Greensboro-High Point Airport Fire Department History

Plus Guilford County Fire-Rescue and more

Created August 4, 2017
Last updated: August 6, 2017
Change log: Added model year of original haz-mat truck. Added picture of original Squad 50, and some timeline notes. Added timeline notes about Meadowood Road facility, where FM office relocated in 1982.


Contents

  • Apparatus - Crash/Fire/Rescue
  • Apparatus - County Fire Services Support
  • Historical Milestones
  • Airport Fire Department - Early History
  • County Fire Services Support - Early History
  • More Pictures

Apparatus - Crash/Fire/Rescue

  1940s pumper 550 gallons

Likely former Army Class 135, which were equipped with a 60 GPM/350PSI high-pressure pump, 300 gallons of water and 20 gallons of foam. With possible CO2 system added, as evident by cylindered pressured tank on left side of apparatus, in another. Sources: Fire Trucks at War on Facebook and http://www.firetrucks-atwar.com/C.html
1940s Willys Jeep/Ansul #300 dry-chemical

Likely equipped with an Ansul J2-340 package, which included a 300 pound dry-chemical station unit for mounting on a truck chassis, two 50-foot lengths of 3/4-inch hose, two HF-35 nozzles, two hose cabinets, and two Ansul 20-D extinguishers with mounting brackets. Source: https://cj3b.info/Fire/AnsulCJ3B.html
  1965 Dodge Power Wagon/Ansul 500# dry-chemical

Equipped with two hand lines. Also cited as equipped to pump 600 GPM of foam, which is likely incorrect.
1966 American LaFrance Airport Chief 500/1500/300. See details in history below.

Only six of these trucks were built. Built on 4x4 chassis. Lightweight aluminum construction. Rear-mounted Continental 300 HP engine. 1500 gallon tank. Built for Cedar Rapids, Greensboro, Nassau, Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, and Seattle-Tacoma.
  1960s (?) foam tanker 1500/6000/500, likely tractor-drawn foam tanker with rear-mounted pump, likely ex-USAF F-7. Photo from Guilford County annual report, 1971-72.
  1975 Oshkosh M1500 1100/150/180, one of two identical units delivered. Smokey 2 and Smokey 3. Pete Brock photo.
1987 Ford/E-One R-500 750/500/70/450# PKP. Smokey 1. Pete Brock photo, 2001.
  1992 E-One Titan III 1500/1500/180, one of two identical units delivered. Smokey 2 and Smokey 3. Pete Brock photo.
1999 Ford/Warner 350/250/15. Smokey 5. Pete Brock photo, 2004.
  2002 International 4800/KME 750/500/70B/500# PKP. Smokey 1. Andrew Messer photo, 2016.
2007 E-One Titan HPR 1500/1500/200B/500# PKP. Smokey 4. Andrew Messer photo, 2015.
200_/1993 E-One Titan 1500/300B/500# dry chem. Refurbished in 200_. Smokey 7. Andrew Messer photo, 2015.
2009 Oshkosh Striker 1500 1250/1500/200B/500# Halotron/50-foot. Smokey 3. Andrew Messer photo, 2015.

Apparatus - County Fire Services Support
 

1960s (?) disaster unit. Built in 1974 by firefighters using a 2.5 Army surplus field van. See details in history below.
1958 Chevy tanker, oil spill control unit. Obtained circa 1977-78 (?), as part of oil spill response team.
1962 International/_____ heavy rescue with walk-in body. Former Civil Defense rescue truck, operated by Greensboro Fire Department as city-county rescue unit. Delivered fall 1962. See details in history below. Note: Model year cited as 1968 in some sources.
1969 Ford C/______ haz-mat truck, former Guilford College Squad 17. David Raynor photo, 2008.
1990s (?) GMC TopKick/Hackney (?) haz-mat truck. David Raynor photo, 2002.
2005 (?) Chevy E350 Super Duty, Squad 50, David Raynor photo, 2005. This was the original Squad 50, a manpower unit created to assist county fire departments. It was replaced by the 2007 Sterling/Wolverine rescue, and renamed Rescue 50.
2007 Sterling/Wolverine medium rescue, Rescue 50. Andrew Messer photo, 2015.
2007 Sterling/Hackney, Haz-Mat 70. Mike Legeros photo, 2016.

