Corolla Fire & Rescue to celebrate 40 years of service on October 7

(Submitted/Corolla Fire & Rescue)

Today, Corolla Fire and Rescue Squad is a force of 35 volunteers augmented by paid Currituck County staff housed in two fire stations and capable of responding to fire calls with up to 14 different fire vehicles.

40 years ago, when Corolla was a newly discovered area with beautiful beaches and sand roads sprouting vacation homes, the few permanent area residents decided it was time for the community to establish a fire response service.  With donations from local property owners, support from Currituck County and the gift of a 1968 Military Jeep Kaiser Brush Truck from Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department, Corolla Fire & Rescue Squad was established on July 1, 1983.

Over the next 3 years a new 4-wheel drive ambulance was placed in service and CFRS became a North Carolina Certified Basic EMT provider.  A 3-bay garage and meeting room was also built on Whalehead Drive and a used pumper and a used tanker were added by 1986. In 1989 several squad members received advanced training resulting in CFRS becoming one of the first EMT-Defibrillation rated squads in North Carolina.  CFRS would continue to provide EMT services until 2007 when Currituck County assumed full EMS responsibility in Corolla.

With the rapid and widespread construction growth in Corolla, 2007 also marked the point when it was decided that a second fire station was needed to better position equipment and decrease response times.   Consequently, the Pine Island fire station was established along Ocean Trail, housing a first out pumper and an EMS crew.

1990 marked the beginning of CFRS water rescue operations with the purchase of a Yamaha Jet Ski.  Eleven water rescues were made that year. For the next 24 years, through public donations and Currituck County support, CFRS operated daily paid beach patrols with 40 trained lifegards making up to 200 rescues each season.  

In 2017 to enhance public safety awareness, Corolla Fire established Corolla Cares which develops and provides educational programs promoting strong public safety practices involving water safety, fire prevention and traffic safety.  Much of this effort goes to educating foreign student workers employed in Corolla during tourist season and informing visitors of state and local fire regulations as well as working with rental companies to promote pool and elevator safety.  

Every five years Corolla Fire is evaluated by the North Carolina Department of Insurance.  The lower the number on a scale of one to 10, the better the rating.  In 2018 Corolla Fire went from a rating of 6 to a rating of 5.  In 2023 CFRS earned an impressive rating of 3, the best rating in the county.

May 2018 became a milestone in the continuing fire response effort in Corolla.   With the ranks of fire volunteers aging and total numbers declining against an ever-growing number of calls, additional manpower support was needed.  With over 90% property owner support, the County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of a Corolla Fire Service district which added 39 full-time paid firefighters to staffing, making CFRS a combined force.  Having paid firefighters available for response has led to a significant decrease in response times and a marked increase in structural saves.  An added benefit has been the Currituck County requirement that all paid staff be firefighter and EMS cross qualified.

When Corolla Fire & Rescue was established in 1983, they responded to a handful of calls.  Prior to 1990 the average annual call volume was only 15.  In 1995 CFRS responded to 94 calls. By 2007 when the Pine Island station was established the volume was up to 190 a year.  In 2022 the Corolla Fire and Rescue call volume had grown to 482 calls.  Today CFRS is on pace to surpass that number, having set a new monthly record with 112 calls this past July alone.

CFRS not only serves the Corolla community but is also a dedicated partner in the mutual aid network supporting Currituck and Dare County fire response efforts.  So regardless of where you live in the Outer Banks and surrounding communities, join the Corolla Community and come out to the Historic Corolla Park on October 7th from 3 to 8pm and celebrate the 40th anniversary of Corolla Fire and Rescue.