History of Raleigh Fire Department Labor Related Actions, Activities

Posted this over on Raleigh Firefighters United on Facebook a few months ago, after a retiree asked “hey, do you have history on labor-related things?” Compiled this, and posting here for now. Will later revise and/or expand, and add to my history pages:

Labor Related Actions, Activities – 1912 to present

Last updated: 12/15/17, 7:00 a.m.

Change log:

  • Added 2006 as date of Asst. Chief position created in Training.
    Added 2012 notes about Battalion 5 and Rescue 1 creation.
  • Added 2013 notes about three reassigned Lieutenants in Operations, Services, Training.
  • Expanded 1933 civil service story.
  • Added 1949 residency rule suspension.
  • Added 1978, 1980 stories of Civil Service Commission.=
  • Added 1980 story of FD task force.
  • Added 1980 story of request for raises.
  • Expanded 1979 narrative of Altman hearings.
  • Correction on 4/4/78 academy. Should be 4/4/77.
  • Added 1950-51 creation of Drillmaster position.
  • Added 1952-53 mention of black fire company.
  • Added 1976 ambulance service proposal.
  • Added 1980 assessment center.
  • Added 2013 creation of chief’s aid.

Missing:

  • Creation of Senior FF position. Need exact year. Was “a few years” after creation of First Class FF.
  • Creation fourth Asst. Fire Chief position. Need exact year. Late 2000s, correct?

Historian Mike Legeros was recently asked about records, of job-related activities and actions, of past decades in the fire department.

Below is “condensed” summary, drawn from these primary sources:

These notes do NOT include:  Fire Chief start/stop dates, most changes to authorized positions, activation of new companies, openings of new stations, recruit academy starts, company staffing changes, most news-making personnel discipline issues (scandals, skeletons), MOST individual grievances/challenges/appeals, ISO ratings, etc.

It’s intended as an objective overview of high-level and detailed points, over the department’s 100-plus year history. Annotations are sprinkled through. Please excuse typos. Holler if you see them.

Let me know as well, about notable omissions and needed corrections. Yours in History.

1910s

1912 – Dec 23 – Career RFD placed in service.

1913 – Mar – Fire department placed under the protection of Civil Service. As ratified into law by the General Assembly, the amendment to the City Charter protects each member’s position from being opened to “another and more favored person.” No member can be discharged without “good and sufficient causes.” The legislation also requires new members pass a “rigid physical examination” before being hired. < [ This protection did not prevent hiring/firing due to political patronage, a common practice through the 1930s. ]

1914 – Aug – Fire department personnel organized into split shifts. The day shift works 14 hours, and the night shift works 10 hours. The day shift starts duty right after breakfast, eats dinner on duty, and leaves at supper time. Each fireman also gets one day off each week. < [ Prior to this time, FFs worked every day. They could also live at the fire station, if single. As the story goes, if they lived there, they also had to answer calls off-duty. FFs continued to live at fire stations through the 1970s, though by that time, in rare cases. ]

1916 – Jul 7 – Chaplain appointed. Purportedly first appointment of its kind in state. < [ How long did the Chaplain serve? TBD. Suspect only a few years, as references to a department chaplain found in later years/decades. ]

1917 – Experienced department members join armed forces in World War I, entering shipyards and other war-producing plants. Ranks filled from military personnel stationed near Raleigh, customarily allowed to occupy dormitories of the fire department. From Camp Polk come several experienced officers from the likes of Buffalo, New York, and other big-city departments. 

1920s-1930s

1924 – Aug 4 – Two-platoon system created. Firefighters on duty ten hours a day for four days and fourteen hours a day for four nights.

1933 – Apr 6 – Legislation proposed to provide civil service protection to Raleigh firemen. A three-member board would have the power to discharge any fireman convicted of performing any political function other than voting. Also, no member of the department would be eligible for appointment to chief, unless he had been a member for the five previous years. The chief would be chosen by the Commissioner of Public Safety with approval of the Mayor and the Commissioner of Public Works. Competitive examinations for fireman’s jobs would be open, as the need arises, to “all white persons possession the rights of suffrage and meeting requirements prescribed the board.” Firemen “liable for dismissal” would have an opportunity for a public hearing. Source: N&O, 4/7/33 < [ What happened? Don’t believe it passed, until probably re-introduced in 1935.]

