05/17/12 1181 W - + 6 - 4 Letter to the Editor / Memo From Fire Chief, Circa 1958

Found in my files. These date to around 1958, based on the citations regarding a second aerial ladder (delivered 1958) and construction of Station 7 (opened 1959).

To the Editor:

Yesterday I spent a most enjoyable and enlightening hour and a half in the Raleigh Fire Station on Dawson Street.

Like too many of our Raleigh Citizens, I have always subconsciously taken for granted that if a fire were occur in my home, I would pick up the telephone, call the fire station, and have the fire put out. It never occurred to me stop and think what operations might be behind this very prompt and efficient service.

Also like many citizens, I had never seen a fire engine except as it flashed past, hurrying to answer a fellow citizen's distress call. Those big gleaming, clean-as-a-pin engines sat there, ready to go into operation at a second's notice. When I saw them, I knew exactly how my young son feels when he is around a fire engine.

Many of us, I feel sure, don't know that there is a definite science in the art of fighting fires. I peered with awe at the banks of complicated dials, knobs and fixtures that each fireman must know how to operate in order to extinguish a fire. I learned that these engines carry their own supply water which can be used to instantly start fighting the fire while the other hose lines are being attached to the hydrant.

Do you know that from the instant the first "licks" hit the alarm bell until the firemen are on the truck and ready to go into action takes only 18 seconds. Sounds incredible but that's true. Our fireman are on duty around the clock, seven days a week. They sleep in the station house with an ear open for that first sound of an alarm bell, ready to leap into action--to protect our lives and property.

Except to answer a fire call, these men never leave the station house while on duty. They have a kitchen and sleeping quarters right in the station house. When it is said that they are on duty 24 hours a day, it means just that. Meal time, coffee break time, sleeping time-- all subject to interruption at any time, day or night, for the citizens of Raleigh.

The firemen of Raleigh have a proud tradition. Their salaries are small, their glory minor, but their service int he face of constant danger is tremendous.

Our Fire Chief, Jack Keeter, is to be highly commended for his wonderful organization of our fire department and for the services that he and his men render the people of Raleigh. I don't know how others feel, but as for me, I'll never again "take for granted" such important service.

(Mrs.) Becki Brenner, Raleigh

Municipal Memo

By Jack B. Keeter, Raleigh Fire Chief

We have, in my opinion, as fine a fire department as there is in the state of North Carolina, or anywhere else. It is our constant aim and effort to give the citizens of Raleigh first class, efficient fire protection.

The Fire Department is composed of 123 personnel. Because of the 24-hour shift system, there are approximately 60 persons on duty all times. There are six fire stations in use and it is expected that a seventh will be constructed within approximately a year. There are 20 pieces of firefighting apparatus.

[ Those apparatus being seven engines, two aerial ladders, one service ladder truck, two rescue trucks, one auxiliary truck, and probably two reserve engines. Maybe three. Wonder if he was counting chief's car or the shop truck or... ]

The fine quality of the personnel, a good training program and, the finest equipment that money can buy are what makes this fire departmcnt a good one.

Fire Protection

The old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is applicable to fire protection service as it is to anything. The fire department has a fire prevention bureau which inspects primarily buildings and grounds in the central fire district and outlying, built-up commercial areas.

When conditions are found which are dangerous from a fire standpoint, a report is made and the occupant is made aware of the condition and the method of correction.

Another prevention service which was very recently begun which is directly primarily toward fire prevention in dwellings. The new type fire inspection program is a result of a considerable amount of study in the fire department and its purpose is to thoroughly familiarize the citizens of Raleigh with the types of equipment, personnel, and function of the fire department.

In this program the equipment goes out into the territory in which it serves. The truck is equipped with a radio and every two-man inspection team is equipped with a Handi-Talky. This method is used so the truck is never out of service for fire calls. The aim of this inspect program is to work with each citizen to helping him understand the fire department and to pass on to him knowledge of fire prevention, such as the proper size fuses, where and when to store flammable liquids, furnace inspection, etc.

In addition, the citizen is acquainted with the methods used to [ missing text ].

The Rescue Squad

The idea of the Rescue Squad was instigated a few years ago when a truck driver was penned under a truck on Hillsboro Street and criticism came to the fire and police departments because this man could not be extracted for some time.

Criticism also came concerning one particular drowning when a man stayed in the Neuse River several days without anyone making a concentrated effort to recover his body.

The Rescue Squad was organized by: 1) getting a charter from the State of North Carolina, (2) a group of firemen and civilians getting together and drawing up rules and regulations showing how it would be operated and to what extent it would be able to render service to those in need.

After the organization the rescue squad personnel (composed firemen and civilian volunteers) took a Red Cross First Aid course to prepare them for rendering this service.

Money was secured from the city and the Civil Defense to buy one truck, two boats and two motors. Then $2,500 was secured from the county for another truck and some additional equipment. Several citizens contributed money and equipment to the Rescue Squad. The squad stands ready at all times to serve anyone in Raleigh or Wake County in any emcrgency that might require first aid. The equipment is designed for rescue, first aid and drownings but not for extreme emergencies and should not be competilion for the ambulance services.

Two Aerial Ladder Trucks

In 1917 the City of Raleigh purchased a 75' aerial ladder truck which has been in operation in the city ever since. Due to the growth of the city, increased population, additional schools and hospitals, and all types of buildings where there is a considerable number of people, it has become necessary to have more than one aerial truck.

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