Raleigh Fire Department History

1890-1899



1890

Six fire companies protecting 1.8 square miles and 12,678 residents.


House on Hillsboro Road destroyed by fire. Raleigh Fire Department is not notified, but A&M College students assist with unsuccessfully fighting the fire. (January 31, 1890)no01feb90

Victor Company becomes hose company after two-horse hose reel reassigned from Rescue Company to Victory Company. (March 1, 1890)ar

Apparatus note: Chemical engine and hook and ladder apparatus authorized to be sold. (March 7, 1890)no08mar90

Apparatus note: Chief Engelhard receives road cart built by Evans & Martin of Raleigh. (May 8, 1890)no09may90

Fire companies participate in Memorial Day parade. (May 10, 1890)no29mar90

Rescue Company attends North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Charlotte. The Capital Hose Company competes against Greensboro for the Championship Reel Race. Though Greensboro finishes with a faster time, a dispute sends the medal back to Raleigh until the two companies can race again. Also at the convention, T. W. Blake of Raleigh is elected Statistician. The reel contest is run again on May 12, 1890. A tremendous crowd gathers on New Berne Avenue to watch the Rescue and Capital companies race. Their total times, of 83 seconds and 55 seconds respectively, are weighed against Durham's Dick Blackwell Hose Reel Company, which recorded its time in August last 94 seconds. Though the Capital Hose company runs faster, they fail to "show water" and are thus disqualified. Thus, the Rescue Company and their gray horse "Henry" are declared the winners. The May issue of "Fire and Water," published at 14 Cortland Street, New York, included "a superb write-up of the Raleigh Fire Department along with handsome cuts" of the Chief, Assistant Chief, and the State championship 300 yards gold medal. (May 21-23, 1890)nomay90

Hook and Ladder Company station constructed on W. Morgan Street. Payments authorized for $35 for "building house for Hook and Ladder Company" and $117.50 for "half-stable for Hook and Ladder Company" on June 6. (June 1890)cm

House at 312 S. Person Street burns. Alarm received at 10:45 p.m. from Box 24. Hose Company No. 5 responds. Two-story frame dwelling owned and occupied by Jos. R. Ball. Caused by lightning. (June 23, 1890)ar

Apparatus delivery: horse-drawn hook-and-ladder truck named "W. R. Womble" placed in service. Steel-frame city service truck "fully equipped with 215 of ladders, including one 65 foot Bangor extension ladder; also two pompier scaling ladders, two fire extinguishers, and a complete assortment of valuable firefighting tools." Fire Committee empowered to purchase apparatus on April 4, at a cost no more than $1,675. (July 1, 1890)cm, 04apr90

Fire companies participate in July Fourth parade. (July 4, 1890)no05jul90

Apparatus note: Purchase of two horses of Capital Hose Company, and third horse for Rescue Company authorized. (September 5, 1890)no06sep90

Apparatus note: Victor Company has new hose reel. (by September 7, 1890)no07sep90

House at 531 S. McDowell Street burns. Alarm received at 8:46 p.m. from Box 31. Hose Company No. 5 responds. One-story frame dwelling owned and occupied by T. F. Brockwell. Caused by lamp knocked over in trunk. (September 20, 1890)ar

Fire companies participate in State Fair parade. (October 14, 1890)no14oct90

Allen & Cram Foundry at 130 S. West Street burns. Alarm received at 9:40 p.m. from Box 35. Hose Companies No. 3 and No. 5 and Hook and Ladder Company respond. Two-story brick foundry. Cause unknown. (October 31, 1890)ar

Stable on W. Morgan Street destroyed by fire. Alarm received at 9:59 p.m. from Box 26. One-story frame stable and kitchen owned and occupied by Dr. W. I. Royster. Damage $400. Caused by fire in barrel. (November 7, 1890)no08nov90

A. G. Rhodes and Company at 9 E. Martin Street burns. Alarm received at 8:29 p.m. from Box 23. Three-story brick store owned by Mrs. George T. Stronach and occupied by A. G. Rhodes and Company. Caused by lamp catching ceiling and burning furniture. (November 29, 1890)ar

Building at 117 S. Bloodworth St. burns. Alarm received at 6:15 p.m. from Box 26. Bucket and Ladder Company responds. One-story frame dwelling owned by W. R. Blake and occupied by J. R. O'Neil. Caused by chimney on fire. (December 2, 1890)ar

