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The Wilmington Fire Department dates back to 1846, when the first volunteer fire company was organized. By 1867, six fire companies were protecting the coastal city. One year later, the first steam fire engine was delivered. A fully-paid fire department was inaugurated on December 1, 1897. It consisted of 30 men, three steamers, three hose reels, and one hook and ladder truck. Ten years later, the first fireboat was placed in service in 1907. The first motor apparatus was purchased in 1912 and within six years, the department was fully motorized.
Old Station 2
602 South 5th Avenue
Built 1915 / Closed 1956
In April 1915, Engine Company 2 relocated one block west to the corner of 5th and Castle Streets. Their new station housed six men, two horses, and a two-horse hose wagon.
Designed by local architect James F. Gause, Jr., the Italianate structure also housed a bell relocated from the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. The bell sounded alarms until the last fire horse was retired in 1918.
In 1956, Engine 2 relocated to the new Headquarters Station on Dock Street. The old fire bell was also relocated to that location.
In 1966, a new Station 2 opened at 3403 Park Avenue. The old station presently serves as office space.
Old Station 3
602 North 4th Street
Built 1907 / Closed 1975
Presently municipal offices
Opened on December 31, 1907, the combination engine and market house replaced an earlier Station 3 at that location.
The two-story brick building, created by architect H. L. Bonitz and builder R. H. Brady, first housed the Hook and Ladder Company and Chemical Engine Company 1.
The market house was located in an adjoining one-story structure
By 1910, Station 3 housed six men, two horses, a hose wagon, and a second-size Silsby steamer.
In 1965, Engine 3 relocated to Headquarters at the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. In 1978, a new Station 3 opened at 3933 Princess Place Drive.
Formerly occupied by a gym and renovated in 2003, the old station is presently used by the Police Department.
Old Station 5
1702 Wrightsville Avenue
Built 1931 / Closed 1966
Presently residence and dance studio
Wilmington Fire Station 5 opened on October 1, 1931 at the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and 17th Street.
The Mission Style structure with stucco walls and tile roof was designed by architects Lynch and Foard and constructed by U. A. Underwood.
In 1966, the facility was closed and Engine 5 relocated to the Headquarters Station. In 1974, a new Station 5 opened at 310 Wellington Avenue.
The two-story brick building with 4,300 square-feet was renovated in 1974 to house the headquarters of the city's Traffic Division.
The old station presently serves a residence and commercial dance studio.
Old Station 6
302 Willard Street
Built 1942 / Closed 1976
Presently municipal offices
Wilmington's sixth fire station opened in the fall of 1942 at the intersection of 3rd and Willard Streets.
The two-story, single-bay brick building cost $35,000. It was built primarily to protect war housing around Greenfield Lake and other buildings.
In 1985, Station 6 relocated to 3939 Carolina Beach Road.
The old station is presently used as office space for the Parks and Recreation Department.
Hanover County Public Library, Dr. Robert M. Fales
Three headquarters stations were located the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. By 1898, the fire department's central station consisted of two buildings: a two-story building at 16 South 4th Street housing a chemical engine company and a two-story wooden building at 313 Dock Street housing a hook and ladder company. By 1904, a wooden bell tower had been erected behind the buildings. In 1907, the chemical engine house was replaced with a two-story brick building addressed 14 South 4th Street. Also that year, the hook and ladder house was closed and sold. By 1915, a training tower had been added to the rear of the fire station. Also that year, the bell from the old tower was moved to Station 2 at the corner of Castle and 5th Streets.
In November 1954, constructed started on a new headquarters station. The old 1907 building was demolished and operations were temporarily moved to 3 South 2nd Street. In April 1956, the completed station opened and a formal dedication was held on May 23, 1956. The five-bay building included space for three engine companies, one aerial ladder company, one foam truck, and one auxiliary truck. The two-story facility also housed the fire department's maintenance garage and administrative offices. In 2000, the Headquarters Station was moved again to 801 Market Street. The old 1956 building was demolished and a church was constructed on the property.
Wilmington Fire Department
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
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New Hanover County Public Library
A book about the
Wilmington Fire Department were published in 1985.
Search the Library Catalog for keywords "Wilmington
Fire." The book Wilmington, North Carolina: An
Architectural and Historical Portrait by Tony P.
Wrenn was also consulted, along with materials from
the Bill Reaves Collection
Rocky Mount / Wilson
A version of this article was published on
on October 5, 2005.