Seen on Glenwood Avenue this morning, inbound at Lead Mine Road. Colors are both dark blue and black. Not shown, leading the convoy, was a presumed comms truck, a mid-sized two-axle box truck (if recalled correctly) with what looked like a collapsed dish/antenna tower on top. Didn't have time to retrieve the real camera(s). USSS? Homeland? Military? Posting for collective interest, or at least until the blogger suffers the consequences of [insert favorite conspiracy theory outcome]. If this posting disappears, then this was just a figment of some guy's imagination. Please remember me well. Click to enlarge:
Reader Randy Newman passes along the tale of another unusual firefighter fatality, which we've supplemented with documentation after a quick trip to the local library. Lt. Joseph Morris Hicks, 59, of the Henderson Fire Department died of an accidental gunshot wound on Saturday, November 7, 1970. The eleven-year veteran of the department was at the fire station, when he bent over to get a Coke from a vending machine. He was carrying a pistol which fell from its holster, struck the floor, and discharged.
Reported the next day's News & Observer, "the bullet struck him just above the bridge of the nose, almost exactly between his eyebrows." The shot penetrated his skull. Lt. Hicks was transported to Duke Hospital in Durham, where he was pronounced dead at 12:10 p.m. His death certificate lists the cause as "cerebral anoxia" and "cerebral laceration," from the gunshot wound.
Lt. Hicks was buried at Sunset Gardens in Henderson on November 9, 1970. His obituary lists that he was survived by his wife Mary C. Hicks, and his son Jimmy Hicks.
Regarding the weapon he was carrying, this was a period of civil unrest in the Vance County town. Tempers had been rising and protests becoming more heated over integration of the town's schools, the dismissal of a black teacher in late September, and the arrests of blacks involved in school walkouts. Also in the mix were reactions from a shooting death in Oxford in May, when a black man was shot by a white man.
On Friday, November 7, the violence started after police used tear gas on people protesting the school controversy. Later, a tobacco warehouse "in the black section" burned and the firefighters were met with sniper fire. The blaze was blamed on arson, which spread and destroyed several nearby frame home.
The National Guard was dispatched by the Governor, with some 300 troops arriving on Saturday afternoon. Calm conditions were reported that night, and the town manager continued a curfew which had been first ordered on Friday.
Hicks and other firefighters had also armed themselves on Friday, after being fired upon while answering fire calls. After Hicks was shot, the others stopped carrying their weapons on the advice of the police chief. After the guard members arrived, they turned their weapons in.
(The threat of violent affected nearby fire departments as well. Recalled an old-timer with the Bear Pond FD, during my recent visit to town, they carried a rifle on their original pumper, stored in the hard suction!)
Calm was reported again on Sunday, November 9, though both guard members and state troopers continued patrolling the town. As the story goes, however, riot shot guns were carried on the engines during this time, and for many years later.
Thanks again, Randy. We'll forward this information to both the state and national fallen firefighter foundations.
- News & Observer, November 7-9, 1970
- Joseph Morris Hicks death certificate.
- Oral histories.
Which fire department was the first one organized in Wake County? Both municipal and county?
Those milestones include...
1819 - First fire company, volunteer, Raleigh. It's municipal-affiliated, but is it "municipal" ? Let's instead cite...
1852 - Raleigh reorganizes fire companies, and forms what I would call the first real FD organization. So, that's a good year for first municipal fire department in Wake County. They were volunteers.
But what about non-Raleigh municipalities?
1908-1912 (?) - Wendell
1910s - Zebulon
Those dates are based on my research of some years ago. Maybe someone knows more accurate start years? Those were also volunteer.
What was the first career fire department in Wake County?
1912 - Full-paid fire department formed in Raleigh.
What was the first rural-era volunteer department? When Civil Defense funding was available, starting in the 1950s?
1952 - Garner Fire Department organized.
But what about the first rural, non-municipal affiliated department?
1956 - Six Forks Road Fire Department organized.
Clear as mud?Fallen Firefighter Research Part 2 - Details and Statistics
As a follow-up to my recent posting about North Carolina fallen firefighter research records, let's look look at some data and details from my database therein. The spreadsheet was created in 2006, the year the memorial was dedicated in Nash Square with 164 names. That roster has expanded with some ninety names, both those who've died in the years since, and the legacy members from prior decades. Here's a recap and expansion of some data and details from an essay written in 2006:
Three times in the state's history have four firefighters died in the line of duty at the same incident. On May 25, 1979, four members of the Shelby Fire Department were killed when a building exploded during an apparently routine fire in a clothing store. On September 7, 1982, four members of the National Spinning Company textile plant fire brigade in Washington were overcome by smoke and died in an early morning fire. On July 1, 2012, four members of the North Carolina Air National Guard 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte were killed when tanker crashed in South Dakota on the White Draw fire near Edgemont.
