Black Mountain Fire Department celebrates 100 years
A parade of fire equipment from departments around the state crept along State Street, Oct. 12, to celebrate the Black Mountain Fire Department.
The procession was part of a day-long festival recognizing the department for 100 years of service.
A display chronicling the history of the department opened at 10 a.m. to kick off the event. The presentation included an expression of gratitude for retired BMFD firefighters, specifically the guidance the group has offered current members of the department.
Names of 15 chiefs, beginning with R.E. Currier to current chief, Scottie Harris, were displayed, while minutes from the first department meeting in October of 1919, were encased nearby.
The parade, which included more than 60 trucks from nearby fire districts like Swannanoa, Broad River and Asheville, also featured an appearance by the Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) helicopter. The department’s 1926 American LaFrance featured retired BMFD firefighters who were the the parade’s grand marshals.
Activities at the fire department included fire truck rides, bouncy houses, sweet treats and more. A giant inflatable Smokey Bear towered over the festivities from Town Square.
Guests were invited to explore the department’s museum, named in honor of its ninth chief, Jack Leatherwood.
Deputy Chief John Wilson, who organized the event with seven other current and retired firefighters, personally welcomed many of the people in attendance.
“We’re honored to have so many people from the community out here celebrating this day with the department,” said Wilson, who joined the department in 1985. “We wanted to share our history, celebrate the people who helped us get where we are today and recognize our current firefighters. We’re very grateful for the support of this community, and for all of the departments that came out to support us today.”
Blocks away from the festival, the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center offered a look at the building that served as the department’s home for more than 60 years. BMFD vacated Currier Hall, which is now home to the museum, in 1987.
The nonprofit museum, which moved into the building in 1989, restored it in 2016. The brick structure, built in 1921, was designed by one-time Biltmore Estates resident architect Richard Sharp Smith. The English architect designed much of Biltmore Village and the gymnasium and pool addition to Terry Estate, which is now part of the Montreat College Black Mountain Campus.
The 100th anniversary celebration, which was attended by retired BMFD chiefs Gary Bartlett and Steve Jones, among others, ended with a closing ceremony at the station.