Prior to the charter of the Tryon Fire Department townspeople would volunteer their manpower in the whenever fire broke out in town. In 1910 donations by businesses and individuals were given to purchase 3 hose reels . One was placed on Melrose Avenue, one on Godshaw Hill and the third in mill town. A ladder wagon was purchased in 1911, which was pulled by manpower or horses, whichever was available. The first fire truck was purchased in 1913. The second fire truck was a Ford purchased in 1923. The third truck purchased was by "Graham Brothers" in 1925. There were efforts to start a fire department as early as 1917. The last page of papers compiled by Clarence Scoggins, to our knowledge, is the original meeting with Town of Tryon Officials electing Tryon Fire Department Officers April 22, 1920.
The Department was officially chartered in 1922 and consisted of the following members:
Mr. Hill - Fire Chief
W.A. Wilson - Assistant Chief
The first department was located on Maple St., near the present Town Public Works shed. The bell, which now resides in front of the current station, was obtained in 1911. The telephone company was located very near where Windstream is now. There was a cable attached to the bell and it was strung in the air to the nearby telephone office. When a call came in, the telephone operator pulled the cable to ring the bell so as to alert the firemen.
In 1937 a Mack fire truck was purchased. This was the first new fire truck in all of Polk County. It arrived by rail and was unloaded at the depot on Pacolet Street.
In 1948 the department purchased a new open cab Ford chassis, as well as a front mount pump, which they mounted and plumbed themselves. A 300 gallon tank was added to the rear.
In 1954, the local telephone company arranged for 10 fire phones to be installed in the businesses where the firemen worked for notification of a fire. In early evening these 10 phones were switched to 10 firemen residences for notification at night. The wives of the firemen that had a phone would call the other firemen for notification of the fire and location. When a fire call came over the telephone, it would ring continuous or a single long ring until the phone was picked up. This was how you knew it was a fire call. These phones were used until 1979 when the department received pagers. The department now uses pagers and portable radios.
The Tryon Fire Department protects the area of the Town of Tryon, Tryon Township and a portion of Foothills Fire District located in Greenville County, S.C. The resident freeholders or property owners voted in 1985 to form the Tryon Township Fire Tax District. Tryon and Greenville County, S.C. entered into a fire protection contract in 1992. Tryon also provides mutual aid in Spartanburg County S.C. through a mutual aid agreement with Landrum Fire Department. In addition to these agencies, Tryon also maintains mutual aid agreements with the other fire departments in Polk County – Columbus, Saluda, Green Creek, Mill Spring, and Sunny View. The department averages 1,000 fire and EMS calls annually. Dispatching is done jointly through the Polk County 911 center and the Tryon Police Department.
Today the department’s fleet has grown from the early years. The station, now located behind Town Hall at 56 West Howard Street houses 3 engines, 1 tanker, 1 service truck, 1 brush truck, the recently acquired ATV, and the Chief's command vehicle. In addition to fire protection the Tryon Fire Department provides first responder service in conjunction with Polk County Emergency Services.
The Tryon Fire Department is staffed by a full time fire chief, full time Battalion Chief, full time Firefighter, and part time personnel. The roster is also comprised of volunteers. Volunteer members are eligible for a quarterly stipend for attending training sessions and responding to fire and EMS calls.
The budget for the Tryon Fire Department is derived from a fire tax rate of $0.068 cents per $100 of property valuation in the Tryon Town Limits and Tryon Township. The Lake Lanier contract is taxed at a similar rate, however in South Carolina the term is referred to as "millage rate" rather than "fire tax." The average budget annually for Tryon Fire is $320,000. The department has also received numerous local, state, and federal grants in recent years to purchase various pieces of equipment.
In 1979 Tryon Fire Department's Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating improved from a 7/9 to a 6/9. In 1994, the department improved its rating from a 6/9 to a 5/9s. The ISO rating inspection, now administered through the NC Office of State Fire Marshal, in 2011 kept Tryon as a Class 5 department. Tryon Fire Department is also certified as a Heavy Rescue provider through the NC Association of Rescue and EMS, Inc.