Fire Department History

The Birth of the Apex Volunteer Fire Department

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(The following is quoted from a research paper written in 1962 by Carol Mason Heelan, daughter of charter member Charles Baucom) "By the late 1930's, there was no official fire department in Apex; the firefighting squad consisted of anyone who heard the alarm and was willing to offer their services. The Town owned an American La France fire truck, but it was infamous for having to be towed to many a fire scene. In 1938, nineteen men from Apex met to address concerns about the lack of sufficient fire protection in the Town of Apex. The Apex Volunteer Fire Department was chartered in 1939. The volunteer fire department's first fire apparatus was a dump truck which they purchased for $35 and remodeled. It was housed in a one-stall building owned by the Town. In 1954, the volunteers completed construction of a three-bay brick firehouse in downtown Apex, pictured here, which today is part of Station 1. In 1961, two more bays were added onto the left side of the original structure. In the 1970's, the two long drive-through bays were added. The second story and the two rear bays which now house the weightlifting equipment were the final additions to the station."

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This photo of Apex firemen in front of the original fire station appeared in the September 12, 1940 edition of the North State News. I believe they are posing with the 1939 Ford Hunter - which still runs to this day and is displayed annually by the Firebelles in the Apex Christmas Parade.

The First Fire Company

In 1927, A.B. Hunter recommended to the Town Board that a fire company be organized. The board passed resolutions appointing members and officers of the original department to serve a two year period:

  • Fire Chief: J.L. Castleberry
  • Assistant Fire Chief:C. D. Maynard
  • Fire Company Members: L.G. Jordan, W.B. Cash, George Maynard, E.C. Lewter, H.W. Lassiter, A.J. Martin, S.R. Miller, H.C. Benton, C.R. Clifton, W.L. Benton, T.H. Bunks, R.D. Poe, R.W. Tingen

Shortly thereafter the town also passed several resolutions to obtain firefighting equipment and facilities:

  • American LaFrance Type 10 triple combination "500 gallon pumping, chemical engine, hose motor car" - price not to exceed $2500.
  • 500 feet of 2.5" hose - price not to exceed $1.30 per foot.
  • Two 2.5" cut off fire nozzles - $29.35 each
  • One fire alarm siren - $150
  • Part of Municipal Building presently used by J.A. Jones to be converted into a fire station

In late 1927, Whitson Benton was appointed as night fireman. He was to sleep in the firehouse and be paid $2.50 per month. By December 1927, a room was built and furnished as living quarters.

The Sanborn fire insurance map dated October 1928 listed Apex's fire department as volunteer with 18 men, one chief, one assistant chief, one paid man on duty night and day, one fire station, and one American LaFrance truck. The fire station was in what was then the Town Hall. Today, this building is home to the Halle Cultural Arts Center.