Fire Department History

In the Town of Siler City, municipal action for fire protection was taken in February of 1896 when the Town Commissioners appropriated twenty dollars to buy ladders for use in case of fire. One week later it was reported that a hook and ladder company had been organized. At a meeting of the Town Commissioners of June 6, 1905, the following entry was made -- “On motion made and carried the Marshall was instructed to get up all fire buckets, ladders, tools, etc. belonging to the Town.” During this period water for use against fires was carried from creeks, wells or storage barrels in buckets by men who volunteered on the spot. 


There were twelve charter members of the original Siler City Fire Department begun in 1925. The North Carolina Fire Marshall was a great help in informing the members of the internal workings of a fire department. Mr. Thomas J. Dark was the Fire Department’s Chief. A public water system was in operation with fire hydrants in place. The Town then bought some fire hose which was carried on a reel mounted on two wheels and pulled by hand. The firemen pulled this cart to the scene of a fire with a rope. The towing of this reel behind an automobile was attempted but problems with it developed when rounding curves. Later they had a Modal T Ford flatbed truck on which the members of the Fire Department rode and which pulled the 2-wheel cart on which the hose was wound. (Once they went around a corner too fast, causing the vehicle to overturn and one of the wheels crashed.)


The Siler City Volunteer Fire Department was formally organized in October of 1926 with twenty-three charter members and with Thomas J Dark as the first Chief. This local group then joined the North Carolina State Fireman’s Association. The first organization of local firemen dates to 1923, as indicated on the cornerstone on the Fire Station.  


V. M. Dorsett was district manager for International Harvester (who made trucks). He arranged to secure for the Fire Department a flat-bed truck to put the hose on (rather than having to pull it). This truck cost $1100. Chief Dark had a list of business people who donated to purchase. Paul Reitzel went to Greensboro and drove the “mighty vehicle” home. It had side planks painted red. Needless to say, the firemen were very proud of this vehicle. One of the trucks along the way was a two cylinder and at times it was necessary for the firemen to help push it up the hills.


The firehouse was located on the corner between the First Baptist Church and Smith and Buckner. There was a siren on the firehouse which could be heard for five miles. The city was divided into 4 sections and the signal would indicate in which section the fire occurred.