Winston-Salem's Fire Chiefs
Three Chiefs of Department and one Assistant Chief in Winston-Salem have died in the line of duty. Fire Chief Harry Nissen in 1932, in an automobile accident; Fire Chief William Hobson in 1938, of a heart attack; Fire Chief Arnold Bullard in 1980, of a heart attack; Asst. Chief John Goforth in 1956, of a heart attack.
Father and Son
North Carolina Division of Forest Resources pilot Marshall Newman and mechanic Larry Moody died after a midair collision near Kinston on November 19, 1973. Twenty-seven years later, his son also died in an aircraft accident involving the Forest Service. On September 7, 2000, forestry pilot Tim Newman and crew chief Mike Fossett were killed when their Huey UH-1H helicopter crashed near the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Waynesville in Haywood County.
Fire Alarm Systems
Three fatalities have involved personnel working with electric-telegraph fire alarm systems, which utilized low-voltage electrical wires typically strung from telephone and other poles: W. Graham Cathey in Charlotte in 1928; Oscar Hayworth in High Point in 1936; William Capps in Fayetteville in 1956.
In 1929, Luther Horne of Fayetteville was killed by a collapse at the ancestral home of legendary Fire Chief James McNeill. In 1931, Edgar Elliott of New Bern fell into the Neuse River and drowned while battling a riverfront fire. In 1934, Pruitt Black of Charlotte died when he tripped on his bunker pants and fell down the pole hole. In 1976, McDaniel Narron of Antioch died after suffering a heart attack while operating the pump at a fire at his own home. In 1989, Roy Bailey died when he was shot and killed while directing traffic.
Read more about these incidents in this essay from 2006.
By county, 74 of North Carolina's 100 counties have lost firefighters in the line of duty. The highest counts are:
- Mecklenburg - 17
- Forsyth - 13
- Cumberland - 10
- Wake - 10
By agency, 163 fire departments and fire protection agencies have lost firefighters in the line of duty. The highest counts are:
- Charlotte Fire Department - 12
- North Carolina Department of Forest Resources - 11
- Winston-Salem Fire Department - 8
- Wilmington Fire Department - 7
Note: Five agencies have lost four members, twelve agencies have lost three members, and eighteen agencies have lost two members.READ MORE Upcoming Events - May/June
Some upcoming events to mark on your calendar. We'll have some specific postings about these at a later time...
Just noticed that last week's observations about a Wilmington aerial tower was posting 6000.1 Wow, how did that happen? This blog began on December 27, 2005. The first posting was, well, Welcome to our Blog. Actually, that was the fifth one. The first four were test posts.
We've covered quite a bit of ground in these eight and a half years. Local stuff a-plenty, from numbering schemes to incident discussions to local governance. Lots of rumors, at least in the early days. (We're more fact-based presently.) History and photography in equal parts, as well.
We've been heated at times, and then re-heated for some of the more popular dead horses. It's been a couple years, however, since we've had super-long discussions. Those were in the days before reader comments required approval. Here are those with the highest comment counts, and all are from the pre-moderation period:
|Wake County Fire Station Closure Update||Oct 09||71 comments|
|New Numbering Scheme for Wake Forest Fire||Aug 08||66|
|WCFC Meeting News||Sep 06||65|
|This Afternoon's Fire [on Redford Place Drive]||Jun 07||61|
|Old School Dispatching Starts at Midnight||Feb 10||54|
|Raleigh City Council Approves New Fire Station||Oct 10||53|
|Gone [or Memories From Readers]||Apr 08||51|
|Closest Station Response?||Aug 06||48|
|Wake County EMS to Roll Out Advance Practice Paramedic Program||Jan 09||46|
|Idle Ambulances / Allocating Resources||Mar 07||46|
What's next for this blog? Would like to upgrade the platform, to add Facebook commenting and maybe user-controlled user profiles. Might commence cleaning out the oldest postings, and removing expired event notices and fluffier stuff. The historical pieces--both local and statewide--are gold, and will be preserved somehow. Maybe re-posted on other pages. Maybe moved to another site, some day. Beyond that, it'll be same old same old. I'll keep talking until there's nothing else to say, or no one left reading. Thanks for participating.
