Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Rescue started off in 1951 as a simple volunteer fire department dedicated to providing emergency fire suppression in a much more rural New Kent County than today. What was originally known as Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Department was a small department that only had one single fire truck for response. An old construction tank truck served as the first apparatus and converted into a tanker truck with a portable pump on the back. The station was located on an easily accessible and well traveled road: Route 60 at the Route 618 crossing. Today the department is over 65 years old and still going strong.
By August 1957 a second station was organized aptly known as Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Department Company #2. This station was located on the northern side of county to further increase the distance and response times for emergency response. This station also added an additional fire truck into the county’s growing fleet. As Station #1 gained a new Engine Station #2 was given the first county fire truck to operate. This station later became Quinton Fire Department and became an independent volunteer unit that still operates today.
By June 20, 1983 it was decided that the fire department system as a whole would change it’s name to New Kent County Volunteer Fire Department to recognize that the fire department was responsible for all of New Kent County. This was to clear up understandable confusion surrounding the departments’ name.
By 1986 New Kent County Volunteer Fire Department Station #3 was organized to further the response range. Station #3 was placed on State Route 33, then a major thoroughfare, in the area of Barhamsville. Like the stations before it also started with hand me down fire trucks from the other stations. Station #3 housed the first county fire truck previously held by Station #2 and the fire engine that became the county’s second truck previously stationed at Station #1. Both Stations #1 and #2 had gotten new trucks to replace them.
By 1991 Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Department (Station #1) had outgrown their old station and needed a new station built. Additionally during an inspection cracks had been found in the station’s exterior walls and the old building had begun to sink. While the station could have been fixed at a cost of $90,000 dollars volunteer leadership decided for the same amount the station could move to a larger and newer station. Four sites had been originally selected for consideration including the old fire station which volunteers had hoped to demolish and stay on; citing concerns that moving too far would raise fire insurance rates. With a funding drive the department and the citizens of New Kent County raised over $100,000 dollars and built the existing station that PFVFR resides in today on Courthouse Road a few miles off of Route 60.
In the early 2000’s New Kent County Volunteer Fire Department hired career fire fighters and became New Kent County Fire Department. This represented a shift where volunteers and career staff joined together to protect the New Kent County. Volunteers remained members of their individual stations and career staff became employees of New Kent County Fire’s umbrella organization allowing them to be placed in any station in the County.
By 2007 New Kent County Fire Department purchased ambulances and became a combination fire department that could provide EMS, Fire, and other response services. As a result in the change of service Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Department changed it’s name to Providence Forge Volunteer Fire Rescue. Today all volunteer providers are trained as state certified FireFighters and/or EMT’s.
Did you know? – Each fire department was distinctly independent entities yet maintained themselves as a functional team under the umbrella organization that was New Kent County Volunteer Fire Department. It was expected that each station obtain their own land and build their own stations. This is a long standing expectation that is still expected of any department that tries to form in New Kent County even today. All maintenance and upkeep of these stations we’re the primary responsibility of the individual members and their leadership. This is the current set up that still remains in place today even to the point where all career staff belong to the umbrella organization New Kent County Fire Department.
Did you know? – With the understanding that each department would run their own house it was also understood that each department shoulder it’s own bills. Gasoline, Electricity, Telephone Service, and all other utilities had to be maintained by each station membership. At one point each station had the expectation of buying their own apparatus however this was later stopped in favor of building a New Kent County owned fleet; where trucks could be swapped between stations and re-positioned. Today all stations are still maintained by each volunteer organization.
Special thanks to the New Kent Historical Society for helping compile historical information. If you have any old photos of the department or any information that could enhance this article please contact us. Photos are something both the Historical Society and PFVFR would be appreciative to find! Article written on August 15th, 2016 by Kyle Brock.