The discussion of forming a fire department to serve the Colfax and Sandy Ridge area began after several structures burned in the community. The first recorded loss was a house fire which occurred on December 18, 1957. This incident was followed by additional losses of a home and local machine shop. At the time of the first fire, Talley’s Crossing and Beeson’s Crossroads were the two fire departments that responded to help the community and the closet option for fire protection was the Kernersville Fire Department. During this period, the Town of Kernersville charged a fee of $50.00 to provide emergency assistance outside the town limits and required payment to be made up front.
The first meeting to discuss the Community’s needs for organized fire protection was held in December 1957 by the Parent Teacher Association of Colfax School. At the meeting, a motion was made to begin the process of organizing a fire department. Additional planning meetings were held in January, February, and March of 1958. On March 10, 1958, local fire service authorities met with community leaders to assist in the organization of the department. During this meeting, the first fire department officers were selected thus establishing the initial department leadership. In April of 58’, incorporation papers were established with 33 citizens serving as the original charter members of the Colfax Fire Department.
From the beginning, many of the department’s needs were provided by members of the community. Donations were taken up to pay for the first fire station and fire truck. Community landowners offered a lot on Highway 421 (current West Market Street) and Kidd Road, as well as property on Sandy Ridge Road near Clinard Farm Road. A decision was made by the membership to go with the site donated on Highway 421 at Kidd Road due to the location being nearest Colfax School and Whitt’s Esso; a local hangout for several department members.
The construction of the first fire station started prior to the first truck being delivered. Property owners of the community donated saw logs from their land and members of the department cut and carried logs to Kernersville Lumber Company where they traded the logs for concrete blocks and other building materials. The bay floor was originally gravel and was poured in sections based on available funds. The department moved into the station in the winter of 1958. Construction of a second fire station in the Sandy Ridge area of the fire district was started in 1965 or 1966. The station was an addition to the Sandy Ridge Community Building located on Joe Drive off of Sandy Ridge Road.
Fire Truck and Equipment
The first fire truck was delivered in September 1958. The truck was a brand new 1958 Howe pumper which the department ordered through Grubbs Ford in Kernersville. The cost of the truck was $10,217.85 with an annual payment of $1,643.57 and was co-signed for by the departments three appointed Fire Commissioners. The truck was delivered prior to the completion of the fire station and was temporarily stored in a local garage owned by Lonnie Pott’s. The department started out with six sets of firefighter protective gear which was rotated among the members on call. Many dedicated members purchased their own firefighter protective gear and bought needed equipment for the trucks. Early on the department utilized a “pass the hat” approach during training nights to provide money in order to fuel the fire truck!
Communication and Response
Much of the memberships planning for station locations was based on the need for receiving and efficiently responding to emergency calls. Originally, the community was provided three phone numbers in the event of an emergency. They could call Whitt’s Esso at phone number 5725 during the daytime or department members at 3624 or 5723 at nighttime. Whoever took the phone call would then go to the fire station and set off the stations loud audible siren which alerted department members. When volunteers heard the siren they would come to the station to find out the location of the call and respond the fire truck to the emergency. One member would standby at the station to let everyone know where the call was. Calls for emergency assistance associated with the second station would go to the local prison camp. The prison camp guards had the ability to set off the siren at the station from their location. In December of 1967, the members started a turkey shoot as a fundraiser to purchase monitors which would allow members to be notified from their home when a fire call occurred. The cost of each monitor was $165.00 and the monitors were issued to the most active members.
The Colfax Fire Department made training a priority and this concept was supported through the help of a training officer with Greensboro Fire Department. This individual assisted with training members in basic firefighter skills and establishing the department’s first training program.
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fire Department was organized in June of 1959. The first meeting was held on July 6, 1959, and during this meeting, officers were appointed. The Ladies Auxiliary assisted the fire department with department fundraisers and provided support to the firefighters when they were out on emergencies. The Golden Age Party, which is an annual event held for the Senior Citizens of the Community, was also started by the auxiliary and is still held as an annual event.
Past to Present
The first fire the Colfax Fire Department responded to was a chicken house on Idol Cox Road. The total loss was $10,000.00 and 4,400 chickens. Since then the department has changed drastically from the days of being an all-volunteer, “passing the hat” membership to being a full-service combination volunteer/paid organization. Department operations are now funded through a tax base and contractual agreements with the City of Greensboro and Town of Kernersville. Even with the drastic changes which have occurred over the years, one thing remains constant! Our commitment to providing the best possible emergency services to our Community.