1 Sounds like an impressive number, but it ain't. Here's the math: 6000 divided by 8.5 years divided by 365 days equals just about two postings per day. Any fool with a lot of free time and a wardrobe of tropical shirts can pull that off.Winston-Salem Fire Department To Reduce First Responder Call Types
FireNews.net this week reports on this Winston-Salem Journal story that the city fire department will no longer respond to non-life threatening medical calls effective July 1. They'll respond only to calls involving cardiovascular, respiratory, life-threatening trauma, and life-threatening allergic reactions, notes a memo from the Fire Chief. They'll also no longer respond to medical calls at facilities where medical professionals are on staff, such as medical offices, nursing homes, and assisted living centers. The change is a cost saving measure that will save the department $145,000 in fuel costs in the first year.
The fire department started responding to all medical emergencies in November 1999. (Was that the year they started their first responder program? Didn't they take a stab at one the decade before?) Their annual EMS call volume is 18,500, of which an estimated 70 percent are not true medical emergencies. Read the stories, which include a few reader comments (so far) on the Journal site.
Reader perspectives are requested. First is a contextual question, what's the norm for first responder call types, locally, regionally, or nationally? Second, a specific question. Will WSFD respond to life-threatening events at medical facilities? Or are those omitted, period? Third, what results have readers observed about changes in EMS service levels by fire departments? (What happens when you greatly cut your call volume, for example?) Should be good fodder for discussion.UPDATED: Vintage Wilmington Crash Trucks
May 17, 2013
Updated, adding a third slide also found for sale on eBay. Dry-chemical unit carried on a 1989 Ford. The airport currently has a pair of Oshkosh 4x4 crash trucks, one in service and one in reserve. See photos of those rigs from 2010 (scroll down the page). Click to enlarge:
Jun 26, 2011
Updated, adding another slide also found for sale on eBay. Crash 1, a 1954 American LaFrance, one of the "O" models used by the military.
Also found for sale on eBay, yet another 35mm slide. This is a 1975 Oshkosh 1250/1500/180 operated by the New Hanover County Fire Department. We blogged about this before, noting that there once were two Air Force installations in Wilmington, and the 48th Interceptor Squadron was protected by a crash truck at the airport.
That information was dated 1971. Betcha this truck was provided by the military, but operated by the county-run fire department. Believe this was a prior incarnation of NHCFD, that solely protected the airport. The current New Hanover County Fire Department was created 1997. [ Incorrect. See comments below. ] As for the airport, they're protected by an airport-operated department, no? Anyway, great picture. Click both to enlarge:
Come eat at the Zebulon Sonic drive-in restaurant, 1240 N. Arendell Avenue, and a percentage of sales will be donated to the Jacob Spain Memorial Scholarship. That's a $500 annual award awarded annually to an FFA student at East Wake High School. The scholarship was established earlier this year by Raleigh Asst. Fire Chief Garry Spain and his wife Jennifer, after their son Jacob passed away suddenly in May of last year. The scholarship will be awarded for at least the next forty years. The event on Monday includes large drinks sold for 72 cents, which was the number of Jacob's football jersey. Here's an Eastern Wake News story from February about the Spains and the scholarship. Click to see the flyer (PDF).
Good morning Raleigh. Warmer weather has finally and perhaps regrettably arrived. Loved this unusually cool spring, but then this Minnesota-born boy has never tolerated the heat particularly well. At least as his age and, ahem, body mass has climbed in recent years. Anyway, here's some of the news and fire news that's passed across my reading table. Now passing onto your reading table...
Seven Carteret County fire departments fail to meet standards -
FireNews.net story from the Carteret County News-Times about the
results of a state inspection in March and April. They have one year to meet
the requirements of the OSFM, which defines their abilities to adequately
respond and maintain the minimum equipment and personnel to operate as a
"basic, rural fire department." The OSFM will work with the departments, to
help them meet their requirements, which were primarily due to problems with
"staffing, paperwork and having outdated equipment."
Click through to the News-Times story, to read their reader
comments as well. Guessing this is not uncommong state- and nation-wide, among rural department serving small or day-transient populations.
