In November of 1959 the Altamahaw – Ossipee Fire Department was established. There were 23 charter members. The initial Chief was Claude Bryant, who served from 1959 to 1961
The First truck purchased by the Department was a 1960 Ford F-600 with a 500 gpm Front mount pump and a 600 gal. booster tank. The truck was well taken care of and was sold in 1995.
The Department answered it’s 1st call to a house fire on Church St. in Altamahaw. Members were training in Burlington when the call was received and they responded from there with assistance from the Burlington Fire Department. Chief Roma Fortune of the Burlington Fire Department assisted the Department in numerous training classes that were greatly needed. Chief Fortune’s efforts were greatly appreciated by the Fire Department.
During the early stages the Department only had one truck so during fire ground operations if they ran out of water they had to break down pumping operations and travel to the nearest water source to refill and then go back to the scene and resume pumping.
The only communication the Fire Department had at this time to alert personnel of a fire was telephone communication between members and a horn located on top of the Fire Station.
For several years the department covered a large area which included most of Northern Alamance, North Eastern Guilford, Southern Caswell and Southern Rockingham Counties. Burlington Fire assisted when requested.
The only Turnout gear worn at the time was helmet and Bunker Coats purchased by donations, local churches, and members.
The Fire Department had to support itself so they had all types of fundraisers , Chicken Fry’s, wrestling matches, Fish Fry’s, and Tractor Pulls just to name a few. During the 60’s the county started helping with a supplement to the Fire Department.
In 1961 the Department elected Les Bolick as Chief. Mr. Bolick served as Chief until 1968.
In the early 1960’s the Department purchased their tanker which was a late 1950’s model G.M.C with a 1700 gallon.
In March of 1962 the Ladies Auxiliary of the A-O Fire Department was organized with a constitution and By-Laws written. There were 19 Charter members and as of the early 1990’s 10 members received a gold watch and certificate for 20 years of service. They are: Johnnie Faye Saul, Nannie Mae Page, Nancy Shepherd, Wilda Ross, Nancy Ross, Catherine Sutton, Willie Gay Boles, Gladys Hensley, Joyce Patterson, and Alene Gerringer.
In 1971 the A-O Auxiliary was instrumental in organizing a county auxiliary of the exchange and presentation of ideas. In April of 1972 the A-O Auxiliary was a host to a banquet to celebrate the formation. The banquet was hosted by different department auxiliaries for several years thereafter.
The auxiliary was formed to promote the interest of the Fire Department and to help the needy of an incident by trying to find clothes, furnishings, and other necessities.
The Auxiliary spent thousands of dollars of money they earned through fundraisers to buy equipment for the Fire Department including the 1st base radio, EMT Supplies, payments on trucks, and much more.
In 1968 Thomas Gwynn was elected chief and during his term which ended in 1971 the Department acquired a Jeep through the Civil Defense which was converted into a brush truck.
In 1969 the Department purchased a 1969 Ford F-700 cab and chassis to replace the G.M.C tanker.
In 1970 the Department a 1970 Ford F-250 with a 500 G.P.M pump to be used as a brush truck.
In 1971 the Department elected Eddie Ross as Chief, during his term the Department continued to grow, purchasing another engine which was a 1975 Chevrolet American LaFrance with a 1000 G.P.M Mid ship Pump and a 750 gal booster tank. This truck has been in service until it was removed from service in August of 2007.
In March of 1975 the Department put it’s 1st pagers to notify personnel of a call.
In 1976 the Department acquired a 1967 Kaiser Jeep from the Civil Defense that was converted into a brush truck which is still in service today.
In 1977 the Department started a E.M.T program. The 1st E.M.T’s were: Donnie Danieley, Don McIntyre, and Danny Danieley.
In 1979 Donnie Danieley was elected Chief.
In 1980 the Fire bed was removed from the 1970 Ford and a utility bed was installed to make our first utility truck which is still in service today.
In 1981 the Department had it’s first member to retire with 20 years service. Mr. James Sutton was named honorary member and was given a gold watch from the membership and Board of Directors. This tradition has been continued through the years.
By the time the 1980’s rolled around we had out grown the station and had to convert two rooms into truck bays giving us a 6 bay station.
On April 1, 1985 the Department had it’s largest fire at the Clayton Motor Company. A-O Fire Department along with 5 other Departments were involved in fighting the 10,000 sq ft building.
In 1986 the Department purchased a new tanker which was built by E.E.I on a G.M.C five star general chassis. The truck has a 1250 G.P.M pump and 2500 gal booster tank and is in service to this day.
In 1989 Willard Page was elected Chief and served till 1995.
In 1995 Eddie Thomas was elected Chief and served till 1997.
In 1997 Willard Page was elected Chief again and served until 2005
In 2005 Michael Barnette was elected Chief and served until 2016.
In 2016 Alan Lewis was appointed Chief and served until Oct 2016.
In November 2016 Edward Lipscomb Jr was elected Chief and serves to this day.
Over the years the Fire Department has made great strides toward development and improvement with a lot of hard work and dedicated members. We continue to strive for the best for the community and the Department.
The Department currently has 8 vehicles and 22 members. We would like to thank current and past members of the Fire Department that gave the time and effort so that the Department had the opportunity to advance and strive as it has.
Austin Ross Leonard Bowles
Buck Saul Leonard Kernodle
Charlie Vaughn Les Bowlic
Claude Bryant Luther Ross
Edsel McIntyre Robert Hensley
Felton Page Thomas Gwynn
Fred Jones Vernon Jones
H.A Somers Layton Patterson
Harrson Webster James Sutton
Holt Sutton J.C Smith
Chartered Board Members
Nimrod Harris J.D Austin
Henry Danieley Ed Murray
Jake Edmonds John Morton
Holt Sutton Charlie Vaughn
Leonard Kernodle DR. S.V Huffman
H.A Somers Vernon Jones