1935 – Mar 1 – Civil Service Protection granted to Raleigh firemen. General Assembly passes a law creating a civil service commission for the city’s firefighters and police officers. This ends the practice of patronage hiring, such as when candidates for City Commissioner rewarded campaign supporters with jobs or promotions in the fire department. The old system also resulted in the firing of firemen who supported losing candidates in municipal elections. It requires creation of a five-member Civil Service Commission. They are granted full charge of hiring and dismissing members of the fire department. Competitive examinations are now required for employment. Promotions will be made by the Fire Chief, with approval of the commission. Appointments to Fire Chief will be made by the Public Safety Commissioner, also with approval of the commission. Dismissals require cause, and include the opportunity for an open hearing to defend the charges. Political activity, other than exercising the right to vote, is prohibited.  < [ This is the reason that some early members have two or three or four sets of start/stop dates. They’d be fired after an election, then re-hired after another election. ]

1938 – by May 1 – Local 548 International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) local chapter 548 chartered. There are 21 charter members.

1940s

1940 – Aug 27 – Delegation of 12 firefighters representing Firemen’s Union appears before City Commissioners to request “uniform pay raise of $20 a month for each of the 56 men from chief to private.” Raleigh firefighters are the lowest paid in seven comparable cities they note. From “captains through privates, Rocky Mount pay is higher, as the following cities are in all ranks: Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, Asheville, High Point.”  <  [ Such petitions to city officials likely happened repeatedly over the decades. Need those dates/documentation. ]

1940 – North Carolina Fire Fighters Association created. RFD Captain Kenneth Johnson elected first president.

1941 – Feb 6 – Committee of firefighters address letter to City Commissioners stating that “after February 15, the men will stop at the city limits unless they are provided personal accident insurance, liability insurance, and relived of responsibility for fire department equipment.” The question of “fire coverage beyond city limits” has been “in the air for several years.” Last week, a “suburban house no Stanhope Avenue” is lost because of “the reluctance of firemen to proceed without authority.” < [ This was a common issue among NC fire departments in the 1940s. This issue would also resurface in later decades, with regard to city crews responding to fires outside or just outside the city limits. ]

1941 – Apr 4 – Police-Firemen’s Civil Service Commission adopts a rule requiring oral or written examinations for personnel offered promotions.  < [ But wait Batman, wasn’t this a requirement of the original civil service act? Presumably yes. Don’t know the story. ]

1942 – Jul 12 – Civilian auxiliary firefighters receive certificates of training, as part of local Civil Defense program. Total of 154 members.

1944 – Sep 5 – Night watch discontinued at 6:00 p.m. by Chief Butts. The replacement schedule is a day watch from 7:55 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with one man on the engine room floor at all times between 7:55 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. < [ Until this time, one FF remained awake and at watch, through the morning. ]

1948 – Apr 1 – Trial period begins for 24-hour shifts at Station 5, and likely the other stations. Later adopted as permanent schedule

1949 – Mar – Interior of Station 5 overhauled, including new kitchen floor and bath built by firefighters. < [ Early example of FFs used for station construction or repairs. Crews continued “lending their talents” to station building and renovation projects through/past the 2000s. ]

1949 – Aug – Fire Prevention Bureau formed. First dedicated fire inspectors appointed. < [ Who conducted inspections before this time? How were they handled? TBD. ]

1949 – Nov 15 – City council suspends for one year the requirement of one-year residence for applicants for fire and police. The requirement of a resident in North Carolina remains unchanged. The change is made due to difficulties of both departments finding qualified applicants. Source: City Council minutes.

1949 – National Board of Fire Underwriters issues report on Raleigh Fire Department.  Recommendations include adoption and enforcement of a complete code of modern regulations, appointment of a qualified, full-time building inspector, appointment of a qualified fire prevention inspector, acquiring suitable facilities for training and drills, etc.

1950s

1950 – Spring – Two shifts created, with added personnel now scheduled for 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off-duty. Off-duty members are required to respond to extra alarms. Firefighters receive 15 days of vacation a year with pay and are entitled to 10 days accumulating sick leave per year up to 60 days. 

1951 – May 21 – Auxiliary to Raleigh Fireman’s Association formed, comprised of 43 firefighter wives as charter members. They remained active through the 1970s, and continued to hold meetings as late as 1978. Source: RFD 2017 yearbook.

