History of Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc.
Written by Greek Long and Lloyd McCormick
In the early 1950’s the citizens of the Old Richmond Community saw a need for fire protection in their area. The Old Richmond Grange took the first step to organize a Volunteer Fire Department. In 1954 the Charter was granted for the Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. In 1956 the department felt it was necessary to operate separate from the Grange, so it was reorganized. For the first 22 years it operated as a volunteer fire department, answering fire calls within the community and by assisting neighboring communities.
In 1974 it was decided to start a rescue squad to assist the Forsyth County Emergency Medical Service. We did this by answering EMS call with the fire truck. Then in 1976 a rescue squad vehicle was purchased to assist in carrying equipment, being easier to maneuver around and quicker responses.
The governing body of the Old Richmond Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, Inc. is a nine member board consisting of a make up from the fire department and from the community. Our by-laws stated that at least three and not more than six of the nine members of the Board of Directors shall be firefighters. At least three and not more than six of the nine members of the Board of Directors shall be non-firefighters from the community.
In 2008 the make up of the board is six members from the community and three members from the fire department. Over the years the Board of Directors has been very conservative with the community funds, but always fulfilling the needs of the firefighters.
There are three members of the board, elected for a three-year term each year. They are elected by the Corporation Membership at the departments annual meeting, sometime between January 1st and February 28th of each year. This meeting is scheduled by the President of the Board of Directors at a convenient time for all members, and is open to the public.
For the first 34 years of service to the Old Richmond Community, funding was with suppers, bake sales and ice creams suppers, and a fund drive once a year, with literature of the year’s operations and the next year’s needs being given out by a firefighter to the community the last Saturday in October. Then the contributions that anyone wanted to make, being picked up by a firefighter the first Saturday in November of each year.
In November of 1987 our donation drive net just over 25,000 dollars. That year our insurance premium was about 8,000 dollars. With approximately one third of our income going to pay for insurance it was decided by the Board of Directors in 1988, in order to continue to provide the same level of service to the community, to ask that we become a tax district. The required signatures were achieved, an election was held, the people in the community approved it, and the tax district became a reality. Old Richmond was one of the last departments in Forsyth County to go to a tax district. Our first tax rate was 2 cents per one hundred dollars of evaluation.
Our budget year is from July 1-June 30 and in the 2008-2009 budget our tax rate is at 7 cents per one hundred dollars of evaluation.
Over the years, with the 5-cent increase per one hundred dollars of evaluation, we have increased the number of apparatus by three, a back up squad, a pumper/tanker and a utility vehicle, a new station on 6 plus acres of land and 24 hour personnel manning the station.
Buildings and Land:
In 1956 the Board of Directors saw a need for a place to store the fire truck, besides at one of the member’s home, and a donation drive was organized, land was leased, and a building was started. The building was completed by the firemen, with two bays, two bathrooms, an office, a kitchen, a storage room and a meeting and/or training room.
In 1970 two additional bays were built on the existing building.
In 1983 more land was acquired and two more bays were built on the backside of the station facing Turner Road. These two bays had a separate heating and cooling system.
At this time the old part of the station was rewired, insulated overhead, and new lighting installed. A new “A” roof was put on the meeting , office and bathroom area of the station. All bay doors were equipped with remote control electric door openers and closers. The meeting room was renovated with paneling, new windows and vertical blinds. In 1985 a new heating and air conditioning unit was installed in the old part of the station.
In 1998 the board saw the need for a new building, as we were outgrowing the present one.
In 1999 approximately 5 acres of land was purchased from Kent Norman just west of our present location on Reynolda Road. A Building Committee was appointed, an architect was hired, “Steward, Cooper, and Newell,” plans were drawn and accepted and the groundbreaking ceremony was held in December 2001. In 2001 a new building was started, with 10 bays, weight/exercise room, several storage rooms, training room, sleeping quarters, kitchen and dining area, day room, radio room and an office for the chief, the secretary, and one for the other officers. Triad Builders of King N.C. built the building at a cost of 1.6 million dollars, with dedication in October of 2002.
The old fire station was put on the market for sale and in 2002, it was sold to an individual and it is now the Old Richmond A to Z shopping.
In 2004 the property that would allow access to Tobaccoville Road became available to the department due to a motorcycle accident and the untimely death of its owner. The department was able to purchase the additional 1.4 acres of land and we cut a driveway from the parking lot up to Tobaccoville Road.
In April of 2004 the Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. celebrated 50 years of service to the community. NC Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshall Jim Long, was the guest speaker at this event. With each auxiliary member, firefighter, board of directors member, and special guest receiving a gold and silver coin and a bronze key chain that had been commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary. A bronze firefighter statue was presented to each firefighter with 25 years of service or more.
The ladies saw that the firemen needed help with these suppers, so the ladies auxiliary was organized. They have raised money by having suppers, bake sales, rummage sales, sell of family pictures, and by selling tickets for lawn movers, weed eaters, and quilts. The ladies have been a real help through out the years. They also get up in the middle of the night to bring refreshments to the firefighters on a working fire of any type. The firefighters really appreciate all the ladies.
Marvin Doub was elected the first chief in 1954 and served until 1956. K. L. Smith was elected chief in 1956 and served until 1974. Greek Long was elected chief in 1974 and served until 1985. Lloyd McCormick was elected chief in 1985 and served until 1994. Donnie Adams was elected chief in 1994 and served until 1997. Brent Stokes was elected chief in 1997 and served until 2000. Alan Farris was elected chief in 2000 and served until 2005. Paul Johnson was elected chief in 2005 and served until 2010. Alan Fariss was re-elected as chief in 2010 and is now our current chief.
In 1954 an Army truck was purchased and converted into a fire truck.
In 1957 a GMC fire truck was delivered with a 500-gpm pump and a 700 gal. booster tank.
In 1963 a Chevrolet fire truck was delivered with a 750-gpm pump and a 700-gal. booster tank.
In 1973 a Chevrolet fire truck was delivered with a 750-gpm pump and a 700 gal. booster tank.
In 1976 a 1970 Chevrolet Station Wagon was purchased to be used as a squad vehicle.
In 1979 a Chevrolet one ton truck was purchased to be used as a squad vehicle.
In 1981 a GMC fire truck was delivered with a 750-gpm pump and a 1000 gal. booster tank.
In 1985 a GMC pickup was delivered with a slide in unit to be used as a brush unit.
In 1987 a 1985 Ford Van was purchased to be used as a back up squad.
In 1989 a Mack fire truck was delivered with a 1250-gpm pump and 750 gal. booster tank.
In 1992 a Custom built Pierce fire truck was delivered with a 1500-gpm pump and a 1000 gal. booster tank.
In 1995 a Ford Super Duty was delivered with an ambulance type bed to be used as a rescue squad.
In 2004 a Ford F350 was delivered with a utility bed to be used as a back up squad and utility vehicle.
In 2005 a Stock Pierce fire truck was delivered with a 1250-gpm pump and a 1000 gal. booster tank.
In 2006 a 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe was purchased from Forsyth County to be used as a Utility Vehicle.
In 2006 a Custom Built Seagraves fire truck was delivered with a 1500-gpm pump and a 1000 gal. booster tank.
In 2007 a Scott Air Trailer was delivered with an air compressor to fill SCBA bottles. This was paid for by a FEMA grant. With this grant we were able to upgrade all SCBA’s with new up to date ones.
In 2009 a Kawasaki Mule 4 seater was purchased and delivered with a 100-gal forestry unit installed on it for woods fires and can also be used for search missions as well as medical standbys.
In 2011 a KME 3,000 gallon custom pumper with the capability of carrying 4,000 feet of 5 inch supply line, attack lines, and over 100 feet of ground ladders was added to the fleet. At this time, the 1989 Mack was moved to a reserve status and the supply line on all trucks was upgraded from 4 inch to 5 inch.
In 1989, with the purchase of the Mack fire truck, the department started using large diameter supply hose. The department purchased 1000 feet of 4-inch hose and put on this truck and we also started using 1 ¾ inch attack line instead of 1 ½ inch attack line. With a special nozzle this increased the amount of water we could apply to a fire from 125 gpm. to about 200 gpm.
The Pierce and Seagrave pumper/tankers each have 1000 feet of 5 inch supply hose, at least two 1 ¾ inch pre-connected attach lines, and one 2 ½ inch pre-connected attack line which can flow 250 gpm. Three of the apparatus have a pre-connected deluge deck gun capable of flowing 1000 gpm. The KME pumper/tanker carries 4,000 feet of 5 inch supply line in addition to the other lines listed above.
Apparatus eliminated from ORVFD:
In 1976 the Army fire truck was sold by sealed bid to an individual.
In 1979 the 1957 GMC was sold to Skull Camp Volunteer Fire Department in Surry County.
In 1987 the 1970 Chevrolet Station Wagon was sold by sealed bid to an individual
In 1988 the 1963 Chevrolet was sold to Skull Camp Volunteer Fire Department in Surry County.
In 1989 the 1973 Chevrolet was a total loss due to an accident on Bowens Road responding to a woods fire. The driver was not wearing his seatbelt, and received injuries that required a two or three day hospital stay. After this incident wearing of seatbelts while driving an apparatus was mandatory.
In 1995 the 1979 Chevrolet one ton truck was sold by sealed bid to an individual.
In 2004 the 1985 Ford Van was sold by sealed bid to an individual.
In 2005 the 1992 Custom Built Pierce was a total loss due to an accident on Reynolda Road while responding to a structure fire in very bad weather conditions. The two occupants were treated and released from the hospital for minor injuries. Both were wearing their seatbelts.
In 2011, the 1981 GMC fire truck was sold to a fire department in Sumter County, Georgia.
In 2008 we have 36 volunteer and 10 paid staff, men and women that give of their time and knowledge to make the Old Richmond Community a safer place in which to live.
