Historical Story of the Indian River Fire Company
The Indian River Volunteer Fire Company provides volunteer fire and rescue services to the communities of Oak Orchard, Riverdale, Long Neck, Warwick, Indian Mission, Rosedale Beach, Gull Point, Frames Point, Whits Point, White House Beach and many other surrounding areas. We have been providing our community and residents with 100% volunteer fire and rescue services, diligence and dedication since March of 1953. Our fire district is located within a few minutes east of the town limits of Millsboro and west of the town limits of Rehoboth Beach, and encompasses a large unincorporated, rural area of south-eastern Sussex County. Our communities are rich in tradition and heritage which attracted many of the first inhabitants, settlers and pioneers to this region which included the Nanticoke Indians. (See Nanticoke Indians at www.NanticokeIndians.org) Today, our communities host a population of approximately 7,000 year round residents among many diverse communities; however, the summer months our population expands to approximately +/- 25,000 people each weekend, most of whom come to enjoy the recreational boating and fishing, as well as hunting, during the in-season, and other activities within our immediate region.
Our primary corporate objective is to assist and protect the citizenry of our immediate community during times of need, which impacts life or property. We currently operate two facilities, Oak Orchard and Long Neck. Our members are volunteers who contribute their most precious resource – their time to respond to emergencies in your neighborhood. Our firefighters respond to many types of incidents including fire suppression, fire prevention, vehicle and vessel mishaps, tidal flooding conditions, inclement weather conditions, building collapse and medical assist incidents. Our firefighters undergo many hours of intense training in order to accommodate the demands of these emergency incidents.
Our organization is built upon many attributes that we believe is an integral part of our membership in the volunteer fire service. These attributes are integrity, stability, continuity, independence and excellence. These attributes are paramount to our continued existence.
Indian River is proud of its historical heritage and intends with passage to acknowledge our gratitude and appreciation to our residential communities and their residents, our volunteers and their families, our friends and their neighbors, our corporate partners, as well as our neighboring volunteer fire companies and their families for extending tremendous amount of support and hospitality while shaping our past and creating our future.
In 1953, various residents of the Oak Orchard-Long Neck area became concerned about the traveling distance that local fire companies incurred between the nearest towns of Millsboro, Rehoboth and Lewes. This traveling distance required substantial waiting time for responding fire and other emergency service apparatus during periods of need. This extended wait period at the scene of unfortunate incident was the motivating criteria for the local residents to pursue the formation of a new fire company to serve Oak Orchard, Riverdale, Rosedale and Long Neck communities.
Many community members, desirous to be volunteer firemen, donated their time, money and resources to form this volunteer fire company. The first meeting of the proposed organization was held at the Indian River Hotel, a very popular entertainment place located on the waterfront in Oak Orchard at the time. Thereafter, regular meetings were held at various gathering places in the immediate area.
In March of 1953, this formation committee filed information with the Delaware Secretary of State to be recognized as a legal corporate entity within the State of Delaware. The required filing fees were $21 and this was the first check ever written by the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company. Granville Hastings was elected our first fire chief and Raymond Trice was elected our fire company president.
While meeting at Short’s Garage on River Road, a fire broke out in a nearby residence and the persons in attendance formed a bucket brigade and retrieved water from the Indian River bay. This fire was extinguished without any assistance from nearby fire companies.
In April of 1953, the fire company exercised a $50 option to acquire land from Margaret Phillips for $700 and approved the acquisition of a 1946 Dodge truck from C. D. Sapp to operate as a water wagon with the water tank being purchased from the Pure Oil Company for $1. This was the first piece of apparatus acquired and operated by the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company. The second fire truck, a 1926 Reo Fire Truck, was acquired from Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company for $2 in May 1953. The third truck, a 1942 Chevrolet Truck, was financed in August 1953 by offering $300 down and $35 per month for 30 months.
In 2006, the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company housed and operated five Class A Engine/Pumpers; three vessels; two brush trucks; two utility vehicles; one 6,000 gallon tractor trailer tanker; a rescue unit; a ladder truck; a command vehicle; and a chief’s car.
By 2016, Indian River housed and operated four Class A Engine/Pumpers; two vessels; two brush trucks; five utility vehicles; one 2,500 gallon engine/tanker; a rescue unit; a ladder truck; an all-terrain unit (ATV); a command vehicle; and a chief’s car.
