New Rescue, New Colors for Bay Leaf Fire Department

The Bay Leaf Fire Department is receiving a new rescue truck, a 2017 Pierce Velocity with walk-around body, job #30005. Here’s newly posted factory photo (see larger sizes), as well as some final production photos (see more). Should be delivered any day now.

Note the new color scheme, grey over red. And the new name, which isn’t a new name just yet. Bay Leaf and Stony Hill fire departments are consolidating and creating the new Northern Wake Fire Department. 

That’s coming this summer. More on that later!





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The Evolution of the Raleigh Fire Helmet – 1920s to 1980s

This is a blog archives posting from October 23, 2009. The page is corrupted on the old site, so we’re re-posting here and with some updates.

For your Friday enjoyment, let’s look at early fire helmets in the Capitol City.

During the volunteer era, a few firemen had helmets. Such as this Carnes High Eagle currently owned and photographed by a collector in Wake Forest. It dates to perhaps the 1900s. We blogged about these before.

They appear in photos as late as the 1920s, as the odd helmet sitting on a truck. Haven’t found any photos of them worn in action or in poses. Click to enlarge:

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Cary Fire Department Adds Rescue Truck – June 1996

On June 30, 1996, at 20:10 hours, the Cary Fire Department placed its first rescue company in service. Though they operated a volunteer-staffed Civil Defense rescue truck in the mid- to late-1950s, this was their first “modern-era” rescue company.

The new company and the added role of rescue provider resulted from an agreement with the Cary Area Rescue Squad, which transferred rescue duties to the fire department effective July 1. They also donated their rescue truck and its equipment to the town. More on that in a moment.

Rescue 2 was activated with a 1975 GMC/Alexander service ladder truck, fleet #922. The apparatus had originally served as Truck 1 at Station 1, until replaced with a 1988 Pierce Arrow aerial platform. From there, we’re told, it also operated as Truck 2 and Truck 3. Specifics on timeframes, staffing levels, etc., TBD.

Lee Wilson photo

New Rescue 2… From Cary Rescue

Two months later, it was replaced with a new(er) unit, a 1983 International/Swab medium-duty rescue, with a 12-foot walk-in body, Swab build #4288. (Factory records also say 1982 model year, all other sources say 1983 model year.) The truck was designated with fleet #1293.

It was placed in service on August 26, 1996, at 17:30 hours. Firefighters Jones and Wilson on “A” shift were working. The first fire call answered with the new truck was a structure fire on Bruce Drive at 18:19 hours.

Over the next days, the crews worked on equipment placement, mounted sets of SCBA, visited other fire stations to familiarize their crews with the new unit, and started training with such new equipment as a rescue boom that could be mounted in the back.

Lee Wilson photo

The truck was originally operated by the Cary Area Rescue Squad, and originally painted white with an orange stripe. The squad donated the truck to the town, after making changes to their rescue program. They had operated a “crash truck” since the early 1970s, and were the first rescue squad in Wake County to obtain a hydraulic Hurst rescue tool.

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Comparing Fire Department Recruitment Fliers and Banners


Have you noticed some of the colorful recruitment collateral lately produced by local and regional fire departments? Let’s compare some of these fliers and banners, from both around North Carolina and surrounding states.

These are mostly recent, with a couple from a couple years ago. Found via searches on Facebook and Twitter. Left to right, top to bottom are Greensboro, Charleston, Cary, Durham, Rocky Mount, Charlotte, Wilson, Wilmington, Richmond, and Winston-Salem.

Click to enlarge:


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Vintage Group Photo of Mecklenburg County Fire Departments

From another history buff, Kirk Beard of Kannapolis, comes one of the neatest vintage pictures we’ve seen in a while. Group photo of Mecklenburg County fire apparatus and vehicles circa 1960s.

