The Beaufort Department, 506 Live Oak St., is dedicated to providing public safety services to our citizens that result in improved quality of life and peace of mind. As a team, we will strive to minimize losses and suffering through emergency service delivery, public education, public information and community service activities. The non-emergency phone number is 252-728-4325.
We will provide our service and treat those we serve and each other in a manner that is honest, fair, and unbiased; honor our heritage, actively participate in our community, and serve with integrity; strive to support the individual development, personal satisfaction, and pride of all members; and endeavor to uphold the unique camaraderie and trust that is the Fire Service.
Message from the Chief: Then & Now
The earliest recorded date that I have heard mentioned of an organized fire department in the Town of Beaufort is in the year 1866. A petition was received from the Oceanic Hook & Ladder Co. through their committee asking for an appropriation for the benefit of said company. The Town provided funds to help build structures that could house the department’s equipment that consisted of hand-drawn hose carts, chemical carts and pump carts. There were several of these buildings constructed throughout the Town. These buildings were only big enough to house the equipment. During this time, the Town did not have a public water system. Water for fire protection was provided by the many artesian fire wells scattered throughout Town. Firemen were alerted to a fire by the use of bells and the cry of “Fire!” and would send men running to the fire stations for their equipment.
By 1907, the department had changed its name to The Robert E. Lee Fire Co. In 1908, the fire station was relocated to the 100 block of Craven Street, where it housed two fire companies segregated by race. The first company consisted of 24 white volunteers with one Howe Triplex gasoline engine, one hose cart with 800 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 1,000 feet of 2.5-inch hose in reserve. In the second company, there were 20 black volunteers with one hand engine, one hose cart with 800 feet of 2.5-inch hose. The two companies worked side-by-side for many years fighting fires in Beaufort. As time went by, the department used horse-drawn pumping engines and hose carts. By the early 1900s, the Town had installed a public water system and fire hydrants.
By 1940, the Town had built the fire station in the 400 block of Broad Street across from the county courthouse and jail. By this time, the department used gasoline fire engines with pumps, a water tank, hose and ladder. The department had one American La France Triple Combination motor truck with a 1000 gpm pump and one Darley Triple Combination 500 gpm pumper. A Game Well Fire Alarm System was installed and consisted of fire alarm boxes placed throughout Town connected to a whistle on top of the water tower located behind the fire station.
By early 1960, the department had two fully paid driver/engineers and 49 volunteer members. They worked with four trucks: 1927 American La France 12 cylinder chain drive engine with 1000 gpm pump; 1934 Darley engine with a 750 gpm pump; a homemade 1947 Dodge Ladder truck with a 50-foot hand-cranked ladder; and a homemade 1948 Dodge engine with a 750 gpm pump.
Beaufort has seen its share of big fires throughout its history. One of the most memorable fires that I can remember as a child was on Aug. 4, 1966, while standing on courthouse square, watching the fire station burn down. The fire started after the department’s 1927 American La France engine back fired and caught fire. The Town rebuilt the station at 900 Cedar Street.
Today, we cover a fire district of about 25 square miles serving a population of just under 12,000. We have a Fire Prevention program that reaches about 500 Pre-k through sixth grade students each year. We provide yearly employee training for adults in local businesses, daycare centers, adult care facilities, federal, and state and local government agencies. Our commitment to the public is to provide the best possible service to those that we strive to protect from the ravages of fire.
Our department has continued to try to meet the demands and needs of the public. Our call volume has increased from 434 calls per year in 2007 to 1,033 calls per year in 2012, mostly due to our Medical First Responder program. This program helps provide emergency medical personal on scene faster.
Today, we are a combination department with 12 career staff, 12 part-time staff, 1 chief, 1 assistant chief/fire marshal, 1 fire administrative specialist and 17 volunteer members. We currently operate out of two stations. The main station is at 900 Cedar St. and Station No. 2 is at 2731 Highway 101. The main station is manned 24/7 with four personnel working three shifts. Station No. 2 is operated by volunteers. We operate three engines, one engine/tanker, one tanker, one utility service truck, one brush truck and two administrative vehicles.
We encourage citizens who are interested in helping and serving their community, to please fill out an application to become a volunteer. There are plenty of different positions in the fire service that need to be filled and many of you have that special talent that we could use. Please volunteer today!
Chief Larry W. Fulp