed from local
1958, fire station near
completion, reports Wake County Firemen's Association
minutes dated May 13, 1958
1958, Fire Chief is D. Herbert Ferrell wcfa
1960, town population is 222.
1960, Fire Chief is Carl L. Light.
1960, Station #1
constructed at 100 Morrisville-Carpenter Rd. Station
consists of two bays. Built by members with materials donated by
1960, Second fire truck
added. Secondhand military surplus Dodge Power Wagon converted into a brush
1962, H. Cecil Sears becomes Fire
1963, Green Hope Elementary School
destroyed by fire. Built in 1927, the
school hosted all twelve grades until 1952, when it became an
elementary school. The building caught fire at 1:00 a.m. Local
fire departments responded, but the building was destroyed. The
cause was ruled as suspicious. Opposition to the integration of
local schools was suspected as a motive. (August 15, 1963.)
1963, Plane crash at Indian Wells. The
crash, near the Smith-Douglass fertilizer plant, killed the pilot.
1964, apparatus delivery:
Champion, 750/500. First Class A pumper for department. Cost
$11,000. Money raised entirely from donations and fundraisers.
Placed in service the week of March 16, 1964.rt27mar64
1964, snapshot on March 27:
- Three pieces of fire apparatus, with total capacity of
transporting 2,000 gallons of water
- Includes 1963 Chevy/Darley pumper, newly in service.
- The new pumper increases the radius of lowered insurance
rates to four miles.
- Officers are D. H. Ferrell as Fire Chief, K. T. Upchurch as
Assistant Chief, and Carl Light as President.
- Plans underway to expand to double the size of the fire
1964, two bays and meeting room
added to fire station. Plans to expand are underway as of
March 27, 1964.rt27mar64
1964, Angus Barn at 9401 Glenwood Avenue burns. Fire was discovered "about 7 a.m. by a passing
truck driver" who calls the Raleigh Fire Department, reports
the February 8 edition of The News and Observer. Rural fire
departments from "Morrisville, Six Forks, and the
Fairgrounds" responded, in addition to "a truck from
Raleigh." Morrisville Fire Chief Benny Ridout was the first
to arrive. By the time firefighters arrived, the roof had collapsed.
By 8 a.m. "only the charred and cracked walls"
stood above a "pile of cinders and twisted metal."
Damaged was estimated at $250,000. (February 7, 1964) no
1970, town population is 209.
apparatus delivery: Chevy tanker purchased, either 1969 or
1970 model year.
1975, Station #2 completed
at 6804 Carpenter-Fire Station Road (current street name and
Members of both the Morrisville and Carpenter communities
participated in the project. Nearly all of the materials were
donated by the residents.
1975, fire district increased from ten square
miles to approximately twenty-five square miles.
- 1975 Ford/Darley Champion pumper-tanker,
- Chevy 1200 gallon tanker, either 1969 or 1970 model
- brush truck, either 1975 Dodge Power Wagon or 1972
1976, six female firefighter join: Johnie Faye Howard, Gayle
Mills, Cathie Pendergraft, Anne Knott, Andrea Young, and Trudy
Harris. They are the first female firefighters in Wake County.
1976, Ladies Auxiliary "Firepals" is organized.
1980, town population is 251.
1980, apparatus delivery: 1980
_____/Darley purchased to replace 1963 pumper.
1984, fire department obtains ISO Class 6 rating.
1984, electrical fire at airport
control tower. Morrisville FD responds with other
departments. Air traffic was impacted for eight hours.
1984, station renovations and additions: three bays
and a new roof were added to
Station #1. The direction of the bays was also changed, to face
north instead of east.
1984-85, the H. C. "Cecil" Sears
Distinguished Service Award is created, to recognize members for
their hard work.
accident: Chevy brush truck struck by a train, while crews
battled a grass fire along the tracks. None of the five firefighters
are injured. The truck is pushed at least 40 feet down the tracks.
The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. (August 14, 1985)
1985 (?), apparatus delivery:
1985 Grumman/KME AerialCat rear-mounted aerial platform,
apparatus deliveries: two 1987 Duplex/E-One pumper-tankers,
first part-time firefighters hired. Six are hired, two per shift, to
assist the volunteers in answering calls. The town pays for 50% of
1988, first newsletter "Smoke Signals" developed by C. J. King.
