For your Friday enjoyment, here's a new video from Wake County EMS, demonstrating in grand comic fashion that every employee is required to successfully complete a physical ability test (PAT) on an annual basis. Excellent example of internal (and external-facing) education that's orientated from a positive and outright playful perspective. Carrot not stick:
View on YouTube Before You Post That Fire Photo to Facebook
Here’s today’s thought exercise. Should you post a fire photo to Facebook, if you’re a member of the department that’s fighting the fire?
Let’s talk through this.
Question one. Why Facebook, specifically? Versus elsewhere on social media or other web sites?
To me, Facebook seems like its own animal. So popular, so easily used, so easily misused. It’s also where Yours Truly spends much of his social media time. (Versus a more modest presence on Twitter, and nearly no use of other channels.)
Also, some have reservations or outright apprehension about Facebook. Since fire photos are records of “other people’s lives,” it’s easy to imagine someone saying “I didn’t call the fire department just to see my life posted on Facebook.
(Now there’s a social experiment worth conducting! Measure public reactions to identical fire photos, as posted on Facebook versus Instagram versus Twitter versus official web site versus personal web site.)
Question two. Why are talking about firefighters only? Why not all responders, including EMS and law enforcement?
We’re starting simple. Bear with me. We’ll be talking a bit about medical responders, often components of a fire department. Either as first responders or fire-based EMS.
Question three. What about all those fire photos posted by Legeros and Lee Wilson? Or what photojournalists and the “the news” produce? Or just Joe Q. filming from the street corner?
Good question! On one hand, it’s absolutely a different animal. None of those individuals are city/county/agency employers or members. Nor are they responders with real and perceived responsibilities.
On the other hand--at least with the news and our favorite fire photogs—they have their own protocols. They, too, weigh issues such as personal values, employer or sponsor procedures, and the base ethics of their actions.
But back to firefighters…
Shooting Photos versus Posting Photos
We’ll start with semantics. Shooting versus posting.
Every photo posted to Facebook is actually three things:
- The photo itself.
- The action of posting the photo.
- Any caption, commentary, or comments included (or later added) to the photo.
Sometimes simply taking a photo is problematic.
Think about, say, a fire investigator arriving a working structure fire. They hop out of their “red car” and begin snapping pictures for documentation. Bystanders observe this and contrast their actions with the other arriving units. “Why is that guy taking pictures? Why isn’t he going to get a hose?”
Sometimes taking a photo is “okay”, but posting is a problem.
Responders may take pictures for internal use of severe accidents involving fatalities, such as an extended extrication or complicated technical rescue. (They’re particularly good training tools.) But if those photos are shown to the public, the response by the public is usually negative.
Sometimes both taking and posting a photo is fine, but captions or comments cause problems.
There’s a world of difference between the picture of a house fire with the caption “Engine 50 fought a fire today” versus such captions as “Strong work by Engine 50 today” (good) or “Good day for a barbecue” (bad).
Posting Photos Officially
Let’s define “official photo” as any picture that a fire department releases for public consumption. And, for our purposes, also posts to Facebook. Could be a picture taken by a civilian. Could be a donated news photo. Most likely it’s a picture taken by a member of the department.
When should you post or not post a photo from an incident? Here’s my take, based both on (a.) my approach to posting scene pictures and (b.) what I’ve observed as posted by fire departments to Facebook.
Here's a quartet of historical Henderson Fire Department photos, dating perhaps from the late 1910s through the 1940s. The pictured station was built in 1908 and is the oldest operating engine house in the state. It's located at 205 N. Garnett Street and originally housed horse-drawn apparatus. The pictured engines are American LaFrance rigs. From John Peckham's registry, the department's fleet included:
- 1916 American LaFrance Type 45 triple combination - #1021 - Shipped 1/27/16
- 1920 American LaFrance Type 75 triple combination - #3049 - Shipped 4/23/20
- 1940 American LaFrance 575 Quadruple Combination (service truck with pump) - #L-1215 - Shipped 2/29/40
- 1945 American LaFrance B-675 pumper - #2109 - Shipped 5/25/45
- 1950 American LaFrance 710 pumper - #9377 - Shipped 11/19/54.
