Wendell Fire Department(s) History

Last updated: September 15, 2016


Part I - Research From 2004


1903, town incorporated. (March 6, 1903) tws

1908-1912 (?), fire department organized. oh

1915, mayor's office at corner of Fourth and Pine streets burns. Many city records destroyed. oh

1919, installation started of town water system. tws


1920, Wendell Spinning Company burns. Citizens are awakened at 5 a.m. by fire alarms. Entire building, cotton mill machinery, one residence, and 100 bales of cotton are destroyed. Fire originates in boiler room from shavings and quickly spreads to all parts of the plant. Night watchman sounds alarm but rapidly spreading flames prevent the saving of any buildings or machinery. Within fifteen minutes, the entire top of the mill is burning. A lumber yard, residences, and other manufacturing plants surrounding the mill are burned, as one seven-room house on the east side. The 1909 cotton mill sustains $100,00 damage. Within two hours, only part of the walls are still standing. The town water system is still a few months from completion at the time of the fire. (March 15, 1920) rt15mar20

1925, Sanborn fire insurance map dated July 1925 summarizes fire department as "Volunteer. Not motorized. One chief and one asst. chief. Not paid. 16 men. No fire station or truck. Three hose houses. 500' 2 1/2" hose each. Three 60' extension ladders. Gamewell fire alarm system. Five boxes." Water supply includes "2 1/2 miles of 6" to 10" water pipe" and "28 hydrants."

Hose houses located at:

Fire alarm boxes located at:

Business district burns. Fire is discovered at 2:00 a.m. Third of business district destroyed. Help is requested from Zebulon and Raleigh. With assistance from fast-arriving Raleigh crew, flames are brought under control by 3:45 a.m. Over $100,000 damage. Worst fire on record, at the time. (December 10, 1925) no11dec25

Livery stable of J.P. Richard destroyed by fire. Six men were injured, two "possibly seriously," when J.P. Richardson's livery stable catches fire shortly before midnight. Four of the injured are Wendell firefighters, struck by a brick wall that collapsed "during the height of the fire." The Raleigh Fire Department rushes to the scene, arrives "in time to be of assistance," but finds that the Wendell firefighters appear "appear to have the situation in hand." No livestock is in the building at the time of the fire, and the estimated property loss is $7,000. Wendell is located 17.54 miles from Raleigh. Reference: "News & Observer," September 10, 1929. (September 9, 1929) no10sep29


1931, fire department budget is $200. (August 6, 1931)tm

1932, Town Board reduces salaries of Fire Chief to $7.00 per month and firefighters $0.75 per practice, with no more than two practices per month. (January 14, 1932)tm

1932, fire department budget is $200. (August 30, 1932)tm

1933, Town Board reads letter from Gamewell suggesting Jno. Magnum of Raleigh be contacted to "put the fire alarm system in shape." (May 4, 1933)tm

1933, Curtis Todd selected Superintendent of the Fire Alarm System. Salary is $7.50 per month. (July 6, 1933)tm

1933, fire department budget is $400. (July 17, 1933)tm

1934, fire equipment (hoses?) purchased from American LaFrance/Foamite for $760.00 less two percent. (March 1, 1934)tm

1934, fire department budget is $1000. (August 17, 1934)tm

1935, fire department budget is $400. (August 1, 1935)tm

1936, Sanborn fire insurance map update dated 1936 notes additional alarm and protective measures:

1936, Town Board instructs fire department to move fire station at Wall and Wilson streets to suitable location, if available in vicinity. (November 5, 1936)tm

1937, Town Board instructs fire department to move "fire station near school building" to suitable location. (February 4, 1937)tm

1938, Town Board instructs Mayor to investigate "matter of insurance" for firefighters. (February 3, 1938)tm

1938, Mayor reports to Town Board that getting life insurance for firefighters is "not permissible." (March 3, 1938)tm


