This year is the 50th anniversary of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department. The organization has changed dramatically in its short life span. It has needed to adapt to accommodate the dramatic increase in building and traffic on the island. Before the inception of the OVFD, if there was a fire on the island the neighbors came out with buckets in attempt to stop the flames. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. Back then there were fewer houses and fewer trees which made containment of fires easier. Today the houses are much more tightly packed together and trees have grown up or been planted for shade and privacy. That makes the firefighter’s job more difficult these days. As a result, the OVFD must constantly upgrade their equipment, recruit new members and undergo training to keep up with the increase of houses, people, traffic and risks. A new fire house was completed in 2014 which allowed them to purchase a ladder truck. The former fire house was too small to accommodate such a large truck and the salty weather would have been too harsh on the equipment if it had been parked outdoors. Prior to the purchase of this ladder truck, the fire chief, Albert O’Neal once said something to the effect of, “If you are on the upper story of a house that’s on fire, you’d better start tying sheets together because that’s the only way you’ll get down.” A sobering thought if you are in one of the taller houses on the island. Today there is a better chance they’ll be able to rescue you (though I wouldn’t recommend testing it out), but there are a few roads that are too narrow for such a large vehicle. A few fires stand out as near misses for the village: Capt. Ben’s fire (look at our Facebook post from March 20th) in the 1970s, an Oyster Creek area fire when the water tower was empty (and the department was working with very little water pressure), the fireworks explosion in 2009, and a fire on British Cemetery Road on a cold winter night in 2010 to name a few. So, this Sunday, April 3rd from 2-4, join the OVFD for a 50th anniversary celebration and congratulate them on keeping Ocracoke standing after all these years!
|Previous Fire Department (photographer unknown)||British Cemetery House Fire (photo by Philip Howard)||Fireworks Tragedy (photo by Joseph Chestnut)|