03/20/09 942 W, 1 I - + 12 - 13 Mecklenburg County Fire Protection, 1949

Found something interesting this morning at the State Library of North Carolina. Fire Protection in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, by Philip P. Green Jr., and published in 1949 by the Institute of Government at UNC Chapel Hill. Call number G41 11/2:F52. Below is an excerpt from the 89-page document, from a section describing fire protection outside Charlotte. These were small towns, with minimal resources for their volunteer firefighters. There's also a map included, showing five-mile areas around the fire stations. 

Cornelius has a fire truck purchased from the War Assets Administration in 1947 at a cost of $2,500. It is equipped with 300 feet of hose, a 250-gallon water tank, and a front pump which can be used to pump water from wells and streams. The overall cost for hose and truck was approximately $2,800. It is housed in the city hall. The siren on the truck is used to give alarms. The town carries liability insurance for the volunteer company of 15 men, but no compensation insurance. The men receive no pay, but the town pays their dues in the State Firemen's Association, bears their expenses to conventions and required drills, and gives them an annual dinner.

Davidson has a fire truck purchased in 1932 for $3,500. It is equipped with a 150-gallon water tank, a front pump for pumping water from wells and streams, fog nozzles and spray equipment, two asbestos outfits, and oxygen equipment. It is housed by the city. There is a siren alarm system. The town watchman is on duty at all times, which gives the town better fire insurance rates. There is a volunteer company of 23 members who are given a token payment of $1.00 per year, so as to make them eligible for workman's compensation.

Huntersville has a fire truck carrying 1,250 feet of hose, a tank containing 50 gallons of soda acid with a smaller hose, and fire extinguishers; it is not equipped with a water tank or with a pump capable of operating from a stream or well. It is housed and maintained by the city. A siren alarm is used. The volunteer company is made up of 50 to 75 men, for whom the town carries insurance. The chief receives a token payment. In addition to the town equipment, the Anchor Mill possesses a sprinkler system, hydrants, and hoses, and it has its own water supply and pressure pumps which may be thrown into the town system for firefighter purposes.

Matthews fire equipment consists of a trailer carrying 500 feet of 2 1/2-inch and 250 feet of 1 1/2-inch hose, whose overall cost was $1,100. When there is a fire, the first car on the scene hooks onto the trailer and takes it to the hydrant nearest the building. The trailer is housed in a private building in the town. The size of the town renders an alarm system unnecessary. The alarm is spread by word of mouth. The volunteer company receives no pay and is not covered by insurance.

Pineville has a truck purchased from the War Assets Administration in 1947 at a cost of $2,300, to which it has added an extra $640 worth of equipment. The truck carries 1,500 feet of hose, ladders, fire extinguishers, and for fires where there are no water mains, a 500-gallon tank of water and a front pump which can drawn water from a nearby well or stream. The truck is housed in the town's new city hall and maintained by the town policemen. For an alarm, the town has a siren. Calls are telephoned into the switchboard in the city hall and the siren is used to call the firemen. None of the firemen are paid, either for calls or for training sessions. However, the town does carry compensation insurance for them, to cover possible injuries.

Mecklenburg County itself owns no fire protection equipment. However, the County Rural Police are called upon to render some assistance in this field. All rural fire calls to the Charlotte and Davidson fire departments are routed through the Rural Police headquarters. In addition, it is the practice to send a Rural Police car to the scene of each rural fire for the purpose of handling traffic, providing radio communication facilities through which trucks may be kept under control by their home authorities, and otherwise aiding the firefighters.

At present there are volunteer companies at Wilkinson Boulevard, Woodlawn (on the old Pineville Road), and Pinoca (on the Mount Holly Road). Another, designed to serve the Mint Hill community, is in the process of formation. Each of these companies has been equipped through fundraising activities through the communities they serve. The Wilkinson Boulevard company, which was the first to be formed, has two pumpers costing a total of $7,000, purchased from the War Assets Administration. The Woodlawn company has a pumper carrying 750 gallons of water, plus a tank truck carrying an additional 1,000 gallons of water.

The Pinoca company built its own station at a cost of $1,500 for materials and converted a surplus Army 6x6 truck into a pump engine carrying 1,250 gallons of water, at an outlay of some $4,000 addition.The Woodlawn company charges annual dues of $6 for protection. The Pinoca company charges home owners $10 for membership fees and the first year's dues, and $5 per year thereafter; it charges home renters $5 the first year and $3 per year thereafter; and it asks business establishments to contribute what they can afford to pay.

In addition to these volunteer companies, the county is further protected by the fire department of the Naval Ordnance Depot. Authorities of this depot have expressed willingness to send equipment to assist at fires outside its limits, provided a minimum of equipment is retained for its own safety.
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