History of Cleveland Fire Department

Anytime, Anyplace, Any Need.

The Cleveland Fire Department was established in 1961. At the time, the Cleveland community relied on the surrounding departments in Clayton and Smithfield to respond to emergencies in the area. Fourteen members of the community saw a need for a local fire department to protect the Cleveland citizens.

They united together to make their vision a reality starting with collecting donations door to door. Even children joined the effort by contributing their pennies towards the cause. A parcel of land was donated from the McLemore Family and for the next forty years this would be the site of the Cleveland Fire Department. From the donations received from the community and timber from adjacent farms, a two bay station was constructed at the intersection of Cleveland Rd and Matthews Rd. Once the land had been secured and the station was being built the members focused their efforts on the purchase of a fire truck and equipment. The members met in the home of Mr. Percy Barber and signed a contract to purchase a 1961 American LaFrance Pumper, four sets of turn out gear and a siren for the station for the cost of $16,000.

One of the early assignments for the charter members was to collect money one Sunday afternoon each month. Each member was assigned an area and they would go request for donations in order to pay for fuel, the light bill, or the loan payment for the pumper and gear. This fund raising method continued for many years and highlights the dedication of the members and the community towards the fire department. Over the years continued fundraisers at the fire station included pastry suppers, bake sales, auctions, and even a mud sling. In the 1980’s additional funding for operational cost was provided when Johnston County levied a fire tax on property within the fire district. This tax eased the financial burden on all departments within the county.

By the late 1990’s the Cleveland area was rapidly developing. This growth contributed to higher call volume and created the need to move forward from an all-volunteer department. In 1998 the department hired two fulltime day shift firefighters. At this point the Cleveland Fire Department needed more space than the original station provided. The McLemore family once again generously donated a parcel of land to for the construction of a new station. On July 4, 2001 the new station was dedicated in the honor of the fourteen charter members who tirelessly worked to fulfill their vision for a safer community.

The ensuing years brought a substantial increase in business and residential building. Due to increasing call volumes and the expanding service area in 2005 the Cleveland Fire Department hired it first paid Fire Chief, Chris Ellington. Once again, the department realized a need to expand in order to reduce response times in the Cleveland district. Land was secured on Cleveland Rd north of highway 42 in 2008 and construction began on the second station. On July 18, 2009 Station Two was dedicated and placed into operation. Today, In addition to fire protection and offering EMT level emergency services, the fire department conducts various community programs, such as visiting local schools and child care facilities, fire extinguisher training for businesses, and CPR classes; fire protection and education and employee safety training. Cleveland Fire Department responds to over one thousand fire and EMS calls each year serving the Cleveland community.