Buddy Griffith started the station in 1938 when he formed the Chesapeake Beach Volunteer Fire Department (CBVFD) after noticing a lack of adequate fire protection in the area. The first fire engine was a one ton Chevrolet with a skid-mounted rear pump and a water tank on a trailer. In 1942, a state charter was issued, and on April 30, 1948 CBVFD was incorporated as the Chesapeake Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
Shortly after incorporation, the CBVFD moved to a garage owned by Cliff Morris on Pleasure House Road. A two-bay station was built in the late 1940s on Lake Drive near where the current Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) toll plaza now stands, adjacent to the Bayside Men's Club.
In 1959, a CBVF&R Lady’s Auxiliary was formed with an initial 7 women, who’s goal was to assist the firemen in any way possible, co-sponsor fundraising with the fire department, and, in general, the betterment, improvement and service of the fire department. These women volunteered their time to assist with administrative and station duties as well as respond to extended emergencies in support of the firefighters by providing them with hot coffee and fresh meals.
In 1962 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was built, the land that housed the station was used for the CBBT and land was granted adjacent to the for the fire station. Members hand-built the “new” station brick by brick, relying on donations of labor, building supplies and time over about 8 months.
That same year, adding in the new responsibility of medical and rescue calls, the organization’s name was officially changed to Chesapeake Beach Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department, Inc. A Cadillac ambulance was added to the fleet, and improvements to the station on Pleasure House Road including dormitories, a kitchen and more were made. 1965 brought a new engine, and 1968 brought the construction of two additional bays for larger fire apparatus.
In the fall of 1972, the City of Virginia Beach Fire Department assumed primary firefighting duties from CBVRS, and the first paid city firefighters were quartered at Station 4. By the late 1980s, VBFD became the sole firefighting entity, and CBVRS provided ambulance and rescue squad capabilities.
On August 22nd, 1976, CBVRS experienced it’s only Line of Duty Death when Assistant Chief Albert “Pappy” Benke experienced a medical emergency shortly after transporting a patient to the hospital. More information is located in the “LODD” section.
In 2004, CBVRS removed the Squad Truck from service due to increasing costs and training requirements. Today, VBFD handles all technical rescue as well as firefighting while CBVRS handles EMS.
In 2013, our crews moved into a new, state-of-the-art station located at the corner of Greenwell Drive and Shore Drive. This new station provides separate amenities to CBVRS and VBFD, is gender friendly with separate bathrooms and individual sleeping quarters for on-duty members and is more centrally located within the first due area allowing for quicker emergency response. We share these quarters with VBFD Engine Company 4, Battalion 2 and Port of Virginia Command Center 1. The former hand-built quarters of Company 4 still stands on Pleasure House Road, a large piece of the Chesapeake Beach history, and is now a commercial establishment.
In 2024 CBVRS in partnership with VBEMS and VBFD opened Station 22, a satellite station, to provide more rapid response to the Burton Station area and northeast side of the city. We share these quarters with VBFD Engine and Ladder 22.
Today, over 40+ volunteer CBVRS members respond to 911 emergency calls for service as a part of the Virginia Beach EMS system.
Our members are proud to provide emergency medical services and transport to our community, and just like our initial members back in 1942, we continue to respond to emergencies and support the Virginia Beach area with dedication, pride, professionalism and service!
The original station, circa late 1940s. This station was located about where the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel toll plaza is today. Note the siren on the roof of the bay, this was used to signal volunteers to respond to the station before the days of pagers, cell phones or even portable radios.
8mm home movie showing President John F. Kennedy campaigning on Chic’s Beach, circa 1960. The second half of the film clearly shows our Salvage unit as well as ambulance outside of our first station, and we believe Kennedy is speaking in a field across from or next to the old station.
Courtesy the Paul Judge collection.