The Corley-Mtn. Rural Fire Department has been in existence since November 2001. The department was branched out from the Subiaco/Crossroads Fire Department. The Subiaco/Crossroads fire district which then covered its district and what is now the Corley-Mtn. fire district was so large, that response times to some areas were too long. In an agreement with both the Subiaco/Crossroads Fire Department and members of the Corley Community and the surrounding area, a new fire department would be established, the Corley-Mountain Rural Fire Association Inc.
Over the years, the fire department has had to overcome numerous obstacles to come to where it is today. In the beginning back in November 2001, only two trucks were in service and eventually became three two months later. Only one of those trucks are still in service today; 1801. Today, the Corley-Mtn. Rural Fire Department has 10 trucks and 3 stations. The newest station is the one which sits on Mt. Magazine built in a cooperative effort with the Corley-Mtn. RFD and the Mt. Magazine State Park which is one of the many Arkansas State Parks all over Arkansas.
CMRFD has been known as one of the fastest growing volunteer fire departments in Logan County. The Corley-Mtn. Rural Fire Department currently holds an ISO Class 9/7 rating. The Mt. Magazine region holds the class 7 while the rest of the area currently holds a class 9. However, that will change in the future as more equipment, manpower, and stations are being put into place.
It all began back in late 2000 and throughout 2001. Discussions were taking place about whether the Corley Community should start their own fire department or not. Many decided that it was the right time and that it would probably be best for the future. On November 5, 2001, a new organization was officially formed called the Corley-Mtn. Rural Fire Association Inc. The picture to the left shows the first fire truck that was placed at Corley which was a 1970's model Dodge brush truck.
On November 10, 2001, the ground breaking was held for the Corley Fire Station located on Community Center Road in Corley. Technically, the first fire station of the Corley-Mtn. RFD was the one built at the residence of John Strahan at the time on Corley Loop. The station was originally built voluntarily by John Strahan to house two truck with what was then the Subiaco-Crossroads-Corley Fire Department. Several people helped build the building which was completed in 1999. This building served at the Corley Fire Station from 1999 through 2002 when the new Corley Fire Station was built on Community Center Rd.
In the beginning, sixteen volunteer firefighters transfered over from Subiaco to the Corley Fire Department. All of whom lived in the Corley area. Some of those names include John Strahan, Shane Molton, Joe Jones, Shirley Jones. Rick Faldon, Bob Stueve, and Nathan Thrailkill. Many of the leaders of the Corley Community Inc. served as the initial board or directors through the transfering period. Many grants were applied for in the first year and Corley-Mtn. RFD recieved most of them due to the fact of the organization being a first year fire department. New equipment was purchased and put into service such as radios, pagers, turnout gear, SCBA's, hand tools, and of course the building of the Corley Fire Station.
Construction on the Corley Fire Station on Community Center Rd. began in the fall of 2001 and was completed in the spring of 2002. The building was purchased from Abe Willams through Alliance Building Systems. The building was erected by the volunteers of the fire department and the community. In April 2002, the first three trucks were parked in the new Corley Fire Station which marked the beginnings of a new volunteer fire department. One of those trucks remain in service today; 1801.
From 2002 though 2006, the Corley-Mtn. Rural Fire Department experienced steady and positive growth. CMRFD was there to answer the call and provide reasonable response times to the area as the Mt. Magazine region became a more traveled area as the Mt. Magazine Lodge was being built and now sits atop Arkansas's highest peak. CMRFD grew from having three trucks to eight trucks in 2005. In 2006, the search began for a new pumper truck in efforts since the beginning to lower ISO ratings. In 2005, CMRFD went through an ISO inspection which lowered the Mt. Magazine region to a class 7 rating due to the fact there are fire hydrants in place up there and the rest of the fire district remained at a class 9.
During the course of the CMRFD, there have been many fundraiser held to rise money to carry out the daily expenses of the fire department and to let the community see what the fire department has been working on. In 2002 and 2003, an annual barbecue was held at the Corley Community Center and Corley Fire Station. In 2004, a open house was held at the Corley Fire Station. In 2005 and 2006, a trail ride fundraiser was held to benefit the Corley-Mtn. RFD. In 2008 Corley-Mtn. RFD presented a Firefighter Challenge held at the Armory in Paris and will do so again this year. The fundraisers are designed to let the community come out and learn about what the fire department is doing for them and to learn how they can help.
In 2007, CMRFD recieved an Arkansas Rural Community Development Grant to build a Sub-Station on Rich-Mtn. Rd. Construction of the Station began in 2005, however funding was not available to finish the station until the grant came through in 2007. The station was erected by Boyd Farmer in the summer of 2007. The picture on the left shows the construction of the station at about mid-stage of completion.
