Although the fire department had been part of the village of Carthage since the 1800's it all changed when in 2001, the village board proposed to terminate the paid fire drivers and cut various portions of the fire department budget due to a dwindling tax base. The volunteer firemen including John P. Storms, fire chief and Bill Blunden, fire department treasurer, took on the task of investigating the possibility of forming a fire district. After numerous public hearings and meetings over a two year span with the village, town and all fire departments within the town, the public voted to form a new fire district. In the fall of 2003 the Carthage-Wilna fire district was formed. The village-owned Carthage fire department was disbanded and the newly formed Carthage-Wilna fire district began operations January 1, 2004 under a board of five jointly appointed fire commissioners, a part-time secretary/treasurer, three paid full-time fire drivers and one part-time fire driver, along with the Carthage volunteer fire department as the sole operating agency.
The original fire commissioners were Jon W. Storms as chairman, Mike Roderick, Robert Todd, Richard Buckingham and Jeff Nevills. Jon Storms has continued to hold the chairman position and is the only remaining commissioner of the original five. In January 2005 Sean Mchale and Dave Broyles replaced Mike Roderick and Richard Buckingham. Dave Broyles has remained on the board since his original elected term began January 1, 2005. Sean Mchale resigned as commissioner in December 2011 to pursue an officer's position in the fire department. Other commissioners include Ernie Prievo January 1, 2008, John P. Storms January 1, 2012 and Norm Barkley Jr. appointed to replace Sean Mchale beginning February 1, 2012. Mike Soukup, elected beginning term of January 1, 2006, Cheryl Spencer and Tim Mulvaney each served short durations that ended for personal reasons. Commissioner appointed secretary/treasurers of the district include Sandy Stone, Kathy Madore, Barb Allington and Linda Prashaw. Brian Draper, head fire driver was hired in 1993 by the village of carthage and is still currently employed with the district.
Starting the new fire district did not come without agony and issues. One of the first duties the chairman had to do that January in 2004 was borrow money from the village of Carthage to keep operations going until the Town of Wilna collected tax payments in the spring. The equipment and trucks were old, outdated and breaking down. In 2006 the fire station on N. mechanic Street was declared as unsafe with the station floor no longer able to support the weight of the fire apparatus. The NYS armory became the temporary home of the district and the fire department until a new station was built in 2008 on S. James Street.
The district inherited the village's debt for a 2000 KME engine. After finalizing that obligation, in February 2006 another loan was secured to purchase from a fire department in Texas, a used 1987 E-One aerial ladder truck. The other inherited engine from the village was a 1988 FMC.
The Carthage fire department and the Carthage-Wilna fire district have each struggled along the way but continue to flourish with the dedication of the fire commissioners, paid employees and loyal volunteers who are residents of the community that are persistent and work diligently to ensure the safety of their neighbors.