Western Boulevard Fire Department (1957-1961)

History

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

 

Family Tree - JPG | PDF
 

pre-history

Dairy Barn at State College burns. The 10:45 p.m. alarm is received by telephone to the Raleigh Fire Department, which responds. Three lines and 1400 feet of hose are used on the one-story, frame building. (April 6, 1933)rfd

State Fairgrounds suffers fire. The 5:06 a.m. alarm is reported by telephone to the Raleigh Fire Department, which responds. Two lines and 1,110 feet of hose are used. (October 15, 1946)rfd

State College dairy barn burns on farm west of Raleigh. The 2:35 p.m. alarm is received by telephone to the Raleigh Fire Department, which responds. Afternoon blaze is fought for five hours and firefighters save a second barn and brick building, both adjacent to the burning structure. Sparks ignite a pasture behind the barn, burning about an acre. Firemen use 600 feet of hose and operate the pump(s) for 9 hours. (November 24, 1949) no, rt25nov49, rfd

1955


Method Citizen's Civic League reactivated. The earlier organization ceased activity several years ago. The community is comprised of 95 families, with about 65 as members of the "betterment group." One of their main projects, reported in the June 19, 1958, issue of the News & Observer, was "seeing that the people of the community have adequate fire protection." They subsequently sponsor fundraising for the Western Boulevard Fire Department: two barbecues and a raffle, which raise $600. League members also assist with house-to-house soliciting for fire department subscriptions. Other projects undertaken include naming and marking streets, clearing fields, and improving schools.
 

1957

Organized. Chartered as Western Boulevard Rural Fire Department, Inc. Ten members of the Western Boulevard Exchange Club sign the Charter. After application is accepted by Secretary of State, temporary officers are elected. They decide to initiate a membership campaign on a basis of $10.00 for property owners and $5.00 for property renters. (January 28, 1957) ar

Creation of the department is "well underway" with plans to provide protection to some 1,500 homes and businesses, reports News & Observer on February 21, 1957. Dean I. O. Schuab, retired faculty from State College, serves as secretary-treasurer, and temporary officers have been named: C. F. Parrish, temporary president, along with Schaub. They have been incorporated as a "non-profit, non-capitalized organization" with other incorporators of Ralph Calhoun, D. B. Chandler, J. D. Griffin, Glen S. Guthrie, Beaman Jackson, J. L. Justice, C. A. Payne Jr., and Cecil R. Stancil. The planned fire district will be roughly from the city line on Western Boulevard to the Cary fire district line, near "Asbury Station", and from two and a half to three miles on either side of Western Boulevard. It will include some fifteen subdivisions, including Kentwood, Wynnewood, Cardinal Hills, Westover, and "Hillsboro Road Extension." Subscriptions have been selling well, with 40 of 60 in Wynnewood already subscribed. Plans for a fire station are pending, as the "new US-1 super highway" will run through the present property of the community center. (February 21, 1957)no21feb57

Public meeting is called after sufficient interest is generated in organizing a fire department. All interested citizens are invited. Approximately 150 people attend at Mt. Vernon-Goodwin School Auditorium. Only those who have signed up as members are permitted to vote. By-laws are adopted and the community is divided into four districts for the purpose of electing directors. Three directors are to be elected from each district at a subsequent meeting of the membership. (March 15, 1957) ar, no14mar57

Second meeting is subsequently held and directors are elected as follows:

1st District 2nd District 3rd District 4th District
Woodrow Cox - 3 years John Allen - 3 years Dr. Henry Garren - 3 years J. A. Holleman - 3 years
W. M. Black - 2 years Lewis Bulwinkle - 2 years C. M. Godwin - 2 years Dale Graham - 2 years
Alexander Goode - 1 year Fred Shugart - 1 year R. V. Liles - 1 year I. O. Schuab - 1 Year

Mr. Liles later resigns, finding his work does not permit his attending regular meetings. Per by-laws, remaining directors subsequently appoint Henry Garrison to fill the expired term. (April 1957)ar

Board of directors elects officers as follows:

  • Woodrow Cox, President
  • Dale Graham, Vice-President
  • I. O. Schaub, Secretary Treasurer.

Several committee chairmen are also appointed: J. A. Holleman, equipment committee; William Black, "headquarters locating committee"; John Allen, recruiting committee.

Membership in the organization is over 350 people by April 30, reports that day's News & Observer. (April 1957)ar, no30apr57

J. A. Holleman appointed first Fire Chief. Board of Directors instructs him to investigate the kind of firefighting equipment needed and to "secure prices on such equipment." Chief Holleman soon learns that much of "main equipment" need is custom-made and takes three to four months for delivery after an order is placed. (Spring 1957)ar

Apparatus demonstration: Representative of the American Fire Apparatus Company of Battle Creek, Michigan, visits community with "demonstrator" pumper priced at $15,000. Since the apparatus has been used for a short time, the truck is offered to the Board at $14,000. (late May, 1957)ar

Chief Holleman and Secretary Schaub visit five rural fire departments in Wake County and inspect their equipment, each of which cost less than $14,000. However, none of the fire engines has as "many desirable features for efficient fire fighting" as the American apparatus. The Board is also advised by the Raleigh Fire Chief and "other experienced fire fighters" to get "good, modern, up to date equipment," but do not recommend any specific manufacturer. (May-June, 1957)ar

Apparatus purchases:

  • Board votes to purchase the demonstrator pumper, paying $5,000 down and the remainder of $9,000 in "four equal installments at six-percent interest." (May-June, 1957)ar

  • Board attempts to obtain firefighting equipment from Government surplus, but finds it "practically impossible." Two oil tankers, however, are purchased as surplus property for $125.00. Firefighters combine parts from the two and, with donations from interested people, construct a 2,000 gallon tanker "with a cash expenditure of less than $200.00." (May-June 1957)ar

  • Board also obtains a "Jeep" from surplus property for $125.00. A "portable gasoline mobile pump" is added later that year. (May-June 1957)ar

Temporary fire station is located at Pearson's Esso service station, 5201 Western Boulevard, the use of which is loaned by Mr. Pearson. (May-June 1957)ar

Permanent fire station is located in an "old barbecue shed" at southeast corner of Western Boulevard and Powell Drive, opposite the Esso station. Address is 5201 Western Boulevard. It's provided loaned "rent free" by "Mr. Swain of 'Chicken House' fame," though firefighters must clean and repair the building. With "generous donations of material" from both citizens and businesses, an "insulated, heated fire house" is completed for just over $200.00. The Cary Fire Department lends the siren. (May-June 1957)ar, no22jan58

Fire department qualifies for $100.00 monthly contribution from Wake County Board of Commissioners for rural fire departments. The monthly payment is approved at the Board's meeting. (July 1, 1957)ar, no02jul57

Apparatus delivery: 1957? Chevy/American pumper. Cost $15,000. Delivered by August 29. (August 1957) no29aug57

Fire department has 514 members and some 30 firefighters. (August 29, 1957) no29aug58

Fire department has approximately 1,500 homes and businesses in district. By end of the year, 596 members have joined, paying $6,405.00 in membership dues. (December 31, 1957)ar

1958

House fire in Laurel Hills. Reported about 9:30 a.m. Rented tenant home near the fairgrounds is destroyed. (January 21?, 1958)ar, no22jan58

Fire department meets minimum requirements of NC Fire Insurance Rating Bureau and expects shortly a reduction of 60 cents per $1,000 of insurance on dwellings and a "greater percentage reduction" on "business establishments. (January 27, 1958)ar

Outside fire at the State College Dairy Farm. Flames threaten vehicles and fuel storage tanks at the nearby highway patrol station. Cary responds with Western Boulevard FD. Reported about 11:15 a.m. (May 17, 1958)ar, no18may58

Flames sweep tin cattle barn at State Fairgrounds. Workers preparing the opening of fair assist fire department. Raleigh Fire Department also responds. Fueled by 1,500 bales of straw inside the building, blaze takes two hours to control. (October 10, 1958)


1958, two-way radios installed on all three vehicles. wcfa

1958, fire department roster includes:

