A group of interested citizens encouraged by William T. “Billy” Boone met on July 20, 1971, at the Holly Springs Methodist Church to contemplate the possibility of organizing a volunteer fire department. After considerable discussion, the group voted unanimously to form a corporation entitled the “Holly Springs Rural Volunteer Fire Department.” Thad Eure, Secretary of State, issued a charter the next day and the fire department registered as a corporation with the Wake County Register of Deeds. Also notable, the department was the first integrated volunteer fire department in Wake County.
After many long, hard months of organizing and training, the department was ready for action. On September 13, 1971, the department purchased a 1955 International Pumper from the Fairview Fire Department for $1,700. With the acquisition of this equipment, the next item on the task list was the search for a suitable location for a fire station. On December 6, 1971, Burch Wicker “Wick” Holland reported to the department that Jack Stephens had donated land for the proposed new station. In the months following the groundbreaking ceremony on February 12, 1972, members of the community donated labor to build the station. On June 5, 1972, a second piece of fire equipment added to the inventory with the purchase of a 1952 Chevrolet tanker from the Fuquay Rural Fire Department for the lofty sum of $1.
It was a proud day when the two fire trucks backed into the new fire station awaiting the first call. That call came in on October 30, 1972, when a motorist passing a stalled car with a burst radiator hose on Main Street thought he saw smoke rather than steam. It may not have been an actual fire call that particular day, but the volunteer fire department demonstrated that it was equipped and ready when a real emergency came.
The first watch was under the leadership of Chief Jimmie Holland, and his team consisted of Wick Holland-first assistant chief, Eddie Wilson-second assistant chief, John Holleman-captain, Pete Brewer-first lieutenant, William Boone-second lieutenant, and Floyd Whitaker and Henry Cotten-elementary line officers.
fire departments across America have
traditionally served as a type of fraternal brotherhood for generations of men, so did the
department here in Holly Springs. Neighbors have always helped one another; that fact was evident here in our community. The community supported the department through the two barbeque fundraisers held annually.
Wives of firefighters made mountains of slaw and brewed gallons of sweet tea. Funds raised help sustain the building and purchase needed equipment. The firefighters continued to provide service to the community on a volunteer basis with pride and honor. The community was also proud of this asset of our town, which was evident each year as children of all ages looked upon the trucks, all washed and waxed, as the firefighters rode proudly down Raleigh Street in the annual Christmas Parade.
Local men who served as fire chiefs over the years are Jimmie Holland, Ray Thaxton and George Huergerich. Some of the volunteer firefighters over the years included: Larry Bryant, Bremen Dewar, Jerry Ellis, Eddie Holland, Jamie Holland, Jerry Holland, Chuck Horton, James Isaac, Rick Jones, Stan Lowe, Sr. & Jr., Steve Macon, Bobby Ragland, Jim Russell, Wiggy Turner, Howard Weatherspoon, Eddie Wilson, Charles Whitaker and Jimmy Yarbourgh. Sabrina Thompson-Horton was the first female volunteer firefighter and there was even a canine mascot, not a Dalmatian but a German Shepherd.
Darrell Morton recalls his youth and his coming of age at the fire station. He and fellow seventeen-year-olds Patrick Bryant, Chris Ragland, Lee Russell, Shelton Wilson and Junior Russell were among the first junior firefighters that looked forward to the day they turned eighteen for reasons other than most teens look forward to that birthday. It was the important age, as they now would be considered full members of the fire team. It was a proud day indeed.
As the community grew rapidly in the late 1980s & 1990s, the Town of Holly Springs took over the duties of fire
service in 1995. The days of volunteer firefighters answering the siren, phone calls and pagers may be a distant memory but their sacrifices and service with not be forgotten.