House at 209 W. North Street burns. Alarm received at 10:43 a.m from Box 47. Hose Companies No. 3 and No. 5 and Hook and Ladder Company respond. One-story frame dwelling owned and occupied by Alonzo Williams. Caused by spark on roof. (December 12, 1890)ar

Raleigh and Gaston Railroad roundhouse at corner of Johnson and N. Salisbury streets burns . Alarm received at 2:17 a.m. from Box 47. Hose Companies No. 3, No. 2, No. 1., and No. 5, Steamer Company No. 1., and Hook and Ladder Company respond. One-story brick building. Firefighters arrive within three minutes of initial alarm, but find only one working hydrant. Firefighters pull 2,850 feet of hose for three streams, including supply lines to nearest water cistern. When first stream is finally produced, roundhouse is lost and firefighters concentrate efforts on preventing flames from spreading to other structures. Damage $17,500, including 17 locomotives. Caused by waste thrown in tender of railroad engine filled with wood. (December 28, 1890)no30dec90


Six fire companies operating during fiscal year ending February 28, 1890:

Company Rescue, No. 1 and No. 5 Hook and Ladder No. 1 Capital Hose No. 3 Victor No. 2 Bucket and Ladder No. 1 Independent Hose Reel No. 5
Foreman R. E. Rumsden A. J. Williams W. Woollcott S. J. Hawkins, Jr. S. T. Stewart J. S. Cornell
Assistant C. J. Betts Willis Fowler L. A. Mahler T. B. Burgess Dennis Taylor I. N. Harward
Quarters One and two-story brick building on Fayetteville Street between Martin and Davie streets Market House 100 block W. Morgan Street Market House Market House E. Morgan Street near Blount
Equipment 2 horse, 4-wheel reel

1 horse, 2-wheel reel

3 horses
4-wheel truck 1 horse, 4-wheel wagon

1 horse
2-wheel hand reel 4-wheel truck 2-wheel reel
Additional
  • second-class Gould steamer
  • double-tank Champion chemical engine
  • single-tank Champion chemical engine
  • Ramsey & Co. hand engine
  • 2 horses, "Rock" and "Bill" (kept for charity's sake)
  • wagon and horse for Chief (personal property)
Other 18 alarm boxes
Chief E. B. Engelhard, Fire Chief

Independent Hose Reel Company subsequently disbands, due to outmoded hand reel. yb84

Permanent improvements during fiscal year ending February 28, 1890:

  • One (1)four-wheeled hose wagon (bought by Capital Hose, No. 3., and presented to the city)
  • One (1)horse for Capital Hose
  • One (1)frame house for Capital Hose
  • One (1)set Hale drop-harness for Capital Hose
  • Electrical apparatus for Capital Hose
  • One (1)double set Berry drop-harness for Rescue, No. 1
  • Repairing Rescue steamer
  • Painting Rescue Reel, No. 5
  • Five hundred feet cotton hose
  • Six fire-alarm boxes, poles, wire, etc.

"In addition to above many minor supplies for the need of the department have been furnished." ar

1891

Apparatus note: Fire Committee authorized to purchase two horses, collars and harness for the Rescue and Hook and Ladder companies. (April 3, 1891)cm

Fire companies participate in funeral procession for Governor Fowler. (April 9, 1891)no09apr91

Roulac Building on Fayetteville Street burns. The contents of an upper-story room are destroyed, and the rest of the building suffers extensive water damage. (May 5, 1891)no06may91

Fire alarm boxes now include keys. Users no longer locate a key holder to unlock an alarm box before reporting a fire. (May 19, 1891)no20may81

Edward B. Engelhard appointed Chief of Department. (June 5, 1891)cm

Apparatus note: More restrictions on using fire department horses declared by Street Committee. (July 3, 1891)cm

Apparatus delivery: Rescue Company parades new horse-drawn hose wagon. (July 4, 1891)no05jul81

Lightning strikes water tower on W. Morgan Street. Driver of the Hook and Ladder company standing in the door of the fire station across the street is stunned. Damage to the tower consists solely of a telephone burned out. (July 20, 1891)no21jul91

Five additional alarm boxes in service. (August 21, 1891)no21aug91

Fire companies attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Durham. Among the delegates attending from Raleigh include R. E. Lumsden and T. W. Blake from the Rescue Company; William Woollcott and L. A. Mahler from the Capital Hose Company; Miles Goodwin, Jr. and J. H. Parham from the W. R. Womble Hook and Ladder Company. Chief Engelhard and Assistant Chief Ferrell also attend along with association President Howard Heartt, also from Raleigh. For others attending, the August 21 edition of the News & Observer notes that they could leave on the 8:15 a.m. train and return at 10:40 p.m. The newspaper encourages readers to "go with the boys." The next day's newspaper regrettably reports that the Capital Hose Team is "somewhat crippled," with slack-puller J. Floyd Brown having injured his knee some weeks ago. Walter Woollcott, the old captain and "coupling breaker," has been away on business for nearly a month. Thus, their two positions are filled with "less experienced men." The hose company nonetheless wins the championship three-hundred yard reel race. The Rescue Steam Fire Engine Company also competes in steamer contests. (August 25, 1891)

Ice factory near Hargett Street Station destroyed . Six weeks later the rubble is still burning. (August 29, 1891)no30aug91, no08aug91

Battery and alarm equipment moved from the third-story of Metropolitan Hall to the southeast basement. (by September 16, 1891)no18sep91, p4c2

Fire department participates in State Fair parade. (October 12?, 1891)no12oct90

Storage building at Raleigh Cotton Mills destroyed . (November 13, 1891)no14nov91


Five fire companies operating during fiscal year ending February 28, 1891:

Company Rescue Steam Fire-Engine No. 1 Womble Hook and Ladder No. 1 Capital Hose No. 3 Victor Engine No. 2 Bucket and Ladder No. 1
Foreman R. E. Rumsden W. A. Wynne W. Woollcott S. J. Hawkins, Jr. W. P. Snow
Assistant John S. Riddle Miles Griffin (?) L. A. Hamler T. B. Burgess Theo. Henly
Members 33 18 19 33 20
Quarters Fayetteville Street between Martin and Davie streets 100 block W. Morgan Street 100 block W. Morgan Street Corner Salisbury and Davie S. Wilmington Street, east end of Market House
Equipment 1 horse, 4 wheel hose wagon

1 horse, 4 wheel hose wagon

3 horses

1 Gould steamer
2 horse, steel-frame service truck

2 horses
2 horse, 4 wheel hose wagon

2 horses
2 wheel hand-reel 4 wheel truck
Additional Equipment Wagon and horse for Chief (privately owned). Reserve apparatus: Gould steamer, hand engine, two hose reels
Other 123 public hydrants, 4 private hydrants, 9 cisterns, and 18 alarm boxes
Chief E. B. Engelhard, Fire Chief

Permanent improvements for fiscal year ending February 28, 1891:

  • six Gamewell fire-alarm boxes
  • one fire-alarm bell
  • stoves, etc.
  • building for Hook and Ladder truck, etc.
  • door springs for above
  • Hook and Ladder truck, part payment
  • one wagon for Rescue Company (temporary)
  • track rails
  • five hundred feet of hose
  • fifty feet of small hose, play pipes, etc.
  • electric gas-lighting burners, etc.
  • two shut-off nozzles
  • one set double fire-harness
  • two horses.

1892

Bucket and Ladder Company disbanded and apparatus sold, after January 8, 1892 recommendation of Fire Committee. (after January 8, 1892)cm

Crocker's store on Martin Street burns. (Saturday before April 19, 1892)no19apr92

House destroyed by fire. Alarm reported from box 43 at corner of Jones and Saunders streets. (June 19, 1892)no20jun92

Fire Committee recommendation adopted "that the general fire alarm be rung only between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m., and in no case in there is a public meeting or theatrical performance at Metropolitan Hall." (July 1, 1892)cm

Fire companies participate in Fourth of July parade. (July 4, 1892)no09jul92

Rescue Company Foreman R. E. Lumsden attends North Carolina State Firemen's Association convention in Asheville. (July 13, 1891)

Victor Company hosts tournament of North Carolina Volunteer Firemen's Association tournament in Raleigh. Hosted by the Victor Fire Company, the visiting companies include the Cape Fear Steam Fire Company of Wilmington, the Excelsior Hose Company No. 2 of Greensboro, the Enterprise Hose Company of Henderson, the Eclipse Hose Company of Greensboro, and the Dread Not Hose Company of Charlotte. The firemen are formally welcomed at noon at Metropolitan Hall by Alderman J. E. Pogue, as the Mayor is absent. His invocation is followed by Chief Englehard's address on behalf of the Victor Company. Later, the Wilmington Company demonstrates their steamer in front of the Post Office. Competition events are spread over two days and included steamer contests on the first day and assorted races on the second. The Victor Company wins the 150-yard race and breaks the tournament's state record. Other races consist of a grab race, a 100-yard foot race, a potato race, and a wheelbarrow race. (August 9, 1892)no10aug92, no11aug92

Lot for fire station on West Morgan Street purchased for $950. The site measures 52 1/2 feet by 105 feet. (August 5, 1892)cm

Caraleigh Phosphate and Fertilizer Warehouse southwest of Raleigh burns . Discovered just after dark in the acid chambers, a "mammoth structure" measuring 250 feet long and 60 feet high, the blaze originates in a burner room used for making sulfuric acid. Several fire department members respond and assist, but are unable to take their apparatus outside of the city limits. The company, located on the later-named Rhamkette Road, has a $5,000 water system with seven hydrants and a pump, which is used until it is disabled. Then the 10,000-gallon tank on top of the manufacturing mill is utilized. By 9:30 p.m., the entire structure is in ruins. The entire building and its contents are destroyed, with an estimated $25,000 damage. Sulfuric acid soaks into the water table and both the company and the city pledge to repair the damage. No action is taken over decades and in 1985, a North Carolina State researcher tests the city's drinking water by filling a pool, placing Experiment Station fish in it, and observing them promptly going "belly up." Each time it rains, sulfuric acid leaches into the city water supply, and produces "enough acid to kill fish." The News & Observer also writes "whether it will hurt the populace that drinks the water is an open question." (August 18, 1892)ruh, no19aug92

Cotton factory opposite Raleigh Cotton Mills burns. (August 30, 1892)no31aug92

Kitchen at the Yarboro House burns . (October 6, 1892)no07oct92

City ordinance amended with "in case of fire outside of city limits, only one hose company will be allowed to respond, except in cases of immediate danger and absolute necessity, or when property within the city limits is endangered from fire outside of the city limits, the same to be designated and determined by the Chief of the Fire Department." (October 12, 1892)cm

Fire companies participate in Centennial parade. (October 18, 1892)no19octl92

Four-circuit repeater delivered for fire alarm system. (December 1, 1892)no03dec92

Capital Club downtown burns. (December 28, 1892)no29dec92


City has 20 miles of water mains, 120 double hydrants.

Charles E. Johnson is Chief of Department.cm

1893

Servant's house at W. C. Stronach's residence destroyed by fire. (January 19, 1893)no20jan93

Warehouse on Blount Street near Martin Street destroyed by fire. The three-story wood-frame structure is discovered aflame between midnight and 1 a.m. (February 9, 1893)no10feb93

House outside of the city on Asylum Road destroyed by fire. (March 29, 1893)no30mar93

Four-hundred bales of cotton burn near the North Carolina car shops. (March 29, 1893)no30mar93

Fire companies participate in Memorial Day parade. (May 10, 1893)no05may93

E. B. Engelhard elected Chief of Department. Salary is $50 per month. Serves until September 1894. Reported as resigned September 10, 1894. (July 7, 1893)no09jul93

Fire company members attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association meeting in Wilmington. The annual tournament is not held, however, as the hosting fire department finds it "quite impossible" to raise the necessary funds. The first day is devoted "entirely to the business of the association." On the second day, the Wilmington Fire Department takes their visitors on a excursion to Carolina Beach. (July 26, 1893)

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Charlotte. (August ?, 1893)

Two buildings on E. Hargett Street destroyed by fire. (October 11, 1893)no12oct93

Kitchen at old Hinsdale Place outside of city destroyed by fire. (October 30, 1893)no31oct93

1894

Fire companies participate in Memorial Day parade. (May 10, 1894)no06may94

House on Hillsboro Street burns twice in same day. (June 12, 1894)no13jun94

City ordinance adopted fining anyone who erects, maintains, or operates a telegraph, telephone, or electric wire that endangers or interferes with fire or police telegraph system. (August 3, 1894)cm

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Durham. In addition to firemen from Raleigh, other attending companies included the Cape Fear and Phoenix companies of Wilmington; hook and ladder companies from Charlotte, New Bern, Monroe, and Wilson; and hose and reel companies from Concord, Henderson, Salisbury, and Washington. (August 14, 1894)no17aug84

Fire companies attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Winston. (August 24, 1894)

1895

Waste house at Caraleigh Mills destroyed by fire. (April 27, 1895)no28apr95

L. A. Mahler elected Chief of Department. Salary is $400 per annum. Serves until 1901. (May 8, 1895)cm, no11may95

Fire companies participate in Confederate Memorial dedication parade. (May 20, 1894)no19may95

Construction bid awarded to Ellington and Hicks for $4,000, for construction of new fire department building on W. Morgan Street. Building will replace the engine houses of the Capitol Hose and Hook and Ladder Companies. Fire Commission is authorized to make necessary arrangements for care of apparatus during construction. Temporary "hook and ladder house" is used just west of the building site on W. Morgan Street. (July 5, 1895)cm, no07jul95

Fire companies attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in New Bern. Raleigh firemen arrive Tuesday night, August 6. Other firefighters from Greensboro, Salisbury, and Winston arrived with bruises and a few more serious injuries after their train rear-ends a slower-moving freight train on a sharp curve at Haw River. The collision occurs on 10:00 a.m. on August 6. Two of the three occupants of the freight train's caboose are seriously injured, one with life-threatening injuries. (August 7, 1895)no06aug95

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Henderson. (August 13, 1895)no14aug95

One of Raleigh's oldest houses burns. Built before 1820 and located on Fayetteville Street near the corner of Davie Street, the old wooden building is reported ablaze about 7:00 p.m. on a Sunday night. Within thirty seconds of the ringing of the fire bell, the Rescue Company hose wagon reaches the nearest hydrant. The fire is in the garret, between the last story and the roof. Firefighters battle the blaze for about an hour before extinguishing. (November 10, 1895)no12nov95

1896

Headquarters fire station completed at 112 W. Morgan Street. The building houses the Capital Hose and Hook and Ladder companies. Photos and more information. (January or February, 1896)cm

House on E. Jones Street badly damaged by fire. (March 13, 1896)no14mar96

New water supply pumps demonstrated on Fayetteville Street. Firefighters respond to a test alarm from box 212 and attach their hose directly to the hydrant. The gravity pressure, sufficient for extinguishing ordinary fires, is measured at 50 pounds per square-inch. When "direct pressure" is requested and the new pumps are activated, a pressure of 100 pounds is produced, which is "strong enough to cope with any emergency the department is called upon to meet." (March 23, 1896)no24mar96

Chicken house on E. Street burns. From the April 16, 1896 edition of the News & Observer: "At three o'clock yesterday afternoon there came an alarm of fire from box No. 12, corner of Polk and Person streets. People paused for a moment to watch the fire trucks rattle by, and then started about their business. They knew the ability of the home department and didn't worry. But then came in a second alarm. Someone looked over in the northeast section of the city and save hovering there a cloud of black smoke. Then a rush commenced. Fire engines and hose reels went pelle melle through the streets. People rushed pantingly along the sidewalks; hackmen hit their galloping horses viciously in their haste. Everybody went to to the fire on foot, on horseback, in carriages, street cars, and on bicycles. Another alarm came in; excitement naturally increased. But the alarm was about all there was to the fire. At the house of Mr. W. S. Barnes on East Street, a chicken house was utterly consumed. A lady hen received a severe shock to her nervous system, and had her unhatched brood prematurely fried. (April 15, 1896)no16apr96

Railroad shops on Johnston Street burn. Discovered by a night watchman, the 4:45 a.m. blaze causes between $55,000 and $70,000 of damage at the Seaboard Air Line Railway machine shops. The watchman arouses the night yardmaster and both attempted to reach the hose and pump inside the shop. Having no key and unable to force the locked door, they sound the city fire alarm. Within three minutes, fire companies are on scene but unable to save the building. Firefighters protect exposures by directing a stream onto the roundhouse, which is at the northern end of the shops, and onto an oil tank and other buildings on the west side of the fire. Sparks and other burning fragments, however, are carried nearly a mile away by the wind. The well-equipped railroad shop employed 150 men. (April 22, 1896)no23apr96

Fire companies participate in Memorial Day parade. (May 11, 1896)no12may96

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Wilson. Fire companies also attend from Charlotte, Concord, Durham, Greensboro, Henderson, Monroe, New Bern, Salisbury, Warrenton, Washington, Wilson, and Winston. (August 11, 1896)no12apr96

Street car powerhouse and electric light plant in northwest section of city destroyed by fire. (December 31, 1896)no01jan97


Sanborn fire insurance map dated January 1896 summarizes fire department and water supply as

  • paid and volunteer
  • Chief, Assistant Chief, and 117 men
  • four fire houses
  • three (?)horses used by city during the day
  • Chief's private horse and wagon kept at Hook and Ladder house
  • all drivers paid and on constant duty
  • extra paid man at each house from 9 p.m. until morning
  • Gamewell fire alarm telegraph system
  • 27 boxes
  • 37 volunteers have gong in their rooms
  • Chief of Department is Superintendent of fire alarm telegraph system
  • two two- horse hose wagons
  • one two-horse hose reel
  • 1,000' 2 1/2" cotton, rubber-lined hose w/cut-off nozzles
  • one two-horse hook and ladder
  • one Gould steam fire engine in reserve
  • 1,000 feet hose in reserve
  • gravity and direct pressure system of water works
  • pumping station on Walnut Creek about one mile southwest of city limits
  • water pumped to 130-foot, 125,000-gallon standpipe on Morgan Street
  • storage reservoir of 2,500,000 gallons supplied by pumps from Walnut Creek
  • nine public cisterns, average capacity 40,000 gallons
  • 151 double hydrants, 25 private
  • domestic pressure 75 pounds, fire or direct pressure 115 pounds
  • City population 16,000.

1897

Frequent false alarms compel city to put a detective on the case. They also plan to ask the Legislature to pass a law making it a felony to turn in a false fire alarm. (January 1897)12jan97

Victor Company station at corner of Salisbury and Davie Streets burns. Building is partially consumed along with a pair of horses, a hose reel, and 100 feet of hose. The nighttime fire starts when one of the lamps on the reel explodes and is quickly extinguished by the nearby Rescue Company. As the city is already planning to construct replacement quarters for the fire company, construction of a new station proceeds. The Victor Company is later housed in a warehouse as temporary quarters. (April 7, 1897)no08apr97

L. A. Mahler elected Chief of Department. (May 7, 1895)no08may97

Apparatus delivery: Victor Company receives new horse-drawn hose wagon. (by July 20, 1897)no20jul97

Switching engine at Southern Railway yard burns. (July 22, 1897)no23jul97

Fire company members attends North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Fayetteville. Raleigh's representation consists of Messrs. J. N. McRary, Alf. Thompson, Jr., Stanley Faison, W. S. Moye, and T. P. Lumsden.(August 3, 1897)no03aug97

Barn and stable at County Home outside city destroyed by fire. (Wednesday before August 6, 1897)no06aug97

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Winston. Company wins second place in grab race. Other delegates and fire companies are from Charlotte, Concord, Durham, Greensboro, Henderson, Rocky Mount, Salisbury, Statesville, Washington, Wilson, and Wilmington. The Victor Company wins first prize in the grab race. Reverend R. H. W. Leak from Raleigh is also elected Chaplain. (August 11, 1897)no11aug97

House on Firwood Avenue destroyed by fire. (September 21, 1897)no22sep97

Store in west Raleigh outside city limits destroyed by fire. (Wednesday before October 1, 1897)no01oct97

Downtown Durham burns. Seven tobacco factories and eight dwellings are destroyed in the space of two hours. The $250,000 blaze is reported at 11:00 a.m., with the roof of a home on Morgan Street ablaze. At 12:10 p.m., the City Clerk's office receives a call for help. Firefighters and equipment are quickly rounded up and at 1:05 p.m., a special Southern Railway train departs Raleigh. Aboard two flat cars and a passenger car are the Rescue Company hose wagon, the Rescue Company steam engine, and some 25 members of the Capital Hose, Rescue, Hook and Ladder, and Victor fire companies. Also accompanying are as many citizens as can fit into the railway car. At 1:40 p.m., the train arrives in Durham and the firefighters find that the Durham blaze has just been brought under control. With no fire to fight, the visiting men tour the city and are entertained by the Chief and members of the Durham Fire Department. At 5:30 p.m., the train departs to return to Raleigh . (October 14, 1897)no15oct97

Harp's Building on Morgan Street burns. Fire is discovered in the rear of the large, four-story brick building shortly after 5:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning. Box 21 transmits the alarm at 5:20 a.m. Fire companies arrive to find the flames progressing too far to either save the building or its contents. Total losses are estimated at $10,000. (October 21, 1897)no22oct97


Four fire companies operating during fiscal year ending February 28, 1897:

Company Rescue No. 1 Hook and Ladder No. 1 Capital No. 3 Victor No. 2
Foreman R. E. Lumsden W. W. Parrish W. A. Linehan T. B. Burgess
Assistant W. H. Miller L. C. Weathers Fred Woollcott R. W. Williams
Members 26 20 22 32
Equipment
  • two 2-horse hose wagons
  • one 2-horse hose reel
  • one hook and ladder truck
  • one Gould steamer in reserve
  • one double-tank chemical engine in reserve
  • 1,200 feet of hose
Fire Alarm System Equipment
  • 27 alarm boxes
  • one bell striker
  • three gongs in engine houses
  • two vibrating bells at pumping station
  • one 4-circuit repeater
  • two switchboards
  • 40 cells of Lawson battery
  • 18 miles of insulated copper wire
  • 9 miles of bare iron wire
  • storage battery with switchboard
Chief L. A. Mahler, Fire Chief
Assistant Walter Woollcott, Assistant Chief
Other 124 public hydrants, 15 private hydrants

Department answers 38 alarms, with total losses of $57,943.45, which insurance paid $53,565.45 as of February 28, 1897.no10apr97

1898

Victor Company station opens at 135 E. Hargett Street. Photos and more information. (April 2, 1898)no06apr98

Stable at corner of Morgan and McDowell streets burns. Alarm received at 4:10 a.m. from Box 212. Damage $180. Cause unknown. Owned and occupied by Dr. Pittinger. (May 17, 1898)ar

Fire companies attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Goldsboro. Among the activities include passing of a resolution thanking the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line railroads for free transportation of apparatus and denouncing the Southern Railway for refusing free transportation. The July 29 edition of the News & Observer notes several members of the association are outspoken in this matter. Raleigh's Rescue Company is represented by Frank Brenig and Will Moye. The company was planning to have sent full equipment and made a splendid show, but the railroads refused to aid with freight costs. (July 27, 1898)

Building on E. Martin Street burns. Alarm received at 7:30 p.m. from Box 212. Damage $200. Caused by "roof." Owner R. E. Parham. (November 7, 1898)ar


Four fire companies operating during fiscal year ending February 28, 1898:

Company Rescue No. 1 Hook and Ladder No. 1 Capital Hose No. 3 Victor Hose No. 2
Foreman R. E. Lumsden W. W. Parrish John R. Ferrall John Hardie
Assistant W. S. Moye A. M. Smith E. B. Bain Wm. H. Palmer
Members 28 17 25 27
Equipment
  • three 2 horse hose wagons
  • one hook and ladder truck
  • eight horses
  • one Gould steamer in reserve
Chief L. A. Mahler, Fire Chief
Assistant Walter Woollcott, Assistant Chief
Other 124 public hydrants, 15 private hydrants, 28 alarm boxes

Department answers 50 alarms, with total losses of $12,889, which insurance paid $2,747 as of February 28, 1898.ar

Permanent improvements during fiscal year ending February 28, 1898:

  • Lot corner Hargett and Blount streets
  • Hose wagon Victor company
  • Building
  • Plumbing
  • Trip
  • Harness
  • Harness layers
  • Window and stall guards
  • Sliding pole
  • Door fenders
  • Feed cut-off
  • Door bolt and springs
  • Landing pad
  • Broom holder
  • Rein snaps
  • Collar
  • Hose
  • Nails, etc.
  • Tape, wire, etc.
  • Two dozen hose hooks
  • Repairs on Rescue roof
  • Repairs on building
  • Handles on nozzles
  • Screws, etc.

