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On November 8, 1908 at 5:30 a.m., a gentleman named Towles Terrell fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. The resulting fire began to consume buildings around the main portions of Town of Orange along Railroad Avenue. The only night policeman for the town noticed smoke shortly after 5:30 a.m. and sounded the community alarm by ringing the bells of the Orange Baptist Church. Citizens responded to the alarm since there was no established fire company in Orange. It was reported that every citizen brought a bucket to fight the fire. The community did own an antique hand-drawn Pumper, which was placed into service from nearby wells. Since there was no public water system, wells throughout the town were being utilized. The fire continued to grow. At 8:00 a.m., a special telegraph was sent to Charlottesville, Virginia requesting help to fight a now raging inferno, which enveloped all of the business community of the town. A special train arrived at 9:00 a.m. with 14 Charlottesville firefighters, a steamer, 3 horses, a railroad tanker car of water, and much needed firefighting equipment. The fire was extinguished later that night. This was the Great Fire of Orange. In response to this fire, a public water system was installed in 1910.

Another great fire occurred within the county in 1916. This fire was in Gordonsville, which was the hub of the county at that time. A volunteer fire company was begun in Gordonsville following the fire.

On January 24, 1921 a group of citizens met to begin the formation of the Orange Volunteer Fire Company. Led by A.J. Harlow, the Mayor of Orange, a campaign was initiated to obtain funds for purchasing more fire fighting equipment. Also, E.H. Rouse was appointed the first Fire Chief of the company. Dr. Rouse, as he was called, was a pharmacist in town and often parked the company’s only motor driven Pumper at his store. A small firehouse was constructed behind the Orange Courthouse from donated labor and donated materials. The company operated out of this building until 1939 when it sold the building to Orange County for office space for $4,000.

Under Dr. Rouse uniforms consisting of white shirts, pants, and hats with red chest sashes were created. Dr. Rouse organized athletic teams and served as the coach. He also oversaw the competition teams for the Virginia State Fire Convention. The earliest record of the Orange team winning an event was reel team in 1925. Dr. Rouse organized a marching band in the 1930’s. Many of the O.V.F.C. members had never played a musical instrument, but within 1 year they were giving musical concerts and marching in parades. The base drum from the original band is still located at O.V.F.C.

In 1938, the company moved to the corner of Belleview Avenue and Main Street into a new building which cost $32,000. This building was three stories tall, had 18 rooms, a large banquet room including a full kitchen, and a truck room that fronted Main Street. At the time of the move, the company had three units: a salvage truck, a Pumper, and a ladder truck. An addition was made to this building in the early 1960’s to allow parking of the newer, larger fire apparatus. The company remained at this location until 1984.

In 1984, the current Orange Volunteer Fire Company building was completed. At a cost of $550,000, the building was built for the future. It has four drive-through bays, meeting rooms, offices, recreation room, and equipment rooms. The building is located on the company’s fairgrounds near the intersection of Caroline Street and Route 20.

The Company has won hundreds of trophies for its fire fighting equipment, state competitions, athletic teams, the original band, and parade appearances throughout the years. Noted in these, are 12 VSFA State Championships including 6 in a row between 1997 - 2002. Members of the company hold three VSFA competition records: 6 Man Ladder (1979 - previous rules), 6 Man Ladder (1997 - current rules), and 2 Man Air-pack (2004 - current rules).

Succession of Chiefs:
E.H. Rouse
Ernest Brockman
Slim Winslow
Robert Whitlock
Wesley Tate (1972-1975)
Walker Carpenter (1976-1981)
E.A. Fox, Jr. (1982-1984)
E.S. Roby, III (1985-2007)
L.O. Clements (2008-Present)




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