Let's take a historical trip to Guilford County, for a pair of former fire department buildings as depicted in Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. First is the Bessemer Fire Department in northeast Greensboro. They were formed in the early 1940s and were one of the state's first "rural" fire departments. Others included North Asheboro (by 1945), Guilford College also in Greensboro (1946), Seagate in Wilmington (1946), Wilkinson Boulevard in Charlotte (1947), Pleasant Garden near Marion (1948), Pinoca in Charlotte (1949), and Sedge Garden in Winston-Salem (1949).
This annotated image from 1948 depicts the one-story
fire station on Elwell Avenue, along with a description of the department:
Volunteer with a Chief, Asst. Chief, Captain, and 31 men. One "station man" on
duty 24 hours. Apparatus is a 1942 Chevrolet/American pumper, 500 GPM, 200
gallons, with 1000-feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and 300-feet of 3/4-inch hose. Alarms
are sounded by telephone. Click once or twice to enlarge:
The fire station building is still standing, addressed as 610 Elwell Street. Tax records say it's a one-story concrete block commercial build with 2,674 square-feet. Built 1940 with two additions. Effective year of construction 1970. Records of the deeds show that the parcel was purchased by the Bessemer Sanitary District in 1942, and sold to a private owner in 1957. We might infer that the fire department operated no earlier nor later than those years. (They were listed as members of the North Carolina State Firemen's Association from 1945 through 1958, in annual reports.) Click to enlarge:
Next is the 10-A Fire Department
in southwest High Point. They operated from 1955 to 1980
and were originally located on Highway 10-A. Sanborn Maps from 1956 describe
the department as "for subscribers only", as volunteer with a chief and 25
firemen, two combination pumper, hose, and booster trucks, and fire alarms by
telephone. The fire station was a two-story cinderblock building at 1019
Westchester Road. Click to enlarge:
After annexation by the city, the fire department relocated some four miles southwest to 1306 Joe Moore Road. That's in Davidson County, just over the county line. The new station was built in 1961. The fire department was reorganized in 1980 and renamed Hasty Fire Department on September 28, 1980. The department is still operating and from that location. The original station on Westchester Drive is gone, and probably long gone.
For your Sunday evening historical enjoyment, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
drawings of Chapel Hill fire station locations, from 1911 (hose house), 1915
(one-story fire station), 1925 (two-story fire station), and
1949 1945 (two-story
town hall). Those are the map years. Click to enlarge:
Here's the latest addition to my Raleigh Fire Department history site, transcribed personnel records from 1913 to 1941. They originated as a pair of
ledger books that long-resided at Station 1. The recorded information including
start and stop dates, background and biographic information, and disciplinary
actions. The handwritten entries looked something like this:
For the historian, the names and dates are invaluable. For the lay reader, the discipline records are enormously entertaining. Firemen were punished for actions both on- and off-duty. Cursing, fighting, or falling asleep while on "night watch" could cost you a day's pay. Or three days pay. Or outright discharge. Recorded problems of those off-duty including public drunkenness, inappropriate personal relationships, and becoming a "rum runner." Er, that is, being caught while acting as a "rum rummer."1
Yours Truly transcribed both books in late 2004. (Merely took a decade to share this. Sorry.) Syntax and spelling has been preserved. They've been posted as a PDF document that's formatted as electronic book. Includes an index of names, to help locate specific entries.
Read the personnel log (PDF).
1Work schedule you ask? Split shifts, beginning 1914. Day duty was 14 hours, night duty was 10 hours. Plus one day off each week. Firefighters worked every day. Second platoon created in 1924, still split shifts. Firefighters now working every other day. (Twenty four-hour shifts didn't start until 1946.) It's possible that some firemen even lived at the station. City directories into the 1930s list the station address as their residential address. Don't have confirmation of this from other sources, however.Updated - Fuel Truck vs. Fire Engine in Wilmington - 1959
Here are a couple more photos as passed along from our friends at the Wilmington Fire Department. Click once or twice to enlarge:
Cover of a deteriorating copy of Hose & Nozzle magazine, January 1960. Date to be determined, presuming the prior year. Maybe November or December. See more magazine covers (including this one, to be added). Here's the story as printed:
Five Wilmington Firemen Hurt in Crash
A fire truck speeding to answer a pre-dawn alarm at Wilmington, N.C., crashed into an oil tanker loaded with 6,500 gallons of gasoline.
The collision spilled firemen from their perch on the truck and ripped open the oil tanker. Five firemen were injured, including three who were hospitalized. Their injuries were not believed serious.
Almost all of the tanker's load of gasoline poured into the street. Firemen sprayed water on the pavement and then flushed drains for an area four blocks long, running to the Cape Fear River, and two blocks wide.
The fuel was not ignited bu tthe clearing operating lasted about five hours.
The firemen were answering a call at the Cape Fear Hotel.
Injured were Capt. Ellis Eugue Casteen, Burleigh A. Scotton, S. C. Hill, Ray Smith, and Charles Edward Bland.
The driver of the oil truck was not injured.
Click to enlarge:
As mentioned prior postings, city directories are superb sources for fire department historical information. Such as personnel names and timeframes of service. Back in the day, the only "searching" of such directories was skimming page by page. Looking across rows upon rows upon rows of names for the occupation "city firefighter" (as were called, at least in Raleigh).
A century's worth of North Carolina city directories were made available online in 2013. Here's that prior posting. Each directory can be downloaded as a single PDF document. They've been converted to "searchable text," so you can easily people names containing "city firefighter" or "fire dept" or "engine co" in their occupation.
Below are Raleigh firefighter names found in the 1963 city directory. Matches were made on the string "city fire." The results were cut 'n' pasted with warts and all. Such as duplicate entries, misspelled entries, and... missing entries. Where's, say, Fire Chief Jack Keeter? His directory entry is:
KEETER JACK B (Blois G) Chief Fire Dept City of Raleigh, 222 S Dawson, Tel TEmple 2-7736, h L-l Country Club Homes, 2508 Fairview rd, Tel TEmple 2-3402
Ergo, no match on "city fire." These listings also contain "funky characters" as a result of the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process.
How closely does this match the actual roster of firefighters that year? Good question. Don't know if the year (1963) represents when the thing was produced (and thus people were queried for their occupations), or when the thing was published (meaning these were firefighters in, say, 1962).
Food for thought. Enjoy the list.
- Adkinson, James L (Betty) city firefighter rll53 Brighton rd
- Alford, Eug J (Elsie B) city firefighter hlllO Kent rd
- Allen, Joseph S (Doris H) city firefighter hll Dixie trail
- Altman, Hubert Y jr city firefighter h6082 Glenwood av
- Atkinson, James L (Betty E) city firefighter hll53 Brighton rd
- Atkinson, Ronnie C (Patricia E) city firefighter h713 Belmont Dr
- Baker, Chas T (Alma H) city firefighter h537 Lansing
- Baker, Oris H (Janie B) city firefighter h241 Ellerbe la
- Barden, Roberick D (Shirley L) city firefighter h710 Virginia Av
- Barnes, Jack (Sylvia) city firefighter h2929 Wade av
- Barnett, James E (Linda G) city firefighter h2206 Bernard
- Barnette, Reginald (Lessie G) city firefighter h602 Harding
- Bartholomew, Bill (Shirley) city firefighter rl05 E Whitaker Mill rd
- Bartholomew, Lewis E city firefighter h911 Braden
Here's the latest version of my Raleigh fire station map, updated with the latest company and unit changes. See this page for a text list of stations and apparatus. Want an interactive version? See this Raleigh map from the excellent FDmaps.com. That's the North Carolina-based fire station mapping project. (They've also made maps of Chicago and Atlanta. The former is web-based, the latter is app-based. Next up is Detroit, which is underway.) Anyway, this map is linked from my Raleigh FD information page.
This one made national news yesterday. Oodles of Ramen noodles littered the roadway after a transfer truck struck a bridge support on I-95 in Nash County. The Highway 48 bridge to be precise. No injury to the lucky driver. WTVD covered the story as did other local outlets. CNN later picked it up and posted this punny version. Good luck seeing the caption "Big Rig Noodle Hauler" again in your lifetime. Heavy equipment was required to clear the highway, which was closed for six hours. Front loader and backhoe. See the WRAL story for those pics, plus a nifty aerial view of the prepackaged causalities. Loved Ramen in college, still love them today.
WTVD/Jim Schumacher photo
Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter - Winter 2015
Let's go old school with the quarterly Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter. The winter 2015 issue has been posted to www.raleighfirenews.org. Contents include features on the Priority Inspection Program, the recent ISO evaluation, a building collapse on Blount Street, a two-alarm fire on Generation Drive, facility and apparatus updates, and more. The newsletter is a quarterly publication
for personnel, retirees, and citizens. Read the new issue (PDF).
Vintage Beacon Ambulance Photos
Here are a pair of vintage photos of Beacon Ambulance Service in Raleigh. Snapped from a pair of snapshots some months ago. Readers can provide details on who, what, where, and when. See more vintage images of Beacon in this photo album on the History of EMS in Wake County Facebook page. Read about the history of Beacon on my EMS history page. Click to enlarge:
The Youngsville Fire Department in Franklin County is receiving this Pierce Arrow XT aerial tower this week. The 100-foot rear-mount platform arrives on Monday after appearing at the Piedmont Fire Expo in Winston-Salem this weekend. It's the first aerial apparatus for the department. See larger version of this factory photo.
Wake County EMS Adds District 7
District Chief 7 was placed in service today at the Garner East EMS station, e.g Garner Fire Station 4 on Spaceway Drive. The Wake County EMS paramedic unit is a full-fledged response unit. The District Chiefs also function in a supervisor capacity, and have a variety of additional administrative responsibilities. Chief Kev today is driving a Suburban, which is a temporary truck until the new Expedition is ready. Here's a Facebook posting from WCEMS with more information a couple more photos.
Where are the other District Chiefs located? Here's the list, though they don't have designate response areas. These are their "base stations" and they respond as closest unit via automatic unit location via GPS.
|UNIT||STATION NAME||STREET ADDRESS||TOWN||NOTES|
|District 1||Downtown||331 S. McDowell Street||Raleigh||Wake County Public Safety Center|
|District 2||Fairview East (?)||4500 Ten-Ten Road||Apex||Fairview FD Station 1|
|District 3||Durant||10000 Durant Road||Raleigh|
|District 4||Six Forks Main||1431 Lynn Road||Raleigh||Bay Leaf FD Station 3|
|District 5||Cary Main||107 Medcon Court||Cary|
|District 6||Wendell Main||401 E. Third Street||Wendell|
|District 7||Garner East||125 Spaceway Court||Garner||Garner FD Station 4|
|District 9||?||107 Sunnbrook Road,||Raleigh||WakeBrook Campus, staffed 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Advanced Practice Paramedic Supervisor.
Special Event District Chief, placed in service at
And here's a map. Click to enlarge:
Effective 0800 tomorrow Friday, January 16, a number of apparatus and company changes are being implemented in Raleigh, notable for Special Operations Command (SOC) companies and units:
- Rescue 1 moved from Station 21 to Station 15
- Squad 15 moved to Station 7, becomes Squad 7
- Engine 7 moved to Station 15, becomes Engine 15
- Engine 21 activated as technical rescue company.
- Engine 25 deactivated as same.
- USAR 801 (swift water rescue unit) and boats moved from Station 25 to Station 21
- Engine 17 activated as technical rescue company (staffing only, not added to responses)
- Air 1 moved from Station 5 to Station 8.
- Reserve Ladder 210 to Station 25.
The tractor-drawn trench rescue unit staffed by Squad 15 will move to Station 17. It will be staffed by Ladder 3. As you can probably gather, the other units are being moved with crews fully or nearly intact.
- R1 is 2007 Pierce Enforcer walk-around heavy rescue.
- Sq14 is a 2013 Pierce XT rescue pumper (1500/500/20).
- E7 is a 2002 Spartan/Quality MetroStar (1250/500)
- E25 is a 2004 American LaFrance Eagle (1500/500)
- USAR 801 is a Ford F-550 Super Duty utility truck with climb-inside body.
- E21 is a 2002 Spartan/Quality MetroStar (1250/500)
- A1 is a 2002 International/SVI mobile air unit.
- L210 is a 1988 Pierce Arrow Snorkel (85-foot)
- See Mike's updated Raleigh station map.
This Morning's Apparatus Accident in Orange County
Also this morning, Orange Rural Fire Department Engine 232 overturned on
Phelps Road at Mason Keyon Road. (Or was that Engine 233, a 2000 KME pumper-tanker?) It was responding to a motor-vehicle accident. The accident occurred less than a mile from Station 2, which is located at 835 Phelps Road. There were no injuries to the firefighters aboard. Watch
WRAL video report.
Click to enlarge the bottom photo:
Two Henderson County firefighters were injured this morning when their American LaFrance pumper overturned and rolled down an embankment. The Mountain Home Fire Department engine was responding to a vehicle accident in Carriage Park. That's a private development off Haywood Road (Highway 191). While en route, the engine left the roadway on Carriage Park Way just after 8:00 a.m.
Lt. Matt Brackett was transported to Mission Hospital in Asheville with a broken collarbone and internal injuries. He's reported in stable condition. Engineer Rich Hodge was transported to Pardee Hospital and was treated and released. Also injured at the scene after falling on ice was firefighter Matthew Tweed. He was also treated and released from Pardee.
Jeremy Cress photos, via Jaclyn DeAugusto/WLOS via Twitter
From the archives of the News & Observer, by way of the North Carolina State Archives, come a pair of photos from November 11, 1985. They were taken by Gregory Wiggs, one of two photographers on the scene. Fairgrounds Fire Department Tanker 197 (correct number?) overturned on Blue Ridge Road. The truck was built by Atlas on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis. What was the model year?
The next day's newspaper ran the picture on the right with this caption:
"Two truck operators attach a chain to a fire truck that had flipped on Blue Ridge Road near the entrance to the N.C. Museum of Art. The Fairgrounds Rural Fire Department truck was extensively damaged Saturday when it hit a curb and flipped after swerving to avoid a small car that had made a U-turn in its path, Raleigh police and witnesses said. The driver of the fire truck, Richard Ernest [Will], 21, of 3616 Blueberry Drive, was treated at Rex Hospital and released. The driver of the car was being sought, police said."
Click to enlarge:
Looking across the decades, there have been a number of other apparatus "rollovers" in Raleigh and Wake County. Two have resulted in line-of-deaths, the first for both the Cary and Raleigh fire departments. The most prominent, a tiller accident in 2009, resulted in national awareness of apparatus safety as well as specialized training programs for tiller operators.
The historical list includes:
- Apex - 4/1/78 - Engine 3 (1963 Ford/ALF) overturned on old US 1, serving to avoid a car that had pulled into oncoming traffic. The driver was ejected and nearly killed.
- Cary - 6/16/60 - The department's tractor-drawn tanker (shop-built in 1954) overturned at US 1 onto side road near Meredith College. Both firefighters aboard were ejected. Volunteer firefighters Vernon Lee Thompson was killed and Billy Henderson was transported with minor injuries.
- Raleigh - 7/10/09 - Ladder 4 (2004 Pierce tiller) overturned at Dawson and South streets, while responding to a call. The truck was turning east onto South Street from southbound Dawson Street. The apparatus rolled over into a empty parking lot. Three firefighters were transported with minor injuries.
- Raleigh - 12/7/08 - Engine 9 (2008 Pierce) overturned (onto its side) on St. Albans drive, while responding to a call. There were no injuries to the crew.
- Raleigh - 2/25/90 - Engine 5 (1986 EEI/Pemfab) overturned (onto its side) at Wilmington and Smithfield streets, while en route to the shop at Station 2. Only occupant, the driver, suffered minor injuries.
- Raleigh - 11/14/52 - Engine 6 (1926 American LaFrance, reserve) overturned on Brooks Avenue at Lewis Farm Road. Five aboard, three with minor injuries, plus Captain James White with serious injuries, and Driver Vernon Smith with very serious injuries, including leg amputation. He underwent over two dozen operations before succumbing to his injuries on March 10, 1956. He was the first line-of-duty death for the Raleigh Fire Department.
- Raleigh - 7/29/03 - Hose wagon overturned on New Bern Avenue and Person Street.Three firefighters injured.
- Stony Hill - 2/28/09 - Pumper 264 (make/model?) overturned (onto its side) on Purnell Road while responding to a call. Three personnel with minor injuries.
- Wake Forest - 12/25/02 - Engine #433 (1996 E-One pumper/tanker) overturned on Ligon Mill Road while responding to a call. The truck slipped off the shoulder, left the roadway, struck a culvert, and became airborne. The truck flipped two and a half times. Firefighter Thomas Howell received the most serious injuries, with a broken leg, arm, and wrist. Firefighter Shawn Thomas was also hospitalized with a broken leg. A third firefighter was treated and released at the scene.
The next meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission
is Thursday, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. The location is the Wake County
EMS Training Facility, in the lower level of the Wake County Commons
Building, 4011 Carya Drive. The documents for the meeting are linked
- Meeting Called to Order: Chairman Lucius Jones
- Roll of Members Present
- Items of Business
- Approval of Agenda
- Regular Agenda
- Approval of Agenda
- Adoption of Minutes for the November 6, 20104 and December 11, 2014 Regular Meeting
- Recognition of Service – Former Fire Commission Members Barbara Poole ,Chief Mark Haraway, Board of County Commissioners Appointees Paul Coble, and Phil Matthews
- Regular Agenda
- Election of Fire Commission Chair for Calendar Year 2015
- Election of Fire Commission Vice Chair for Calendar Year 2015
- Cost Share Formula Methodology
- Approval of Grant Match Appropriation in the amount of $1,600.00 for Wendell Fire Department Technology Project
- Information Agenda
- Fire Tax Financial Report
- Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Process Update
- Chair Report
- Fire Services Interim Director Report
- Other Business
- Public Comments:
- Comments from the public will be received at the time appointed by the Chairman of the Fire Commission for 30 minutes maximum time allotted, with a maximum of 3 minutes per person. A signup sheet for those who wish to speak during the public comments section of the meeting is located at the entrance of the meeting room.
- Adjournment - Next Meeting March 19, 2015
Agenda packet (PDF)Garner is Hiring for Full-Time Firefighters
Garner Fire Rescue is hiring for
full-time firefighters. Salary is $30,400. Applicants must be 21 by March 1, 2015, and
possess certifications for NC Firefighter Level II, NC EMT, NIMS levels,
NC Haz-Mat Ops, plus TR and VMR completed within twelve months of
employment. See the application packet for more information. Application
period closes at noon on Tuesday, February 3, 2015. Both the job announcement and
application packet are available on the Employment page of the department's web site. Good luck!
This Week's Working Fires
The colder weather has seen a spike in working structure fires since Monday. Around Raleigh, Durham, and Wake County, they've included the following, which are single-family frame dwellings unless otherwise noted:
- Mon - 1/5 - Morning - Raleigh - 7509 Venture Ct .
- Mon - 1/5 - Lunch - Durham - 3715 Foxwood Pl.
- Tue - 1/6 - Morning - Durham - 202 Kindlewood Dr.
- Tue - 1/6 - Midnight - Raleigh - 3208 Snowberry Dr.
- Wed - 1/7 - Lunch - Raleigh - 4703 Cornwall Pl.
- Wed - 1/7 - Evening - Durham - 503 Reynolds Ave.
- Wed - 1/7 - Evening - Stony Hill - TBD
- Thu - 1/8 - Morning - Rolesville - Blue Lilac Ln. - multiple outbuildings
- Thu - 1/8 - Morning - Garner - 1033 Altice Dr. - mobile home
- Thu - 1/8 - Morning - Garner - 2837 Super Sport Ln.
- Thu - 1/8 - Lunch - Holly Springs - 5805 Goolsby Ct.
- Thu - 1/8 - Afternoon - Holly Springs - 401 Chrismill Ln.
- Fri - 1/9 - Early Morning - Hopkins - 9013 Fowler Rd.
- Fri - 1/9 - Early Morning - Fairview - 9010 Ten Ten Rd.
Readers are welcome to add additional incidents, or details to the above fires.
Stay warm and roll those tankers!Mecklenburg County Fire Prevention Van - 1970
From Hose & Nozzle magaine, September-October 1970, here's the picture and story of a "shiny red step van" donated to Mecklenburg County by the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Charlotte. The unit would be used to "storge and transport equipment [that] firemen use in giving fire prevention programs." Click to enlarge:
The city's newest fire station continues its construction at 12117 Leesville Road. Completion is expected in late February. Here's a montage of six construction photos, from August 31 to January 4. See more photos. Or read this prior posting and discussion therein. Click to enlarge:
Raleigh firefighters faced a challenging fire on Friday night at 1914 Generation Drive. That's a four-story, wood-frame, garden-style apartment building with 17,160 square-feet. Fourteen units, which are two-story. Built 1974. But the building has two addresses. (As do most of the buildings in the complex.)
The top two floors are addressed as 1929 North Hills Drive. The bottom two floors are addressed as Generation Drive. And, you can't access the bottom from the top, unless you either (a.) crawl/slide/jump into a "pit" in the front of the building, or (b.) walk around three buildings which adjoin, and descend a severely sloped hill.
Engine 16 arrived with nothing showing and found a burn victim on the front patio of a first-floor apartment. Firefighters began patient care, while the officer continued the size-up. The fire apartment was located as facing Generation Drive. The call was upgraded to smoke showing. As searches were started, smoke and heat began building. The call was upgraded to a working fire.
As conditions continued to worsen, a second alarm was struck. Further deteriorations prompted
preparations for defensive operations. However, a transitional attack negated that need and crews resumed interior work.
Cause was determined as incendiary, as the result of a suicide attempt. The eighteen year-old female victim was transported to WakeMed and transferred to the UNC burn center. She died on Saturday as a result of her injuries. See news stories including WRAL and WTVD.
Believe this is the first fatal fire in the city since September 15, 2009. Fatal fire totals by my count, over the last fifteen years: 2009 - 2, 2008 - 1, 2007 - 4, 2006 - 2, 2005 - 2, 2004 - 3, 2003 - 1, 2002 - 5, 2001 - 8, 2000 - 2. Correction: Last fire fatality was December 12, 2003. Adult male, 78.
Read a full narrative with my posted photos. The first versions of those have been published, and include after images of the buildings and the topography. Also included is the below diagram. Click to enlarge: