The Fire Marshal Office conducts fire investigations of all structure fires in Watauga County, conducts fire inspections under Volume 5 of the N. C. State Building Code, provides training through fire prevention programs, and serves as staff for the Watauga County Fire Commission.
Fire protection is provided by 13 fire departments in Watauga County. The Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator for Watauga County works with all departments. Of these 13 departments, Boone, Blowing Rock, and Seven Devils are municipal fire departments and must meet the rigid requirements of the Insurance Services Office Classes; Boone is class 4, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils are classes 5 and 6 respectively. Watauga County provides an allotment to each fire department for basic expenses. The municipal fire departments provide a higher level of protection using municipal tax funds as an additional revenue source. All fire departments in Watauga County have a fire tax supported district.
Rural fire departments in the County include Beaver Dam, Beech Mountain, Cove Creek, Deep Gap, Foscoe, Meat Camp, Shawneehaw, Stewart Simmons, Todd, and Zionville. Although each property in the County is served by one of the fire departments, properties within one of the towns or within five miles of one of the rural fire departments receive a lower fire insurance premium than properties more distant.
The Emergency Management Office coordinates resources for emergency services in Watauga County. This office also conducts searches for missing persons, handles hazardous materials incidents, conducts emergency preparedness programs/training, and acts as liaison for Watauga County to the State Division of Emergency Management during times of disaster. In addition to the response phase the Emergency Management Office is responsible for plans pertaining to disasters and emergency response. The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for all phases of an emergency: preparedness, mitigation response, and recovery.