Sixty years ago, a small group of people dedicated to serving their community banded together to form Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue, raising money through fundraisers and dinners to buy a military surplus engine that was parked under a tree in a volunteer’s driveway.
The department was officially recognized in December 1958 and by 1961 had raised enough money to build a station. Today that department has two stations, three engines, ladders, rescue trucks, tankers and more.
“We’ve really grown a lot since the early days,” says Deputy Chief Will Sheehan, who has been with Blue Ridge for 15 years after serving for 11 years with Fletcher. Sheehan took over as chief in March.
With 35 dedicated volunteers and nine full-time paid staff members, the department has come a long way since its inaugural force of about a dozen firefighters.