Pacolet Fire Departments
Photo from website of Pacolet Fire District.
I remember it like it was yesterday but it was more than a half century ago. In the late, 1950’s, my wife and I were visiting my parents in Pacolet Station. About 3 in the morning we were wakened by the fire siren located at the fire station. It was in the wintertime and it was bitter cold with a stiff wind and rain and sleet. Before I could get myself awake good, my dad and brother had dressed, run out to their truck and were on the way to the fire station. They were both members of the newly formed Pacolet Station Volunteer Fire Department. I heard other cars and trucks speed by the house as other men raced through the night to save someone’s home.
It struck me at the time what a remarkable thing all these men were doing. With absolutely nothing to gain for themselves, they were going out in the severe cold to help someone that they might not even know. They were not paid, they were risking their life and health in a dangerous, uncertain race to put out a fire that was threatening someone in the community. It could be a relative, a neighbor or a total stranger. They did not know and it did not matter. They were doing their utmost to help someone in distress.
I thought it was heroic at the time and I still do. This volunteer spirit of helping fire victims is still played out in volunteer fire departments all over the country. It was the same spirit of helping that drove those courageous New York firemen to rush into the burning World Trade Center Towers on 9/11.
Pacolet Station Volunteer Fire Department
I believe that the volunteer fire department was started in Pacolet Station around 1955. I do not know the details of its beginning but would welcome any information from someone that might know. The present fire station close to the town hall was not built until several years later. If I remember correctly, many fires were not reported over the telephone but by people that actually came to where the the siren was located and pulled the alarm. They would tell the first volunteers to come to get the firetruck where the fire was located.
In no particular order, the Chiefs of the Pacolet Fire Department were Jack Corn, James Belk, Jerome Hayes, Jim Sexton, David Free, and Ken Bailey (18 Years). Please let us know of any omissions.
Photo of some members of the Pacolet Station Fire department in the 1970's
(The fireman on the left end in the second row is my brother, David "Dink" Teaster, he was a volunteer for many years.)
Pacolet Mills Volunteer Fire Department
Originally, the Volunteer Fire Department at Pacolet Station was independent from the one at Pacolet Mills. For many years, up until 1957, the shop employees of the Mill Company were in charge of fighting fires in the mill village. After the mill houses were sold, the Mill Company discontinued this practice and a Volunteer Fire Department was started in Pacolet Mills. Volume II of the History of Pacolet states that the Pacolet Mills Volunteer Fire Department was organized on March 12, 1957 with the members shown below.
The following photos show trucks and some members of the Fire Department. Date of the photos is not known.
Pacolet Fire District
In no particular order, the Chiefs of the Pacolet Mills Fire Department were Olin Hodge, Ed Ellison, Jack Schultz, Charles Odell, Harold Dean Womack, Mike Padgett, Randy Mathis, Dale Campbell, Buddy Parris, Dale Worthy, and Darryl Padgett. Please let us know of any omissions.
In the early 1960's the Pacolet Mills Rescue Squad was formed, in association with the FireDepartment, to provide ambulance and other EMS services to the community. It was in operation almost 50 years.
Randy Mathis was a Chief of both the Pacolet Mills Volunteer Fire Department and the Rescue Squad. He joined the Fire Department when he was just 14. He has furnished some of his recollections of time spent in the Pacolet Mills Fire House and on Fire Calls when he was younger. Read this at "If Walls Could Talk".
Randy has also furnished photos of some actual fires and related activity in the Pacolet. Click on Fire Photos to see these.
In December, 2015, Easter Steadings Fisher furnished us more photos of the Pacolet Mills Fire Department and the Pacolet Mills Rescue Squad. See these at More Photos.
A Family Affair - Generations Serve
It was a tradition in many Pacolet families to serve the community by being a Volunteer Fireman. It was not unusual for two or even three generations of the same family to serve. Randy Mathis has put together a roster that shows this family service. Please let us know of any additions. Click on Generations Serve to read this list.
On to a Career
There is a little known and remarkable fact about those who served as Volunteer Firemen with the Pacolet community Fire Departments. An astonishingly large number of the people that served went on to become, paid professional Firemen at various departments in the South Carolina Upstate. Without a deliberate attempt, the Pacolet Fire Departments served as a highly sucessful Training Program to supply Firefighters for the Piedmont. Randy Mathis has compiled a list of these at On to a Career. Please let us know of any additions.
In the late 1990's, the two fire departments were combined into the Pacolet Fire District that exists today. The Fire District has a website under construction at http://www.angelfire.com/sc2/pacoletfiredistr/index.html. This site is not finished but has photos of some of the District's equipment.The Chief is Dale Worthy (See photo above.)
Click on this page for more photographs relating to the Pacolet Fire Departments and the Rescue Squad. This page also has photos of the Junior Firefighters from the 1970's. In December, 2015, Easter Steadings Fisher furnished us additional photos of the Pacolet Mills Fire Department and the Pacolet Mills Rescue Squad. See these at More Photos.
Video of Pacolet Fire Fighters
There is now a video of Pacolet firefighters in action online at "You Tube". The 7 minute music video can be seen by clicking on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uINbdDB54o. It can also be accessed by using the term "Pacolet Fire Video" in the search box. The video was made by Randy Mathis and Kyle Baily.
Index to the contents of this site relating to the Fire Departments and Rescue Squad
Generations that have served with the Fire Department and /or Rescue Squad
List of Pacolet folks that have gone on to have a career in the Fire Service
More Photos of the Fire Department and the Rescue Squad
This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster. Contact me at:
email@example.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. My regular mail adress is:
1311 Jahnz Ave.
Summerville, SC 29485
See more information about my Pacolet connection at Gerald Teaster.