Eastern Wake Fire Rescue (2003-2020) History

Last updated: June 29, 2020

See also related family tree infographic


First compiled in 2004, these research notes have been extensively updated in 2019 and 2020. They are still undergoing revisions.


1954 - Knightdale Volunteer Fire Department formed. See timeline


2003 - Knightdale Volunteer Fire Department renamed Eastern Wake Fire-Rescue. 

2003 - Equipment note: new 14-foot aluminum boat has been delivered, reported at board meeting on September 4. Old 14-foot aluminum boat sold to private owner, due to safety issues preventing its use for rescue purposes. Sale reported at board meeting on August 7. New boat purchase approved at board meting on August 7. (August-September 2003)

2003 - Apparatus disposal: 1978 Ford/Howe pumper/tanker to Ferrell's FD in Nash County.ewfd

2004 - Equipment note: $79,218 grant received from Homeland Security to buy new personal protective equipment. With $8,000 contribution from department, they will replace gear for 50 firefighters. (July 1, 2004)no09jun04, fdr

2004 - Siren on water tank in downtown Knightdale removed. Approved at board meeting on September 2 to preserve and mount at Station 1, pending checking on town ordinances about noise. (August-September 2004)

2004 - Department snapshot: fire district is 51.6 square-miles, second largest in county, reported at board meeting. (October 7, 2004)

2004 - Apparatus disposal: Engine 7, 198_ Chevy brush truck reported out of service due to transmission and to be sold, at board meeting on October 7. (October-November 2004)

2004 - Junior firefighter program started. Board approves starting program at meeting on November 4. (November 2004)

2004 - Apparatus disposals. Bids being taken on four vehicles, reported at board meeting on February 3, 2005.

2004 - Shelter erected at Station 2. Work starting in thirty days, reported at board meeting on March 5. (Spring 2005)

2005 - Vehicle deliveries:

All three vehicles furnished by county. Reported as delivered at board meeting on May 5. (May 2005)

2005 - Apparatus disposal: 1975 Mack/Maxim aerial ladder sold to Sharpsburg FD in Nash County. Sold for $4,500. (May 16, 2005)


2005 - Vehicle disposals. Two small vehicles reported as retired at board meeting on June 2. Sold at public auction:

2005 - Administrative Secretary hired. Reported at board meeting on July 14. (July 2005)

2005 - Line of duty death. Firefighter Todd Alan Blanchard, 31, died on July 14, 2005, from injuries suffered at a fire at the intersection of Turnipseed Road and Major Slade Road in the unincorporated Knightdale area. Blanchard was one of a three-member crew returning to the scene of an earlier tree fire. They arrived at 12:42 a.m. and applied water to the smoldering area, and then approached the tree to examine the smoldering area more closely.

As the crew walked toward the tree, a limb approximately two-and-a-half feet in diameter broke and struck Blanchard. The two firefighters with Blanchard removed the limb and began CPR when they determined that the firefighter's breathing and heart had stopped. Paramedics arrived at the scene and initiated advanced life support  treatment.

He was transported to WakeMed and declared dead about 2:30 a.m. The cause of death was massive chest trauma. Blanchard had worked as a full-time firefighter for Eastern Wake Fire Department for approximately two years. Memorial services were held at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh on  Saturday, July 16. Over a mile of fire and EMS vehicles from Wake, Cumberland, Durham, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, and Wayne counties escorted mourners from Eastern Wake Station 1 on Poole Road to the church. (July 14, 2005)

2005 - Equipment note. Commercial washing machine has been installed, reported at board meeting on October 4. (September-October, 2005)

2005 - Apparatus deliveries:

All are delivered and in service by December 1, 2005. (Fall 2005)

2005 - Apparatus disposals. Board discusses sale of following vehicles and equipment at December 1 meeting:

2006 - Apparatus delivery: 2005 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker, 1250/1000. Alternate model year 2006. (December 15, 2006)

2007 - Meeting note: Reported at board meeting, Eastern Wake EMS is now operating at Station 1 daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. They plan to move to 24-hour service, and an addition to the building will be made to add sleeping quarters. (January 4, 2007)

2007 - Apparatus disposals:

Both reported at board meeting on March 1. (February 2007)

2007 - Equipment note: Board approves adding swift-water rescue equipment for boat, including new life jackets, throw rope and drag line, lights for the boat, etc. at meeting on June 28. The boat is reported as equipped with $3,810.54 of equipment at board meeting on August 2. (June-August 2007)

2007 - Station planning note: Department will not seek adding another station to cover the "no man's land" between Eastern Wake and Garner, as the latter is planning a new station around 2010. Reported at board meeting. (August 2, 2007)

2008 - Apparatus delivery, 2007 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker. Alt. year 2008. Cost $320,000. Ordered by August 2, 2007. Delivered around February 18. In service by March 6, 2008. (February 2008)

2008 - ISO fire insurance inspection. Current rating is 9E/6. (March 31, 2008)

2008 - Apparatus disposal. 1988 Ford/E-One pumper. Sold to Chinquapin VFD. (November 21, 2008)

2008- Meeting note: Town has initiated a contract with department for fire service, one year. Reported at board meeting. (July 2008) 

2008 - Two freeways open in the middle of the service district, I-87 and I-540. Increases call volume for roadway-related incidents.ewfd

2010 - 2020

2010 - Apparatus note. With exception of 1997 International pumper and 1997 International rescue, entire fleet is owned by county. Noted at Board meeting. (June 10, 2010)

2011 - Vehicle note. New chief's vehicle replaced, cost $33,019. Bought by county. Now in service, as reported at Board meeting. (April 10, 2011)

2011 - Wake County takes control of department's finances and board of directors, after probe into the department's management of money. The issue were payments to four employees for vacation time that violated a 2002 county policy, which placed a cap on the number of reimbursable hours. Due to this issue, the County Manager assigned an auditor to review all future financial transactions, and appoint four new members to the eight-person Board of Directors. No current directors would be removed, however, as there were four vacancies. The county will not require repayment from the department, and county control will last only two years.  (December 2011)no03dec11

2012 - Department medical certification level is upgraded from NC Medical Responder (MR) to NC Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The voluntary upgrade consists of members completing a 120-hour course from March through May. (May 2012)

2012 - Station note. Additional room added at Station 1 for EMS. Completed by time of Board meeting on September 10. (August-September 2012)


2012 - Snapshot. Total calls for calendar year:

As reported at board meeting on January 10, 2013.ewfd

2012 - Longtime Fire Chief George Gupton ends employment. ewfd

2012 - M. J. Johnson appointed Interim Fire Chief. Serves until 2013.ewfd

2013 - Swift-water rescue team created. Growing need for the service, with public access to the Neuse River from the Neuse River Trail. Membership votes to start the rescue team.ewfd

2013 - Merger with town is discussed. Talks begin in February. Background work is done and a meeting is held in early June, with the town, the county, and the department. EWFD announces that they've had a change of heart, and are not prepared to move forward with a merger at the time. The meeting is ended, and the discussions are soon ended. (Spring-Summer 2013)

2013 - David Cates hired as Fire Chief. Serves until 2019.ewfd

2014 - Equipment note: Kawasaki mule added.ewfd

2015 - Station note. Kitchen renovations started, noted at Board meeting. (November 12, 2015)

2015 - Department becomes certified in two rescue disciplines by the State of North Carolina:

2015 - Department becomes certified as a Heavy Rescue Provider by the North Carolina Association of Rescue and EMS.ewfd

2016 - Vehicle note. New pick-up truck delivered. Reported as lights added and lettering completed at Board meeting. (April 14, 2016)

2016 - Mutual Aid - Department members deployed to Bladen County to assist after Hurricane Matthew, part of a deployment of eighteen firefighters from EWFD, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Apex, Fairview, Bay Leaf, and Stony Hill, along with four engines. (September 2016)ewfd