1941, first fire truck purchased: used Seagrave pumper with wooden spoke wheels offered by Virginia Beach for $500 and counter-offered and accepted for $350. The apparatus was likely a 1925 Seagrave Suburbanite triple-combination pumper, with a 350 GPM pump, Seagrave #41440. It was the first motor apparatus delivered to Virginia Beach, and cost $6,850 new. Source: Virginia Beach Fire Department - A Pictorial History, 1906-2006. (September 1941)tm, oh

1942, petition read at Town Board meeting, asking for fire protection along eastern end of Wilson Avenue and north end of Selma Street. (February 5, 1942)tm

1946, Fire Chief J. Malcom Todd announces resignation to Town Board, agrees to remain in position until next meeting, so adequate replacement can be found. (August 1, 1946)tm

1946, Dover Hinton elected Fire Chief. Salary is $25.00 per month. (September 5, 1946)tm

1949, Town Board instructs Board Member to check condition of pump on fire truck and attend some of the drills. (November 11, 1949) tm


1950, Town Board appoints committee to get prices on fire trucks and an estimate on a new building to house fire truck and other equipment. (May 4, 1950) tm

1951, C.E. Todd appointed Fire and Police Commissioner. (August 2, 1951) tm

1951, Town Board hears committee report that progress has been made determining minimum requirements to lower fire insurance rates in town. Also, C.E. Todd discusses what can be done to put fire truck in "first-class running condition." (September 6, 1951)tm

1951, Town Board votes to rent pick-up truck and to transfer hose from fire truck to rented vehicle. (October 4, 1951) tm

1951, bids opened on fire truck and representatives from various companies discuss merits of their equipment with Town Board. (November 1, 1951) tm

1951, Town Board determines Howe the low bidder and appoints committee to purchase a fire truck. (November 5, 1951) tm

1952, special election held to approve bond issues including $8,000.00 for fire truck and $1,000.00 for fire house. (November 29, 1951)tm

1952, Town Board votes to purchase fire truck. (January 3, 1952)tm

1952, Town Board appoints committee to make recommendation on location and size of building to house fire truck. (February 7, 1952) tm

1952, Town Board accepts recommendations of fire house building committee. (March 6, 1952) tm

1952, new fire station completed on Fourth Street underneath water tower. (October 1952) no03oct52, oh

1952, Town Board instructs member to inquire about delivery date of fire truck. (November 4, 1952) tm

1952, Town Board informed by Wendell Motor Company that cost of fire truck has increased due to Ford Motor Company's changing models at time truck was ordered and a 1952 model was delivered with more expensive cab and larger tires. All amounts to over $400.00. Joe Henderson requests $231.08 in addition to contract price and his company will not charge for rental of pick-up truck Town had use. Town Board votes yes. (November 6, 1952)tm

1952, apparatus delivery: 1952 Ford pumper, purchased new. (November 1952) oh, no03oct52

1953, Town Board instructs member to remove and reposition fire hose on fire truck once a month and to fasten side door to hose, so it cannot be entered by small children. (January 8, 1953) tm

1953, Town Board votes to install additional telephone in town office and designate one for police and fire emergency calls and the other for business and all long-distance calls. Also, a committee is appointed to study the possibility of dividing the town into zones for fire alarm notifications. (April 2, 1953)tm

1953, Town Board votes to employ a member of the Raleigh Fire Department to meet with Town fire department and instruct them if the Fire Chief and members desire additional training. R. P. Baugh is instructed to present the proposition to the fire department. (July 16, 1953)tm

1953, Fire Chief Dover Hinton requests employment of a member of the Raleigh Fire Department to train firefighters. Town Board passes resolution that, beginning September 1, volunteer firemen receive $1.50 for each meeting attended, $2.50 for each alarm answered, that the Town employ an instructor for the fire department, and that the Fire Chief be requested to make a report once each quarter. Also, a committee is appointed to make recommendations or rules and regulations for the fire department. (August 6, 1953)tm

