Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department celebrating 75 years

8 11 Fairlawn Fire 75 years copyBy MIKE WILLIAMS

The Patriot


This year the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating its 75th year of providing service to the surrounding community.

There have been many achievements and accomplishments made by the department since it was first organized this month back in 1948 by the Fairlawn Civic League.

That month, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors discussed with league members about some old fire equipment located in the Belspring area that was no longer in use.

At the time, according to a history of the department published in 1998, fire protection for Fairlawn and the surrounding community was provided by the Radford Fire Department through an understanding with then fire Chief Walter Carden.

League members found that some of the used equipment in Belspring was still of use – such as a pumping unit.  But the truck that carried it was worthless.

Reporting their findings to the supervisors, the county board agreed to purchase a used 1940 model Dodge … and the department had its first fire truck.

As 39 charter members of the department were receiving training in firefighting, the old Dodge was equipped with hoses, nozzles and other equipment to be used to fight fires – all paid for by the county board and concerned citizens of the area.

Members of the department itself paid monthly dues to help cover the cost of gas, oil and general maintenance on the vehicle – besides donating their time for training and working on that old Dodge.

The department made its home in the old Fairlawn ESSO gas station at the intersection of Route 114 and Route 600.

The Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department ran its first fire call in March of 1949 – answering a call in the nearby community of New River.

Prior to that first call, in October of 1948, James E. Trammell was elected as chief of the department – the first of only five chiefs for the department in its 75-year history.

Trammell would serve as chief until 1975 when Ronald Cromer was elected to the leadership position.

The next year, Trammell was re-elected chief, and he served until his death in February 1985 at the age of 75.

Trammell led the department all through its formative years, including through to the completion of a new fire house – a structure that was dedicated in the spring of 1952.

Prior to his death three decades later, however, Trammell had made it known to certain county officials that the department had outgrown the property around that firehouse. As Fairlawn had grown, so too had the department with the addition of new trucks and equipment. Additions to the building had been made to accommodate the growth, but now there was no room left for yet another addition.

First Assistant Chief L. J. (Bud) Trigg would take over the reins of the department in 1985 following Trammell’s death.

It was under Trigg’s leadership that another new firehouse was built near the old Crestar Bank property, and where the firehouse is located today.

The new structure was built and completed in May 1988 and itself is 35 years old this year. An open house was held on July 10, 1988 and the facility was dedicated to the memory of Trammell. His portrait hangs in the front entry of the new station.

Trigg served as chief until 1997, when he told the department’s members he would not accept a nomination to continue on as chief.

That paved the way for chief number four, Lewis D. Linkous.

The time between the 50th anniversary of the department until the 75th started out with great tragedy.

In July 2000, the department lost charter member and treasurer, Carlos Morris, to a massive heart attack. The department’s first treasurer, he had served in the position for 53 years.

Freddie Smith was then elected as treasurer, a position he still holds today – making him only the second treasurer of the department in its history.

Also, that year, Chief Linkous passed away due to cancer, and Randy Miles was elected as only the department’s fifth chief in 75 years – a position he still holds today.

In the past 25 years, the department has continued to grow with new equipment replacing old when necessary, training and a long history of service to the Fairlawn community and beyond.

Miles and Smith, in a recent interview, reminded Fairlawn area residents that the members and officers of the department are volunteers – just as they were 75 years ago.

That means they receive no pay or reimbursement for time spent in training, maintaining equipment, teaching fire prevention or responding to emergency calls.

There are 26 members and one junior members.

The Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department members would like to express their appreciation to Pulaski County, private citizens, families, civic organizations, the C.E. Richardson Benevolent Foundation, businesses of Fairlawn and the surrounding communities for their support over the past 75 years.

“We want the community to know that we couldn’t have made it all this time without them,” said Smith.

Smith and Miles noted that several events are being planned for this year to celebrate the department’s special anniversary.

The first was a kickoff event on June 3 with lifetime members and the current active members being invited.

“Mission Barbeque came over a fed us and didn’t charge the department a dime,” Smith said.

Smith noted that Cloyd District Supervisor Chris Stafford attended the event and presented special “challenge” coins to Smith, Miles and Trigg. He also presented Miles with a map of Fairlawn which is currently displayed in the firehouse.

Smith said those attending recalled a bunch of stories from the past.

“We had a lot of laughing and some crying,” he said.