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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

January 14, 2003


Charlotte, NC - A piece of Mecklenburg County's fire fighting history will go on display at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Education Center and Museum.  The Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal and the Mallard Creek Volunteer Fire Department will present Mallard Creek's first ever fire engine, a 1954 Ford F-600.

The presentation will take place Wednesday, January 15, 2003, at 1 p.m. at the museum, located at 420 West Fifth Street in Charlotte.  Seventy-six-year-old Bob Garrison, an original member of the Mallard Creek V.F.D. who remains active, will drive the fire engine to the museum for the presentation.

The fire engine has a 500-gallon per minute front-mounted fire pump and can carry 750 gallons of water. It is an example of the fire apparatus that protected rural Mecklenburg County during the 1950's.

The Ford chassis was purchased with community donations from Young Ford Company for $2,600 and was assembled as a fire engine locally by Baker Equipment Company on North Graham Street for an additional $3,000. The engine was in front-line service from April 1954 until October 1977 and has 7,900 original road miles on it.

The fire engine will also serve as a visual reminder of the efforts and importance of the volunteer fire service in Mecklenburg County.  The County's volunteer fire departments began service to their communities in the late 1940's and continue to do so today in 18 recognized fire districts.  The Mallard Creek Volunteer Fire Department was chartered in Mecklenburg County in 1953, organized in early 1954 and has been in service to the citizens of Mecklenburg County since that time.

Garrison's son, Alan Garrison, is chairman of the Mallard Creek V.F.D. Board of Directors and a career engineer with the Charlotte Fire Department. Both men worked to restore the engine and have been an important part of the department's service to the Mallard Creek community for many years.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Education Center and Museum is housed in a 79-year-old fire station, Fire Station No. 4, at 520 West Fifth Street in Charlotte. Until its closure in 1973, the station was home to three busy fire companies that responded to fires in downtown and west Charlotte.  In addition to the new Mallard Creek exhibit, the recently renovated two-story structure features a gold mine of relics and artifacts related to fire service, including:

· Old photographs and newspaper clippings, including references to a 1940 fire at the Guthrey Apartments at 508 North Tryon Street. The blaze, which killed seven people, still ranks as the city's deadliest.
· Memorials to fallen firefighters, including Josh Earley, who died in March fighting a house fire.
· A steamer horse drawn pumper from the early 1900s.
· A switchboard from the 1940s.
· A 1948 Mack Fire Engine.
· An old, five-foot firebox that used to stand on a Charlotte sidewalk (a passerby could pull a lever to report a fire).
· A 1970s Dictaphone.
· A gift shop.

Museum hours are Wednesday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m - 4 p.m.  More information on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Education Center and Museum is available at the Charlotte Fire Department's Web site, or by calling 704-336-SAFE (7233).

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