Information gathered by District Chief Ted Godleski.
The process started at a monthly meeting of the Leicester Grange. Members of the grange, convinced of the advantages of having a rural fire district, authorized the Grange to pay the chartering fee for the Articles of Incorporation fro what was to become the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department Inc. On Thursday June 10, 1965, the Article of Incorporation were drawn up with eighty-two members of the community being listed as original incorporators. A temporary Board of Directors was also elected at this meeting to serve until the first annual meeting of the corporation. Upon the Articles of Incorporation being drawn up, the Articles were then presented to the Secretary of State of North Carolina, with the office of the Secretary of State approving the Articles of Incorporation and granting a charter to Leicester Volunteer Fire Department Inc. on Thursday July 8,1965. The charter and articles were legally recorded in the Office of Clerk of Superior Court, Buncombe County , North Carolina on Monday July 12,1965. The first official annual meeting for the department was held on Friday July 30,1965, with one of the actions taken being an election for a permanent Board of Directors.
During the latter part of 1965 and early 1966 the members of the board were kept busy by; the appointing of a chief and assistant chief, working on a description of the bounds for the department, the possible purchase of a fire truck and the securing of a location to house the fire department. In February of 1966 the decision was made to convert the old agriculture shop at Leicester School into a fire station. After the building was secured, a fire truck was ordered in March 1966. The fire truck was ordered from American LaFrance Corp. at a cost of $16,090. In comparison to today's market of a fire truck purchased in 2013 at a cost of $332,930.92.
Thoughts then turned to the providing of emergency medical services to the community. In December of 1966 a used 1957 Pontiac ambulance was purchased from the Buncombe County Rescue Squad at a cost of $350.00. Affectionately known as "The Blue Goose" this ambulance was in service until June of 1969 when a new Chevrolet ambulance was purchased by the department at a cost of $4,315.30. Again, in comparison the most recent ambulance purchase made by the department in October 2014,at a cost of $158,300.78, excluding equipment.
Since the early days of the fire department, many accomplishments and occurrences have come about in relation to growth and development of the department. The following is a list of those beginning in 1967 until present day.
May 1967- The ladies auxiliary of the Leicester Fire Department was formed.
November 2, 1968- the first of several turkey shoots was held to help raise funds for the department.
September 15, 1969-The Board of Directors discussed acquiring a permanent home for the fire department. The Leicester youth center was recommended.
June 29, 1970- Board of Directors discussed securing land in front of Leicester school.
October 31, 1974- A portion of the Frank Lowery property along New Leicester Highway is reported to be for sale.
April 18, 1975- The Board of Directors unanimously voted to purchase the Lowery property.
February 22, 1976- The worst natural disaster involving the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department occurred when an earthen dam for a small lake broke at the head of Newfound Creek. The surge of water took the lives of four (4) family members in its path.
August 14, 1976- The first annual horse show sponsored by the department, assisted by the auxiliary was held at the Leicester School.
Throughout 1977 and early 1978 - construction was begun and continued on the new building for what was to become the permanent home of the Leicester Fire Department.
October 29, 1978- Open house was held to dedicate the new home of the department.
June 25, 1981- In agreement with the Emergency Medical Services of Buncombe County, two certified EMT-Intermediate county ambulance personnel were placed at the fire department to answer calls during the day Monday through Friday. This agreement was asset to the community. However, emergency medical services reverted back to EMT basic coverage at nights and on weekends with the services being rendered by volunteer personnel.
From mid-1981 through fall-1986- significant occurrences at the fire department consisted of; the inception and distribution of a periodic fire department newsletter (LVFD- News & Notes) and the purchase of various pieces of equipment and apparatus.
October 1, 1986- The volunteer emergency medical services for the fire department were upgraded from EMT Basic to EMT Intermediate level.
June 14, 1988- The fire tax district expanded from a four mile district to a five mile district after criteria was met as set forth by the State of North Carolina and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
May 1, 1989- Beginning at 10:00 A.M., the new enhanced emergency telephone number was activated in Buncombe County.
March 13 & 14, 1993- "the blizzard of century" struck Western North Carolina,thus causing volunteer personnel to continually man the station from late Friday night March 13 through early Wednesday, March 18.
Fall 1995- The first paid employee is hired by Leicester Fire Department.
November 5, 1996- At the request of the citizenry and through actions taken by the Madison County Board of Commissioners, a referendum was placed on the general election ballot to allow for the creation of a "Leicester Fire District" within a specific geological region of Madison County that bordered a portion of the Leicester Fire District within Buncombe County. The referendum passed favorably with the tax rate being set at the fire department's current level of $0.10 per one hundred dollar property evaluation.
June 1996 through December 1996- Buncombe County owned property adjacent to the old Sandymush School was sought after and secured as a site for the building of a fire department substation in the Sandymush community.
March 13, 1997- A loan is secured for the Sandymush substation with construction beginning soon thereafter.
June 1997- An open house is held to celebrate the opening of the Sandymush substation.
March 13, 2000- The first paid fire chief is hired by the department
From mid 2000, through mid 2007, was a period of the department's history when the significant occurrences primarily consisted of the adding of additional part-time and full-time paid personnel and the purchase and upgrading of various pieces of equipment and apparatus.
July 1, 2007- Began manning the Sandymush substation with two paid personnel twelve hours a day seven days a week.
December 28, 2010- The department closed on the purchase of a 10.2 acre piece of property adjacent to the Leicester Library with the intent of building a new fire department main station at this location in the future. On this same date the department also closed on the purchase of a 5.23 acre piece of property at 1075 Newfound Rd. with the intent of building a new fire department substation at this location in the future.
January 2012- Construction begins on the Newfound substation.
July 10, 2012- Newfound substation is opened and manned with two paid personnel twelve hours a day, seven days a week.
June 14, 2013-open house dedication for the Newfound Substation.
June 1, 2014- Due to hard work of many fire department personnel, both paid and volunteer, and through the passing of an inspection as set forth by the North Carolina Department of Insurance-Office of State Fire Marshall, the fire protection class rating is lowered to a 6E for those living within five road miles of any of fire department's three station. The lowering resulted in a noticeable deduction in fire insurance premiums for those living in these areas.
July 1, 2015- Both substations started being manned twenty four (24) hours a day, seven days a week, with two paid personnel.
October 2015- Projected date for the emergency medical services of the fire department were upgraded from the EMT Intermediate level to the EMT Paramedic level.
We look forward to the future of the department and finding ways to better benefit and serve the community of Leicester!