1989, apparatus deliveries:
two 1989 Ford C8000/E-One pumper-tankers, 1500/1000.
1990, town population is 1,022.
1991, Tony Chiotakis becomes first full-time Fire Chief.
He's hired as a career employee of the town.
staff increased to seven weekday part-time firefighters.
With the hiring of the Fire Chief, the part-time firefighters become
town employees. The rural department pays 50% of their salaries.
1992, Station #1 completely
The building was named in honor of charter member and former Fire
Chief H. C. Cecil Sears.
1994, American Eagle
commuter plane crashes in Morrisville at night,
approximately five miles short of runway. Fifteen of eighteen
people aboard were killed. The crash snapped the fuselage in half
and scattered wreckage across 500 yards of rugged woods. Responders
took tractors and off-road vehicles
to reach crash site off Davis Drive. Read
narrative in RDU history.
1994, rural fire department merges with the town in
December, and a complete municipal fire department is created.
1995, radio system purchased, 800 mhz.
1995, three full-time firefighters hired to
supplement thirty part-time paid members and twenty-five volunteers.
1997, apparatus delivery: 1997 Simon-Duplex/Salisbury heavy
1999, all part-time positions upgraded to full-time career
positions. The shift personnel were:
- A-Shift Capt. Paul Felts, Eng. Cliff Cates, Ins/FF David
Auchmoody, FF Chris Messinger, FF Bob Thomas, FF Tom Zumbado
- B-Shift Capt. John Dodson, Eng. Charles Ivey, Ins/FF Ronald
Klus, FF Kirk Miller, FF Stephen Rodr, FF Terry Chalk
- C-Shift Capt. James Kay, Eng. David Rudisill, Ins/FF Scott
Harris, FF Scott Criddle, FF Jerry Ayscue, FF Tom Dooley.
1999, third station
completed on 10632 Chapel Hill Road. Designated Station 2.
The 8,500 square-foot facility includes a 10,000 gallon
underground cistern (drafting pit) for fire pump service testing.
Roof and forcible entry props are later built on the grounds.
1999, full-time staffing started at both Station 1 and Station 2.
1999, apparatus note: 1985
Grumman/KME AerialCat is refurbished by KME.
2000, population of town is 5,208.
2000, new patch designed by Cliff Cates and David Health.
2002, apparatus deliveries:
two American LaFrance Eagle pumpers, 1500/750. (June 2002)
2003, new town hall opens on Town Hall Drive.
and Fire prevention later relocates to the building from Station 1.
2003, Mike Chambers becomes Fire Chief.
2003, full-time firefighters hired to provide 24/7
staffing at Station 3.
2003-2004, circa, apparatus changes:
- 1991 KME/Salisbury rescue sold to town of Clayton.
adds two rescue units as replacements:
- 1989 Simon-Duplex/Saulsbury/KME, originally from Atlantic
H&L Co. 1 in Port Washington, NY
- 2000 Ford F-550 light rescue from Clayton Area Rescue Squad.mjl-blog
2005, Todd Wright becomes Fire Chief.
2005, department becomes member of NC SafeKids. All three fire
stations are designated as permanent car seat checking stations.
2006 (?), apparatus deliveries:
two 2006 KME Predator pumpers.
2006, department obtains ISO Class 3/9S rating.
2006, department begins First Responder program, providing BLS
level of car.
2006, department adds CERT team.
2006, honor guard formed.
2006, department joins NC USAR Task Fork 4, a Type III team that
consisted of members from Apex, Mooresville, and Troutman fire departments.
2006, Fire Prevention Division is restructured.
2006, Station 3 relocated next door to new Cary Station 7, a
shared facility. Old station 3 is sold and later opens as "Firehouse Auto Repair."
2007 (?), apparatus delivery:
2007 Ford F-550/Seagrave brush truck.
2007, first firefighters sent to a fire academy. Nathan Lozinsky,
Phillip Farland and James Waddell (Valedictorian) attend Durham Fire
Department fire academy.
2007, First Responder program upgraded to EMT level of care.
2008, first retirement, Fire Marshal Gayle Mills.
2008, firefighters deployed to Hyde County, to assist with
fighting wildland fires.
