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The Town of Sharpsburg was founded in 1844 by John J. Sharp. According to a September 2, 1951 Rocky Mount Telegram article, Mr. Sharp had left home with his belongings and twenty five cents in his pocket. He was from a community known then as "Joyner's Junction" and later called "Toisnot" which is now known as Elm City. Mr. Sharp cam to the heavily wooded area which is now Sharpsburg and began farming the land. He eventually became the biggest tax payer in Nash County. Along with raising his family he raised the Town of Sharpsburg. Mr. Sharp also became a three term North Carolina Senator. The town was incorporated in 1883. Sharpsburg is a unique town because it lies within the three counties of Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson.
The development of the Fire Department
By folklore accounts sometime in 1948 the need for a town fire company was realized. Some of the more influential families that lived in Sharpsburg initiated the drive. Family names such as Batchelor, Davis, and Valentine are credited with this effort. In 1948 the fire department was organized. The departments first Chief was Mr. J. D. Barkley. In 1951 the department had a total of 14 men.
The department's first apparatus
According to a Nashville Graphic article on March 10, 1955 the department purchases it's first fire apparatus in 1949. The department raised local funds along with money grants from Nash and Edgecombe counties. The apparatus purchased was a 1949 Ford front mount pumper. The truck held 500 gallons of water and served the department well into the 1960s.
The mission of the Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association Incorporated
To protect life and property from fire, medical and other emergencies, through a proactive approach in public education, community preparedness, training and emergency response.
The department's first fire station
Sharpsburg's first fire station was at the Esso Service Station/ The station was at the corner of US 301 highway and Mill Branch Road. The building was only large enough to house the pump apparatus. The water tanker was left partially covered outside.
Sharpsburg's Fire Alarm System
First, one must consider the time era of communications then. Most people who lived in Nash County did not have a telephone. Initially there were only a few homes that were sparsely located. The department designed a fire alert system that everyone could have access to and use.
Until 1958 when the county began its county wide radio fire dispatch system each town department had its own method of alerting volunteer firefighters of fire calls. Sharpsburg had an outside siren mounted atop of Batchelor's Store which was a block away from the department. The fire station had an outside sign and siren switch for the fire system. The sign gave directions on how many times to cycle the fire siren by using the on/off switch provided. As an example; if the fire was in Nash County the siren would require one cycle of the siren to sound. This would alert the volunteers that there was a fire in Nash County part of town. If two siren cycles would indicate Edgcombe County and three siren cycles would indicate Wilson County. The volunteers would report to the fire station and get directions from the caller. The caller would be instructed to stay at the fire station and give directions to later responding volunteers.
By 1955 the department had 17 members. The members were; J. D. Barkley, Fire Chief, L. R. Langley, Assistant Fire Chief, Jimmie Robbins, Bill Barnes, Herbert Dawes, Raymond Moore, Bobbie Lancaster, Dick Matthews, Robert Isaac Robbins, Burnell Boswell, Earnie Yoder, Wiley Gray Robbins, Isaac Joyner, Tom Smith, Alton Dawes, W. O. Batchelor, and Stanley Bulluck.
The worst fire the department had responded to at the time was a structure fire in Edgecombe County. The fire occured on February 13, 1955 about two miles inside Edgecombe County. It was 12 degrees outside at 2:30 am when the call was placed.
The department pumping apparatus fire pump froze while en-route to the fire. The fire pump froze again while waiting for the water tanker to deliver more water to extinguish the fire. The fire was out by 5:30 am. The structure was saved except for the roof.
The Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association
The Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association was organized in 1962. The group of volunteers were strictly for the purpose of purchasing new fire apparatus and equipment. The association purchased a 1962 pumper and a 1966 tanker.
In 1975 the department recieved an annual $1,500 from the Town of Sharpsburg. The rest of the department's income came from door to door donations and BBQ plate fund raisers. In 1974 the department had 40 members and a total of 2,198 training hours for the year 1974 which broke down to 54.95 hours per firefighter. In 1975 the department purchased a Jeep truck which was designed as a brush truck which was used in fighting brush and woods fires. In 1975 the officers of the department were Don Davis, Fire Chief, Marvin L. Robbins, Town Assistant Chief, Charles Turner, Rural Assistant Chief, Robert Puttman, Town Fire Captain, Mike Robbins, Rural Fire Captain, Wayne Wheeler, Town Fire Lieutenant, and Rudolph Davis, Rural Fire Lieutenant.
The town's business officers were Rudolph Davis, President, Charles Dickerson, Vice President, Charles Turner, Secretary, Frank Lancaster, Treasurer, and Frank Lancaster and Irvin Barnes, Chaplains.
In 1998, the fire department completed the construction of its current station moving from its former location located in a portion of the Town Municipal Building. The new station would offer more room for current apparatus with the room for future purchases without running out of room. The new station located on Taylor Drive was constructed by many of its own members and their tool bag of skills.
In 2004, Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association along with several other Nash County fire departments were inspected by the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal. With the hard work from the members of the department, Sharpsburg was able to help business and homeowners of its district lower their insurance premiums by lowering the fire departments Insurance Rating. Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association recieved a rating of class 5 for the Town of Sharpsburg and a class 6 for the rural portions of the Tri-County Fire District.
In October 2015, Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association applied for Delivery Agency status with the Office of State Fire Marshal. Departments that are granted Delivery Agency status are able to instruct classes for members of its own department and certify them with the Department of Insurance without having to coordinate classes through local community colleges. In December 2015, paid staff employee Billy Baker and Lieutenant Adam Gibson attended a meeting of the North Carolina State Firemen's Association along with members of the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal. During this meeting, the department's application for Delivery Agency status was reviewed and approved. Sharpsburg was the first volunteer fire department in the state of North Carolina to be approved for Delivery Agency Status.
In September 2016, North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal interviewed Chief Randall Collie and Paid Employee Billy Baker along with inspecting all of the department's paperwork, equipment, apparatus, and evaluated its personnel during fireground scenario. In December 2016, the department received the results of its inspection. Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association earned a rating of Class 3 in the Town of Sharpsburg and received a rating of Class 4 for the Tri-County Fire District. Sharpsburg is amoung 29 other departments across the state of North Carolina with a Class 3 rating and is among less than a hand full of volunteer fire departments in the stated with that rating. December 2016 was not only an exciting month because of news of a lowered rating. On December 2, 2016, Sharpsburg Fire Prevention Association purchased a substation in a portion of its rural district. The new substation was a much needed addition to the department. Prior to the purchase of this station the department had been house apparatus in a building that was property of the Town of Sharpsburg and that was on big enough for 2 of the departments smaller apparatus. Along with being home to the department's new substation, it also provided additional room for offices and another classroom.
In 2017, Nash County Commissioners decided that it was time to make a change to the county wide radio system. Nash County had been using VHF radios since the start of a county wide system. Since the start of the county wide system, Nash County has been making upgrades to the system to try to stay up to date with technology while keeping firefighter safety in mind. The point had finally come that Nash County Commissioners saw the need to join the statewide system known as VIPER. VIPER is a digital 800MHz system that is owned and controlled by North Carolina Highway Patrol. Throughout 2018, Nash County Commissioner assisted all fire departments in the purchase of new radios. On December 5, 2018, Nash County Communications and fire departments made the official change in radio systems.
J. D. Barkley & Wiley Gray Robbins on Ford Front Mount Pumper