The first meeting of the Forest Volunteer Fire Department was held on September 30, 1957. So began what has been 48 years of ongoing community service. It was organized in the fall of 1957 by the Forest Ruritan Club and was chartered in 1958. Most of the charter firefighters and officers were Ruritan members. John Buck Duval was the first elected active chief.
The first truck was a 1956 Ford F-600 with a 300 gallon per minute, front mounted two stage pump, and a 1285 gallon tank. The used truck came from a milk hauling contractor and the tank was built by Truck Body Corp. This first truck was kept in Duval Motors garage until a fire department could be built. Work began immediately on land donated by Mr. W.B. Duval, Sr. to construct a one-bay garage for housing the truck. This is the site of the present station which now has six bays, a small kitchen and meeting room.
In September 1958, the firefighters began their training by going to the Lynchburg Fire Department once a week for classes conducted by the Lynchburg officers and instructors.
Today training continues and changes as the surroundings and technology advances. All the firefighters at this time must have Firefighter I as minimum, though most exceed this level. The company has nine state certified instructors in its ranks.
In many cases, new technology has changed the way a fire is fought. When fires were fought back in the 50s, Forest's new company first had to fight fires with no smoke filtering equipment but eventually graduated to simple air masks.
Today, new homes and many different businesses contain synthetic building materials and products that emit hazardous fumes. This makes it necessary for the firemen to train in usage of state-of-the-art breathing equipment in order to be safe while putting out the fires. Turn out coats, pants, helmets and boots have also improved throughout the years.
One of the most advanced pieces of equipment now being used is a heat sensing camera which can save lives by detecting body heat in a smoke-filled home.
Back in the the good old days communication was a problem. When a call came in to the department, it was answered by Mrs. Buck Duval or Mrs. Jesse Reynolds who in turn began calling the members by phone. Taking up valuable time, each member then was to call the member under his name on the list.
In most cases the truck was the first out on the call and could communicate with the Bedford County/City dispatcher but could not communicate with the firefighters in their personal vehicles. The driver of the truck would toss out a small bag of flour indicating which way to turn.
In the late 60s and 70s used two way mobile radios for each firefighter were purchased, a radio frequency from the Federal Communication Commission was secured, and antennas were erected. Eventually, the county furnished call pagers for each firefighter and some walkie-talkies for each fire company.
The first call Forest ever responded to was a kitchen fire in a home on old 460, now known as Route 221, near the intersection at Clays Crossing. Even in the beginning the fire department covered many various calls.
Over the past several year Forest has averaged400 calls per year, with structure fires making up 19% of the calls, the remainder of the calls includes everything to accidents to brush fires.
The Forest Fire Company 37 active firefighters and 6 junior firefighters.
They have seven pieces of fire apparatus and a command car. The company constantly maintains, replaces or adds to those as needs arise.
The community is no longer rural, growing by leaps and bounds. The Forest Fire Company greatly appreciates your support as they continue to serve you.