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History

The history of the Fair Grove Fire Department is as rich in humanity, as is the community it serves. The late Dr. Plummer sparked the interest for a fire department in Fair Grove in the mid 1950s. His idea had little support in the beginning but remained etched in the minds of others until in 1956 when a committee was founded through the support of the Fair Grove Lions Club. This committee consisted of Charlie Cline, E.T.Kearns, Richard Jarrett, Carroll Beusse,John Black and others. The committee met with Mr. Bailey of the American LaFrance Company in the summer of 1957 at the old Fair Grove School and placed an order for a 1957 GMC pumper. Soon after the truck was ordered the wheels started turning to raise money to pay for the truck and equipment. Membership dues for the fire department for the fist year were twenty five dollars. This would cover the home and any buildings on the property. Many people could not afford to pay the monies so Raymond Rothrock made arrangements with the bank to let the residents sign a note and borrow the money or they could make installments to the department. The first truck arrived December 24th , 1957 . For those who had worked so diligently to get the fire department in operation, this was a wonderful Christmas gift.

The firefighters had their first piece of equipment but no where to keep it. Johnny Everhart one of the charter members opened up his wife’s space in the garage to keep the new truck. In the early part of 1958 the department purchased a small piece of property from the Norris family for six hundred dollars, adjacent to the present station on Cedar Lodge Road. Work soon began as the whole community came together to build the first station. The building was just large enough for two trucks an oil circulator and bunk beds. The next piece of equipment was a Dodge truck donated by Hassell Woods. This truck was used as a tanker for hauling water.
Arnold Fuller was the first Fire Chief of the newly organized department. Arnold’s term was cut short as he was sent off to the military by Uncle Sam. After his tour of duty Arnold came back to rejoin the department and held many offices and ranks through out his fifty some years as an active member. Rex Gallimore was elected as the second chief of the department, a position he held for three years. During Chief Gallimore’s reign several trucks were purchased from military surplus and used as tankers to supply the water demands on a fire scene. Also during this time living quarters were added to the old station. Richard Jarrett was elected Fire Chief in 1962, a position he would hold for the next twenty years. While Chief Jarrett was in office the department saw many challenges and changes. In 1963 a new expansion was added to the front of the old department. In 1967 an order was placed for the second new truck for the department. This Ford American LaFrance was placed into service April of 1968. Bar-B-Q pits were first built in 1965. This was a vital part in financing the department’s needs as people were still reluctant to join the department’s membership and pay their dues. Other used truck such as oil tankers was switched out during the late 60’s. It was easier to replace some of them than to make some of the much needed repairs. In the early and mid 70’s the department bought its first real brush truck. Old military trucks were used in the past and found inadequate to perform the job of fighting brush fires. A new pumper was added in 1975 and Chief Jarrett and Arnold Fuller went to Wisconsin to pick it up. This was one of the first custom built trucks in Davidson County. At this time the old oil tanker was sold to Gumtree Fire Department. Fire prevention and education has always been a priority to the younger members of the district. Ronnie Sink as Fire Prevention Officer started the 4-H fire prevention classes in the early 70’s. The firefighters of Fair Grove have touched the lives of thousands of children in their fire prevention efforts. The department organized a Junior Fire Department in 1974. Ronnie Sink and many others have led this program which has been a mentoring program as well as a learning program for the youth of the community. Many Junior Firefighters have advanced into the senior department as well trained young men and women. In 1977 a new 1 ton chevy truck was purchased as a brush truck. This truck served the department well for over twenty five years. In 1978 a van was added as a utility carrier for the department. The van carried such equipment as spare scba bottles and ventilation equipment. In 1979 additional property was purchased from the old Elliot Florist property as well as property from Jonny Everhart that adjoined the department. The department started collecting county tax funds in the mid 70’s which released the burden of colleting dues from subscribers and knocking on door trying to gain new members to support fire protection services. In 1982 after 20 years of serving the community Chief Richard Jarrett retired from the department. In his 20 years he attained many awards and touched many people across the state of North Carolina. Craig Harris was elected the fourth chief of the department. The department and the community around it had grown at an alarming rate. Industry and houses were starting to blossom all over the district. The department covered many industrial facilities in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Businesses such as the old Rex Plastics, Thomasville Furniture Industries, Mesa Industries, Southern Resin were just a couple of the businesses protected by volunteers in this era. The old station had been built onto many times and we were experiencing more growing pains. In 1986 the decision was made by the Board of Directors to build a new facility. In addition to planning a new station the department was also in need of another truck. EEI of Raleigh was contracted to build a combination pumper tanker truck to fulfill those needs. 