Local News

Growth Strains Volunteer Firefighting in Wake Forest, Garner

Posted January 23, 2007 10:11 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2007 12:00 a.m. EST

Fire departments in Wake Forest and Garner may be facing the fate that has overtaken small-town departments in many places as their districts grow—replacing a volunteer department with a paid town department.

The Garner Volunteer Fire Dept., Inc., and the Wake Forest Fire Department, Inc., are independent entities that contract with their respective towns to provide service. Both have some paid personnel, but they depend on volunteers, and their rolls have not grown along with the property they have to protect.

Some say taking the departments under the towns’ jurisdictions could make communication better, especially during a major disaster.

“We've come to a point where we need three additional fire stations,” Wake Forest Chief Jerry Swift said Tuesday. The town has grown so much, he said, that he needs more firefighters, more money and more equipment.

In southern Wake County, the story is similar.

“It's not a volunteer community anymore,” said Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams.

“Eventually the town can do better by operating its own fire department,” Williams said.