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Lincolnton Fire Department celebrating 100th anniversary

Lincolnton Fire Depart-ment celebrates 100 years of service, dedication and history this year.
Officials will hold an open house ceremony for the public to view the depart-ment’s scrapbook, exhibited items and the facility in celebration of this milestone event.
Before the organization of the Lincolnton Volunteer Fire Department, there was a fire company, but little detailed history is available.
Today, the Lincolnton Fire Department carries out the same ideals as the very first department in 1907.
“The Lincolnton Fire Department has an outstanding tradition of providing excellent fire service and fire protection to the citizens of Lincolnton. We’ve got an outstanding group of guys that are dedicated to serving,” Chief Harvey Gates said. “We just continue to follow tradition of service that’s been handed down through the years.”
Gates said the department follows the same standard of professional-ism, dedication and com-passion as firefighters did before them.
Over the years, the fire department has not only grown in size and in equipment, but also in professionalism.
“In 100 years we’ve only had three paid, full-time fire chiefs,” said Gates, who is the third paid chief.
The department’s first paid chief was Ray Small who served from 1973 until 1984, followed by Chief Don Wise who served from 1982 until 2006.
Officials organized the department in 1907 with Chief G.W. McAlister. Tom Hoke and Henry Taylor are two known chiefs before the organization.
A hand-drawn pump was the first piece of fire equipment and in 1908 firefighters were issued their first rubber boots and coats.
By 1910, LFD became a member of the N.C. State Fireman’s Association and purchased a truck equipped with ladders, hose and other equipment in 1917. At that time, the department was located on the courtsquare.
The LFD set a standard for the county and the state after purchasing a 750 GPM LaFrance Pumper.
Firefighters with the department nicknamed the LaFrance Pumper “Big Liz,” but in later years the truck was called “Hulley.”
Horace “Mutt” Wilson, who lived on Poplar Street, was the first driver of the truck that will be on display during the open house ceremony.
During this time, the LFD served the entire county, saving a remarkable amount of property.
In August 1929, fire-fighters responded to a fire, connected to the hydrant and poured water all in 73 seconds. The fire at Calvary Barn was where the fire station is today.
Over the years, the department moved to various places in the downtown area.
The first station was at the present location of City Lunch then later moved to Main Street next to Rankin Jewelers.
The following is a list of past chiefs since 1907:
· G.W. McAlister- 1907-1911
· J.O. Shuford 1912-1920
· A.W. Webber 1920-1926
· J.M. Smith 1926-1928
· J.O. Shuford 1928-1934
· C.C. Crowell 1934-1937
· B.J. Ramseur 1937-1955
· G.W. Tobey 1955-1958
· Woodrow Armstrong 1958-1973
· Ray Small 1973-1981
· Don Wise 1982-2006
· Robert Gates 2007-Present

The Lincolnton Fire Department will hold its open house on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. with photographs, exhibits and a tour of the department.
by Maribeth Kiser

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