From the incorporation of Carrollton by the Georgia Legislature in 1829, fire caused
frequent destruction in the town mostly due to accidents and wood or coal being
burned for heat and cooking. To combat this problem, an ordinance was passed in
1889 requiring all new buildings on the town square to be constructed of brick and a
volunteer bucket brigade was formed. Fire buckets filled with water were placed
around the square for the bucket brigade to use but they were often missing and the
volunteers were not always available to fight the fires.
In 1905, with a concern about the City’s fire protection, Mayor H.W. Long and
Councilmen H.R. Robinson, C.T. West, Adamson, and J.C. Cheney began to organize
Carrollton’s first fire department. The mayor and council purchased the first
firefighting equipment in march of 1905 which included two hose reels, 1000 feet of
wax and gum treated cotton jacketed fire hose, two Callahan shut off valves, four
underwriters play pipe nozzles and one dozen combination spanner wrenches.
Posters and pamphlets were printed and distributed in May of 1905 to recruit
volunteers for the formation of the Fire department.
On June 19, 1905 the Mayor and City Council resolved to act as a committee in
conjunction with a citizens appointed committee to organize the fire department and
the original constitution was written.
With the equipment purchased, the volunteers signed up and the constitution written,
the Carrollton Fire Department was organized and ready to begin its service to the
On October 9. 1905 Carrollton’s first fire Chief A.P. Travis was elected and Captains
J.E. Conner, Dr. Sam Harris and Glenn Holmes were appointed. Emmett Smith
served as the departments Secretary and Treasurer.
The City’s council meetings were held in rented spaces and the Fire Department was
housed in a rented building on Adamson Square. On June 5, 1905, the City of
Carrollton purchased some property on Rome Street from the Wells family for the
purpose of building an Official City Hall and Fire station. The building located at the
corner of Rome Street and City hall Avenue was built by the Winder Lumber Company
and was completed in 1912. The building housed City Hall, the Fire Department, and
had an auditorium on the top floor.
The Carrollton Fire Department’s charter members were: Reese Adamson, Bernard
Bass, L.A. Belonsby, Buford Boykin, J.G. Cheney, James Coleman, Capt J.E. Conner,
Hugh L. Griffin, Capt Sam Harris, Capt Glenn Holmes, Earnest Horton, James Huff,
Cley Meadows, Jess Mavis, J.O. Newell, John Power, Claud Street, Russell Smith,
Emmett Smith, Verner Sox, Cliff Toney, O.R. Turner, Chief A.P. Travis, Ben Wilson
and Ira Zachary.
During the First few years, the volunteers had to go to the fire station and pull the
hose reels to the fire without horses. This was a very difficult and tiresome job. Often
times the fireman were to exhausted to fight the fire once they had pulled the heavy
reels to the fire. To encourage people to help pull the reels to a fire, the Mayor and
Council agreed to pay one dollar to anyone that would help pull the hose reels to the
On June 1, 1908 the first protective clothing was purchased for the firemen. The
equipment included aluminum fire helmets, rubber coats and rubber boots.
In 1908 the Mayor and Council began to take bids for the Fire Departments first team
of horses and Fire wagon. Prior to the arrival of the fire wagon , the team of horses
was purchased and Carrollton’s first paid fireman, C.C. Dunbar was hired on august
4, 1908. His job was to train the horses and drive the fire wagon. The wagon arrived
on September 1, 1908 and was quickly placed into service.
On December 14, 1908 elections were held for officers of the fire department and
the ranking system was restructured. The new officers elected were Chief W.T.
Herrin, Assistant Chief J.E. Conner, Captain Glenn Holmes, Fire Wagon Driver C.C.
Dunbar and Secretary/Treasurer Harry Sheats. A second paid fireman Herschel
Mitchell was hired March 1, 1909.
With the Fire Departments Success, the city hired a person to keep a fire banked in
one of the boilers at the water pumping station at all times to maintain water
pressure on the fire plugs for fire fighting. The city also entered into a contract with
the Gamewell Telephone and Telegraph Company on June 24, 1912 for the installation of fire alarm pull boxes to be placed around the city with a receiving alarm at the fire station. The installation was to be completed in 120 working days.
With the opening of City Hall and the Fire Station in 1912, Fire Chief Grady Cole and
Jim Dempsey (wagon driver) along with his assistant was appointed the additional
jobs of electrical and building inspector, Keeper of the alarm systems, stage manager
for the auditorium and on call policeman if the police needed help. With the addition
of these new responsibilities, the Firemen and Policemen received 10 days vacation
to be taken in the months of June and July. Jim Dempsey was later promoted to fire
chief on October 12, 1914 and built a home made fire truck for the department.
On January 27, 1916 the Fire Department received its first store bought motorized
Fire Truck. The new truck was a 1916 American LaFrance and was purchased from
the Yancey Fire Apparatus Company in Rome Georgia. One of the wagons and a
team of horses was traded in on the truck and the other team and wagon was kept
as a back up reserve unit for the Fire Department.
The Fire Department continued to operate with one Fire Station and a combination of
paid and volunteer firemen up to the 1960’s when the Department went Fully Paid
and the Volunteers were dismantled.
With the City’s growth in size and population over the years, three additional fire
stations were added in 1979, 1981 and 2008. Today the Department operates
with 63 personnel, 4 engine crews, 1 ladder crew and 4 stations.