The fire department has played a vital role in this community since its organization in 1903. Yesterday and today, firemen are basically the same; local businessmen who leave their places of work, and citizens who dedicate their time away from their full time jobs out of the city to lend protection to people within the community when the signal sounds. Back then, they had little to no training. A lot has changed in the fire service, but one thing that still makes us different from other departments is that we are mainly a volunteer department supplemented by limited paid staff. The firefighters of today are still business owners and homeowners who want to serve their community and protect the lives and property of the citizens. The difference is that they are highly trained to handle today’s complex fires and operate today’s sophisticated equipment.
The fire department had its first meeting hall on South Goliad Street on the square. The firefighters would eat once a month at the meeting hall. Once a year their wives would join them there for a dinner. The wives did the cooking and it was reported to always be enough food and desserts to feed an army.
Shown in this photo are: Lyle Mc Donald, a pharmacist; Dick Faris, a furniture store owner; Bill Dove, a restaurant owner; Hal Barnes, an employee in Vance Drug Store; C.L. Bob Barnes, a farmer; Tom Ridgel, a lawyer; Felix Vernon, a post office employee; John Barringer, a Fate Texas farmer, Jack Lowe, a service station owner, Scott Bailey, Owner of Bailey Drug Store; Fred Wilkerson, a furniture store owner; and C.W. Tresenriter, a home builder. This photo was furnished by: Mrs. Joe F. Spafford Sr.
This photograph shows the 1939 open top fire truck just after it was built, sitting at the corner of Salina Alley and Leonard Street . Posing in the picture are J.E. (Lighting) Bridges, Sam House, Wade (Cut)Mc Coulskey, Benny Shaw and Willard Muncy.
The above photograph shows the 1939 open top fire truck at the old Gulf filling station, which burned. Chief Benny Shaw is standing on the truck overseeing the scene and pumping water. The fire department purchased a second open top truck chassis in 1942. Benny Shaw built the tank and body for it.
In 1952, the firemen posed for a photograph in front of the courthouse. The 1939 and 1942 fire trucks were lined up and all the firemen in their uniforms lined up. The photograph from left to right had Benny Shaw, O.L. Stiger Jr., Hogue Lofland, Tevis Wimpee, Ted Cain, Ray Dowell, Buford Yeager, Wayne Rogers, Harless Dudley, Rooster Crawford, Bill Lawhorn, Elroy Blacketer, Bur Vernon, A.L. Gilbert, Foy McCurry, Lighting Bridges, F.N. Rosenbaum, Wade McCoulskey, and John Mark Gren. We have the honor of still having three of these honorary firemen with us today. Wayne Rogers, Ted Cain, Tevis Wimpee.
A Family Thing - generations of service, brothers,
father and son, etc.
The fire department is a brotherhood but it also has even stronger roots within our department. The department in the past and in the present consists of fathers, sons, uncles, and cousins. The tradition of firefighting is passed from generation to generation. Paul Merritt and his three sons Craig, Brett, Ron, and grandson Chad , Wayne Massey and his son Greg, James Radney and his son Aaron, are all currently firefighters together. Some of the past family members are Thomas Nalls and son Randy Nalls, Robert Smith and his grandson Michael Parker, James Cullins and his son Kenneth, Benny Gracy and his brother Dewayne Gracy, Billy Ray Sears and his son Mike, Weldon Daniel’s and his son Rod , Mark Poindexter and his son Andrew, his cousin Randy Lofland and his uncle Lenord McIntire, and the list could go on and on if we looked further back in the past.
Extraordinary Saves & Accomplishments
There have been many saved by firemen on motor vehicle extrications or by Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. The fire department has also saved many pets from burning buildings and even preformed mouth to mouth on some.
The Rockwall fire department has taken part in many major tragedies. They assisted with the Delta 191 plane crash at DFW. Terry Garrett and Mark Poindexter have assisted many of the North Texas Fire and Police agencies, including in the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, and World Trade Center terrorist attack in New York City , by conducting Critical Stress Incident Management Debriefings. The fire department Scuba Dive Team has assisted the Texas Rangers in solving a murder case by finding the murder weapon.