The Kingsport Fire Department was organized June 23, 1916 as a self-supporting volunteer organization consisting of 48 men divided among four companies. The apparatus consisted of four hand-drawn hose reels, 2,000 feet of hose, one hand-drawn hook and ladder truck, (which had one 20ft and one 30ft ladder an 18ft wall ladder, and axes, poles, and lanterns), six nozzles, and one hand-drawn chemical engine with two 35 gallon chemical tanks. Fire alarms were sounded by a wildcat whistle at the Extract Plant.
KIngsport’s First Fire Station
Chief Tom Warrick 1917-1930M
The City assumed financial responsibility of the department when it was incorporated in 1917. The first pumper, purchased in 1917, is still owned by the department and is displayed at Station Two in an outdoor showroom built by firefighters. The department started operating under the leadership of Chief Tom Warrick. They responded to calls with one paid driver until 1930, when four paid firefighters and the second pumper were added to the force.
Chief Roy Pyle 1935-1945
J. Roy Pyle was chosen for the office of Chief in 1935 and served until 1945. During Chief Pyleâ€™s term, Fire Station 2 at Crescent and Ft. Henry was built and a ladder truck was added to the list of vehicles.
Chief C. M. Kenner 1945-1978
C.M. Kenner was named Chief in 1945 and served until his retirement in 1978. During Chief Kennerâ€™s term, operations continued as a part paid and part volunteer until 1950, when the last of the volunteers were phased out. Fire Station 3 on Memorial was constructed in 1965 and Fire Station 4 on West Stone in 1969. A replacement for the Watauga Street Station was built in 1971 on Island Street to protect the central business district. This building now is designated as Station One, and houses the Administrative Offices, the Fire Marshalâ€™s Office, and the Safety/Training Office.
Chief C. L. Caldwell 1978-1994
In 1978, C. L. Caldwell was appointed to the office of Fire Chief and held the office until his retirement in 1994. During Chief Caldwellâ€™s term, Kingsportâ€™s growth continued and Fire Station 5 in Lynn Garden opened in 1990 and Fire Station 6 in Colonial Heights on Ft. Henry Dr. opened in 1992. A hazardous materials response unit was added and a number of personnel were trained as hazardous material technicians. Also during his term, the Paramedic training was initiated and the first class of approximately 20 KFD members received their paramedic licenses. In August of 1995, the department implemented Advanced Life Support (ALS) and currently 43 members are Paramedics.
Chief J. C. Moser 1994-2001
In 1994, J. C. Moser was appointed Chief and held the office until his retirement in 2001. During Chief Moserâ€™s term, the department received accreditation by the Commission of Fire Accreditation International in the year 2000. Only 129 departments in the world currently hold this honor, with Kingsport being one of the first 25 departments to be accredited. Specialized Haz-Mat and Tactical Rescue Teams were begun consisting of five personnel from each shift. The Kingsport Fire Department Training Facility was also constructed during Chief Moserâ€™s tenure built completely by Fire Department Members. The position of Safety/Training Officer was also created to enhance and coordinate the training of all personnel.
Chief Charles A. White 2001-2003
In 2001, Charles A. White was appointed to the office of Fire Chief. During this year a new Deputy Chief of Operations position was created. Robert Sluss was appointed to the position of Fire Marshal. The special teams were increased from 5 per shift to 7 and most Haz-Mat team members updated their certification through TEMA to Technician level. A future site for a fire station was purchased at the Airport Parkway exit off I-81. Chief C.A. White retired in December of 2003.
Chief Craig Dye 2004-Present
Craig Dye was named Fire Chief in 2004. Two new stations have been built since then, one on the South side of the City and one on the East side. The Kingsport Fire Department currently consists of 116 employees. The Hazardous Materials Team is now State Accredited and the Technical Rescue Team is working on the same. Chief Dye serves as chairman of the CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive) Committee under Homeland Security. The department is the lead agency for both Tennessee District 1 Homeland Security Teams. The Kingsport Fire Department was re-accredited in 2012 by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. All suppression personnel are certified by the Tennessee Commission on Firefighting Standards to the highest level available and are licensed by the State as Paramedics or EMT. All personnel in the Fire Marshalâ€™s Office are certified through the State Fire Marshall’s Office. We at the Kingsport Fire Department dedicate ourselves to continue to work and train to be a premier department in the State of Tennessee.
To learn about the history of the Maltese Cross click here.