Warrenton Fire Department History Notes

June 30, 2021
Updated posting, with new information including the builder of the 1890s hand engine, and the fact that the 1987 E-One platform did -not- serve WFD, but, instead, was placed in service with Warrenton Rural FD, and delivered after WFD merged with WRFD in 2004. 

August 27, 2020
This week the Town of Warrenton (NC) announced on Facebook that the Plummer Hook & Ladder Museum (not yet open to the public) had a new addition, their second piece of antique apparatus: the town’s old 1982 American LaFrance Century pumper, 1250/1000/25F . The engine originally served Austin, TX, and was equipped with a 500-gallon tank. Purchased by the town in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

It was [the lone town truck] in operation when the municipal (and all-black) WFD ceased operation in 2004. [By that time, the town had also purchased a] 1987 E-One Hurricane rear-mount platform, 1250/200/95-foot, that formerly served Orange County FL, [which had yet to be delivered. It was purchased through Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, through the 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.]

[The 1982 American LaFrance] was disposed to Warrenton Rural FD, which currently protects the town. It later received a 1000-gallon tank.

Top picture by Legeros from 2013.

Historical Perspectives

Sanborn Map summaries:

  • 1885 – Hook & Ladder company, colored – No hand engines – Water supply not good, wells
  • 1891 – Hook & Ladder company – No hand engines – Water supply not good, wells
  • 1896 – One chemical engine – One Hook & Ladder company – 500 feet 2.5-inch hose – No hand engines, no “independent hose carts” – 15,000 gallon cistern
  • 1901 – Volunteer, 36 men – One chemical & hand engine combined – One hook & ladder company
  • 1907 – Volunteer, 36 men – One chemical & hand engine, combined – One hook & ladder company – 600 feet 2.5-inch hose
  • 1912 – Volunteer, two companies, 55 men combined – One combination hand engine & chemical [engine], 60 gallons – One hose cart – One hook & ladder truck – Hose, 500 feet (new), 200 feet (good condition) – Alarm by bell – Eight fire cisterns (one 15,000 gallon seven 8,000 gallon), also private water tanks and wells
  • 1918 – 40 men – No horses – One combination gasoline pumping engine and chemical [engine] – Two hose reels – One hook & ladder wagon – 1000 feet 2.5-inch hose – Alarm by bell near court house – No alarm boxes – 46 hydrants, four fire cisterns
  • 1925 – One chief, 26 men – One Howe gasoline-powered motor pump, 300 GPM – Two hose reels, 400-feet 2.5-inch hose each – One hook and ladder truck – All hand-drawn – Alarm by bell near courthouse – 46 double hydrants
  • 1942 – One chief, 27 men – One Ford/Oren pumper, 500/1500, 1000 -feet 2.5-inch hose, 200 feet 1.5-inch hose – 12 alarm boxes – 51 double hydrants

Other milestones:

  • 1977 – Tarheel Firefighter issue of March reports Pagecom system installed, with six pagers for firemen, mobile unit in the “town fire truck”, and a base station in the dispatcher’s office of the WPD. The antenna is installed on the roof of Diamond’s Discount Store on Mains Street. Funding was cost-shared by the federal government. System includes “flasher system on Main Street” that changes all traffic signals to amber during an emergency call, and all lights red to incoming traffic on Main Street. 

How many pieces of apparatus did Warrenton’s municipal FD operate, since the creation of the Plummer Hook & Ladder Company in 1869? Here’s a starter list:

  • 1860s [?] Hand hook & ladder & bucket wagon
  • 1890s Hand hook & ladder truck, built by James Ransom and Sons. Source: THFF, 12/76.
  • 1890s Howe combination engine, hand-pulled, hand-powered. Delivered mid-March 1895, per TWR, 4/5/95. Pumping engine also equipped with chemical tank(s). Cited as 1899 for purchase year, in retrospective newspaper stories in the 1960s. 
  • 1913[?] Howe pumping engine, hand-pulled, gas-powered, 300 GPM + hand hose reel – Added 1913.
  • 1917[?] Ford Model T – Added in 1917. Was it equipped with chemical tanks and/or pumping engine? TBD. Might have simply carried hose for connecting to the town’s hydrant system, which was installed in 1914. Recounted a Fire Chief in 1976, the truck often “took some furious cranking” to get going and “had to be parked on an incline.” Retired in 1938, per THFF, 12/76. 
  • 1938 Ford/Oren, 750/150 – Reg #RW-134 – Still owned by town, housed at fire museum. Was reserve truck in 1976, per THFF, 12/76.
  • 1964[?] Ford C/Bean HPV Fire Fighter, 750/500 – Delivered June 27, 1964. 
  • 1982 American LaFrance Century, 1250/750 – Reg #86-CA-7557 – Formerly served Austin, TX – Added late 1990s or early 2000s. 

Other Citations

  • Hand-pulled chemical engine, 60 gallons – Added 1891-1896, per Sanborn. Was this the same engine as the Howe combination engine, or a separate piece of apparatus? 

Not Operated by WFD

  • 1987 E-One Hurricane, 1250/200/95-foot – Reg #5549 – Former Orange County, FL – Ordered by town, but delivered in 2004, after WFD ceased operation.


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