Residents form the Falls of Neuse Fire
Board, headed by Linwood Barham.
Fundraising starts around April 1970. Donations
requested of $10 per residence or business. Anyone who donates
becomes voting member. Raised $3,060 through first-year fundraising.
Fire department will also receive $125 per month from county, and
matching funds for communications equipment.
Incorporated as Falls
Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. on July 7, 1970.
Operational on/after October 5, 1970,
date of county commission meeting where approval was likely to be
granted. County Civil Defense Director John C. Throne would request
that the new district be recognized, and its boundaries approved.
Fire district is eleven square miles roughly bordering a six-mile
stretch of Falls of Neuse Road. Borders include railroad trucks on
Durant Road to the east, Falls of the Neuse to about present site of
Ravenscroft School to the south. It meets the state requirement than
the entire service area be within four miles of the fire station.
Chief is Sam Perry.
has twenty-one members.
summoned to the fire station with a siren. The department is linked
with eighteen other rural fire districts through a radio system,
which is operated by the Raleigh Fire Department at Central Fire
The number of members and
specific equipment has been specified by the state Fire Insurance
First fire apparatus:
- 1956 Ford/American pumper, 500/500, front-mounted Barton pump, obtained from Six Forks Fire
- 1960/1965 tanker, 150/1500, obtained from Durham
Highway Fire Department
First fire station is Falls Community Clubhouse at
11908 Falls of the Neuse Road, with two added apparatus bays. Verbal
contract between fire department and Community Club makes clubhouse
available provided firefighters maintain building.
Sources: Oral history, New & Observer, October 1, 1970
- 1964 Ford / Darley tanker, 250 GPM, 500 gallons
- 1973 Chevy tanker, 1200 gallons
- 1979 FMC / Bean pumper, 750 GPM, 750 gallons wcfar
Station improvements: two
additional apparatus bays added
- 1984 Chevy Custom Deluxe 30 brush truck
- 1984 Chevy Suburban
- 1987 Ford 8000 / E-One pumper / tanker
- 1989 Ford 8000 / E-One pumper / tanker
Station improvements: fifth
apparatus bay added in rear. Front right apparatus bay converted
to office space.
- 1994 E-One Sentry pumper / tanker
- 2003 Ford Expedition
- 2003 Ford F-350 pick-up
Part II - Additional Notes - 2016
1970 - Falls Fire Department was assigned Wake County fire
station number 21.
1970 - The first piece of apparatus was a former Durham Highway
rig, a converted Army 2 1/2-ton truck with 1,400 gallon tank.
Purchased for $500, with money raised through fundraisers,
donations, and $10 memberships for residents of the Falls Fire
1970 - The second piece of apparatus is a 1956
Ford/American/Barton pumper, 500/500. Purchased from Six Forks Fire
Department for $2,500. The Ladies Auxiliary paid for most of the
purchase, using money made from barbecues and craft shoes.
1974 - Apparatus delivery: 1973 Chevrolet tanker.
first new truck chassis and remounted a 1,200 gallon tank from an
oil tanker. It was also modified with a quick-dump system.
1977 - Apparatus delivery: 1978 FMC/Bean pumper, 750/750.
new fire engine purchased with increased tax revenues, fundraisers,
donations, and an FHA loan.
1984 - First Responder program started due to slow responses of
EMS units responding from Raleigh, Six Forks, and Wake Forest.
Linwood E. Barham, an early member, taught the First Responder class
twice weekly. First females joined the department as a result of the
1980s - Two additional apparatus bays added to fire station.
1987 - Apparatus delivery: 1987 Ford/E-One pumper-tanker,
1250/1000. Named Engine 210, later changed to Engine 212.
1989 - Apparatus delivery: 1989 Ford/E-One pumper-tanker,
1250/1000. Named Tanker 217.
1980s, late - First paid personnel hired for daytime hours. Day
shift hired in lieu of buying the land across the street for a new
fire station as funds would not allow for both.
1990s - Fifth apparatus bay added in rear of building.
right apparatus bay is converted to an office.
1994 - Apparatus delivery: 1994 E-One Sentry pumper-tanker,
1250/100. Named Engine 211.
1997 - Chris Wilson appointed Fire Chief.
2002 - Duty crew program placed in service for volunteers to
fully staff apparatus on nights and weekends.
2003 - Falls Fire Department designs a new patch that
incorporates the Falls of Neuse Bridge, the river, and the cotton
2003 - Vehicle deliveries:
- Ford Expedition for a first responder vehicle. Named 210
and replaced a 1987 Chevrolet Suburban.
- Ford F-350 pick-up for conversion to a brush truck. With a
county-supplied brush truck in coming years, the truck is never
converted and instead used for daily operations. It is named
2005 - Apparatus delivery: 2005 Ford F-550 Super Duty 250/300.
Replaced 1984 Chevrolet brush truck.
2006 - Apparatus delivery: 2006 Rescue One Connector boat. The
16-foot is equipped with a 40 HP Mercury, four-stroke outboard
motor, front mount dive platform, center console navigation, 500 GPM
integrated pump with hard suction, 1.5'' discharge, and deluge gun,
and various water rescue equipment. The boat is used in conjunction
with other Rescue One Connector Boats stationed at Stony Hill and Bayleaf Fire Department to form a floating platform used in rescue
and recovery operations. Purchased with a $26,420 grant from
Fireman's Fund Insurance.
2007 - Apparatus delivery: 2007 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker,
1250/1000/20. Designated Pumper 212. Dedication ceremony on June 16.
2008 - Duty crew program begins paying volunteers $25 a night.
2009 - Falls Fire Department cookbook created and sold. Compiled
by the Ladies Auxiliary and their families, the softcover,
spiral-bound volume features 350 recipes, and includes recipes that
appeared in the original Ladies Auxiliary cookbook in the late
1970s/early 1980s. With colored tabs separating the categories, it
also includes a history of the department, information about the
ladies auxiliary, and other bits
2009 - Apparatus delivery: 2009 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker,
1250/1000. Delivered April 24, 2009. Replaces Tanker 217, the 1989
Ford/E-One. (Spring 2009)
2010 - Falls Fire Department celebrates 40th anniversary and
produces challenge coins for members.
2011 - Declaration of intent to merge with Wake Forest Fire
Department is signed by the two fire chiefs at WFFD Station 1 on
July 25, 2011.
2012 - Falls Fire Department merges with Wake Forest Fire
Department. The Falls fire station becomes WFFD Station 5, and the
equipment assigned is Engine 5, Tanker 5, Squad 5, Fire Boat 5,
Utility 5 and Car 6. Station is staffed with part-time employees on
weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and fully staffed by volunteers
on nights and weekends. (March 25, 2012)
Part III - More History
Falls Lake History Postings
Falls, Wake Forest Fire Departments Celebrate Merger on Sunday,
March 22, 2012 -
At 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, a ceremony will be conducted at the Falls
Fire Department at 11908 Falls of Neuse Road, to commemorate and celebrate the
department's merger with the Wake Forest Fire Department. The departments signed
an operational consolidation contract on July 25, 2011. The merger was first
proposed in 2009, and originally included ideas to close the Falls fire
The Falls fire station will be renamed Wake Forest Station 5, and will retain
the nickname "Home of the River Rats." The apparatus will be renumbered to
include Engine 5, Tanker 5, Squad 5, Brush 5, Utility 5, Boat 5, and Car 6.
(Wake Forest Station 4 is in the planning stages, and mostly recently in the
news regarding town officials discussing funding. It will be located on the
northwest side of town.)
Personnel from the Falls FD staff will serve in roles such as Asst. Chief of
Volunteer Operations, Battalion Chiefs, and Captains. The response area of Falls
and Wake Forest fire departments will be merged. The result will add a ladder
response to some current Falls responses.
Fire District Maps
These maps were distributed at Thursday night's Wake County Fire Commission
meeting. The map on the left shows the current fire district boundaries for
Falls, Wakette (the Wake Forest rural district), Wake Forest, and nearby Raleigh
and Rolesville. Note the planned location for Wake Forest Station 4. The map on
the right shows the proposed expanded Wakette fire district, now incorporating
the Falls fire district. Click to enlarge:
Established in 1970
The Falls Fire Department was established in 1970. They were incorporated on
July 7, 1970. Donations were requested of $10 per residence or business, and
anyone who donated became a voting member. The fire department raised $3,060
that first year. The fire district limit included east to the railroad tracks on
Durant Road, and south on Falls of Neuse Road to the present location of
Sam Perry was the first fire chief. The Falls Community Clubhouse became the
fire house. Two fire engines were obtained, a 1956 Ford/American pumper from Six
Forks FD and a 1966 military 6x6 tanker from Durham Highway FD.
This is the second merger for the Wake Forest Fire Department. On July 1,
1983, the Wake Forest municipal fire department and Wake Forest Rural Fire
Department merged. Their districts were joined. Wake Forest Fire Department Inc.
was chartered. At or about the same time, the town's second fire department was
also merged into the organization, Wake Forest Fire Department #2, shown below,
which operated from a fire station on Taylor Street.
Other fire department mergers in Wake County have included Six Forks Fire
Department (1956-2002), which merged with the Bay Leaf Fire Department in 2002.
And Fairgrounds Fire Department (1961-1998) and Yrac Fire Department
(1961-1998), which merged to form Westen Wake Fire Department in 1998. Plus a
number of mergers of town and rural fire departments, in such places as Apex,
Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Morrisville, and Zebulon.
Early History of Falls Fire Department
April 3, 2012 - Source
Here's an early history of the Falls Fire Department, which
merged last weekend with the Wake Forest Fire Department. A version
of this history was read during the ceremony by Asst. Chief Marcus
The Falls community developed around the falls of the Neuse River
in northern Wake County. The Falls of Neuse Community Club was
incorporated with the state on November 19, 1954. Land for a
community center at the presently addressed 11908 Falls of Neuse
Road was donated in November 1954 by Erwin Cotton Mills. The lot
size was 0.29 acres.1
Rural fire protection in the county started during that decade,
with unincorporated communities around Raleigh and Wake Forest
protected by newly forming fire departments such as Six Forks, Stony
Hill, and Western Boulevard.
By the late 1960s, the Falls community relied upon fire
protection from Stony Hill, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Wake-New Hope,
Six Forks, and Bay Leaf fire departments. Each of those fire
stations, however, was a fair distance from the community.
In 1969, the Falls Community Club, and with the advisement of
then county commissioner Hal Trentman, took on the organization of
the fire department as their project.
The Falls Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated with the
state on July 7, 1970. Listed on the Articles of Incorporation were
- Melvin C. Jackson
- Bruce L. Fonville
- William H. Blackmon
- William D. Jackson
- Linwood E. Barham
The incorporators were listed as
- Melvin C. Jackson
- Linwood E. Barham
- William D. Jackson
They purchased their first piece of fire apparatus was a
converted Army 2 1/2-ton, three-axle truck with a 1,400 gallon water
tank. The truck was purchased for $500 from the Durham Highway Fire
Department. The money was raised through fundraisers, donations, and
charging district patrons $10 to join the Falls Fire District Inc.
The second piece of fire apparatus purchased was a 1956
Ford/American pumper with a front mounted Barton pump. It was
equipped with a 500 GPM pump and carried 500 gallons of water. It
was bought from Six Forks Fire Department for $2,500.2 The
Ladies Auxiliary paid for most of the purchase, with money made from
barbecues and craft shows.
Training and Equipment
The first Fire Chief was the late Sam Perry and the department
had 24 members at the start. They received permission from the Falls
Community Club to build two apparatus to be attached to the
community center building. Most of the work was done by members of
the department and was finished by contracted builders. Two years
later, two more bays were added.
Firefighting equipment was purchased as money became available,
while neighboring fire departments donated hose, nozzles, and more.
Training was provided by Captain Jimmy Warren of the Raleigh Fire
Department. He came out once a week and taught basic firefighting to
the members. At the time, only one member had any prior firefighting
In the early years of the department, several members would
attend a yearly week-long class at Wilson Technical Community
College to get their training.
Water and Taxes
Since the nearest fire hydrants were 8 to 10 miles away, it
became apparent that more water was needed in case there was a large
fire. The department purchased a used oil truck from one of the
local oil distributors. This unit was used as a second tanker. All
three vehicles were parked in the two bays, until the other two bays
On October 5, 1970 (see below), the Wake County Commissioners
recognized Falls Volunteer Fire Department Inc. as a county
department. A referendum was [later?] held and the residents of the
Falls Fire District were asked to vote on receiving a 10 cent on the
$100 dollar valuation of taxed property to support the fire
department. The referendum passed by a vote of 42 for and two
against. The first full year of tax revenues was $3,060.
