History of Woodleaf Volunteer Fire Dept  

Compiled by Bob Turner
with the help of dozens of members, their families, and old documents.
Updated on 8/21/96

The history of the Woodleaf Vol. Fire Department as recalled by several
of the original members is as follows:

An original diary or history of the department was never recorded. We
apologize to any persons not mentioned who have given of their time
from their families. If you know of information which should be
included in the following narrative we would appreciate hearing from
you. Many volunteers over the years have been self-employed and have
sacrificed a great deal in the protection of their community.

In the early 1950s when the communities of Rowan County were first
organizing rural fire departments, a group of civic minded men met
many times. In May of 1952 the Woodleaf Volunteer Fire Department,
Inc. was chartered by the state. Mr. C. W. Harrell was elected President
and Guy Etheridge was appointed Chief. There were nineteen charter
members of the department. Shares of stock were sold to help finance
the department. These first members (stockholders) worked long hours
raising money to buy the first fire truck. The truck was a 1952 Chevrolet
truck chassis. A front mounted fire pump was installed. Several of the
first members worked for Southern Railroad at the Spencer Shops and
built the body and water tank for the truck. Some of the work is said to
have been done at Woodleaf School. The truck was originally kept in a
garage at a members house at the intersection of Cool Springs Road and
Mill Street until volunteers could construct a building to house this piece
of equipment.

An early, but undated, (c. 1953) set of by-laws lists the stockholders of
the department as:

Dick Watson C. O. Waller T. G. Waller W. W. Speas
Sadie & Ellen Click Worth Benson A. W. Watson Herman Arey
Graham Rice William Wetmore Ira Benson J. W. Wetmore
J. W. Nesbitt Jimmy Myers G. H. Pope C. O. Swicegood
J. S. Moore F. W. Thompson H. C. Burgess W. D. Bailey
F. B. Coulter J. K. Hood Everette Swink E. M. Barber
E. H. Wetmore Mattie H. Smith W. D. Painter J. W. Ward
Leonard Williams A. G. Etheridge S. H. Morgan G. W. Ratledge
Rice and Ratledge Mill O. M. Click F. S. Waller E. P. Ratledge
Hugh Benson Harold Wetmore Milton Wetmore Guy Etheridge
H. D. Bailey C. M. Gillean B. R. Brown M. E. Barber
W. D. Myers J. E. Wilson Tom Waller Herman Langford
E. T. Correll C. W. Harrell H. M. Bailey Bailey Brothers
A. H. Fleming Lewis Godbey A. B. Myers J. F. Shaver
J. H. Barringer Bobby Godbey E. E. Shaver J. C. Swaim
Sam Seagraves I. T. Bailey Howard Painter  
The following names were added (in pencil) to this typewritten list at a
later time

W. M. Rice R. H. Fleming Jay Foster Mrs. W. L. Lyerly
Jim Oddie Oscar Click W. L. Rice Mrs. C. H. Gillean

An old share of stock, issued to Keith Kluttz is dated May 1, 1954. It is
signed by W.M. Rice, President. Mr. Kluttz' name does not appear on
the above list, suggesting that the list is older than his share of stock.

A parcel of land was purchased from Hugh Bailey. In 1954, the original
cement block structure was built under the direction of Rev. J. C. Swaim
with a total volunteer labor force and was used until October 1988. It
consisted of two truck bays with a large meeting room and kitchen
upstairs.

This was also the Community Building.

Later a used Ford fire engine was purchased from Derita Fire
Department. This gave Woodleaf two fire engines and qualified the
community for lower fire insurance rates. This truck was used until
Engine 771 was purchased in 1967.

In the early days, in the event of a fire the dispatchers at Salisbury Fire
Department Central Station would call a contact person by telephone.
This person then would call several others. These people then called the
other people on their lists. The firefighters were also alerted by the
sound of airhorns from an old locomotive. The horns were fastened to
the side of a building across Mill Street from the truck. The horns would
blow when the first member arrived at the controls, taking a stick out
from under a lever. The horns would blow a steady blast until the tank
was out of air.

After the fire station was built the horns were relocated. When the
technology became available in the 60s, the airhorns were activated by
radio control from Salisbury. In 1985 the airhorns were replaced with a
siren. The old station was razed in 1991.

Today firefighters and EMT's are alerted by a paging system.  The
pagers are used for all calls. All firemen are equipped with pagers. The
station siren is now only activated for severe weather to warn the
members of the community .

Address confirmation and alarm information is received by facsimile
machine.

The new fire station, erected in 1988 was necessary because a new fire
engine was on order and it would not fit in the old station. Modern fire
trucks are too tall to fit under the eight foot high doors of the two story
building. By this time we were also housing a brush truck in a garage
behind the Community Building. The current building has five truck
bays with five 12 foot by 12 foot doors. There is an office which is also
used as a meeting room.

For the first twenty years or so, the Woodleaf Vol. Fire Dept. answered
about 6 alarms a year. By 1983 this number was up to about 18 calls a
year. In 1995, we answered 100+ alarms.  Since 1986 we have been
responding to medical emergencies, where we provide basic life support
to victims of auto accidents, heart attacks, diabetic emergencies and
strokes.

We provide mutual aid to many surrounding departments. They in turn
provide trucks and manpower to help us when we need it. All structure
fires in our district automatically get mutual aid from two adjoining
departments.




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