Watching all the fires on the west coast, and being a firefighter for 28 years, got me wondering about fire protection here in the Smoky Mountains. As it happens, there is a fire station about 1/4 mile from our campground.
The Savannah Volunteer Fire Department was organized in June of 1978. Darrell Woodard was one of the founding members. He became Chief in October 1984 and continues to hold that position today. On July 1, 2009 he became the only paid permanent member of the department.
I spoke with Chief Woodard today who told me that his fire district covers 27 miles and his department currently has 42 members.
So far this year they ran 147 calls. Most of the calls are for traffic accidents and medical emergencies. They only have about 3 structure fires a year.
The Fire Department gets its name from the The Savannah River drainage basin which extends into the southeastern side of the Appalachian Mountains just inside North Carolina, and runs by the fire station.
Since we are in the middle of a forest, I asked if his fire department is also responsible for forest fires? His response was “if no structures are threatened by a forest fire, they assist the forest service.”
Like Fallston, Md, my home fire company, there are no hydrants in his district, however Dillsboro, with the closest fire hydrant, is only 7 miles away, which allows them to refill the water in their equipment.
In comparing my fire company with his, we found there was no real differences. Same structure, problems, and politics.
Tidbit of Information: Benjamin Franklin, at age 30, established Philadelphia’s first fire department. Sometimes called Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade, Benjamin Franklin was a volunteer firefighter in The Union Fire Company, formed on December 7, 1736 (that’s 40 years before the revolution).