Five DC firefighters discplined for Facebook posting - Fire Law story
that's also been covered by Statter911. The five were placed on desk duty,
after the first one posted an inflammatory comment about a DC police
officer. Four others added their thoughts. See the
Statter911 story for numerous reader comments, which include the
expected pile-upon upon the Fire Chief. (That's been a reader trend for some
time, and in the context of numerous news stories about DCFD.) But what
about this story, and the social media angle therein? Well, it's still the
same thing we've talked about before. Just because you're off-duty and maybe
not even identified as a firefighter doesn't mean you can't be disciplined
for things you say that your boss doesn't like. (That's one or two double
negatives in that sentence?)
Thirteen Cleveland firefighters indicted for paying co-workers to cover
shifts - Statter911 story that's also been covered by
Firegeezer. The practice is called "caddying" says
this Cleveland Plains Dealer story. They also speculate that
this is the first time anywhere in the country that firefighters have faced
such charges. Correct? The charges are the result of a six-month probe by a
city-hired special investigator, hired after city auditors exposed payroll
abuses in fire department records from 2006 to 2010. The Plains Dealer
story has 102 comments so far, and probably growing.
Thirteen Boston deputy chiefs express no confidence in Fire Chief -
Another Statter911 story, this one time from Beantown. The thirteen direct
reports to the Fire Chief sent a letter to the Mayor, expressing their
displeasure that their boss didn't take command at the Boston Marathon
bombing. Their letter has also criticized other actions of the Chief. Based
on the many reader comments in
this Boston Herald story, a couple things appear to be factors:
he's the first Fire Chief hired from outside the ranks of the department,
and upon his appointment, changed a rule that required the Fire Chief to
take command at incidents he arrived at. Call this the modern fire service leadership dilemma. Do you want your leaders raised through the ranks, and presumably operationally oriented? Or are the best administrators trained and practiced as administrators? Can you have both?
- Man almost dies trying to rescue kids who pretend to be drowning - This KIRO-TV headline caught my eye out of Renton, WA. The rescuer, a disabled man, wasn't breathing by the time he was rescued. He was revived and in intensive car. No word on what will happen to the kids. If the byline of the reporter looks familiar, that's my cousin Chris Legeros, a veteran television journalist in Seattle. (The story appeared in my inbox courtesy of Google, which, ahem, does a daily search for the keyword "Legeros." Also have a daily search for "Raleigh Fire Department." Technology is good.)
Update. Added another dozen-plus death certificates, from 1978 and 1979. And redacted social security numbers where present in the documents. Also updated the database with fallen firefighters from 2011 and 2012. Also added as data and narrative details throughout the database. Notable are added burial dates and locations. Also added a PDF version of the database, for alternate/easier format for reading. (Might alter the web page version of the database in the future. It's a little slow to load.) Watch this space for some stats about the data therein.
Specifically, digital scans of death certificates newly uploaded, of our state's fallen firefighters from 1911 to 1977. Eighty-seven of the things, copied from microfilm or online databases at Olivia Raney Local History Library in Raleigh. They were compiled beginning some eight years ago, to assist the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation with their historical records. The documents offer a surprising wealth of information, including vital statistics, family information, and burial location. Occupations are noted, as are causes of death. The latter vary in their levels of detail. Some are simple medical notes, others describe the accident or situation that caused the death. They've been stored in a single web folder, and are linked from my fallen firefighters history page.
Where There's Smoke...
That's a WTVD aerial photo of the smoke plume from this afternoon's major house fire at 8414 Fawncrest Drive in Garner. One-story, wood-frame structure with 1,550 square-feet. Built 2001. Departments on scene included Garner and Fairview, plus a tanker task force from Eastern Wake, Hopkins, New Hope, Rolesville, Wendell, Zebulon fire departments. Read stories from WTVD, WRAL.
Reader Peter Brock shares this shot of Boone's Aerialscope, photographed yesterday behind Station 2. (Same is a reserve ladder these days, correct?) Next, a challenge for readers: how many Mack CF model Aerialscopes have served in North Carolina? This truck's a 1986 model with a 95-foot boom, which is somewhat rare outside New York City. Raleigh's well-known 1977 model was a 75-footer. For extra credit, which 'scopes in our state previously served elsewhere? For extra extra credit, the bulldogs on the front of the trucks were either gold or silver. What's the difference? Click to enlarge:
Seen on the Pierce Flickr site as well as FireNews.net, here's Engine 13 newly delivered to New Hanover County Fire Rescue. Its a 2013 Pierce Arrow XT with the Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC). The pumper-tanker has a 1,500 GPM pump, a 1,000 gallon tank, and a Husky 12 foam system. The engine was dedicated on May 1, and photos of the ceremony are posted on the New Hanover County flickr site.
