Raleigh and Wake County Firefighting by Michael J. Legeros -
About the Author
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Pictured aboard this American
LaFrance 700 Series pumper.
Notice the pump panel on the passenger side of the
apparatus, versus the traditional driver side
placement. Four such pumpers were purchased by
Raleigh, two in 1951 and two in 1953.
...by the newly named Rescue Steam Fire Engine Company.
They were formerly known as the Merchants Fire
Company, organized along with three other fire companies in
Five volunteer fire companies and
281 men served the Capital City in 1884...
Both the Rescue and Phoenix companies had their own
"engine houses"; the remaining three companies
were located at Metropolitan Hall.
Built in 1896, it also housed
the fire department alarm system.
During the construction of the W. Morgan Street
station, a temporary "hook and ladder house" was
used next door.
The city's second steam-powered fire engine
This apparatus is still owned by the fire
department and is present housed, on a trailer, at a fire
A banner displaying the achievement
hung above the doors to the engine house...
The Rescue Company station was constructed in 1870 on
a 18 x 30 foot site on the Salisbury Street side of the
County courthouse lot.
He became the first paid, full-time
fire chief in America.
Chief Brockwell was subsequently sent north for three
months of training as a special member of the New York City
...the first motorized fire engines
were two American LaFrance Type 5 combination chemical
and hose cars...
Early fire apparatus were often equipped with
"chemical tanks," which carried water and a
quantity of water-reactive chemicals. When mixed, the
resulting reaction pressured the water, which was sprayed
using a connected hose. Alas, chemical tanks had to be
cleaned and refilled before being reused.
Despite both student-manned hose
streams and the later arrival of the fire department...
The 1914-15 student catalog of the North Carolina
College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts listed the fire
protection equipment as "a standpipe and reservoir,
hose and hose reels. Hydrants are conveniently located
about the grounds, with attached hose nozzles, etc.
The buildings are supplied with chemical
Fire Station Three, c. 1915.
Until the formation of a fully-paid fire department, the
building was occupied by the all-black Victor Fire Company.
State Hospital For The Insane,
April 10, 1926.
Read the author's detailed account
of this fire.
Three locomotives were damaged when
this Norfolk Southern Railroad maintenance shop burned.
Other notable railroad fires: Raleigh & Gaston
engine house in 1848, Raleigh & Gaston roundhouse in
1890; old Seaboard Air Line roundhouse in 1936; and Seaboard
Air Line commissary in 1939.
The two-story building at 212 S.
Salisbury Street became a fire station again when Station 1
moved into old Station 2.
Due to space considerations, Truck 1 was moved to
Station 2 at Memorial Auditorium. Engine 2 was housed
with Engine 1 at the new Station 1.
After taking off from Raleigh
Raleigh Municipal Airport was located just south of
Raleigh on Fayetteville Road, near the present-day
intersection of Highway 70 and Tryon Road. Established
in 1929, the airport was an airline hub until the
construction of Raleigh-Durham Airport in the early
1940's. The airport was also used by military aircraft
during World War II. The airport closed in 1972 and
the property was sold to a developed who failed to transform
the area into a shopping center and industrial park.
In 1973, the Norfolk-Southern Corporate purchased the
property. In 1974, the hanger and administration
building were razed. The 250-acre site is still owed
by the railroad company, but is not used. No buildings
remain, but the remains of the three runways are
there. [Source: http://members.tripod.com/airfields_freeman/NC/Airfields_NC_W.htm
The training curriculum included "forcibly
entry," "fire streams," "pump
operation," "salvage and overhaul practices,"
"blackouts," "war gases," and
The Libes Wrecking Company of Winston-Salem and
Raleigh was contracted to perform the demolition.
Assistant Chief R. L. Matthews
from Station 2...
Matthews and his men are posed
in front of an American LaFrance Type 17 "combination
service truck." See page 46.
This building at 2513 Fairview Road
was leased from 1943 to 1949 and served as the city's
newest fire station.
The fire department considered locating the station
at the Country Club Apartments, but the Federal Housing
Authority (FHA) ruled against it because regulations forbid
Three years later, Engine 6
The wrecked American LaFrance pumper was operating as
a reserve engine, while repairs were being made to the 1950 Mack Type 85 pumper shown on page 37.
