Updated – Renovations for Raleigh Fire Station 2

June 22, 2017
Renovations are well underway. The interior has been gutted. New walls, windows, wiring, plumbing, HVAC, and fixtures are being installed. The adjoining “shop space,” the old repair shop, is being re-purposed as a drive-through apparatus bay and additional living space.

Work should be completed in November. 

Engine 2 relocated to their temporary quarters on November 30, and marked in service just after midnight on December 1, 2017. They’re housed at the old city sign, signals, and radio shop, at the corner of Blount and Wilmington Streets.

Construction started in December. See more photos


November 26
Work is nearly complete on temporary quarters for Engine 2. They’ll relocate to the old city radio/signals/signs shop at the corner of Wilmington and City Farm. They’ll occupy a mobile home that’s been installed on the site. The engine will be housed in the shop’s single bay, and the haz-mat apparatus and equipment will be stored in the adjoining storage building. See more photos or click to enlarge:


July 14
Construction bids are being received this week for renovations of Raleigh Fire Station 2 at 263 Pecan Road. The project is the second in a multi-year plan for “down to the walls” renovations of older fire stations not slated for replacement or relocation. Renovations to Station 5 at 300 Oberlin Road–first on the list–are currently underway, with Engine 5 temporarily housed at Station 6. (See blog post#1 and blog post #2.)


Though similar in design to many of the city’s older engine houses, Station 2 is an atypical facility as it adjoins the former maintenance shop. The latter was relocated to 4120 New Bern Avenue in 2004, to a new Services Support Center built beside the city’s heavy equipment depot. The old shop space was re-purposed into an extension of the fire station, and presently houses Haz-Mat 2, the foam trailer, haz-mat supplies, and exercise equipment.

Continue reading ‘Updated – Renovations for Raleigh Fire Station 2’ »

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Raleigh Fire Department 1984 Commemorative Book… Digitized

Thirty-three years ago, the Raleigh Fire Department produced its first “yearbook.” The slim hardcover, with just under 100 pages, included a text history of the department, portraits of all members, action photos, historical photos, pictures of each fire station, and even a few candid shots. The project was self-funded, through advance orders and sponsorships. And it’s been long unavailable. 

This week, the Raleigh Fire Museum created a “digitized” version of the book. The pages were scanned and posted in this photo album:  http://raleighfiremuseum.org/photos/books/1984.

Note that the 1984 history text has been available in annotated format for some time. And here’s a page about all four of the department’s “yearbooks,” produced in 1984, 2002, 2007, and 2012.


Was a Very Good Year

The year 1984 provides an excellent snapshot of “early growth” Raleigh Fire Department, and at a time when the organization was undergoing a transformation. The First Responder program was a few years old, and a haz-mat team had been created that year. These were the first steps into “all hazards” territory.

Fire Chief Thomas Kuster, the first Chief of Department hired from outside the city, had a mandate to tighten and “righten” the organization, operationally and otherwise. He was succeeded two years later by Sherman Pickard, another “outside chief.” And he continued that work. Some of those improvements included the Incident System Command and more formalized fireground procedures.

The city was still growing, with four more stations added from 1984 to 1989. Fleet improvements saw aerial apparatus added in 1986, 1988, and 1990, and the end of the service ladder companies. The departments two tankers, dating from 1960, were also taken out service, in 1986. Mini-pumpers were added in 1986 and 1987, as well as the first mobile air unit in 1988.

Other things that happened during the decade: the completion of the Keeter Training Center building in 1982, the creation of an Honor Guard in 1984, the formation of an Explorer Post in 1985, and the re-formation of the local IAFF chapter in 1986. To name a few.

It was a good decade.

By The Numbers – 1983/84/85

1983 – 6,304
1984 – 7,519
1985 – 8707

City population
1983 – 167,703
1984 – 183,908
1985 – 180,343

City Size
1983 – 61.84
1984 – 62.29
1985 – 78.815

1983 – 15
1984 – 15
1986 – 16

With three aerial companies, three service companies, two rescue units, and three district chiefs

Budget / Positions
FY83 – $6,224,977 – 316
FY84 – $7,133,372 – 328
FY85 – $7,589,706 – 346


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Two Alarms on Parkville Drive on Thursday

Two alarms were struck on Parkville Drive in north Raleigh on Thursday morning. Engine 19 was first-due at 4830 Parkville Drive. They reported a heavy column of smoke visible, while en route. Headquarters upgraded to a working fire, prior to their arrival.

Engine 19 arrived at a two-story, wood-frame, multi-family residential building (townhouses) with about 7,500 square feet and six units. Heavy fire in the end unit on the first floor, extending to second floor. 

Google Maps

The Engine 19 officer received reports of people possible trapped inside, and jumping from open windows. He requested a second alarm, and the engine and arriving Ladder 2 took a line inside, and began searching. Engine 21 brought the supply line to Engine 19. Battalion 5 arrived, and assumed command.

Firefighters were called out of the fire building, as conditions intensified. Defensive operations started using a portable monitor on the exterior of the building. Crews also took lines into the adjoining townhouse, to protect the attic and its firewall. 

The fire was soon contained, and controlled within 35 minutes of the first unit’s arrival. Extended salvage and overhaul brought two additional companies to the scene, special called for relief, due to the high outdoor temperatures. (High of 91 degrees that day, with 70 degree dew point.)

WRAL image

Dispatched 11:13 a.m. Working fire dispatched ~11:15 a.m. Second alarm dispatched ~11:19 a.m. Controlled 11:53 a.m. First alarm: E19, E27, E21, E4, L2, L5, R1, B5, B2. Working fire: A2, C20, C401. Second alarm: E9, Sq7, E28, L1, L3, B3. Special called: E17, L7. Plus EMS units.

The townhouse was destroyed, and the firewall prevented the spread into the adjoining home. The second townhouse sustained water damaged. Six adults and two children were displaced. No injuries were reported. 

Read this WTVD story about the fire, which includes aerial and viewer video from Andy Glass. See also stories from WRAL and News and Observer.

Tony Glass screen grab

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Vintage North Carolina Fire College Certificate

For your Friday enjoyment, here’s a vintage certificate of completion from the North Carolina Fire College, awarded to Raleigh Fire Department firefighter J. B. Keeter, after completed the 1942 Lecture Course for Officers and Members. (Here’s a neat video from the 1967 college, we blogged about in 2011.)

Believe John B. “Jack” Keeter was a Captain by that time. He’d later be appointed Assistant Fire Chief, and then Fire Chief, where he served the longest of any Chief of Department in Raleigh’s history, from 1955 to 1973. See more biographical information.

This artifact comes courtesy of Raleigh Fire Department Captain Tim Pearce, and, sadly, who passed away last year. 


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Spring/Summer Issue of Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter – Special Metropolitan Edition

The spring/summer 2017 issue of the Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter has been published. This is a special edition about the Metropolitan fire on March 16, the five-alarm “fire of a century” that destroyed a block-long apartment building, damaged several others, and brought some 130 firefighters to the scene.

The issue also includes a page of news about promotions, retirements, facility updates, and new apparatus.

Read the newsletter at www.raleighfirenews.org.


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Northern Wake Fire Department Family Tree


On July 1, 2017, a new fire department begins operating in northern Wake County, a consolidation of Bay Leaf Volunteer Fire Department, Incorporated, and Stony Hill Rural Fire Department, Inc. 

Northern Wake Fire Department will operate five fire stations, with 28 pieces of equipment, and 140 members. They’ll cover a 70-mile area that’s north of Interstate 540 and west of Wake Forest.

We’ll have more information about the new department, after July 1. Watch this space. 

But tonight, let’s look at their heritage…

The Legacy of Three

Northern Wake Fire Department begins with a rich heritage, and the legacy of three volunteer fire departments dating to the 1950s and 1960s: Stony Hill (1958), Bay Leaf (1961), and Six Forks, organized in 1956 and merged with Bay Leaf in 2002. 

They were some of the first “community fire departments” in Wake County, with home- and business owners banding together to provide fire protection. They raised their own money, built their own fire trucks, and answered emergencies at any hour from their homes, their businesses, and even from school!

Here’s their history as an infographic, as my latest “family tree” diagram. View as JPG version or PDF version.

For a deeper dive into each of the three, visit my history pages. (Yes, yes, they and others need updating. Will be adding NWFD.)

See also my other family tree diagrams:


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Looking For Train Tracks on the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus

On Sunday morning, Yours Truly spent a couple hours crossing from east Carrboro into West Chapel Hill, and following the track tracks that end at the power plant.

That’s right, a coal train delivers their fuel, by way of a 10-mile spur from the Norfolk-Southern line that crosses through Orange County. But here’s another fun fact. The train tracks once extended even farther east, through campus!

Wait, what? 

No time for a proper blog post, so here’s a list of links with all the information. Plus photos of Mike’s walking trip, as he tried to find (or at visualize) the old tracks on campus. Click away and the stories shall be revealed… 


Maps and Diagrams

Click the first three to enlarge:

Google aerial map. Green are former tracks. Red are current tracks.

Street map of Chapel Hill and suburbs, 1932. See citation below.

Close view of 1932 street map, showing coal trestle at prior power plant location. See reference below.  

Railroad map of North Carolina, 1900. See reference below.  

Map References

Chapel Hill and Suburbs, 1934 – Via North Carolina Maps

Railroad map of North Carolina, 1900 – Via North Carolina Maps


Legeros photo album


Daily Tar Heel – Rolling through the history of Carrboro’s Train – November 17, 2015

Open Durham – University Station

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After 45 Years, Apex Community Auxiliary is Disbanding

June 7
Last night, the Apex Community Auxiliary made a presentation to the town board, with retired, longtime Chief Nicky Winstead recounting the story of the squad and the supportive auxiliary. They then introduced each of eight charity and non-profit organizations, and invited them to make remarks, before presenting them with checks and certificates. See more pictures.


2017-06-06-aca2Left to right, President April Haughney, Tom Taylor, Vice President Judy Taylor, Treasurer and retired, long-time chief Nicky Winstead, and Bonita Young.

June 3
The Apex Community Auxiliary is disbanding at the end of June, after 45 years of service to the rescue squad and their community. And on Tuesday night, June 6, at the Apex Town Council meeting, they’ll present donations to five local charities and service organizations, as they close the auxiliary’s accounts.

The volunteer group was created in 1972 as the Apex Rescue Squad Auxiliary. They formed following the rescue squad’s founding in 1971. Organized by the spouses of the rescue squad volunteers, the auxiliary’s primary mission was a support role for the squad. 

They helped raise money, through such fundraisers as bake sales, rummage sales, and turkey shoots. Because, in those early decades, the squad did not charge for its services, and relied upon community donations and a nominal supplement from the county.

Money raised by the auxiliary were used to help purchase equipment and improve facilities, among other things.

Members conducted and participated in special events for the squad: ice cream socials, family picnics, award ceremonies, and the annual Christmas party. They also were also active with community, bringing Christmas gifts to family care homes, and helping the Red Cross when they came to town.

The auxiliary also functioned as the squad’s historians, and created annual scrapbooks with photographs, news clippings, and other materials. Yours Truly has been scanning some of those scrapbooks this spring. More on that in a moment.

In/around 2001, the Apex Rescue Squad Auxiliary re-purposed themselves. They changed their name to the Apex Community Auxiliary, and they incorporated with the state in 2001. By that time, the squad had also changed, providing only EMS services and with a new name, Apex Emergency Medical Service.

(Apex EMS was created in 1997, after the squad ceased providing technical rescue services. That role was transferred to the Apex Fire Department.)

The auxiliary also expanded their scope to provide additional services to the Apex community in the form of scholarship programs, family assistance, and planned activities for local nursing and group homes. They’ve also provided support for the town’s public safety agencies, for special events and projects.

Why the changes? The squad was receiving more county funding, notably for the necessary equipment that was previously self-funded. With their new name, and official incorporation, the auxiliary continued to meet and work and serve their community. 

Alas, their time has come to an end. The costs of fundraising have skyrocketed in the last ten years. And their membership has greatly decreased. Today they have nine members. Back in the day, it was about twenty. 

Thus, after 45 years of service, the Apex Community Auxiliary is ending operations. And disbanding their corporation, which means the legal requirement of disposing their assets to other non-profit charitable organizations. Thank you all, for your service.

On Tuesday night, June 6, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., the auxiliary will appear before the Apex Town Council, to present donations to these local charities and service organizations:

Apex American Legion Post 124 – $20,000
Apex Chamber of Commerce – $2,000, for Back Pack Buddies
Apex High School PTSA – $20,000
Apex Historical Society – $10,000
Apex United Methodist Church – $5,000, for Simple Gifts Garden
Blue Light College of Apex – $30,000
Grow Our Kids – $40,000
Town of Apex, EMS Department – $35,000, for Power Load system on next ambulance.

The auxiliary officers and members:

  • President April Haughney
  • Vice President Judy Taylor
  • Treasurer Nicky Winstead
  • Secretary Michele Drake
  • Jackie Grinstead
  • Travis Drake
  • Bonita Young
  • Tom Taylor
  • Faye Winstead.

Memories of the auxiliary, and the early decades of the Apex Rescue Squad, are posted on the Facebook page History of EMS in Wake County, in the photo album Apex EMS.


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Raleigh Fire Department Announces Metropolitan Fire Cause as Undetermined

On Friday, the Raleigh Fire Department announced that the “fire of a century” at the Metropolitan Apartments has been ruled as “undetermined” for cause. 

Here’s the full statement:

On March 16, 2017, at approximately 10:03 p.m., the Raleigh Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at The Metropolitan apartment complex (Metropolitan), 314 West Jones Street, Raleigh, North Carolina. Firefighters discovered a heavily involved structure upon their arrival and immediately assumed a defensive posture. The magnitude of this fire caused the Raleigh Fire Department to issue five alarms to affect suppression and mitigate fire extension. Over 100 firefighters brought the fire under control in three hours. Damage estimates for the event are estimated in excess of $50 million.

From March 18, 2017, through March 24, 2017, the Raleigh Fire Department, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Raleigh Police Department, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, conducted an exhaustive fire scene examination of The Metropolitan apartment complex located at 314 West Jones Street, Raleigh, North Carolina. Over 100 investigators participated in the investigation. Over 300 interviews were conducted. Multiple state search warrants were issued, and approximately 25 tons of debris were removed from the fire scene.

A number of potential ignition sources were identified within the structure and evaluated. However, after thorough hypothesis, development, testing and evaluation, investigators were unable to definitively eliminate several accidental and incendiary scenarios. These possibilities include: electrical sources, an intentional act, and the possibility of a heating fire ignited by trespassing squatters. The viability of numerous potential incendiary and accidental ignition sources dictates this fire to be classified as UNDETERMINED.

Later that day, Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath conducted a press conference at Station 1. He spoke to reporters and answered their questions. And noted that the investigation will be reopened, if additional information is found.

Watch a recording of the press conference in this WRAL story.

Or read about the historic fire, via the Raleigh Fire Museum.

Mike Legeros photo

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Raleigh Receives Two New Pierce Pumpers

The Raleigh Fire Department has received two new engines: a pair of 2017 Pierce Enforcer pumpers, 1500/500. Job numbers 30631-01 and 30631-02. They’re the first new engines in two years, following Engine 29, a Pierce Arrow XT delivered in 2015.

Changes with these two engines include rolling compartment doors now unpainted, and ground ladders returned to a rear compartment. The latter also means high-side compartments on both sides. Different hose bed configuration, as well. Readers can add other observations. 

Engine 17 arrived on Friday, June 2. Engine 10 was delivered on Thursday, May 26. They’ll be joined by a new 2017 Pierce Arrow XT tiller, 1500/300/100′, that’s finishing production. It’ll be here by the end of the month.

Engine 10 and Engine 17 both operate 1998 Pierce Saber pumpers, 1250/500. Those were two of six (!) delivered back in the day. Engine 10 is also receiving its first new engine since 1968 (!!). That’s when Engine 10 was the second engine at Station 1, and received an open-cab 1968 American LaFrance 900 Series pumper, 1000/250.

Photographer Lee Wilson has been tracking these trucks since they started production at pierce. See more of his pictures.


2017-06-03-rfd2Lee Wilson photos

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