(Wake) New Hope Fire Department History

Last updated: January 17, 2017



1956, organized.

1956, September 25. Applications approved for volunteer firemen:

1957, September 28. Meeting of board of directors at home of Mr. & Mrs. T. G. Green Jr.

1958, officers:

1958, first fire station is metal building with an A-frame roof owned by charter member Ervin Haithcock.on New Hope Road, and facing the subsequent fire station location. First fire truck is stored there. oh

1958, department begins operating. (March 1958)ro14jul58

1958, first apparatus delivered: 1958 GMC/Barton/American pumper, 500/?. Costs $18,000. (April? 1958)no

1958, new fire station constructed at 4615 New Hope Road. Erected on a 0.71 acre lot. Built by volunteers on Saturdays and after work. Three-bay building with blackboard and entrance to right of bays. Decades later, the property is renumbered 4415 St. James Church Road. By April 1958, a fire siren is installed and is expected to be installed soon, connecting the fire department to the central switchboard at Raleigh Central. (April? May? 1958). oh, wcrer, rt10apr58

1959, tax district established. Property owners pay eight cents per $100 of property value. Residents approve by majority vote on December 6, 1958. County commissioners approve the ten-cent tax district and a $4,000 budget for the department on January 5, 1959.no04nov58, no06jan59

1959, fire department given $1,000 check by manager of Westinghouse Meter Plant, toward the purchase of fire equipment. Though the plant is protected by the city--due to prior arrangements for fire protection, as the plant is outside the city limits--some 100 employees live in the New Hope area. (March 10, 1959) rt10mar59

1959, fire district residents become eligible for reduction in fire insurance premiums, after department is inspected and rated by the N.C. Fire Rating Insurance Bureau, and receives a 9A rating. (April 15, 1959)no15may59

1950s apparatus deliveries:


1960, by this time a tax district has been created.

1960, B. G. Montague is Fire Chief. (May 7, 1960)wcfa

1961, fall. Fire department receives special recognition by National Fire Protection Association as an outstanding rural fire department.rt14jul62

1962, July, snapshot:

1962, apparatus delivery: 1962 GMC/American LaFrance pumper, 750/500. Cost $16,289. Can supply up to five lines of one-a-half-inch hose. (July 1962) rt14jul62

1962, water tank installed on station property, for refilling the tankers. Capacity 15,303 gallons. (Summer 1962) rt14jul62

1963, Cabin at Southward Motor Court on US 1 north of Gresham's Lake destroyed by fire.  The fire is reported between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. Passing motorist sees fire and notifies motel owner. He awakens the occupants of the adjoining cabins, and help the proprietor in wetting down the surrounding area. Four trucks and 20 firefighters respond and battle the blaze in 26-degree temperatures. Firefighters save two adjoining cabins. (November 15, 1963) rt15nov63

1965, Beacon Drive-In restaurant on Highway 64 burns. Kitchen and stockroom are damaged by 4 a.m. fire. Flames were "shooting up from the stockroom" when firefighters arrived. Some twenty-six members fight the fire. Losses estimated at $20,000 to equipment and furnishings and $30,000 to the building. (December 14, 1965) no15dec65

Station expanded. Three additional bays are added on the east side of the fire station. They're completed by September 1965. (Summer? 1965)no98sep65

1968, July. Tax rate reduced by six cents per $100 property valuation for property owners in fire district. The reduction is possible because the fire department has paid off the debt on their fire station and fire equipment. Since 1958, taxes have been paying for the $14,000 building and $50,000 worth of apparatus. The 8 cent rate brought $20,000 in revenues last year. The 2 cent rate will bring $5,600 in revenues this year. rt04jul68

1968, snapshot. Fire department has 35 volunteers who answer an average of 95 to 100 calls a year. They serve most of the Brentwood and New Hope communities. rt04jul68

1960s, apparatus deliveries:

Note: Some of the later trucks may have been delivered or obtained in the early 1970s.


1972, Beacon Restaurant on US 64 near the Beltline destroyed by fire. Four-hour fire causes estimated $75,000 damage. Building is described as a total loss. Fire believed started from either the deep-fat fryer or the furnace, both located in the kitchen area. (May 28, 1972) no30may72

1972, Fire Chief is Walter A. King. (May 28, 1972) no

1973, Plane crashes near Melrose Drive, after failing to clear the trees from a nearby airstrip. The four occupants are not injured. The accident occurs about 11:37 a.m. Two fire trucks from New Hope arrive, but no fire is found. (Saturday before July 29, 1973)no29jul73

1974, circa, apparatus delivery: 1974 Chevy/Murphy ambulance. Rescue services also added with delivery of Hurst tools, procured at the same time as the delivery of ambulance. Herb Wall sold the tools when the new truck arrived. There was also a plan, related to Truck 6 and controversial among members, to enter into the patient transport business. That was halted when Wake County EMS was created in 1976.oh

1975, Plantation Inn burns. Fire is discovered about 11:00 a.m. by employee who sees smoke coming out of vents in attic wall. When the fire department receives the call at 11:03 a.m., they call Wake Forest and Six Forks fire departments as precaution. Smoke is "pouring out of the vents in the gables" on arrival. Fire is quickly extinguished, after firemen take a line into the attic. Damage to attic, wiring, and furnace is extensive, though only smoke and water damage results to first floor dining room and kitchen. The restaurant reopens in time to serve dinner that night. One New Hope fireman burns his hand while "carrying an auxiliary generator back to his truck." (October 23, 1975) no23oct75

1977, gasoline tanker overturns and burns on Beltline ramp at New Bern Avenue. New Hope and Knightdale respond, and Raleigh sends one unit. The truck overturns about 4:40 p.m. on a Saturday. The driver suffers minor cuts and bruises. According to witnesses, it caught fire almost immediately after overturning. The thick smoke from the fire was "clearly visible from downtown Raleigh" and the Five Points area. New Hope had four trucks and Knightdale had two trucks on scene. Wake County EMS also responded, along with the Raleigh Fire Department. (August 6, 1977)no07aug77

1978, Countrywood Village Apartments at 5127 New Hope Road burn. Damage is similar to November 1981 fire. (December 1978)no25nov81

1979, Asphalt tanker explodes at Rea Construction Company on Nichols Road. No one is injured by 4:30 p.m. blast. Two employees are working near tanker when the fire starts and run to safety before the explosion. Asphalt was being transferred from the tanker to the other vehicle when a spark from the second vehicle starts the fire. The blaze is brought under control within 30 minutes. Also on scene were Wake County EMS and "Raleigh Rescue Squad." (October 17, 1979) no18oct79

1970s, apparatus deliveries:


1980, Weyerhaeuser Resource Recovery Plant off New Bern Avenue burns. Eighteen acres of woodland also destroyed. Fire starts at 9:30 a.m. and burns into night. Nearly every fire department in Wake County responds as mutual aid. Fire is fueled by 2,000 tons of baled cardboard and paper stored inside and around the main building. Though brought under control by 1 p.m., it continues to burn. By 2:45 p.m., an irrigating system of hoses and sprinklers is set up around the plant to continually wet down the smoldering bales. Flames are still leaping into the air at 8 p.m. and burn through the night.

The intense fire ignites trash in several dumpsters 30 yards from the flames, and also melts parts of a Southern Railway freight car and four truck trailers near the building. Pieces of flaming cardboard are blown distances of up to a half mile from the site, igniting six separate fires in surrounding woods. A propane tank near the main building is threatened and kept cool by firefighters.

Due to lack of fire hydrants, water is shuttled from the nearest hydrant, about 1.5 miles away at the Tower Shopping Center. A total of 47 hours of firefighting is performed with continuous flow of 800 gallons per minute and no accidents. Over 890 gallons of fuel used and $900-1000 in food and drinks. Total water flowed: 1,238,000 gallons.

The Fairgrounds [Fire Department?] Auxiliary dispenses "soft dreaks, iced tea, water, and chocolate bars" to the exhausted volunteer firemen, some of whom had worked most of the day without stopping to eat. Damages are estimated at $2 million, with the most serious fire damage done in first 30 minutes. (April 21, 1980) wcfar, no23apr90

1980, upper floors of Plantation Inn main building burn. Fire engulfs the three-story building on US 1 North. The fire starts in the attic about 9:45 p.m. Some of the guests were coming down from the nearby restaurant, and they see smoke coming out of the windows. The desk clerk called the fire department, and then the "phone went out... [and she] could hear the fire crackling in the walls." The clerk and other employees went door-to-door alerting guests. About 50 people were evacuated. The fire lights up the sky for miles in north Raleigh, and draws motorists to the area, who tie up traffic. Water is pumped from the motel's swimming pool. Crews try to fight the fire from the roof. "We stayed on the roof as long as we could," says Fire Chief  H. C. Thomas. "We cut holes on the roof, but we just couldn't stop it." He added "We almost had it under control at one point, shortly after arrival, "But we just couldn't contain it." They contained the fire to the one building, and protected the other buildings and even their "old tree." Said the owner, they "wet down one huge tree behind the building that would've gone up like a torch if it had caught fire." He thought the fire had been burning for several hours, likely started by an electrical short in a second-story bathroom.