These are mobile phone photos of physical prints. Thanks Chris and John.
(Have historical prints in your possession of North Carolina fire departments?
Shoot me a nice photo and we might feature them here!) Click to enlarge:
Here's a neat picture of Fort Bragg Fire Station 1 in April 1921. Comes courtesy of John Porter, nephew of Oscar Porter, who was the driver of the Ahrens Fox pumper on the left. (He's pictured on the far left.) The Fort Bragg Fire Department operated a pair of Ahrens-Fox K-4 pumpers during World War I. On the right is a 1918 Seagrave pumper. Read more about FBFD history. Click to enlarge:
Still more photos. Close to completion. Click to enlarge:
From the History of Durham group on Facebook comes this photo of Durham County's first pumper, which was wrecked in 1957. The accident occured at the corner of Trinity Avenue and North Mangum Street, at Dodson's Esso service station. Click to enlarge:
The apparatus was a 1948 Mack pumper, bought by the county and housed at Durham Station 1. Was staffed by Durham firefighters and probably cross-staffed from the other city companies. The truck carried 600 gallons of water. Don't know the pump capacity. Was called a "booster truck" in the city's 1955 report by the National Board of Fire Underwriters.
My notes say same was later used as a tanker, which seems to indicate the truck was repaired after the accident. Here's a picture from the Durham Fire Department history page on Facebook. Click to enlarge:
From this Seagrave Carolina Facebook posting comes these preliminary drawings of a Seagrave Marauder II 100-foot tractor-drawn aerial ladder that's been ordered by the Cornelius-Lemley Fire Department in Mecklenburg County. The department currently operates a 1989 Seagrave tiller that formerly served the Richmond and Bedford fire departments in Virginia. It was acquired in 2008 and operates as Hook and Ladder 44. The apparatus is but one of a handful of tillers operating in North or South Carolina. Click to enlarge:
From the SPAAMFAA group on Facebook comes this vintage photo from the collection of Scott Mattson. Fayetteville's 1960 Ford C/Howe pumper, 750 GPM. Served as Engine 4. Undated image. Love the wooden chock block. See original posting by Scott. Or read more about Fayetteville's apparatus over the years, in these fleet histories. Click to enlarge:
The month of February saw quite a few working fires in the Capital City. By my
tally, they were:
|1||Feb. 3||717 Merrywood Drive||Duplex||Engine 3|
|2||Feb. 5||3200 Verdugo Drive||House||Engine 10|
|3||Feb. 6||1018 Early Rise Street||House||Engine 10||See photos.|
|4||Feb. 6||3105 Julian Drive||House||Engine 11||See photos.|
|5||Feb. 7||109 Pineland Circle||House||Squad 14||See photos.|
|6||Feb. 16||5933 Carmel Lane||House||Engine 15||Originally as fire alarm.|
|7||Feb. 17||5105 Country Trail||Leesville Community Library||Engine 23||Originally as fire alarm.|
|8||Feb. 19||7650 Pangea Lane||Apartments||Engine 22|
|9||Feb. 20||3856 Cane Garden Drive||House||Engine 26|
|10||Feb. 21||3312 Atlantic Avenue||Duplex||Engine 11|
|11||Feb. 21||2320 Clark Avenue||Apartments||Engine 5|
|12||Feb. 22||1201 S. East Street||Apartments||Engine 3|
|13||Feb. 22||701 Gannet Street||Former nursery, now dwelling||Engine 8||Originally as smoke investigation.
|14||Feb. 26||119 Lord Ashley Road||House||Squad 7||Originally as fire alarm.
|15||Feb. 26||6204 Dresden Lane||House||Engine 16|
|16||Feb. 27||8249 Marshall Brae Drive||Dwelling||Engine 28|
January was busy also, with thirteen working fires by my count. December was fewer, as were prior months. Don't have counts, alas.
March has started strong, with two today (so far).Biltmore Fire Departments - A Short History
Let’s take a trip to Asheville, for a historical perspective on the Biltmore fire departments of yore. We'll start with fire protection at George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate, which was completed in 1895. The property was protected by various types of fire equipment, including fire hydrants with hose and fire apparatus. Though the Biltmore House has never caught fire, smaller buildings on the estate burned in early decades.
In 1903, a fire department was organized at nearby Biltmore Village. The Biltmore Fire Department protected both the estate and the village until 1929. They operated hand and motor apparatus including a 1926 Ahrens Fox triple combination pumper. That year, the village was annexed the city, and Asheville Fire Station 5 opened at the former Biltmore Village fire station.
Also that decade, the town of Biltmore Forest was charted in 1923. The planned residential community was developed from some 1,500 acres of estate property. The Biltmore Forest Fire Department operated with combination firemen and police officers, as well as volunteer firemen. They had a single combination fire and police station and five pieces of apparatus over the decades until they ceased operation in 1995. The town contracted with the Asheville Fire Department until 2013, and then the Skyland Fire Department, which completed a new fire station near the town in 2014.
That's the abstract, now read the research notes. Twenty pages of historical details. And pictures! They're located at legeros.com/history/biltmore.
The Curious Case of Spring Lake's American LaFrance Aerial Ladder
Here's the strangest thing you'll see this week, a 1949 American LaFrance 700 (or 800?) Series 100-foot aerial ladder with a tag axle added. Served Spring Lake Fire Department by the late 1980s and early 1990s. Top picture by Jeff Harkey is circa 1990. Bottom photos by Lee Wilson is dated July 12, 1991. (By that time, the truck was out of service and had been replaced with a 1968 Young Crusader Snorkel that formerly served Henrietta, NY.)
The tag axle and rear body
work are aftermarket and probably done during a refurbishing. Might've been
added to help with braking. Might've been added to help with weight
restrictions. Maybe readers know more! Also a mystery is the truck's origin.
Most likely served another city (or even two) before arriving at Spring Lake.
Click to enlarge:
Here's another trip back in time, a pair of Ford/Atlas pumpers that served the Westarea Fire Department in Cumberland County. Engine 102 (later 1032, later 2032) was a 1982 Ford/Atlas in black and Engine 152 (later 1532) was a 1984 Ford/Atlas in red. The black truck was photographed by Jeff Harkey, circa 1990. The red truck was photographed by Lee Wilson on July 7, 1991. What other all-black rigs have served in North Carolina? Click to enlarge:
Fourteen fire departments from Wake County (and one from Johnston County) battled a major house fire in southern Wake County on Friday. Though the structure was of "ordinary size", there were numerous challenges ranging from roadway access to water supply to building construction. Here are some notes on the incident:
- Dispatched about 10:40 a.m.
- 8001 Caddy Road. One-story structure with partial basement. 3,733 square-feet, built 1952.
- Eleven-acres of land. Vehicular access via gate on Division D side. Iron fence on Division C and D sides.
- Fire found in basement.
- Extension to first-floor and attic, through void spaces in walls.
- Building construction included sections of log cabin construction, which further challenged crews.
- Exterior hazards included icy terrain and a filled swimming pool beside the basement access door.
- Access issues included narrow front gate, so first engine couldn't get close to the house.
- After initial units arrived, an asphalt truck drove to the scene. It became stuck in a ditch after attempting to turn around. This blocked access from additional units. Truck was pulled from ditch by fire engine.
- Access issues on roadway also included icy conditions on two hills. Sand truck arrived some hours later, from Department of Transportation.
- Controlled about 4:30 p.m.
- Fairview E3, E2, Tanker 7, Fuquay-Varina E4, Tanker 1 originally dispatched.
- Fairview E1, R1, Tanker 6; Garner E9, E3, Tanker 12 added.
- North Region Tanker Task Force requested: Durham Highway P2, Bay Leaf Tanker 127, Tanker 257, Wake Forest Tanker 2, Stony Hill Tanker 268.
- Two engines from Raleigh requested, along with a third additional engine. Raleigh E13, L8 dispatched, along with Apex E4.
Cary E4; Holly Springs E3; Swift Creek Tanker 2 added.
- Cleveland E3, Morrisville E3, Cary E6, R2 added.
- Medical: EMS 52, EMS 11, EMS 5, D1, Chief 105.
- What's right/wrong about that dispatch/request sequence?
Departments and Units:
- Apex E4
- Bay Leaf Tanker 127, Tanker 257 (believe they were both diverted for coverage)
- Cary E4, E6, R2
- Cleveland E3
- Durham Highway P2
- Fairview E3, E2, E1, Tanker 6, Tanker 7, R1, C1
- Fuquay-Varina E4, Tanker 1
- Garner E9, E3, Tanker 12, B1
- Holly Springs E3
- Raleigh E13, L8, B2
- Morrisville E3
- Stony Hill Tanker 268
- Swift Creek Tanker 2
- Wake Forest Tanker 2
Plus Wake County Fire Services, Wake County Emergency Management.
- Swift Creek E3 to Fairview Station 1
- Bay Leaf Tanker 127 to Fairview Station 2
- Bay Leaf Tanker 257 to Garner Station 2
Water Supply / Hose Lines
- Water shuttle required, with drop tank at Caddy and Fields Drive.
- That's some 1,200 feet down Caddy Drive (and two hills) to the front gate.
- Water point was beside/behind Smithfield Chicken 'n' Barbecue, at Ten Ten Road and Highway 401. That's 0.6 miles away.
- Combination of relay and nurse pumping. Two or maybe three relay pumpers. See diagram below.
- Courtyard lay from front gate on Division D side, which was some 350 feet to the basement access on Division B side.
- Manifold placed in operation on Caddy Drive on Division A side, with section of iron fence removed, to allow personnel and vehicle access.
- Second courtyard lay from manifold on Caddy Drive?
Here's "interpretative map" based on observations at the end of the incident,
along with some phone photos. Pictures from my cameras will take another day
or two to be posted. Click to enlarge:
Here's another blast from the past, a sharp-looking Chevy chief's buggy of the Bethesda Volunteer Fire Company in Durham County. Love those Hot Wheels wheels! Photo by Jeff Harkey, circa 1990 or abouts.
The van was purchased when R. H. Ballard was Fire Chief. He was fond of driving vans and drove one for many years as his personal vehicle. When the department decided to purchase a car for chief's use, a van was the natural choice. This was replaced in/around 1994 with a Ford Excursion. The van remained in reserve as a utility vehicle or, on occasion, as the chief's buggy.
Another bit of history: this vehicle was also involved in an accident on South Miami Boulevard in the mid-1980s. Chief Ballard was driving ahead of Engine 1 to a fire alarm activation. When a building fire was reported elsewhere in the district, the Chief made a sudden u-turn to respond. His van was t-boned by the trailing Bethesda engine. The vehicle was repaired by combining the remains of the original with the rear half of another Chevy van. Click to enlarge:
Bought this on eBay, color slide of the city's 1964 GMC service truck.
Photographed in October 1982 by Joel Woods. Served as Truck 6, Truck 16, Truck
8, Truck 15, and as a reserve. Chassis cost $3,270.56. Purchased in January
1964. With body and maybe equipment, cost $5,229.00. The body was probably
constructed by Alexander Welding. Was placed in service as Truck 6 at Station 6
on February 8, 1965. Click to enlarge:
There were three "modern service trucks" operated in Raleigh. The first was a 1963 Ford with a 1922 American LaFrance ladder bed. The chassis was wrecked in 1979 (see picture and another picture) and replaced with a 1980 Ford chassis. The second is listed above. The third was a 1971 Chevrolet. They were used in the city through the mid-eighties. Read about those trucks in my apparatus registry. Click to enlarge these photos. Top are the Fords, bottom is the Chevy:
This reader question was posted to yesterday's run numbers thread and asks a great question about support for funding of fire departments with low(er) run numbers:
As a Wake County resident and taxpayer, why should I support continuing to fund a fire department that only runs 756 calls a year? Wouldn’t it make more logical (and fiscal) sense to let Raleigh or some other neighboring department handle there area? Just seems like a waste of resources from a laymen’s perspective.
Jeanne Palusen - 02/19/15
Let's post the responses over here instead over there, and leverage an excellent opportunity for public information and educaiton. And maybe some good discussion. We'll keep the other thread open for more run number postings.Run Numbers For 2014
Below are the calls and unit responses (runs) for Raleigh and Cary fire departments, plus runs
for Western Wake. See also
this prior posting about incident data and fire station first due call
totals in Raleigh.
56,546 unit responses
E1 - 1842
E2 - 1717
E3 - 2696
E4 - 1234
E5 - 1261
E6 - 1228
E7 - 1935
E8 - 1861
E9 - 1529
E10 - 1636
E11 - 2303
E12 - 2391
E13 - 1337
Sq14 - 1639
Sq15 - 2334
E16 - 1664
E17 - 1309
E18 - 1117
E19 - 2101
E20 - 1536
E21 - 1363
E22 - 1269
E23 - 1021
E24 - 782
E25 - 759
E26 - 900
E27 - 637
E28 - 604
E3 - 2696
E12 - 2391
Sq15 - 2334
E11 - 2303
E19 - 2101
E7 - 1935
E8 - 1861
E1 - 1842
E2 - 1717
E16 - 1664
|L1 - 973
L2 - 2012
L3 - 980
L4 - 2120
L5 - 970
L6 - 455
L7 - 987
L8 - 541
R1 - 1057
B1 - 461
B2 - 605
B3 - 521
B4 - 299
B5 - 763
Air 1 - 142
Haz-Mat 1 - 78
Haz-Mat 2 - 83
Haz-Mat 3 - 51
C20 (Div Chief) - 142
C401 (Investigator) - 217
C420 (Platoon Deputy
Fire Marshal) - 993
16,206 unit responses
(total of below)
E1 - 1086
E2 - 1323
E3 - 1658
E4 - 1128
E5 - 1038
E6 - 683
E7 - 671
E8 - 608
L1 - 793
L3 - 1093
L5 - 815
L6 - 383
R2 - 1209
R4 - 984
R7 - 457
B1 - 1190
B2 - 1087
Wake County EMS
|See more Raleigh run number data (PDF)|
From the Durham County EMS Facebook page, comes an announcement about (and a photo of) their newest ambulances. The new Demers MX152's are built on a low-maintenance, fuel-efficient Sprinter chassis and designed to provide enhanced safety and comfort for both patients and paramedics. Final inspections are underway at the factory. The seven ambulances are due the first week in March. See also this posting from Rescue Vehicle News.
Raleigh Firemen Who Lived at the Fire Station
Last month we presented a list of Raleigh firefighter names as listed in the Raleigh City Directory of 1963. Let's look at some other city directory voumes, for names of some firemen who lived at the fire station:
- 1931 - Collins Dempsey D, hosemn Engine Co No 3 r 135 E Hargett [Sta 3]
- 1931 - Higgins Grady W, capt Engine Co No 2 r 412 S Salisbury [Sta 2]
- 1931 - King Linwood C, nozlemn Engine Co No 2 r 412 S Salisbury
- 1931 - Strother Stanley, hosemn Engine Co No 5 r 1914 Park dr [Sta 5]
- 1932 - Strother Stanley, hosemn 110 W Morgan [Sta 1]
- 1935 - Caudle Durwood E city firemn 110 W Morgan
- 1935 - Kelly Jas C city firemn rl35 E Hargett
- 1935 - Mills Clyde D city firemn r505 Jefferson [Sta 4]
- 1949 - Blake, Jasp capt Eng Co No 4 City Fire Dept r505 Jefferson
- 1950 - Beacham Frank A city firefighter r2601 Fairview rd [Sta 6]
- 1950 - Gates, Thos O city fire fighter City Fire Dept r505 Jefferson
- 1950 - Strickland, Jas C city fire fighter r2601 Fairview rd
- 1963 - Williams, Larry G city firefighter r735 Fayetteville st [Sta 2]
Wait, firemen lived at the fire station? As in, their primary residence? Correct. This piece of history was raised in last month's posting about old discipline records.
Reader "AP" noted "I once worked with now retired Captain J.C. Munns and he described to me once that during his early years at RFD, he was assigned to St 3 and lived at the station back when they only had two shifts. As you noted, he even received his regular mail at the station, which I think was common practice. He noted on his off day, he would hop on the engine if a house fire came in."
I've queried a few folks and learned these details about "living at the fire station":
- Back in the day, in the 1960s and 1950s and earlier, there were only two shifts.
- Since 1946, they worked twenty-four hour shifts.
- Those who were single or divorced "slept and ate at the station."
- Was much cheaper than renting a room or apartment.
- They could also ride the city busses for free.
- Most or maybe all had second jobs. They'd spend the day working and then return to the station for supper and sleep.
- But if there was a call (or maybe just a fire), they had to hop on the truck.
Couple factors to consider here. First, their salaries weren't terribly high. One retiree recounts trying to buy a $12,560 house in the newly developing Woodcrest community. This was the early or mid-1950s. He made $73 a month, including city taxes and insurance. The bank said sorry, he didn't make enough money. He returned in 1957 after his salary was higher and bought the house.
There was also a residency requirement. Firemen had to live within the city limits, and the city limits were considerably smaller. Here's an annexation showing the significantly smaller city size. Thus, their housing choices were limited by geography. As each decade passed, the city grew. New subdivisions were developed by builders and they were annexed by the city. Firemen had more choices of places to live.
The residency requirement was expanded in February 1969, to anywhere within Wake County. Provided they lived on a paved road and that their telephones were "connected to the Raleigh exchange." The restriction was further expanded to a road mile distance. What was it, then thirty-five, then fifty?
Need reader input here. Both on the residency requirements, and any
additional "living at the station" details that people have heard. Click to enlarge:
Postscript. Visit my fire department timelines and you'll see progressive annexation maps, per-decade. But... they don't match this map. Who's right and who's wrong? Probably my bad.
Found for sale on eBay is an excerpt from Fire Engineering, about a pair of "auxiliary trucks" (my words) added in Durham during the war years. These were a pair of one-ton trucks that were placed in service to handle "small fires in residential areas." Such as car fires, chimney fires, and grass fires. Run cards were updated for "straight fire alarms." Instead of two "big pumpers" and a ladder truck, they'd dispatch one pumper, one ladder truck, and one "small truck."
The change was made after they analyzed their runs for 1941. They found that "ninety-eight percent of fires in Durham could've been handled adequately with the ladder truck, one small truck, and ten men." Sound familiar, anyone? Such as the midi-pumper concept of a few decades later? (The war also likely inspired the program. Material restrictions prevented many fire departments from adding or replacing apparatus. This placed a premium on existing trucks. Using "auxiliary trucks" such as this, departments saved wear and tear on the larger and often older rigs.)
Here's what they carried:
The Durham Fire Department might've been the first in the state to implement this concept. Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington also operated "squad trucks." Read prior blog posting. See also another posting with a vintage ad about the Durham truck.
As for Durham's trucks, one was sold to Garner in 1952
as their first fire truck. Then the thing was sold to Harrells Fire Department
in Sampson County. Here are
pictures of mine from 2004, of the truck at the Harrells fire station. (What sort of modifications might've been made to the truck, while it served in Garner and/or Harrells? Don't know.) Click to
Now, notice the top two photos. Upper left is 1942, upper right is 1945. Same truck, but with front pump added? Or two different trucks? To be determined!
Meanwhile, enjoy the full article. Click once or twice to enlarge:
February 14, 2014
From our friends in Nash County come this clipping showing Butch in action at the pump panel. Plus one impressive set of sideburns! Maybe readers recognize the era of the photo. Thanks Bob and Todd (e.g. the Nash County history book authors).
As noted in his obituary (he passed away this summer), James Edward “Butch” Robbins passed away this summer at age 64. He lost him legs and arm as a soldier in Vietnam in 1968. He was a dispatcher for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and a member of the Sharpsburg Fire Department.
He also had many other jobs including, farming and
auctioneering. Click to enlarge:
December 28, 2014
Found this cover story in the July-August 1976 issue of Hose & Nozzle magazine. Butch Robbins, a volunteer firefighter with Sharpsburg. He responds to fires in his jeep and serves as a pump operator. He has no legs and one arm. Wow. Click to enlarge: