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ROCKY POINT VOL. FIRE DEPT.
P.O. BOX 27
ROCKY POINT, NC 28457


BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT

The first organizational meeting was held on April 4, 1974, in the educational building of the Rocky Point Methodist Church . George Casteen acted as Chairman. There was a large representation of the community at this meeting. Jerry Spell was elected President; Charles Pearsall – Vice President; Dan Matthews – Secretary/Treasurer. George Casteen was to act as coordinator. These men were to proceed to incorporate and organize the department.

The next meeting was held at the Rocky Point Elementary School cafeteria which we used until school closed. We then moved to Wirt Casey’s barn loft. Cold weather moved us back to the Methodist Church until we moved into our new building on Porters Lane on March 27, 1975.

During our first 18 months we were receiving fire training sponsored by Cape Fear Technical Institute with Chief Bill Hutton of the Wilmington Fire Department as the instructor. Other important events were:

  • April 21, 1974 - We were chartered with the North Carolina Secretary of State as Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department.
  • August 24, 1974 - We borrowed $5,000.00 to purchase a 1953 International R185 Segrave Fire Truck. 
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  •  Godwin Oil Company donated a 1963 Chevrolet cabover tanker to be used as a water carrier. Both trucks were housed at Wirt Casey’s barn.
  • September 7, 1974 - We purchased acre of land on Porters Lane from Wilbur and Cecile Wright. Lester Lanier donated $500.00 to the Fire Department in two yearly payments for the land.
  • October, 1974 - We started building a facility with 2 bays, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen
  • March 27, 1975 - We moved into our building.
  • June 28, 1975 - A tax referendum was passed by a vote of 58 for and 8 against.
  • August 1, 1975 - The fire department was certified by the North Carolina Fire Commission with a 9A rating, 4 mile district.

The fire department received a 5/4 ton Jeep truck through Civil Defense which was made into a fire truck to fight brush fires. 

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They also contributed a 5kw generator.

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Four years later – 1978, we needed more space and another truck. Through a lot of hard work and an FHA approved loan, we built an addition of two more bays and a meeting room. We also purchased a 1979 Ford pumper-tanker with a 450 gal. per minute pump and a 1250 gallon tank.

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By 1981 we needed another pumper. We obtained a loan and purchased a 1966 Ford F800, 750 gal. per minute pump and a 500 gallon tank from the Weldon, NC City Fire Department. This became our #1 certified pumper.

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In 1987 we purchased an adjacent acre lot from Herbert Richardson where we plan to build another addition. We also placed our first pumper (1953 International) back in service to pump water to fill our trucks during a fire.

In 1988 we applied for a matching funds grant from the State of North Carolina for approximately $8000.00 in varied equipment which was approved at our cost of $4000.00.

At the 1989 15 Year Anniversary celebration, there were 5 charter members still active. They were: Roger Anderson-Chief; Thurman Casey-Asst. Chief; Wirt Casey-Chairman of the Board of Directors; Walter Thompkins and Elson Rabalais. We had 28 active members with each member’s turnout equipment costing about $700.00 each. We had five fire trucks equipped and operating with 4000 gallons of water capacity. Our assets as of the 15th Anniversary were about $300,000.00 with a debt of $30,000.00 for a FHA 5% loan. We had acquired this with a lot of hard work and cooperation from the community in just 15 years. Our fundraiser's were a huge portion of our income at the time. We started out having a fish fry; tried fried chicken; then moved on to Clarks barbeque. Our real success started when we began to cook our own barbecue pork and chicken. We have built a good reputation with those items and are still selling them at our fundraiser's today.

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When we found ourselves needing still more room and an additional truck, we applied for an FHA loan for $50,000.00. This loan was approved and we built four additional bays. Through George Kerwin, we learned about a 1968 Mack pumper which was in Longhill , New Jersey . Five representatives of the fire department left at midnight to travel to Longhill to see this truck. This was quite a trip but it was successful and later we purchased the fire truck.(2257) This truck had a 1000 gal. per minute pump and we built a new 1000 gallon tank to hold the water.

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We also needed a place to store food and cook for our fundraiser's. We built a walk-in cooler with cooling units donated by Wright Batson and a cook shed.

The 1994 20 Year Anniversary celebration was held with an open house and snacks for the visitors. We also gave to the visitors small drink cups, pencils, pens and key chains with the RPVFD logo on them. At this time there were 3 active charter members in the fire department. They were: Roger Anderson-Chief; and Thurman and Wirt Casey. We had 32 active members, 6 fire trucks and assets of approximately $450,000.00 with a debt of approximately $70,000.00.

In 1995 the membership of the fire department began discussing the purchase of a new truck. The growth of the area was beginning to warrant the need for a newer and bigger fire truck than we had at the time. We began talking with fire truck dealers and then we requested bids for a fire truck with the following specifications: 1250 gal. per minute pump and a 1250 gallon tank. We received bids from 4 different fire truck companies and studied each of the specifications and decided to purchase a 1996 Freightliner E-One pumper/tanker at a cost of $149,000.(2262)

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During the next few years, Rocky Point began a growth period with subdivisions and a shopping center planned for the area. The membership and Board of Directors began to be concerned over the demand for fire protection when all this development came to the area. We began a lengthy process of studying the specifications of fire trucks to meet the needs of this growth. In January of 2005, we decided to advertise for bids for another fire truck that would meet the needs of the Rocky Point area as the growth began to take place. This fire truck would be a CLASS A pumper with a 1500 gallon per minute pump and a 1500 gallon tank. It would also have a 25 gallon foam tank to add to its fire protection efficiency. We received bids from four fire truck companies and the low bidder was E-One Fire Equipment Company. The 2006 truck (2259) plus all equipment was approximately $200,000. We searched for the best financing and found that USDA (Rural Development) had the best rate. The fire truck was ordered after the Board of Directors approved the loan.

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When 2259 arrived, the Department received a message that fire truck costs would increase by approximately $12,000 over the next year because of the new EPA regulations, so we began discussing the purchase of a second truck within the next year. The Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department requested bids from the same four companies that had responded to the pumper we had purchased earlier that year. E-One Fire Equipment Company had a fire truck that was in the process of being built that matched our specs. Again we pursued financing and Rural Development was the low bidder for financing. The pumper fire truck cost with all equipment was approximately $175,000. At this time, we felt we could meet the needs of the Rocky Point Community for fire protection.

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Our fire call volume began to increase to a rate that the volunteer fire members could not answer all the calls we were receiving. The Board of Directors and the Officers began discussing the possibility of hiring day time paid firemen to man the station. The Board of Directors and Officers had a meeting with Burgaw Fire Department and Long Creek Fire Department concerning additional revenue to fund paid firemen and needed equipment in our fire departments.

At this time, we had a tanker fire truck that was beginning to have major mechanical problems and was not safe to drive or respond to fires. The Board of Directors and Officers met and decided to investigate the possibility of replacing this truck with another truck using the old body. After contacting truck dealers and fire equipment companies, it was decided to replace the complete truck and body. The RPVFD purchased a 2007 Freightliner truck with an 1800 gallon tank from C.W. Williams Fire Equipment Company, a representative of Fire Equipment Company for an approximate cost of $160,000 plus needed equipment.

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Other fire departments were also contacted and most agreed that additional tax revenue was needed to provide the needed manpower and equipment. The fire departments appeared before the Pender County Commissioners and asked for a 3 cent per $100 dollar evaluation increase in tax revenue for paid personnel and equipment. These fire departments were told to send out flyers to residents of our $100 of evaluation increase in fire tax. The replies for the Rocky Point area concerning the tax increase for paid personnel and new equipment was for 3 for and 1 against. The Pender County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve this county wide for the departments who requested this tax increase.

Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department placed paid personnel at our fire station on January 2, 2007. At that point, we had paid firefighters from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The Board of Directors and Officers agreed that we needed to have paid firefighters from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department agreed to hire an additional third part time firefighter so they could respond from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After interviews were held, a third paid part-time firefighter was hired placing paid firefighters at the Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. At night and on week-ends volunteers only answer all the calls. On January 1, 2008, the Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department had answered 475 calls since January 1, 2007.

Each year we continue to have our barbecue pork and chicken fundraiser's in October, February and March. The first saturday of the month. These fundraiser's give the members time to talk to the citizens we serve and get input concerning our fire service and to let the taxpayers see the equipment used in our day to day calls.