08/21/09 88 W, 1 I - + 12 - 12 Workshop Slides

Thanks to those who attended today's workshop on North Carolina Firefighting History at the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo. The material passed muster, some good questions were asked, and some neat new people were met. A version of the presentation slides has been posted on our history site. Also available is the presentation from the 2006 convention, on the subject of Researching Fire Department Histories. Below is History Boy in action. Thanks, Tim, for taking some pics! See everyone tomorrow.

Interesting slide presentation Mike. I hate I missed the actual presentation but I was/am feeling under the weather.
D.Cates (Email) - 08/21/09 - 23:45

Some notes about my slides, which I also communicated during the talk.

- One of the reasons for conducting the workshop was to challenge the material. The presenter is merely a collector of information, and hardly the expert on everything contained therein. He hasn’t live the years and decades of the job, the with the people and their stories therein. Thus, the audience— as well anyone after the fact— is encouraged to edit, expand, correct, or challenge the material. Everybody wins as the histories are rendered more accurate.

- Most of the historical examples, the cited dates and departments therein, refer to “big city” departments. I apologize for this bias. Comprehensive historical information— soup to nuts, earliest to latest years— has been difficult to easily find. Having yearbook histories in hand for Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem made much of the presentation possible. And, more importantly, made it relatively easy to compare when phases or periods of development happened across the state. As did timelines and histories for many other FDs, which I’ve found on the web, or through personal contact.

- The slides conclude with a list of “what’s missing.” That could be a much longer, much broader list. As I noted during the workshop, and above, there are many more departments across the state that exemplify the trends and developments of both old and newer days. For example, the first first responder programs, of which I list the “big boys” but not the many other, smaller fire departments that were there from the beginning. Simply, I don’t have a source (yet) for that information; for, say, how many fire departments big and small were becoming first responders in those first years.

- In response to an audience member comment, I agree that this sort of historical context is useful for new firefighters. One person asked about incorporating this material into the Firefighter II curriculum. The value of historical perspective was discussed; I noted that in Winston-Salem, new recruits receive a talk by a member of their FD historical society. Here in Raleigh, the last three recruit academies have had an hour of RFD history by myself. And I strongly suspect that historical information is included in other new firefighter programs in the state.

- The National Fire Heritage Center was also introduced by an audience member, the center’s President Ronny J. Coleman, who was the expo’s keynote speaker. He offered an excellent perspective on the need for historical preservation, both saving and preserve the documentation of America’s fire service, as well as the knowledge within in the generation(s) who are retiring and removing themselves from service. See their web site for more, http://nationalfireheritagecenter.com/

- Following-up on Mr. Coleman’s introduction of the Center, we spent 10 or 15 minutes near the end speeding and slowing through slides from my 2006 conference presentation on Researching Fire Department Histories. Notably, I talked a bit about “what is a fire department history” and gave an introduction to Sanborn Insurance Maps. Slides from that talk, three years ago, are also available at http://www.legeros.com/history/

- And, yes, I am planning a book in the farther future on North Carolina fire history. It’ll be a book of historical images. It’s five or more years out. Part of the challenge is getting high-resolution versions, as required for print publishing. Old pictures as found on the Internet are fine for presentations, but it’ll be harder for a printed volume. Any NC fire department with historical images to share is encouraged to contact me. mikey “at” legeros.com.
Legeros - 08/22/09 - 09:03

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