1953, Town Board passes resolution permitting fire department to answer calls outside of city and within two miles of town office. Also, Fire Chief Dover Hinton requests telephone extension installed in fire house. He is ordered to investigate service availability and cost. Committee also named to recommend regulating burning of trash, grass, etc. within town limits. (November 5, 1953) tm

1953, Town Board passes resolution amending fire department by-laws allowing people who live outside of town limits to be member. (December 3, 1953)tm

1954, Town Board passes ordinance regulating burning of trash, grass, etc. within town limits. (March 4, 1954)tm

1954, Town Board appoints committee to investigate dividing town into zones and operating siren on system of codes to designate the zone that the alarm originated in. (April 15, 1954)tm

1954, Town Board appoints members to board of trustees of Wendell Fireman's Fund. H.P. Baugh named Treasurer of fund. Board votes to purchase continuing bond in amount of $1,600.00. (June 3, 1954)tm

1954, Town Board agrees to pay Raleigh Fire Chief Jack Keeter $5 for each fire department meeting he attended. (July 8, 1954)tm

1954, Town Board votes to carry insurance on the fire department to cover hospitalization, medical care, and some life insurance. Also, the Board votes to purchase liability insurance on fire truck. Also, the Board votes to purchase raincoats and helmets for members of the fire department. (August 5, 1954)tm

1954, Town Board appoints committee to purchase another fire truck, new or used, by January 1, 1955. (September 13, 1954)tm

1955, Town Board orders members of fire department who assisted in fighting fire at northern town limits be paid. (April 7, 1955)tm

1955, Town Board, Mayor, and Commissioners invited to attend ice cream supper at fire house on Wednesday evening, June 15, 1955. (June 1, 1955)tm

1955, adopted budget for 1955-1956 contains $1,200.00 for fire department. (July 28, 1955)tm

1955, Town Board appoints committee to make recommendations for a fire truck for participation in county (rural?) firefighting program. (August 4, 1955)tm

1955, Town Board votes to purchase 200 feet of 2 1/2" fire hose. (September 4, 1955)tm

1955, Town Board appoints committee to investigate cost of small fire truck. (January 5, 1956)tm

1956, Colonel Hardee, Civil Defense Director of Wake County, appears before Town Board and explains operation of rural firefighting program and encourages Wendell to participate. (March 1, 1956)tm

1956, Town Board adds member to committee investigating purchase of fire truck, as present members are not in agreement on the size of the truck. Committee asked to make recommendations at next meeting. (April 5, 1956)tm

1956, Town Board votes to purchase fire truck of type recommended by committee: a one-ton truck with cab, V-8 engine, dual wheels, and at least 130 inch wheel base. (May 3, 1956)tm

1956, Town Board votes to increase size of fire department of 14 to 22 members. (December 4, 1956)tm

1957, three children killed in house fire. Three-room tenant home burns after children's parents taken four child to school. Blaze is believed started at an oil stove connection. (January 17, 1957) no18jan57

1957, rural fire department formed. Wendell Rural Fire Company incorporated on March 4, 1957. Later renamed Wendell Holmes Rural Fire Department. Stationed with Town department. First rural fire truck is Ford pick-up equipped with front-mounted pump and dual hose reels, among other equipment . (March 4, 1957) sos, oh

1957, Town Board discusses regulations governing operation of rural fire company. (March 5, 1957)tm

1957, Town Board informed that Wendell Motor Company has painted Fire Truck #2 without charge and instructs manager to publicize this. (June 4, 1957) tm

1957, Town Board discusses the number of members of the fire department that should answer fire calls and instructs the Town Manager to get ideas from fire department before official action is taken. Also, Town Board votes to install police radio in police car, rural fire truck, and in the Town office. (September 2, 1957)tm

