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The Salisbury Fire Department, led by Fire Chief Robert Parnell, strives to provide the citizens of Salisbury with the highest level of emergency services. We are committed to the preservation of life, property, and the environment by effectively meeting the public safety and welfare needs of our diverse community.

Our Department is a "Service Organization." As such, we will always strive to improve our level of service and commitment to one another and to the citizens we protect. Our members mitigate every challenge they face through constant training and development, increasing professional knowledge, and using the best possible protective equipment and proven methods. The leadership and administration of this department acknowledges that the management of such a system must be modern, resourceful, and firmly committed to the safety and well-being of each member of the department and of our community.

This firm commitment is further demonstrated by the Department's motto: "Value Life, Prevent Harm, Respond Quickly and Respect All."

The Salisbury Fire Department responds to over 4,000 incidents a year. The Department employs over 100 highly trained men and women. During an average year the department responds to a variety of calls for assistance, including medical emergencies. Besides fire engine and fire truck units the department has specialized teams for haz-mat, water rescue, high angle, trench, confined space and collapse. We serve the community in many other ways than just traditional fire fighting based on the talents and interests of our team members.

Mission Statement

To protect the quality of life for present and future generations through interaction with our community, compassionate service and an atmosphere that encourages innovation, professionalism, and diversity.

Our Core Value

To maintain high customer satisfaction with superior customer service.

Our Goals

  • Mitigate hazards and emergencies by quickly responding to all requests with professional members
  • Provide public safety education and hazard prevention services to our community
  • Strengthen management and leadership services
  • To provide an excellent work environment, ever mindful of our fiscal responsibility and our commitment to serve
  • Embrace Diversity

Our Services

  • Protect human life from fire and other life safety hazards
  • Provide inspection and code enforcement activites
  • Handle hazardous material and rescue emergencies
  • Provide emergency medical care for sick and injured

200 Years of History

The Beginning

The Salisbury Fire Department has a long history (though there are some missing chapters) that is marked by faithfulness to duty and outstanding progress. Salisbury's first fire company was formed December 8, 1817.

The first organized firefighting company was in 1855 with the formation of Salisbury Vigilante Fire Company. The formal organization of the Salisbury Fire Department took place 22 years later in 1877.

Early 1900s

The first steam pumper was purchased for $5,500.00 in 1908 and 4 years later, our first motorized vehicle was bought. This was a hose wagon. In 1912, a public fire alarm box system was installed with 20 fire alarm boxes installed on street corners. In 1921, the horse drawn pumpers were placed in reserve. The first ladder truck was purchased in 1941. This was an American LaFrance open cab 85' ladder truck. The truck was replaced with another American LaFrance 85' ladder in 1965. Also this year, a new headquarters fire station was built to accommodate the bigger pieces of equipment. The old quarters were so tight, one truck couldn't turn left out of the station. They would have to turn right and go around the block.

Late 1900s

In 1973, manning levels were increased to allow a third shift to be added and personnel worked 4 days, 4 nights, and had 4 days off. Firefighters handled dispatching duties up until 1977 when dispatchers were hired to dispatch the city and county fire departments.

On 1978, the Salisbury Fire Department entered into the first responder program by converting a step van into an ambulance. Transport was still handled by a county agency, but the unit was certified in the event the county unit could not respond. A new 110' Pirsch ladder truck was bought in 1986 and a major purchase of apparatus was made from E-One in 1988. Three custom pumpers with enclosed cabs were bought to replace an aging commercial pumper fleet. Also purchased that year was a 3,000 gallon tanker from Grumman. 1987 saw a change in the way that fires and other emergencies were reported. The county put in service the 911 system and moved the dispatchers to a new communications center. The last of the fire alarm boxes were removed from service.

Turn of the Century

The 90's saw more technology changes take place. The department changed over to the 800 MHz radio system and computers were installed in the city's three fire stations. In the early 90's, a Hazardous Materials Team was developed in partners with the county's emergency management division to respond to hazardous materials incidents within the county. After many years in the planning, the department was evaluated by ISO in 1995 and received a Class 2 rating. The previous rating was a 3. As the 90's come to a close, we received a squad truck as a generous donation from a local industry. This addition became part of the ladder company and carries additional equipment. Another generous donation came in the form of a defibrillator unit. Personnel were certified in EMT-D with additional units budgeted to place one on each front line engine.

The long awaited fourth station opened it's doors on January 1, 2007. A 2000 E-One 95' Platform is housed at station 4, along with a reserve ladder, foam trailer, reserve engine, and a haz-mat trailer.We look forward to the new millennium with all the change and technology that awaits.

200 Years of Fire Chiefs

Salisbury Fire Department was founded in 1817 - The first Fire Chief was Alex Parker.

Portrait of Fire Chief G.G. Seaford

G.G. Seaford

Unknown - Unknown
Portrait of Fire Chief P.H. Merony

P.H. Merony

Portrait of Fire Chief M.V.P. Capps

M.V.P. Capps

Portrait of Fire Chief J.V.Wallace

J.V. Wallace

Portrait of Fire Chief G.L. Sides

G.L. Sides

Portrait of Fire Chief W.A. Brown

W.A. Brown

Portrait of Fire Chief C.L. Burkett

C.L. Burkett

Portrait of Fire Chief A.F. Shipton

A.F. Shipton

Portrait of Fire Chief T.E. Melvin

T.E. Melvin

Portrait of Fire Chief S.I. Brad

S.I. Brady

photo of Fire Chief Bob Parnell


Bob Parnell

(704) 638-4464 |

Robert A. Parnell, a third generation firefighter, brings more than 27 years of operational and tactical firefighting experience to public safety. Born and raised in New Jersey, he began his career with the Salisbury Fire Department in November 1984.

Parnell has held the position of Firefighter, Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, and Chief of Fire Department Training prior to assuming the roles as Chief of the Department in April 2004. In addition to his responsibilities as Fire Chief, Parnell also serves as the City's Emergency Management Coordinator.

Chief Parnell received his bachelor's degree in occupational safety and health from North Carolina A&T State University, and associate's degrees in Fire Protection Engineering and Fire Science Technology. Additionally, Chief Parnell is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's "Executive Fire Officer" program, and Municipal Administration Certification through the University of North Carolina.

Fire Stations

Station 1

Dedicated in 1965, protects the heavily-populated downtown district and the eastern section of the city. The station is also home to Fire Administration and Training Division.

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Station 2

Constructed in 1980 and serves the vastly-growing southwest section of the city. The station protects a mixture of residential property, numerous industries and businesses and newly annexed areas.

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Station 3

The oldest of the stations, was constructed in 1956 and protects the northwest section of the city. This area is primarily residential; however there are several public facilities with high concentrations of commercial and educational facilities.

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Station 4

The newest of the stations, was constructed in 2005. The station protects a mixture of residential and commercial businesses. Several target areas include Salisbury Mall, Salisbury Gardens Retirement Home, and Food-Lion Headquarters.

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Station 5

Fire Station 5 was originally erected as Fire Station 2 on April 6, 1942 under the direction of Fire Chief Charles L. Burkett. After serving for 38 years, the station was closed. A new Station 2 was rebuilt 1.4 miles south.​

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Loss Prevention and Investigations

outside photo of the Loss Prevention and investigations building

Location: 634 Park Ave. Salisbury, NC 28144
Contact Us: (704) 638-4467

The Loss Prevention and Investigations Division includes the department Fire Marshal, Fire Inspectors and Fire & Life Safety Education Specialist.

Fire Prevention Division

The Fire Prevention Division is charged with improving the lives of its residents by preventing fires and reducing the impact of fires that occur. To accomplish its mission, the division performs inspections of businesses and occupancies as mandated by the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshall, the State of North Carolina Building Codes, and local ordinances. In addition, the division investigates all major fires occurring within the Fire Department's jurisdiction. The division is divided into five major units, each of which is responsible for a distinct focus on prevention.


The Fire Prevention Division performs inspections of businesses within the City of Salisbury to assist business owners in eliminating hazards and maintaining a safe workplace. These Inspectors are responsible for enforcing city council adopted codes and ordinances, issuing various permits, follow-up on citizen complaints in regards to possible hazards, and maintaining records for businesses in the city.

The focus of an inspection is to identify and correct problems that may lead to a fire, delay notification of a fire, and to remove any obstacles that may impede or block egress from a building. Examples of these may include combustibles stored near the furnace or water heater, an alarm system or sprinkler system that has not been maintained or storage in an exit way.

To request a Fire Inspection, fill out the Fire Department's common request form:

Common Request Form


The Fire Investigation Unit is responsible for determining the cause of fires and assists in the investigation of other related incidents. Strong, aggressive investigations will decrease the number of incendiary fires as well as accidental fires. The identification of the cause and circumstances of how a fire occurred will often prevent a similar incident from happening again. The information that is discovered may be used for a new fire prevention and/or public education program to prevent an incident. The fire investigation unit does prosecute individuals responsible for incendiary fires and threats to burn property.


The Fire Prevention Division enforces all ordinances mandated by the City of Salisbury. For a complete list of fire related ordinances, please visit the Municipal Codes.

Plan Reviews

A review of all commercial building plans (new construction and remodeling) is performed by the Fire Prevention Division prior to the issuance of a building permit. Automatic fire sprinkler, automatic fire suppression, fire alarm, and commercial kitchen hood systems are reviewed also.

The plans are reviewed for compliance with all of the related fire codes as adopted by the City of Salisbury. The plans are checked for compliance with items such as:

  • Maximum occupant load determination for the building and occupancy
  • Location and type of the required fire rated assemblies
  • Fire extinguisher size and number
  • Determine if a fire alarm system is required
  • Determine if an automatic fire sprinkler system is required
  • Other fire or life safety deficiencies
  • Proper number, size and location of exits and doors


Public Education

The Salisbury Fire Department is committed to providing the community with life safety education. We believe in the power of prevention and education and offer a wide range of services. Our aim is to reduce life and property loss in our community. By educating those who live and work in Salisbury, we can safe lives.

The Public Education section of the Fire Prevention Division is responsible for educating the public concerning the dangers presented by fires. The majority of the Public Education effort is in area schools, where the Fire Prevention staff provides age-specific training to children each year. The Public Education section also provides training for employees and residents of nursing homes, as well as any commercial business that requests fire safety training for its employees.

To request Fire Prevention training for kids, fill out the Fire Department's common request form:

Common Request Form

Our Insurance Rating (ISO)

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) surveys communities on a regular basis to determine the Public Protection Classification for the fire protection services protecting the community. The Public Protection Classification is used to gauge the ability of a local fire department to respond to fires. A Community's fire protection information is collected and analyzed by ISO using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. A classification of 1 to 10 is then assigned based upon the results of the survey. Class 1 is the best rating, and Class 10 is basically an indication of no fire protection. The ISO Public Protection Classification is used by the Insurance industry in determining insurance premiums for many properties within the community.

A variety of areas are examined when ISO conducts their survey. They look at the community's water supply, dispatch (communications) center, and fire department. Each entity receives a rating, and in the end those ratings are considered together to determine the final Public Protection Classification. As a result of the ISO Survey conducted in October, 2007, the City of Salisbury has been awarded a Class 2 rating.

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