Fire Department History

Clarkesville Fire Dept. (CFD) as we know has been around for quite some time. The Department as well as The City of Clarkesville is steeped in tradition typical of small town, Main Street America. According to the first records that are available to us, The Village of Clarkesville was incorporated on December 10, 1823 by a charter signed by the Governor of Georgia, G.M. Troup. The first mention of a Fire Department was found in the revised charter dated August 18, 1917. Town Elders recall many colorful events involving firemen and fire department activities. Their stories are interesting to hear and are more than likely accurate accounts such as the time the fire chief hurried to the local garage with the battery from the fire truck and demanded a "very quick charge" in order to respond to a fire.


The Foundation for Tradition
In the late 1940's and early 1950's we began to see CFD take a more active role in the community helping to shape the future of the City. Memories are no longer strained and locals are able to recall Chief Herman Eller (40's), Chief Arles Turpin (early 50's), and Chief Louis Crocker (late 50's). However, in 1961 a true milestone was reached with the appointment of Chief Richard (Buddy) Brooks as the first paid Fire Chief in Clarkesville's history. With the hiring of Chief Brooks, a continuous and connected series of events, by a host of dedicated and skilled individuals, lifted CFD from a Class 10 Department to its present Class 5 rating. In 1965, Chief Brooks resigned to pursue a position with the State and later would be credited for founding the Department of Corrections Fire Department program all over the State of Georgia. Assistant Chief Frank Hill was promoted to Chief and led the department until Assistant Chief Claude Marcus assumed the role in 1967. For nearly 30 years Chief Marcus instilled visions and values steeped heavily in tradition and Brotherhood that truly solidified what Clarkesville Fire Department is today. Statistics prove that Firefighting is one of the most dangerous occupations on Earth. Clarkesville Fire Dept. was sadly reminded of this during the early morning hours of June 30, 1979 when Firefighter Sam Pitts lost his life and Chief Marcus was seriously injured in the Line of Duty while battling a blaze at Mt. Carmel Church. Chief Marcus daily endured his last 16 years as Fire Chief with unbelievable pain from burns and injuries he sustained while attempting to save Firefighter Pitts. Upon his retirement in 1996, Chief Marcus was succeeded by his long time Assistant Joel Tyre who continued the traditions of Brooks and Marcus until his retirement in 2002. From 2002-2009 Clarkesville Fire Department was led by Chief Tony Wright who came to Clarkesville from Forsyth County Fire and Georgia Fire Academy in 1996 as Assistant Fire Chief to Chief Tyre. Chief Wright served Clarkesville Fire Department proudly until his departure in 2009. In 2009, second generation Local Firefighter Jerry Palmer was appointed Fire Chief and is currently serving in that role.


1955 Clarkesville Fire Department
Front row (L-R): Buddy Brooks, Dewey Brooks, Clyne Stonecypher, Wilmer Holbrooks, Ed Carroll; Standing (L-R): Lou Crocker, Carl Tallent, Jack Pritchett, Bob Reeves


Leading Edge in Emergency Response
In 1957, the first Fire and Rescue Squad in Habersham County was established at Clarkesville Fire Department. In 1958 the Rescue squad was expanded to include a dive team and served Habersham as well as surrounding counties. In 1967 the Rescue Squad received funding to purchase equipment to transport sick and injured patients to the hospital and in 1972 trained the first 4 EMT'S in Habersham County to provide on scene emergency medical care for the community. This organization went on to be State and Nationally recognized Habersham County E.M.S. Captain Ed Carrol led the Rescue Squad from 1957 to 1968 and went on to serve with Clarkesville Fire Department until the late 1980's serving in numerous capacities including as a dispatcher.


This is one example of Clarkesville Fire Department leading the way in caring for the citizens of Clarkesville and Habersham County.


Pride
For good reasons, the city can be proud of its fire department. Multitudes of dedicated individuals including, but not limited to past and present Mayors, Councilpersons, City Managers, Fire Officers, countless Volunteers, and concerned citizens made Clarkesville Fire Department what it is today.

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