Valley Rewind: Black Mountain volunteer fire department

Special to Black Mountain News
Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center
Black Mountain Volunteer Fire Department members stand in front of a fire engine in 1950.

A 1950 photo shows Black Mountain Volunteer Fire Department (BMFD) members standing in front of a fire engine. Firefighting equipment and technology has changed drastically since the department’s founding in the late 1910s. In the early 1920s, members equipped themselves with much of the standard firefighting technology of the period: 800 ft. of hose, two hand reels and a hand-drawn hook-and-ladder truck. However, some safety and equipment standards taken for granted today were not yet in use. For example, members did not wear protective gear. Instead, firefighters wore regular work clothes and gloves and wrapped scarves around their faces to prevent smoke inhalation. In contrast, today, one properly equipped firefighter’s safety gear can cost up to $10,000.  Photo courtesy of the Black Mountain Fire Department. A new exhibit looking back at 100 years of the Black Mountain Firehouse, and the BMFD can be viewed at the Swannanoa Valley Museum now through Dec. 31.