1950-51 – Fiscal year budget includes position of Drillmaster. < [ This may have been the first dedicated training position. ]

1952-53 – Fiscal year budget document notes department has considered created a black fire company, and should be kept in mind. Fire Chief cannot make the change at this time due to the budget. He believes after Station 1 is finished and companies rearranged, a black fire company “could very well fit into the department.”

1953 – Aug 27 – Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad chartered. Organized is hosted and housed at RFD, with volunteer citizen participants. City designates two FFs as rescue officers. [ Did they receive supplemental pay, for specialization? TBD ]

1955-56 – Fiscal year – Positions renamed. Driver to Fireman II. Private to Fireman I.

1956 – Mar 10 – First line of duty death, Driver Vernon Smith succumbs to injuries sustained in apparatus accident on November 14, 1952.

1959 – Local 548 ceases operations, after General Assembly outlawed the rights of firefighters and police officers to belong to unions. 

1960s

1962-63 – Circa – Third Assistant Fire Chief position added. Source: MJL records, from budget doc.

1963 – Feb 14 – First black [career] firefighter reports for duty. First of seven hired between 1963 and 1964. (More history here, PDF: http://tinyurl.com/y85p8nkm)

1964 – Size requirements for FFs increased from 5 feet 8 inches and 150 pounds, to 5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds. This partly results in recruitment challenges that year, after the expansion of 17 positions is approved. Source: RT, 10/29/64.

1965 – Apr 20 – Second line-of-duty death. Paul A. Mimms suffers heart attack while operating pump at a fire.

1965 – December – Fire and police lose 35 members that year, reports the News & Observer. Police lose 30 and fire loses 5. Cited reasons included recent pay scale adjustments for fire, and dissatisfaction with pay increases authorized that year. < [ Guessing such stories these–about loss of personnel–were not uncommon, over the years and decades. During war time, for example, there were stories on the vacancies and short staffing. ]

1968 – Feb 2 – Raleigh Firemen’s Club, Inc. organized. Ten charter members, and 113 of 180 firefighters join in first year. Also that year, club purchases 11.74 acres of land on then Six Forks Road, for clubhouse.

1969 – Feb – Firefighter residency requirements changed from prior requirement of living within city limits to anywhere in Wake County, provided they reside on a paved road and that their telephones are connected to the Raleigh exchange.

1969 – Local 548 re-chartered as Raleigh Firefighter’s Association Local No. 548 , after federal court rules that the state statute is unconstitutional. There are 173 charter members.

1969 – City officials note they will not negotiate with the re-chartered Local, due to state laws that forbid local governments from doing same. Source: RT, ?/?/69.

1969 – Local 548 announces plans to reimburse the city for 5 percent merit pay raises paid to 20 FFs, after the raises were discontinued, after the city realized that only 80% of the 92 eligible members could receive the raises under city regulations. The Local decides to collect about $7 from each of its 182 members to raise the amount owed to the city. The action is done as a goodwill gesture. Source: RT, ?/?/69.

1970s

1970 – Feb 1 – Firefighter work week reduced from 72 to 66 hours. Action requires addition of 24 personnel: 6 captains, 7 drivers, and 11 firefighters.

1970 – Sep 23 – Firefighter work week reduced from 66 to 60 hours. Third platoon created, “C” shift. Requires hiring of __ personnel.

1970 – Fall – City officials reject request to allow FFs to live outside Wake County. The Law and Finance Committee had recommended allowing members to live with 24 miles of the Capitol. The vote was 4 to 3. This ruling is challenged by a FF. He appeals to the Civil Service Commission, and then to Wake Superior Court. < [ What happened? TBD. But the mile restriction was later extended to 35 miles. ]

1971 – Jul 1 – North Carolina League of Municipalities completes a survey of the organizational structure and management practices of the Raleigh Fire Department. It identifies administrative, management, supervisory, and service function deficiencies, and recommends a reorganization plan that includes reducing Assistant Chiefs from three to two, each assigned day duty; adding a civilian position of Administrative Assistant; adding four District Chiefs. The study is authored by future RFD chief Sherman Pickard.

1971 – Aug 6 – RFD reorganized, including implementing two-district system and seven named District Chiefs.

1972 – Spring – Fire Department ceases operation of own dispatching and switchboard services after Raleigh/Wake Emergency Communications Center established.  RFD dispatcher positions transferred to ECC (correct?).

