Durham Highway Fire Department



1964, Durham Highway Fire Protection Association Inc. organized after numerous fires in the area, and that the closest three fire departments--Six Forks, Bay Leaf, and Fairgrounds--are nearly five miles away. Some 50 residents attend a meeting at Pleasant Grove Methodist Church, to organize the department, reports the Raleigh Times on May 2. First officers are:

  • Worth Kerr, President
  • William C. Webb, Vice President
  • Mrs. Thomas H. Kelley, Secretary
  • Rev. Ben H. Williams III, Treasurer
  • Ben Runkle Publicity Chairman
  • Luke Wilkins, Director
  • Joe Sandling Director
  • Jack McDowell, Director
  • Junius Dillard, Director. (April-May, 1964)fdws, rt02may64

1964, incorporated on May 1, 1964. sos

1964, Thomas Kelly is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1972.

1965, tax-supported fire district approved. fdws

1965, fire station lot obtained at 6802 Davis Circle. Tom Bailey, President of Central Mack Sales, deeds a small lot located behind the Amoco service station, and with one stipulation. The deed is returned to Bailey when the lot is no longer used for fire protection. fdws

1965, first apparatus ordered:  1965 Chevrolet/Darley pumper, 500/500. Designated Unit 1. Carried 300 feet 1-inch hose, 300 feet 1 1/2-inch hose, 500 feet 2 1/2-inch hose, two ladders, and two 20 gallon fire extinguishers. Financed by borrowing money on fire station lot. The truck arrives early and as money for the payment has not arrived, several firefighters sign their own names as a guarantee on the loan. fdws, oh

1965, second apparatus added: 1960 Army surplus "deuce and a half" that's converted to a pumper-tanker, 150/1500. Equipped with front-mounted pump, carried 150 feet 1-inch hose. Designated Unit 2. Volunteers prepare the truck for a paint job, and a water tank is manufactured for the truck. It costs $300.fdws

1965, first open house held. All residents and businesses are invited. Ed Linear, Insurance Commissioner, also attends. He states "the Department of Insurance assisted in the organization and writing of the by-laws, and provided training for the firefighters." (March 21, 1965) fdws

1965, circa, bulletin distributed:


  1.  The Fire Department is a non-profit, non-stock corporation and has no paid personnel and the primary source of financial support is through donations by the citizens of the community.
  2.  To date an order has been placed for a fire truck (pumper) and radio equipment with a delivery schedule of early February, 1965, anticipated.
  3. Land for the building has been acquired and it is anticipated actual construction
    of the building should begin within sixty days.
  4. A house to-house, business-to-business campaign for funds is being conducted
    now and it is felt that each and every tome and business should make a contribution
    regardless of the amount. All donations are tax exempt (deductible) both state and federal.
  5. Donation collectors are assigned collection areas and will contact you at your home or business for your donation. If it is inconvenient for you to give your donation to the collector assigned to your area, please forward the donation to Durham Highway Fire Protection Association, Inc., Route 8, Box 312, Raleigh, N.C., or phone the secretary, Mrs. Thomas Kelley at 787-1199, and, she will make arrangements to have your donation picked up. A receipt will be given to you when a donation is made with a duplicate of the receipt remaining with the collector to be kept on permanent file.
  6.  The following is a list of donation collectors and areas assigned. Please feel free to phone for information.
    Glen Forest - Ben Runkle -787-0265
    Deblyn Park - William C. Webb - 787-2929
    Oak Park - Joe Sandling - 787-3752
    Pleasant Grove Area - Floyd Bailey - 787-1235
    Durham Highway - Thomas Kelley - 787-1199
    Pinecrest Drive & Leesville Road - Bob Barker - 787-2511
    Leesville - Junius Dillard - 787-2130
    Ebenezer Church Area - Jack McDowell - 787-3861
    Ebenezer Church Road (North of Hwy. 70) Eugene Allen - 787-2608
    Lake Anne - Myers Braxton - 787-3003
    Sandy Village - Thomas Kelly - 787-1199
    Wildwood - Ferebeetown - Luke Wilkins - 787-1098
  7. We are in the process of recruiting volunteer firemen. We bad a good representation at a recent four-day school held by the Wake County Firemen's Association. Anyone interested in  becoming a fireman should contact Thomas Kelley, Telephone 787-1199.
  8. Definite boundaries as established by the N.C. Department of Insurance are in the possession of Worth Kerry, telephone 787-2437, and Thomas Kelley, telephone 787-1199. If there are  questions concerning boundaries, a complete description will be furnished upon request.
  9. The original officers and Board of Directors, which were voted upon by the interested citizens of the community during the formulation of the department, are as follows:
    President - Worth Kerr - 787-2437
    Vice-President - William C. Webb - 787-2929
    Secretary - Mrs. Thomas H. Kelley - 787-1199
    Treasurer - Rev. Ben H. Wilson III - 787-2014
    Publicity Chairman - Ben Runkle - 787-0265
    4 Directors
    Junius Dillard - 787-2130
    Jack McDowell - 787- 3861
    Luke Wilkins - 787- 0198
    Joe Sandling - 787-3752
    Finance Committee Chairman - Bob L. Barker - 787-2511
    Membership Committee Chairman - Myers Braxton - 787-3033
  10. The Officers and Directors were selected purposely to give a good cross-sectional representation of the area involved. It is hoped that all citizens will become acquainted with at least one of this group in order that any suggestions or criticism can be brought to attention during one of the monthly Board meetings. This group of officers will remain in office until the next annual meeting that is scheduled for the first Friday in May, 1965, at 8:00 at a place to be announced at a later date, at which time a new slate of officers will be voted on by the citizens of the area that have helped support the department with their donations.
  11. We have the nucleus of an excellent performing department with the appointment for one year to Thomas Kelley as acting Fire Chief with Floyd Bailey acting as Assistant Fire Chief.
  12. Even though the Fire Insurance Bureau authorizes us to cover a four mile area, we will answer fire calls beyond this area and will welcome financial support and assistance from the surrounding area as well as the area that has been authorized.
  13. We expect a great deal of success with the department since we are in a fastly expanding area and the department can be no more successful than the support that is received from its citizens. We humbly request your full cooperation.

1967, circa - Summary of department to State Department of Insurance:

  • Equipment:
    • 1965 pumper, 500/500
    • Tanker, 300/1500
    • 1700-watt generator
    • 450 feet 1-inch hose
    • 300 feet 1 1/2-inch hose
    • 500 feet 2 1/2-inch hose
    • One fog/combination nozzle
    • Two self-contained breathing apparatus
    • 14 helmets
    • 14 turnout coats
  • Personnel:
    • 32 firemen
  • Radio and siren for alerting.
    • Three mobile radios
    • One base radio
    • Five "monitor receivers"
  • Finance:
    • Tax district with $0.10 rate.
    • $125 per month from county.
  • Training:
    • 400 man-hours last year.
  • Calls:
    • 28 calls last year
    • Two building fires
    • 24 woods/grass fires
    • Two automobile fires
    • $50,000 total fire loss.
    • Leading cause of fire was "unknown."
  • Testing:
    • Hose tested July 1966 at 150 pounds
    • Pumper tested "according to state regulations"
  • Staffing:
    • Fourteen men average response to fires last year.
    • Seven average response during daylight hours.
  • Fire Prevention:
    • Pamphlets and bulletins posted ins tores and homes.
  • Fire Chief:
    • Served three years.
    • Selected by Board of Directors.
    • Thomas H. Kelly
  • Budget:
    • $8,331.28 last year
    • $36,012.00 total county funds expended for fire protection, county-wide.
  • Address:
    • Durham Highway
      Route 8, Box 312
      Raleigh, NC 27606

1969, Apparatus delivery: 1969 GMC/Darley/Williams tanker, 350/1500 and with no quick dump. Unit 2, the old Army tanker, is retired, and later disposed to newly formed Falls FD.


1972, home of Raleigh developer Willie York on Pleasant Valley Drive near Highway 54 damaged by fire.  Blaze breaks out about 2:30 p.m. in downstairs family room of palatial structure and spreads to adjoining bedroom.  Amount of damage is not known.  Structure was slated to be remodeled as a clubhouse for proposed apartment complex to be developed in nearby area.  (Saturday before March 5, 1972) no05mar72

1972, Robert "Bob" Morgan is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1976.

1976, Floyd Bailey is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1978.  

1976, circa - Apparatus deliveries:

  • 1976 Chevy/Bean pumper, 750/750, Unit 4.
  • 1976 Chevy HD/Alexander elliptical tanker, 1600 gallons. Tanker 7.

1976, Station 1 renovated. Modified with an "open addition" to accommodate the new tanker.

1978, Mike Boyce is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1979.

1978, Station 2 completed at 8312 Pine Crest Road. From DHFD web site: With building space being limited at the Davis Drive location, a survey of the fire district was performed to look for land to build an additional station.  A site which provided good growth potential and location was found on Pinecrest Road.  Vernon Jones, Chairman of the Building Committee, was appointed to oversee the building project.  The new [three-bay, two-deep] station was completed and accepted in 1978, [and] this new station was designated Station Two. Station 1 continued to operate, and housed a pumper and a tanker.  Station 2 also housed a pumper (Unit 3) and a tanker (Unit 4). fdws

Note: County tax records say building built in 1977.

1979, Jimmy Thompson is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1983.

1979, circa, Apparatus deliveries - Housing boom occurs in the fire district, and additional apparatus is needed to cover the growth. Three state surplus vehicles are acquired:

  • 1971 Chevy step van, converted into a squad by department members, Unit 5.
  • 1966 Dodge Power Wagon, converted into a brush truck, Unit 6.
  • 1967 Dodge fuel truck, converted into a tanker, Unit 7.

1978-1979, circa - Two tankers are upgraded:

  • 1968 Chevrolet tanker. Upgraded in 1978 with a Slagle/Atlas pumper-tanker body, 1500 gallons.
  • 1969 GMC 6500/Williams tanker, 350/1500 and with no quick dump. Upgraded in 1979 with Slagle/Atlas body, 300/1200, including quick-dump.


By early 1980s, most of the department's apparatus is inadequate for the commercial growth in the district. A large combination pumper/tanker is purchased.

1981, Apparatus delivery: 1981 Mack/Darley pumper/tanker, 1500/1800/60. The triple-axle tanker is one of the largest in the county, and equipped with a 60 gallon ARFF foam system. It's housed as Tanker 8 at Station 2. Central Mack Sales is notified of the purchase approval on July 24, 1980. The purchase price is $107,246. It's delivered in 1981.

1981, ARFF foam capability added. Since DHFD is the closest mutual aid fire department to the airport, and on the run card for all calls, ARFF capability is added with the delivery of the new tanker. The truck is spec'ed for this purpose, and extra ARFF foam concentrate is kept at the station, enough to refill the tank, and with some to spare.oh

1983, Eddie Morton is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1984.

1984, Jimmy Thompson is again appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1985.

1984 - Apparatus delivery: 1984 Mack MC pumper, 1500/750, #1138C. As the 1965 Chevy/Darley pumper could no longer meet the fire flow requirements of the fire district, a new Mack pumper is purchased as Engine 1. The truck is a stock unit. Delivered March 1984.fdr  

1985, Nick Slobodzian is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1986.

1985, December. Roster of members:

  • Clyde Arvin
  • Steve Bibb
  • David Blackburn
  • Terri Blackburn
  • Sam Boggs
  • Mike Boyce
  • Barry Cross
  • W.E. Davis
  • Dave DeLong
  • Mike Dillard
  • Gail Ferebee
  • Rickey Ferebee
  • Bobby Goodwin
  • Brian Goodwin
  • Ernest Goodwin
  • John Green
  • Buddy Harris
  • Sonny Hester
  • Steve Hulbert
  • Bruce Jarvah
  • Steve Jones
  • Vernon Jones
  • Jim Keller
  • Neill McDowell
  • Eddie Morton
  • Bill Muster
  • John Muster
  • Zeb Overton
  • Randy Prevette
  • William Ragsdale
  • Donald Scarboro
  • Larry Scarboro
  • Nick Slobodzian
  • Ray Starling
  • Jimmy Thompson
  • Keith Woodby

1986, Vernon Jones is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1993.

1987, first paid staff added, due to the department upgrading its service delivery due to district residents. Two full-time employees were hired, and worked Monday through Friday. The first was Captain Zeb Overton. The second person was hired shortly thereafter.oh

1987, circa - Apparatus deliveries:

  • 1987 Ford/E-One light-duty rescue. Truck 9.
  • 1987 Ford brush truck.

1987 or later, Apparatus notes: The 1965 Chevy/Darley, 1966 Dodge brush truck, 1967 Dodge tanker, and 1971 Chevy squad are sold in subsequent years.

1980s, late, Explosive growth was happening both in Raleigh and the Durham Highway fire district. The need for a third station was identified. For several years, a committee looked for property to accommodate a fire station.

1987, Land purchased on Norwood Road for new fire station. For years, committee looks for land with no success. One day, sign is spotted being placed on property on Norwood Road.  This leads to purchase of lot. fdws

1988, Station 1 on Davis Drive suffers minor damage after tornado. (November 28, 1988)

1989, Existing building demolished on Norwood Road fire station site.


1991, circa - Apparatus delivery: 1992 E-One Cyclone pumper/tanker, 1500/1000.fdws

1991, Lot purchased beside Station 2. One acre. Parcel is combined with second lot, to create larger site for fire station.

1992, circa, Station #1 on Davis Circle closed.

The property was given to the department by Tom Bailey with Central Carolina Mack. There was a stipulation that if the property was ever not being used as a fire station, it would revert back to the prior owner.

In the early 1990s, they were approached by Central Carolina Mack, asking about being released from their land agreement, as they were seeking to relocate to a bigger facility, in lieu of rebuilding on Davis Circle. The Board of Directors honored this request, since their new fire station was under construction on Norwood Road.

