Zebulon Fire Department(s)



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

Part I - Research From 2004


1919, mass meeting held in Town Hall to discuss installation of water system. (February 2, 1919)th

1919, contract awarded for construction of water system. (June 5, 1919) tm

1919, constructed started on water system. Addition made to "power plant building" to house "water plant." (August, 1919)th

1919, purchase authorized for 1500 feet of fire hose from Euraka [sic] Fire Hose Co. at $1.10 [per foot?]. (November 3, 1919) tm


1920, purchase authorized for fire hose from US Rubber Co. (July 6, 1920) tm

1920, Baptist Church on Sycamore street burns during summer thunderstorm. Work is not complete on the water system, but water is flowed in hopes of saving the church. Both water and firefighting equipment are inadequate and the structure burns to the ground. (summer 1920)th

1921, tax discount approved for all members of the fire department, for amounts of "$7.50 on 1920 taxes and $15.00 on 1921 taxes." (January 3, 1921) tm

1921, purchase approved for $160.00 of "firefighting goods" for fire department. (January 12, 1921) tm

1921, purchase approved for "a suitable whistle to be used for fire alarm." (February 7, 1921) tm

1921, penalty approved of $5.00 for "anyone using fire hose and reels for purposes other than firefighting or practice." (March 7, 1921) tm

1923, fire department consists of one company of 15 volunteers and three stations. No motorized apparatus. Alarm is sounded via whistle at Town power plant on E. Vance Street, present Parks and Recreation warehouse.sm2

1923, fire department has three stations and the following apparatus and equipment: sm2, oh

Station Location Apparatus Equipment
#1 Church Street
Beside present location of Eva Liles residence.
hose reel 500 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)
#2 E. Horton St.
Present location of Town Council chambers.
hose reel 500 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)
hand-drawn hook and ladder two 2 1/2 gallon approved chemical extinguishers
#3 W. Vance Street
Present location of Whitley Galleries showroom nearest Church St.
hose reel 450 feet 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose (new)

Water supply includes four miles of 6" and 8" water mains and 42 double hydrants.sm2

1924, contract approved for concrete floor for firehouse. Cost $244.50. (February 4, 1924) tm

1924, penalty approved of $10 for anyone entering firehouse unless a firefighter or Town officer. (May 12, 1924) tm

1924, installation of electric line from power house to fire alarm on [water?] tank approved. at cost not to exceed $250.00. (December 15, 1924) tm

1926, charter and ordinances of Town amended to include "The Fire Committee shall have supervision of all buildings to be erected in the fire district of the Town of Zebulon, and shall make such rules and regulations which they may deem wise for the prevention of fire within the corporate limits of said town." (June 1, 1926) tm

1927 (?), charter and ordinances of Town modified to include following sections for "Prevention of Fires:"

  • Section 1. No chimney shall be erected in town limits of any other material than brick or stone. Any person offending against this section shall pay a penalty of five dollars, and each day shall be a distinct and separate offense.

  • Section 2. No person shall deposit wood shavings or straw in any public place out of doors within thirty feet of any building under a penalty of $5.00 for each offense.

  • Section 3. No person shall erect any building or make any additions, alterations or repairs to any building within the fire district as herinafter designated without first obtaining the written permission of the Board of Alderman. The fire district shall be bounded by Sycamore Street on the north and Barbee Avenue on the south and extended 400 feet from Arendell Avenue in either direction.

  • Section 4. It shall be unlawful for any person to store any gasoline or kerosene within the fire district, or any where within the town limits within less than one hundred feet to any building, provided, this restriction shall not apply to standard underground gasoline tanks with the approved safety appliances. Any person violating this ordinance shall pay a penalty of $10.00 and each day's violation shall constitute a separate offense.

  • Section 5. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to install any new electrical apparatus or wiring, or to add to or repair any electrical apparatus or wiring already installed without first obtaining a written permit from the Light Superintendent. Any person, firm or corporate failing to comply with this ordinance shall pay a fine of not more than $5.00.

  • Section 6. No person, firm or corporate shall perform any electrical work of any sort in the Town of Zebulon without first obtaining from the Electrical Inspector of said Town a permit to perform such work.