1974 – Dec – Class action lawsuit filed is in U.S. District Court charging the fire department with racial discrimination in hiring and promotion practices. The suit is filed by current firefighters, two turned down for employment, and a former firefighter. 

1975 – Jan 1 – New federal wage law requires cities to pay time and a half wages to FF who work more than 240 hours during a 28 day period. The city must either pay overtime, or reduce work hours. The law changes in January 1976, to 58 hours, and in 1977 to 54 hours. Source: RT, 4/9/74.

1976 – April-May – City Council adopts plan for ambulance service jointly funded by the city and the county. The plan calls for four new
ambulances to be purchased and located at Stations 1, 2, 3, 9, 14, and 15. The city would hire and train 24 new firemen
for the program, and also use existing fire department rescue vehicles. The plan is later discontinued, after the county elects to create its own ambulance service, to service the city.

1976 – June – Members of Local 548 conducted peaceful protest outside the Municipal Building as fire and policy chiefs request larger raises than the five-percent increase recommended for all city employees. They again picket, with police officers, in July. < [ What other instances of picketing have occurred over the years and decades? TBD. ]

1976 – June 30 – FFs stage one-day “sick out” to protest for higher pay. Three-quarters of FFs call in sick, instead of reporting to work. Normally, 79 members would arrive at work. 52 called in sick and 27 reported for duty. Three “fringe” fire stations (12, 14, 15) and a rescue unit are placed out of service. Remaining companies and stations are staffed with the 27 FFs, plus 22 supervisors, inspectors, “non-protesting firemen,” and a few city employees who were also county volunteer firefighters. 11 of 14 fire stations are staffed with 49 FFs. As a result, all vacations are cancelled until further notice. Personnel are reminded of a new uniform sick leave policy, requiring a doctor’s note for approving sick leave pay. Police and sanitation also consider their own job actions. Sanitation workers strike on July 7. The striking members are fired, and private firms are hired. FF members of the Local discuss having their own strike, which represents 270 of the 309 member department. 247 members vote, and they decline to strike. Source: Numerous articles. < [ Believe this is the only job action conducted by FFs, over the decades. ]

1976 – July 1 – Supreme Court strikes down two-year old federal law, that extended overtime to some 3.4 million local and state government employees. The issue was FLSA requirements for wages, hours, etc. The law barred governments from compensating overtime with time off, instead of money. The city expects to save $200,000 in overtime wages, that would have to be paid in January. Source: RT, 7/1/76.

1976 – July – FFs and city officials begin meeting, to talk about pay and position classifications. A pay study is planned, by an outside vendor, and for completion by January 31, 1977.

1976 – Oct 5 – The elimination of nine Captain positions is announced by City Manager Lawrence P. Zachary. The cuts are announced as part of 60 jobs being eliminated by January. The nine Captain positions are eliminated from the three service ladder truck companies. < [ Context? Most of the other eliminated jobs in the city were vacant. A job freeze was in effect since January 1976, so employees would get a 3 percent raise in January. ]

1976 – First responder and EMT program implemented. Training begins for FFs.

1977 – Apr 4 – Recruit class starts, the first required to pass EMT certification as part of training. Numbered Academy 1 in a later decade, by some historian guy.

1977 – May 25 – The Raleigh Planning Commissions recommends that the city study public safety officer programs, to combine fire and police departments, and for possible savings over the next 18 years in personnel and construction costs. Source: N&O, 5/25/77 < [ What happened? The program was never adopted. Don’t know about the study, or findings. ]

1977 – May 27 – The Local asks Council to include $1.5 million in raises for city employees, instead of the $1.1 million recommended by the City Manager. Source: _____, 5/27/77 < [ This is but one example of what certainly happened, over the years and decades, during various budget years. ]

1977 – Summer – Some FFs begin using new EMT skills in the field.

1978 – July 10 – First female FFs hired. Eight women join the department as FF recruits.

1978 – August – Raleigh Civil Service Commission takes steps to have a more independent and active role in the city. The new chairman pledges to “take a more active stance as both an advisory board and as a quasi-judicial body in helping resolve problems that have surfaced in city government.” The commission has the authority to affirm, modify, or oversee decisions affecting individual city employees, and may advise council on city personnel procedures. They make several changes in procedures, including having regular scheduled meetings monthly, and publicize dates and agendas for meetings and hearings, and take minutes at meetings. They also agree to hear complaints from firemen about fire department promotional procedures. Source: RT, 8/_/79.

