City of Thomasville
The City of Thomasville was originally known as Thomas’s Depot, named after the founder John W. Thomas. Thomasville was founded in 1852 and later incorporated in 1857. Like many other frontier settings, Thomasville was born along the pathways of supply routes and rail transportation, with the railway running through the center of town. By the late 1800’s Thomasville was ran by a Mayor-Council form of governing body and by 1915, Thomasville had a strong volunteer fire department, a police force of four paid officers, and could now provide the town with water, sewer and electricity.
Fire Department History
The history of Thomasville Fire Department began in 1907, with the formation of a volunteer fire department. In 1909 the city purchased four hand-pump fire hose reels that were operated by a group of ten volunteers per reel, located at each of the four quarters of the city. Fire hydrants became available in Thomasville about 1912 and the first fire truck was purchased in 1922, housed in Thomasville’s first fire station.
108 years later, the Thomasville Fire Department has progressed on multiple levels, to become a highly trained and proficient public service entity. The department now consists of four stations, strategically located to optimize proficiency and response time to all parts of the city. The City of Thomasville employees 63 individuals within the fire department, providing fire protection to all parts of the city twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, responding to approximately 1,000 calls for service each year.
Looking though the department’s more current history we find the department introduced a fourth station in 2004 and relocated an existing station at around the same time. This four station coverage has provided coverage now for over ten years. When the addition of the fourth station was complete, the two engine companies located at Station 21 were separated and one company was relocated to the new station. At a later date, Station 21 gained a squad truck that would run single engine calls attached to the responding station, they would also respond to multi-company calls as a two man RIT (Rapid Intervention Team). At the time that Thomasville’s RIT was developed little was known other than the obvious need for the existence of a RIT. Recent training studies indicate the need for a Rapid Intervention Team of greater size and capabilities. The overall dividing and relocating of the engine companies provides Thomasville with strategic benefits by optimizing fire services and reducing response times.
1948 Howard Sullivan became the first fully paid firefighter in Thomasville. Mr. Sullivan was appointed chief. Sadly Chief Sullivan died in office two months after his appointment.
In 1968 Thomasville Fire Department evolved into a fully paid career department consisting of forty paid firefighters. It was also during this period that Thomasville received its first elevated fire apparatus marking the greatest change in services provided by the fire department.
In 1994 the City of Thomasville received a survey by the Insurance Services Office. The purpose was to rate the city's fire, water and communications ability. This survey would affect local property owner’s insurance rates. Under the direction and leadership of Chief Cranford and Assistant Chiefs Mark Reece and David Smoot, the city was awarded a Class 3 rating. This was an improvement from the previous class 4 rating. Only a handful of cities or towns in North Carolina have a better rating. In 1996 two 75 foot HME ladder trucks with 1500 gpm pumps were purchased. Chief Cranford retired in 1997. Martin Dailey succeeded Chief Cranford as Fire Chief in 1997 and retired in December 2020. Currently, Chief Eddie Bowling is charged with leading the department.
With the annexation of the Fair Grove community, Thomasville Fire Station 22 on Randolph St. was replaced in 2004 with a new fire station that is located at 815 Highway 109 south. In the same year another station was built on Ball Park Rd to serve the Hasty community that was annexed in 1985. In 2004 a HME pumper with a 1500 pump was purchased. In 2005 a Freightliner pumper with a 1250 gpm pump was purchased and is used as a pumper – squad combination.
In 1998, a committee made up of all ranks with in the fire department; formulated a Career Development Program for personnel as a clear and concise guideline for the career development positions available and the process by which these positions will be filled. The Career Development Program originated as a dynamic guideline that would change slightly over the years in order to remain relevant with educational and training advances.
The department underwent a reorganization in 2013 which resulted in the creation of three Division Chief’s responsible for Code Enforcement/Investigations, Training and Standards, and Fire and Life Safety.
Fire Department’s personnel are constantly training under the direction of the Division Chief of Training and Standards, Don Crafford. Training is accomplished in both simulated /live exercises and class room settings. Personnel are required to meet State and Federal guidelines and certification standards. In 2007 fire personnel accumulated over 17,400 hours in training. This training helps personnel to be prepared to serve and protect the public to the best of their ability.
The City’s Fire Marshal, Division Chief Glen Pressley, enforces State and Federal Fire codes to help insure the safety of the public while visiting any of the buildings or businesses open to the public.
Thomasville Fire & Rescue has the position of Division Chief of Emergency Management. Sam Olshinski was appointed to this new role in December 2020. The Emergency Management Division has provided an emergency and disaster notification for citizens called Nixle. This allows immediate notifications to the community about potential threats. Other areas of progress include a Severe Weather Program with Weather Spotters, Storm Ready designation by the National Weather Service, UAS program, and the Emergency Communications plan with IPAWS.
In October 2017, Thomasville Fire received two designations from the NC Association of Rescue and EMS; Heavy Rescue certified and Medical Responder. Both certifications increase services to the citizens and provide firefighters with the necessary tools to save lives in other disciplines.
The Thomasville Fire Department is called on to perform various tasks, limited only by the imagination of the customers it serves. In November 2017, the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal Rating Response inspection formally reported that the Thomasville Fire Department would maintain its classification as a Class 3.