2008, apparatus changes:
- Ladder 2 sold in/around January. Department
uses 1993 E-One ladder from Parkwood until new platform arrives.lw
- 2008 KME Predator AerialCat
rear-mounted aerial platform, 1500/300/102-feet. Delivered February
25, 2008. Placed in service in May.lw
2009, apparatus delivery: 2009 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker,
1500/100/40. New Pumper 3. Delivered June 2. Dedicated on July
2009, Fire Explorer Post 263 organized.
2010, town population is 18,576.
2011, department receives Commission on Fire Accreditation
International (CFAI) Accredited Agency status. One of only eleven
accredited fire departments in the the state. The process is a
comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables
organizations to examine past, future and current service levels and
international performance and compare to industry best practices.
The process leads to improve service delivery.
2012, Station 1 relocates to Town Hall Drive. The $3 million,
13,000 square-foot facility first houses Ladder 1, Rescue 1, reserve
Engine 1, Utility 20, and the technical rescue trailer. Dedicated
February 28, 2012.
2013, NC USAR Task Force 4 is disbanded by the state, along with
2013, apparatus delivery: 2013 Spartan/Rescue 1 heavy-duty
walk-around rescue. Replaces 1989 Simon-Duplex/Salisbury/KME rescue.
Delivered June 6, 2013.mjl-blog
2014, apparatus delivery: 2014 Smeal Spartan rear-mounted aerial
ladder, 1500/500/20/105-feet. Delivered June 4, 2014. Placed in
service in July.lw
2015, department celebrates sixty years of service. On June 6,
2015, a celebration was held at Station 1. The event opened with the
Honor Guard leading an apparatus parade down Town Hall Drive.
Visiting fire departments included Cary, Raleigh, Durham Highway,
and even Warrenton. This was followed by an open house. The
anniversary activities also included a banquet for past and present
Morrisville Brush Truck Struck by Train, 1985
February 8, 2015 -
On August 14, 1985, this Chevrolet brush truck (model
and year?) was struck a train... and survived. TheCary News on
August 18 reported the story in an article written by George Jeter.
Happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Crews were fighting a "more or
less routine" woods fire call along the tracks between the
"crossings at Secondary Road 3014 and the Huntington development
project near Morrisville." Then they heard the whistle of Norfolk
Southern Engine 2795.
Fireman Robert Beard said they'd "just got the hose off" the
truck, when they heard the train "rounding a bend to the west." He
worried the truck might derail the train. Another firefighter said
"I didn't even think about the truck - I saw that train and I was
Some five volunteer firemen were "on or around the truck" when
the whistle was heard. They "lept and ran from the truck," which had
been driven down the tracks, to reach "flames along the steep banks
of the railroad embankment."
The operator of the freight train tried to stop. Though slowed,
the engine struck the truck at about twenty-five miles per hour. The
fire engine was pushed at least forty feet down the track before
coming to a stop. The collision happened about 3:30 p.m.
No one was injured in the impact, though at least one firefighter
was "cut by brambles" as they climbed the banks of the easement.
Crews resumed firefighting using "backpack water sprayers". One
"from from the YRAC Rural Fire Department" also arrived to help.
Once the fire was extinguished, the damaged brush truck was moved
"off the tracks by hand" to be towed out of the "narrow easement
Morrisville Fire Engine Struck on
June 13, 2009 -
The News & Observer reports that a Morrisville fire engine was
struck this morning on Interstate 40. They were east of Airport
Boulevard and on scene at a vehicle fire, when a car carrying two
college students collided with the apparatus about 4:30 a.m. Both
occupants were transported to Duke. No firefighters were injured.
And, as it happens, another accident occurred, while the fire
truck/car collision was being investigated.
The story is also being reported by WRAL, and includes the below
image. They report that the car was travelling at full speed and
failed to brake. Their car was totalled, and the apparatus received
only minor damage. Crews closed all but one lane of the roadway
during the incident. Read
the WRAL story.
The vehicle fire was dispatched at 3:31 a.m. The vehicle accident
at 4:17 a.m. Units at the accident included Morrisville E1, R2, C3,
C1, EMS 54, EMS 4, District 5.
See Wake County Fire Chiefs
County apparatus register (pdf).
Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.
Unless otherwise noted, source is Morrisville Fire/Rescue
History, published by the fire department in 2015. The authors
were firefighters Brian Oliver and Matthew LaPlaca.
Last updated: November 30, 2016
Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros