Garner Fire Department



  • Part I - Research From 2004
  • Part II - Additional Notes - 2016
  • Part III - More History

Part I - Research From 2004


Fire protection is a recorded   as early as 1905. Ordinances adopted that year include remarks about the Chief of Police having control and supervision of all fire companies as well as notes about chimney construction, the deposit of wood shavings and straw in public places, locations of blacksmith shops and wood yards, and the duties of the Mayor in case of fire.

Service station explodes and burns in Garner ."Gas Blast at Garner" reads the newspaper headline after an explosion and fire destroy a service station early Saturday morning. Lynn Broughton, employed at the filling station, is killed and another employee, W.M. Wall, is injured. Another person, Arch Wood, is injured by the 3:45 a.m. blast, after stopping at the station while en route to Raleigh. He is preparing to leave when he is hurled "to the top of the station" where he cuts his head. Despite his injury, he pushes his automobile "to safety from beneath the shed of the burning building." The Raleigh Fire Department is called "by telephone" shortly before 4:00 a.m. Despite making a "quick run," the building is completely destroyed by the time they arrived. "Chemicals" are "thrown" on the smoldering debris and "hastened the recovery" of Broughton's body. An examination by Henry Allen, manager of the station, and Brooky Poole, owner of the building, lead to the conclusion that the explosion followed the fire, and that an oil barrel rather than the gas tank had exploded. The scene also draws spectators. By that evening, "thousands of Raleigh people" have visited the "charred mass of wreckage." Garner is located 6.2 miles from Raleigh. Reference: "The Raleigh Times," September 29, 1928 (September 29, 1928).

Pair of Army pursuit planes crash about three miles south of Raleigh on Garner Highway .Both pilots killed, two of three aircraft flying in formation at time of accident. Raleigh fire department is dispatched at 11:02 a.m. and immediately sends one unit. (October 29, 1943) no30oct43

Army Air Corps bomber crashes in Garner .Two crew members are killed after a B-17 bomber crashes into a wooded area, five miles southeast of Raleigh. Eight others parachute to safety. The Raleigh Fire Department is notified of the accident at 5:30 p.m and sends two trucks and twelve men to the scene. Firefighters are directed by Chief R. W. Butts, who is one of the first officials to arrive at the scene. Highway Patrol officers and military authorities arrive at about the same time. The burning wreckage is scattered over an area 600 yards long and 100 yards wide. Bombs and bullets continue exploding long after the crash. Spectators attracted the scene are warned to keep clear for fear of further explosions. (May 9, 1944) rt10may44

Passenger and freight train collides in Auburn .Sixteen people are slightly injured, with seven hospitalized, after a westbound Southern Railway freight train collides head-on with an eastbound passenger train at 10:35 a.m.. The accident occurs as both trains are slowing to a stop at the Auburn station. Raleigh Fire Chief W. R. Butts is notified and immediately orders fire equipment to the scene, and then calls City Hall to request permission for the fire equipment to be sent outside of the city. Raleigh Public Safety Commissioner Robert C. Powell immediately gives his approval, though Butts later admits that his men were en route before he placed the call. Butts subsequently responds to the scene and uses his car's two-way radio to talk with law enforcement officials as well as hospitals, advising them that ambulances and doctors should be rushed to the scene. After arriving, firefighters form a cordon around the freight train to prevent any ignition of the gasoline that has filled the gullies on both sides of the tracks. Spectators subsequently dip their own containers into said gullies, using tubs and buckets to take the spilled gasoline home. (December 28, 1946)rt28dec46, rt30dec46

Railroad boxcar and pulp wood truck in Auburn burn .The 1:30 p.m. blaze is started by a truck backed up to the box car. Also damaged are Western Union wires directly over the fire. Raleigh Fire Department assists in extinguishing. (June 12, 1947) rt12jun47


1950, K. T. Pumphrey and Jack Johnson speak to Board of Alderman about organizing a fire department. Also around this time, Jim Collier and Noel Bryan began promoting the idea of a volunteer fire department. Working at their Main Street hardware street, they soon begin soliciting interest from other men in town. Subsequently, they begin meeting at the American Legion Building .

1952, organized. Group of men bring plan to Board of Alderman, who approve and send to Secretary of State. The ten incorporating members: J.R. Collier, Ralph Whaley, William E. Jones, J. Noel Bryan, Marvin Daughtry, S.G. Carroll, Thomas Parrish, K.T. Pumphrey, M.M. Peacock, and Joe Williams. Mr. Bryan is elected first President and Fire Chief. Incorporated as Garner Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. on August 15, 1952.fdr, sos

1952, first fire station is wooden, used-car garage owned by John Kelly and located on Garner Road across from high school. First fire alarm, an air horn, is mounted atop Main Street beauty salon operated by Minnie Williams and Nannie Parrish. When they receive notification of a fire, they set off horn and call the chief to tell him the location of the fire.rt04aug56, fdr

1952, first fire truck purchased: 1941 Ford pick-up with front-mounted pump purchased from Durham Fire Department. Cost $1,000. Paid cash. Later sold to Harrells Volunteer Fire Department in Sampson County (in 1974?) .fdr

1952, second fire truck is built by firefighters: 1948 Chevrolet tanker, 1000 gallons, constructed by firefighters working mostly at night, and fire department mechanic Hamp Jackson contributing generously of time and efforts. ar72

1953, fire station constructed at 110 Pearl Street. rt04aug56, wcrer

1954, larger fire truck delivered.rt04aug56

1956, first Fireman's Day held. Festivities include a 40-minute parade that originates at the high school, winds down Main Street, and stops at the fire station. Led by Miss Polly Lynn of Raleigh, the parade includes fire apparatus from Wake Forest, Wendell, Cary, Clayton, Apex, Knightdale, and, of course, Garner. There is a live firefighting demonstration, an all-star Little Baseball baseball game, and a street dance featuring Red Rose and his Carolina Mountaineers. Two Volunteer Fire Queens are named, chosen from sixteen applicants. Prizes are awarded for best decorated bicycles in the parade. There's also a fish fry that results in excitement when pots of hot grease full of hush puppies and fish catch fire. Flames leap from pots to roof of cooking shed. Firefighters douse flames using fire trucks after cooks using fire extinguishers fail. Crowd attending event is estimated at 7,000 people. (September 3, 1956)rt04sep56

1957 (?), apparatus delivery: 1957 Chevrolet 10-500 / American LaFrance pumper, 750 GPM, 600 gallons. Cost $11,343.ar61

1957, total of 50 fire calls answered during year. ar61

1958 (?), apparatus delivery: 1958 Ford F-600 / American LaFrance pumper, 500 GPM, 300 gallons. Purchased by town but housed and operated by fire department. Cost $10,627.32. ar61

1958, Fire Chief is Jack Johnson. wcfa

1958, new fire truck and Jeep reports Wake County Firemen's Association minutes dated May 13, 1958.

1958 (?), apparatus delivery: 1957-58 Ford / American LaFrance pumper, lettered "Municipally Owned." oh

1958, total of 46 fire calls answered during year. ar61

1959, total of 134 fire calls answered during year. ar61


1960, Fire Chief is John Wiley Jones. (May 7, 1960) cfd, ar61

1960, total of 103 fire calls answered during year. ar61

1961, fifth annual Fireman's Day held on Labor day. Parade begins at 3 p.m., followed by free rides on fire trucks at Garner Elementary School and a football game between two teams of Garner High School. Beginning at 5 p.m., barbecue is served at the cafeteria of the elementary school. Street dancing and naming of Mrs. Volunteer Fire Department are held in parking lot of Forest Hills Shopping Center. (September 4, 1961) rt02sep61

1961, annual report reports:

  • total of 132 fire calls answered
  • total of 33 volunteer firefighters
  • average of $50 of each firefighter's own funds "in order to belong to the department"
  • average of 100 hours of each firefighter's time devoted to fire department, not including time spent "in actual firefighting"
  • total of 36 hours spent in drills by firefighters
  • monthly amount of $100 contributed by County
  • fire department telephone number is VAnce 9-3459.

1961, apparatus consists of:

Engine 1 1957 Chevrolet 10-500 / American LaFrance pumper, 750 GPM, 600 gallons
Engine 2 1958 Ford F-600 / American LaFrance pumper, 500 GPM, 300 gallons, owned by town
Engine 3 1942 International (/ Howe?) pumper (w/gas engine?), 500 GPM, 700 gallons
Tanker 1948 Chevrolet tanker, 1000 gallons

1962, apparatus deliveries:

  • 1961 Chevrolet tanker, 1200 gallons, cost $7.000.00
  • 1952 GMC panel truck emergency power unit, painted white with Civil Defense logo, equipped with 120 volt, 5000 watt AC generator, flood lights, smoke ejector, clean up tools, pails, brooms, shovels, and "extra oxygen cylinders for emergency smoke problems, heart attacks, etc., at doctor's call." ar62

1962, total of 129 fire calls answered during year. ar62

1963, Fire Chief is B.R. Poole Jr. Assistant Fire Chief is C. Homer Creech. (November 14, 1963) fdr

1964, fire station "sitting room" and kitchen redecorated through funds raised by members of ladies' auxiliary. Improvements include purchase of donated couches and chairs and subsequent reupholstering, cabinets built and ceiling lowered in kitchen, and curtains made. (April, 1964) rt06apr64

1965, annual fundraising drive begins. Firemen beginning knocking on doors to solicit money. During past year, fire department answered 173 fire calls, a record over last year's record of 139 calls. Department equipment consists of three pumpers, two tankers, a power unit, and "Chief Poole's private car." Financing comes from both the town and the County, which gives $125 per month. Though the department's assets total $67,720, the present firehouse is too small. Plans are being drawn up for a new one to be built at Main Street and NC 50. (October 3, 1965) rt29sep65

1969, total of 179 fire calls answered during year. ar73


1970, new fire station at 503 W. Main Street dedicated .(July 1970)fdr

1970, total of 244 fire calls answered during year. ar73

1971, bank note burned on fire station. (January 1971)fdr

1971, total of 247 fire calls answered during year. ar73

1972, total of 206 fire calls answered during year. ar73

1973, House fire at 5717 Sharon St. kills woman and 5-year old son. Blaze breaks out about 9:45 a.m. Virgil King Bordeaux, 31, is found "lying over her son near a bedroom window" apparently trying "to shield him from the smoke," reports the October 6 edition of The News and Observer. Raleigh firefighter George Wrenn is painting a house nearby and tries in vain to find locate occupants after seeing smoke coming from a side window. Wrenn shouts to a neighbor to "call the fire department," finds a ladder, and enters a "middle bedroom" after breaking a window. Heavy smoke hides the bodies of the two victims, which is believed unoccupied at the time. '"If I'd only known there was a kid in the room,'" Wrenn later says "in a voice choked with emotion." Officials believe Mrs. Bordeaux tried to telephone for help and "after leaving the telephone receiver on the bed, she left the end bedroom and went to her son's bedroom. There she realized how bad the fire was." Fire damage is estimated at $5,000 and is limited to the kitchen and parts of the hallway. The fire is extinguished quickly by firefighters, who find the bodies in about five minutes. Smoke damage is heavy "throughout the back bedrooms and the connecting hallway" with "one of two end bed-rooms" "scarcely scorched by the smoke." Fire Chief B. R. Poole Jr. says "if Mrs. Bordeaux had pulled the door to the hallway shut, there would have been a good chance that neither she nor her son would have died" and "they probably would have had time to escape through the bedroom window." Two kittens and their mother are found "huddled in the basement of the house" after firefighters leave the scene, adds the October 10 edition of The Garner News. (October 5, 1973)

1973, Fire Chief is B. R. Poole Jr. Alex W. Umstead is Assistant Chief. (December 31, 1973) fdr

1973, fire department answers 210 calls. (December 31, 1973) fdr

1974, Garner Town Hall catches fire, destroying a third of the town’s records. Firefighters arrive about 12:20 a.m. to find flames breaking through the room of the two-story frame-building. Originally constructed as a church, the 85 year old structure was already too small for the town’s use. In fact, just one week prior, the town Alderman had voted to hold a bond referendum for construction of a new town hall. About 30-35 Garner volunteers battle the blaze, along with 12 to 15 firefighters from Swift Creek. The Clayton Rescue Squad is also on hand. The blaze is brought under control in about 45 minutes, with firefighters preventing the flames from spreading to both the old depot and the water tower adjacent to the now collapsed building. (April 18, 1974)

1976, Station #2 opens at 9115 Sauls Road and is served by 25 members of Panther Branch community. fdr

1970s, Fireman's Day is moved to first Saturday of October.oh

1970's, apparatus includes: oh

Engine 1 International Harvester / Howe pumper
Engine 2 1958 Ford F-600 / American LaFrance pumper, 500 GPM, 300 gallons
Unit 3 late 1960's brush truck
Unit 4 1961 Chevrolet tanker, 1200 gallons, later sold to Hopkins
Unit 5 International Harvester / Howe tanker
Unit 6 Dodge / Howe mini-pumper
Unit 7 1960's Chevrolet step van
Unit 8 1948 Chevrolet tanker, 1100 gallons
Engine 9 1942 International (/ Howe?) pumper (w/gas engine?), 500 GPM, 700 gallons
Engine 10 1957 Chevrolet 10-500 / American LaFrance pumper, 750 GPM, 600 gallons



1981, Garner Fireman's Day held. (October 3, 1981) wcfar

1985, gasoline tanker overturns on US.70 at New Rand Road. About half of the 8,000 gallons spill, forcing the evacuation of over 400 residents and causing traffic to be rerouted for several hours. Accident occurs about 11:30 a.m. Crash truck from Raleigh-Durham International Airport responds and sprays foam on the road and truck before the un-spilled fuel is pumped into another truck. (May 16, 1985) no17may85

1985, Garner Fireman's Day held. (October 5, 1985) wcfar

1988, fire department begins accepting Wake County tax money. fdr

1988, first paid Fire Chief hired. fdr

1988, first administrative assistant hired. fdr

1989, four additional personnel hired: Captain, Lieutenant, and two firefighters. (January 1989) fdr, no21mar90

1989, balloon crashes after colliding with TV tower support cables. Balloon Works Firefly 8B takes off from soccer field with two passengers and remains at low altitude. The reported wind is initially from the northeast. At 500 feet, the reported wind is from the northwest. At 1000 and 2000 feet, the reported wind shifts back to the east. Balloon is seen crossing a highway at a southwest heading about one mile from a 2000 foot tall television tower. One witness reports burner is open just before impact with supporting cables. Balloon's envelope then collapses and streamers and balloon descends rapidly to the ground. Examination of envelope shows same had been torn by tower support cables. (June 11, 1989)ntsb


1993 - Line of duty death. Firefighter Patrick J. "Pat" Dougherty, 37, dies on April 7, 1993, of a heart attack during salvage operations at a house fire at 516 Poplar Drive. At approximately 11:45 p.m., he complains of feeling week.  He collapses while being examined by EMS personnel and is pronounced dead at Wake Medical Center of a massive heart attack.

Funeral services are held on April 10 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Garner, followed by burial at Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh. Garner (E1, E2), Bay Leaf (E258), Durham Highway (E2), Fairgrounds (E198), Fuquay-Varina (E2, E5), Morrisville (E2) New Hope (E1), Six Forks (E121), Wake Forest (E63), and Yrac (E293) fire departments participate in the procession.

Dougherty, owner of an auto repair business, was a volunteer member of the Garner Fire Department from August 1988 to June 1992, and had rejoined in January 1993.

1999, Station #3 opens at 1695 Timber Drive with full 24-hour company .fdr

2001, apparatus delivery: 2001 Pierce/Dash 100' platform ladder, 2000 GPM, 300 gallon tank. (December 22, 2001)

2002, platform ladder placed in service. (February 2002)

Part II - Additional Notes - 2016

2006 - Line of duty death. Firefighter Larry Wayne Fanning, 57, died at his home of a heart attack on August 2, 2006,, several hours after working standby at the station during a medical call. He was a 16-year veteran of the Garner Fire Department, and a 38-year veteran of the fire service. His funeral was held August 10, in Dublin, VA.