Historical Milestones

Milestones of the airport fire department and Guilford County fire services:

  • 1927, May - Airport property purchased by the Tri-City Airport Commission, on 112 acres near the community of Friendship. It's named Lindley Field.

  • 1942, July - Governance of airport transferred to Greensboro-High Point Airport Authority. Shortly after, the Army Air Corps assumed control of the field for war use. Airmail and passenger service were discontinued. The runway was lengthened and a new passenger terminal was built.

  • 1944, Feb - News reports contract awarded for a garage for crash truck at airport. Construction has already started.

  • 1945 or later - After the war, civilian service resumed.

  • 1961, Jan - First Guilford County Fire Marshal placed in service.

  • 1962, Feb - Air Force C-47 crashes on take-off, on February 4. Capabilities of airport fire protection---airport workers trained in firefighting and two minimally-equipped vehicles--is examined in news reports. Airport authority and county fire marshal's office (FMO) already working on improvements. Also, FAA has airport rating plan and national safety standards due that year.

  • 1962, Fall - County removes airport from response district of Guilford College FD. County FMO recommends airport provide own fire protection.

  • 1964, Oct - County awards bids for two new pieces of apparatus: a small Ansul rescue/crash truck and a large American LaFrance Airport Chief crash truck.

  • 1964, Dec - Creation of airport fire department now a goal. Two pieces of apparatus have been ordered. A fire station will be constructed west of the airport building. It will house both the airport FD, the county fire marshal's office, and a communication center for the county fire departments. The airport and the FAA will share costs of both. County will operate the fire department.

  • 1965, Jun - Ansul rescue/crash truck delivered and now in service, along with 1,000 gallon tanker truck and older Jeep. The fire station is nearing completion.

  • 1965, Aug - County fire marshal and staff move into new building. Fire station not officially in service yet.

  • 1965, Sep - Five full-time and three part-time firefighters have been hired. The part-time members are "resident firemen" and receive $100 per month and quarters. They are students.

  • 1966, May - American LaFrance crash truck is delivered.

  • 1970, Jun - Tractor-drawn foam tanker acquired from Army surplus. It's obtained without cost.

  • 1974, Spring - Airport firefighters built disaster response unit.

  • 1975, Jan - Airport awards bids for two Oshkosh crash trucks.

  • 1975, Apr - Two Oshkosh crash trucks are delivered.

  • 1975 - Guilford County EMS ambulance placed at airport fire station. Operates there through at least 1979.

  • 1980, Aug - High Point declines to participate in co-funding of airport fire department, along with Greensboro and Guilford County.

  • 1981, Jun - Airport Authority assumes sole financial responsibility of fire department, with their new budget.

  • 1988 - Guilford County fire services places haz-mat team in service.

Airport Fire Department - Early History

1927 to 1958

1927, May - Airport property purchased by the Tri-City Airport Commission, on 112 acres near the community of Friendship. It's named Lindley Field.

1942, July - Governance of airport transferred to Greensboro-High Point Airport Authority. Shortly after, the Army Air Corps assumed control of the field for war use. Airmail and passenger service were discontinued. The runway was lengthened and a new passenger terminal was built.

1944, Feb - News reports contract awarded for a garage for crash truck at airport. Construction has already started.

1945 or later - After the war, civilian service resumed.

1958 - New passenger terminal opened, replacing the World War II building.

1960 to 1969

1962, Feb 4 - Air Force C-47 crashes during take-off, at 4:03 p.m. Plane ascends 150-200 feet from Runway 5, before crashing about 1,000 feet from the north end of the runway. It breaks apart and burns on impact. All seven aboard are killed. Airport employees trained in firefighting respond with the airport's two fire trucks: a 1940s pumper with 550 gallons of water, and a 1940s Jeep with 300 pounds of dry chemicals.

The Greensboro Fire Department is alerted. Engine 9 is dispatched at 4:04 p.m. and arrives eight minutes later, from their station 3.4 miles away. Guilford County fire departments are also dispatched, and apparatus from Pinecroft-Sedgefield, Guilford College, Colfax, Oak Ridge, and Fire District 13 arrives shortly thereafter.

Every available ambulance in Greensboro is also requested to the scene. Law officers converge on the site, including Greensboro police, sheriff's deputies, and State Highway Patrol. They face an enormous crowd of onlookers as "thousands of people out for a Sunday afternoon drive under clear warm skies" try to reach the scene.

The county fire marshal later described it as "I have never seen in my life such a mess" "as far as people are concerned." He described the onlookers as blocking roads to the airport, cars driving onto the runways, people walking onto the runways, and thousands of "curiosity seekers" impeding traffic.

The crash was the worst in the airport's history, and the first fatal incident in the airport's history. The following day, the county fire marshal compiled a list of earlier emergencies on the field, which was printed in the Greensboro Record. The incidents included gear collapses, hard landings, crashes off field, engines lost in flight, and bomb scares in flight.

 

The plane was headed to its home base, Hurlburt Field, FL, with a stopped planned at Knoxville, TN. The seven bodies were taken to Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg for identification. The victims included Capt. Robert Sanford, 34, of Greensboro, who was first cousin to Governor Terry Sanford. The list of deceased:

  • Capt. R. J. Rice, 27, pilot, from Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • Capt. David L. Murphy, 30, copilot, Bloomfield, NE
  • Capt. Thomas D. Carter, 27, navigator, Helena, AK
  • T/Sgt. Bernard P. Terrien, 32, engineer, Gillette, WI
  • 1st Lt. D. J. Hughes, 28, passenger, Fort Walton Beach, FL
  •  Capt. Robert H. Sanford, 34, passenger, Greensboro, NC
  • T/Sgt. Preston Presley, passenger, en route on emergency leave to Aloca, TN

Sources:

  • GDN, 2/5/62, "7 Die in Air Crash Here"
  • GDN, 2/5/62, "No Survivors As Air Force Craft Burns"
  • GDN, 2/5/62, "Greensboro Man Killed in Crash"
  • GDN, 2/5/62, "Takeoff Is Called Abnormal"
  • GR, 2/5/62, "Plane Crash Victims Identified"
  • GR, 2/5/62, "Board Of Inquiry Tries To Find Tragedy Cause"
  • GR, 2/5/62, "One Victim Was Cousin of Governor"
  • GR, 2/5/62, "Protest Raised On Traffic Jam At Crash Scene"
  • GR, 2/5/62, "Airport Emergencies Cited"
  • Hose & Nozzle, May 1962

1962, Feb 6 - Greensboro Record notes concerns that the firefighting equipment at the airport is inadequate. One airport employee, who drove the Jeep to the scene, said its supply of foam was exhausted before the fire could be extinguished. The county coroner is also quoted about the injuries sustained by the crash victims, and that at least one died from burns.

Guilford County Fire Marshal R. W. Grant states that the equipment was inadequate for an airport of its size, and did not meet standards recommended by the FAA and the NFPA. The two trucks are staffed by about twelve airport maintenance crews and other employees. Some are always on duty. No career firefighters are assigned, however.  But the Airport Authority and the Fire Marshal's office was already working on a program to improve the airport's fire protection, and their committee had been meeting for the past two months.

Two days later, Greensboro-High Point Airport Authority Chairman J. T. Martin notes that they've had a long-standing arrangement with GFD, HPFD, and Guilford County rural fire departments, to provide assistance at the airport for emergencies. He also notes that the 450 gallons of high-octane fuel in the right wing of the crashed plane was "at first prevented from exploding" by the airport personnel manning the two pieces of equipment, and later by the arriving fire departments.

Sources:

  • GR, 2/6/62, "Equipment Question, After Plane Burned"
  • GR, 2/6/62, "Identity Made of 7 Killed In Crash"
  • GR, 2/6/62, "Wreckage Of Plane Is Removed Today"
  • GR, 2/8/62, ""Fire Equipment Available For Airport, Martin Says"

1962, Feb 14 - Greensboro Daily News via UPI ("Airport Safety Plans Prepared") reports on the FAA's airport rating plan that will establish the first set of safety standards for the nation's 6,000 civil airports. The standards are planned to be implemented at some point during the year. They will include standards for fire-crash protection, and guidelines for compliance, which may include airports with low traffic utilizing local fire departments for protection.

1962, Feb  _ - Greensboro Daily News ("Guilford District Seen Responsible In Airport Fires") reports that fire protection at the airport is the responsibility of the Guilford College Fire Department, because of the airport's location, and that leased facilities on the field contribute to fire tax funds. The nearest GCFD station is 2.8 road miles from the airport. The department, however, does not have special equipment for high-octane gasoline fires. The airport authority notes that it's willing to "extend substantial financial assistance" to achieve "practical emergency protection" at the airport, and it would "cooperate in every way" with GCFD, if they stated a "clear intention to assume responsibility for operation of the equipment." The authority also notes that they're "not in the fire fighting business." Also noted are the recommendations of Airport Manager Kenneth V. Brugh Jr., chairman of a special committee studying the situation, and based on a report from the Fire Marshal:

  • purchase another fire truck with 500 pounds of dry chemical, and forcible entry tools
  • establish a cache of dry chemicals and foam
  • obtain protective clothing for firemen
  • create a regular program for training the volunteer firemen
  • improve alerting procedures
  • improve control of automobile and pedestrian traffic, in the event of another crash.

1963, Oct 23 - Greensboro Record ("Airport Fire Protection Setup May Be Changed") reports on a proposal to remove the airport from the jurisdiction of the Guilford College Fire Department. It has been met with preliminary approval, and will be settled in November, when the authority and the county commissioners meet. The Fire Marshal's committee on airport fire protection previously concluded that the best solution was that the airport provide its own fire protection. The change was reported as enacted by December 25, in a Greensboro Record story that day ("Urbanization Surge Shapes Prime Problems For County").

1964, Oct 5 - Greensboro Record ("Board Awards Bids On Fire Equipment") reports that county commissioners that day awarded bids for two new pieces of airport fire equipment: $15,413 to Ansul for a rescue truck and $76,112 to American LaFrance for a crash truck. The rescue truck is scheduled for delivery within 280 days, and the crash truck within eight months. Subsequent story on Oct 14 ("Fire Protection At Airport Gets Elaborate Boost") provides details on the large crash truck, which "appears to be the most expensive civilian fire truck in the state." And even more expensive than Greensboro's ladder trucks, which cost about $60,000 each. The county fire marshal believes it's the only civilian crash truck in the state.

The four-wheel drive, all-aluminum "Airport Chief" crash truck carries 1,500 gallons of water and 300 gallons of foam. It can pump 500 GPM, and the roof-mounted nozzle can spray foam 200 to 225 feet. It's also equipped with three ground sweep nozzles. It's nine-feet high and 30-feet long, and is equipped with two engines. The "propelling engine" has 326 HP and 820 cubic inches. It can reach 50 MPH in 60 seconds. Nearly all of the truck's operations can be performed by one person, freeing other personnel for rescue efforts.

[ Legeros: Only six of these trucks were built. See notes in apparatus photo section at top of page. ]

1964, Dec 26 - Greensboro Record ("Airport Fire Facility Is Big Goal For 1965") reports on the goal to create an airport fire department. Two pieces of apparatus have been ordered. A fire station will be constructed west of the terminal building. The authority has budgeted approximately $125,000, to pay for its share of the fire station and the trucks. The FAA will share the costs. Once built and equipped by the authority, the fire department will be operated by the county.

1965, Jun 12 - Greensboro Daily News ("New Airport Fire Station is Receiving Equipment" - "Building Nears Completion") reports that the new small crash/rescue truck has been delivered. The Dodge (?)/Ansul truck is equipped with four-wheel drive, a foam generator that can pump 600 GPM with hand lines "from either side," "additional specialty extinguishers," as well as protective clothing, rescue tools, and a resuscitator.

[ Legeros: In the September-October 1965 issue of Hose & Nozzle, a story cites the truck as carrying Purple K dry-chemical, 500 pounds, with two hand lines. No pump or foam is mentioned. Presume that the previously reported capacity is in error. ]

Also "ready for use" is a 1,000 gallon tanker truck. The new large crash truck is due for delivery in July. The fire station is nearing completion, and should be ready on July 6.

1965, Jul 31 - Greensboro Daily News ("No County Taxes Used For Airport") notes that the cost of building and equipping the airport fire station will not be funded through county tax revenues, as was inferred by a county commissioner. The cost of the fire station is split evenly between the authority and the FAA. The county, however, is funding half of the fire department's first year operating expenses.

1965, Aug 26 - Greensboro Daily News ("Fire Staff Has Moved To Airport") and Greensboro Record ("New Quarters Are Occupied By Fire Chief") reports that the fire marshal and his staff have moved into the new airport fire station. It's not "officially in service," however. Personnel for the equipment are expected to be trained and ready by early October. They'll be supervised by the airport's fire chief, James Finison. The "central communications control" for the county's twenty-one volunteer fire departments will be moved there shortly.

When activated, the fire station will have:

  • 1965 (?) Dodge (?)/Ansul rescue/crash truck, 500# dry-chemical
  • large tanker with pump, 1000 gallons
  • 1940s Jeep with foam equipment.

The station has four bays for "rolling equipment," storage and maintenance rooms for equipment, quarters for firefighters, offices for the airport fire chief and county fire marshal staff, and a communications center. It cost about $90,000, and was funded by the authority and the FAA, which also furnished the equipment. The county will assume ownership of all rolling stock, and all responsibility for maintenance, repair, and staffing. Those costs will be shared with Guilford County and the cities of Greensboro and High Point.

1965, Sep 8 - Greensboro Record ("Five Firemen Employed For Station At Airport") reports that county commissioners yesterday approved the hiring of five full-time firemen:

  • Garland Wear, Colfax
  • William Simpson, Route 10
  • Norman Cook, Greensboro
  • Roger Holland, Greensboro
  • Fred Breeden, Greensboro

They also approved the hiring of three part-time, or "resident firemen":

  • Lister C. Salmon
  • James F. Wrenn III
  • Darrell M. Rayle

All three are students, and will receive $100 per month, and quarters.

The men will be trained at the fire station.

1966, May 1 - Greensboro Daily News ("'Smokey One' Delivered To Airport Fire Station") reports that the American LaFrance Airport Chief crash truck was recently delivered. It won't be in service, however, until a factory representative visits and "makes a few minor adjustments.") The truck will join a fleet that's comprised of a 1965 (?) Dodge (?)/Ansul crash/rescue truck, and a 1,000 gallon tanker. 

1967, Mar 8 - Greensboro Record ("Planners Ask For More Fire Units") reports that a recent study of county fire protection recommends several changes to the county fire system, including organization of a ladder company by 1970, to be housed at the airport fire station. [ Legeros: Don't believe this was ever created. ]

1967, May 18 - Greensboro Record ("County Units Seek Budget Hikes") reports that the county fire marshal's office and airport fire department is seeking a combined budget of $144,680, which is higher than the prior fiscal year's budget of $105,500. They're requesting funding for an additional staff member in the fire marshal's office, two more part-time, resident firemen, two additional summer firemen, and one more full-time firefighter. Plus, about $10,000 in new equipment, for both offices.