Picture is courtesy of Vicki Robbins, Beard’s aunt. He has deep roots in Mecklenburg County. His grandfather Robert Beard was a volunteer firefighter at Statesville Road. His dad, Donnie, started at Statesville Road VFD and moved to Mallard Creek VFD, where he served every rank from top to bottom, and retired as the county’s Chief Fire Marshal.

Photo was taken in the 800 block of East 4th Street in downtown Charlotte, identifies one reader. And the gentleman in the light gray suit beside the white car is likely the late Dan Carpenter, then Mecklenburg County Fire Administrator.

Click once or twice to enlarge:



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What departments appear in this photo? The list probably includes:

  • Cooks Community
  • Cornelius
  • Davidson
  • Derita
  • Harrison
  • Hickory Grove
  • Huntersville
  • Mallard Creek
  • Matthews
  • Mint Hill
  • Moores Chapel
  • Newell
  • Oakhurst
  • Pineville
  • Pionca
  • Providence
  • Sharon
  • Statesville Road
  • Steele Creek
  • Westinghouse Fire Brigade
  • Wilkinson Boulevard
  • Woodlawn

For more Mecklenburg County fire history, see these blog archives postings:

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History of an Abandoned Bridge

This is a blog archives posting from September 5, 2014. The page is corrupted on the old site, so we’re re-posting here.

Here’s a treat of a treat. Abandoned bridge over Crabtree Creek, just west of Crabtree Valley Mall. Specifically opposite Morehead Drive at Glenwood Avenue. Can be accessed both from the sidewalk on Glenwood, or a greenway trail on the other side of the bridge. And entirely unknown myself until this week. Talk about exciting!

Not a public roadway, but a private driveway. Served as access for a house that was located “up the hill.” Here’s an aerial photo from 1999, from the Wake County IMAPS site:

Local history buff Bill Ott shares some history:

There were two houses in there, the Kost house on the top of the hill to the left, and the Martin house on the hill to the right. The 1999 aerial photo shows the Martin house, I believe. The Kost house was moved in the 1970s, farther up the hill and closer to the Creedmoor Road extension to allow the Nationwide complex to built.

Leroy Martin Sr. and his wife Elva lived in the “upper house.” When Leroy died, Elva remarried my mother’s father Robert Kost. His son Leroy Martin Jr. and family lived at the “lower house.” My grandfather had an old Army jeep painted bright red. We used to ride in the pasture where Crabtree mall was built, chasing cows, fording the creek, etc. It was great fun for a small boy.

The bridge was originally all wood. It was replaced in the mid 1960s, as best I recall. The creek was diverted past that location, when construction of the mall began in the 1970s.

There was also gravel road out of the area, through the woods and that connected to the winding two-lane road that’s now Edwards Mill Road. You could reach both houses that way as well. This was before they built the road from Glenwood Avenue to the top of the hill behind Crabtree Mall.

If the name Leroy Martin sounds familiar, it’s also the name of a school on Ridge Road in Raleigh. Leroy Martin Junior High School, now middle school. Here’s a biography of Leroy Martin Jr., from 2009. His wife Charlotte Martin was on the Wake County School Board for many years. Here’s a biography of Leroy Martin Sr., who was no less accomplished.

At least one retired Raleigh firefighter remembers a fire at Martin house, after being assigned to Station 17 when it opened in 1984. Access was off Edwards Mill Road, via dirt road.

See my photos from my late-day explorations this week. Seems safe enough. Feels solid underfoot, though there are quite a few missing boards. Who owns the bridge? It resides on private property, on a slender tract of vacant land that totals 3.66 acres. Described as “Fairview Farm.”

Up the hill is the Martin property, last owned by the family name in 1990. The tract is 36.39 deed acres and is presently the site of an apartment complex. The adjoining Nationwide Insurance site is 16.66 deeded acres. It was sold in 1974 by Fairview Development Company.

Guessing this was also part of Fairview Farm, later transformed or sold to a development company. The insurance building was built in 1975, say tax records. Maybe readers know more.


