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 Fariss 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 served until February 28, 2022. James "Jamie" Fore was elected and has served as our chief since March 01, 2022.
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 2016 we have 31 volunteer and 15 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 500 incidents in 2015. On the fire department side our save to loss ratio has continues 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.
2015 North Carolina Department of Insurance Rating Upgrade
The North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) rates each Fire Department in the state of North Carolina according to the water supply available, equipment carried on each apparatus, training record keeping, and incident record keeping. For the last 30 to 40 years Old Richmond VFD has been a split 6/9s insurance service district with the 6 covering properties within one thousand-(1000) feet of a water source, such as a hydrant or some other source that is available and accessible in all types of weather, with the resident being within five (5) road miles of the fire department. The 9s is a service district covering properties that are outside the thousand-(1000) feet of a water source, with the resident being within five-(5) road miles of the fire department. Any properties outside the five-(5) road miles from the fire department receive an insurance rating of 10.
After being elected Fire Chief in February of 2010, Chief Alan Fariss held his first officer’s meeting in March 2010. It was suggested at this officer’s meeting to try to lower the department’s insurance rating over the entire district as this would reduce the insurance premium for all homeowners and business owners within the fire district. After much discussion on this in the officer’s meeting and in a meeting of the general membership of the department, it was decided to present this idea to the Board of Directors.
The idea was presented to the Board of Directors at a meeting in April of 2010. The Board was very receptive of the idea and appointed two-(2) committees--one-(1) being the NCDOI Committee, to research and gather information on what NCDOI inspection consists of and to recommend any new equipment needed. And two-(2) being the Truck Committee, to research, gather information, and draw up the specifications for a new apparatus once it was determined what was needed.
At the first joint meeting of the two-(2) committees on May 23rd, 2010, Adrian Kreeger was elected as chair and Lloyd McCormick was elected as secretary of the NCDOI Committee. The truck committee decided to hold off on electing officers until there is some direction for them to go.
The Committees discussed several different approaches to lowering the NCDOI rate, the cost of this endeavor, and whether there is a need to hire a consultant. Without knowing what is expected of the department in the NCDOI inspection the committees decided to get more information to be better informed. Each committee member present at the meeting volunteered to visit a neighboring department to see what they had done to prepare for their NCDOI inspections or to contact a NCDOI representative.
The Joint Committees met on July 6, 2010 and formulated the information that had been gathering from the neighboring departments and from talking with NCDOI representatives. This information answered some of the questions and posed more question. Adrian had talked with Skip Staring with National Fire Services Office (NFSO) a National Consulting Firm that helps fire departments challenge their NCDOI Insurance Rating. He had two-(2) proposed contracts to present to the board. One-(1) being a pre-survey this is a six-(6) month contract, and two-(2) being a comprehensive contract, this being an eighteen-(18) month contract. The Committees thought that we needed to recommend to the Board that the department hire a consultant for the eighteen-(18) months.
At the July 15th, 2010 Board of Directors meeting, Adrian presented the formulated information gathered from visits to neighboring departments and talking with NCDOI representatives. The committees also recommended that National Fire Services Office (NFSO) be hired for eighteen-(18) months as a consultant to assist and advise the department in the lowering of the NCDOI insurance rating.
At the October 21st, 2010 Board of Directors meeting, the Board gave the two-(2) committees the authority to set the date to hire the consultant. Skip would like to fly up here to look over the department records, district, equipment, and then meet with the Board of Directors and the two-(2) Committees to present his findings. Skip would prefer a long hose lay instead of a water shuttle operation due to the simplicity and greater firefighter safety involved with the long hose lay versus running water shuttle operations using multiple tankers on the road simultaneously. Skip recommended that the department purchase a 3000-gallon tanker and determine the most efficient method for rapid deployment of 4000-feet of 5-inch diameter supply hose.
The Joint Committees met on October 26 with the recommendation of the tanker and hose giving the Truck Committee the direction they needed to go. The truck committee met with several vendors at the Piedmont Fire Expo and visited departments within the state that had purchased large capacity tankers. These visits gave the committee some insight into what the department needs and aided in the writing of the specification for the new apparatus. The Committee gathered some valuable information on the pros and cons of a large capacity tanker. Some vendors stated that they could not build the tanker with the specification that the committee presented them. The two-(2) committees discussed the best way to make the community aware of what the department was trying to do to reduce the Insurance Premiums within the district.
The truck committee met with several fire truck vendors and decided to purchase a 3000-gallon tanker from KME out of Pennsylvania. The truck was ordered, we were told that the truck would be delivered in January or February of 2012. The truck was delivered in December of 2011 ahead of schedule. The truck committee had ordered most of the equipment that would be needed for the truck and it was waiting at the station for the truck to be delivered. The equipment was placed on the truck and driver’s training was started after a number of members were trained to drive and operate the apparatus. The apparatus was placed in service on March 8th, 2012 with 4000 feet of five-(5) inch hose on it.