1970 to 1979

1970, Jun 17 - Greensboro Daily News ("Budget Items Given Tentative Approval") reports that the fire marshal's budget has increased from $164,100 to $214,000, with $10,500 for new equipment, and the rest for updating all positions and adding a fire inspector. Also noted is that the airport on Monday acquired a tractor-drawn foam tanker from Army surplus. The $60,000 vehicle was procured without cost, but needs some repairs and must be obtained from the District of Columbia area.

1974, Mar 24 - Greensboro Record ("Disaster vehicle created") reports that the airport firefighters have built a "rescue vehicle they hope will never be used." The truck is a disaster response unit, "designed for use in major disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, large fires, floods, airplane crashes, earthquakes, and search and rescue operations." It's equipped with communications equipment, including two-way radios for communicating with city/county fire units, the sheriff's department, and the highway patrol. There's also a telephone, which can be connected to a land line. It has first aid supplies and stretchers, and a closed interior space that can be used as a "mobile intensive care unit." They're planning to add a small refrigerator for storing medicine. Oxygen equipment is on order. The unit is the property of the county, and can respond anywhere in the county as needed. Notes a Fiscal Year 1973-74 county budget summary, the truck was constructed from a two-and-a-half ton Army surplus field van.

1975, Jan 28 - Greensboro Daily News ("Airport  Authority Approves a Fifth Car Rental Firm") reports that the airport authority has agreed to buy two new crash trucks from Oshkosh Truck Corporation, for $336,343. The two trucks qualify for federal funds, and the FAA is expected to pay for 82 percent of the cost. The M-1500 crash trucks, which are civilian versions of the military P4, will carry 1500 gallons of water, 180 gallons of foam, and can pump 800 GPM. They're equipped with roof and bumper turrets.

Notes Fire Marshal Charles Porter, the airport's current single crash truck--which carries 1,500 gallons of water--does not meet the minimum standards for FAA certification. The airport was granted an exemption, however, to its first-year certificate. The 1966 American LaFrance Airport Chief is also a "nightmare to keep going." Repairs for the last decade have cost $47,000. The Oshkosh bid is about $30,000 higher than the low bid, but is accepted on recommendation of the fire marshal and airport authority staff, as the company promised delivery in 60 days. The other bidders required at least one year to provide delivery. There were also questions about their ability to provide spare parts. The trucks will be owned by the airport authority.

1975, Apr 8 - Greensboro Record ("Airport gets crash trucks") reports that the airport's two new "giant crash trucks" arrived that day. They'll replace the "obsolete" ten-year-old crash truck, and will bring the airport closer to meeting the FAA's requirements for fire protection. (Other things must be done to meet the FAA criteria, including a fence around the airport.) The federal government provided 82 percent of the funds for the truck. The state paid nine percent, and the airport paid the remaining nine percent. Fire Marshal Charles Porter also notes that a "four-truck substation" may be built on the opposite side of the airport in the future. Plans for a "substation" have been drawn at the request of the airport authority, and a request for federal matching funds is under consideration. Representatives from Oshkosh will train the firefighters on the new equipment, and be on site for "about a week." In addition to extinguishing fires at plane crashes, the trucks can be used for fighting fires at the airport terminal or any other airport facility.

1979, Aug 9 - Greensboro Daily News ("Faster Ambulance Service Planned") notes that a Guilford County EMS ambulance was placed at the airport fire station in 1975, as the result of a study on response times, and the need for faster responses to the northwestern part of the county. As part of a major reorganization of the EMS department, and an additional ambulance added at the Summerfield Fire Department, the airport ambulance will eventually be moved to the station at Wendover Avenue and Interstate 40.

1980 to 1981

1980, Aug 21  - Greensboro Daily News ("High Point Unlikely To Fund Airport Fire Unit") reports that the city of High Point has declined to include its share of co-funding for the airport fire department as part of its annual budget. The city has shared the operating costs of the airport fire station with Greensboro and Guilford County for about 15 years. Also, the county commissioners and the airport authority have decided to extend the fire protection contract for 90 days, and continue negotiations for a new contract. This year, Greensboro's share will be $160,000 and the county's share will be $481,000. Greensboro has no plans to discontinue its support of the airport fire department, but they're trying to get the airport authority to take it over. The county plans to pick up High Point's share until a new arrangement is made. Noted the High Point City Council, at the time of the budget decision, "the airport authority has a budget surplus while the city is struggling to hold taxes down."

