Tag Archives: Goochland Day

Fire Department Memories

7 Oct

In order to preserve the memories of the past before they are lost, The Goochland County Historical Society conducts oral history interviews.  These interviews often touch on some part of the history of the county as told by the people who lived it.  It is our pleasure to share one of these histories now, the memories of Edith Richmond and her part in the founding of the Goochland County Fire Department.

Crozier Auxiliary 1966

“Years ago, Dover Baptist Church burned to the ground.  It was mentioned that if Goochland had a fire department, then the Church might have been saved.  In the days following, Ned Willis, who owned a fire truck for use on his River Road farm, offered to help the county establish a fire department.  This gentleman was a family friend and I, being a young secretary, was asked to go to the preparatory meetings and take notes.  That is how I first started working with what would become the Goochland County Fire Department.

After much effort, meetings and debates, the Dover Pembroke Fire Department, as it was then called, was formed.  The new department was strictly volunteer fire fighting.  The Richmond Fire Department sent some instructors and classes were held and the men were trained.  The new firemen were so enthusiastic; they could not wait for a call to come.  On one occasion, they raced to a fire and my uncle, Richard Cridlin, was so excited, he hooked the fire hose up backwards!  This was soon corrected and they were then able to put out the fire.  At that time, we still didn’t have a rescue squad, so Tom Norman graciously used the Norman Funeral Home equipment to transport patients to the hospital.

Controlled burn of the Layne barn

There were many dedicated men who gave their time and money to see the fire department become a success.  No one was paid to do a job, they were simply proud to do something for their fellow man.  Later, the county decided to re-name the fire department to Goochland County Fire Department.  At this time, the training became so complex that many of the volunteers did not have the time to extend their training and had to leave the department.

Firemen’s wives were also called into duty.  They became the dispatchers via a telephone emergency line.  Each dispatcher had around five firemen that they had to call and tell where and what kind of fire was burning.  Out of this, the auxiliaries were formed – Manakin then Crozier, etc.  These were the wives, girlfriends and neighbors of the firemen.  My husband, Harold Richmond, was a Crozier Company #2 fireman, so I became affiliated with the Crozier auxiliary.  When the men were out fighting a forest fire, we would take them drinking water and food.  It was a true community effort.

We worked hard to raise money for anything the firemen needed.  We bought the land, built the firehouse and purchased equipment by having pancake suppers, bingo, spaghetti suppers, selling fruitcakes and many other fund raising ideas.  We finally got our kitchen and then many things were donated such as a refrigerator, stove and other equipment.  At this time, we began having the still popular Chicken BBQ dinners.  This annual event still continues to raise much-needed funds for the fire department and I am happy to say that I still help out when needed.

Crozier Company #2 floats

Crozier Company #2 float

We participated yearly in Goochland Day and won several 1st place prizes for our floats.  One year, I was the Statue of Liberty and had to ride the entire route with my arm raised!  Another year, for our theme, we used the old lady and the shoe.  It was a large shoe shaped out of chicken wire with colored tissues stuck in all of the holes, it was quite a hit.  These floats were taken to other counties as well where we took part in various 4th of July festivals and won prizes in many of these as well.

There have been a lot of changes in my 60 odd years of working with the department.  It has gone from one truck and a few volunteers to many companies; paid personnel, rescue units and high tech equipment.  The dedication to the cause, however, has remained the same, everyday men and women, volunteering time and putting their lives on the line to help their fellow citizens.”  Edith Richmond, personal interview, 2011

If you know of anyone with a story to tell that may be of interest to future generations, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society to set up an interview.