SILER CITY — The Siler City Fire Department, with a little help from neighboring fire agencies, celebrated its 100th anniversary in style this past weekend, marking a significant milestone in its history of serving the Siler City community and surrounding areas. This event not only commemorated the department's centennial but also highlighted its evolution and vital role in the community.
Chief Scott Murphy, reflecting on the department's journey, noted the celebration was not just about the achievements of the current team of seven career and 40 volunteer members, but also a tribute to the predecessors who laid the foundation.
“We’re not just celebrating not my guys and what we've accomplished,” said Chief Murphy. “We're trying to celebrate what was accomplished by the people who came before us, the ones who started this and kept it going into a tradition that now we have to keep it going.”
The Siler City Fire Department is responsible for protecting approximately 12,000 people within a 60 square mile area.
Tracing its roots back to 1896, the Town Commissioners of Siler City took the first steps towards organized fire protection by appropriating $20 to buy ladders for use in case of fire, according to the history of the department on its website. Though the formal organization of the Siler City Volunteer Fire Department occurred in October 1926 with Thomas J. Dark as its first Chief, the first organization of local firemen dates to 1923.
The department's history is filled with anecdotes of innovation and community spirit. From pulling hose carts by hand to upgrading to a flatbed truck for transporting hoses, each step marked progress. Their first major vehicle, a flatbed truck secured by V. M. Dorsett, district manager for International Harvester, was a source of pride for the firemen, reflecting the community's support and the firemen's dedication.
The firehouse, historically located between the First Baptist Church and Smith and Buckner, featured a siren audible for five miles, crucial for alerting volunteers. The city, divided into four sections, had a signaling system to indicate the location of a fire, showcasing early efforts in efficient emergency response.
The centennial celebration, featuring a parade with fire trucks from various counties and a walk by the crew with the restored original hose cart from 1923, paid homage to these humble beginnings and the continuous evolution of the department. Guests included North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey, outgoing Siler City Mayor Chip Price, and other dignitaries, celebrating a century of service, dedication, and community spirit.
The Siler City Fire Department’s 100th anniversary serves as a testament to its enduring commitment to safety and community service, honoring both its rich history and the unyielding spirit of its firefighters.