Conference History

For over 140 years, North Carolina firefighters have traveled around the state to meet with each other. In the years before the Civil War, fire companies entertained visiting firefighters with activities such as dinners, dances, and parades. Fire engine contents appeared as early as 1870, when a both steam engine and hand engine contest was conducted at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.

North Carolina State Fireman's Association in Raleigh, 1936. Click to enlarge.

One of the first firefighter conventions was held in Raleigh on October 15, 1873. The meeting was called for all colored firemen in the state by fire company members in Fayetteville, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington. In September 1888, a meeting of white firemen was called in Greensboro, for the purpose of organizing a state fireman's association.

The first annual convention of the North Carolina State Fireman's Association opened in Raleigh on August 13, 1889. The event also included a tournament. Annual meetings and tournaments were also conducted by the North Carolina Colored Volunteer Fireman's Association, which organized by 1889.

Since 1889, the North Carolina State Fireman's Association has conducted yearly meetings in towns and cities across the state. For most years until 1941, annual event also featured tournaments with contests in hand-drawn, horse-drawn, and, beginning in 1920, motor apparatus.

Atlantic Fire Company of New Bern competes in hose wagon contest, circa 1900.

Beginning in 1929, the yearly meeting included a report on the North Carolina State Fireman's College and Drill School. The first school was conducted in Asheville earlier that year. This annual training event continued for several decades.

During the 1940s, the convention was cancelled three times, due to war conditions. In 1960, the yearly meeting was expanded to include the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs.

Raleigh last hosted the event in 1973, with prior visits by the North Carolina State Fireman's Association in 1889, 1902, 1916, 1936, 1956, and 1968.

Read more NCSFA history here at