The Early Years
The Pelham Batesville Fire Department had its beginnings in a meeting held March 11, 1968 at the Old Mill Stream Inn Restaurant. Residents were concerned over their lack of fire protection and had gathered to discuss what they might do about it.
Fire certainly was no stranger to the Pelham Batesville community. In fact, fire had destroyed the community's central landmark, the Pelham Mill, in the year of 1943. At that time the only fire trucks available came from Greenville and Greer, and both were too far away to be of much help.
In 1968, 25 years after the mill burned, fire protection for the community had not improved. The residents who gathered for that first meeting were determined to do something to change that situation. Enthusiasm for the project was growing.
After several more meetings, a Board of Directors was elected, and the decision was made to name the organization the Pelham-Batesville Fire District and apply with the state for a charter. The charter was received May 31, 1968, and the fire district became an official organization.
August 31, 1969 was a proud day for the new fire department. An open house was held to show the community its new fire station and fire trucks. In a little over a year, the plan to provide fire protection had become a reality. The community officially had a fire department.
While the Pelham Batesville Fire Department was off to a good start, times were lean and funds were earned largely from various efforts of the department's members in various fund raising campaigns and donations.
At times, money was so short that firemen would take up a collection after a fire to pay for gasoline so the trucks would be able to respond to the next emergency. One could easily be let to speculate that by this time the reality of trying to survive might have dimmed the glow of success from the start. Nevertheless, members persisted and the fire department continued.
Through the early years the Department grew slowly but steadily. The '70s saw much headway made in the area of government funding, and as a result, newer, better equipment was able to be purchased to replace the older apparatus.
As the 1980's opened, a decade of transition began for the fire department and the community it protected. It can be said with certainty that fire protection could not have been provided in the PBFD's early years without the sacrifice and hard work of its volunteer firemen, but in light of the changing responsibilities of the Department, a more permanent staff was needed.
Between 1980 and 1989 the PBFD expanded its paid staff from one person to fifteen paid firefighters, a paid Fire Chief, a paid Assistant Fire Chief, a paid Captain/Fire Inspector, and a paid Secretary, all supplemented by twelve volunteer firefighters. Today staffing has grown to 46 full-time employees including staff officers, firefighters and administrative personnel. And the department still maintains a volunteer force of between 10 and 12 firefighters.
Changes also took place in the size of the Fire District. Because of the expansion, additional stations became necessary. As part of an agreement with the residents of Pleasant Grove, the District's Station 2 was built in 1982.
The picture below is the original fire station built in 1982 to serve the Pleasant Grove Community. It went through at least two renovations during that time and certainly served the District well. But after 35 years of active use, we simply outgrew the facility. The building currently is leased to AmbuStar EMS Services and continues to provide service to our area.
In May of 2017, we officially opened the new Fire Station at 137 Rogers Circle, almost directly across Highway 14. Once again members of our community stood up and helped us with acquiring this property and assisting us at maintaining proper levels of service to this community. The new facility can accommodate up to 7 firefighters on a continual basis, two fire engines and all the space required for serving the community today. As of this date the fire station is manned with 3 firefighters around the clock.
In 1988 the original fire station on Abner Creek Rd. was now much too small to house the growing operations, so plans were made to relocate the Headquarters Fire Station to its present location at 2761 South Highway 14. Opening in May of 1989, the fire station, for its time, was a state of the art facility and has served the District well for nearly 30 years
In 2001, as space requirements continued to grow, an additional truck bay, exercise room, training facilities, office and storage space was added. This followed in 2005 by the addition of an elevator, to allow public access to the second story training area, and a kitchen renovation which added dining space
Growth in the Woodruff Rd. area caused the need for yet another fire station, and in 1988 Station 3 at Five Forks was built. In 2008 station 3 was relocated to its’ present location at 431 Batesville Road in a new and expanded facility. The original building was sold and presently houses a swimming pool supply store.
In 1992, a fourth station, which also serves as our apparatus and equipment maintenance facility, was added at 789 Brockman McClimon Road. The area around this Station was seeing growth in many respects, including the BMW Manufacturing Facility and residential subdivisions that were being built in areas annexed by the City of Greer. In 1994 the Fire District and the City of Greer negotiated a Contract that allows the District to continue to provide fire protection services to these areas for a fee similar to what the District had been receiving for service. That agreement is still in place today and well serves the District, the City and the community. When constructed, Spartanburg County helped fund the project so that they could house an EMS Quick Response Unit at the location. Today this is truly a shared-use facility; housing emergency response personnel and equipment for the Fire District, Spartanburg County EMS and the City of Greer Fire Department. Each agency assists with the maintenance and utilities for the facility.
As the District continues on with its future change is taking place daily. Both residential and commercial growth continues at an unprecedented rate and the PBFD is constantly improving to compensate for the changes.
All the additions and changes will soon leave the Headquarters Fire Station as the oldest facility among the four fire stations that we operate. Plans are just this year being started as to the future of this facility. That future may include renovations, additions or possibly even the relocation of the Headquarters station to a location nearby within the next few years.
The world of fire protection is also changing drastically. Firefighters do not sit around the fire station waiting for a fire to occur. Mandatory training, including physical fitness, along with maintenance of buildings, vehicles, fire hydrants, and pre-fire plan records all keep firefighters busy. In addition, PBFD firefighters now have to handle first responder (medical) calls, hazardous materials calls, and rescue calls along with the increasing number of fire calls.