The fire department has been progressively growing larger of the years, since its formation in 1997. They have ten stations (see this CFP list), a number of which were originally operated by private fire departments. The roster of those that have passed includes Castle Hayne FD (1958-2010), Federal Point FD (1974-2010), Myrtle Grove FD (1957-2010), North Wilmington FD (1990-1993), Seagate (1940-2005), South Wilmington (1956-1990), Winter Park (1951-2005), and Wrightsboro (1952-2010).
Today, the fire departments serving the county number four: Carolina Beach FD, New Hanover County FD, Wilmington FD, and Wilmington International Airport. What does the future look like locally county-run fire departments? Looks like Durham is starting in that direction.Raleigh-Wake ECC Sending Letters to Businesses with High Numbers of 911 Misdials
Press release. To help reduce misdialed calls to the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center, letters are being sent to businesses that have a high number of errant 9-1-1 emergency calls. The letters began going out this month.
In March 2012, an area code overlay was put in place in Raleigh and central North Carolina that required 10-digit dialing for local calls. Unfortunately, the similarity between the 9-1-9 area code and the 9-1-1 emergency number created a flood of misdialed calls to the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center. More than a year after 10-digit calling has taken effect, these misdials continue.
During the last 12 months since the institution of the area code overlay, 9-1-1 calls have increased by 20 percent. In addition, outbound calls --- those made by staff in the 9-1-1 center --- rose by 80 percent and the number of callers who hung up before 9-1-1 could answer rose by an even higher 92 percent.
Misdials and hang-up calls divert resources away from actual emergencies because dispatchers must dial back on hang-ups to assure that an emergency is not taking place. If no response is received from the call-back, dispatchers send a police officer to the source of the call to make certain that no assistance is needed.
In his letter to businesses with frequent 9-1-1 misdials, ECC Director Barry Furey invites owners/operators to contact him personally to discuss ways “to reduce this burden.”
If you haven't heard the news, Slagle's Fire Equipment of South Boston, VA, and Cayce, A, is closing. They announced in late April that they were shutting their doors, due to factors including drastically diminished apparatus sales. The company was formed by Jack Slagle in 1962. Over the past fifty years, each of five sons has been part of the family business. The company both sold and built fire equipment, including hundreds of "Slagle's Super Slide" brush truck slip-in units. Read this VA Fire News story, or visit the company's web site, where a going out of business sale is underway.
And here's a nifty history page about the company.
Aurora Fire Department Century Theater Shooting Report
From a reader, here's the preliminary incident analysis by the Aurora Fire Department in Colorado of the Century Theater Shooting on June 20, 2012. Twelve people killed and seventy people were transported after a gunman opened fire at a movie theater, during a midnight movie showing. The report is linked from this Denver Post story from a couple weeks ago. Thanks, Barry.
High Winds + Lightweight Construction (video)
Your morning fire video, found by Statter911, shot by Tom Stanford. Apartment fire in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada, on Thursday. How would you attack this thing? Here's part one:
Found in my files, here's an old, blurry photo from the original Station 3 on East Hargett Street. Circa 1940 or abouts. Firemen playing cards in what looks like a small, ancient kitchen. See this page for a diagram of the old building, which was built in 1898. Maybe not as bad as the original Station 4 on Jefferson Street. As the story goes, the bathroom also served as the kitchen (!) for the first few decades. Why such seemingly crappy conditions? Remember that Raleigh was a comparatively small city in the early days, and only a couple decades into a career fire department with only a handful of fire stations. The facilities, apparatus, equipment, and even clothing (no fire helmets until about 1950) were adequate, or abouts. Click to enlarge:
Early evening in Cameron Village and a headline we'll probably never seen again on this blog. The fact that they're barefoot just adds to the mystery. Click to enlarge:
Here's another note about the Raleigh Fire Department centennial history book, this time about a page that's caused a little bit of confusion. Called Gone Too Soon, it displays portraits and names of thirty-three fire department members who have died off-duty since 1912. They were still active members, and ranged in ranks from Firefighter to Fire Chief. That's why they're not pictured in the Retiree pages.
The Gone Too Soon page is opposite the Fallen Firefighters page, which tells about the three members who died in the line of duty. Clear as mud? We played with different page titles, such as the literal but inelegant Died Off-Duty. To help understanding, a text sidebar was added at the of the retiree pages, with this very explanation. Hopefully it helps, at least some. Read more production notes about the book. See the Raleigh Fire Department Centennial Roll Call (PDF). Rest in peace, all.