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Last updated April 21, 2023.
The first fire equipment purchased by town officials
was a pair of ladders and a half dozen chains
authorized in 1871. Durham's first fire company was
formed in 1876, when a meeting was held by citizens for
the purpose of organizing a fire department. By 1880,
Durham Fire Company consisted
of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and Bucket
Company No. 1.
Subsequent decades saw the addition of chemical wagons, hose wagons, and horses. The first steam engine was purchased in 1903 and the first motor truck was placed in service in 1912. The Durham Fire Department was fully-paid at that point, having reorganized as a career department six years earlier.
Durham's first "modern" fire station opened in December 1891, a two-story, red-brick structure built on the southeast corner of Mangum and Holloway streets. It was replaced with a newer building that opened in 1925. That engine house still stands, along with other former fire department structures that trace the history of the Durham Fire Department.
original Station 2 was located on the north
side of W. Main Street, across from the W. Duke &
Sons cigarette factory, and built in 1892. It was a wood-frame structure with a reservoir
in the rear. On August 3, 1903, a replacement
Station 2 (right) was opened. Designed by
Charlotte architects Hook and Sawyer, the two-story
station cost $7,500 and included a five-story hose
tower. It was relocated to 1001 Ninth Street in 1950.
The old station was later demolished.
The original Station 3 (left) opened in 1912 in the 500 block of E. Main Street. The two-story brick building housed a steamer and a hose wagon. In 1915, Engine 3 received a motor apparatus. It was relocated to 103 S. Driver Street in April 1956. After closing as a fire station, the building served as an automotive garage by the 1960s. It was demolished around 1969.
The original Station 4 was located at 21 Holloway Street, just east of Station 1. Opened in 1912 the building housed a horse-drawn hook and ladder company. It likely served until 1924, when Station 1 was rebuilt. The building was subsequently demolished.
In 1926, a new Station 4 opened at 619 McMannan Street, later named S. Mangum Street. The single-story station cost $14,350. It was relocated to 1801 Fayetteville Street in October 1958. The old station remained operational, housing the white fire company displaced from Station 5. They moved into the new Station 5 on Chapel Hill Road, when it opened in 1960. The McMannan Street fire station was later demolished, but prior to the urban renewal that removed the surrounding neighborhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Durham Fire Department
Durham Fire Department, Unofficial Site
Durham County Real Estate Records
Early Black Firefighters of North Carolina
National Register of Historic Places Database
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps
Rocky Mount / Wilson
This article was updated in July 2009, and with numerous date and text corrections in February 2020 and on later dates. A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on November 23, 2004.
Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros