Bay Leaf Fire Department

 
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HOT? It was one of the hottest days on record - that July 18, 1961. A meeting had been called of all the residents of the Bay Leaf Community to meet at the Recreation Club to organize a volunteer fire department. Ever since 1959, some of the men from the community had served as firemen with the Stony Hill Volunteers, but the need was growing for a separate department on "this side of the river" [today the river is gone, replaced by Falls Lake].

Stony Hill's fire chief, Owen Ray, met with us and offered all possible support from that department. Agreements were made to draw up new boundaries with our taking some of the area, which was then protected by Stony Hill. The river would be the line. A Steering Committee volunteered to make preliminary plans. We would meet again July 25.

July 25 - it's still hot but there's work to be done! We began. Meeting frequently throughout the fall of 1961 a great deal was accomplished. Boundaries were established; officers were elected; equipment was listed; we had housed one of Stony Hill's trucks at Ollie Holiday's [today next to Station No.1] and the name on this was changed to "Bay Leaf" we were incorporated by the first Board of Directors (L. H. Davis, Ollie Holliday, Irvin Jackson, Bill Parker, and George Norwood); and the first officers were named by the Board (George Lobinger, Chief; John Grimes, Assistant Chief; Ed Grice and Bill Parker, Captains; Hazel Bailey, Treasurer; and Susan Lobinger. Secretary).


 
 

Membership dues were set at $10 per household per year; the Wake County Board of Commissioners appropriated $100 a month to the support of this project. Most of the first money went for the fire horn in September of that first year. We needed money!

Beginning a tradition still in existence until only a few years ago, - an addition was added to the annual bazaar which had supported the recreation club for years. Part of the proceeds from this bazaar would go to the support of the fire department. A profit of $944 was realized from the sale of raffle tickets for a 1956 Plymouth automobile that first Christmas. A used truck was purchased and built into a pumper. This every night of the week work by the men resulted in the formation of another club dedicated to supporting the needs of the department - "the WOLF Club" - Widows Of Living Firemen.

Many today remember the rash collected for the radio contests in which we nearly always won the top money for Pepsi caps, beer tops, bread wrappers, and sugar bags. (Some of us still have a guilty feeling when we discard some kind of trash). The club sold household cleaners, cards, candy, and even fresh fish to enable the department to have breathing apparatus, boots, etc. If the Wolf’s didn’t fight fire, they saw to it the men were protected.

In 1967 we had voted for a special fire tax within our district and no longer were operating on membership fees. It was time to build a firehouse! Money was borrowed ($6,970) and off we went [the white building next to the community center on Norwood Road]. From having operated on below $5,000 a year, we were now spending over $10,000!

By the ‘70’s with the population explosion there was a need for more equipment and with more tax money coming in, the equipment was provided. Money was borrowed from the Farm Home Administration for a pumper and tanker and expansion room was sought. Always having believed in spending wisely but not saving foolishly, everything to protect lives and property was considered a necessity to be provided just as soon as possible.

In 1983, we moved into the new firehouse [Station No. 1 on Six Forks Road] that was built on the land that was given to us by Ollie Holiday (and his wife), one of the original directors. This was built with money borrowed from the FHA. Due to such a rapid growth, a new tanker, pumper and brush truck were purchased. A First Responder program was organized and two full-time fire fighters were hired to cover the district during the day. Three years later, in 1986, the department celebrated its 25th anniversary and all that had been accomplished in the first twenty-five years of service. In 1993, the department dedicated Fire Station #2 on Norwood Road and expanded its fire protection for the western side of the community. Our First Responder program was expanded to include cardiac defib treatment. Four years later, with the second successful qualification for an ISO Class 6 rating, nearly every resident could take advantage of reduced insurance premiums. The recent addition of the new all-wheel steer pumper-tanker and aerial ladder truck gives the department the capability to navigate the winding sub-division streets and provide fire suppression for the large multi-story residences’, which are now found throughout the district.

Today, at the beginning of a new millennium, the fire department has seen many changes and faces many new challenges ahead. From the original 120 families in 1961, we have grown to protect over 5,000 homes, 20,000 residents, and 58 businesses. From the first truck put together with baling wire to the new aerial ladder truck. From a barn where a borrowed fire truck was housed to the two modern fire stations located for quick response to all corners of the district. From a budget of less than $5,000 to a district with property values well over $1.2 billion, this fire department has prepared for the future and always protected the community. This community is blessed with talent, love, and devotion to and among neighbors surely not known in such abundance any place else in this land.

Expanded from original history compiled by Susan H. Lobinger