- Andy Marshall, Fire Chief email@example.com
- Mike Simone, Fire Marshal firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ryan Hooker, Fire Captain
- Eric Stewart, Fire Captain
- Mark Williams, Fire Captain
- Josh Joyce, Career Firefighter
- Ryan Key, Career Firefighter
- Thomas Mabe, Career Firefighter
- Chris Nowlin, Career Firefighter
2019 Firefighter of the Year – Billy Sparks
2019 Rookie Firefighter of the Year – Josh Kiger
All too often, the sound of sirens emerge through the silence of Rural Hall. Men and women have been rushing from full-time jobs, ball games, dinner tables and leisurely evenings to extinguish fires since 1939, when the Rural Hall Fire and Rescue Department was formed. It was the first volunteer fire department in Forsyth County and Carl Baker served as the first fire chief.
At the beginning, the department purchased a 1941 Plymouth truck for $500 and spent $25 to paint it “fire engine red.” The truck was equipped with ladders, lanterns, extinguishers and a hose. In 2003, the fire department regained ownership of this original fire truck and it has since been restored back to its original look.
In 1949, a two-story building near what is now Rural Hall Elementary School gave the department a place to house their equipment and rooms upstairs to hold meetings and training. Through its early years, the fire station was enlarged to house more equipment that the department needed to provide adequate protection to its citizens. In 1988, major renovations began on the building in order to house the growing fleet and a Forsyth County Emergency Medical Service paramedic unit. The finished product left no signs of the old building.
A fire marshal system was added in 1955 providing organized fire protection to Forsyth County. Also in 1955, the Rural Hall Firemen’s Auxiliary was established to provide a canteen for volunteers during emergencies and to help promote fire safety throughout the community.
Due to the persistence of two boys, a junior fire department was formed in 1968. The junior fire department serves a dual purpose: it teaches fire safety to youngsters, as young as 14 nowadays, while serving as a source of retention for highly qualified and motivated senior firefighters. Rural Hall was the first town in Forsyth County to have an organized junior fire department.
Saturday, April 12, 1986, the department responded to the Dixie Chipboard Plant north of Rural Hall to fight one of the largest fires in the department’s history. The main manufacturing building was destroyed with damage exceeding one million dollars. The department, along with twelve other departments from Forsyth and Stokes Counties, fought the fire for more than eight hours to bring it under control and save an adjoining warehouse from burning. The department remained on the scene for more than 20 hours to prevent flare ups and additional damage.
On August 17, 1992, the first full-time paid firefighter, Mark Williams, was employed by the Town of Rural Hall to supplement the volunteer firefighters during weekdays. Full-time, 24-hour fire and rescue service began in November 1996 with the addition of two more paid firefighters working 24 hours on and 48 hours off. The department’s first paid fire chief, Eddie Horn, was hired in September 2004. An additional firefighter was hired in 2008 to help maintain coverage when others needed time off. By 2011, the fire department employed 7 total staff – the fire chief and 6 firefighters.
April of 1996 was another milestone in the history for the department. Fifteen members attended and were certified to the State of North Carolina Emergency Medical Technician-Defibrillator level. This training allows certified members to operate a semi-automatic defibrillator on heart attack patients.
Another memorable fire response occurred in September 1997. Fire consumed the tobacco storage area at Carolina International Storage Warehouse. The department remained on the scene nineteen hours during the clean-up of this multi-million dollar blaze. This was the largest damage loss in the history of the department and one of the largest fire losses recorded in North Carolina for 1997.
Fire and rescue calls have increased considerably over the years. The department currently responds to over 1,300 calls annually and operates with a budget over $1,000,000. The department has one full-time fire chief, three full-time captains, four full-time firefighters, twenty-five volunteer firefighters and six junior firefighters. The area of response includes the Town of Rural Hall and suburban areas of Forsyth and Stokes Counties. The fire department’s response area is roughly 28 square miles. Not only does the fire department protect those areas, many times mutual aid assistance is both given and received by surrounding community’s fire departments.