When this truck was received, the 1982 GMC 1000-gallon tanker was put on the market for sale. Skip, our consultant, was here on a visit and was told that we wanted to sell the 1982 GMC. He sold it to a department in Georgia needing a truck for hauling water. At the same time we put all of the department’s four-(4) inch supply hose up for sale and several of the surrounding departments bought all the hose.
The department went to all five (5) inch supply hose on all apparatus. The truck numbers were changed around. The 1989 Mack was placed as a reserve truck with 600 feet of five-(5) supply hose. The 2005 Pierce was placed as the number one truck out within the district. The 2011 KME was second out within the district and first out on mutual aid incidents where there is no water available. The 2006 Seagrave was placed as the third truck out within the district, and the first truck out to assist on mutual aid incidents where water was available within 1,000 feet of the incident.
On March 12, 2012 the NCDOI Committee met and was updated on what documentation needed to be available for the NCDOI Inspector. Areas were located that could be used to do the 4000-feet hose lay with the least inconvenience to the public. Precise gps mapping of the district was also discussed.
The protocol for demonstrating the long hose deployment was also discussed in depth.
There was several training sessions held at the station to practice for the long hose lay evolution. Each practice session involved laying off 300-400 feet of hose and timing the drills to become more proficient at the task. Then on May 12, 2012 the department laid out the 4000 feet of five (5) inch supply hose in under three-(3) minutes, in a practice drill. The hose was laid down Wall Road and hooked to the hydrant on Ridge Road The deployment team was flowing 270 gpm in under five-(5) minutes and flowing 1043 gpm in under eleven (11) minutes—4,000 feet from the hydrant. David Matthews with NFSO was present to time everything. This practice drill was deemed a success.
On March 13, 2013 application was made to DOI to challenge the DOI rating of the department. We were advised that due to budget short falls that DOI would not be doing any more inspection until after the new budget year, which started on July 1, 2013.
We were notified in February of 2014 that we would be inspected on May 27 and 28 of 2014. Chief Alan Fariss spent several weeks preparing for the inspection. The DOI Inspector sent a packet of information regarding what he is going to need to look at during the inspection. This information was compiled for the inspector’s review.
The inspector from DOI was Vernon Ward. On May 27 Vernon inspected the station, our Charter, our standard operating guidelines, our training records, incident records, all equipment on the apparatus, our water hydrant records, mapping of the district, and our pre-fire planning. On May 28 Vernon observed the long hose lay for the first time. Under the direction of David Matthews, personnel from Old Richmond Volunteer Fire Department and Forsyth County Fire Department did the long hose lay on Wall Road in Tobaccoville. Flow was initially started from the 3,000 gallon booster tank on 427 until air could be bled from the 4,000 feet of supplied supply line. In less than 10 minutes from the start of the test a sustained water flow of approximately 1,000 gallons per minute was obtained from the hydrant, boosted through 227 stationed at the hydrant, through 4,000 of supply line, boosted through 427, and out of a stationary ground monitor nozzle approximately 150 feet from 427.
Vernon stated that he was very impressed and stopped the operation after 13 minutes.
What the long hose lay will do for the residents of the Old Richmond Volunteer Fire District is essentially move a fire hydrant 4000 feet from where it is presently located to where its water supply is needed. Anyone that lives within 4000 feet of a hydrant will receive the same fire insurance rating as someone with a fire hydrant in their front yard. The insurance companies will have 90 days from the time we are notified of an upgrade to start reducing insurance premiums.
We were notified in early September that we needed some water points in the Dozier Community. Chief Fariss started looking and found two--one on Seward Road at the creek near Vienna Dozier Road and the other one at the pond on Vienna Dozier Road near Pleasant Hill Church. We needed a Turbo Draft unit in order to draft water from either place due to the distance that the water was from the road where we needed to park a truck.
Adrian Kreeger found a used unit on line in West Virginia for a great price; Chief Alan Fariss and Captain David Byerly drove up there on a Sunday and purchased it. After some practice sessions with the Turbo Draft unit we were ready to show the DOI representative that we could draft water with the Turbo Draft Unit.
The DOI inspector notified Chief Fariss that he would be here on October 27, 2014 to inspect the turbo draft operation. Chief Fariss stated after the test that, within three and a half minutes, they were flowing about 700 gallons per minutes. The DOI inspector stated that it should not be very long before we should be hearing something form him as to our DOI rating.
We were notified on January 29, 2015 that we had a district wide DOI rating of a Class 5/9E, this means that any one living within 5 road miles of the Station will be a Class 5 and anyone living outside the 5 miles but within 6 road miles of the station will be a Class 9E. Many thanks to Chief Alan Fariss, the Board of Directors, the DOI Committee, the Truck Committee and the membership of Old Richmond Fire Department and our neighboring departments for their hard work in achieving this for the people of the Old Richmond Fire District. This has been over a 5 year project for the membership of the Old Richmond Fire Department, but after all is said and done, it has been well worth it for the savings provided to our community members. Thanks to the Community for their Support of the Fire Department and Rescue Squad. All insurance companies that write policies in the State of North Carolina must honor the new DOI Rating for the Old Richmond Fire District beginning on May 1, 2015.
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.