By this time, the city limits had moved farther west, and a city fire station had been opened years earlier on Pleasant Valley Road. DHFD once covered such neighborhoods as Oak Park, Deblyn Park, and Brookhaven, all the way to Crabtree Valley Mall. The city limits originally stopped just inside the Beltline.

As the city limits moved west, the response from the Davis Circle fire station was diminished. The station remained in operation, however, as there were a few volunteer firefighters who lived in that area, and responded to calls with apparatus from Station 1. At the time it was closed, the primary reason was the request from Mack, to sell their property and relocate.

After being closed, the building was moved in two pieces to the Ready Mix Concrete Plant on Westgate Road. It was stored on site for a couple years, and used for fire department storage, and then moved behind the Norwood Road fire station. The building was again used for storage, maintenance, and housing fitness equipment.oh

1992, Station #3 completed at 11905 Norwood Road. It's soon renamed Station #1.

1992, Staffing increased shortly after the Norwood Road fire station is opened. Full-time staff is increased from two to six. They worked Monday through Friday, with three at Station 1 (Norwood Road) and three at Station 2 (Pinecrest Drive.) Weekends and evenings are covered by volunteer duty crews.oh

1992, circa, First responder service level increased to EMT, and, years later, to EMT-D.oh

1992-93, Old Davis Drive fire station structure moved behind Station #1 on Norwood Road.  closed shortly after opening of Station #3. It was previously stored at the Ready Mix Concrete Plant on Westgate Road. oh

1993 - Nick Slobodzian is again appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 1995.

1995 - Robert Andrews is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 2001.

1995, Cooper Kenworth Company on Interstate 85 in Durham County burns. The truck dealership and service center brings numerous fire departments, including Bahama, Redwood, Parkwood, Durham Highway, and Stony Hill. Bahama firefighters make national news due a close call. Explosion blows crews out of a service bay, and Asst. Chief Len Needham emerges covered in flames. He suffered a badly burned ear. Damages exceeded $1 million. (November 16, 1995)mjl-blog

1995-96, circa, Extrication equipment added. Larger spreader, O-cutter, a Maverick combination tool, three sizes of rams, and a set of air bags are added onto Truck 9.oh

1996, Paragon Technologies at 6117 Westgate Road burns. The commercial structure fire at a metal fabrication business is dispatched at 10:19 p.m. The fire apparently starts in some pallets piled up, inside the building. It burns for several hours, causing extensive damage. The building was unoccupied. Some firefighters received minor burns. (March 14, 1996)wral, 15mar96

1997, apparatus delivery:  1997 Pierce Dash pumper-tanker, 1500/1000. (June 1997)fdws

1997, Staffing changed to 24/7 shifts. Department implements three shifts, like their neighbors in Raleigh and the airport. They are the first combination fire department in the county to make this change. Instead of six personnel during day hours, they have three personnel at all times. To boost staffing levels, part-time employees are also hired. Two per day are employed Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteer duty crews provide additional staffing at night and on weekends.

1999, apparatus delivery: 1999 Pierce Lance heavy rescue. The truck is designed in response to the plans for Interstate 540, and the city not planning to serve (annex?) the new roadway. The department determines that a larger rescue truck is needed. It was delivered in October 1999. Several months are spent setting up equipment, and it was placed in service in 2000.fdws, oh


2000, Raleigh Fire Department places Station 23 in service at Station 2 on February 15, 2000. City leases the facility from DHFD.

2001 - Philip Griffin is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 2002.

2002 - Mike Cooper is appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 2009.

2005, Station 2 expanded with additional sleeping and living areas for Raleigh firefighters. City funds the construction, which adds space for a second company. From 2006 to 2009, a ladder company is housed at Station 23. It later houses a Battalion Chief and a mini-pumper. DHFD continues to house a pumper-tanker and a tanker at the station.

2008, Staffing changed. Part-time daytime employees reduced from two to one, due to budget cuts and lack of funding.oh

2009, Nick Slobodzian is again appointed Fire Chief. Serves until 2010.

2010, Jim Freely is appointed Fire Chief.

2012-13, Staffing changed. Part-time daytime employee hours reduced from 12 to 9 per day, due to budget.oh

Apparatus deliveries:

  • 2000 Ford brush truck. Squad 4.
  • 2005 Pierce Contender pumper.
  • 2006 Ford F-550 brush truck.
  • 2007 Pierce Contender pumper.
Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.


  • cfd Cary Fire Department records
  • dah NC Department of Archives and History
  • fdr Fire department records
  • fdws Fire Department Web site
  • oh Oral history
  • rt Raleigh Times
  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State
  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association records

Last updated: January 2, 2017


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