01/14/12 226 W, 1 I - + 3 - 4 Vintage Color Footage of Greenville Fire Department

Here's a treat and a half as found by our friends at the Greenville Fire Department. Start watching about eight minutes into this 1941 silent color film. At the 08:03 mark. Watch firefighters receive a telephone alarm, slide down the pole, grab their gear, and roll with three gorgeous old trucks. Two Macks and a Reo, right? The segment is short but sweet, and part of a longer municipal overview. And some of the earlier color footage of North Carolina fire departments that this historian has seen. Watch some Raleigh Fire Department clips from 1950, for vintage motion picture action.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provide some context for what we're seeing. In November 1941, they recorded the Greenville Fire Department protecting a population of 12,674 people with a volunteer department consisting of one chief, one assistant chief, two paid drivers, and 34 men. The firefighters were paid on call only. They operated a Mack triple combination pumper (750 GPM, 100 gallons) and a Reo triple combination pumper (350 GPM, 120 gallons). The fire alarm system had 50 boxes, with a horn on the fire station, which was built in 1940 at the corner of 5th and Green street. Here's a picture of the station some decades later, and before it was closed and later demolished. Take a peek inside or click to enlarge:

North Carolina State Archives photo

Fascinating! A look into the past and with such vivid color! It seems so weird… as this video appears to be prior to Dec 7th and WW-II. It is also interesting to me how life appears as so different then – simpler; yet in some ways so much the same as now. Ah…. and the old stereotype too: the firemen – “sitting around and playing cards!” Love it!
A.C. Rich - 01/14/12 - 22:06

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