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Then and Now #7: Warrenton West Fire Departments

Franklin, Granville, Person, Rockingham, Vance, and Warren counties

Welcome to a feature where historian Mike Legeros presents early twentieth-century summaries of North Carolina fire departments as recorded by the Sanborn Map Company for their fire insurance maps. In addition to detailed information about streets, buildings, and water supplies, the cartographers also recorded fire protection information including personnel, apparatus, and alarm systems.

Fire department facilities varied in size during this period, with hose houses requiring only enough space to store a hand-drawn hose reel. Dedicated fire stations housing horse-drawn apparatus were larger, though sometimes the horses were stabled elsewhere.

As fire protection shifted from general citizens to formal fire companies, building sizes increased with meeting rooms and later sleeping quarters. With the transition to smaller motor apparatus, fire station sizes decreased and departments with buildings designed to accommodate horses found themselves with extra space available for other municipal purposes.


Henderson fire department in 1926

Henderson, Vance County
June 1917
Three paid men, 20 volunteers. One horse. Fire station at City Hall, 11-12 Garnett Street. One American LaFrance triple combination automobile truck, with 900 gallons per minute pump, 40 gallon chemical tank, 250 feet chemical hose, and 1,200 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. One hose wagon with 600 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. 1,000-feet 2 1/2-inch hose in reserve. Total hose: 2,800 feet 2 1/2-inch cotton, rubber lined. Gamewell fire alarm system, 15 boxes. Alarms by bell on City Hall clock tower. Telephones at fire department and pumping station. Population 8,000.

Today
Two fire stations, seven pieces of fire apparatus, 36 career members, and 12 part-time members protecting 10.5 square miles. Population 16,484.

Leaksville-Spray (now Eden), Rockingham County
December 1921
Two volunteer companies of 10 men each. Fire station at 4 Monroe Street, Leaksville: Two Ford Type D 20 HP automobile chemical engines with two three-gallon chemical tanks and 250 feet 3/4-inch chemical hose. One hose reel with 600 feet 2 1/2-inch hose with couplings to fit mill hydrants. Two three-gallon chemical extinguishers. One 18-foot extension ladder and axes. Population 13,000.

Today (as Eden)
Four fire stations, six pieces of fire apparatus, 17 career members, 20 part-time members, and 38 volunteer members protecting over 15 square miles. Population 15,834.


Louisburg Fire Department in 1920s. Courtesy Louisburg Fire Department

Louisburg, Franklin County
March 1922
Twenty volunteers, two paid men. Fire station at rear of 324 North Main Street: One American LaFrance triple combination motor truck, pumps 750 gallons per minute, carries 40 gallons chemical and 1,500 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. 1,000 feet 2 1/2-inch hose in reserve. Hose house on Kenmoor Avenue: One hand hose reel. Alarm sounded by siren on building on Market Street. Population 2,000.

Today
One fire station, seven pieces of fire apparatus, five career members, three part-time members, and 30 volunteer members protecting about 53 square miles. Population 3,249.


Oxford's first motorized fire engine in front of mayor's office, 1925

Oxford, Granville County
May 1922
One white and one colored company under one chief. Fire station at 14 Williamsboro Street. White company: 15 volunteers, one paid driver. One American LaFrance Type 10 combination motor truck with one 45-gallon chemical tank, 100 feet chemical hose, 1,200 feet 2 1/2-inch hose, two five-gallon chemical extinguishers, and 45 feet of ladders. Colored company: 17 volunteers, one paid driver. One Ford truck with 800 feet 2 1/2-inch hose, two five-gallon chemical tanks, and 45 feet of ladders. One hand-drawn hook and ladder wagon with 100 feet of ladders stored at city stable. Two hand reels with 500 feet 2 1/2-inch hose each, used by both companies. Electric alarm on top of fire hall. Alarms telephoned to fire hall. Population 4,500.

