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Chartered by the Legislature in 1791, the Fayetteville Fire Department is one of the oldest fire protection organizations in the state. Citizen fire companies
first battled blazes with leather buckets. After a disastrous fire in 1831 destroyed 600
stores and homes, a hand engine from Boston was acquired. Named the Yankee, it was delivered by boat in 1832. Following the Civil War, two hand engine companies protected the town along with a hook and ladder company and bucket brigade. In 1884,
Chief of the Department Captain James D. McNeill reorganized the fire department and a Silsby steam engine was placed in service.
McNeill was also a founder of the state fireman's association
which was organized a few years later.
In 1893, a new water system was installed with hydrants capable of supplying hose streams. Two hose wagon companies were placed in service. By 1901, the fire department consisted of 30 volunteers including the Chief, one fifth-class Silsby steamer, and three hand hose reels. Members were paid one dollar for each alarm answered. Fayetteville's first motor apparatus was delivered by 1914, and the fleet was fully motorized within a decade. Seagrave and American LaFrance supplied apparatus during those years. In 1947, the transition to a fully-paid fire department was started.
Located north of the city center at 1314 Hillsboro Street, the original Station 3 opened in 1948 with an engine company operating a 1923 American LaFrance pumper. During the 1970s, it also housed a medical unit. In 1975, the facility was relocated to 3225 Rosehill Road. The 2,483 square-foot structure presently serves as a storage facility for the Parks and Recreation department
Photo courtesy Dan Mafia, CFP-704
Fayetteville's first Fire Station 5 opened at 3296 Village Drive. Built in 1962, the one-story structure was relocated one block south to 3040 Boone Trail Extension in early 2004. A commercial developer provided both the land and the $1 million building in exchange for the station lot. Upon completion of the new facility, the engine house was demolished and a drug store constructed on the site.
Photos courtesy Fayetteville Fire Department
The first Central Fire Station
(left) was located at 121 Gillespie Street and almost on the same
site as an earlier engine house. Opened in 1908, the two-story brick
building housed both the fire and police departments. Apparatus at
included two single-horse hose wagons and a fifth-size Silsby steam
engine. By 1914, the building also housed City Hall. The police
department and other city offices relocated to the corner of Bow and
Green Streets in 1942. Central Station was relocated to Bow Street in 1949 and the
Gillespie Street building was purchased by Stephen G. Worth.
He subsequently renovated the structure, which served as Worth Business
College. It was later razed for the Franklin Street Extension when the new county courthouse was built.
The second Central Fire Station (right) was located at 155 Bow Street. The two-story, six-bay station opened on September 9, 1949. Land for the station was purchased in 1947, when $15,000 was paid for the home of the late R. H. Buckingham. The city already owned an adjacent vacant lot. Architect Basil G. E. Laslett designed the building and Player Construction was awarded the construction contract. The total cost of the building was $102,270. During its five decades of service, the facility also served as office space for the Fire Chief, Fire Administration, and Fire Prevention. The dispatch center was also housed at Central Station during the 1970s, after a small annex was built in the back. Units housed at the station over the years included Engine 2 and Engine 7 (both in service at the station). The station closed in 1998, when Engine 1, Engine 11, Truck 1, Squad 1, and Battalion 1 were relocated to 607 Person Street. The old building was purchased by a church and demolished about a year later.
Sanborn Insurance Map, 1914
Other early fire department facilities included an Engine House on Gillespie Street, opposite of Franklin Street. The one-story station was built by 1885. The fire department had two hand engines at the time. It closed by 1891. Another early Engine House was located at 502 Green Street. Though the building was built by 1885, the two-story structure began serving as an engine house between 1891 and 1896. The fire department had a steamer and three hand hose reels at the time. It closed by 1908.
In addition to Central Station on Gillespie Street, two Hose Houses were utilized around 1914. The small, single-story buildings were located at 303 Davis Alley in Haymount and at the split of Persons and River Streets in Campbellton. Each contained a hand-drawn hose reel equipped with 250 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose. A third hand reel was stored at Central Station, along with the horse-drawn and motorized apparatus.
Located at 101 Olive Road in the Haymount community, Fire Station 2 is the oldest structure serving the Fayetteville Fire Department. The 5,176 square-foot facility opened on September 13, 1941. It first housed a 1920 American LaFrance pumper and the Fire Chief's car. During the 1950s, a service truck was also stationed there. Until 1964, the south side of the structure served as the Fire Chief's residence. It also housed the fire department dispatch center until the 1970s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the office of the Haz-Mat Chief occupied the space. Later used as a dayroom and a classroom, that side of the station was converted to a history room in 2002.
Since February 2002, the history of the Fayetteville Fire Department has been on display in a history room at Station 2. Artifacts range from helmets to nozzles to a working alarm box. The electric-telegraph Gamewell box was once located on Virginia Avenue and is connected to a working punch register. When the box is activated, the number is recorded on ticker-tape. Numerous photographs are displayed on the walls and behind glass cases. Other display items include dispatcher journals, radio logs, and newspaper clippings. Many of the artifacts were donated by James H. Kyle Jr., who was the last surviving volunteer member of the fire department. He passed away on August 6, 2002 at age 79. Hanging in the room is Kyle's turnout coat, complete with 75 cents in one pocket: enough to provide an entire volunteer company with coffee and cigarettes after a fire back in the day.
Fayetteville Fire Department
Site is presently under construction.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Fayetteville insurance maps from 1885, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1908, 1911, 1914, 1923, 1930, and 1950 are available online. Access requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps.
Rocky Mount / Wilson
A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on September 20, 2005.
Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros