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Clover VFD fall festivities

Clover Volunteer Fire Department is holding its 24th Annual Fall Festival Saturday and in connection with the festival, the fire department also is hosting the 58th Annual Convention and Competition of the Southside Virginia Volunteer Firefighters Association.  


Saturday promises to be a day of fun and fellowship in the Clover community, and as the community celebrates its firefighters and EMS personnel, we thought it would be an appropriate time to look back at how the Clover Volunteer Fire Department came to be.

Clover Volunteer Fire Chief Bert Martin, who also serves as president of the firefighters association, provided the following brief history of the Clover Fire Department and says as a longtime volunteer firefighter and EMT, he is very happy to see the next generation of firefighters and EMS providers coming along.


History of Clover VFD

With a thriving downtown needing fire protection and an active Lions Club to spearhead the project, on Aug. 16, 1949 Clover-area citizens officially chartered the second oldest fire department in Halifax County. 

James R. Cardwell was elected president of Clover Volunteer Fire Department by its 20 charter members. These members were Jerry Abbott, C. R. Buchanan, Thomas J. Buchanan, Leonard E. Buchanan, Richard G. “Dick” Cabaniss, James R. Cardwell, Chester Clark, Kemper R. Gibson, Talbott B. Hagood, W. J. “Bill” Hagood, E.H. Hatcher, Stover Martin Jr., and A. E. “Buster” Newbill. They also included Bryan W. Nichols, E. P. “Ned” Snead, Robert Henry Snow, E. L. Slayton, Earl Throckmorton, A. C. Turner Jr., R. Ed Vassar and Frank Woltz.

Their first truck was a 1921 Seagrave pumper with a 300-gallon tank. It was bought from a Pennsylvania car dealer and outfitted with a 450-gallon tank built by the first fire chief, Dick Cabaniss, and other firemen. The fire department kept this truck in a tobacco warehouse and called members to fires with a bell. Within the first two years of operation, the department moved their truck from the warehouse to a two-bay firehouse beside the town’s office and jail on Short Street. A siren was also mounted on the fire station.

By 1954, the Clover Volunteer Fire Department had run over 100 fire calls since its beginning five years earlier. The department also had sold the Seagrave and added a 1940 Dodge water truck, a 1953 International high-pressure pumper and a 1951 Ford tractor-trailer tanker that carried 3,300 gallons of water. The tanker was housed in a storage building beside the fire station. 

In the late 50s, the department replaced the Dodge water truck when they converted the Ford tanker by extending the frame and installing a 1,500-gallon tank. 

During the 1960s, Stover Martin served as chief, and by the late 60s, the department was working to replace the Ford tanker. 

In 1970, a new Ford chassis was received, and fire department members and sub-contractors built a new pump, tank and body. The department got a real boost in its firefighting capabilities in the early 70s when the Town of Clover installed a central water system with fire hydrants and a 250,000-gallon elevated storage tank.

With the location of Clover Yarns in the town, the department also started looking for a new pumper. In 1976, Clover Fire Department took delivery of a 1975 FMC 750-gpm pumper. They also added two-way radios on their trucks and bought their first pagers, which were on the county’s fire frequency.

During the 70s, Thomas M. Nichols, Bobby Martin and Wilson Duffey served as chiefs of the department. The department soon realized it was outgrowing its building and bought a building lot on Gayle Street behind Clover Baptist Church shortly before Bert Martin became chief in 1979. 

In 1982, the department broke ground for its present building and purchased a 1982 Ford four-wheel-drive brush truck.

With an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) class taught at the new fire station in 1983, several members obtained or renewed EMT certification and began participating in the county’s reorganized EMS (Emergency Medical Services) First-Responder program in January 1984. 

Through the Town of Clover, in 1985 the department acquired a state-surplus equipment truck to carry emergency medical supplies and firefighting equipment. That year, after partitioning off kitchen, restroom, meeting and office spaces in the metal-shell building, the department dedicated its fire station, which was completed with member and community volunteer labor.

Since the county paging system did not always activate the firemen’s pagers, a telephone-call system to notify members of the location of fires was still in operation in 1988. At that point, the department upgraded its communication system to include pagers, portables and a strong repeater system so members could hear all fire and EMS First-Responder calls. 

In the fall of 1989, the Clover Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 40th anniversary, and the events were well attended by the community.

With the department’s EMS First Responder program growing rapidly, they purchased a 1987 diesel Ford van Type II ambulance from Wheel Coach in January 1992. 

Then in June 1992, the fire department received a grant from the state of Virginia Office of EMS RSAF for a semi-automatic cardiac monitor defibrillater. The numbers of EMS calls continued to increase as the department now responded to over 150 calls per year with 75 percent of them EMS and 25 percent fire related.

On July 1, 1993, the department took delivery of its present first run pumper, a 1993 International/EEI pumper/tanker with a 1,000-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon tank. 

During the late 1990s through 2001, much of the new equipment purchased included personal protective gear for members. The kitchen was remodeled to make it more like a commercial kitchen for the department’s fundraising events. 

An office was built in the station with computer equipment, and a copier also was purchased during this time period. 

In 2002, a used 1,500-gallon tanker was purchased to replace the 1970 homemade tanker built by the members of the department but was only used less than a year after being damaged while hauling water on a call. The members of the department studied its options and decided to replace the damaged truck. 

In 2003, the department’s present tanker was delivered by M & W Fire Apparatus. The new tanker carries 1,800 gallons of water and has a 20-gallon foam tank, a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump and a 10-inch quick dump on the rear.

In 2004, the department was awarded a grant to the replace the 1987 diesel Ford van Type II ambulance that covered 80 percent of the cost of the new 2004 Ford F-350 4x4 rescue truck for the EMS program. 

In 2006 a grant was received to purchase communications equipment to improve on-scene communications on fire and EMS calls. Also in 2006, the 1975 Ford FMC Pumper was donated to the local school system for the firefighter training program, and the 1987 Ford EMS type II ambulance was donated to a department in Louisiana that lost its ambulances to Hurricane Katrina. 


In 2008, Clover was able to win an 80 percent grant to purchase extrication equipment, which was mounted on unit 305.