History

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Department History

In 1916, the need for fire protection was realized by the citizens of Smyrna. Prior to this date, the only fire protection was a bucket brigade or the occasional barrel placed under downspouts of the homes. However, several times fires were responded to by the matter into his own hands and built the first fire apparatus. Using a 1913 Studebaker belonging to the family, Mr. Hager set out to make a fire truck. A wooden tank was secured to the stripped body of the car. The following is a description of the apparatus taken from Walter King Hoover's book Smyrna: The Town and the Church:

"In the event of a fire, this equipment was driven to the vicinity of the fire, and after being blocked under the wheels to keep from rolling, the right axle was lifted with a hand jack placed under the axle. This let the wheel turn freely without the vehicle being in motion. From a pulley attached to the hub of this wheel, a belt properly placed, powered a water pump, that was mounted on the edge of the truck above the wheel. A two inch hose about thirty feet long was attached to carry water to the fire...."

The first engine was used for not only fires but also to sprinkle the dusty streets that were prevalent for this era.

After a devastating fire at a local church, the City Commissioners considered purchasing a fire truck. Along with these discussions, ordinances were passed and funding for a fire department was accepted.  Records show that the first purchased fire apparatus cost the city $990.00.

1924 Model T 

From right to left on the rear was Allen Gooch, Sam Edmondson and Alden Maddux. Seated as the driver is Doss O'Neal and Chief Ben Culbertson is seated
in the passenger seat. The first doctor in Smyrna, Dr. J.M. Shipp is to the right of the apparatus in the white shirt, facing the camera.
Photo taken at delivery of apparatus by train in 1924.


" This new engine was a shiny red T-Model Ford, equipped with three 50 gallon soda acid tanks, for in those days Smyrna had no water system."

At this time Ben Culbertson, the grandfather of current Fire Chief William Culbertson, was appointed the first official fire chief and placed in charge. The engine was housed at the Smyrna Auto Company, located at 108 North Lowry Street. Mr. Doss O'Neal, who is pictured with the 1924 Model-T, worked at this site and kept the apparatus in good condition. In 1931, the Town Commissioners again voted to replace the 1924 Model -T. A 1931 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton truck was selected. This apparatus carried a large water tank and had a force pump mounted on the engine itself.


1931 Chevrolet Fire Engine

By 1937, the Town was equipped with water hydrants and the 1931 Chevrolet was reworked for a smaller tank but was equipped with fifteen hundred foot of hose. No major fire losses were reported after the implementation of city water. A humorous side note from this era, was that if a fire occurred at night, the responding fire fighters would have to break a small glass pane at the Smyrna Auto Company  to gain entry, due to being locked at nights. In 1941, several factors changed the fire protection. The Smyrna Air Base was developed and the city flourished with the influx of people. On July 3, 1941 the City Commissioners purchased a site located at 110 South Front St. This site was used as the city hall and fire station and was purchased for $2850.00. The upstairs was converted to living quarters and families stayed there and answered calls and maintained the equipment. During the war years, the make-up of the department changed due to transient workers and military personnel. In 1949 a small pay scale was initiated for the fire fighter.

The next major change was in 1955, when the Air Base allowed the Town to use a Ford chassis to make a new apparatus. The 1931 Chevrolet was replaced by a three-quarter truck used to carry hose. In 1959, under the control of W.R. Culbertson, the city purchased a then top-of-the-line Seagraves fire apparatus. This was considered the most modern of equipment.  With the introduction of the new equipment, a change in the pay scale was implemented. As the need for fire protection grew, so did the technology. Training was organized for the new equipment as well as the newest techniques that are needed to respond to fire calls, much like they are today.

The Town grew as the population of the air base grew. Following the announcement of the base closing in 1970, it was feared that the town would suffer and lose citizens. Instead the population grew by 47% between the years 1970 and 1980. The fire department faced the problems similar to the town by growing and requiring more equipment.

In 1984, the development of the Nissan plant again spurred growth and led to the construction of Fire Station # 3, located near the plant on Enon Springs Road. As the population of the town increased, so did the need for fire protection. The presence of more industry made it necessary to develop the department with full-time personnel. In 1989 the fire department hired the first full time employee, William Culbertson. In 1993 Station #1 was constructed to assist fire protection for the west side of Highway 41-70s.


Aerial Units: Ladders One and Two 

In the Fall of 2000, a new step in the growth of the Smyrna Fire Department!  Fire station #5 was completed to service the Rock Springs Rd. area of the town. Considered a fast growing area, this station will service the I-24 area as well as other areas. By taking a proactive stance, the department continues to grow in order to service the fast growing town. With the expansion of the Town Limits off of the Almaville Road area, came a need for Station 6 on Morton Lane in 2008. To assist with the growth in industrial and commercial buildings in 2009, the department purchased a 100’ Mid-Mount Platform.


Tower One

Today, under the direction of Chief William Culbertson, the fire department utilizes a force of 108 trained fire fighters. The department at this time maintains an ISO-3 class rating. The Smyrna Fire Department is committed to serving the citizens and the visitors to the Town of Smyrna with the highest levels of life and property protection. We will achieve this through prevention, education, preparation, response, and suppression. The department will deliver all services with the highest level of care, professionalism and compassion shown to all those affected or in need of service.