1978 – City officials agree to five-year plan to improve hiring and promotion of women and blacks, after Federal Office of Revenue Sharing threatens to cut off revenue sharing grants. City agrees to file annual progress reports.

1978 – Dec – City council votes to create First Class Firefighter position. The position is created as a promotion between Firefighter I, the entry-level position, and Firefighter II, or engine-driver. Promotion to First Class will result in an automatic five-percent salary increase. Council members argued that the position was needed because of the number of firefighters who quit at rank of Firefighter I, and because a similar position exists in the Police Department. The new rank carries no special duties beyond those of Firefighter I, except that First Class Firefighters can serve as substitute drivers, when drivers are absent.

1979 – Mar – City council drops proposal to link FF promotion to Emergency Medical Technician certification. The proposal was made by the City Manager. But council asked the City Manager to study whenever the EMT exam should be required for any promotion in the fire department, or especially for promotion of firefighters hired in the future. < [ This requirement was later reinstated, it seems. See 1986. ]

1979 – Mar 20 – First Class Firefighter position created. The new rank was at the top of a list of recommendations submitted in April, from the Raleigh Employees Benevolent Association. The position is designed to increase incentives in the FD. It also aligns with a comparable rank in the police department.

1979 – Jul 2 – Civil Service Commission holds first hearing of a grievance filed by Capt. Hubert Altman, also the spokesman/executive secretary for Local 548. He cites that because of “union activity,” he’s been transferred against his will, and removed from consideration for the position of Fire Marshal. A large audience attends including dozens of Raleigh FFs, the state ALF-CIO president, and reps from state and national FF unions.

Fire Chief Rufus Keith testifies told Altman that he was inclined not to promote him, due to his role in the 1976 “sick out” and his union activities. Both sides referred to a conversation between the Chief and Altman in the spring, and which was taped by Altman and with the Chief Keith’s knowledge. The revelation about the taping is a bombshell, and produces strong reactions from folks. (There’s even an editorial cartoon in the paper about it.)  Chief Keith testifies for more than four hours during the hearing. Notes a new story, both men worked together at the same station in the 1960s, and were close friends. And Altman was considered a protégé of Keith. But after Altman joined the reactivated Local, their relationship began to “sour”. No action is taken, and the hearing is expected resume in August. On Sep 3, Altman was transferred to Station 1. Notes a news story, his earlier transfer from Station 1 to Station 10 sparked his current complaint.

Altman first filed a protest in 1977, then dropped the grievance when he was transferred to Fire Prevention. He protested again in April 1979, when transferred back to Operations. The hearings continued to late October, with more than 35 hours of testimony and nearly 1,900 pages of transcripts, conducted over 10 nights. The Civil Service Commission on October 30 ordered Altman to be promoted to Fire Marshal and provided back pay, saying he was denied the post unfairly due to his union activity. Source: N&O, 7/3/78.

[ This story was covered for months by the local papers. Some dozen stories. There were strong (and lasting) feelings among FFs, both positive and negative about the outcome. Six members who also applied for the position later asked to join the appeal filed by the city, after the commission’s ruling. Three Captains and three District Chiefs accused the commission of discriminating against them. ]

1979 – Nov 15 – Fire Chief announces plans to involve line personnel, including Local 548 members, in department policy-making. The decision is made after a survey of personnel finds dissatisfaction with the current promotional system. After meeting with about 60 members, he received the recommendation of an advisory task force. Source: RT, 11/15/79.

1979 – Sep 20 – Wake Superior Court judge upholds 1974 finding by Civil Service Commission that FF James Munns was unjustly overlooked for promotion to Captain in 1974, because of his activity in the Local. Judge orders city to promote Munns, and give back pay. The amount of computed interest is later contested, and in 1980, the commission orders the city to pay interest as computed per year, and not as simple interest on the due amount. The six-year legal battle concludes in July 1980. Source: N&O, 9/21/79, RT 6/17/80.

