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Last founding member leaves fire department
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Dennis Mayfield remembers going to the first organizational meeting for North Warren Fire Department in 1974.
The volunteer fire department would open its first fire hall in September of that year using a borrowed firetruck and renting two bays from a service station to serve as its headquarters.
Some 39 years later, after fighting what he estimates to be hundreds of fires, Mayfield has decided it’s time to step aside. With his retirement in June, North Warren Fire Department lost its last charter member.
“It was my life for a long time and something I loved doing,” said Mayfield, who was honored earlier this month for his years of service. “I joined as a 20-year-old back when we lived behind Delores’ Market. I heard they were having a meeting so I went. But 39 years is a long time and fighting fires is something for a young man to do.”
Dennis said he and his wife, Gayle, moved to Cookeville in June in order to be closer to her family. He said the move made an opportune time to leave the fire department since he is no longer in the area.
“It’s something I loved doing, but to tell you the truth I don’t miss it,” said Mayfield. “I don’t have to worry about a scanner going off in the middle of the night, or going off when I’m in the middle of doing something with my family. I’m enjoying the peace of mind.”
Mayfield said North Warren Fire Department got its start in the Gath community when it rented two bays from a service station owned by T.B. Adams. That service station was located on Smithville Highway where Ace Fence Company is today.
He said since North Warren didn’t have a firetruck, it was able to borrow one from the city of McMinnville for the first three or four months.
“We didn’t have any calls during that time but it was good to have the firetruck for training,” said Mayfield. “A lot of work went into starting the fire department and a lot of work still goes into it today, especially with having to worry about expenses. People don’t realize what it costs for fuel and for liability insurance and there’s a huge cost for firefighting equipment.”
Today, North Warren Fire Department operates three fire halls. Its main branch, which is located on Smithville Highway across from Dibrell School, opened in 1977. Since then, fire halls have been added in Wayside and on Judge Warren Road.
When the fire department was first organized, volunteers only responded to fires. Now wrecks and medical calls have been added to the list of responsibilities.
While the Mayfields have moved to Cookeville, they won’t be strangers to Warren County as they operate a popular kettle corn business. Dennis says they will be in town for the Warren County A&L Fair running a booth behind the funnel cake stand. They will also be set up during the Autumn Street Fair.