Reader Comments:

That small sliver of land between Glenwood and the creek, including the bridge, is still owned by the Martin family. (They also own the plot of land that houses the BB&T bank on Creedmoor Rd next to the creek.) I remember that there used to be a traffic light at Glenwood and Morehead, where the driveway lets out onto Glenwood, that was gone by about 1990 but the yellow control box still remains at the intersection.

As an aside, if the long-discussed reliever road that would connect Glenwood to the Beltline via Crabtree Valley Avenue is ever built, it would cut across this property and let out at the bridge. The right of way is already visible on the IMAPS site.

Brad LeBlanc

How about a rant about Glenwood Avenue through Crabtree Valley? That’s classic old-school Raleigh-style planning. Access roads and driveways. No considerations for free-flowing traffic.

My magic wand would close all driveways between Creedmoor and the Beltline. Maybe also the pair of side streets to inbound Glenwood outbound between Blue Ridge and the Beltline. Sure, that would place an inhuman burden on the roads that connect via controlled intersections. Guess you’d have to widen those.

Raleigh’s roads drive me nuts that way. Everything seemingly designed for a smaller, slower, less-dense city. (Which Raleigh was, and perhaps never expected the resulting exponential growth.) Greensboro always comes to mind as a nearby city with “throughways” that are more flowing and less interrupted by driveways.


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Raleigh Fire Department Plans – Future Ladder Companies, Raises Sought Instead of Staff

The News & Observer today published a pair of pieces about the Raleigh Fire Department, their plans with regard to additional ladder companies, and staff expansion as the Fire Chief seeks raises instead.

Additional Ladder Trucks 

This story from Chris Cioffi discusses the department’s plans for additional ladder trucks, as well as their station construction renovation plans.

Salient points include:

  • Three stations to be rebuilt (though only one demolished, not three as cited in the story): Station 6 at its current location, and Station 12 and Station 14 at new locations.
  • These will allow for future 15-person ladder companies, and the shifting of ladders from current locations.
  • In the past decade, at least 20 mid-rise structures similar to the Metropolitan apartments have been built.
  • Current ratio of engines to ladders is about three to one.
  • The number of companies has grown from seven to nine, since 2006.
  • A tenth ladder company will be requested in the FY19 budget that begins July 1, 2018.
  • Two additional ladders are expected beyond that, though no firm dates have been set.
  • The rebuilding of Station 6 on Fairview Road is scheduled to start in May. The project cost is $6.4M.
  • The rebuilding of Station 12 on Poole Road is underway. The project cost is about $5.3M, and should be completed next winter.
  • Upon completion of Station 12 on Poole Road and Bus Way, Ladder 8 will be moved from Station 8. This will improve ladder coverage in the southeast part of the city. 
  • The rebuilding of Station 14 on Harden Road is planned for the “more distant future.” Estimated project cost is not yet available.

Raises Instead of Additional Staff

And this story from Paul Specht is about Fire Chief John McGrath’s plans for the coming budget yet. He won’t press for new staff for one year, because he wants his firefighters to be better paid.

Some of those details:

  • City Manager Ruffin Hall on Tuesday proposed a new pay structure that could affect all of the city’s 4,000 employees. It calls for new minimum and maximum salaries for most positions.
  • No details yet, however, on how many employees, in the fire department or elsewhere, would receive raises.
  • The changes, if adopted, would cost the city an additional $11M in the FY18 budget, which begins July 1.
  • This proposal follows the wage adjustment that took effect on April 1.
  • Salaries were raised for 2,101 city positions, including more than 500 of the fire department’s 611 employees.
  • Firefighters received raises ranging from 6 to 13 percent for lower-level employees, and 2 to 4 percent for others.
  • Staff needed by the fire department, and forgone in the coming budget, are 60 new firefighters, three platoon EMS coordinators, three additional Battalion Chiefs, an inventory specialist, and a training captain. 
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Cary Receives New Pierce Pumper… And Some Trivia

The Cary Fire Department yesterday received their new Engine 9, a 2017 Pierce Enforcer 1500/500. It was delivered to Atlantic Emergency Solutions in Fayetteville on March 30, and arrived at Station 1 on Tuesday.