  • Bruce Brundage
  • Harold Crumpler
  • Fred Shugart
  • Bob Massingill
  • Tyree Watkins
  • John Twachtman
  • Robert Giddens
  • Preston Reid
  • Douglas Holland
  • Jake Wilson
  • C. A. Payne
  • Harold Morris
  • Fred Reigher
  • C. M. Godwin
  • Judson Wilkins
  • N. C. "Dick" Massengill
  • Thomas Avery
  • Sam Williams
  • W. T. Pearson
  • Skip Fox
  • Alex Russell
  • I. O. Schaub Jr.
  • Dale Graham
  • Rex Mann
  • William Dupree
  • Fred Burke
  • Edmon Johnson
  • Bob Muse
  • I. E. Hendrick
  • Henry Wilder
  • J. A. Holleman
  • Biff Abbot
  • Henry Garrison
  • J. A. Hewitt
  • C. R. Weathers

1960

City plans annexation of five new areas, including properties served by Western Boulevard FD. The March 16, 1960, issue of the News & Observer reports that the city is ordering two new pumpers and one aerial ladder to partly serve the areas, but the contracts have been delayed due to a "pending court test" about a $5.7 million bond issue. For planned annexation areas to the north of the city, officials with the Six Forks Road Volunteer FD say they're willing to "work out an agreement" to serve the "new northern areas" until the city can provide service. Officials with Western Boulevard FD, however, say they're not "willing to serve any of their area for the city." The latter department's service area has voiced "strong opposition" to the annexation plans. (March 1960)no16mar60

House fire on Avent Ferry Road.  Four youths including three Boy Scouts battle the blaze with buckets of water before the fire department arrives. (February 27, 1960)no28feb60

City of Raleigh annexes most of the Western Boulevard FD service area, including 500 of 750 members, and leaving just 250 "subscribers" with the "burden of keeping the bills paid." In a July 22, 1960, news story, the county Civil Defense director says an effort will be made "to move the [department] outside the city limits and to add enough territory to the district to make it worthwhile to operate." (April 1, 1960)no22jul60

Wake County Commissioners vote to continue paying Western Boulevard FD the monthly stipend of $100. The commissioners are told that the department is "considering moving to Macedonia." (September 6, 1960)no09sep60

Department member Mitchell Guabelly has letter to editor printed in September 16, 1960 issue of News & Observer, stating that:

  1. "We are not considering moving our department or equipment anywhere. We like our present location."
  2. "We are not considering any offers to sell, loan, lease, nor giveaway any of our equipment to anyone, anywhere. We bought our equipment with funds made available to us through the county Civil Defense, gifts, contributions, membership fees, etc. We want to keep it and continue using it."
  3. "It was unanimously decided to (a.) continue to operate as we had been doing prior to annexation but to answer fire calls in the un-annexed area within our original territory, (b.) continue to drill and train on Tuesday nights, (c.) continue to give mutual aid to other departments when requested to do so by the officer-in-charge at the scene of the fire; (d.) refuse to take the defeatist's attitude about the annexation movement for we feel that the high court will do the right and just thing in returning to us our original fire zone..."

1961

State Supreme Court declares that the city's March 31, 1960, annexation is constitutional. (January 20, 1961)no01feb61

Fire department plans vote to discontinue operation, since 80 percent of its membership of 760 has been annexed into the city. The department's Directors recommend that the corporation be dissolved. The vote will be held at 7:45 p.m. at the Mt. Vernon-Goodwin school. If dissolved, more than $30,000 worth of equipment--including a "pumper outfit valued at $15,000"--will "have to be disposed of." The city is now protecting 600 of the department's former members, after annexation. About 70 more will be served by a new department forming in the "Macedonia community." But "roughly 100" members living "north of the Seaboard railroad and west of the city limits" will be without service. The department plans to cease operation at midnight on February 28, if the action is approved by members. (February 6, 1961)no01feb61

Fire department subsequently reforms as Fairground Rural Fire Department. Read history.


Select Western Boulevard Fire Department equipment is designated Civil Defense surplus and is later transferred to newly formed Swift Creek Fire Department, including a brush truck and a Jeep. The latter is equipped with a two-way radio for use by the fire chief.scfd

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).

Vehicles

See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).

Photos

Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.

Sources

  • ar 1957 Western Boulevard Fire Department Annual Report
  • cfd Cary Fire Department records
  • dah NC Department of Archives and History
  • fdr Fire department records
  • no News & Observer
  • oh Oral history
  • rt Raleigh Times
  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State.
  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association minutes, May 13, 1958

Last updated: June 10, 2020


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