Kinston Fire Department History

Random research notes on the history of the Kinston Fire Department. 

Pre-History

  • 1878 – Lenoir County Court House destroyed by fire.
  • 1880 – Temporary courthouse burns.
  • 1885 – Population 3,000. No fire apparatus. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1891 – Population 2,000. No fire apparatus. Source: Sanborn.

1895 to 1899

  • 1895 – Great fire, destroys two blocks of buildings, which comprised nearly the entire business district. 
  • 1895 – Steam engine added. Third-size Silsby, 500 GPM, delivered March 22, 1895.
  • 1895? – Fire department organized. Hand reel (home made) and steam engine.
  • 1896 – Kinston Mantel Company fire.
  • 1896 – After fire, wagon and horse added. Horse is also used for street cleaning.
  • 1896? – Tower built in rear of city hall, for drying hose, and bell at top as fire alarm.
  • 1896 – KFD snapshot: volunteer, 60 members, one Silsby steamer, one hose wagon, two horses,600-feet new home, five fire wells with steamer attachments. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1897 – Atlantic Coast Line depot fire.
  • 1897 – After fire, more hose added, and six sets of hats, boots, and coats.
  • 1897 – First water main added. This supplemented the Neuse River and several deep wells.
  • 1898 – Hook and ladder wagon added, hand-pulled, used by colored fire company. Carried five ladders.

1900 to 1929

  • 1901, by – Fire station building also serves as City Hall, upstairs.
  • 1901 – KFD snapshot: volunteer, 60 men, one Silsby steamer (horse), one hose wagon (horse), one hose wagon (hand), one hook and ladder truck (hand), no [dedicated?] horses, 2000-feet hose, hydrants being installed, alarm bell at engine house. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1904 – Fire department reorganized. Colored company retired?
  • 1904 – Fire company renamed Caswell FC #1.
  • 1904 – Water system and fire hydrants installed. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1907 – R. H. Hill appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1910. Outgoing chief is D. F. Wooten.
  • 1908 – East Kinston FC organized, with hand reel. Hose house on Caswell Street.
  • 1908, by – Single-story addition to fire station, adding sleeping quarters for firemen.
  • 1908 – KFD snapshot: volunteer, 25 men. One paid driver always on duty. Two horses used for street work in business section only. Bell at fire station, alarm by telephone. One Silsby steamer. One hose wagon. One hook and ladder truck. Water system with 85 double hydrants. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1910 – T. V. Moseley appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1923. [Correct?]
  • 1913 – Electric telegraph alarm system added, with 25 boxes.
  • 1913 – Water system increased.
  • 1914 – KFD snapshot. Central Station, volunteer company with 29 members. Two paid drivers. Three horses. One Silsby steamer. One hose wagon. One hook and ladder truck. Alarm by bell at station. East Kinston Hose Reel Company. With 18 members. Hose reel, with hose wagon, horse, and paid driver pending. Fire alarm bell “rung by first person reaching the building.” Water system with 90 double hydrants. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1916 – East Kinston FC moved to new location. Wooden building on Tiffany Street.
  • 1916 – Hose wagon added for East Kinston FC.
  • 1918 – First motor truck, 1918 American LaFrance Type 75 triple combination, 750 gallons, reg #2167. Ship date 12/23/18.
  • 1922 – Pumper added, 1922 American LaFrance Type 75 triple combination, reg #4045. Ship date 11/4/22.
  • 1922 – Steamer sold. 
  • 1923 – W. H. Scott appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1924.
  • 1923 or 1924 – Service ladder truck added, Mack. Combination ladder truck, with chemical tank and hose reel.
  • 1924 – KFD is semi-paid, with ten men and five in reserve.
  • 1924 – W. A. Mitchell appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1927.

