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Asheville Fire Department was formally organized in 1882. After a
fatal fire on Vance Street, a group of citizens demanded action from town officials.
A hand truck and equipment were
purchased and the volunteer Hook and Ladder Company #1 was born. Two
years later, Hose Company #1 was formed, also hand-drawn.
The first horse-drawn hose carriage was introduced in 1887. The
first horse-drawn ladder truck was added by 1891. Motor apparatus
arrived in 1912. The first fire engines included a pair of
Seagrave combination chemical and hose trucks, and a Seagrave
combination chemical and service ladder truck. The department was
fully motorized by 1917.
The volunteers were partly paid in the 1900s, with four fully paid
personnel on the roster by 1913. The entire department became fully
paid in April 1924, with six companies operating at three
stations. This was a prosperous decade in Asheville and the last
decade of growth before the Great Depression. Six new stations were opened between
1919 and 1929, five of which are still standing.
Historian Mike Legeros explores these and other old stations, along
with the history of the Asheville, Biltmore Village, and Biltmore
Forest fire departments.
417 Haywood Road
Opened 1919 / Closed 1922
Presently commercial storage
In December 1914, two hand hose companies organized in the town of West Asheville.
After the town merged with the city in 1917, fire protection was assumed by the Asheville
Due to manpower shortages during the war, however, the
volunteer fire company was disbanded in 1918.
In March 1919, a West Asheville substation was opened in the
J. H. Buckner building at 417 Haywood Road.
The building, previously used as a grocery, was remodeled to provide sleeping
quarters for the volunteers. Hose Company 4 operated a Reo
combination chemical and hose truck.
The substation answered its first call at 9:24 a.m. on March 27,
1919. The roof of the R. P. Hayes
residence just beyond the end of the street car line had
caught fire. Damage did not exceed $10.
Old Station 3
421 Haywood Road
Built 1922 / Closed 1979
Presently glass studio
Asheville's original Station 3 was built in 1922. Located
two doors down from the volunteer company's rented quarters,
it officially opened on April 17, 1923.
The $28,000 facility operated with a full-time crew beginning April
The fire company was named Engine 4 for the first few years.
By 1925, the company was named Engine 3. By 1928, the
station also housed Truck 4.
In August 1979, Engine 3 and a county ambulance relocated to
50 Oregon Avenue.
The 4,888 square-foot structure presently
serves as a glass studio.
Old Station 4
300 Merrimon Avenue
Built 1927 / Closed 1975
Presently fire department facility
Designed by renowned architect Douglas D. Ellington,
Asheville's fourth fire station opened on August 15, 1927.
The building included a six-story
The station later housed a truck company. After mechanical
problems removed the aerial from service, Ladder 4 operated
using a reserve engine.
Closed in 1976, it was retained by the city
and opened in 1997 as the home of the Arson Task Force.
It also presently houses the fire department archives.
Named for the retired Captain who formed the Arson Task
Force, the Harvey Shuford Building is listed on the National Register of Historic
No new Station 4 opened until 1988, when the Skyland Fire
Department main station at Hendersonville Road and Miller
Drive was annexed by the city. The facility became Station
Old Station 5
10 Biltmore Plaza
Opened 1929 / Closed 1975
Presently office building
Designed by Biltmore Estate architect Richard Morris
Hunt, the 1895 building served as a management office for
the Biltmore Company.
By 1925, a small garage had been added in the rear and was
used by the Biltmore Village Fire Department. In 1929, the
city purchased the property.
The top floor was converted to living space for
firefighters. The bottom floor was rented to the Biltmore
Station 5 opened on August 29, 1929. Within a few years, the
rear garage was enlarged and expanded by the WPA.
In May 1975, a new Station 5 opened at 1030 Hendersonville
The Biltmore Company later
repurchased the property and removed the garage.
The 5,622 square-foot structure is listed on the National Register of Historic
Temporary Station 1
87 Haywood Street
Opened 1998 / Closed 1999
Presently Civic Center
Utilized during the renovations of the Municipal Building, the
Asheville Civic Center arena housed Station 1 apparatus and
personnel and the offices of Fire Administration.
Living space was constructed in the old offices of a
minor league hockey team.
Apparatus was housed in the parking and loading area,
which exited Hiawassee Street using a single door.
The fire department returned to the Municipal Building in November 1999.
The arena was built in 1975.
City Hall photo courtesy North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina Library at Chapel Hill. Station 2 photo courtesy Asheville Fire
Other former fire stations included the
original City Hall on the east side of Court Square. The
engine house was attached to the north side of the 1880s building.
Larger facilities were provided when the second City Hall
opened on East Pack Square
(above left). Built in 1892, the combination City Hall and Market
House operated with a
full-time crew beginning April 15, 1924. The building served as a
fire station until the Municipal Building
opened in March 1926. The building was demolished starting the
By 1917, a colored fire company operated from a hose house at
the corner of Hazzard and Pine Streets southeast of the downtown
area. The ten volunteers utilized a hand-drawn hose reel with 600
feet of hose. They protected a primarily residential area that also
included several churches and school buildings.
