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Before their merger on
May 13, 1913,
the towns of Winston and Salem were protected by separate fire departments
each operating horse-drawn hose wagons and steam engines. Winston also had
horse-drawn hook and ladder truck. Both fire departments shared the
same electric-telegraph fire alarm system, and both responded to all alarms in either business district.
the Winston-Salem Fire Department consisted of 17 paid men in two
companies and 60 volunteers in four companies. Apparatus included two American LaFrance triple-combination
pumpers. By 1923, the fire
department was fully-paid. By the end of that decade, the fire
department was completely motorized.
301 South Liberty Street
Opened 1912 / Closed 1976
Built as a combination town hall and fire station for Salem, the two-story
brick building featured a bell tower and two bays facing
The Rough and Ready fire company was housed in the building
that became Winston-Salem Station 2 after the towns merged
In 1958, Engine 2 relocated around the corner to 300 South
Main Street. A ramp connected the new building with the old
building, which was used as living quarters and
In 1976, the building was closed after Engine 2 was moved to
a new Station 1 on North Marshall Street. The 1895 bell from
the tower and one fire pole were relocated to the front of
the new facility.
The 3,320 square-foot structure presently serves as an
office building and is listed on the National Register of
214 North Dunleith Avenue
Opened 1923 / Closed 1980
Winston-Salem Fire Station 4 opened in 1923 on North Dunleith Avenue.
Beginning in 1951, the two-story station housed the state's
first paid African-American firefighters. "Company Four"
consisted of eight black privates and seven white
officers. The fire department was fully integrated by November 1967.
In December 1980, Engine 4 relocated to 290 South Claremont
Avenue, later renamed South Martin Luther King
The 1,680 square-foot former fire station presently serves as a
Old Station 5
450 East Devonshire Street
Opened 1924 / Closed 1974
The fifth Winston-Salem fire station opened in 1924 on East
Like the North Dunleith station, the two-story structure
included a four-story tower for training and drying hose.
In 1974, Engine 5 relocated to a two-bay facility at 771 Palmer Lane. By that
time, the fire department was three years into a transition to lime-yellow colored apparatus.
Red apparatus returned in 1991 with the delivery of a
Spartan / Quality pumper to Engine 1.
The old engine house presently serves as an apartment
300 South Main Street
Opened 1958 / Closed 1976
Presently retail and office space
Opened in October 1958 behind the older Station 2,
the two-story brick building was designed to conform to Old
Salem architectural lines. The $70,000 facility featured four apparatus bays
facing Main Street, and an office and lounge in the rear.
The lower level faced Liberty Street and later housed storage,
Training Division offices, and the vehicle maintenance shop.
Sleeping quarters and a kitchen were provided in the old
was connected to the new station by an elevated walkway.
In September 1976, Engine 2 was relocated to a new Station 1
at 651 North Marshall Street.
Old Station 2 presently houses a piano dealership upstairs
and a law office downstairs.
2050 Griffith Road
Opened 1980 / Closed 2004
Presently commercial space
Four years after Engine 2 relocated to
North Marshall Street,
a new Station 2 opened in west Winston-Salem.
The 6,700 square-foot station housed a single engine company.
Built at a cost of $220,719, the one-story, two-bay building
included solar-assisted heating devices.
Three more fire stations were built in the 1980s at 5754
Shattalon Drive (Station 14), 4548 Shattalon Drive (Station
15), and 1701 Pope Road (Station 16).
In 2004, Engine 2 relocated to 405 Somerset Drive. The former fire station presently
serves as a tanning salon.
Photos courtesy Winston-Salem Fire
Three early Winston-Salem fire
stations have been demolished in recent decades. Old
Station 1 at 117 West 8th Street was built before 1912 and
served until 1976. The two-story station had a single double-width
bay. Old Station 3 (left) at 1508 North Liberty Street
opened in 1908 and served until 1964. The two-story, two-bay building
was originally constructed as a combination fire station and
farmer's market. After closing in 1964, it remained unoccupied until
its demolition in 1971. Old Station 6
at 1717 West Academy Street opened in 1925 and served until 1996.
The single-story, single-bay station was offered free for anyone
willing to move the 71 year-old building. With no takers, the 2,500
square-foot structure was demolished
on May 16, 1996. The $1.3 million replacement facility was constructed on the
Old Salem Market
and Fire House
Utilized a century before the
Winston-Salem Fire Department was organized, Old Salem's Market
and Fire House is the oldest engine house in North Carolina. Built
in 1803, the single-story brick structure served as both the town
market and as a storage facility for the town's two hand-powered fire engines. In 1856, the town's Board of Aldermen voted to remove the building from the square and it was relocated to the southwest corner of Main and Belews
Street. The building, along with the original fire engines, was
reconstructed in 1953 and presently serves as a historical display on the grounds of Old Salem.
Early Winston and
The fire Winston fire company was
organized in 1882 and used the town's first fire apparatus, a
horse-drawn steamer delivered at the same time. Steamer Company No.
1 was incorporated by the state legislature in 1886. Winston's
second fire company, Steamer Company No. 2, was organized in 1891.
Two years later a hook and ladder company was formed. Additional volunteer
fire companies were organized around the turn of the century to protect the town's
black community. The first Salem fire company was organized
in 1785. Upon delivery of two hand-powered pumps from Germany, one wheeled and one hand-carried,
a fire-master and three assistants were appointed along with the
necessary men to operate the engines.
Salem's first bucket brigade was also formed at that time.
Several dates are cited for Salem's
first fire company and fire department. Winston-Salem Fire Department, 1913-1992
states that the Salem Fire Department originated in 1772.
The lettering over the apparatus bays at the old Salem town hall
reads "ROUGH & READY FIRE CO. NO. 4" and "ORG'D 1784."
The State magazine on December 25, 1948 cites the first fire
company as forming in 1785 to operate the two hand engines
that arrived on May 9. Salem's Vigilant Company of 1843 is
cited in an unidentified newspaper article from the early
twentieth-century. The article cites a brochure recounting a
fiftieth anniversary celebration on September 16, 1893. The
Twin-City Sentinel on October 16, 1952 implies 1845 as
the first year of the fire department, citing a fiftieth anniversary
in 1895. The Twin-City Sentinel on February 9, 1976 notes
that the fire company took the name Rough and Ready from a mural on
the side of the town's first suction engine, purchased in 1858.
The article states that the fire company was formally organized after the
Winston-Salem Fire Department
Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Winston and Salem insurance maps from 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895,
1900, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1950, and 1957 are available online. Access
requires a password available from your local library. After
logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps
Old Salem Market and Fire House
Forsyth County Public
Two books about the Winston-Salem Fire Department were published in
1992 and 2002. Search the Library Catalog for keywords "Winston-Salem Fire."
The library's reference files were also consulted, along with the Forsyth: The History of a County on the March published by the
The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill in 1976
Rocky Mount / Wilson
A version of this article was
FireNews.net on November 25, 2005.