White Plains Volunteer Fire Department

White Plains Volunteer Fire Department Calhoun County, Alabama A mobile home being ravaged by fire set in motion the efforts that became the White Plains Volunteer Fire Department. A printed circular distributed by the thousands in the community of White Plains announced a meeting on Monday, August 7, 1972, at 7:30 p.m. at the White Plains High School lunch room for the purpose of starting a fire department. The department charter specified a radius of five miles from the station serving White Plains, Rabbittown, Iron City, Chosea Springs, and Choccolocco communities. The estimated population coverage was 4,500 residents. A ladies auxiliary was organized and composed mostly of the wives of firefighters. They helped raise funds by holding rummage sales at the old Anniston Curb Market, bake sales and other sales. They worked long and hard on donation drives and roadblocks. Mrs. Harriet Donoho was one of the first contributors to help this worthy cause. The first piece of fire equipment purchased was an M.S.A. (mine safety appliance) self-contained breathing apparatus Model 401. This protected the firefighters from smoke, toxic gases, and heat. Training classes were conducted at White Plains High School. In 1972, a lot adjacent to Harper's Lake was donated by W.J. Harder. Its location was central to the communities it would serve. Harper's Lake provided a training area for refill operations and hose lays. The lake also served to refill water tanks after each fire. The Calhoun County Commission provided labor and materials for widening the driveway and laying the drainage pipe. The fire station was a one story, two-bay structure with dimensions of 45' x 65'. The fire department sponsored a "block-a-thon" on Saturday, March 10, 1973, at the building site. There were 2,100 cement blocks at the site. People came by to purchase cement blocks for 25 cents each. Then they would carry the blocks to a "sold" pile to be used in the building construction. When all the building materials were purchased, they held a ground-breaking ceremony. The Calhoun County Commission provided labor and materials and poured concrete and steel reinforced floor for the building. The fire station was built by a construction company from Heflin, Alabama. Before the fire station was completed, a delegation of firefighters went to the Harry Harless Fire Equipment Company in Birmingham, Alabama. They purchased a 1949 International Fire truck that featured a 400 gallon per minute front mounted pump. They also purchased several hundred feet of new 1 S" hose, 2 new turbo jet fog nozzles and 2 new gate valves. The cost for the truck and equipment was $4,519.12. An extra water tank was built and mounted to the empty hose bed. There wasn't a fire hydrant system then, so large diameter hoses were not needed. With the internal water tank inside the truck and the external tank, fire fighters could transport approximately 750 gallons of water to a fire. The fire truck was kept at the home of one of the firefighters until the station was completed. On October 7, 1974, during the National Fire Prevention Week, the fire truck was proudly displayed in a Parade at Oxford, Alabama, along with other volunteer fire departments throughout Calhoun County. The fire department built a large utility trailer that could transport additional equipment to a fire scene. This trailer was used November 26, 1974, in Anniston's annual Christmas parade. It had a small scale house built on it and smoke canisters simulating a house fire. Their attached signs said, "Don't let this happen to you." Over the years, the White Plains Volunteer Fire Department has continued to grow. They now have a 5 bay building at White Plains and a 4 bay double depth substation located 1.2 miles north of Holley Crossroads, on Alabama Highway 9. The equipment now consists of 3 pumpers - two 1250 gallons per minute pumper, one 1500 gallon per minute pumper; 2 tanker trucks - one 1,200 gallon, and one 2,400 gallon;2 300 gallon brush/wildland trucks. As of now, there are 19 active adult members. Anyone interested in working with the White Plains Fire Department may call the fire station at 238-1117 or Chief Hutto at 236-9969. This information was written by Alfred Applegate and Nathan Harper in 2003

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