History

Wilson Fire Dept 1916

It is estimated, the first fire department in Wilson was organized around 1880 and was completely volunteer. Fire protection at this time consisted of the bucket brigade until the year 1887. In early 1887, a steam pumper was purchased, which was horse drawn, and water to supply this pumper was taken from cisterns located in the streets. The first cistern was located on N. Goldsboro St. in front of what is now the Woodard Building . The first fire station was located on N. Goldsboro St. where the parking lot adjacent to the Municipal Building is now located.

A major improvement in fire fighting occurred in 1892. A small pump station was installed on Toisnot Creek, at the present location of the bridge across the creek on Corbett Ave. Hydrants and mains were installed but water was not purified and was used only for fire protection.

In 1913, the first motorized pumping engine was purchased from the American-LaFrance Company of Elmira, NY.

To drive and maintain this vehicle, Captain L.F. Murray was hired from Goldsboro to become the first paid fireman in Wilson . He remained with the department until his death in 1934.

1926

In 1924, fire destroyed the fire station and the old city hall located then on Goldsboro St . A new station was built in 1926 on N. Douglas St . In 1985, a new headquarters station was built at 307 W. Hines St.

The first organized department manned by paid uniformed firemen was organized on August 1, 1938 . There was 11 full time men and 26 call men – volunteers who received a small monthly salary whether or not the fought any fire. The new department was equipped with four trucks, three were pumpers and one a ladder truck.

Some of the first known fire chiefs to serve Wilson were Billy Simms, Earnest Nadal, Doane Herring, Ed W. Davis, and V.C. Martin who were all volunteers.

In 1938, A.L. Lancaster, who had been a volunteer chief since 1931, was appointed as the first paid chief and served until his death in 1949. July 1, 1948 , T.R. Bissett was named chief and remained until his retirement in July, 1971. In July 1971, Ben Williams was appointed chief until he retired in 1985. C.B. Rose was named chief in 1985 and served until he retired in Dec., 1991. Don Oliver was then hired as chief in March, 1992 and presently serves in that capacity.

old truck

The first piece of fire apparatus bought by the City of Wilson was painted battleship gray with gold trim. This color remained until 1939 when it was changed to red and continued until 1973, when it was replaced by lime yellow. The greatest change in fire trucks came about in 1973, with the purchase of Wilson 's first truck with an enclosed cab, which could seat five men. This unit was the first truck painted lime yellow and also the first to have a diesel engine, air brakes, and power steering.

February 1922
Two companies. Fire station at City Hall at Chief, assistant chief, two paid men, 20 volunteers. Two American LaFrance triple combination motor trucks each with 750-gallon chemical tank and 1,200 feet of 2 1/2-hose. 1,800 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose in reserve. Reo motor truck equipped as hook and ladder planned. Colored Company, no firehouse: One paid man, 12 volunteers. Gamewell fire alarm system with 24 boxes and bell at pumping plant. Alarm given by bell on City Hall and whistle at municipal light plant. Population 12,000.
 

The steamer Wilson FD purchased in 1887 was a Silsby 5th Size, registration #914. 5th size meant it pumped between 300 and 500 gpm.

Wilson firemen and American LaFrance fire engines. Courtesy Wilson Fire Department


Wilson municipal complex including fire station. Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

Today
The City of Wilson maintains through Wilson Fire/Rescue Services fire stations, 20 emergency response apparatus, and 93 career firefighters protecting 29.2 square miles.  Our current population is just over 50,000.
 

Retirees

  1. Albert L. Lancaster - Chief - 1916-1933 / 1938-1949 *
  2. J.R. “Bob” Brinkley - Firefighter - 1934-1955
  3. J.C. Woodard - Captain - 1930-1955
  4. James H. Pridgen - Captain - 1938-1963
  5. Ronland Dawson - 1952-1966
  6. Berry L. Hedgedeth - Assistant Chief - 1935-1967
  7. Tyrus R. Bissitt - Chief - 1938-1971 *
  8. Robert Chocklett - 1951-1971
  9. Curtis E. Hathaway - Captain (Deceased) - 7-1-42 / 1-27-77
  10. James C Bailey - 1949-1978
  11. Frank Hayes - Captain - 1945-1980
  12. Hal C Wallace - Captain - 1950-1980
  13. James Bass Sr. - Captain - 1952-1981
  14. Lucian V. Deans - 1952-1982
  15. William F. Taylor - Captain - 1951-1983
  16. Vance T. Langley - 1955-1984
  17. Sidney Turner - Assistant Chief - 1945-1985
  18. Ben William - Chief - 1952-1985 *
  19. Van B. Etheridge - Assistant Chief - 1955-1986
  20. William W. Evans - 1955-1986
  21. Thomas A. Farmer - Captain - 1956-1986
  22. Elmer R. Pierce - Captain - 1965-1986
  23. J. Alton Durham - Captain - 1957-1987
  24. James E. Davis - Assistant Chief - 1955-1987
  25. George C. Howard - Captain - 1955-1987
  26. James Etheridge Jr. - Captain - 1958-1987
  27. Frank W. Owens Jr. - 1953-1987
  28. Thedie J. Shadding - 1966-1988
  29. W. Hoover Davis - Captain - 1955-1988
  30. Kenneth R. Radford - 1968-1989
  31. Franklin E. Adams - Assistant Chief - 1965-1990
  32. C. Bruce Rose - Chief - 1961-1991 *
  33. Jimmie H. Coley - Captain - 1963-1992
  34. Louis R. Page - Captain - 1966-1993
  35. Edward W. Galloway - 1975-1994
  36. Jasper E. Edwards - Captain - 1966-1994
  37. Jerry R. Lewis - 1964-1994
  38. William H. Lamm - 1965-1994
  39. Clarence L. Braswell - Captain - 1966-1994
  40. David S. Goff - 1964-1994
  41. Archie Fields - Captain - 1969-1994
  42. William R. Aycock Sr. - Firefighter (Deceased) - 1-26-93 / 2-13-94
  43. Ernest P. Barnes - 1982-1995
  44. James Phillip Lewis - Deputy Chief - 1964-1995
  45. Luby C. Hocutt - Firefighter (Deceased) - 8-10-93 / 4-9-95
  46. James T. Owens - 1967-1995
  47. Jasper E. Wilder - Captain - 1982-1996
  48. Otha W. Pollard - Battalion Chief - 1967-1997
  49. Michael E. Atkinson - Captain - 1987-1997
  50. Howard C. Boykin - Captain - 1976-1998
  51. Okey P. Thorne - Captain - 1971-1998
  52. Ricky D. Boyette - Captain - 1972-1999
  53. Delmon H. Lamm - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1971-1999
  54. James B. Edwards - Captain - 1969-2000
  55. William E. Simmons - Captain - 1971-2000
  56. William D. Sutton - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1971-1978 / 1979-2000
  57. Roy C. Page - Captain - 1971-2000
  58. Kenneth G. Etheridge - Lieutenant - 1974-1978 / 1980-2001
  59. Jimmy G. Owens - Captain - 1972-2001
  60. Kenneth Brewer - Captain - 1972-2001
  61. Sammie B. Bearden - Captain - 1971-2001
  62. Billy L. Wilson - Firefighter - 1972-2001
  63. John S. Craft - Captain - 1972-2002
  64. Ronnie E. Dilda - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1972-2002
  65. Percell Spell Jr. - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1975-2002
  66. C. Carson Cobb - Captain - 1985-2002
  67. J. Robert Haynes - Firefighter - 1974-2002
  68. Earl T. Best - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1970-2002
  69. Leroy Barnes - Division Chief - 1970-1976 / 1978-2003
  70. Randy Braswell - Fire Captain - 1975-2003
  71. Jerome Hester - Firefighter/ Engineer - 1978-2003
  72. Cathy Olive - Captain - 1988-2003
  73. Anthony U. Cooper - Fire Captain - 1990-2003
  74. Thurman Parish - Fire Inspector - 1980-2003
  75. James E. Baker - Firefighter/Engineer - 1975-2004
  76. James T. Poythress - Fire Captian - 1975-2004
  77. Michael G. Winstead - Fire Maintenance Specialist - 1988-2004
  78. Tony L. Langston - Division CHEIF - 1975-1976, 1976-2004
  79. Stephen J. Bogue - Fire Captian - 1977-2005
  80. Anthony G. Pulley - Firefighter - 1983-2005
  81. Joseph H. Barnes - Battalion Commander/Fire Marshal - 1984-2005
  82. Thomas R. Parker - Deputy Fire CHIEF - 1978-2005
  83. Dennis L. Etheridge - Firefighter/Engineer - 1976-2005
  84. Roy L. Baker - Firefighter/Engineer - 1980-2005
  85. Timothy E. Bissette - Firefighter/Engineer - 1977-2005
  86. Devone Bass - Fire Inspector - 2001-2006
  87. Timothy Bridges - Firefighter/Engineer - 1992-2006
  88. Donald L. Brooks - Firefighter - 1996-1998, 2000-2006
  89. Thomas L. Deans - Firefighter/Engineer - 1990-2006
  90. John E. Handy - Firefighter/Engineer - 1986-2007
  91. Clark A. Norville - Fire Captain - 1989-2008
  92. Archie R. Artis, Jr. - Firefighter - 1996-2008
  93. Reginald Yelverton - Fire Lieutenant - 1993-2009
  94. Dedrick J. Payton - Firefighter - 2003-2009
  95. Gregg A. Francois - Firefighter - 1998-2009
  96. Rebecca L. Hebb - Administrative Assistant - 1998-2010
  97. Ricky M. Davis - Firefighter/Engineer - 2003-2012
  98. Danny J. Skinner - Fire Captain - 78-87 / 89-90 / 1996-2012
  99. Jeff Winstead - Fire Marshal ~ 1996-2013
  100. William Wiggs - Engineer ~ 1987-2013
  101. Jackie Bass ~ GIS Tech / Administrative Assistant 1980-2013

About the Shield

Wilson Fire Dept shield

In 1992 the Wilson Fire Department underwent a significant change in leadership. For the first time, since it became a career fire department in 1938, a new Fire Chief was hired, who did not come from within the organization. As an effort to help create a new organizational identity and culture, the new chief asked for volunteers for a Task Force with representation from all ranks of the organization. Their charge… develop a symbol for use as a uniform shoulder patch and apparatus door emblem that would represent the pledge of the department's mission.

Through effective communication, collaboration, cooperation and compromise a symbol was developed from the many ideas and samples that were developed by individuals on this team. The symbolic details of this emblem represent the values, goals and the vision that the members had. The meaning was explained when it was presented to the Chief. It is now a very important part of the identity of the organization and its membership.

  • The Maltese Cross Shape – represents a universal symbol for Fire Departments that value the tradition of protection and service to others, at all costs, as the Knights of Malta historically did.

  • The Rope Trim – displays no beginning or end…symbolizing continuous service to the community.

  • The Background – incorporates red white and blue “stars and stripes” displays the patriotism of the American Fire Service and the love of our country. The words FIRE and RESCUE are vertically displayed on the background field representing an all-encompassing service.

  • The Center Shield – presents a protective armor that safeguards the community. The words Protection, Inspection, Prevention are inscribed on around the Firefighting Cluster of tools used in fire suppression. The crossed tools overlay the flames of fire.

  • The Tree and Tobacco Leafs – integrates two components of the City of Wilson Official Seal . The City of Wilson is distinguished as a “City of Trees ” . Tobacco holds a prominent place in the history of the city, which was once the “Largest Tobacco Market in the World”

  • The Phoenix – is rising from the flames, indicating a reformation of the organization.

Following the development of the organizational symbol… the organization was renamed to reflect the department's mission and values. Thus becoming---

Wilson Fire/Rescue Services