1925 to 1949

  • 1925 – KFD snapshot: Fully motorized. One chief, one asst. chief, both part paid. Station 1 with 24 volunteers, three fully-paid. One ALF triple combination, 750/40 (chemical). One Mack combination service truck. Station 2. One ALF triple combination, 750/40 (chemical). Gamewell alarm system, 37 stations. Bell at Station 1, steam whistle at power plant. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1927 – W. E. Bailey appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1929.
  • 1929 – Junius S. Gray appointed Fire Chief. First paid chief. Serves until 1957.
  • 1930 – KFD snapshot. Fully motorized. One chief, one asst. chief, both part paid. Station 1 with 13 volunteers, five fully paid. One ALF triple combination, 750/40 (chemical). One Mack combination service truck. One Chevy truck with hose and extinguishers. Station 2 with 14 volunteers, one fully paid man. One ALF triple combination, 750/40 (chemical). Gamewell alarm system, 37 stations. Bell at Station 1, steam whistle at power plant. Water system with 130 double hydrants. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1930, after – East Kinston FC engine house rebuilt. Two-story wooden building replaced with single-story brick structure.
  • 1932 – Pumper added, Mack, 750 gallons.
  • 1937 – Fire station relocated to 106 W. King Street. The two-story building also houses town offices.
  • 1942 – Pumper added, 1942 American LaFrance B-550CC, 500 gallons. Reg #L-1672. Ship date 5/24/42.
  • 1942 – Station 3 opened at Knott’s Warehouse, NW corner of East Washington and N. McLewean. Source: N&O, 7/26/42.
  • 1944 – Auxiliary Fire Department created, for civilian defense during war. Two auxiliary civilian companies created, dividing the city. Claude Chamberlain appointed Auxiliary Fire Chief. He later consolidated the two companies into one. Drills and practice held twice a week.
  • 1944 – Alarm system replaced, additional boxes added.
  • 1945 – Station 3 relocated to Heritage Street. Note: Cited as 1948 in some accounts. Source: N&O, 7/19/45.
  • 1948, by – Auxiliary truck added. Dodge with 100 gallon booster tank, 400 feet 3/4-inch hose. For grass fires. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1948 – KFD snapshot. Three stations, 15 men fully paid, 15 men part paid/on call. One chief, two assistant chiefs, fully paid. Station 1, ALF pumper (500/120), Mack hook and ladder truck. Station 2, ALF pumper (750/80), Mack pumper (750/150). Station 3, Mack pumper (750/100), GMC pumper (500 GPM), Dodge auxiliary truck (100 gallons). Gamewell alarm system, 83 boxes. Water system with 285 hydrants. Source: Sanborn.
  • 1948 – Pumper added, Mack, 750 gallons.
  • 1948, after – Station 2 expanded with addition in rear, sleeping quarters.

1950 to 1974

  • 1950 – City/county pumper purchased, 500 gallons, for dual use.
  • 1952 – First aerial ladder, 1952 ALF, 85-foot, purchased.
  • 1956? – Pumper added, 1956 Seagrave, 750/325
  • 1957 – Travis Hailey appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1969.
  • 1961 – Station 3 relocated to 1916 W. Vernon Avenue.
  • 1961 – Station 4 opened at 200 N. Plaza Boulevard.
  • 1962 – Station 1 relocates to 203 E. King Street.
  • 1962? – Pumper added, 1962 Seagrave, 1000/500
  • 1965? – Pumper added, 1965 Seagrave, 1000/500.
  • 1967 – Pumper added, county pumper, 1967 IHC/ALF, 1000/750.
  • 1968? – Ladder added, 1968 ALF, 85-foot.
  • 1968? – Pumper added, 1968 ALF, 1250/500.
  • 1969 – Robert Isaac Faulkner appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1970.
  • 197_? – City/county tanker added, tractor-drawn. Carried water, foam, and gasoline. Operated by community college department of fire training?
  • 1970 – David Lee appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1971.
  • 1971 – Otis Koonce appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1973.
  • 1973 – Leslie Lee Green appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1977.
  • 1974? – Tanker added, city/county, 1973 Ford/Howe, 300/1250.

1975 to 1999

  • 1977 – Carl Davis appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1985.
  • 1979? – Pumper added, 1979 ALF, 1250/500.
  • 198_? – Rescue added, 1980 GMC step van.
  • 198_? – Foam unit added, 1951 Dodge power wagon plus foam trailer.
  • 1985 – Tedd [Todd?] Melvin appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1989.
  • 1987 – Fire museum opens in old Station 1.
  • 1989 – Old alarm system retired?
  • 1989 – Anthony Kelly appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1998.
  • 1993 – Station 2 apparatus, 1979 American LaFrance, overturns on S. Queen Street. Last piece of apparatus that could fit inside Station 2.
  • 1993 – Station 2 closed on same day as above accident.
  • 1998 – Station 4 relocated to 2207 Hull Road.
  • 1998 – Gregory S. Smith appointed Fire Chief, later Public Safety Director. Serves until 2010.

2000 to present

  • 2004 – Fire and police departments merge into joint Public Safety Department. 
  • 2008 – Station 1 relocated to 421 E. Vernon Avenue.
  • 2010 – Bill Johnson appointed Public Safety Director. Serves until 2016.
  • 2012 – Station 3 relocated to 1247 Hill Farm Road.
  • 2012 – Station 4 relocated to 3428 Carey Road.
  • 2016 – Don N. Crawford appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 2018.
  • 2016 – Public Safety Department ended, fire and police departments separated. July 1, 2006. 

Sources:

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