10/27/11 609 W - + 6 - 6 Author Interview, 2004

Here's a flashback to my author days, when the second volume of Raleigh & Wake County Firefighting was being published by Arcadia Publishing as part of their Images of America series. This short set of questions, if memory serves, accompanied promotional information about the book. Have seven years really passed since that project wrapped? Egad. Enjoy.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
A: Well, I had more [local fire history] photos to share. And not just leftovers from the first book, but pictures newly uncovered at the [North Carolina] State Archives, at local fire departments, and in personal collections. I also had an edge on this second go-around as folks were now familiar with what I was working on. I didn't have to pull nearly as many teeth. Additionally, I wanted to produce a second volume to spotlight people, places, and things that weren't in the first book. Pictures of Durham Highway, Falls, Morrisville, and Six Forks fire departments, for example, all of which were underrepresented in Volume I. And more group pictures of county firefighters, such as a rare shot of the Western Boulevard Fire Department. And, of course, more old fire trucks.

Q: How long did the project take?
A: Raleigh and Wake County Firefighting was released the first week of June 2003. I resumed researching photographs in August, submitted a proposal for Volume II in September, and signed a contract that same month. The finished product was delivered on January 30, 2004. Most of the leg work, running around the county to various fire stations, was done on the weekend or while taking vacation days from work. My holiday break in December was spent in a similar fashion, tracking down last-minute photo leads and fact-checking at the local history library. The captions were written in January, and the introduction drafted during a three-day stay in New Orleans, also in January.

Q: What new things did you learn about your subject from researching the book?
A: I learned more about the early years of Wake County's volunteer fire departments and the thankless efforts of community members who donated their time, energy, money, and materials to bring protection to their neighbors. In fact, the book is dedicated to Wake County's volunteer firefighters. Both past and present.

Q: Why do you think people will enjoy the book?
A: Fans of the first book should again enjoy old photos of fires, fire trucks, fire stations, and firefighters. Volume II concentrates on 1940 to 1990, five of the most formative decades for fire protection in Wake County. That's also a time period that many readers can remember. They may even recognize an uncle, grandfather, or other familiar face.

Q: Please feel free to add anything you think is pertinent to these questions, anything you would like to share and think a reporter might find interesting as well as the readers.
A: Unlike the first book, with chapters divided by geography, Raleigh and Wake County Firefighting Volume II is divided into sections on the following: fires, equipment, facilities, personnel, other emergencies, and artifacts. The latter, Artifacts, includes a gallery of early patches worn on fire department uniforms. The final image of the book is a pictured of a helmet insignia that melted at the author's first fire. During my three-years-and-change as a Raleigh firefighter, I backed a hose man at a two-story duplex in North Raleigh one early morning. The structure was fully involved, we ducked and opened the door, and flames blasted over our heads. My helmet was pitted and the plastic insignia turned crispy.

Q: Will there be a third volume?
A: Ask me that question in 2005.

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