Throughout the summer of 2007, fire chief John Strahan was battleing cancer and the community and fire department wanted to show their appreciation for all that he had done for them to help get the Corley-Mountain Rural Fire Department started and continue moving forward. On July 29, 2007, the Corley Station located on Community Center Rd. was dedicated to John Strahan who volunteered in the building of it and would forever be known from that moment on as the John Strahan Firehouse. John was very appreciative and was suprised. The event was kept a tight secret from him to be a good surprise for him. Sadly, John passed away eleven days later. However, his name on the John Strahan Firehouse lives on and his spirit carries the Corley-Mtn. RFD forward.
From 2007 through 2008 has been a transition period as Shane Molton has become the Fire Chief and updating older equipment to newer equipment and expanding the equipment and manpower throughout the three stations was been a challenge. Now, as things begin to settle in, the CMRFD continues to move forward with three stations and nine trucks with twenty-six volunteers and ten board members and the whole fire district. In 2009, through a cooperative effort with the Corley-Mtn. RFD and the Mt. Magazine State Park which is a part of the Arkansas Department of parks and Tourism the third fire station was built on Mt. Magazine by the maintenance shop where 1801 has been housed for the past three years. Construction on that station began in late 2008 and was competed in the summer of 2009.
In 2009, the CMRFD purchased a 1984 Mack pumper which has been definitely the nicest truck in the apparatus fleet. Later that year, the CMRFD team won the FireHawk Firefighter Challenge. That team included Jackie Moeller, Errick Ellington, and Rick Faldon. The fundraiser was a success and brought in the largest amount of funds of any fundraiser the department has had to date.
2010 got off to a strong start with the aquisition of a wildland firefighting unit from the forest service. The department had to purchase a cab and chassis to mount the unit on. A 2001 Dodge truck was purchased and the project was completed by April. However, things took a turn and decisions had to be made. The department and the community was at a point where things needed to change. After several meetings and discussions, it was decided that an election needed to be held for the board of directors positions. Some positions had been held for nearly seven years. The ballots were mailed out at the end of the year and the results were tallied. Throughout 2010, the department continued to serve the community and responded to 18 calls over the course of the year.
2011 got off to a promising start with a new board of directors and plans to move forward. Nathan Thrailkill took the helm of the board of directors. As progress continues to be made, the aquisition of newer trucks are in the process. Also, the department will plan to prepare as the water project moves forward and the community will get water within the next two years. Plans for fire hydrants will also be considered.
2012 was a year of some tough runs. The volunteer firefighters and first responders on the department were put through the toughest types of calls to answer. While the outcomes of some of the calls could not be helped and were not the outcomes the responders were looking for, the effort of the responders was the best that anyone could ever ask for. It was also one of the dryest years in recent times. In August, the department picked up a new tanker truck which was placed at the Rich Mtn. Road Firehouse.
In 2013, the FireHawk Firefighter Challenge returned with the date moving to the spring in April. While it was a wet day, the event offered everything that would normally be expected. It was throught that the rumors of the cancelled dog show on the same day were mixed up with that of the firefighter challenge event. 2013 was a year that had a little bit of everything. It was a year that started off slow, but when it started off, it started off in a big way. Two fires in the same day was the way 2013 got started off for the CMRFD in terms of calls. One of which will probably be always remembered. This was a structure fire that happened late at night. The fire occurred at an unoccupied structure. It was the night that some firefighters got knocked off of their feet due to pump issues with the pumper truck. The pump was not running properly and would send surges of water pressure that no one could hold on to which resulted in a couple of firefighters getting injured. It was a night that a lot of lessons were learned. It was also a night to be thankful that the injuries were nothing serious. In the summer, the CMRFD got to respond to a car fire which was a 2012 Porsche. This was probably one of the more expensive fires that the CMRFD has been a part of and a rare occurence. During the fall of 2013, the CMRFD installed the first fire hydrants in the district not located at the state park. The hydrants came after over ten years of hard work to obtain a water line to reach the residents in the mountain community. The year ended on a slippery note with perhaps one of the largest if not the largest ice storms the mountain has ever seen. Many trees were snapped due to the large amount of ice causing roads to be blocked and power to be knocked out for days.
2014 was a record setting year in terms of call volume. In 2014, the department saw the highest amount of calls for a single year. The most memorable incidents from 2014 happened during the late spring to early summer. The department got finished hosting the 2014 Firehawk Firefighter Challenge and had just returned to the station when it was heard on the radio that emergency responders were searching for a reported vehicle in a tree off of Highway 309. Responders eventually found the wrecked vehicle. Nevertheless, the longest day of the year for the CMRFD got longer. A few weeks later, another vehicle went off of the highway at the same spot. The year was a typical year for the CMRFD which resulted in the normal calls, none of which were serious or devestating. As the CMRFD looks ahead to the future, no one knows what to expect. However, for anything that happens at anytime, the CMRFD will always be there.