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 '40s 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, to 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 below 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. 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.
Today, Station 4 is located at the corner of Shore Drive and Greenwell Road on the north side of Virginia Beach. It's home to CBVRS as well as Virginia Beach Fire Department Engine Company 4, Battalion Chief 2, and Port of Virginia Command Center 1. Over 40+ volunteer CBVRS members respond to 911 emergency calls for service as a part of the Virginia Beach EMS system, staffing up to three advanced life support ambulances and a 4x4 off-road mini-ambulance 24/7/365.
Our members are proud to provide no-cost 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.
Check out this 8mm home movie showing President 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.
Courtesy the Paul Judge collection.
On Friday, August 22nd 1976, Assistant Chief Albert R. “Pappy” Benke was working a Bingo fundraiser at the station when a call came in for a vehicle collision at the corner of Shore Drive and Diamond Springs Road. Chief Benke responded in the ambulance, providing care to a critically injured teenage patient. While transporting the patient to Virginia Beach General Hospital, Chief Benke developed chest pains but continued to provide care. After passing his patient to the hospital staff, Chief Benke collapsed to the ground in cardiac arrest. Though hospital staff were initially able to resuscitate him, Chief Benke died a few days later becoming CBVRS’s only Line-of-Duty Death (LODD).