In the fall of 1972 after having witnessed a mobile home fire in which a citizen lost his life, resident Patrick “Pat” Scheible immediately launched a campaign to organize a fire department in Forsyth County. Pat working with retired City of Atlanta Firefighter John C. “Jake” Moore and Fulton County Fire Captain Mack Bailey soon got the organizational ball rolling. They notified those citizens whom they thought would share the same desire for county fire protection and held an organizational meeting.
Included in those contacted and who would become our first volunteers were citizens from all walks of life. There were many farmers, small business owners, construction workers, career firefighters who lived in our county but worked fulltime for surrounding jurisdictions, professional workers even a number of airline pilots.
The result was the formation of Forsyth County Volunteer Fire Department, a non-profit organization with Jake Moore assuming the roll as our first Fire Chief and Mack Bailey as our first Assistant Chief.
Forsyth County presented the new department with a pumper that was purchased new in 1969. The truck was purchased in hopes the county would have a fire department.
But until the formation of our department in late 1972 and early 1973 it was the responsibility of Forsyth County‘s two or three deputies to take the truck to the fire scenes hoping to have citizens help with fire fighting.
Initially the department operated out of the old county-owned cannery building. This building was located at the current site of Station #1. Just to get the truck inside the building, the volunteers had to raise the roof of the building a couple of feet. This was indeed no small effort on the volunteers' part. But was just one of many unusual tasks that the early firefighters had to perform.
The cost of operating the early department was the responsibility of the volunteers. They accepted donations from citizens but the main income was mostly the result of fundraisers that each station held. Chicken dinners, donut sales & turkey shoots were some of the innovative ideas used for fund raising.
The county soon began contributing a small amount to the department. This money helped to buy fuel for the truck and pay heating & electric bills for the stations.
For many years fire dispatch for Forsyth County was handled by the Harold Glover Family who volunteered their services. They lived near Station #2 and operated a country store next to the station. The only time that they took off was to attend church on Sunday morning. Dispatch duties were handled by firefighters during these hours.
As the next need for additional fire trucks and fire stations became apparent, more fundraisers were held. The volunteers would raise the funds, then during off hours from their jobs would build the needed additional fire stations and maintain the old used trucks and equipment that they had purchased.
In early 1980s the county voters (on a straw ballot) approved a one-mill tax for the operation of the Fire Department. The County Commission concurred with the wishes of the citizens and enacted the one mill fire tax.
The department is now a career, professionally staffed department with 155 career firefighters and 32 employees (both sworn and civilian) working in administration. Twelve stations are staffed 24-hours/day.