Today
One fire station, five pieces of fire apparatus, 10 career members, and 36 volunteer members protecting over 4.5 square miles. Population 8,583.

Reidsville, Rockingham County
March 1922
Two paid men, 15 volunteers. Fire station at corner of Northwest Market and East Morehead Streets. One American LaFrance triple combination motor truck, pumps 750 gallons per minute, carries 40 gallons chemical and 1,200 feet 2 1/-inch hose. One Ford motor hose truck with 600 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. Hook and ladder trailer with 45-foot extension ladder. 1,700 feet 2 1/2-inch hose in reserve. Fire alarm sounded by siren at fire station upon notification by telephone. Population 6,000.

Today
Three fire stations, seven pieces of fire apparatus, 27 career members, and 20 part-time members protecting 11 square miles. Population 14,630.

Roxboro, Person County
January 1914
One chief, two volunteer companies, 12 men each. Two hose houses. Hose house beside 416 Main Street: One two-wheel hose reel with 600 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. Hose house behind Court House at 410 Main Street: One two-wheel hose reel with 600 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. 300 feet 2 1/2-inch hose in reserve. 750 feet 2 1/2-inch hose available at Roseboro Cotton Mill Company. Alarm sounded by telephone to cotton mill. Population 1,500.

Today
Three fire stations, six pieces of fire apparatus, 23 career members, and 20 part-time members protecting 6.3 square miles plus mutual aid to entire county. Population 8,861.


Vintage Warrenton fire apparatus, 1966. Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

Warrenton, Warren County
June 1918
Volunteer, 40 men. No horses. Fire station at Municipal Building, 319-320 Bragg Street. One combination gasoline pumping engine and chemical car. Two hose reels. One hook and ladder wagon. 1,000 feet 2 1/2-inch hose. Fire alarm sounded by bell near Court House. Population 1,000.

Today
Three fire stations, six pieces of fire apparatus, and 32 volunteer members protecting approximately 70 square miles. Population 788.

More Photos


Henderson hand-drawn chemical engine from 1880s


Oxford fire horses Mamie (left) and Sam (right) and water wagon, 1905. Courtesy Oxford Fire Department


Louisburg fire wagon in front of court house, circa 1906. Courtesy Louisburg Fire Department


Edwards Hose and Ladder Company in Oxford, 1907


Warrenton's 1938 Ford Pumper. Jennifer Bollinger, the Warren Record photograph


Louisburg fire department in later decade. Courtesy Louisburg Fire Department

Map

Why Isn't Your City or Town Listed?
Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are available online from NC LIVE for 162 communities in 83 of North Carolina's 100 counties. Most cities and towns were surveyed several times over several decades between the 1880s and the 1950s. Of those maps in the public domain, copyright 1922 or earlier, only 100-some communities in 64 counties had fire equipment or fire departments. See below link to view later-era maps including the towns of Draper, now Eden (Rockingham), Franklinton (Franklin), Madison (Rockingham), and Milton (Caswell).


References

Guide to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Historic North Carolina Firehouses

History of Eden
North Carolina State Demographics

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Requires password available from many local libraries. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps

Related Links

Eden Fire Department
Henderson Fire Department
Roxboro Fire Department

The Series
Then and Now #1: Down East Fire Departments
Then and Now #2: Northwest Fire Departments
Then and Now #3: Charlotte West Fire Departments
Then and Now #4: Triangle Fire Departments
Then and Now #5: Greensboro West Fire Departments
Then and Now #6: Fayetteville to Goldsboro Fire Departments
Then and Now #7: Warrenton West Fire Departments
Then and Now #8: West Central Fire Departments
Then and Now #9: Northeast Central Fire Departments
Then and Now #10: Western Central Fire Departments
Then and Now #11: Northeast Central Fire Departments
Then and Now #12: Dunn to Pinehurst Fire Departments

Note
A version of this article was published on FireNews.net
in October 23, 2005.

Coming next: Anson, Iredell, Rowan, Stanley, and Union counties
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