In September of 1979, a community meeting was held at Underwood School to discuss the need for fire protection. The result of this gathering was a newly appointed board of directors charged with starting a “first-class fire department.” Members of the community made a commitment to pay for quality firefighting equipment. The Underwood-Petersville Volunteer Fire Department was formed with a motto of “For the People, By the People.”
Members of the newly formed fire department immediately went to work purchasing equipment and training every night at Florence Fire Department’s training center on Chisholm Road. The first fire truck was purchased in October 1979 and was temporarily stationed in a building on Taylor Road. Almost 65 volunteer firemen took turns sitting shifts and sleeping in a camper owned by one of the department’s members. This make-shift station was manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After securing a ninety-nine year lease on property adjacent to Underwood School on Cloverdale Road in late October, construction began on a new fire station. Charter members of the department worked tirelessly until the station was complete in late December. The original four-bay, 4,200 square foot building was built with all-volunteer labor, and with the community's support no debt was incurred on the purchase of building supplies.
Soon after moving in to the new facility in January of 1980, UPVFD purchased three additional firefighting vehicles. In 1989, an additional 2,400 square feet was added to accommodate additional equipment. In 1991, a commercial kitchen was constructed to meet the demands of a popular fish fry fundraiser which is still held 10 times annually.
With the continued support of the community and local elected officials, the Underwood-Petersville Volunteer Fire Department continues to provide first-class protection for more than five thousand people in a fourteen square mile coverage area. The department maintains a class “3” rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), saving residents hundreds of dollars each year in insurance premiums. In addition to fire suppression, members are now trained and capable of responding to a wide variety of situations, including motor vehicle crashes and extrications, search and rescue operations, and medical emergencies. The all-volunteer department maintains a fleet of six emergency vehicles and responds to approximately 500 calls per year.