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History of the Hebron Fire Protection District

By: Harvey F. Pelley, Chief (ret.) 

In 1937, the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department began. Prior to formal organization, the fire department was a bucket brigade that used Mr. Ed Ernst’s grocery store, which was located at what is now the Northeast corner of Ernst Lane and Petersburg Road in Hebron. Mr. Ernst provided the buckets and Mr. Earl Aylor provided a wrecker, which was equipped with a flashing yellow light and siren. The fire department served the communities of Hebron, Constance, Taylorsport, Stringtown, Francisville, Bullitsville, Bullitsburg, Point Pleasant, Idlewild, and Petersburg.

After it was decided by many of the members of the bucket brigade to organize a fire department, Mr. Frank Whorley, a Covington, KY businessman who lived in Hebron, provided the money to purchase Hebron’s first fire truck.  The truck was to be housed in Mr. Aylor’s (who was also elected Fire Chief) Hebron Garage, which was located on the present site of Huff’s Flooring and Carpet Company.

The new truck a Model T Ford Chemical Truck was equipped with two 50 gallon soda acid extinguishers, which were in turn piped to a 150’ length of ¾” hose.  After just one drill, the members decided that the Model T was grossly inadequate and purchased a small commercially built LaSalle fire truck. Chief Aylor’s son-in-law, George Whorley, (son of Mr. Frank Whorley) and a member of the Covington Fire Department went to Assistant Chief Hubert (Hubbie) Finnigan of CFD and told him of his father-in-law’s effort to organize a new volunteer department. Chief Hubbie responded with a “care” package of surplus equipment and some not so surplus equipment and delivered it to Mr. Aylor’s garage in Hebron.

The LaSalle served the community well and during World War II, Chief Aylor, who was also the local Dodge-Plymouth dealer, was able to acquire a new 1942, 1½-ton Dodge truck cab and chassis.  A fire truck body was built on the chassis and equipped with a 300gpm front mount pump, a 275 gallon water tank, a hose reel filled with 250’ of 1” hose, and a quantity of 2½” and 1½” hose that was procured through the government’s Civil Defense program.  Later, the pump was replaced with a 500gpm pump and the truck continued to serve the community until the mid 1980’s.

Old trucks in front of fire stationChief Aylor’s Hebron Garage served as fire headquarters until after the end of the War.  At that time, Mr. James Hart, owner of Hart Tea and Coffee Company lived in a large house that is now the Middendorf-Bullock Funeral home.  Mr. Hart donated a parcel of land at the Southwest corner of Hart Drive and Petersburg Road.  The community responded with money, material, and manpower and a 30’x40’ two bay firehouse was constructed.

First Hebron ambulanceAmbulance service was added as an additional service of the fire department in 1950.  Hebron’s first ambulance was a 1937, Packard ambulance.  It was replaced in 1956 with a 1948 Cadillac ambulance, which was donated to the department by Mr. Wilfred Bullock, owner of the Bullock Funeral Home with the provision that Hebron Fire Department donate their 1937 Packard Ambulance to the Petersburg (KY) Fire Department, so that they could provide ambulance service in their community. Hebron was the second fire department in Boone County to provide ambulance service.  The Walton Fire Department was the first.

First modern fire truckIn 1962, Hebron Volunteer Fire Department ordered there first modern fire truck from the American LaFrance Company, in Elmira, New York.  The cost of the new truck, which was equipped to the National Fire Protection Association standards, was $17,560. Because of the size of the loan that the department had to take out to pay for the truck when it was delivered, it was necessary for the 18 members of the department personally sign a promissory note to cover the cost with the bank. This money was quickly repaid through various fund drives and donations from individuals and local businesses.  Before the new truck was delivered, to create more room in the fire station, a 20’x30’ extension was constructed on the South end of the station. The extra space increased the overall area of the station to 1,800 sf. This provided room for a meeting area behind the fire equipment.

In 1966, Hebron ordered their first new ambulance from the Springfield Equipment Company, in Springfield, Ohio, at a cost of $8,000.00. This amount of money was also quickly repaid through various fund drives and donations from individuals, local businesses, including a major donation from the Greater Cincinnati Airport. The Hebron VFD provided the ambulance service for the airport until about 1970.

Air Canada CrashIn 1969, through the generosity of Mrs. William Kidd, an additional parcel of land that adjoined the South end of the department’s Hart Drive lot was donated.  It was then possible to add a second addition to the fire station, this 30’x30’ addition provided room for a meeting room, restroom’s, a kitchen area and a small storage room.  The members and community members, who provided free labor, constructed this addition.  In 1970, Hebron added a new dimension to emergency medical care by adding Emergency Medical Technicians to the ambulance crews.  In 1972, another new pumper was ordered from the American LaFrance Company and for the first time, Hebron was equipped with two NFPA rated pumpers.

Hebron PatchFormer member Shelby North designed the shoulder patch that is now used by the department.  In the early seventies, the department had a first-aid team (Shelby North, Donald Vines, Gene Blaker, William Smith, and Harvey Pelley) that participated in local, regional, and national first aid contests.  After the team’s first participation at the International First Aid and Rescue Association’s in Atlantic City, NJ, it became apparent that the somewhat generic black and white, triangular shoulder patch, which read “Hebron Volunteer Fire Dept.”, might be OK locally, but out of State no one knew that there was a “Hebron” Kentucky. It seems that there are some 14 “Hebron’s” throughout the United States, so, Shelby came home and designed the patch showing the outline of Kentucky in blue, with a gold star showing the location of Hebron.

