Town of
T H U N D E R B O L T   F I R E   D E P A R T M E N T
Proudly Serving the Communities of Thunderbolt, Isle of Armstrong and Sylvan Island Since 1949 


"Semper Paravit"


Mission Statement: "The mission of the Thunderbolt Fire Department is to minimize loss of life, property and environment in the Town of Thunderbolt from both natural and man-made disasters, life threatening situations and to assist other emergency agencies. We will achieve this mission through professional/progressive training and fire education while providing first class services to our community."

The Thunderbolt Fire Department is a combination career/volunteer fire department located in Chatham County, Georgia.

The department was originally founded as an all volunteer organization in 1949, it has since developed into a 24/7 career staffed fire department that is supplemented by a volunteer component.

Thunderbolt Fire Department is overseen by a Career Fire Chief. The department handles all its day-to-day operations from a single firehouse, located on Mechanics Avenue, directly behind the Thunderbolt Library. The department currently operates with (1) Class-A Rescue-Pumper (Rescue-Engine 51), (1) Class-A Pumper (Engine 52) and a Mini-Pumper (Special Service 51).

The fire department responds to an average of 500 emergency calls per year. Thunderbolt Fire Department handles fire suppression, protection and prevention, rescue duties and inspections within the Town of Thunderbolt and the Isle of Armstrong. We do provide medical response service to a First Responder level. ALS (Advanced Life Support) and transport is provided by a private organization located within Chatham County.

Thunderbolt Fire Department is an ever-growing, professional, aggressive, proactive department. We hold strong to our history and traditions. Our career and volunteer personal are dedicated to providing the highest quality of service to the best of our ability, as a single team, working together to reach a common goal.


The Thunderbolt Fire Department operates primarily as an Engine Company department. But, have the abilities to handle Truck and Rescue Company operations as well.

The primary tasks assigned to an Engine Company are arguably the most important on the fireground. Engine companies serve as the backbone of the fire service and focus on providing water supply, locating the seat of the fire, and extinguishing the fire. Engine company duties can consist of stretching a single fire hose to extinguish a small nuisance fire, to supplying multiple hand lines and master streams to extinguish residential and commercial building fires. To effectively perform these tasks, the officer and firefighters in the engine work as a close knit team.

Our units would fall under the term "Enhanced Engine Company" since they have not only the equipment to handle the responsibilities of an engine company, but, are also laid out to handle the tasks that would be assigned to a traditional Truck Company.

In contrast to engine company operations, the truck company relies on independent action by the assigned firefighter. Truck Company members usually have additional training, experience and ability to perform their duties without direct supervision or assistance. The Truck Company performs a myriad of tasks, that, in conjunction with the Engine Company, are critical to controlling and extinguishing a fire. Among these tasks, primary duties include locating the fires location and determining the buildings layout and construction type, search and rescue, controlling utilities such as gas and electric services, ventilating the structure to remove smoke and superheated gasses, salvaging property to prevent further damage and loss, conducting overhaul to ensure the fire has been completely extinguished, and performing vehicle rescue operations (extrication) to rescue trapped patients after motor vehicle collisions.

Thunderbolt Fire Department has to perform all these tasks, and more, with the provided Engines and Mini-Pumper.

Rescue-Engine 51 and Engine 52 are both identical Class-A pumpers. Both engines are 1998 HME chassis, with the body construction performed by Ferrara Fire Apparatus, Inc. They feature a Waterous top-mount 1,500 gallon per minute water pump, with a 750 gallon water tank, an enclosed climate-control cab with seating for six firefighters with (5) SCOTT Air-Paks and spare cylinders. Hose on both units consist of 1.75" bumper line, 1.75" preconnected attack lines, 2.5" attack line, 3" and 5" supply lines. Equipment includes a variety of hose line appliances, high-rise packs, SCOTT RIT-PAK III, forcible entry tools, such as irons (flat head ax and halligan tool), pry-bars, hydra-ram, ventilation equipment including pike poles, K-12 saw with wood and metal/concrete blades, chainsaw, gas and electric powered ventilation fans, a portable Honda generator, salvage tarps, thermal imaging cameras, portable scene lights, hard suction hose for drafting operations, oil-dry absorbent, 24-ft. extension ladder and a 16-ft. roof ladder, and basic EMS equipment/supplies. Rescue-Engine Company 51 operates as the Wagon as it is primarily the first-due engine, and it also carries a portable power unit with a Hurst Spreader and Hurst Cutter, and step and block cribbing for vehicle extrication purposes. Engine Company 52 operates as the Pumper, meaning it handles the Second Due Engine Company duties and responds second due from Headquarters.

Special Service 51 is a multi-purpose response unit. It is a 2015 Ford F-550 Super Duty 4x4 chassis with a pump and body assembled by HME Ahrens-Fox. It has seating for four firefighters with (5) SCOTT Air-Pak X3 with spare cylinders. SS-51 has a mid-mount 1,500 gallon per minute Hale water pump with a 400 gallon water tank. Hose lines include 1.75" preconnected attack lines, 2.5" attack lines and 800-ft. of 5" supply line. This unit has a full compliment of hose line appliances, forcibly entry tools, a portable Honda generator, a gas powered ventilation fan, a portable power unit with a compliment of Hurst extrication tools (Spreaders, Cutters, Rams), cribbing, thermal imaging camera, gas and CO meters, SCOTT RIT-PAK III, chainsaw, pike poles, ground ladders and basic EMS equipment/supplies.


As a volunteer of the Thunderbolt Fire Department, we look for those who can offer something to the department and the community as a whole. Answering fires and other emergency incidents is your primary role as a volunteer firefighter, but, you also need to participate, show us that you want to be a part of an aggressive, proactive team and show initiative. Membership is based on a two-way street. You have to communicate and maintain an interest in the department.

    • Primary role is to answer emergency calls.
    • Every member must bring something to the "team".
    • If your abilities are limited in certain areas, we expect that you will excel in other areas.
    • It is your responsibility as a volunteer to maintain an "active role" in the department. Participate and volunteer yourself to do things within the department.

As a volunteer with the Thunderbolt Fire Department, your functions are to respond to the station to answer emergency calls. We expect all members to work within the framework and team concept that has been established by the department. When members do not answer calls, they become non-proficient and are not part of the team. Members are also expected to follow and abide by the rules and regulations, procedures and protocols set fourth by the department and operate under a paramilitary chain of command.

Other functions as a volunteer is to participate and be an active member of the department. These other functions can include, but are not limited to:

- Department participation, social gatherings, work details, fire prevention, community service
- Voluntary details

As a "Probationary Firefighter", it is your responsibility to be active, to be alert, ask questions, observe, and most importantly, LEARN. Be assertive, make yourself available and willing to help and get involved. 

- Show a "sense of urgency". When there's a call, hustle.
- Wear your turnout gear properly. Hood on, button turnout coat, etc.
- Be prepared. Be alert. Be ready at all times. Be attentive. Think ahead.
- Communicate - In the firehouse, in the back of the rig, while operating on calls, etc.
- Everyone should be sizing up.
- Members must operate under the departments guidelines, following assignments, carrying out orders and maintaining professionalism and discipline.
- Worry about us. Do not worry about other departments, police, EMS, etc. If there is a problem, let an officer know asap.
- Be polite and courteous to residents, business owners, victims. Remember - Customer Service!
- Always have "Situational Awareness".
- Work within your skill level and physical limits.
- If you miss the rig during a call, you should remain at the firehouse until the apparatus returns to assist the crew in clean up, participate in critique, standby in the event of another fire call, and help out as needed.
- Members should try / should want to learn at fire calls. Get into buildings. Ask questions.
- Daytime, especially morning calls - we need the manpower.
- When it's time to work. We work. Firefighting is inherently dangerous, but we are aggressive, focused, disciplined and professional.
- Members work under the guidance and direction of the department officer (or senior man). It is their job to make sure that our members are safe and that "everyone goes home" - this is the most important thing!

Attendance at drills is an absolute requirement. Drills are held every Monday evening. In addition to these scheduled nights, there may be additional training events, that would be announced if so.

- We want to be the best. Train like it.
- When you come to drill, be prepared to work, listen and learn.
- Be on time. Don't be a distraction. Come with the right attitude.
- If you cannot attend drill one week, we expect an appearance the following.
- Drill topics can include, but are not limited to: Engine Company Operations, Truck Company Operations, Stretching Hose Lines, Water Supply, Ground Ladders, Forcible Entry, Ventilation, Firefighter Rescue, Safety and Survival, Firefighter Escape, Rope Rescue, Victim Packaging, Vehicle Extrication, Technical Rescue and more.

Currently, applications for Volunteer Firefighter can be picked up at the firehouse located at 2702 Mechanics Avenue (behind the Thunderbolt Library).