1980, Sep 80 - Greensboro Daily News ("Airport May Pay Own Fire Costs") reports that the majority of county commissioners feel that the airport authority should fund the airport fire department, and not the local governments. For 15 years, the county and the cities of Greensboro and High Point have funded the department. This year, High Point declined to contribute their share. Their $72,000 costs were included in the city's initial submitted budget, but trimmed in the final, approved budget. The county has extended the FY80 contract for fire services for 90 days, to give county officials time to negotiate a new one with the airport authority. Commissioners express such opinions as a three-year transition period, instead of a change that's sudden and "without warning."

1980, Oct 9 - Greensboro Daily News ("Airport Station Firemen Fearful of Losing Jobs") reports that airport firefighters are concerned about their future, now that the county is negotiating for the airport to take over the department. There are 21 firemen, who are county employees and under the county pension and retirement plan. Some have 12 or 15 years of service. The county is looking to end its funding, after the City of High Point declined to contribute to this year's budget. Their share of the $481,886 operating budget was $72,000, while Greensboro's was $160,000. The county assumed the remaining balance, which was increased due to High Point's withdrawal. Salaries and benefits total $364,485 of that operating budget. The next biggest item is $30,000 for vehicle maintenance, repair, and fuel costs. The authority already pays for their building and their capital equipment.

1981, Jun 16 - Greensboro Daily News ("Airport Authority Approves $4 Million Budget For Year") reports that the Airport Authority's budget has passed $1M for the first time, and mainly because of the $360,000 allotment of cost for the fire department. Until this year, the department was funded by Guilford County, Greensboro, and High Point. When those local governments passed their budgets, they asked the authority to assume the costs of employee salaries and equipment maintenance. The budget includes 19 salaried employees, two fewer than were budgeted by the county.

County Fire Services Support - Early History

1961, Mar 19 - High Point Enterprise ("County Fire Marshal Fills Need") reports on the new Guilford County Fire Marshal, Robert W. Grant, placed in service on January 1. Duties include serving as advisor to chiefs of rural fire departments, assist in fire inspections on request of chiefs, implement a fire protection program in rural schools, work with sheriff's department to investigate suspected arson fires, be on call to answer any fire alarm in the county when requested, and act as training coordinator for county fire departments. He operates a station wagon with special equipment including a resuscitator, aluminized clothing, explosion meter, fire extinguishers, forcible entry tools, camera, tape recorder, and loudspeaker system.

1962, Mar 15 - Greensboro Record ("Rescue Truck Purchase Plan Will Be Offered") - City of Greensboro General Services Department today is expected to recommend to City Council the purchase of a Civil Defense rescue truck and equipment from International Harvester Company for $11,241. The truck is proposed for use by the Greensboro-Guilford County Civil Defense Agency, and would be stationed at Central Fire Station.

1962, Nov 12 - Greensboro Record ("To Get Truck") - A new Civil Defense rescue truck will be "turned over to the city" in a ceremony tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. at Central Fire Station. Mayor David Schenck, Fire Chief C. W. Wyrick, and Director of Greensboro-Guilford County Civil Defense Agency Director J. M. McGough will accept the vehicle. It was approved in March. The cost of the vehicle was $11,214, and will be staffed by eight firemen on a rotating basis.

[ Legeros: Did this city-county rescue truck also respond to county rescue calls? Presuming so. ]

1964, Aug 9 - Greensboro Daily News ("Three Rescue Vehicles Stationed") - The Greensboro Fire Department now has three rescue trucks, stationed at points around the city. Rescue 1 has been moved from Central Station to Station 5 on Friendly Road. It will be manned by personnel already at Station 5, and "in more or less a reserve capacity." Station 5 houses the battalion headquarters for the western half of the city, as well as Engine 5 and Truck 5. Rescue 2 at Central Station will continue to answer the majority of calls. Rescue 3, a "large heavy-duty rescue truck" is now at Station 4 on Gorrell Street. It's a "van-type truck" that was "secured by the city and county with Civil Defense assistance." 