1986 also marked the year that the department purchased the first pagers for the day time firefighters. 20 pagers were bought to begin with to alert the fire fighters as to the location to the fire. The days before the 911 system were very scary. The department had its own emergency telephone number. A phone was located at the station but it was not manned 24 hours a day. The department had phones in the chiefs house and work place as well as the gas station next door and the city department. The siren at the station, lime bags and a phone tree were the only form of notification that the firefighters had to tell them of an emergency, until the purchase of the pagers. In 1987 the thirtieth anniversary was celebrated at the department with a Bar-B-Q, music and games for all. In 1988 the department joined Pilot, Holly Grove, Triangle and Central in the purchase of a van with a cascade system for filling air bottles on the fire scene. In December of 1990 the department purchased pagers for all of its 64 firefighters. This would allow all the firefighters the luxury of knowing at the point of dispatch the location and nature of the call. After serving in the capacity of Chief of the department for eleven years, Craig Harris elected to return to firefighter status in 1993. Work responsibilities hampered his time he felt he needed to spend with the department. During that same election Caroll Beusse retired as the fire department treasure, a position he held for thirty two years. Also in 1993 the purchase of a new front line pumper was in the works. The truck would be placed on a Freightliner chassis and built by the 3 D Manufacturing Company. Under the leadership of Chief Don Byrd the department placed the apparatus into service in March 1994. As Chief Byrd led the department for two years as the fifth department chief, the department started to reorganize the manner in which we fought fire. Training was becoming more adequate through the community college system and the department was starting to take advantage of it. In 1995 the whole Fair Grove Community as well as other communities surrounding the out skirts of Thomasville were about to experience the largest forced annexation ever though of. Throughout, the City of Thomasville had many times in the past taken parts of Fair Grove, Hasty and Pilot communities which hurt the departments financial situation, broke up tightly bonded communities and forced wedges against city government. In some situations the remaining residents had to pay higher taxes to support the void left by annexation. In 1995 Ron Akins a leader in the annexation fight would hold the rank of Fire Chief for that year. The group that was formed to fight in opposition of the annexation grew in large numbers and had support all across the state. Chief Akins had brought together a group of supporters that would hold off the annexation for almost seven years. During 1995 the 1967 Ford American LaFrance was involved in a single vehicle accident which totaled the apparatus. In January of 1996 Scott Rudisill was elected as Chief of Department. The department ordered a new engine to replace the wrecked apparatus. The EEI Company of Raleigh once again gained the business of the department in building a truck. Soon after the order was placed and just weeks into his new position Chief Rudisill would soon loose another piece of apparatus to a single vehicle accident. The first Freightliner from 3 D Manufacturing was rolled on old highway 109 past Light Road. It was a blessing no one was hurt in any of the accidents. This prompted us to take a closer look at our drivers training requirements. In June of 1997 the department celebrated their 45th year of service. The Fair Grove Fire Department responded to the New Hanover county area during the hurricane season of 1998. Hurricane Bonnie swept across the eastern part of the state, sending heavy rains and winds. Fair Grove and five other departments from across the county gave relief to New Hanover county firefighters so they could get their own lives back together. To enhance the need for better medical and rescue assistance the Fair Grove Fire Department implemented a plan that would supply the district with trained medical and fire personnel around the clock. The department put on paid employees around the clock and purchased medical and rescue equipment. Many of the existing firefighters were members of local rescue or EMS organizations. This made the transition from an all volunteer fire department to a fire- medical-rescue combination department a lot smoother. In early 2000 the department call volume jumped to over 1100 calls for the next several years. In recent years the department has added several new additions to its fleet of apparatus. A Water Recovery Team and seven divers were placed into operation along with several other Special Operation Teams within the department. Due to the growth in the City of Trinity area covered by Fair Grove Fire,the department purchased land off Welborn Road in Fall of 2005. Plans are underway for a sub station in that area of the district to provide a quicker response in emergency aid. In 2007 the department will celebrate its 50 year anniversary.