Charleston Fire Department

Charleston, South Carolina | C.1887

Photo Credit: Ryan O. Ferguson

The first fire department in Charleston was a private insurance company called the Friendly Society that strictly catered to its clients in the late 18th century. Insured homes were marked by a metal plate on the front of the house.

The fire department remained a voluntary effort until 1882; at which point fire protection services became a professional department of Charleston. The newly formed City of Charleston Fire Department employed 103 firemen at its founding.

Following the 1886 Charleston earthquake that devastated the city, the board of Firemasters suggested adjusting the layout of stations across the city. The result was a series of three new firehouses. Each one was designed by Daniel G. Wayne and cost about $28,000. This firehouse at the northeast corner of Wentworth and Meeting Streets became the most prominent and functioned as the central fire house and office for the Chief of the fire department until 2013.

Today, the department has a total of 15 stations responsible for protecting 109 square miles and approximately 120,000 citizens.

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