No additional personnel will be assigned to Station 5, for manning Rescue 1, notes Fire Chief C. W. Wyrick. Seldom are two rescue trucks needed at one time, he says. And that either can be used to support or relieve the other, in the event of an "extended incident." In the event Engine 5 and Truck 5 are answering a call, Rescue 1 can respond with personnel sent from Central Station.

1974, Mar 24 - Greensboro Record ("Disaster vehicle created") reports that the airport firefighters have built a "rescue vehicle they hope will never be used." The truck is a disaster response unit. See above airport fire department history. 

1978, Feb 13 - Greensboro Daily News ("What If Plane Had Crashed Into Oil Tanks?") poses a question after a plane crashed last Monday into trees off West Wendover Avenue. What if the plane had crashed two miles to the northwest, at the petroleum tank farms near the airport? Story notes that sixteen months ago a special county oil spill team was created. Technical expertise is provided by the Division of Environmental Health, while the "sweat and backbreaking labor of containing an oil spill" is provided by the County Fire Marshal's office. The fire marshal's office has created a fleet of emergency vehicles for oil spill response, including a lighting truck with a gas-powered generator, a trailer with absorbing materials and tools for spill containment, a pumper truck that can "suck up offending oil or contaminated water", a general maintenance truck that pulls the trailer, and a jeep.

1982, Oct 29 - Greensboro Record article(s) mention dedication of new Guilford County Department of Emergency Services facility at 1002 Meadowood Road. The facility included new quarters for the Fire Marshal's office, which was relocated from the airport fire station.

[ Legeros: Did the county fire communications center also relocate at that time, or had it changed facilities at any earlier date? ]

1988 - Guilford County hazardous materials team created. Early apparatus included a Guilford County Fire Department rescue truck. Years earlier, a city team was created in 1982 by the Greensboro Fire Department.

Legeros: More information goes here. Who staffed the team? Were they part- or full-time or both? Oral histories remember the first personnel hired around May 1988. Where was apparatus housed? How many vehicles were used? What was the role of volunteer fire departments? Did they also have personnel trained to assist? ]

Squad 50 Created

2005 - Squad 50 created, a "flying squad" or manpower unit with career firefighters that respond to calls in the county, to assist county fire departments and help with the dwindling number of volunteer firefighters available for calls. The seven-person team was created in April and was planned for activation in May. Squad 50 was initially a daytime unit only, and later converted to a 24-hour service. Notes the Greensboro Record, April 5, 2005 ("Volunteer fire crews get professional help"), it will be located on Concord Street, just off Randleman Road near the interstate. They will supplement about two-dozen rural fire districts staffed with 649 volunteer fire departments. The cost will consist chiefly of salaries, with first year costs estimated at about $350,000.

More Pictures


Advertisement, undated  

1966 crash truck pictured in
1977 airport authority annual report 

1966 crash truck in later decade.
Pete Brock photo, 2001 
     

Montage of early apparatus.
Various photo credits 

1965 Dodge/Ansul in later decade, with additional compartments added and painted yellow

Airport fire station in 1981. From Guilford County Fire Protective Association annual report and fire safety manual 
     

1987 Ford/E-One in later decade, serving Shiloh FD. Micah Bodford photo  

Airport fire station in 2011.
PTI airport photo 

Old airport fire station in January 2017.
Mike Legeros photo  

Sources

The primary sources are Greensboro Daily News and Greensboro Record stories, obtained through the Greensboro News-Record Archives, via Newsbank. Highly recommended resource. Plus oral histories and other sources.

Thanks to numerous people who provide information and contributed photos, including Micah Bodford, Pete Brock, Spencer Nolan, David Raynor, and Mark Redman.


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Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros