It’s been said, out of disaster the noblest of spirits arise! On a warm fall evening in 1955, John Crum watched fire swallow a home, then spread to a neighboring church, burning both structures to the ground. Mr. Crum knew then something had to change. John Crum’s dream of change is what would give rise to the Inez Volunteer Fire Department, which would be founded in 1956 with John Crum serving as the 1st Fire Chief.
The department started small with a handful of men. But, with focused dedication, the department began growing in late 1956. After diligent fundraising involving “everything but bootlegging”, members finally raised enough money to finance a new 1956 Howe Ford Fire Engine. The cost of the department’s first fire engine was $11,375.00, with monthly payments of $444.44 on the principal. During the same year, a large alarm siren was installed on top of the Martin County Courthouse, to alert local firemen of emergencies. The siren was also set off for drills, which would attract local residents as spectators. This was risky, however, as newspaper articles report people being knocked off the courthouse wall by an unmanageable hose line.
From it’s founding, until 1975, the Inez Volunteer Fire Department operated on a meager $23,000, which was all the results of fundraising or private donation. However, in 1975 that all began to change. A new, two-story, brick fire station was completed and opened in 1975 with the help of various organizations, such as, Martin County Fiscal Court and the Inez Women’s Club. Prior to construction of this station, Chief Crum housed the department’s only engine in his garage at Crum Motor Sales in downtown Inez. Then, in 1976, a new Ford Fire Engine was purchased with coal severance tax money for the department. To continue the progress of the mid 1970’s, Chief Crum reported that the department’s membership had swelled to 24 members, with an average of “14 to 16 members turning out for every fire”.
To bring our history into perspective, we have to compare it to today. The Inez Volunteer Fire Department completed an 8,000 square foot, four bay fire station in 2017, costing over $600,000 and located close to the former Crum Motor Sales location. Our department has grown to include 3 stations, covering 164 square miles. Currently, we manage 5 Fire engines, 2 rescue apparatus, 1 aerial apparatus, 1 brush fire apparatus, 1 water rescue boat, a regional hazardous materials response asset and a UTV. Even though the fire service grows and becomes more expensive, the basic goal is still the same!
The vision and dedication of the original membership is still steering the Inez Volunteer Fire Department. The last few years have played out for current firefighters, much like the mid-70’s did for Chief Crum and other members of the time. It is our hope, that in forty more years, someone else will be writing a story about great things we did to make our community a better place.