1979 – September – City officials look into establishing new limits on union activities by supervisors. They seek an exemption from this language in the Raleigh Civil Service Act: “No person in the service of the city or seeking admission thereto shall in any way be discriminated against or favored because of race, creed or color, or because of political or labor affiliation, or because of sex or marital status.” < [ What happened? Presuming it wasn’t enacted, or perhaps even legal under state laws. ]

1980s

1980 – Feb 20 – City council asks for resignations of three Civil Service Commission members. The move is described as an attempt to gain control over the council’s appointees on the commission. The board was criticized by council for issuing “one of its strongest” rulings in the Altman case. Source: N&O, 2/20/80.

1980 – Mar 20 – Wake Superior Court overturns Civil Service Commission rule in the Altman case, citing the ruling was beyond the power of city officials. Source: N&O, 3/20/80.

1980 – Apr 1 – First responder program expanded city-wide. The program was started as a trial program at Station 3 earlier in the year. About 270 firefighters complete training sessions to be licensed as Emergency Medical Technicians. 

1980 – Apr 3 – First meeting of special FD task force held, intended as a bridge between RFD and Local 548 leaders, who “have been arguing for a decade over departmental promotional procedures.” The will be asked to make recommendations on promotion and hiring, with recommendations circulated among personnel before being reviewed by the chief and city officials. The first meeting gets off a rocky start, when most members walk out minutes after it begins, objecting of the chief’s addition of two members of his own, to the task force. Source: RT, 4/3/80. < [ How long did this task force operate? Did it have later incarnations? TBD. ]

1980 – May – First assessment center? Seven applicants for Fire Marshal were “probed, tested, and challenged” by a team of outside experts. This was the first time the position wasn’t appointed by the Fire Chief and due to a court order (from the Altman case) blocking his involvement in the section. Source: RT, 6/27/80.

1980 – Jun 5 – The union calls on city council to give firefighters a 15 percent pay raise, instead of the 10 percent proposed by budget officials, and to raise salaries in the lower ranks to reduce overlap with the new rank of First Class Firefighter. At the request of council, the city is preparing a study on the pay scales of both fire and police. Source: N&O, 6/5/80.

1980 – Lawsuit filed in 1974 by thirteen black firefighters receives tentative endorsement for settlement by city, including pledge to improve hiring of blacks over the next three years, with goal that 16 percent of city firefighters being black by January 1983. 

1981 – June 2 – NC Court of Appeals upholds 1980 ruling in Wake Superior Court, that overturned the 1979 ruling by the Civil Service Commission in the Altman case. He filed an appeal the following month. Source: 6/3/81

1983 – Local 548 ceases operation.

1983 – Fire investigation team created, with one FF/investigator per shift, plus one member of Fire Prevention Division. Source: RFD 2012 yearbook.

1984 – July – Honor guard organized. Seven charter members.

1984 – July – First response of hazardous materials team. Members are FFs with additional training, and who receive additional pay. < [ Supplement pay for specializations were also used for members of the fire investigation team, and… what others? ]

1985 – Summer – Physical fitness program made mandatory for on-duty FFs. Was first introduced in June 1983, as a voluntary program. Physical fitness equipment was also purchased for six of the city’s 13 fire stations. [ Was this the first one, ever? Don’t know. Such programs recurred in later years and decades. ]

1985 – August 14 – City Manager proposes longer shifts for FFs, to avoid paying up to $250,000 in overtime pay, as required by a Supreme Court Decision. He proposes requiring FFs to report to work 15 minutes earlier, making their duty time long enough to qualify for federal law exempting sleeping and eating time. FFs hear of the idea, and begin circulating a petition opposing. Supreme Court ruled in February that state and local governments must pay overtime as required by FLSA. They have until October 15 to comply with ruling. Source: RT, 8/14/85. < [ Wait, the FSLA laws were years earlier. What happened? Presuming they were challenged in court. And cities such as Raleigh withheld overtime pay, awaiting for outcome. See also 1976, and a Supreme Court decision. What happened as a result, here? No change was made to FF working hours. ]

1986 – April, circa – Local 548 re-chartered as Raleigh Professional Firefighter’s Association. There are 219 charter members.

1986 – April – EMT certification now required for FFs to receive 2 1/2 percent merit raises.

1986 – Dec – EMT certification requirement for merit raises repealed. Remains a prerequisite for promotional consideration.

1990s

1991 – Oct 1- First haz-mat team coordinator placed in service.

1991 – Oct 9 – First shift supervisor, then named Battalion Chief, placed in service.

1992 – Sep 25 – Firefighter II position, also called Engineer, renamed as Lieutenant.