In 2017, the membership of the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company authorized the pursuit of apparatus downsizing and agree to sell one of the Class A Pumpers known as Engine #80-5 (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/4608) and its heavy rescue known as Rescue 80 (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/4615) and commence with design development of a new rescue pumper which was delivered in early 2018 (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/30908).
During 2019, the membership of the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company again authorized the establishment of a truck committee to evaluate apparatus and tender recommendations for apparatus and equipment. These discussions yeilded a number of recommendation which included the authorization to retire and sell the Dodge Charger utilized as the Chief's Car (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/4627) and repurpose the Tahoe utility vehicle (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/22823) as the new Chief's Car (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/36917) effective August, 2019. As well as providing authorization to acquire a new Chevrolet Tahoe utility vehicle (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/37918) was given. The Dodge Charger was sold to St. Francis EMS to be utilized as an administration vehicle for the City of Dover EMS Services. Subsequent discussions yielded authorization to pursue the retirement and sale of one of the brush truck units (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/4610) in November 2020 to Preston Volunteer Fire Department in Preston, Missouri who accepted delivery in March 2021. Furthermore, the Truck Committee continued to pursue evaluation and discussion for the replacement of Ladder 80 (http://irvfc.com/apparatus/detail/4630). In February, 2021, the Truck Committee continued it evaluation phase and came upon a stock unit from Pierce via Atlantic Emergency Solutions who offered the Truck Committee an opportunity to review a truck in Kentucky. This truck was a 2021 Pierce 100' Ascendant Arrow XT Mid-mount Aerial Truck and was brought to Indian River on Thursday, February 18, 2021 for demonstration and evaluation. Indian River was authorized to acquire the aerial truck (http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail?id=41564) during a Special Meeting on Tuesday, February 24, 2021 with negotiations commencing thereafter. The current Ladder 80 was advertised FOR SALE and sold in late February 2021 to the Crisfield Volunteer Fire Company http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail?id=41594 in Crisfield Maryland.
By the end of Calendar Year 2021, Indian River housed and operated two Class A Engine/Pumpers; two marine units; one brush truck; five utility vehicles; one Class A - 2,500 gallon Engine/Tanker; one Class A Rescue/Pumper; one 100' aerial truck; one all-terrian unit (ATV); two specialty trailers; one command/duty officer vehicle; and one chief's vehicle.
Facility Construction and Acquisition
In 1953 and 1954, the formation committee held meetings at Curt Spicer’s Store, immediately south of the current location in Oak Orchard. The first building used to house a fire truck was located on River Road across from Jack Birl’s residence nearby the marshy area between Oak Orchard and Riverdale. The building was a wooded garage that was relocated to this location.
In 1954, the organization committee borrowed money and built our first new building at the current site in Oak Orchard. The initial building was a 30’ x 60’ structure that included two engine bays, a kitchen area, and restrooms. John T. Rogers Construction Company built the structure of $6,500 http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail?id=33407 and the building was paid for within two years http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/23093. The fire company membership raised funds by hosting dinners, pigeon shoots, oyster ears, carnivals, 50-50s, stock car races at Georgetown Speedway, and numerous other activities. During the summer months, commencing with the 4th of July weekend, the fire company members would conduct door-to-door fund drive campaigns and this would function as our corporate fund drive. The average donation was approximately $2 per household. See Station #1 - http://www.irvfc.com/page/station-one
On Sunday, October 21, 1956, Indian River hosted a mortgage burding event to celebrate the paying off of the building mortgage for then Station #1 in Oak Orchard http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/23093?ss=1.
In 1964, the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company expanded by doubling its current facility in Oak Orchard from two engine bays to four engine bays http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail?id=25467.
In 1972, the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company constructed a new facility in Long Neck on land donated by James and Audrey Palmer. See Station #2 - http://www.irvfc.com/page/station-two .
In 1984, additional rooms were constructed to the Oak Orchard facility to include a corporate meeting room, storage area, and a recreation room for members. Our Long Neck facility was expanded and renovated in 2000 to include additional bay for firefighting apparatus, a membership gathering area, a small kitchen area, as well as some overnight quarters on the second floor. Our Board of Directors continued to monitor neighborhood growth patterns and encouraged the volunteer firemen to authorize the acquisition of adjacent residential parcels in Oak Orchard and Long Neck for future expansion requirements.
In March 2000, the company authorized negotiations with the Brooks Family for the procurement of the residence and property immediately adjacent to Station #2 on Bank Roads.
In 2002, our Oak Orchard facility expanded again to include a complete structural overhaul, four drive-thru engine bays, a formal reception hall as well as other amenities.
In May, 2003, the company authorized negotiations with the Shugard Family for the procurement of the residence and property immediately adjacent to Station #1 on Oak Orchard Road.
In August 2005, the company again authorized the procurement of the Coleman residential property adjacent to the Brooks parcel on Banks Road.
In September 2006, the company authorized the tree removal and clearing of the wood Shugard Property parcel for the construction of a new 50 x 52 pole building for the storage of various company vessels, utility vehicles and other ancillary apparatus.
In the early Spring of 2012, the company authorized the commencement of negotiations to acquire additional parcels of the Shugard Property, http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail/3966, approximately 2.5 acres on the north side of Station #1 as well as the Spicer –Dodd parcels, http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/3948?ss=1, approximately 3 acres on the south side of Station #1. Additional efforts to demolition the residential structures that Indian River utilizes as rental properties were authorized in the Spring of 2013, http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/4220,as well as expansion and construction of a walk-in refrigerator / freezer for the Ladies Auxiliary http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/4075.
In late 2015 (July-August), the Board of Directors were authorized to commence negotiations for additional property acquisitions within the Long Neck area and subsequently acquired additional parcels known as the Mills Property immediately adjacent to the aforementioned Coleman Property on Banks Road, http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/15939?ss=1. The structures located on the Mills Property were subsquently authorized for removal via bequests or sale in order to vacate and clear the premises. Thereafter, all of these Long Neck parcels on Banks Road were jointly consolidated in 2016 for anticipation of future Long Neck facility station renovations. As Station #2 discussions evolved, the opportunity to acquire the Faulkner Property on Banks Road was finalized February 2020 as an effort to acquire adjacent parcels.
Late in Calendar Year 2018, the Oak Orchard parcels associated with the Spicer-Dodd Property were leased to the neighboring WMF Watercraft & Marine business as a boat storage facility http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail?id=41617.
Incident Alarm Notification
During the early years of the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company, the community residents were required to contact one of three members at specific locations to report a fire or an emergency incident. These locations could activate the fire company sirens located throughout the fire district. These activation devices were located near Short’s Garage on River Road, near Wynikako Avenue and River Road in Riverdale, and one at the fire station in Oak Orchard.
Most of the time these locations had to contact members via telephone to contact firefighters that resided outside of the immediate vicinity of the sirens.
During the 1960s, it is believed that a telephone mounted siren was installed at the Oak Orchard station. This siren was refurbished in the 1970s and has been fully operational in Oak Orchard since this time.
In 2005, every firefighter was assigned an individual fire company pager that is alerted via the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center to alert fire companies of emergency incidents within their respective fire districts. Many active volunteer firefig hters have hand-held communication devices to ameliorate our operational efficiency.
Subsequently, in late 2005 and early 2006, a radio tower approximately 140' tall was erected at our Station #2 (Banks Road) facility to aid in radio communications with our 400 megahertz local radio band and other devices http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/33393?ss=1. This tower obtained from the Lewes/Rehoboth Station #2 location and relocated to Indian River's Station #2 merely for the cost of the relocation and installation. This deconstruction and re-erection was coordinated by Delaware Tower, currently known as First State Tower.
In the 2010 time period along with advancing technology many firefighters utilized digital cell phone activations for fire company incident alerts. The technological advancements included text alerts for emergency incidents via cad page devices, Redicall alerts, Chief Messaging alerts, Active 911 alerts, and other digital notification.
In late 2015, the main station siren was temporarily deactivated for refurbishment and replacement of utility poles, http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/10302, http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail/16082, http://www.irvfc.com/gallery/detail/15579?ss=1, and http://irvfc.com/gallery/detail/16079?ss=1.
In 2018, Indian River was approached to have dialogue and discussion regarding the decommissioning of the current Station #2 140' tower and have a larger commercial tower installed. As of July, 2018 these negotiations continue.
Ladies Auxiliary - Organization History.
Information regarding the organizational history with the Ladies Auxiliary can be view via the identified link http://www.irvfc.com/page/organizational-history-of-the-ladies-auxiliary