2016 - Equipment note: New breathing apparatus in service, 29 new SCBA units. Bought by the county. Old ones disposed to Rolesville FD (12) and county training center (14). Reported at Board meeting. (November 10, 2016)

2016 - Mutual Aid - Department members spent two-and-a-half weeks in western North Carolina, assisting with the Park Rock wildfire in the Lake Lure area. (November 2016)ewfd

2017 - Apparatus note: 1997 International/E-One rescue has Enforcer 60 compressed-air foam system (CAFS) installed. Purchase approved November 10, 2016, for amount up to $6,000. Reported as installed and operating at Board meeting on January 12, 2017. (January 2017)

2017 - Station note. Roof training prop completed, built beside the rear storage building. Reported at Board meeting. (October 12, 2017)

2018 - Renewed discussion of merger with town. Special meeting held with Board on February 22, to receive presentation from county Fire Services Director. The county was approached by the town, in the interest of initiating a merger. After the presentation, the board votes to respectfully refuse any merger for the remainder of the fiscal year, pending further investigation. They also direct the Fire Chief to begin evaluating future fire service options that will enhance the level of fire protection for their district. This decision is communicated in a letter to the county dated February 23. In a board meeting on March 8, they clarified that talks have been declined for the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2019. They need to look at other options and then talk with the county and get facts. (February-March 2018)ewfd

2018 - Department answers 1800 calls during calendar year. (December 31, 2018)ewfd

2018 - Apparatus delivery: 2018 Rosenbauer Commander rescue-pumper. Placed in service [date?] as Squad 38. (November 2018) ewfd

2019 - Tim Guffey hired as Fire Chief.

2019 - Department again explores possibility of merging with Town of Knightdale. Board members and town officials form exploratory committee to evaluate options and with the prospective objective of the merged department serving the Alert Fire District. (February 2019)

2019 - Exploratory committee begins meeting regularly, to discuss the challenges of a proposed merger, and the positive and negative impacts for both departments as well as the citizens of town and Alert Fire District. (March 2019)

2019 - Wake County staff joins the exploratory committee to provide technical assistance, and notably as the county has responsibility for protection of the Alert Fire District, which is provided through contracted services with the department. (June 2019)

2019 - Apparatus delivery: 2008 Spartan Metro Star/Hackney walk-around rescue. Owned by Wake County and transferred to Eastern Wake FD from Northern Wake FD, after the latter acquired a rescue ladder. Originally served Stony Hill FD. Placed in service in September 2019. (August 2019)

2019 - Department answers 2000 calls during calendar year. (December 31, 2019)ewfd

2019 - Equipment note: Zodiac rescue boat added.ewfd

2019 - Apparatus disposals:

2020 - Department has eighteen full-time firefighters, ten part-time firefighters, twelve volunteers, one administration assistant, one Assistant Chief, and one Fire Chief.ewfd

2020 - Exploratory merger meetings continue from July 2019 to January 2020.

2020 - Department membership votes 15 to 4 to continue discussions with town, and seek a merger date of July 1, 2020. (January 2020)

2020 - Public meeting held by department Board of Directors and town officials at Bethlehem Baptist Church to receive community feedback. (February 13, 2020)

2020 - Fire Chief Tim Guffey and Board President Shelton Price attend meeting with Keenage Club concerning the merger. They provide a presentation and answer questions from about 75 people attending. (March 3, 2020)

2020 - Board of Directors votes to cease operations effective July 1, 2020, with employees to be hired by the town, pending affirmation vote by department membership. (March 2020)

2020 - Department members affirm the Board decision during a four-day written voting period on May 11-15. There are 36 members eligible to vote, and 35 members cast votes. The final count is 30 for and five against. (May 2020)

2020 - Department's last day of operation before merger with town. (June 30, 2020)

2020 - Fire Chief Tim Guffey marks the department out of service at 0800 hours, as the merger with the Town of Knightdale becomes effective. Read blog post. (July 1, 2020)


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