Presenting a deep-dive into Chapel Hill FD history, via a transcription of town minutes excerpts [both exact and paraphrased]**, originally recorded in typewritten form. Date of original unknown. Likely compiling all references to fires and fire protection, from the first decades of the town’s governance. Photographed from a copy in the CHFD archives, with optical character recognition via software prior to hand-corrections. Consider all typos mine!
** September 4, 2018 – Legeros subsequently compared these excerpts with the originally handwritten minutes. They are not always an exact match, and, in places, are missing a word, or have incorrectly interpreted a detail. May updated in the future, with annotations.
HISTORY OF FIRE DEPARTMENT
BOOK I – Page 630 – March 2, 1896
A petition of certain citizens proposed to operate a Fire Company if equipped by the Town was read & laid on the table. The project was looked on with favour but the municipal year was near its end with no funds, so it was thought not necessary to agitate the matter.
BOOK II – Page 76 – September 23, 1901
Board authorized the Finance Committee to purchase for the town a hook & ladder outfit for fire protection – the same to cost not exceeding $200.00. Town also authorized to provide a suitable place for housing it and the 2 reels of hose to be supplied by the University & a part of the fire protection outfit for joint use of Town & University.
May 12, 1902 – P.96
First Fire Chief: John O’Daniel elected. Also Fire Commission: W. S. Roberson, A.A. Kluttz & W. W. Pickard.
May 30, 1902 – P. 103
A fire limit established in view of the fact that no wooden buildings be erected except with approval of the Board of Aldermen.
July 14, 1902 – P.107
J. D. Webb submitted plans to Fire Committee for approval. Permit granted to Webb & Lloyd to erect a building in accordance with plans submitted.
Note: Plan sketch attached to P.107: 1 or 2 stories high, on Franklin Street. To be built of good brick & glass; tin roof; concrete floor in both stories. 30 or 40 ft high.
September 26, 1902 – P.112
Permission granted S. J. Brockwell to build a privy on his premises under the direction of the Fire Committee.
March 2, 1903 – P.119
Moved & seconded that a committee be appointed to confer with J. F. Maddry concerning a settlement on fire wagon, & to report back to Board. W. S. Roberson & W. W. Pickard appointed as Committee.
April 6, 1903 – P.120
J. Frank Maddry bid 190.00 for hook & ladder outfit.
July 6, 1903 – P.135
Chief of Fire Dept. to be elected at a salary of $5.00 per month; & committee of two appointed to find a suitable candidate. Mayor & Mr. McCauley named as committee.
July 16, 1903 – P. 136
S. W. Andrews unanimously elected as Chief.
July 23, 1903 – P. 137
Fire Chief authorized to look out for a suitable place for fire house & lease it for five years.
August 3, 1903 – P. 139
S. W. Andrew made verbal report on location of firehouse.
December 7, 1903 – P.144
The matter of seeing after the electric lights was put in the hands of the Fire Chief.
January 15, 1904 – P.145
Fire Chief authorized to make arrangement with G. C. Pickard for housing of the town machinery.
March 7, 1904 – P.148
Fire Chief instructed to secure prices of reel & hose by next meeting.
October 3, 1904 – P. 167
S. W. Andrews resigns as Fire Chief. Fire Committee elected: W. S. Roberson, S. W. Andrews & D. McCauley, and moved that Asst. Chief serve as Chief with same pay until election of Chief.
December 7, 1904 – P. 171
Action of Mayor in ordering fire hose & reel to be ratified.
July 14, 1905 – P. 198
Moved that Town give Fire Dept. $25.00 to pay annual dues & delegate’s’ expenses to the tournament. John H. Markham elected as Fire Chief, W. W. Pickard Asst. Fire Chief.
August 10, 1905 – P.201
Markham authorized to find means for a fire alarm & ascertain hose reel prices, Also to consider place & prices for erection of a building to house apparatus.
September 4, 1905 – P. 202
Goldsboro Fire Co. offered $75.00 for a reel. Upped to $100.00 page 204.
December 4, 1905 – P.207
Matter of purchasing hand fire extinguisher referred to Fire Chief.
April 10, 1906 – P.212
Fire Committee directed to reconsider the fire limits.
July 2, 1906 – P.227
Fire Co. granted leave of absence to attend tournament & Firemens’ Convention at Asheville, & $25.00 given as expense money. Plus 50¢ for each of fourteen members & $1.00 for both the Chief and his Assistant to pay their dues, making total of $34.00. Date: about July 10th.
