One Hundred Milestones of the Chapel Hill Fire Department

Give or take a few, that is.

This list was previously posted to the Chapel Hill Fire Department Retires & History page on Facebook. 

Learn more CHFD history.

1893 to 1924

1893 – First fire hydrants on campus. Twelve are installed.
1896 – Citizens petition town to create fire department. No action taken at time of petition.
1901 – First fire equipment authorized, “hook and ladder outfit.”
1902 – First fire house authorized. For housing hook ‘n’ ladder and two reels to be supplied by UNC.
1902 – First Fire Chief elected, John O’Daniel.
1902 – Fire Commission created. Three members, duties include approving building plans.
1903 – Fire limits created.
1903 – “Hook and ladder outfit” purchased.
1903 – Fire Chief S. W. Andrews elected.
1903 – Fire company organized.
1905 – Fire Chief John M. Markham elected.
1906 – Fire district established.
1908 – Fire Chief Walter W. Pickard appointed. 
1909 – Fire Chief W. A. Lloyd appointed, after Chief Pickard dies off duty.
1910 – New fire station construction approved. Located on Main (Franklin) Street.
1910 – Fire Chief A. A. Pickard appointed. 
1911 – Fire Chief J. L. Foister appointed. 
1916 – First motor fire engine, 1914 Ford hose car. Chassis bought local, body built in Greensboro.
1920 – Fire alarm siren installed, replaces use of church bells.
1921 – New fire station erected. Two-story brick building in middle of Columbia Street.
1921 – First motor pumper, 1921 American LaFrance triple combination.

1925 to 1959

1925 – “Gas masks” (for smoke protection) added.
1927 – Telephone alarm system added. Activates siren at fire station and rings telephones at homes of several firemen.
1928 – First full-time firemen, two hired. 
1928 – Fire alarm system installed, with fire horn announcing box numbers, mostly “virtual” box locations.
1931 – First black fireman by this time, volunteer.
1933 – Fire Chief P. R. Perry appointed, after Chief Foister dies off duty.
1939 – New fire station opens, town hall building. Two bays for fire department.
1944 – Second motor pumper, 1944 Ford/American LaFrance.
1944 – Third full-time firefighter hired. 
1953 – New pumper, 1953 American LaFrance.
1955 – First full-time Fire Chief appointed, John S. Boone.
1955 – CHFD reorganized, Chief changes to day-time hours, three full-time firemen working each day, plus 10 new “call men” to supplement volunteers.
1955 – Greater Chapel Hill Fire District created, to fund fire protection for suburban residents.
1956 – Suburban fire district pumper delivered, 1956 Ford/American LaFrance, operated by CHFD.
1959 – Four full-time firefighters hired. CHFD now has 13 career members.
1959 – First aerial ladder, 1959 American LaFrance mid-mount. Equipped with small booster pump and hose!
1959 – Station 2 opens on Hamilton Road, to protect newly annexed areas. 

1960 to 1989

1962 – Fire Chief James H. Stewart appointed, after Chief Boone steps down, to allow more qualified member to take over. Boone becomes Asst. Chief.
1963 – New Station 1 opens on Airport Road. 
1965 – Fire Chief Gaston S. Baldwin appointed.
1968 – First black career FF hired. Albert Simms Williams.
1968 – Fire Chief Everett L. Lloyd appointed.
1968 – Working hours reduced from 84 to 72 hours for firefighters.
1969 – SCBA starts being used for structural firefighting.
1969 – Station 3 opens on Elliott Road.
1971 – First training center established on old landfill site on Plant Road.
1972 – Full-time mechanic added, Billy Terry.
1973 – Fire Alert Safety Van (FAST) program started, using 1974-75 Dodge van at Station 1.
1974 – Working hours reduced from 66 to 60 hours for firefighters, then to 54 hours in 1975.
1975 – New aerial apparatus, 1975 Ford/ALF telesqurt.
1976 – PSO program starts.
1976 – Eight-hour shifts replace 24-hour shifts.
1976 – Emergency telephone call boxes added on town and campus.
1976 – South Orange Rescue Squad ambulance added at Station 3.
1977 – IAFF Local 2580 chartered.
1978 – Construction starts on new training center. 
1981 – UNC burn center opens.
1982 – Station 4 opens on Weaver Dairy Road.
1989 – Line of duty death, Captain Grover Brinkley.
1989 – Public Safety Director Hired, Cal Horton.

1990 to 1999

1990 – Fire Chief Dan Jones appointed.
1992 – First career female FF hired. Mary Blevins Seelbinder.
1992 – First aerial platform, 1992 Simon-Duplex-LTI.
1993 – PSO program ends.
1994 – PSO response to fire incidents ends.
1994 – Fire reservist program starts. 
1994 – Twenty-four hour shifts reinstated.
1994 – Personal Accountability System added for firefighters. 
1994 – Large-diameter supply hose added.
1994 – Engine 33 removed from service, Tower 71 begins responding as quint at Station 3.
1995 – First responder services started.
1996 – First Carolina blue truck, 1996 Ferrara/Spartan.
1996 – Phi Gamma Delta fire, five killed, spurs numerous local and national outcomes.
1997? – First extrication equipment added.
1998 – Bike team started. 
1998 – Two-in, two-out started.
1998 – AEDs added on all four fire units.
1998 – Child Safety Seat program starts.
1999 – First annual Camp Celebrate parade.
1999 – EOC opens at Station 1. One of many remodeled spaces on the first floor, over the decades. 

2000 to 2018

2000 – Attack 33, later Squad 33, placed in service. Unit answers EMS and other calls instead of quint at Station 3.
2001 – First thermal imaging cameras.
2001 – New aerial ladder, 2001 Ferrara/HME, which operates as engine.
2001 – Temporary Station 5 open on Culbreth Road.
2001 – Local 2580 re-chartered.
2002 – Station 5 opens on Bennett Road.
2002 – First meeting of Fire Chiefs for regional special ops team that becomes USAR Task Force 8.
2002 – Child Safety Trailer delivered, bought by OCFA.
2002 – Honor guard debuts.
2003 – NC USAR Task Force 8 operational, with CHFD as partner agency.
2005 – CAFS foam/mini-pumper added, 2003 KME.
2006 – New aerial platform, 2006 KME. 
2007 – Chapel Hill Museum fire exhibit opens.
2009 – New radio system, VIPER.
2014 – Last red apparatus retired.
2014 – New aerial ladder, 2014 Sutphen.
2015 – Chief Sullivan appointed interim.
2016 – Chief Sullivan appointed. 
2016 – Temporary Station 2 opens on Finley Golf Course Road. 
2016 – Station 2 closes, to be rebuilt.
2018 – Rebuilt Station 2 opens.
2018 – Second ladder company activated at Station 4.

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