Tryon FD – History

Chiefs of the Department

Prior to the charter of the Tryon Fire Department the townspeople would volunteer their services whenever fire broke out in town. In 1910 donations by businesses and individuals were given to purchase 3 hose reels . One was placed on Melrose Avenue, one on Godshaw Hill and the third in mill town. A ladder wagon was purchased in 1911, which was pulled by manpower or horses, whichever was available. The first fire truck was purchased in 1913. The second fire truck was a Ford purchased in 1923. The third truck purchased was by “Graham Brothers” in 1925. There were efforts to start a fire department as early as 1917. The last page of papers compiled by Clarence Scoggins, to our knowledge, is the original meeting with Town of Tryon Officials electing Tryon Fire Department Officers April 22, 1920.

The Department was officially chartered in 1922 and consisted of the following members:

Mr. Hill – Fire Chief
W.A. Wilson – Assistant Chief
Jim Early
Charles Ford
Terril Green
Jim Berry
Tom Huntsinger
Julian Hester
Claude Ballenger
G.L. Foster
M.G. Blake
Oliver Andrews

The first department was located on Maple St., near the present Town Public Works shed. The bell, which now resides in front of the current station (see below), was obtained in 1911. The telephone company was located very near where Windstream is now. There was a cable attached to the bell and it was strung in the air to the nearby telephone office. When a call came in, the telephone operator pulled the cable to ring the bell so as to alert the firemen.

In 1937 a Mack fire truck was purchased. This was the first new fire truck in all of Polk County. It arrived by rail and was unloaded at the depot on Pacolet Street.

The 1937 Mack today.

In 1948 the department purchased a new open cab Ford chassis and a front mount pump, which the members mounted and plumbed themselves.  This vehicle carried three hundred gallons of water..

In 1954, the local telephone company arranged for 10 fire phones to be installed in the businesses where the firemen worked for notification of a fire. In early evening these 10 phones were switched to 10 firemen residences for notification at night. The wives of the firemen that had a phone would call the other firemen for notification of the fire and location. sentence-When a fire call was transmitted to the 10 telephones, the ring was a long single ring tone which continued to ring until the telephone was answered. This was how you knew it was a fire call. These phones were used until 1979 when the department received pagers. The department now uses pagers and portable radios.

The Tryon Fire Department protects the area of the Town of Tryon, Tryon Township and a portion of Foothills Fire District located in Greenville County, S.C. The resident freeholders or property owners voted in 1985 to form the Tryon Township Fire Tax District. Tryon and Greenville County, S.C. entered into a fire protection contract in 1992. Tryon also provides mutual aid in Spartanburg County S.C. through a mutual aid agreement with Landrum Fire Department. In addition to these agencies, Tryon also maintains mutual aid agreements with the other fire departments in Polk County – Columbus, Saluda, Green Creek, Mill Spring, and Sunny View. Dispatching is done jointly through the Polk County 911 center and the Tryon Police Department.

In 1979 Tryon Fire Department’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating improved from a 7/9 to a 6/9. In 1994, the department improved its rating from a 6/9 to a 5/9s. The ISO rating inspection, now administered through the NC Office of State Fire Marshal, in 2011 kept Tryon as a Class 5 department. Tryon Fire Department is also certified as a Heavy Rescue provider through the NC Association of Rescue and EMS, Inc.