In 1951, there was no firefighting protection in southern Forsyth County. Late that year, a fire badly damaged a house on Old Salisbury Road. Mrs. Susannah Jones (wife of Crouse Jones) invited Wally, Dunham, County Commissioner; Buck Reynolds, Chief ofLewisville Fire Department; Captain Broadstreet of the newly organized Forsyth County Fire Department; along with a few residents of the Griffith Community to meet at her home to evaluate the need for a firefighting organization.
Mrs. Jones and other interested people next met at Griffith School to form a steering committee to further the interest of this project. Raymond Hill was elected as Chairman of the committee that consisted of 35 community members. During this meeting, Crouse Jones offered to donate the land, just across the street from Griffith School as a site for the fire station.
Wally Dunham and Chief Reynolds briefed those present on the procedure of organizing a volunteer fire department. Mr. Dunham stated that the county would advance any community in Forsyth County $1,000 to organize a volunteer fire department.
The next move was to raise money. Gurney Tuttle, of Tuttle Lumber Company, was named treasurer, a position that he held for many years. Many volunteers started knocking on doors requesting a $20 donation. $2,000 was raised by the initial fund drive. A request was made for incorporation and granted by the state on July 8, 1952. At that time, Griffith became an officially recognized fire department.
Griffith's first fire district included the area between Old' Lexington Road, East; City Limits, North; County Line, South and Salem Creek, West.
Charles Fox was appointed to serve as Chief. Raymond Hill, Milton Garwood and Ralph Zimmerman were named as Assistant Chief's.
Doug Kimel, Clinton Lee, Raymond Hill and John Kimel were named to make recommendations about the type of firefighting apparatus that would be needed. The committee recommended that a Mack Pumper be purchased from Carolina Garage for approximately $12,000. When the 1953 Mack arrived, it was stored under a shed at Mr. Brewer's Dairy Farm on Brewer Road until the station could be completed. The truck had a 1,000-gallon tank and a 120-gpm pump.
The groundbreaking for the new fire station was on Easter Monday, 1953. The bulk of the construction was done with volunteer labor. Cost of the material was approximately $15,000. Open house and dedication of the new fire station was on Easter Monday, April 18th, 1954. A barbecue dinner was served for several hundred guests including city, county and state officials. This event was interrupted three times to answer alarms, all of which were woods and grass fires. In July of the same year, the first meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary was held with Mildred Garwood named as president.
Griffith's first alarm was to a residence at 1624 Old Salisbury Rd. The house was badly damaged by fire. When the alarm sounded firefighters arrived from all directions. There was a problem getting the truck into pump gear and because of this, they weren't able to get water from the tank to the pump. The County unit and South Fork arrived in time to extinguish the fire before the house was destroyed. The only protective clothing that the Griffith Firefighters had in the beginning was a few helmets and a few pair of boots that were donated by Chief Williams of the Winston-Salem Fire Department.
For many years, the department had a residency program. There was a small apartment in the back of the fire station. The first tenants there were John and Mildred Boles. When a fire call came in, the city dispatcher would activate the siren and announce the location of the fire. They in turn would call two people and so on. This would continue until everyone had been alerted. To direct the firefighters to the scene, the driver would throw out small bags of flour along the road; this would leave a visible sign for the rest to follow. The insurance rates for homes in June of 1960 within a four - mile radius of the fire station were lowered five percent because of the efforts of the new fire department.
In 1968, Griffith responded with the city fire department during the riots of that year. During this event, Griffith was dispatched to a lumberyard on Vargrave Street that was set on fire. While firefighters were battling this fire, they realized that rioters were shooting at them. The firefighters took cover, and after the police department got the scene under control, the fire was extinguished with no one injured. January of 1973, with the continued upgrading of equipment and the dedicated work of the volunteers, the department was again able to lower the insurance rates of homeowners living inside Griffith Fire Department's district. The rate was lowered to a 9AA rating, which was the best possible rating that a rural fire department could obtain at that time. There was an explosion at the Cardinal Shopping Center in September of 1978, which destroyed the building and was strong enough to damage head stones in the graveyard at Mt. Carmel Church across the street. The City fire department and departments from all over the county gave mutual Aid.
The following year, in April of 1979, 2.3 acres were purchased from the Kiwanis Club on Peters Creek Parkway for $8,000. This was done in anticipation of building a new fire station further south of the city limits. This move was made because the department was facing annexation which would take over half of its district. This annexation took place in June of 1981.
The 1980's proved to be a busy and challenging time for the volunteers of Griffith Fire Department. In 1982, insurance rates for homeowners in Griffith's fire district were again lowered when the department received a rating of 6/9. In August of 1982, the department opened the Peters Creek Parkway station, housing trucks at both stations for some time. On August 3rd, Davidson County Commissioners gave final approval to the Griffith Volunteer Fire Department to start responding to alarms inside Davidson County. The area that Griffith began protecting was not previously in any fire district.
In September of 1984, the entire operation was moved to the Peters Creek Parkway station. That same month, Heavenview Tabernacle Church purchased the old fire station on West Clemmonsville road for $90,000.
A referendum was held in June of 1986 to create a tax district in -Davidson County, this was defeated by a large margin. Later that year (in November), a referendum to create a tax district in Forsyth County was held and approved.
The year 2000 and the years that have followed have brought many changes to the Griffith Volunteer Fire Department. In 2000, the department replaced its Grumman Pumper with a 2000 Pierce Pumper/Tanker with a 1000-gallon tank, 50-gallon foam tank and a 1250-gpm pump. In late 2001, the department received a new brush truck on a 2002 Ford Chassis with a 300-gallon tank and a 7-gallon foam tank.
With the continued growth of the Griffith Community, the need was realized for paid part time firefighters to supplement the volunteers during the day when the help was most needed. In 2003, many members of the department completed the state Emergency Medical Technician course and in November of that year the department started a Medical First Responder Program.
The core of the department is as it has always been, the dedication of the volunteers. With out their hard work and sacrifice over the last half century, the Department wouldn't have been able to provide the high level of service to the community it does today
Griffith Fire Department 5190 Peters Creek Pkwy W-S NC 27127 (336) 788-5412 Copyright © Griffith Fire Department All Rights Reserved