In 1998 the board saw a need for paid part time personnel due to the lack of daytime personnel. Some personnel were hired to man the station during the day to get the equipment out the door.
Then in 2008 the board saw a need to man the station 24 hours a day. Beginning on July 1st, 2008, still using part-time personnel, we implemented the 24-hour shift by having one 12-hour position and one 8-hour position during the day with one 12-hour position during the night.
In 1991 the department started a cadet firefighter program, in which a young person 15 to 18 years old and interested in becoming a firefighter could enroll. They could train with the department, learn to operate the equipment, and learn the ins and outs of the firefighting techniques and procedures. Then at the age of 18 they are trained and ready to become full-fledged firefighters. We have had some very good firefighters come from this program. Our insurance does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to actively fight fire, except in a controlled environment as with a training fire.
The membership of the Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. are proud members of the Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association, The Piedmont Firefighters Association, The North Carolina State Firemen’s Association, The NC Association of Rescue Squads and EMS, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The membership meets every Thursday night for business/training meetings, at which time we cover any announcements that concerns the membership, conduct any business, and spend the rest of the time training. We average about 2500 man-hours a year in training. In 2008 we have 12 firefighters certified to the Firefighter II level, this requires approximately 350 hours to complete. We have 4 certified to the EMT-D level, this requires approximately 180 hours to complete, 20 certified to both Firefighter II and EMT-D level. In 1997 all the EMT’s at the station went through a 40-hour defibrillation class and became certified to use a heart defibrillator. In addition the driver/operators can take a 130-hour class in Emergency Vehicle Driving. All certifications require that the members attend Continuing Education classes to maintain their certification. It takes a real commitment to belong to the fire department.
In 2008 we received a FEMA grant that allowed the department to purchase new bunker gear for all active firefighters. This included pants, coat, hood, helmet, gloves, and boots,
In 1976 it was suggested to the board that the department recognize an outstanding firefighter as the Firefighter of the Year. Prior to this time we had been sending the name of a member into the county as the departments nominee for Forsyth County Firefighter of the Year, with little or no recognition from the department. The board agreed to purchase a wall plaque to be left at the station with the Firefighter of the Year’s name and year inscribed on it and to give the recipient a trophy/plaque with their name and year inscribed on it for their home. Over the years Old Richmond has had four members named Forsyth County Firefighter of the Year. Then, in 1985, a plaque was purchased and placed on the wall to recognize the Rookie of the Year in the same manor. In 1992, a plaque was purchased and placed on the wall to recognize the Cadet of the Year in the same manor. In 1994, a plaque was purchased and placed on the wall to recognize the Squad Person of the Year in the same manor.
The Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. has received numerous first and second place awards as Fire Department of the Year presented by the NC Grange. We have received recognition from New Hanover County for sending a truck and crew there after a Hurricane Fran in 1996, for the second place design of our new station from Fire Chief Magazine, for the RJ Reynolds Cold Storage fire, for the Sauratown Mountain fire, Doubs Chapel UMC, Bethania Moravian Church, WSFC Board of Education, East Bend Fire Volunteer Department, Dr. R.E. “Monty” Leonard, and for our efforts at the Tabernacle United Methodist Church Fire. We also received acknowledgement from Relay for Life for the use of our facility to hold a cancer research fund-raiser in the spring of 2008.
We have gone from answering less than 100 incidents per year in the beginning, to answering over 635 incidents in 2007. In 2005 the department answered 205 fire incidents and 326 squads incidents. In 2006 the department answered 247 fire incidents and 295 squad incidents. In 2007 the department answered 328 fire incidents and 310 squad incidents. So far in 2008 through September we have answered 239 fire incidents, 250 squads incidents and 22 public service incidents.
On the fire department side our save to loss ratio has continued to be very good. Our largest incident loss over the past few years was the Sanctuary of Tabernacle United Methodist Church which caught fire in October of 2007 and was a total loss.
We would like to thank the Old Richmond Community for their support through out our 50 plus years, both financial and otherwise. With this support we were able to build a state of the art facility in which to house the equipment, train our personnel, and have a place for our personnel to cook, eat, and sleep, but most important, to obtain a 9/6 insurance rating from the Department of Insurance and with this rating the members of the community pays less on their homeowner’s insurance premium.
Each year the department hosts an open house and community appreciation chicken stew. This event is paid for out of the firemen’s fund and not the fire department treasure. All department equipment is on display with volunteers to answer questions and explain the use of the equipment.
We here at Old Richmond want the community to know that this is their fire department and we appreciate the opportunity to take care of it. If there are individuals, civic groups or church groups that would like to come and tour the department please call to make an appointment. If there is a community member that is interested in becoming part of the fire department, either as a firefighter, squad member or board member please contact the fire department at 336-924-6867.
A Firefighter’s Prayer:
When I am called to duty, God
Whenever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save lives,
Whatever be their age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is too late,
To save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and give the best in me,
To guard my every neighbor and protect their property.
And if I am to lose my life according to my fate,
Please bless with your protecting hand,
My children and my mate. Amen.