Wake County provided each rural fire department $125 per month at
the time, and also matched funds for communication equipment. The
county's rural fire departments (18 plus Falls) were dispatched by
the Raleigh Fire Department, from a communications center at Station
On October 5, 1970, County Civil Defense Director John C. Throne
asked county commissioners to recognize the new Falls Fire
Department district and approve its boundaries. They were presumably
approved on that date.
The approval would allow the department to start operation, and
which would result in lower fire insurance rates for residents. The
fire department had 21 men at the time. The Board of Directors was
led by Linwood Barham.
The 11-square mile district roughly bordered a six-mile stretch
of Falls of Neuse Road, south to the present Ravenscroft School,
east on Durant Road (then named Neuse Road) to the railroad tracks,
west to Six Forks Road, and north to Highway 98. The district also
included a northern section of Litchford Road.
The Falls Fire Department was assigned the Wake County fire
station number 21.
In 1974, the department bought its first new fire truck chassis.
They mounted the 1,200-gallon tank from the oil tanker onto the 1973
Chevrolet chassis. The tank was also modified for a quick dump
system. In 1977, with increased tax revenues, fundraisers,
donations, and a loan from FHA, the department purchased its first
completely new truck, a 1978 FMC/Bean pumper with a 750 GPM pump and
a 750 gallon tank.
Other early and later apparatus:
- 1984 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 30 brush truck, 250 gallons.
- 1984 Chevrolet Suburban, purchased used.
- 1987 Ford 8000/E-One pumper tanker, 1250 GPM pump, 1000
- 1989 Ford 8000/E-One pumper tanker, 1250 GPM pump, 1000
- 1994 E-One Sentry pumper tanker, 1250 GPM, 1000 gallons.
In 1978, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started construction of
a dam at the river falls. Before that time, flooding of the Neuse
River caused extensive damage to public and private properties down
river. The Falls Lake project was created as a flood-control
solution. The dam that holds the lake was completed in 1981. Among
the changes created by the lake was the demolition of the Six Forks
Road bridge. Today, Falls Lake is a 12,410 acre reservoir that
extends into Durham and Granville counties.
In the early 1980s, fire departments in Wake County began
offering First Responder services. In 1984, the Falls Fire
Department initiated the program. The decision was made due to the
length response times of EMS units responding from Raleigh (Wake
County EMS), Six Forks (Six Forks EMS), and Wake Forest (Northern
Linwood E. Barham, a charter member, taught the First Responder
class twice weekly. The first females also joined the fire
department as a result of the First Responder program.
Paid Members and Duty Crews
In the 1980s, the call volume was increasing and the need for
daytime personnel was growing. The department was also looking into
buying land across the street from the community center for a new
fire station. Since the department was not receiving enough revenues
from the fire district tax base to do both, they decided to hire
paid day personnel instead of buying land.
The first all-volunteer duty crew was started in 2002. They were
paid beginning in 2008, and received 25 dollars a night.
The department's nickname "River Rats" was used by Falls
Community members when they played baseball against Stony Hill
Community members, the "Possums". The community members took the
name from a group of local young men in the community that called
themselves "The River Rats."
1Erwin Mills operated in a three-story granite
building that's still standing. The structure was built in 1890 and
expanded in 1895. The following year, it was converted from a paper
mill to a textile mille. The names changed over the years until
finally Erwin Mills. The textile operations, mainly warehousing,
discontinued in 1959. The building was renovated for condominiums,
which were completed in 1996.
2Both pieces of apparatus were the first fire engines
for the Durham Highway and Six Forks fire departments, respectively.
- Falls Fire Department.
- Mike Legeros records.
- New Rural Fire Department Planned for Wake County - News &
Observer, October 1, 1970.
- North Carolina Secretary of State Corporation Records.
Links and Sources
- oh Oral History
- sos NC Department of the Secretary of
Last updated: September 29, 2016.
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Copyright 2019 by Michael J. Legeros