Keith Minick, Chief
The Newberry Fire Department is a combination paid and volunteer service. Currently, the department is staffed by 20 paid and more than 25 volunteer members. Eighteen of the paid personnel work shifts of 24 hours with 48 hours off-duty between shifts. This provides (6) six persons available for operating fire service needs around the clock. The volunteer members supplement all activities of the paid, resulting in big savings for taxpayers.
The City of Newberry Fire Department is actively involved in the communities they serve. Firefighters give tours of the fire stations and teach students about fire prevention and speakers are available to conduct fire safety seminars for local schools and community groups. Last year, The Department placed fire truck reading centers into each elementary school within the city limits and the public library, furthering the education of fire safety and prevention.
Personnel are trained in interior structural firefighting, confined spaces rescue, hazardous materials incident mitigation, and fire prevention and inspection.
The Newberry Fire Department was formed in 1873 after Newberry experienced a devastating fire.The fire department was originally located in the lower level of the Newberry Opera House. Joe the fire horse held many titles and won many races. He was at one time the fifth fastest firehorse in the nation and first in the state. The Fire Department is able to boast many firsts for the fire service, one of which is one of the first black firefighters in the state, Malcolm Lessene.
Notification of the firefighters as to the presence of an alarm at one time was an elaborate system of bells driven by a Gamewell pull box system at locations across town. These bells were in the firemen's homes, at the fire department, and even in the bell tower of the Newberry Opera House.