Lee Wilson paid a visit and snapped this picture. See his photo album

2017-04-05-cfdLee Wilson photo

It replaces a 2003 Pierce Dash, 1250/500, fleet #1957. And Station 9, as you recall, is housed at old Station 2 at 875 SE Maynard Road. It’s a temporary location until their permanent quarters are erected farther south at 1427 Walnut Street.

This is the town’s second Pierce Enforcer pumper, following the similarly spec’ed Engine 5, a 2017 model delivered last year. 

Cary + Pierce – Since 1982

Photo credits: Lee Wilson, Mike Legeros, Town of Cary

By my count, this is town’s twenty-ninth piece of Pierce fire apparatus since 1982. (Readers, please check my work!)

  • 1 – Ford C chassis/Pierce body
  • 3 – Arrow 
  • 7 – Dash
  • 2 – Enforcer
  • 5 – Lance
  • 11 – Velocity

With this spread of apparatus types:

  • 17 pumpers
  • 6 aerial platforms
  • 4 rescue trucks, heavy
  • 1 service truck
  • 1 aerial ladder.

And with a couple exceptions and notes:

  • The single service truck, a 1993 Pierce Lance, is really a rescue body, used as a service truck. Heavy rescue, walk-around. 
  • The 1999 Pierce Lance aerial platform received a new aerial device in 2002, after the SkyArm aerial collapsed at a structure fire on June 4, 2002.
  • The fire department also operated a 2001 Pierce Dash (model?) aerial platform during 2002, loaned by Pierce, but never titled to the town.

Mr. Blogger has lately updated and refreshed his unofficial Cary FD web site, including an expanded historical timeline and the addition of a detailed fleet listing (PDF).  Tool over and take a look.

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Destruction of the State House – June 21, 1831

April 6
Transcription of the old articles added, scroll to the bottom.

April 2
Speaking of great fires in the city’s history, did you know that the original State Capitol was destroyed by fire? The building was called the State House and it burned one morning in June 1831.

Jacob Marling painting, 1818 

Awful Conflagration!

June 21, 1831. Tuesday morning. About 7:00 a.m.

The State House was ablaze on Union Square.

Raleigh’s citizens were summoned to the scene to help fight the fire. But all attempts to extinguish the blaze proved pointless–they had only the simplest of equipment: buckets, wells, and one hand-operated fire engine–and bystanders were instead directed to protect the other public and privates on the square. They also assisted with saving the official archives.

No other buildings were damaged, and the spread of the flames may have been retarded by the large oak trees that surrounded the State House, speculated newspaper editor Joseph Gales.

Most of the public records were saved, along with some furniture, and a painting of George Washington that still hangs in the Capitol today. Lost in the blaze, however, was a marble statue of Washington by Italian sculptor Antonia Canova, considered one of the masterpieces of the world. Or so said the stories of the time. (Mr. Blogger isn’t an art historian, nor plays one on television.)

The fire was believed to have started during the installation of a new fireproof roof, by the careless actions of a construction working while soldering the zinc material.

This fire and a series of other destructive fires in the 1830s had one positive effect: city, county, and state governments began building using more fire-resistant materials. Stone and brick were used in the 1837 County Courthouse, the 1840 City Hall, and the 1840 State Capitol. Several business on Fayetteville Street, that lost their buildings in an 1833 fire, also rebuilt with brick.

Raleigh Register, June 1831

Two days after the fire, this account appeared in the weekly newspaper The Raleigh Register. Then a second story, with more details, was published the week after.

Scroll down for a transcript.

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