The fire is fought until about 4:00 a.m., and then crews returned about 6:30 a.m. to handle a few small fires that had rekindled. Damage estimated at $300,000. The three-story building was connected to two one-story wings. It was 27 years old old, and housed an office, a ballroom, and three guest rooms. About 90 percent of the motel's 107 rooms were occupied, though most of the rooms were in other buildings. The motel was open the following day, with the cash register recovered from the hotel lobby, and a temporary office set up in a room near the burned building. Nine fire departments and 24 units respond: New Hope, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Stony Hill, Bayleaf, Falls, Knightdale, Wendell, Fairgrounds, and two units from Raleigh. (September 6, 1980)no07sep80, no08sep80

1981, Countrywood Village Apartments at 5127 New Hope Road burn. Smoke is smelled about 9 a.m. from fire that may have started from faulty wiring. Twenty-two residents are forced out of twelve apartments. Fire destroys the roof and guts six rooms on the top floor. Damage estimated at $270,000. More than a dozen fire and rescue units respond from departments including New Hope and Falls. (November 24, 1981)no25nov81

1982-83, false call at Plantation Inn results in criminal prosecution, the first (or one of the first) for Wake County.oh

1985, first responder service added. First class was taught by Linwood Barham. Several classes after that were taught by "Tramp" Dunn.oh

1985, fire department purchases and installs Eagle air compressor system. Has 5,000 PSI storage tanks. Cost $12,458.02, paid in full at time of delivery and subsequently reimbursed by County with agreement that fire department provides housing, availability, and service to all fire departments on full-time basis. (April-May, 1985) wcfar

1985, fire district residents reject proposed changes in by-laws, that a group of firefighters said were needed to "give firefighters more of a say in department decisions." About 150 people gather at the fire station for the vote. Among other things, the proposed by laws would give firefighters the right to select the fire chief. (Thursday before October 11, 1985)no11oct85

1987, Neuse Baptist Church on US 1 burns. Fire is reported at 4:03 a.m. by commuter driving past church. Seeing 15 foot flames shooting through the roof, the arriving Fire Chief calls for second and third alarms to Wake Forest and Falls fire departments. Six Forks Fire Department also responds with air truck, requested due to the dense smoke and the many air tanks used by crews entering the building. More than 40 firefighters fight blaze, knocking down most of the flames in less than ten minutes. The fire is brought under control within an hour. Blaze was caused by midnight welding job, after three church members welded half-inch steel plates around a termite-weakened roof bean. They "soaked it with water, used wet towels and made sure it was cool before [they] left." Fire officials said that the adjoining plates were cooled, they retained enough heat to ignite the laminated word. A church Pastor estimated $700,000 to $850,000 to repair the 17 year-old structure. (June 12, 1987) no13jun87

1987, Courtney Square Apartments at 4604 Dansey Drive burn. Two alarms. Fire starts about 5:30 p.m. and guts four apartments in eight-unit building. One fatality, child later found in closet. Neighbors attempt rescue by are driven back by flames. About 30 firefighters from Raleigh and New Hope battle the blaze. Fire believe started by artificial logs left on a couch. Firefighters arrive six minutes after dispatch and find building engulfed in flames.

Volunteer firefighters from New Hope are not dispatched, despite the fire station's location just a half-mile away. This is questioned by area residents, some 30 of whom meet with Fire Chief Jeff Mullen at the fire station a few days after the fire. The department wasn't dispatched as the city's contract with the department had expired. The Fire Chief instead dispatched his volunteers, after overhearing the call on his radio at home.

New Hope Fire Department had been contracted by the city to provide service to an area that included Courtney Square until July 1. They were still contracted for fire protection in some other areas of the city. The contract expired after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on how money the city would pay the department. (December 5, 1987)no06dec87

1987, December. Apparatus note: Department has nine pieces of fire apparatus.no26dec87

1988, fire station #2 completed at 4909 Watkins Road. The 3.36 acres are purchased on February 9, 1988.wcrer

1989, dive team placed in service. Organized by Fire Chief Jeff Mullen. First members include Chuck Elgin, a volunteer with Falls Fire Department. The team is available county-wide. By 1991, they have thirty male and female members, most of who are law officers or paramedics. Though they concentrate on body recovery, they also retrieve criminal evidence and stolen vehicles. (July 14, 1989) wcfar, no05sep91

1980s, fire station improvement: two more apparatus bays added, each two-vehicle deep. oh

1980s, later fire station improvement: original three bays transformed into office and meeting space. Perhaps in 1984 for both, a date noted in tax records? oh

1980s, apparatus deliveries:


1991, May. Dive team is no longer supported by fire department. Board of Directors votes in April to stop supporting the service. Only two of the team's last 12 to 15 recovery calls have been in the fire district. Team members form Wake Underwater Search and Recovery Inc., a non-profit organization incorporated in June 1991. The service is again offered county-wide. By September, they are operating from a donated one-room building on Louisburg Road.oh, ncsos, no05sep91

1998, first full-time employee hired: Ashley Bradshaw.oh

1999, January, second full-time employee hired: Ashley Bradshaw.wnhfd, oh

1990s, apparatus deliveries:

Plus small vehicles:


2002, fire station improvement: administrative space added to Station #2. (summer-fall, 2002) oh

Apparatus deliveries:

Plus small vehicles:


Apparatus deliveries:

Plus small vehicles:

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.



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