The Laurel County Fire Department was organized in November 1962. The concerns of the insurance companies and the citizens of the City of London brought this about. At the time, the City of London Fire Department took care of all of the fires in Laurel County. The concern from the Insurance Companies and the Citizens was that if the Fire Department was fighting a fire in the County, the City of London was left unprotected and there would be neither Firefighters nor equipment to take care of the City. The Mayor at that time was Joe Parman.
Mayor Parman offered to sell one of the older trucks the City Fire Department owned at the time to Laurel County. The Laurel County Fiscal Court voted to take the money from the parking meters from around the Court House to pay for the purchase of the truck. The first truck that was purchased was a 1947 International K Model that had a 500-gallon water tank.
Several firefighters from the City of London were the “founding fathers” of the Laurel County Fire Department. Those firefighters were, and we apologize if anyone was left out, Chief RC Walker, Lawrence “Blackfire” McClain, Cleveland Wyatt, OD Burner, Earl Williams, Ray “Bugs” Delph, Ed Bowling, George Cosmah, Bill Prewitt, Lester Finley and Kermit Parker.
The Laurel County Fire Department was first housed in the basement of the City Hall. It then moved to a building on Broad Street. That building today is now part of The Sentinel Echo. At that time it was a garage on the ground floor and occupied by Dr C. B. Ison on the upper floor. That building was used until 1968. During 1967 the Firefighters started to raise money for the purchase of a new fire truck.
A new truck was ordered in 1967 and was delivered in 1968. The truck was a Ford and had a 1000-gallon tank with a pump that would pump 750 gallon per minute. The new fire truck was ordered with White paint so the people could tell what fire department was responding in the County. That tradition still holds today. When the truck arrived the building that housed the other fire truck was too small to hold both trucks. It was then that John Peters, a local Blacksmith, who told the fire department that he would sell his building on Sipple Street to them to use as a Fire Station. It was purchased for $12,000 and was used until 1979. In 1980 a new fire station was completed on the site of the Peters Building.
The Laurel County Fire Department responded to all of the fires outside of the City limits of London. During the following years, several fire departments started up in out lying areas of the County. This was due to the response time and the distance from the City of London and the Laurel County Fire Department. As being a 100% volunteer department then and still today, the firefighters have to leave their jobs to go to the help the public. The other Fire Departments started in the mid-1960’s 70’s and even in the 1980’s. Today there are a total of 9 fire departments in Laurel County not including the London Fire Department. During the beginning of the Fire Department we were a part of the Laurel County Fiscal Court until May 1994. At that time the Fiscal Court appointed a Board of Directors to over see the day-to-day operations and take care of all finances of the Fire Department. Since that time the Fire Department has grown by leaps and bounds.
Financial help came from the Fiscal Court when they could afford it and donations from the pubic. In 1984 the Fire Department had a great need to replace outdated equipment and the Fiscal Court could not afford to buy for one department and not help take care of the others. The Laurel County Fire Department started to play Bingo to raise money. During the 1980’s and 1990’s the Fire Department had growing pains. We did not have enough room and didn’t have enough equipment to keep up with the growth of Laurel County. In 1998 the Board of Directors decided to purchased a piece of property on Hwy 192 West, 2.5 miles West of I-75. The fire Department built a station that is big enough to house three Fire Trucks. At the present we have two complete Fire Engines at this station.
During 1999, the Board of Directors decided that the building on Sipple Street would no longer suit our needs and decided to build a new Fire Station. We purchased 7.5 acres on East Forth Street and built a 22,500 sq ft building. Half of the building is used for fund raising events and the other half is for fire department use. This building was located on 911 TLC Lane.
This building was of course the main fire station and housed five pieces of firefighting equipment. At the time there were three fire engines, a tanker and an equipment truck. As with any organization, things change over time. In order to continue serving our protection area and cut cost this station was sold in 2016. After the sale, we leased a hanger at London Corbin Airport to house our equipment. After approximately a year there we moved to our current location. Currently, Station 1is located at 1560 Barbourville Street in London.
We have purchased property on Medco Lane in London and have future plans in place to start construction soon. We hope to break ground and complete construction of our new Station 1 this year. We are constantly striving to be improve ourselves in order to better serve our community.
In 2019, the opportunity was presented to our Fire Department to purchase land in our Fire Protection jurisdiction. The land was located at 304 Johnson Road which would far better service our community than the Medco Lane Property. It was determined at that time to surplus the Medco Lane Property and purchase the Johnson Road property. Construction is set to begin on our new Station 1 in August 2019. We are excited about this property and our new station.
Since 1994 the Board of Directors and our local Bank have been able to provide the proper buildings and equipment to help protect the public that we serve.
If anyone would like to come by and look us over, our doors are always open to the public. Give us a call if you have a Church group or a Civic Group and we will give you a tour of our equipment and facility.