2007 - Apparatus deliveries: Two 2007 Pierce Contender pumper-tankers, 1500/1000. New Engine 1 and Engine 3. Delivered around June 3, 2007.lw

2009 - Apparatus delivery: 2009 Pierce Velocity heavy-duty walk-around rescue. New Rescue 1. Replaces 1988 Mack/Swab. Delivered August 28, 2009. Placed in service September 28, 2009. lw

2010 - Garner FD assumes role of rescue service provider within the town, transitioned from Garner EMS & Rescue Squad. The department acquires the response area, the subsidized funding from the town, and three full-time employees. No vehicles or equipment are transferred to the fire department, though the town takes possession of a 2007 Spartan/EVI heavy rescue that is stored at Public Works, and will be sold. The three rescue technicians are classified as entry-level firefighters, and will be fully certified as firefighters by the end of the month. (October 1, 2010)mjl-blog

2010 - Station 4 opens at 125 Spaceway Court. The new facility also houses Wake County EMS. It opens in November and is dedicated on December 1, 2010.mjl-blog

2010 - Fire Chief Phil Mitchell retires. Deputy Fire Chief Matt Poole appointed interim Fire Chief.mjl-blog

2010 - Deputy Fire Chief Matt Poole named Fire Chief. he's appointed on November 17, 2010, and had been serving as interim Fire Chief.mjl-blog

2011 - Apparatus delivery: 2011 Pierce Saber pumper/tanker. New Engine 3. Delivered October 10, 2011.lw

2012 - Apparatus delivery: 2012 Pierce Saber pumper-tanker, 12500/1000. New Engine 1. Delivered in August 2012.lw

2013 - Pilot program starts at Garner High School that prepares students for careers in public safety, that pairs Garner FD with the Wake County school system. Classes include fire suppression, with EMT planned for later additon.mjl-blog

2016 - New administrative offices open at 120 E. Main Street, in a former police substation. Car 1, Car 2, Car 3, and the administrative assistant are relocated to new office spaces from Station 1. The building also has a full conference room. Week of February 3, 2016.mjl-blog

More History

ConAgra Incident Run Card

June 9, 2009 - Source

Dispatched at 11:27 a.m. Industrial accident at 4851 Jones Sausage Road with multiple victims. Garner E1, C2; Raleigh E26; Garner EMS84; Wake EMS D1, Medic 92. Soon upgraded to building collapse. Included:

Garner Fire - E1, E3, E4, FS1, C2, C1
Raleigh Fire - E26, L26, L20, L11, L1, R7, B2, B3, A8, USAR1, USAR2, USAR3, USAR 801, HM2, SR2, SR3 (bus), SR 22, Decon 1, C71, C4, FC1, fuel truck
Wake Fire - WC1 
Wake EMS - EMS1, EMS2, EMS4, EMS8, EMS13, EMS14, EMS16, EMS31, D1, M92, Truck 1, PIO, Chief 100, MD1
Garner EMS - EMS81, EMS83, EMS84, 871, 881, 882, Captain 830, Chief 800
Eastern Wake EMS - EMS61, EMS62
Cary EMS - EMS55
Wake EM - MCP
USAR Task Force 8 - Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham units, including Cary R4, USAR 803 (with E7 crew); Durham E7


Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.


  • ar61 Garner Annual Report, 1961
  • ar62 Garner Annual Report, 1962
  • cfd Cary Fire Department records
  • dah NC Department of Archives and History
  • fdr Fire department records
  • gn Garner News
  • lw Lee Wilson
  • mjl-blog Legeros Fire Blog
  • ntsb National Transportation Safety Board records
  • oh Oral history
  • rt Raleigh Times
  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State
  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association records
  • wcrer Wake County Real Estate Records

Last updated: September 29, 2016


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