October 1, 1906 – P.233
Fire district established as follows: beginning at east end of a brick building on Franklin St. known as the McDade residence running eastward with Franklin St. 150 ft. from said street on both south & north side to an alley east of the Presbyterian church.
July 1, 1907 – P.256
Fire Co. allowed $60.00 expense money to go to Convention & tournament at Wilmington Aug, 5th & carry with them the big reel & enough hose for its use in the contest, with the understanding that they are to take good care of it. George Roney elected Asst. Chief.
January 21, 1908 – P.261
Firemens’ relief fund of 1907 created by legislature. Chapel Hill Fire Co. entitled to receive part of it. Also necessary to appoint two men and the Fire Co. [to appoint] two & State Insurance Commissioner to appoint another – the five to be known as the Trustees of the Firemens’ Relief Fund. W. S. Roberson & John M. Markham appointed to represent Board.
May 11, 1908 – P.274
Authorized purchase of 150 ft. of fire hose at 68¢ per foot FOB Chapel Hill.
June 3, 1909 – P.312
Fire Dept. granted permission to attend State Assn. & tournament at Asheville during week of June 5th, & to carry enough reel & hose to contest for prizes. They allowed $75.00 to place rubber tires on big reel, pay Assn. dues & remainder for expenses if needed.
June 24, 1909 – p.312
300 ft. of good fire hose authorized to be purchased.
August 10, 1909 – P.317
Eureka Fire House [Hose] Co. $249.49 for fire hose. $100.00 to be paid immediately. Note for balance to be paid in six months.
December 9, 1909 – P.322
All members of Fire Dept. exempted from paying poll tax for one year.
February 16, 1910 – P.327
License issued Fire Co. to operate a moving picture show in Town on or after May 1, 1911.
April 7, 1910 – P.328
Fire Co. authorized to build building on Main Street to house fire hose & reels.
July 8, 1910 – P.340
Fire Co. allowed $175.00 for expenses to State Convention & tournament and an additiona1 $25.00 if it is found necessary.
November 3, 1910 – P.344
Resignation of W. A. Loyd [Lloyd?] as Fire Chief & Inspector of Buildings accepted. A. A. Pickard elected to succeed him.
May 8, 1911 – P.366
Fire Co. recommended that the Board appoint J. L. Foister Chief & A. C. Pickard Asst. Chief.
July 13, 1911 – P.377
Fire Co. allowed $65.00 to help pay for new reel repairs & other supplies.
August 10, 1911 – P.396
Fire Co. directed to advertise the big reel and ladder wagon for sale.
July 5, 1912 – P.426
$100.00 to Fire Co. to tournament at Fayetteville provided [that] M. M. Cheek, Chairman of Fire Co. accompany them.
July 20, 1912 – P.428
Mr. Cheek has declined to go; therefore the $100.00 is to be given to Fire Co. as compensation for services over past years.
August 1, 1912 – P.429
Fire Chief authorized to act to repair fire hose.
August 14, 1912 – P.431
250 ft. of fire hose bought at 90¢ per foot.
May 1, 1913 – P.443
Vote of thanks to Fire Co. for prompt response to fire alarm then Thompson house caught fire a few days ago.
June 30, 1913 – P.453
Fire Dept. given $125.00. Treasurer directed to execute note for $125.00 when needed by Fire Dept.
April 30, 1913 – Pg. 454
Report of Fire Dept. for year ending: Bldg. Permits granted 29 ;
Fire: 5; False Alarms: 3; Hose on hand (tested to 150 lbs.): 850; Active members in Dept.: 21.
July 1 , 1915. – P.13
Fire Co. given $125.00 toward expenses to State Convention.
Sept. 22, 1915 – P.17
Ordered that present Fire House be sold & another be built on Columbia St. near the scales.
Oct. 11, 1915 – P.18
Sec. 9 of the Bldg. & Fire Code repealed & the following words be stricken out of Sec. 8 of same: “And the same be stored away at least 50 ft. from any building used as a residence or business house”.
March 14, 1916 – P.26
John L. Foister, Chief of Fire Dept.& committee empowered to purchase auto fire truck not to exceed $600.00, on condition Fire Dept. provide $200.00 & University to also pay $200.00 toward it.
Apr. 12, 1916 – P.27
Fire Com. authorized to buy 500ft. of Helmet Brand, Eureka Mfg’s Co.’s Fire Hose & necessary repair material for Fire Hose.
May 5, 1916 – P.28
Unlawful for any[one] but members of Fire Co. to get on fire truck when in use.
