Remembering the Bessemer Fire Department in Greensboro

One of the earliest “suburban” fire departments in North Carolina was Bessemer VFD in Greensboro. We’ve blogged about them before, but let’s take a deeper dive.

They were organized in 1942, upon the completion of a sanitary district, which added water lines and fire hydrants. By all accounts, they were not equipped for fighting fires outside of their district, in areas without fire hydrants. Thus they were not a “rural” fire department.

BVFD operated a 1942 Chevrolet/American pumper 500/200, and had some 20 volunteer firemen.

They also occasionally responded outside of their district, and fought fires as best as they could with limited water supplies. Also, at least in 1948, the city fire department would “stop at the line” if they were dispatched for a fire that was outside of the municipal limits.

The Bessemer fire station was located at 609 Elwell Avenue. The building is still standing. The land was sold to the sanitary district by Mrs. Effie Boone in 1942. The parcel measured 0.12 acres. 

It even caught fire once, on July 3, 1956. As the Greensboro Daily News noted: “Chief Ray Moore and Assistant Chief C. B. Swaney, on discovering flames eating away at the ceiling, moved the fire truck out of the building, uncoiled a few feet of hose and had the blaze extinguished within 10 minutes.”

Read the entire history of the Bessemer Fire Department on this new history page of mine: www.legeros.com/history/stories/bessemer

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  1. Hiding in plain sight is the Oak Grove FD, another of Greensboro’s first suburban fire departments, along with Bessemer and Guilford College. Details:

    The Oak Grove Fire District was formed in August 1944, with an incorporation certificate issued by the state on August 5, 1944. At that time, the non-profit corporation already had some 60 to 70 members, a fire truck with a 500 gallon tank had been purchased, and the district covered some 140 homes just south of the city.

    In 1947, they answered eleven calls inside their district, with total loss of only $350. They also answered eleven calls outside their district, with total damage estimated at $7,200. By 1955, the fire station was located at 2006 Clemmons Street. The fire department ceased operation on July 1, 1957, after annexation by the city. At the time of closure, their apparatus included two 1950 Ford fire trucks. Source: Greensboro Daily News, Greensboro Record.

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