1957, Town Board reads petition signed by all firefighters and passes ordinance that fire department be allowed to elect officers every two years beginning December 1958. (October 7, 1957)tm

1958, Town Board presented with account of fire department and passes resolution that

1958, Town Board votes to order a telephone for connecting with county fire alarm system. (June 2, 1958)tm

1958, apparatus delivery: 800 gallon tanker. Third piece of apparatus for fire department. (July 1958) glf17jul58

1958, fire alarm radio system operational. When alarm is set off in Raleigh, siren sounds for ten seconds, followed by ten seconds of silence, and repeating until alarm is answered. (July 1958) glf17jul58

1958, Town Board passes resolution accepting proposal of fire department that they serve as auxiliary police officers when needed. Town Board also takes action on three requests of fire department:

1958, fire station addition completed. (fall/winter 1958)wcfam

1958, Fire Chief is Dover Hinton. wcfa

1959, Town Board appoints new fire department officers:

Town Board also changes amount of fee paid to Assistant Chief to $15.00 per month. (January 5, 1959)tm

1959, Town Board approves fire department members using red town tags on personal vehicles. (October 5, 1959)tm


1960, Fire Chief is Clifton Couick. (May 7, 1960) cfd

1960, Town Board votes to purchase 300 feet of 1 1 /2" hose and two 20-pound dry-chemical fire extinguishers. (October 4, 1960)tm

1960, Town Board votes to participate with federal government and county in purchase of stand-by power equipment for fire alarm system. (November 2, 1960)tm

1960, Clifton Couick elected Fire Chief. Richard Perry elected Assistant Fire Chief. (December 5, 1960)tm

1961, special election held to approve $50,000 bond issue for municipal building. Polling conducted at firehouse. (March 28, 1961)tm

1962, Fire Chief requests "hook and ladder" for fire department. Town Board votes to purchase ladder and necessary materials to assemble one. (February 8, 1962)tm

1962, Town Board accepts list of newly elected fire department officers presented by Fire Chief Clifton Couick. The Board also votes to accepts no more applications from non-residents of the Town for membership in fire department. The Board also insists the following checklist be created:

1963, Town Board votes to purchase fire equipment to meet requirements of county. (August 8, 1963)tm

1961-63, fire station is moved, block by block, to Hollybrook Road at southwest corner with Fourth Street, during construction of new municipal building. oh

1963, fire station is moved into new municipal building completed on corner of Pine and 4th Streets. Contains facilities for municipal, fire, rescue, police, and health departments and District Court. Fire Department has three-truck garage and meeting room Both fire departments share station. (September 1963) tws, no18aug63, wcrer

1964, Town Board votes to purchase needed tires for water wagon. (January 9, 1964)tm

1964, Town Board votes to purchase a 10 horsepower siren with remote controls and automatic time for $1,575.00 and apply for matching federal funds available for same, as noted in a letter read from Civil Defense Director Frank Starnes. (July 2, 1964)tm

1964, Town Board votes to purchase 350 feet of 2" hose and 150 feet of 1 1/2" hose. (August 5, 1964)tm

1968, scout cabin on Selma Road burns. Fire spotted about 11:30 p.m. Blaze under control in 45 minutes. $4,000 damage. (Monday before January 18, 1968) glf18jan68

1969, fire department receives new boots and turnout gear. (April 1969) glf


1970, annual fire department barbeque held at Wendell School lunchroom. (March 20, 1970) glf

1970, Town Board approves insurance for firefighters. (Monday before August 6, 1970) glf

1974, apparatus delivery: 1974 Ford/Bean pumper, 750/750. Cost $26,500. Placed in service as Engine #1. (April-May, 1974) glf02may74

1974, apparatus delivery: 1974 Ford F-750/Bean pumper-tanker, 450/1350. Cost $26,000. Placed in service as Engine #3 for Rural Department. (October 1974) glf, wcfar

1974 (?), apparatus delivery: 1974 Ford/Darley pumper, 550/350, front-mount pump. Placed in service as Engine #2 for Rural Department. Equipment and pump removed from previous Engine #2, a 1950s Ford pick-up. oh, wcfar

1979, apparatus delivery: 1962 Diamond T/Craft Steel tanker, 350/1920. Former Army truck modified by Craft Steel Industries of Farmville. Cost $11,800, paid largely by county fire tax. Some citizens contributed donations. Placed in service in July 1979.glf-79aug02

Early 1970's, municipal and rural fire departments begin operating as combined department. oh


1980, warehouse on E. Wilson Road owned by Bill's Outlet burns. Volunteers from six Wake and Johnston County fire departments assist Wendell firefighters. The Tuesday night blaze is believed intentional and a former employee is charged in the fire. The metal frame warehouse is filled with kitchen cabinets. Total damages are estimated at $150,000. The 6 p.m. fire is discovered by a passing motorist. It is brought under control within two hours, though firefighters remain on the scene well into the night to guard against rekindling. Wendell Rescue Squad members treat several firefighters for smoke inhalation and exhaustion. (May 20, 1980) glf29may80

1983, Eagle Rock Grocery on State Road 1003 burns. Fire starts around 10:30 a.m. and does $10,000 to $15,000 damage. (January 13, 1983)

1984, new fire station completed at 2960 Wendell Boulevard. [ Present street name and number. ] Both fire departments share station. (October 1984) wcrer, glf25oct84

1986, apparatus delivery: 1986 Ford/EEI pumper-tanker, 1250/1000. Cost $90,000. Placed in service as Engine #113. (March 1993) glf

1988, second fire station completed at 6529 Bethany Church Road. wcrer

Mid-1980's, municipal and rural fire departments merge. Fire department signs fire protection contract with Town. oh


1990 (?), hazardous materials unit placed in service.oh

1991, Wendell Rescue Squad building at 401 E. Third Street burns. Pot left on stove is suspected as cause of fire that damages kitchen, office, meeting room, front living quarters, and a storage area. (Friday before December 1, 1991)

1993, interlocal agreement started with Raleigh and Wendell fire departments contracted by county for cooperative, county-wide haz-mat response. (July 1, 1993)wake-boc

1999-2000, apparatus purchase: 1980 Mack/1957 American LaFrance, 100-foot tractor-drawn aerial ladder.

Formerly owned by City of Raleigh, the apparatus was first purchased at a surplus auction on April 24, 1999 by a speculative buyer in Beaufort, N.C. The ladder truck is spotted three or four months later sitting unsold in a lot and is subsequently sold to the fire department for $5,000-$6,000. Another $6,600 is spent on refurbishing the ladder, which is repaired in places and finally tested by Underwriters Laboratories. The 1980 Mack tractor has only 40,000 miles on it. Diamond-plate purchased at an EEI auction in Raleigh is added to the trailer. Three months pass before the apparatus is placed in service. The fire department spends about $16,000 total on the truck. oh, no

Part II - Additional Notes - 2016

2006 - Apparatus delivery: 2006 Pierce Dash rear-mounted aerial ladder, 1500/300/75-foot. Ladder 116. Delivered July 5. Replaces 1979 Mack/1958 American LaFrance, sold to Civietown FD in Brunswick County.lw

2007 - Hazardous materials team discontinued, after contract with Wake County expires at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2007.

2008 - Apparatus deliveries:

2013 - Brian Staples named Fire Chief on August 1, 2013. Previously served as Interim Fire Chief beginning in April, after retirement of longtime Fire Chief Tom Vaughn.

2013 - Apparatus delivery: 2013 International/KME elliptical tanker, 500/2000. New Tanker 117. Delivered in May. Placed in service around July.lw

2015 - Apparatus delivery: 2015 Pierce Impel pumper-tanker, 1250/1000. New Engine 112. Delivered November 20, 2015.lw

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.



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