Fire Station 5, 1950.
Pictured is the first of two
FWD pumpers purchased in the 1950s. One was purchased
in 1949, the other in 1957. Both were 750 GPM
Hundreds watch the A&P Supermarket burn at the
corner of Hillsboro and West streets.
The grocery store never reopened.
The spring-assisted, wooden ladder...
A foot pedal on the turntable released the ladder
from its resting position. Springs raised the ladder
about 30 degrees, after which it was hand-cranked.
Engine 9, the second "downtown
engine," was later renamed Engine 10 and finally Engine
13, as Raleigh's ninth and tenth fire stations opened.
After the completion of a twelfth fire station in
1973, the next fire station was named Station 14. No
fire station has ever been named Station 13.
The identical 1,500-gallon, trucks
were placed in service in the 1960s...
They were removed from service in 1985 and saw short
stints as watering trucks for the Parks Department.
Hose was laid as a precaution as a trackside
heater's propane tank was damaged. It was later determined
that the tank was empty
The Saturday night blaze destroyed
both the tire company's warehouse and an adjoining office
Stacks of burning tires shot flames five stories into
the air and spread the stench of burning rubber throughout
Raleigh. Firefighters stayed on the scene until about noon
Fire companies, August 1987.
Pictured from left to right: Tim Keeter, Michael Alford,
Danny Poole, Capt. Donald "Donnie" Perry, David
Godfrey, Basil Vassilion, Tim Beasley, T. C. Brown, W. Randy
Robertson, Capt. N. M. Peacock, David Timberlake, plus
District Chief Hubert Altman.
The 1931 Chevy was outfitted with a new motor,
brakes, tire, paint, 350 GPM front pump, and 250-gallon
Emergency Rescue Truck
Cary became the first volunteer fire department in
the state to operate such a unit
The newly created district was named Yrac,
which later became the name of the fire department.
On July 1, 1998, the Yrac Fire Department merged with
the Fairgrounds Fire Department to form Western Wake Fire
Rescue. The Yrac fire station was renamed Western Wake
Page 75 and 76
Yrac Fire Department
Photographs by Tim Murphy.
Six Forks Fire Department
On July 1, 2002, the Six Forks Fire Department
merged with the Bay Leaf Fire Department. The Six
Forks fire station was renamed Bay Leaf Station 3.
Residents of Knightdale formed a fire department in
On April 14, 2003, the Knightdale Fire Department
changed its name to Eastern Wake Fire-Rescue.
Fairground Fire Department
On July 1, 1998, the Fairgrounds Fire Department
merged with the Yrac Fire Department to form Western Wake
Fire Rescue. The Fairgrounds fire station was renamed
Western Wake Station 1.
...1959 Walter Class 1500 crash
truck (left) and a 1973 Walter CB3000 crash truck
The older Walter was later donated to the North
Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C., where
it was parked outdoors for playground use.
...this 1957 FWD pumper originally owned by Raleigh.
Model F722, chassis D80353, with a 750 GPM Waterous pump,
dated March 1957 and serial number 16962. It was
purchased from A. E. Finley Associates for $17,904.00.
Mill Outlet Village Fabric Store
Fifteen employees and customers at the clothing
and upholstery store were transported to Wake Medical Center
after breathing burning foam rubber. Damage to the building
and its contents was estimated at $300,000.
Hopkins Fire Department photographer Aubrey
From 1977 to 1998, Mr. Gay shot over 2,000 slides of
fire department incidents and activities. Pictured, left to
right, is Zebulon Rescue member Sally Penny, unknown
(wearing helmet), and Zebulon Rescue members Ken Griswold
(back to camera) and Bobby Sutton (man with arms showing).
...the Holly Springs Department of
Public Safety in 1996.
The town of Holly Springs formed a municipal fire
department in 1995 which merged with the town's rural fire
department in 1997. The rural fire department was
organized in 1971.
Both of Zebulon's fire
The town of Zebulon's municipal and rural fire
departments merged in 2000.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport
received two of these Oshkosh TI-1500 crash trucks in
The old crash trucks saw service in Florida for
tanker duty during the wildfire season, before being shipped
to South America.
Created: 13FEB04. Corrected: 15SEP09.