1899

Small building on Fayetteville Street burns. Alarm received at 1:15 a.m. from Box 27. Damage $291. Caused by defective fireplace. Owned and occupied by Dr. J. A. Sexton. (January 14, 1899)no14jan99

Residence at corner of Cabarrus and Salisbury streets burns. Alarm received at 8:40 a.m. from Box 34. Damage $465. Caused by defective flue. Owner Mrs. Fannie Mahler. (February 13, 1899)no, 14feb99

Cotton gin on Fayetteville Road burns. (March 5, 1899)no05mar99

Fire companies attend North Carolina State Firemen's Association tournament in Greensboro. The Capital Hose Company, Rescue Steam Fire Engine Company, and Hook and Ladder Company visit, but do not compete in contests. Other participants included companies from Asheville, Concord, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Henderson, New Bern, Wilmington, Wilson, and Winston. (August 2-3, 1899)noaug99

Victor Company attends North Carolina Colored Firemen's Association tournament in Washington. The Victor Company attends the two day event and takes part in the tournament. They practiced daily for six weeks. The Victor Company wins the reel race, beating Wilson and Henderson. In the grab race, they tie with Wilson to beat Henderson. Upon their return to Raleigh and displaying flying banners and a long cloth on the side of the car reading "Raleigh Victorious," the firefighters are met with "congratulations and hurrahs" from friends. During the convention, the "good people of Washington" express themselves in the local newspaper by commenting "We must commend the gentlemanly deportment of the colored firemen since their stay in the city. During the three days they have been here, we have yet to see a single fireman intoxicated or acting in a way unbecoming." (August 9, 1899)

Building on W. Jones Street burns . Alarm received at 1:20 a.m. from Box 43. Damage $4,000. Cause unknown. Occupant Captain Lassiter. (December 5, 1899)ar


Four fire companies operating during fiscal year ending February 28, 1899:

Company Rescue No. 1 Hook and Ladder No. 1 Capital Hose No. 3 Victor Hose No. 2
Foreman R. E. Lumsden W. W. Parrish John R. Ferrall John Hardie
Assistant W. S. Moye R. G. Upchurch E. B. Bain William H. Palmer
Members 22 17 25 27
Equipment
  • three 2 horse hose wagons, each carrying 1000' of rubber-lined cotton hose
  • one hook and ladder truck
  • eight horses
  • one Gould steamer in reserve
Chief L. A. Mahler, Fire Chief
Assistant Walter Woollcott, Assistant Chief
Other 124 public hydrants, 15 private hydrants, 28 alarm boxes

Department answers 36 alarms, with total losses of $1,244.03 with insurance covering $1,197.03 as of February 28, 1899.



Abbreviations

[AA]   Aircraft accident
[AI]   Apparatus incident
[EF]   Early fire
[HM]   Haz-mat incident
[MA]   Mutual Aid
[MF]   Major fire
[RA   Railway accident
[TF]   Tanker fire
[TR]   Technical rescue
[UD]   USAR deployment
[UF]   Unusual fire
[UI]   Unusual incident
[WE]   Weather event

Sources

ar   City of Raleigh Annual Report
bd   City of Raleigh budget documents
cvh   Cameron Village: A History 1949-1999, Nan Hutchins, Sprit Press, 2001
cad City of Raleigh Auditor's Office
ccm / cm   City Council Minutes / City Minutes
ccor   1792-1892, The Centennial Celebration of Raleigh, NC, Kemp D. Battle, Edwards and Broughton, 1893
cer   Chief Engineer's Report
dah   North Carolina Department of Archives and History
dahni   North Carolina Department of Archives and History News and Observer index
fp   City of Raleigh Fire Protection Study
hr   Historical Raleigh with Sketches of Wake County and its Important Towns, Moss N. Amis, 1912
oh   Oral History
mp   Morning Post
nc   North Carolinian
no   News and Observer
noi   News and Observer Index
pb   Peter Brock
pph   Pullen Park History
rla   Raleigh Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary scrapbooks
rpu   Raleigh Fire Department Photo Unit records
rr   Raleigh Register
rt   Raleigh Times
ruh   Raleigh: An Unorthodox History
yb84   Raleigh Fire Department 1984, Raleigh Fire Department, Taylor Publishing, 1984
yb02+   Raleigh Fire and Rescue: 1984-2002, Raleigh Fire Department, Taylor Publishing, 2002, plus additional historical information also compiled by the Raleigh Fire Department around 2002.
wch   Wake: Capital County of North Carolina - Volume 1, Prehistory Through Centennial, Elizabeth Reid Murray, Capital County Publishing, 1983


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