  • Section 7. Any person, firm or corporate before erected in the Town of Zebulon any building, shall first obtaining from the Building Committee of said town a permit, for which a fee of $1.00 shall be charged.

  • Section 8. That no one shall use the fire hose or reels for any purpose other than practice under a penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 9. That the fire district be changed as follows in Block 17 and 22 on Arendell Avenue between Horton and Sycamore Streets, to extend 200 feet east and 200 feet west of Arendell Avenue.

  • Section 10. That any person breaking open the fire hose houses unless a member of the fire company, in case of fires, shall do so under a penalty of $10.00.

  • Section 11. That any person driving over the fire hose while the same is in use or in any way interfering with the fire hose or equipment while in use by the fire department, shall do so under penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 12. That any person who shall use anything in place of fuse for electrical purposes in any residence, or place of business, does so under a penalty of $1.00.

  • Section 13. That the members of the fire company shall receive $20.00 per year as compensation for their services. Any member being absent from either practice of in case of fire, shall forfeit $2.00 of this fee for each delinquency.

  • Section 14. That is shall be unlawful for any one, except he be a town officer or member of the Fire Department, to enter the firehouse, unless on invitation of some member of the Fire Company, under a penalty of $5.00.

  • Section 15. That any person using the fire hose or reel for any other purpose than fighting fire or in practice, shall do so under a penalty of $5.00. That any member of the Fire Company absent from service, shall do so without good excuse, under penalty of $2.00.

Wakelon High School in Zebulon burns. The building, located in "district No. 4, Little River Township, white race," is destroyed by an early Wednesday morning fire. Discovered in the basement, the $60,000 conflagration consumes both the building and its entire contents. Zebulon's fire department and a truck from Raleigh respond to the 4:00 a.m. alarm. The lack of a sufficient water supply prevent firefighters from saving the structure. The two-story, brick building was built two years ago to "relieve congestion" in the older school building. Zebulon is located 20.73 miles from Raleigh. References: "The Raleigh Times," November 14, 1928 Wake County Board of Commissioners Minutes, November 22, 1928. (November 14, 1928)

1928, first fire truck purchased by Town. 1928 Ford Model A/American LaFrance combination chemical and hose truck. One-ton chassis converted to fire engine by firefighters. Equipped with one 40-gallon chemical tank.th, zfd


1944, fire department summarized as

  • partly paid department
  • one chief, partly paid
  • one driver, partly paid
  • five men partly paid and three volunteers
  • one Ford motor hose truck, 700' 2 1/2" hose
  • one hand reel, 350' hose
  • 45' of ladders
  • partly motorized
  • one fire station
  • no alarm system
  • alarm by siren at city water tank and by telephone.sm1

1944, fire station is located south side of W. Horton Avenue, west of Arendell Street.

1946, apparatus purchase: 1948 Mack Type 45 pumper, 500/150, purchased new for $7,150.00.


1950, bonds issued totaling $50,000 for construction of municipal building, with space for fire station.

1951, municipal building constructed at 111 E. Vance Street with ground floor space for offices, jail, and fire station. The Town Hall and court room are located on the second floor. Fire station consists of two bays. fdr, th

1953, rural fire department formed, organized as project sponsored by Zebulon Farm Bureau with Robert Ed Horton, Bureau Secretary, in charge. Incorporated at Zebulon Rural Fire Department Inc. (February 2, 1953) sos

1953, rural apparatus purchased. 1953 International/______ pumper-tanker, 500/750. Cost $10,000. Funds obtained in drive conducted by Zebulon Farm Bureau as project in "Finer Carolina" contest sponsored by Carolina Power and Light company. (November 1953) no08nov53, wcfa

1953, dedication of rural department's first fire truck held at Municipal Building. (October 3, 1953)th  

1958, (Town? Rural?) Fire Chief is Willie B. Hopkins. wcfa


1961, building housing Raper Tractor and Implement Company and Wakelon Fertilizer Company burns. Fire starts about 9:00 p.m. and is brought under control by 11:00 p.m. Both Zebulon and Wendell fire departments respond. A crowd estimated at over 1,000 people gathers by 10:30 p.m. to watch. Fire is prevented from spreading to nearby Wakelon Grain Company. Total losses expected to run over $500,000. Three firemen are injured, including a Wendell firefighter who is rushed to the Wendell-Zebulon hospital with a cut artery in his left land. (June 17, 1961) rt, no18jun61

1964, storage building and adjacent Wenlon Supply Company in Lizard Lick burns. Fire is discovered about 1:00 a.m. from window of owner's home across Highway 64 bypass. Firefighters from Zebulon, Wendell, and Knightdale keep fire from spreading to two nearby dwellings. Charred remains of a body are discovered just inside the storage building about 2:00 a.m. Identity of individual is not immediately known. (March 23?, 1964) no23?mar64

1965, Hepler's Auto Supply downtown burns. Fire is discovered about 8:40 p.m. and are contained after "two hours of hard firefighting" notes Fire Chief Willie B. Hopkins. Help is summoned from Wendell, which sends a pumper. "That Wendell truck was a blessing to us," notes the Chief," there was a lot of rubber and paint in the building, and that makes a fire rough to fight under the best conditions." Also hampering firefighting efforts is the weather, which freezes the water on the firefighters closings and a supply of shotgun shells and rifle bullets stored in Hepler's store. "They were going off like fireworks," Hopkins says. No flames reach the office of Dr. Perry Grogan, but the heat and smoke ruin equipment and destroy some records. Smoke damage is also suffered by Zebulon Furniture Company, which shares a wall with the recapping room, where the fire starts. About 30 or 40 volunteers help the store owner move furniture away from the wall. Damage is estimated at $100,000 for all businesses affected. (January 17, 1965) no18jan65

1969, Zebulon Gin Company on Wakefield Street burns twice. First fire starts in "lint house" at 11:30 a.m. but does little damage. Second fire destroys all cotton in the "molt house" just after 3:00 p.m. (January 10, 1966) no11jan66

1968, five die in house fire. Blaze occurs three miles east of Zebulon. Fire truck arrives eight minutes after alarm. House already burned to ground. Grandmother and four great grandchildren killed. Great aunt escapes after jumping through window. (Sunday before January 18, 1968) glf18jan68

1969, three downtown buildings burn. Fire is reported about 1:30 a.m. at Theo P. Davis and Sons print shop and is brought under control at 5:30 a.m., though firefighters remain on the scene through the day guarding the smoldering ruins. Fire is apparently started when cleaning fluid being used by a print shop employee ignites. With his clothing on fire, Daniel Stancil runs to the police station where officers extinguish the blazing attire and send him to the Zebulon branch hospital. He's later transferred to Duke Hospital. Some 35 firefighters, including 15 from Wendell, battle the blaze in subfreezing temperatures and with a brisk wind fanning the flames. Two buildings occupied by the print shop are destroyed, a third adjoining building used by the Bargain Center department store is also destroyed, and a fourth building, occupied by Zebulon Furniture Company, is damaged. Losses are estimated at $750,000. (November 15, 1969) no16nov69


1971 (?), town apparatus purchase: 1972 Ford/Howe pumper, 750/500. fdr, wcfa

1974, new fire station constructed at 113 E. Vance Street. Building consists of seven apparatus bays, classroom area with kitchenette, and bathrooms. One bay is utilized by Zebulon Rescue Squad from 1974 to 1977.fdr

1974 (?), rural apparatus purchase: 1977 Ford/FMC/Bean pumper, 750/750.fdr, wcfa

1974 (?), circa, apparatus delivery: 1974 International mini-pumper, 450/250.

1977, apparatus sale: 1946 Mack is sold for $750 to a town resident. He subsequently restores it for parade use. oh

1978 (?), rural apparatus purchase: 1978 Ford/FMC/Bean tanker, 450/1200. Cost $30,482.52.fdr, wcfa

1979 (?), town apparatus purchase: 1979 Chevrolet/FMC/Bean pumper, 1000/750. Cost $50,000.fdr

1970s, rural apparatus purchase: 1960 Ford tanker, 500/1200, converted from state department of transportation fuel truck.fdr, wcfa


1982, rural apparatus purchase: 197_ GMC tanker, 0/1500, converted from fuel oil delivery truck. Replaces 1960 Ford tanker.fdr

1983, Whitley Furniture Gallery at 100 W. Vance Street burns. Blaze begins about 10:45 p.m. in snack room for employees on ground floor of two-story brick building. Passing police officer sounds alarm. The fire starts in the snack room. Firefighters from Wendell, Knightdale, and Hopkins helped bring the blaze under control by 1:30 a.m. (January 7, 1983) rt, no08jan83, zr

1984, rural apparatus purchase: 1984 GMC/E-One mini-pumper, 250/250. Cost $50,000. Replaces 1974 International brush truck.fdr

1985, town creates Supplemental Retirement Program funded from Relief Fund appropriations to provide additional retirement income to (Town? Town and Rural?) firefighters.fdr

1985, town department starts annual Fireman of the Year program.fdr

1987, Wakelon Agri Products on W. Vance Street burns. Firefighters work on and off for a day and half extinguishing blaze. Fire first reported at 1:41 a.m. after police officer spots smoke. Both Town and Rural fire departments respond.  Fire is initially extinguished at 4:30 a.m., but rekindles when company workers begin digging out debris. (March 6, 1987) zr

1987, mobile home at 311 Stronach Ave. burns. Two residents are killed, a mother and child. Cause of death is extensive burns. Fire is reported at 5:01 a.m. but firefighters are unable to rescue occupants as trailer is fully involved upon arrival of first fire truck at 5:05 a.m. Cause of fire is believed to be pan of hot grease left on stove around 4 a.m., prior to residents going to sleep. (July 12, 1987) rt

1987, fire station remodeled. Original classroom space removed and additional apparatus bay space added.fdr

1987, town apparatus purchase: 1987 Grumman aerial fund, 1500/250/102-feet. Cost $400,000, drawn from reserve fund started last year when Glaxo underwent voluntary annexation. Delivered November 19, 1987. fdr, zr

1988, rural department starts annual Fireman of the Year award program.fdr

1988, rural apparatus purchase: 1988 GMC/FMC pumper/tanker, 1000/1000. Cost $107,229. Replaces 1953 International pumper.fdr

1989, Town departments begins per-call reimbursement.fdr


1990, fire station expanded. Offices, storage rooms, and day room area added. Existing office space converted to additional apparatus bay.fdr

1990, town hires first full-time firefighter.fdr

1991, rural apparatus modification: Chevrolet mini-pumper body remounted onto 1991 Chevrolet chassis.fdr

1992, use of siren on Town water tank discontinued by decision of Town Board. (Monday before April 9, 1992)fdr, zr

1992, town hires second full-time firefighter, the Fire Chief.fdr

1992, rural apparatus purchase: 1992 GMC tanker, 0/2000. Cost $131,179. Replaces 1970's Chevrolet tanker.fdr

1992, town receives ISO upgrade to Class 5 within corporate limits. Former rating is Class 6.fdr

1993, P&W Auto Parts on East Vance Street destroyed by fire. Arson later suspected. (April 4, 1993)

1994, fire departments begin responding to all vehicle accidents with injuries, regardless of severity.fdr

1996, tornados strike town on Zebulon around dinner time. Storm destroys or damages 100 homes and causes only minor injuries. Mutual aid to the town includes the Raleigh Fire Department, which sends Engine 13 on special assignment. (April 15, 1996)mjl-blog

1996, Fire station roof is blown off during Hurricane Fran. Lands in parking lot next door. (September 6, 1996)fdr

1996, town hires third full-time firefighter.fdr

1996, town assumes responsibility for fire code enforcement in Town Planning Department's jurisdiction. fdr

1996, rural apparatus modification: Chevrolet mini-pumper body remounted onto 1996 Ford Chassis.fdr

1997, town apparatus purchase: 1997 Pierce Saber pumper, 1500/500. Cost $249,807. Replaces 1979 Chevrolet pumper.fdr

1997, rural apparatus purchase: 1997 Freightliner/EEI pumper-tanker, 1500/1250. Cost $200,861. Replaces 1974 Ford Pumper and 1978 Ford tanker.fdr

1998, Queens Wholesale and Salvage at 124 W. Vance Street burns. Both of Zebulon's fire departments battle the eight-hour blaze along with Wendell, Knightdale, and Hopkins. Damages are estimated at $100,000, though the fire is prevented from spreading to other buildings. Over 100,000 gallons of water is used. (May 29, 1998)fdr

1998, town hires fourth full-time firefighter.fdr

1999, fire departments begin compensating one volunteer to stay overnight at fire station.fdr

1999, rural department begins providing First Responder service.


2000, town and rural fire departments merge.fdr

2000, fire department assumes responsibility for vehicular extrication after Zebulon Rescue Squad moves to provide only patient care.fdr

2000, fifth and sixth full-time firefighters hired. 24 hour coverage begins with one person per shift.fdr

2000, sleeping quarters added to fire station.fdr

2001, abandoned nightclub burns. Thad's Studio 39 gutted in early-morning blaze. Fire takes two hours to extinguish. (Friday before November 24, 2001)no

2001, fire department receives ISO upgrade to Class 3 within corporate limits and Class 3/9 in County areas.fdr

2002, seventh full-time firefighter hired.fdr

Part II - Additional Notes - 2016

2007 - Apparatus deliveries:

  • 2007 Ford F-550/Seagrave brush truck. Brush 99.
  • 2007 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker, 1500/1000. Pumper 94.

2008 - New patch adopted. (Summer-Fall 2008)

2009 - Apparatus deliveries:

  • 2009 International 4400/KME elliptical tanker, 750/2000.
  • 2009 GMC TC5000/MWF medium-duty walk-around rescue. Equipment from old Engine 92 placed on truck. Designated Rescue 9. Delivered June 18, 2009.

2009 - Apparatus note: Ladder 95 removed from service, sent to KME for rehab.

2010 - Apparatus delivery: Ladder 95 returns from rehab. Delivered July 6, 2010.

2013 - Christopher C. Perry appointed as Fire Chief.  Formerly Asst. Director of Emergency Services for Johnston County, and volunteer Assistant Chief in Zebulon since 1998. His father Fire Chief Sidney Perry retired February 2013.

2013 - Apparatus delivery: 2009 Pierce Contender pumper-tanker, 1250/1000.

Formerly Wake Forest Tanker 2, delivered to Zebulon FD on October 1, 2013. Repainted and re-lettered and placed in service as Pumper 92 shortly after November 5, 2013. The truck includes a plaque reading "This truck is dedicated to the members of the Falls Fire Department who served the citizens of the Falls Community from 1970 to 2012 and where this truck originally served as Tanker 217. Dedicated by the Zebulon Fire Department, November 2013."

2013 - Apparatus note: 1997 Freightliner/EEI, old Pumper 93, sold to Welton FD in Iowa, circa June 2013.

Part III - More History

Zebulon's Ladder Getting Refurbished

January 28, 2010 - Source

Where’s Zebulon’s ladder truck these days, you ask? It’s being refurbished by KME, and has been at the factory since November. The project cost approximately $260,000, exclusively town funded. KME was awarded the job because they operate the Grumman plant where the truck was originally constructed.

Ladder 95 is a 1987 Grumman Aerial Cat, 102-foot platform with a 1,500 GPM pump. It was the first aerial apparatus in the county1, and was bought after Glaxo pharmaceuticals built a plant in town.

The majority of the refurbishments are mechanical or safety-related. Below is the expected work list, though that could change as major unexpected costs could result in removed items. Note also that cab work is minor. Wendell is currently providing aerial coverage to the town. The apparatus is expected back in April or May.


Remove ladder, turntable, console, valve bank.
Disassemble ladder, sandblast, inspect, paint and reassemble. Includes new wires, cables and hoses in ladder sections.
UL recertification, and proof load test.
Replace current hydraulic hoses, clean and re-seal reservoir, new hydraulic oil.
Rebuild aerial lift cylinders.
Rebuild slave cylinders.
Replace basket leveling cylinders.
Remove outriggers and cylinders, sand blast, inspect and paint.
Rebuild down jack cylinders and/or extension cylinders.
Rebuild ladder extension cylinders.
Install remote controlled nozzle (from lower stations) on platform. Current nozzle is manual.
Install IQAN outrigger and ladder control system (auto leveling, etc.).
Add rubber grip to all handles.
New platform heat shields.
New ladder intercom with radio interface.
Spot/Flood light upgrade.
New style swing motor (controlling left to right movement, more precise).
Additional access steps on rear.

Redo/rework braking system.
New "high-efficiency" radiator.
Complete engine service.
Replace west-coast side view mirrors with newer style with better coverage.
Install rear vision camera.
LED lighting package (warning and DOT).
New tires/wheels.
Three-point seat belt installation (replacing current lap belts).
Repaint, re-stripe, re-letter.


New seals.
Gear box overhaul.
New gauges.
Replace steel tank with poly tank.

Zebulon Fire Chief Named Fire Chief of the Year

February 8, 2012 - Source

At the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs' Mid-Winter Conference, Zebulon Fire Chief Sidney Perry received the 2012 Career Fire Chief of the Year Award. It was presented by Wilson Fire Chief Don Oliver, who was last year's recipient. The 2012 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year was awarded to Fire Chief Freddy Johnson of the Stoney Point Fire Department in Cumberland County.

Chief Perry, shown below with his son Asst. Chief Chris Perry, is currently the longest-serving member of the Zebulon Fire Department with 44 years and counting. He served as Asst. Chief from 1978 to 1980, and as Fire Chief from 1980 to present. He was the town's first career Fire Chief, and has transformed the fire department from an all-volunteer organization to an ISO Class 3/9 rated department with 14 career members and 16 volunteers.

Over the course of his career, he's served as President, Vice President, and Secretary of the Wake County Firefighters Association. He's held many positions on committees with the Wake County Fire Commission. He's also served on the North Carolina State Firemen's Association board in 1988.

In addition to his extensive fire service participation, his community involvement has included serving the town of Zebulon as a police officer, public works employee, and Public Safety Director for Fire and Police. Before his appointment as a career fire chief, he served the town for many years as a U.S. Postal Service Letter Carrier. He's served in the North Carolina National Guard, and is very active with the Zebulon Baptist Church

He has also inspired his sons Chris and Adam, who have both pursued careers in the fire service. They're members of the Johnston County Fire Marshal's office and the Raleigh Fire Department, respectively.

Chris Perry Named as New Zebulon Fire Chief

January 2, 2013 - Source

Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin has selected Christopher C. Perry to be the next Zebulon Fire Chief. He will assume his duties on March 1, 2013. Chief Sidney Perry, absolute relation, will be retiring February 28, 2013. Chris Perry has been a member of Zebulon FD since 1986, when he joined as a volunteer. He was hired the town's first full-time firefighter in 1990. He was promoted to Captain in 1992 and to Assistant Chief in 1998. He has held that rank since that date.

Chief Perry worked for Wake County Fire Services from 1992 to 2008. He was one of the original three members assigned to WC1, and later supervised the program. His last position was Chief Deputy Fire Marshal, responsible for WC1 and fire department assistance. In 2008, he moved to Johnston County and was hired as Fire Marshal. In 2010, he was promoted to Asst. Director of Emergency Services. The position still included his role as Fire Marshal. 

He's also currently serving as the Second Vice President on the North Carolina Fire Marshal's Association, and has served on the board of the Wake County Firefighters Association for three terms.

Links and Sources

Fire Chiefs

See Wake County Fire Chiefs (pdf).


See Wake County apparatus register (pdf).


Raleigh Fire Museum photo albums.


  • cfd Cary Fire Department records
  • dah NC Department of Archives and History
  • fdr Fire department records
  • mjl-blog Legeros Fire Blog
  • oh Oral history
  • rt Raleigh Times
  • sos NC Department of the Secretary of State
  • sm1Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, November 1944 update
  • sm2 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, May 1923
  • th Town History (Wake County Bicentennial Commission)
  • tm Town Minutes
  • wcfa Wake County Firemen's Association records
  • zr Zebulon Record, March 12, 1987

Last updated: September 30, 2016


Search Mike Legeros

Spot an error on this page? Please let me know, just click my name below...

Copyright 2019 by Michael J. Legeros