Kenbridge Fire Department


In 1908 the Kenbridge Volunteer Fire Department was started as a bucket brigade.  The first chief was John Albert Gee.  With the help of Charlie Jansch and John Wingold, John Albert Gee saw the department through its early years.  The only equipment other than buckets owned by the department at that time was a chemical cart that was hand constructed and is still in existence here at the department today.

In 1928-29 a water and sewer system was installed throughout much of the town and a Model T was purchased  to carry the hose to the fires.  It is believed that around the year 1938, Mr. Charlie Jansch took over a chief and he was followed by John Wingold around 1940, to complete the terms of the three early pioneers of the department.

In 1940 the department was able to get some help from Mr. Hill, a state fire instructor, to help re-organize the department with some help in instruction on proper methods of fire fighting.

Next, Ben Bridgeforth became chief. During this time, a 1938 Ford truck was obtained for a hose truck, and it was later equipped with the department's first pump.

1941-48 carnivals were held and enabled more and better equipment to be purchased.  Conrad Wingold became chief in 1943 and held the post until 1954 when Frank Callis was made chief.  Conrad Wingold reported in 1958 that four vehicles were in use by the department, 1 - a 750 gal. tanker with front end pump and 2 trucks with 600 gal. per minute pumps.  Also one truck was equipped with a 59 foot ladder. Most of the rolling stock was equipped with 2-way radios.

During Frank Callis' term (from 1954-1961), the Kenbridge Fire Department became incorporated and the Southside Virginia Volunteer Firemen's Association was formed.

E.S. Roby, Jr. headed a fund drive that helped purchase a Chrysler emergency wagon that was equipped with a respirator, stretchers, radio, etc. for the protection of the firemen during fire calls.

In 1948 the department raised $1,200 for the purchase of a new Ford Chassis for the department.  Also,  an extension was built on the  front of the Town Hall for use by the department.  The Town Hall building was the former Kenbridge Baptist Church.

In 1950 a rural subscription fund drive was started to benefit the department in fund raising,  Bridgforth Tobacco Company was tied into the automatic alarm system, new 2-way radios were installed on all trucks, and the first set of by-laws were adopted by the department.

In 1960 the department purchased a new pumper with a 750 g.p.m. pump and 500 gal. tank which was also equipped with a high pressure fog pump.

The late Raymond Wingold became chief in 1961. Under his leadership the department installed a base station in the fire house under a FCC assigned fire frequency. This enabled the department to be taken off the already crowded police band. 

In 1962 John Clem became chief. During his administration, the department purchased a new 750 g.p.m. pumper with a 750 gal. tank which was a 1963 model.  The department also purchased several self-contained breathing apparatus for the firemen.

Frank Callis was elected Chief in 1965 for the second time and served for two more years.  During this term of office, the department acquired a water truck which was given to them by a local oil company.

Then, in 1967 John Clem was elected for his second term as chief.  A pump was installed on the tank truck and the plectron and electronic system was installed in town.

In December 1969 Richard W. Harris "Dicky" was elected Chief and remains our Chief today (with a 1 year intermission under Michael J. Gentry as Chief for 1 year in 2000).  In 1971 construction was started on a new four bay fire station. It was completed and dedicated on July 23, 1972.  The majority of the work was done by the firemen themselves. A large portion of the cost was raised by the department through various fund raising events. The cost of construction was paid off in 1976.  In 1972 a new cab and chassis was purchased for use as a chief's car and to carry equipment.  In 1973 the department started updating all equipment through the purchase of much needed equipment such as ten self-contained breathing apparatus, new radio equipment, new pagers for the firemen, portable saws and much other needed equipment.  The town also adopted a new fire code after recommendation by the fire department.

Today, the building shown below is the 7 bay Kenbridge Fire Department.  The 8 trucks we have in service are shown in the apparatus link  above.  Through the years, different equipment and people have come and gone.  All of these individuals have made the department thrive and grow into what it is today.

The department continues to stay busy working in the area of fire prevention, preplans, motor vehicle accidents, and fire inspections in our service area. We have an active training program for our members with over 1,000 man-hours per year devoted to state approved training.

We are blessed to have excellent financial support from the Town of Kenbridge, The County of Lunenburg, citizens of our town and businesses both commercial and industrial.  The Kenbridge Fire Department is over 100 years old and is poised to serve our citizens in every way possible thru the next century. Thank you all for your support!