In 1949, the United States Army decided to move the 6th Cavalry away from Fort Oglethorpe. When the Army did so they left a lot of the remains of the base to the community. One of the items left was a 1941 Chevrolet fire engine that was used at the base. Since at this time there was not a municipal government to donate this engine to, The Army donated the engine to the community.
In 1951, thirteen men got together and formed a group of people. A group of people, who was interested in making their Town a safer place in which to live, and combine their ideas and skills towards achieving such a goal, the result is bound to success. Thus, this group was known as the “Volunteer Fire Department of Fort Oglethorpe.”
In 1953, the Post Fireman’s Club was formed with twenty-four members. The purpose of the club was to handle business affairs of the Fire Department by promoting different projects from which to raise money to better the equipment being used at that time. It was known then that all the equipment that the club purchased, regardless of what it might be, was to be given to the Town of Fort Oglethorpe when the men of the club paid for it through their projects. Project One for the club was the purchase of Fire Engine No. 3, purchased in the early fall of 1954, this engine took the place of the 1941 Chevrolet engine left by the Army. The cost of this engine was $10,000.00.
Project Two was the purchase of a RCA two-way radio system. The system was purchased by the Volunteers for the Town of Fort Oglethorpe at a cost of $3,700.00. The system consisted of a base station of 250 watts and a mobile radio for the fire trucks and the police car consisting of 55 watts.
Project Three was the pride and joy of the Volunteers, project #3 was the biggest project that had ever been taken on at a cost of $50,000.00. Project Three was the building of the Municipal Building, which would consist of a Court Room, Police Office, Radio Room, Mayor’s Office, Utilities Office, jail, mess hall, bunker room and apparatus room. The project started in 1958 with the plans of this building to have the most advanced equipment for the time. This equipment to include air-conditioning through out the building and a seven telephone system with intercom. After five months of intense planning, with only one goal in view - to begin construction - work on the building was started March 16, 1959. In July, 1959 came the completion of this major project. The building committee was R. V. Satterfield, Chairman; N. A. Matula Jr., CO-Chairman; T. G. Hixon Jr.; A. D. Philips; and D. F. Stevison.
The Fireman’s Club during this time period, due to the fund raising efforts, became incorporated as a non-profit organization. The name of this corporation is “The Post Volunteer Fire Department Incorporated.” The elected officers of this club was: Ruben V. Satterfield, President; W. P. (Billy Wagner, Vice President; Nick Matula, Treasurer; Dennis Stevison, Secretary; H. P. Hoover, Chaplain; L. B. Nicholson, Assistant Chaplain; Jimmy Sampley, Historian; and Harold Cook, Sergeant At Arms.
It was through the purchase of fire contracts that the Volunteer Fire Department was able to bring to the surrounding communities the Fort Oglethorpe Fire protection. These contracts ranged in price from $10.00 per year on up, according to the kind of property which was covered. All Churches and Schools were covered free of charge. The fire contracts, along with other projects that the fire department sponsors were the means through which they were able to raise the necessary funds to buy fire equipment. The fire department did not answer a fire call outside the City, unless the party had a fire contract or there was a human life in danger.
As of 1961, the Department had grown to having four pieces of apparatus, three engines and one utility/rescue truck. Harold Cook took over as Fire Chief in 1963 from Ruben V. Satterfield. By mid 1983 the department had grown to eight stations; Ft Oglethorpe, Chattanooga Valley, Rock Spring, Catlett, Naomi, two south of Lafayette, and one in Boynton. The department also had 24 pieces of apparatus, ten engines, nine tankers, three brush trucks, and two ladder trucks. The department had also grown to having 180 volunteer firemen. Under the leadership of Harold Cook the department grew to the largest volunteer fire department in Georgia.
In September 1983, the Insurance Service Office came to Fort Oglethorpe and re-rated the fire protection. The fire rating prior to the re-rating was a Class 7 in the City. The re-rated class was a Class 4. During this period the only department in the area that had a higher class rating was Chattanooga Fire Department with a Class 3.
Harold Randy Camp took over as Fire Chief with the retirement of Harold Cook in 1991. Under Chief Camp’s guidance the department has been able to go away from the fire subscription service to being county and city funded. When Walker County started funding the fire service, they started their own fire service to be called Walker County Fire & Rescue.
In 1998, Fort Oglethorpe Fire & Rescue has three stations; Ft Oglethorpe, Boynton, and Mac Smith Road.. The department has eighty volunteers and fourteen pieces of apparatus: six engines, two tankers, two ladder trucks, two rescue trucks, and two squad trucks. The fire department has also purchased a Cairns IRIS unit, a thermal imaging unit to assist with Search and Rescue techniques. The department has also started an innovative style of teaching fire safety to all ages, by the use of clowns and puppets. Members have also received very specialized training to cope with the problems of today, this training includes but not limited to: Hazardous Materials, Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic, Swift Water Rescue, Fire Safety Educators, Crash Victim Extrication, Confined Space Rescue, and High and Low Angle Rope Rescue. Fort Oglethorpe Fire & Rescue is a department that believes in tradition and being as advance as possible in training and equipment.
There are many kinds of volunteers, but none can match the fireman for complete generosity. He denotes time he could be spending on pleasures or projects to benefit himself. He gives money to buy equipment because sometimes it is the only way to get it. He offers whatever skills he has to improve his fire station. He is ready to drop everything and run whenever one of his neighbors is in trouble. Then, because he believes so strongly in his cause, spends more time trying to get others to support it. The fact that he seeks this support from those he is dedicated to help should make this his easiest task. But, it isn’t so. Sometimes he has to prove the need. Sometimes the proof lies in the smoldering ashes of a house he hasn’t been able to save. Sometimes he becomes discouraged, resentful and bitter at the apparent lack of interest in his cause. But his own belief is not shaken. He is a fireman. A VOLUNTEER FIREMAN. Such are the dedicated personnel of Fort Oglethorpe Fire & Rescue.