July 6, 1916 – P.37
Fire Dept. allowed $125.00 to attend State Convention.
Feb. 1, 1917 – P.47
Salary of Fire Chief raised to $100.00 per yr.
May 1, 1917 – P.56
REPORT OF CHIEF OF FIRE DEPT.
INVENTORY OF APPARATUS
Hose Truck $600.00 Ladder Truck 350.00 Nozzles 24.00 Wrenches & Spanners 8.00 Helmets, Coats, Respirators,
Bell Coupling Expander 20.00 Hand Reels 132.00 1,000 ft. 2 1/2"hose 900.00 --------- $2,129.00
From May 1st, 1916 to May 1st, 1917 we had nine calls, six fire and three false alarms.
Total Property at Risk $24,450.00 Total Loss to Owners 3,210.00
------------- Total saved to property owners
Chief John L. Foister
May 28, 1917 – P. 61
Donation of $85.00 made to the Fire Co. to partly defray expenses of a pleasure trip.
Oct. 4, 1917 – P.70
Mayor to look into quest ion of erecting a brick house for the Fire. Dept. & Guardhouse.
Dec. 7, 1917 – P.71
Fire House Comm. presented report recommending erection of building . After discussion, decided unwise to build now.
July 25, 1918 – P.80
Fire Dept. given $90.00 toward State Convention at Wilmington in early August.
May 15, 1919 – P.96
JNO. L. Foister elected Fire Chief & J. W. Huskey Asst. Chief.
May 1919 – P. 98
Fire Co. given $150.00 toward expenses for a summer trip.
Night Police, C. C. Sugg, given salary of $75.00 per month.
August 7, 1919 – P.108
[ Missing ]
Oct. 20, 1919 – P.110
Full tax refund made to Fire Co. members who had paid for 1918 and that no poll tax be collected from any member.
July 1 , 1920 – P. 117
Chief of Fire Dept. and two members apptd. to go before Trustees of UNC to appeal to them for aid in the purchase of a fire engine.
Apr. 7, 1921 – P.127
IJNC requested to cooperate with town on purchase of a $600 or $750. Fire Pumper by paying one half of purchase price.
Note executed for $1350 for sewer extension.
May 15, 1921 – P.138
Recommended that the Board purchase a 750 gal. [per minute] American LaFrance fire pumper at a price of $12,500. Adopted and UNC to pay one half.
July 1, 1921- P.149
Fire Chief directed to call to the attention of the people of Chapel Hill the accumulation of trash and other materials on their property that are considered fire hazards and shall direct that same shall be removed and cleaned up.
Aug. 4, 1921 – P.153
‘”Ordered that a brick fire house be erected in the middle of Columbia St. just north of Rosemary St., to cost approximately $4,000 . Mayor W. S . Roberson apptd. Dr. Pratt & M. W. Durham to serve with the Fire Comm. as a Bldg. Committee to let contract and supervise construction.
Aug. 9, 1921 – P.154
Contract for new Fire House with J. T. Squires for $3,988. 18 X 40 ft. inside. Wall foundation to be 21″ thick; 1st story 13″ thick; 2nd story 8″ thick. 1st floor to be 4″ concrete, 1 part cement, 3 parts sand & 5 parts stone, etc. Stairway to be built in the usual way, with rail and bolsters. All woodwork to have two coats of good paint.
Plumbing: Shower bath of standard quality. Vitreous china toilet combination. One enameled iron sink with hose connection. Sewer to be standard cast iron from house to main.
Electric Wiring: Nine electric lights to be installed . Wiring to be conduit.
Aug. 9. 1921 – P.157
Fire Co. given $100 for expenses to the State Convention.
Sept. 23 , 1921- P.158
Contract signed with United States Rubber Co. for 1 ,000 ft. of Paragon Fire Hose at $1.30, payable in one and two years with 6% interest.
Sept. 29, 1921 – P.160
Note executed to The Peoples Bank for $2,000. for payment on Fire House and current expenses.
Oct. 6, 1921 – P. 161
$75.00 appropriated to pay Chief Foister’s expenses to the Fire Chiefs’ Convention in Atlanta. Committee apptd. to examine new fire machine and report to Board.
Oct. 15, 1921 – P.163
Special Fire Comm. recommend new fire machine be accepted.
Oct. 27, 1921 – P. 166
Contract with Mr. Gurley to be closed for installation of a heating system for the Fire House.
Feb. 3, 1922, P.193
J. P. Foister to be allowed use of old Fire House for $4.00 per month, on condition he vacate whenever requested and that he continue as weighmaster.