The original Station 2 on Bartlett Street (above right) was built
by 1923. It operated with a full-time crew beginning
April 1, 1924. The first company was called Hose 3, then Engine
Around 1925, the company was renamed Engine 2. The single-story, single-bay station included individual bedrooms, a feature not repeated
for several decades. In 1975, Station 2 was
relocated to 315 Livingston Street. The old station was later demolished.
The original Station 8 occupied a house at 771 Tunnel
Road from 1960 until a dedicated facility at 900
Tunnel Road opened in February 1966. The house was subsequently used
as a county ambulance station and later demolished. The original Station
9 at 749 Fairview Road also occupied a house from 1960 until a
dedicated facility opened on the same lot in October 1967. During
the year-long construction, Engine 9 was housed at Station 5.
The second Station 4 opened at Skyland Fire Department's
at the corner of Hendersonville and Miller Roads in 1988, after the
facility was annexed by the city. In 1998, a
new Station 4 was constructed at the same location. Addressed 9
Miller Drive, it serves as both Asheville Station 4 and Buncombe County Station 21. The old station was
The Municipal Building at 10
Court Plaza officially opened on March 8, 1926. Over 15,000
people attended the ceremonies at the $100,000 structure. The
four-story building housed the
fire and police departments, a police court, a city jail, and the City
Market in the rear. The fire station first housed four fire
companies, two engines, an aerial ladder, and a service ladder. The
living areas included dormitories (with 28 beds), reading rooms, a
club room, and a kitchen.
the late 1930s, the City Market relocated to North Lexington Avenue. In
1941, the fire department expanded into part of
the old market. Personnel built a maintenance garage with a
vehicle entrance on the Market Street side
of the structure. By 1956,
the remaining old market area was used by the county welfare
The interior of the Municipal Building was extensively remodeled
beginning in 1998. The $11 million project expanded and improved facilities for
both the fire and police departments. The emergency communications
center was also moved from its basement location to the third
Station 1 presently houses
Engine 1, Ladder 1, Rescue 1, Tac 1 (CAFS unit), and old
Engine 5, a 1927 American LaFrance pumper, exiting Court Plaza; Chief 4
(Division Chief) exiting Market Street, and Tanker 1 exiting the
rear. The building also houses the offices of Fire Administration,
Fire Prevention, Safety, and Training.
and Biltmore Forest
Biltmore Forest police and former fire
station, 355 Vanderbilt Road
Biltmore Village was created
by George Vanderbilt in the late 1890s as a model rental community
to his nearby Biltmore Estate. All buildings were owned by the Vanderbilt
Estate. The Biltmore Fire Department, also known as the Biltmore
Volunteer Fire Department, was formed around 1910. Within seven
years, it had ten volunteers operating a hose wagon and a
hose reel. A small fire station was located on Brook Street between Plaza and Swan streets.
the devastating July 1916
flood, the village was sold in 1920. The fire department
remained in operation, later obtaining a 1926 Ahrens Fox NS-4
pumper and relocating to a larger engine house in the rear of the
Biltmore Office building. In 1929, the department disbanded after the city assumed fire
protection. The city also took ownership of the Ahrens Fox pumper.
Biltmore Forest, located south of Biltmore Village, was created in the early 1920s as
a planned residential community. In 1923, the town services were
designed and included a fire department. Early apparatus included a
1929 Packard/American LaFrance Type 91 fire engine.
The combination fire and police station (above) was located on
By 1935, the Biltmore Forest Fire Department consisted of five paid men and 20
volunteers. In later decades, the department operated a 1959 Ford
F-750/American LaFrance 750/500 and a circa 1986 Ford
The fire department ceased operation in
1995. The fire department included both Public Safety Officers who
were combination police/firefighters, and five paid firefighters.
The town's Police Chief was also the Fire Chief.
From 1995 to
2013, the Asheville Fire Department provided contracted fire protection to the town. The Skyland Fire Department is current contracted, and is constructing a
fire station at 7 Valley Springs Road as a joint venture between SFD and
Asheville Civic Center History (PDF)
Biltmore Forest History (PDF)
Buncombe County Geographic Information Services (GIS)
UNC-Asheville. Hiden Ramsey Library,
Collection resources include city
directories, oral histories, newspaper clippings, photographs, and
Carolina Collection, Photographic Archives
National Register of Historic Places,
Pack Memorial Library, North Carolina Collection
Collection resources included city
directories, newspaper clip files, newspapers on microfilm, photographs,
and Asst. Chief Jim Causey's 1994 paper A History of the
Asheville Fire Department.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via
Asheville insurance maps from 1885, 1888, 1891, 1901, 1907,
1913, 1917, 1925, and 1950 are available
online. Access requires password available from your local library.
After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps.
The Story of
West Asheville Library
The West Asheville History Project was consulted and
includes several newspaper articles dating 1914 through 1923.
Rocky Mount / Wilson
A version of this article was published on
FireNews.net on November 13, 2006. This article was
updated with revised Biltmore Forest Fire Department information in July