Salisbury Fire Department

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History & Heritage
Friday, January 24, 2014

 It would be virtually impossible to tell the history of the Salisbury Fire Department without mentioning the Grier name.  Fred Grier Sr. was a machinist by trade from Wilmington, Delaware.  As a volunteer fireman with the Washington Hose Company 7, Grier Sr. had traveled to Salisbury several times to battle large fires in Salisbury.  After helping to fight the Great Fire of 1886 he moved his family to Salisbury and started in business with his brother Robert.  The business remains to this day known as R.D. Grier & Sons.  Grier Sr. served as Chief from 1889 to 1900 and was able institute some of the first modern firefighting techniques of that era.  Chief Grier’s greatest mark in Salisbury history occurred on March 13, 1899 when a fire broke out in the Jackson’s Mill on Mills St.  The fire engulfed the mill and threatened to destroy Salisbury for a third time.  Under the leadership of Chief Grier the fire was stopped where the West bound lane of Route 50 now stands and neighboring homes were destroyed.

Fred Grier Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the department in 1910.  As the son of a machinist operating the department’s Silsby steamer came naturally.  He was quickly appointed to the rank of Assistant Engineer and then Chief Engineer in 1916.  As Chief Engineer he was instrumental in purchasing the department’s first motorized fire engine in 1916.  Engine 2 was the first motorized fire apparatus on the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland.  At the time of the purchase Grier Jr. was the only person in Salisbury with a license to drive a motorized vehicle.  In 1922 Grier Jr. became Fire Chief and would serve eight years as Chief between 1922-1933.  By the end of his first year as Chief the department was completely motorized.  In 1926 Chief Grier would help form the Wicomico County Volunteer Fireman’s Association and serve as president for the first year.

  Chief Grier saw the need for a larger and more modern station to house a rapidly growing department.  In 1928 a new Fire Headquarters opened on South Division Street and would serve the city well until 2008.  Chief Grier oversaw the formation of the East Side Fire Company No. 2 in 1930.  Several large mill fires had shown a need for fire protection on the city’s East Side and Chief Grier provided the guidance and resources to form the city’s second station.  In 1939 Chief Grier secured the city’s first ambulance with donations from the Salisbury Lions Club.  In 1943 he helped form the Marine Firefighting Division of the department with the acquisition of its first fire boat.  The department saw its great growth under the leadership of Chief Fred A. Grier Jr.  Chief Grier had always been a strong proponent of fire prevention and inspections to eliminate the risk of fire.  In 1945 Chief Grier would become the areas first Fire Marshal of The City of Salisbury and Wicomico County.  A position he held well into the 1960’s.  Besides his service to the department Chief Grier also served on the City Council from 1928 to 1934.  The Salisbury Water and Sewer Commission 1928 to 1946, in which the city’s first water plant and sewer system was built.  In 1943 appointed to the Salisbury-Wicomico Planning and Zoning Commission where he served as chairman.

In all; Fred A. Grier Jr. would give fifty-five years of dedicated service to the Salisbury Fire Department, The City of Salisbury and Wicomico County.  His record of loyal, faithful and dedicated service serves as an inspiration to members past, present and future.  History will show Chiefs Fred A. Grier Sr. and Fred A. Grier Jr. as two of the most notable firefighters in the city’s history.  Today we reflect and realize a great part of the department’s success can be traced to the vision, dedication and hard work of these two great men.


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