1315 Salem Rd. Morganton, NC 28655 Ph: (828) 437-8488 Fax: (828) 437-8488
Salem Fire Department not only provided fire protection to the residents of the Salem and Mull communities, but to the neighboring Enola community as well. However, in late 1980, the department discontinued services to Enola, citing rising fuel and equipment costs and lack of fire tax dollars. The Enola Fire Department was later formed to serve that area.
The Salem Fire Department has responded to many incidents throughout its history, however there are a few large incidents that will always be remembered. One of those was the High Peak Mountain fire in April 1985. This was one of the largest wildland fires in Burke County history. All of the local emergency organizations as well as several outside agencies provided equipment and manpower, including Salem.
As the demand for more fire services and the call volume increased, as well as an increase in the protection district in which Salem served, the department decided to add a substation. In 1986, after several months of hard work and dedication from the firefighters and their families, Salem Fire Department Station 2 was opened. Also in 1986, the department began providing medical response services with First Responders. Members were trained in emergency medical procedures and provided first-line treatment and stabilization to residents prior to the arrival of the county's EMS ambulances.
In March 1987, Salem Fire Department responded to another large incident that will not be forgotten, and this time it hit close to home. The Salem Junior High School, which sits adjacent to the department's Station 1, was destroyed by an explosion and fire. The explosion was heard and felt for several miles. The department was conducting a training scenario at the time not far from the station and initiated response even before they were dispatched.
As the population grew and traffic increased in the community, the occurrences of vehicle crashes involving trapped victims also grew. Rescue services were stationed several miles away and therefore often had a lengthy response time. Since the fire department was responding to those incidents anyway, it was felt that providing rescue services would be a good idea. In 1991, the department began providing extrication services to the community and our name was changed to Salem Fire & Rescue, along with a change in the department's patch.
In 2002, the department took another major step by hiring a full-time career Fire Chief. The department felt that the increasing requirements and responsibilities of a Chief were just too demanding for volunteering, and due to the current Fire Chief retiring, decided this was the perfect time to move forward.
Currently, the department Chief serves on a volunteer basis. Also, the department has several members who work part-time as Duty Officers, on duty Monday through Friday 8AM to 4PM.
As with most local fire departments, Salem Fire & Rescue was formed from the needs and necessity of the local community. Up until the late 1960s, the City of Morganton Fire Department provided fire protection to most of the neighboring communities, including Salem. At that time, the City of Morganton decided to discontinue providing fire services outside the city limits. Then, in 1970, the residents of the Salem community met and decided to organize their own fire department. On February 24, 1971 the department received its charter, and the Salem Fire Department was established.
Our newly formed department started with a small two-bay building and only one apparatus, a 1971 American-LaFrance 1000 GPM pumper. Then in 1972, the department purchased a 1958 Ford oil truck and converted it into an 1100 gallon tanker. Throughout the years and as the needs have grown, the department has acquired several pieces of apparatus and currently has eight apparatus in service.
In 1973, the ladies auxiliary was formed to provide assistance to the firefighters, department and community. The initial loan for the building and first three apparatus were paid for in 1975, only four years from the beginnings of the department!
The small two-bay building was later expanded to include a kitchen area for the firefighters' use and for fundraisers. As the community continued to grow, so did the fire department. The building was again expanded to include an upstairs meeting/training room and office and a third drive-thru bay was added to the two existing bays.