1992 – Nov 4 – Residency requirements for FFs extended from 35 miles to 50 miles from the city center.

1992 – First (civilian) Fire Protection Engineer hired.

1998 – July – RPFFA requests 20% pay increase for FFs. Source: RPFFA pay study.

1998 – Fall – RPFFA presents salary comparison showing starting salaries for FFs are 16% below the mean, and 13% below the median for like cities in the region. Source: RPFFA pay study.

1999 – January – City officials are presented with pay study conducted by the HayGroup showing that starting salaries for FF as much as 14% below median of like cities in the region. Source: RPFFA pay study.

1999 – Apr 23 – City officials propose pay plan, after fire and police began asking for pay increases six months earlier. The plan is quietly endorsed by the RPFFA, while the Police Benevolent Association voices their dissatisfaction. The plan raises entry-level salaries for public safety workers by 8 percent. More experienced members would receive 2 to 3 percent increases. All would receive additional 5 percent city-wide raise. All are eligible for existing annual merit pay increases up to 5 percent. Source: N&O, 4/23/1999.

1999 – Spring – RPFFA issues “Report and Recommendations on City of Raleigh Fire Fighter Salaries.” The ~50 page document substantiates the group’s prior request for a 20% pay increase for FFs, and includes responses to both the 1998 HayGroup study, and a subsequent report created by city administration.

2000s

2000 – Feb 14 – Fire stations begin operating as child safety seat fitting stations. Program continues until 200_.

2002 – May – Select FFs attend a structural collapse school, to begin learning skills for newly created NC USAR Task Force, a state-funded rescue team comprised of personnel from Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary.

2003 – Sept – NC USAR Task Force 8 placed in service.

2004 – Jan 10 – Fourth district (renamed battalion) added. Position of District Chief renamed Battalion Chief.

2004 – Jan 10 – Position of Battalion Chief renamed Division Chief.

2006 – Fourth Assistant Chief position created for Training, upgraded from Battalion Chief. 

2006 – Aug – Building Construction Division moved from Inspections to fire department.

2007 – Aug 18 – Full-time fire investigators placed in service.

2008 – Jan 22 – Third line of duty death. Lt. Herman Jones, after suffering apparent heart attack at Station 10.

2009 – Spring – Eight inspectors from Inspections transferred to fire department. They received a rapid training, orientation, and certification program, and started working in the field as fire inspectors in March.

2009 – Sep – Fire Prevention Division re-structured. Four positions are reclassified as Asst. Fire Marshal, directly reporting to the Fire Marshal/Asst. Fire Chief. Ten additional inspector, plans examiner, and captain positions are reclassified as Deputy Fire Marshal.

2009 – Sep – State notifies city officials that the practice of banking extended sick leave to apply toward retirement is illegal. City employees are given the opportunity to transfer earned extended sick leave. Employees with no earned extended sick leave are not affected, nor are employees who were hired on or before Jan. 1, 1980. Their earned extended sick leave was already transferred. Employees who do not elect to transfer their earned extended sick leave could only use it when all other time was exhausted, and it would not be add to their service length at the time of retirement.

2009 – Aviation Rescue Program started, as a partnership with the Raleigh Fire Department and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. The program is a component of the North Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART)

2010s

2010 – Jul 3 – Platoon Deputy Fire Marshal placed in service. < [ Decades earlier, District Chiefs had drivers, no? Were they dedicated positions? ]

2012 – Feb 5 – Fifth Battalion Chief placed in service. See below.

2012 – Feb 5 – Five-person rescue company placed in service. Results from reclassification of positions and consolidation of units, from three two-person rescue companies:

  • Three Lieutenants and three Firefighters previously assigned to the rescue companies.
  • One Lieutenant position reclassified as Battalion Chief, creating Battalion 5.
  • One Lieutenant position reclassified as Captain.
  • Rescue 1 placed in service with five positions.

2013 – Feb – Aide positions created for three Division Chiefs. < [ Also at this time, around this time, three positions are created for the Assistant Chiefs of Operations, Services, and Training. They are Lieutenant positions previously assigned to the mobile air unit and reclassified as day duty. The Operations person serves as an aide to the Operations Chief. The Services person is assigned a Facility Manager/Management role. The Training person is added as an additional staff person at training.

And then what happened? Visit Raleigh Firefighters United on Facebook and read from oldest to newest, for perspectives on the last couple years.

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