01/08/10 218 W - + 17 - 5 Recording the Big Ones

As we blogged about earlier, the question of "what were Raleigh's biggest fires" has been haunting a certain Hawaiian Shirt wearing historian for years. A related issue to that issue is how to record and present that information. Simply, what do one's notes look like containing such a list? And what does a printed or computer page of such a list look like? Mike's notes on the city's major fires are presently contained in an Excel spreadsheet. And it's a mess. For Legeros consumption only.

Every major fire is also indicated on my fire department timelines. Plus a mess of notable or unusual fires. Some of the major fires listed in the timelines have just a date and address. Others have additional details. The entries-- like the timeline itself-- are reasonably consistent in format and appearance. But they could be better. Cleaner, perhaps. More standardized. 

One system that I've admired-- observe the changing tense there, first-person from third-person-- is this extra alarm database that's maintained by the Extra Alarm Association in my hometown of the Twin Cities. That buff club's been around for decades, and has tracked major fires in Minneapolis and St. Paul for ages. And attended, and photographed. That database is pretty cool. Maybe I'll create something similar someday.

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