In the late 1970’s it was becoming very apparent that the fire department was not going to be able to continue operating with only donations and fund raising events because of the ever-rising costs of operations, the growth of the community and the increasing demands of both the community and the governmental regulatory agencies.  At that time, it was decided by the members to try and create a fire protection district, which would give the department taxing powers.  A committee, both members of the fire department and members of the community was formed for this task.  Once the petition drive for a fire district was concluded, a formal petition was presented to the Boone County Fiscal Court. Over 80% of the residents able to sign the petition had signed it requesting the formation of the “Hebron Fire Protection District”. A hearing was held in front of Boone County Judge Executive, Bruce Ferguson, and in 1979 the district was created, making it the second fire district in Boone County, (Walton was first).  Pursuant to the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), the first board members were Mickey Conner, Robert Flick, Virginia Lainhart, Charles Patrick, N.S. Furnish, William E. Smith and James Tepe.  By becoming a fire district, a new level of fiscal stability was added to the fire department’s operation and it was no longer necessary for members of the department to pledge their personal assets for security whenever the department needed to make a major purchase or change in the fire department operations.

In the late 1980’s through the efforts of then Secretary of Transportation, Floyd Poore, and several other influential citizens of Boone County, the Fire District was able to purchase property on the Southeast corner of Petersburg Road and North Bend Road from the Kentucky Department of Transportation where the present headquarters station is located. The architectural firm of Gartner, Burdick, Bauer-Nilsen designed a new 9,800 square foot fire station after the property was purchased. The new station was dedicated in December of 1990. In August 1995, Station 1 was rededicated and named the Pelley Station in honor of retired Chief Harvey Pelley.

The fire district remained all volunteer until 1993 when the fire district added three full-time daytime personnel under the leadership of Chief Milt Levy.  With the rapid growth of the district and the increased call volume and responsibilities, the full-time personnel became a necessity.

In December 1994 the fire district hired it’s first full time Fire Chief, Chief Harshbarger.  Chief Harshbarger also served the fire district as the last volunteer Chief from October 1993 until December 1994.  Since 1994, the fire districts employees have grown to 32 full-time personnel currently, making Hebron the 3rd largest fire department employer in Boone County.  With the exception of the Chiefs and Secretary, the employees work three separate shifts each consisting of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off.

Along with the new growth and added responsibilities to the fire district, 1999 became a banner year for the district.  In 1999, the fire district took delivery of its first aerial platform ladder.  The Pierce SKY ARM truck has a reach of 100 ft. and includes an articulating 15ft. section of the ladder.  Also in 1999, the district added a 4800 sq. ft. expansion to the headquarters building.  The expansion consisted of new dorm areas, training room, office space, and a weight room for the fire personnel.

In 2000, the district began planning for 2 new fire stations as well as preparation for the upgrading of other services. In October 2001, the district broke ground and began construction on a new 7,000 sq. ft. fire station #2.  The Graves Road station will serve the area of Francisville, Idlewild, Bullitsville, and Bullitsburg.  Initially, three full time personnel on each shift will staff the station each day.  They will operate a fire engine and respond to all fire calls in the area as well as all EMS calls within their response area.

The fire district and Boone County Emergency Management has trained its full time employees to the level of Hazardous Materials Technicians.  The Haz-Mat Techs respond to hazardous material releases as well as assisting the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with Clandestine Drug Labs within Boone County.

On July 1, 2001, the Hebron Fire District and Transcare of KY entered into an agreement to provide Advanced Life Support. Paramedics served the citizens with Advanced Life Support techniques. One Paramedic was assigned to the ambulance each day.  The new ALS system permitted rapid intervention of advanced pre-hospital care.  This service was provided by Transcare until July of 2002 when Hebron hired their own full time medics.  Today the department has 12 Firefighter/Medics.

Today, the district services 42 square miles including the communities of Hebron, Constance, Taylorsport, Stringtown, Francisville, Bullitsville, Bullitsburg, and Idlewild. Commercial, Industrial, and Residential growth to the fire district has seen above normal trends.  On the average, the district has seen approximately 86 million dollars annually in new property being built over the past five years.  There are 30 full time shift personnel, 5 full time administrative personnel, and approximately 20 volunteers that cover the department 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Hebron Fire Chiefs

Chief Earl Aylor 1937-1956
Chief Robert Goodridge 1956-1960
Chief John Kilgoure 1961-1966
Chief Stanley Garnett 1967-1969
Chief Paul Dickman 1970-1971
Chief William E. Smith 1972
Chief Harvey F. Pelley 1973-1985
Chief Roger Watts 1985-1987
Chief Reese T. Davies 1988-1990
Chief Gene Sharpe 1990-1991
Chief Milton S. Levy 1991-1993
Chief Dale Harshbarger 1993-2003
Chief J. William Martin 2004-2011
Chief Dan Hitzfield 2011 – Current