Good morning, ladies, gentlemen and friends.
I want to extend my most cordial welcome
to you as we gather here to dedicate the fire museum, another important
step in the development and progress of the City of Kings Mountain, a
community which is meeting the need for communities in which people can
live in dignity without the waste and discomfort of hours of commuting
to large cities and the need for new community institutions to manage
them and keep them healthy.
The greatest development of all: the
development of the talents and skills of our fellow Americans -
providing training in high skills for millions whose careers are
stalled, the potentials inadequately used to fit them to perform
satisfying, rewarding work that the development of America will require.
What is presently lacking, but will
surely come, is a resurgence of the high hopes, the sanguine spirit, the
heart and drive that carried people from the Atlantic seaboard over the
mountains, across great rivers and plains - the inspired enterprise of
hundreds of thousands of private individuals that gave birth to a great
It was really simple and effective
planning - really just decisions to take certain action, which, in the
judgment of good and wise men, would turn to the nation's advantage.
Planning that is real, that leads
directly into action, will take place in communities all over the
country, in cities, towns, counties and even regions - but it must be
responsive to the needs of the private citizens of the community - who
know those needs best.
To be content as a nation with what
we've got, to treat low expectations as virtues - flies in the face of
the individual's needs and ambitions for himself. It is not in the
nature of private men and women to discount their future.
Before we review the events and
methods by which this museum was built, I would like to review with you
a bit of the history of the City of Kings Mountain.
The Town of Kings Mountain was
chartered February 11, 1874, and the organization meeting was held
The commissioners named in that
charter have many relatives and descendants living among us today: Dr.
J.W. Tracy, W.A. Mauney, F. Dilling, D.C. Beam and W.F. Falls.
The first cotton mill was established
in 1888, and the oldest national bank in Cleveland County was the First
National Bank of Kings Mountain which began in January 1900.
Therefore, fellow citizens, you can
see that Kings Mountain has had a long history of forward-looking and
dedicated people who have given wholeheartedly of their times and
talents for their community, just as many of our founding fathers did on
both the community and national level, and as our citizens do today.
Stories based on reports from older
members of the fire department inform us that the City owned a 1924
truck that served as the hose carrier, and that a building was located
behind the present City Hall.
It was generally a community amusement
to watch the truck on its way to fires because it usually required
pushing to the scene of the fire: however, as the City of Kings Mountain
continued its growth, the Kings Mountain Fire Department was organized
in April 1931 with a rating of 9AAA, and on April 6 of that year, the
Board of Commissioners authorized purchase of a 600 gallon La-France
truck, engine and hose from the La-France company of Elmira, New York.
Mr. P.D. Fulton was employed as Driver
on May 18, 1931 at $80.00 per month, 24-hours duty, 7 days per week.
The first fire call was answered by
the new fire department on May 3 (1931) at the home of Mr. Wid Morris.
The Fire Department budget for
1931-1932 was $7,710 with pay for volunteers authorized on July 20,
In August 1931 the Board of
Commissioners authorized the first fire department building - a house in
which to keep the new fire truck
On February 1, 1932, the Board
authorized hiring of the second fireman, and on June 6, 1932 adopted a
resolution of commendation for excellent service and the success of the
Fire Department which was due in no small part to the officers of the
There have been so many outstanding
men in the Fire Department that we cannot possibly mention them all, but
we would like to remind you of some of them.
The men who have served as Chief are
1931-1954 Grady King
1954-1963 Pat Tignor
1963-1973 Floyd Thornburg
1973-Present Gene Tignor (*note - Gene Tignor retired in 1989 and
Frank Burns became the 5th Chief of the Department, and still serves as
The first Fire Department was composed
of: Mr. Grant, Claude Hambright, Percy Dilling, Charles Dilling, Carl
Davidson, Lawrence Lovell, Miles Wilson, Grady King, P.D. Fulton, Mr.
Clary, Runt Wingate, J.P. Tignor, Otis Falls, J.D. Hord, Tom Fulton.
Just as the fire building of the Fire
Department was planned to hold a fire truck, so the idea for this museum
was conceived to hold a fire truck.
The Fire Department had a 1938 truck
that was being retired from service but needed to be retained for
emergencies, and it needed to be protected from the elements.
At first, the firemen considered using
the old railroad depot. Upon finding that building inappropriate, they
considered constructing a building on city-owned property at this
location using their own time and talents - and that is just what they
Aided by donation of the land by the
city as authorized by the Board of Commissioners, donations from
businesses and private citizens, and last but of prime importance, the
boundless ideas, energies and time of the member of the Ladies'
Auxiliary who spent so much time and effort sponsoring events such as
bake sales, rummage sales, bazaars and anything else that would make
money for the Fire Museum. Even the Junior Firemen got in on the act by
selling hot dogs and lemonade at the Moss Lake.
The building is paid for, and there
will be a note burning ceremony to celebrate.
This museum is to be open every
weekend, and other times by appointment for any interested group.
You will find on display here the 1931
and 1938 fire trucks which have been completely restored. Incidentally,
the 1931 fire truck has 19 coats of paint and the 1938 has 10 coats of
In addition, there are also here the
following: the first piece of fire fighting equipment the city ever
owned - a fire cart and hose which was pulled along to fires
The helmets, badges and other memoirs
of former firemen
The first fire extinguisher on wheels
- 1903 model - used here in 1925
The first resuscitation equipment,
which was located on the 1938 truck
The first pontoon ladder, a 35 foot
extension ladder that came with the 1931 truck
The 1938 truck can still be used in
emergencies but the 1931 truck is for display only.
The old house that was built for the
first fire truck will be moved onto this lot behind the museum.
Although the building is paid for, the
equipment - especially the 1931 truck - is not, and the firemen, both
regular and volunteers, have pledged $10 per month from their salaries
to pay off the debt.
From that small beginning in 1931, the
fire department has gradually increased until today. We have a full time
chief, 6 paid firemen, 20 volunteers, and 12 members of the Junior
Firemen, and they are still exhibiting the same dedication and service
to the community that earned them that first commendation.
As to equipment, we have a 1,000
gallon pumper, a 750 gallon pumper and a 400 gallon pumper. All trucks
are equipped with standard nozzles, hoses, etc., including a high-fog
The rating of the Fire Department has
increased from 9AAA in 1931 to 6 today, 3 full grades.
Instrumental in the improved rating
has been the improvement of our water system capacity which is currently
6 million gallons, expanding to 10 million gallons this year.
Storage capacity increased from
500,000 to 3,800,000 gallons with impoundment of approximately 14
million gallons reserve storage.
This increased water capacity will be
of great value to the Fire Department, especially if we have any fires
of the magnitude of some in the past which included:
The big downtown fire - Southern Bell
Telephone Company, and another large building. The Kings Mountain
High School, the Slater Mill which was over $1 million, the old Phenix
Mill at $3 million and the Herndon Company warehouse.