The Garner Volunteer Fire Department, 1952…

Beauty Parlor

Location of beauty parlor where first fire truck was parked.

1952 – The Garner Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. was organized and formed April 14, 1952 when Garner was a small community south of Raleigh. It operated mainly on contributions and service contracts with the Town of Garner. Before moving into the first Garner fire station on Pearl St, the first Garner fire truck was parked at the local beauty parlor. If someone needed to report a fire, they would call the beauty parlor and the beauty parlor would then ring a bell to alert the volunteer firefighters.

… 1970, A New Fire Station

1970 – A new fire station was constructed just a few blocks down from the first fire station. This station was built to house more fire apparatus and provide the department with offices, meeting space, and a volunteer roster of 50 firefighters.

First Fire Station

First Garner fire station located on Pearl St.

Station One ….

Station 1

Garner Station 1 in 1970 (503 W. Main St.)

This one fire station served a large fire district which encompassed the Town of Garner and the surrounding Wake County unincorporated areas for a total of 90-plus square miles. One of the most populated unincorporated areas served by the Garner Volunteer Fire Department was the Panther Branch area, south of the Town of Garner.

… Station Two 

1976 – The second fire station was constructed in the Panther Branch Community at 9115 Sauls Road. This station started with 20 members from that area, which grew to 30 members by 1986. The roster for the Garner Volunteer Fire Department was capped at 80 volunteer members in 1986 with 50 at Station one, and 30 at Station two. These volunteers gave thousands of hours to their community, not only fighting fires but also training and providing fire prevention services.

1988 – The department began accepting Wake County tax money from the fire insurance district created. This income combined with the annual Town of Garner contract made funding the organization more sustainable than the days of fundraisers and going door-to-door asking for money. This steady source of income came with the hiring of the first employee, a fire chief.

Station 2

Garner Station 2 (9115 Sauls Rd.)

… Expanded Full Time Staff ….

1989 – The fire chief soon hired a bookkeeper/administrative assistant and then four more employees by January.  This brought the full-time staff to six personnel with a fire chief, captain, engineer, two firefighters, and a bookkeeper/administrative assistant.  They worked the day shift to supplement the 80 volunteer members. As the community grew so did the need for additional services and staff to provide fire and emergency services.

1995 – In the mid 90s additional personnel were hired to allow two full-time day crews at Station one and one full-time day crew at Station two for a total of 14 full-time employees. Also in that period, the fire department began serving as medical first responders in the unincorporated areas of the fire district, the Garner police department handled this service in the Town of Garner, which shifted to the fire department in 1999.  It was during this time Garner had extraordinary growth and demands for fire protection and medical service. Volunteers worked hard to remain the strong force of the department, but that started to decline as the call volume rose and the requirements increased.

Station Three ….

1998 – This year served as a huge shift in Garner Fire Department’s history as it started the 24-hour shift work era and this was when the third fire station went under construction, which was the second station inside the city limits of Garner. Shift work started with one person per shift to supervise and drive if needed. This lasted a short time until all suppression staff went to a 24-hour shift schedule.

1999 – The third station, Station three, opened and was the only station constructed with the shift work firefighter in mind, having bedrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other living spaces.  All shift staff worked out of Station three while the volunteers responded from the other two stations during the next year.

Station 3

Garner Station 3 (1695 Timber Dr.)

…. 24 Hours A Day

First Aerial Truck

Garner’s first ladder truck (2001 Pierce Dash, 100 ft. Platform)

2000 – Additional personnel were hired and the creation of a new 24-hour chief officer referred to as the district chief started.  Station one was then staffed with 24-hour personnel, making two stations with around-the-clock coverage inside the Town of Garner.

2001 – Garner’s first ladder truck, a 2001 – 100’ Pierce Dash Platform aerial was purchased and placed in service, at Station one.

2005 – Twenty-four hour personnel was added to Station two. With the addition of these personnel, all Garner Fire Department stations were staffed 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It was also during this time that the agency became a rescue provider and joined the North Carolina Association of Rescue and EMS.  This came with an official corporate name change to Garner Volunteer Fire-Rescue, Inc.

Station Four ….

2010 – Construction of Garner’s fourth fire station got underway and opened in the fall of 2010 at 125 Spaceway Court with 24-hour coverage.  The opening of this station created the largest hiring opportunity for the Garner Volunteer Fire-Rescue, Inc., including 17 personnel hired to include a deputy chief position.  The addition of these personnel brought the full-time staff total to 51 employees.

Garner EMS and Rescue, a separate organization merged with Wake County EMS and only maintained an ambulance service leaving Garner Fire-Rescue acquiring all rescue services for inside the town limits and the unincorporated areas within the fire district.

Station 4

Garner Station 4 (125 Spaceway Ct.)

… Special Operations Crew (SOC) ….

2013 – Three additional personnel were hired, bringing the full-time staff total to 54 employees.  This additional staff was part of the creation of the first dual company house at Station one, which staffed the ladder/rescue company.  This crew was called the Special Operations Crew (SOC) and was responsible for any response involving the ladder truck, rescue truck, brush truck, boat, and Utility Terrain Vehicle.  The three 24 four hour district chief’s titles changed to battalion chief.

… Administrative Office

Administration Office

Garner Fire Administration Office (120 E. Main St.)

2016 – The department decided to pursue international accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE).  This endeavor created the need for more administrative help and office space.  An additional administrative chief officer was created at the rank of an assistant chief to help manage logistics and training.  This was the same time that the administration of the Garner Volunteer Fire-Rescue, Inc. moved out of Station one and into a separate office space at 120 East Main Street.

 – In January, nine additional firefighters were hired bringing the full-time staffing level to 64 employees.  These nine additional firefighters allowed the agency to have four firefighters for each of the four engine companies in service.

… History Museum …Admin Office…New Ladder Truck

2018 – The administration was provided office space on the Town of Garner’s town hall campus at 914 7th Avenue. This location offered more office, meeting, training, and storage space for the growing department.  Inside the lobby of the administration building, a small history museum was added showcasing photographs and artifacts over the last 60 years of the department’s history.
2019 – Garner’s second ladder truck, a 2019 – 107’ Pierce Ascendant aerial was purchased and placed in service at Station three.
2020 – In January 2020, a new assistant chief was added to the administrative team of Garner Fire-Rescue and was charged with leading the organization’s continuous improvement efforts bringing extensive knowledge in accreditation, data analysis, records management systems, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and ISO compliance.
2021 – In January, the agency anticipates hiring three new firefighter positions, increasing the ladder company’s staffing levels to four employees per 24-hour shift.

Admin Office

Garner Fire Administration Office (914 7th Ave.)

GVFR Fire Museum

…. New Ladder Truck

2019 Ladder Truck

Garner’s 2019 ladder truck

The 2019 Garner Fire-Rescue Ladder Truck.

The Garner Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s success is due to the dedication and hard work of all its past and present members.