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This is a blog by Mike Legeros. To start your own discussions, try The Watch Desk. New to blogs? Read these Rules of the Road

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+ 3 - 2 | § North Carolina's Early American LaFrances... Still Beautiful After All These Years

Guest column by Bay Leaf firefighter and American LaFrance antique owner George Mills.

North Carolina fire departments, including career, combination, and volunteer organizations, have a rich history of service to their communities. Many of these departments have or are striving to retain a piece of their history by preserving or restoring their original or early motorized apparatus. Of particular prominence is the famous brand of American LaFrance.

Beginning in the 1910s, the Elmira, NY, company supplied motorized hose cars, combination hose and chemical cars, triple combination pumpers, combination service ladder trucks, and aerial ladder trucks to dozens (hundreds?) of cities, towns, and institution in North Carolina. (Search the John Peckham database for information on these trucks.)

Raleigh, Greensboro, Louisburg, Newton, Winston-Salem, to name just a few, each have early-era American LaFrance engines that are still capable of making appearances in community parades. Some departments, like those in Oxford and Williamston, are in various stages of fundraising to restore or complete the restoration of their early rigs. Still others have rigs that are awaiting their destiny with history, either hopefully restored or lost in neglect.

The City of Hickory has three of their early American LaFrances that are keeping each other company. They include a pair purchased in 1924 with sequential purchase order and serial numbers. One is a Type 75 triple combination and the other is a Type 14 service ladder truck. Below are a photos and information about some of these trucks.
 


Raleigh's 1926 ALF Type 75 triple (#5629). Housed at Station 28 along with
the city's other antique apparatus.


Louisburg's 1921 ALF Type 75 triple (#3682) is named "Maude" and is shown in a Christmas parade.


Newton's 1937 ALF Type 475CB (#L-887) is housed at Station 3 in Startown
and waiting for room at the Catawba Fire Museum.



Newton's first rig is waiting for some loving, a 1921 ALF Type 40 triple (#3371).



Hickory's diamonds in the rough, all three seen in this picture: 1919 ALF Type 75 triple (#2714),
1924 ALF Type 75 triple (#4698), 1924 ALF Type 14-6 combination service ladder (#4699)


Closer views of the ladder truck, click above photo to enlarge.


Hickory's first fire engine, a 1914 ALF Type 10 combination hose and chemical car (#484).
Presently privately owned by a collector in Granite Falls, NC.

More Information

See this blog posting from December 1913 titled Oldest Motor Apparatus in North Carolina, with a list of known surviving rigs dating to 1930, and links to photos.

Addendum

Data by Mike Legeros

John Peckham American LaFrance database contains 403 entries for "early era" rigs delivered to North Carolina, with 217 trucks shipped to 108 cities, towns, and institutions between 1912 and 1939.

The most popular models?

Type 75 triple - 74
Type 45 triple - 11
Type 12 triple - 11
Type 14 ladder truck, including combination - 10
Type 10 combination - 10

Top delivery destinations?

13 - Charlotte
11 - Raleigh
8 - Greensboro
7 - High Point, Wilmington
6 - Asheville, Rocky Mount, Winston-Salem
5 - Hickory

+ 3 - 2 | § North Carolina's Early American LaFrances... Still Beautiful After All These Years

Guest column by Bay Leaf firefighter and American LaFrance antique owner George Mills.

North Carolina fire departments, including career, combination, and volunteer organizations, have a rich history of service to their communities. Many of these departments have or are striving to retain a piece of their history by preserving or restoring their original or early motorized apparatus. Of particular prominence is the famous brand of American LaFrance.

Beginning in the 1910s, the Elmira, NY, company supplied motorized hose cars, combination hose and chemical cars, triple combination pumpers, combination service ladder trucks, and aerial ladder trucks to dozens (hundreds?) of cities, towns, and institution in North Carolina. (Search the John Peckham database for information on these trucks.)

Raleigh, Greensboro, Louisburg, Newton, Winston-Salem, to name just a few, each have early-era American LaFrance engines that are still capable of making appearances in community parades. Some departments, like those in Oxford and Williamston, are in various stages of fundraising to restore or complete the restoration of their early rigs. Still others have rigs that are awaiting their destiny with history, either hopefully restored or lost in neglect.

The City of Hickory has three of their early American LaFrances that are keeping each other company. They include a pair purchased in 1924 with sequential purchase order and serial numbers. One is a Type 75 triple combination and the other is a Type 14 service ladder truck. Below are a photos and information about some of these trucks.
 


Raleigh's 1926 ALF Type 75 triple (#5629). Housed at Station 28 along with
the city's other antique apparatus.


Louisburg's 1921 ALF Type 75 triple (#3682) is named "Maude" and is shown in a Christmas parade.


Newton's 1937 ALF Type 475CB (#L-887) is housed at Station 3 in Startown
and waiting for room at the Catawba Fire Museum.



Newton's first rig is waiting for some loving, a 1921 ALF Type 40 triple (#3371).



Hickory's diamonds in the rough, all three seen in this picture: 1919 ALF Type 75 triple (#2714),
1924 ALF Type 75 triple (#4698), 1924 ALF Type 14-6 combination service ladder (#4699)


Closer views of the ladder truck, click above photo to enlarge.


Hickory's first fire engine, a 1914 ALF Type 10 combination hose and chemical car (#484).
Presently privately owned by a collector in Granite Falls, NC.

More Information

See this blog posting from December 1913 titled Oldest Motor Apparatus in North Carolina, with a list of known surviving rigs dating to 1930, and links to photos.

Addendum

Data by Mike Legeros

John Peckham American LaFrance database contains 403 entries for "early era" rigs delivered to North Carolina, with 217 trucks shipped to 108 cities, towns, and institutions between 1912 and 1939.

The most popular models?

Type 75 triple - 74
Type 45 triple - 11
Type 12 triple - 11
Type 14 ladder truck, including combination - 10
Type 10 combination - 10

Top delivery destinations?

13 - Charlotte
11 - Raleigh
8 - Greensboro
7 - High Point, Wilmington
6 - Asheville, Rocky Mount, Winston-Salem
5 - Hickory

+ 5 - 3 | § Wake County Fire Academy Hiring For Recruit Class 8

Applications are now being accepted for Wake County Fire Academy Recruit Class 8. The academy begins in January 2016 and graduates in July 2016. The academy is twenty-five weeks, and the hours are primarily Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It's held at the Wake County Fire Training Center in New Hill, NC.

Students who complete the program receive certifications in Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Responder, EMT Basic, ICS 100 & 200, Firefighter Rescue, Firefighter Survival, Technical Rescuer, and SCBA Fit Testing. Requirements include eighteen years of age and affiliation with a fire department.

Here are the necessary documents, including application forms and a flyer about the academy. Good luck!
 

+ 4 - 3 | § Two Alarms on Quarter Point on Saturday, August 22

Had another two-alarm fire in Raleigh last week, believe just the third this year. On Saturday night, August 22. Multi-unit residential structure at 1426 Quarter Point. Reported fire on balcony. Upgraded to working fire while units were en route, due to multiple callers. EMS 35 arrived first and reported fully-involved. Engine 18 arrived about a minute later, at a two-story, four-unit townhome building with approximately 6,600 square-feet. (Built 1987.)

Heavy fire in the rear of the structure, on the end unit. Engine 18 deployed a two-inch line to the rear of the structure, for initial attack. Fire also active inside structure. Crews took lines into the building, then were withdrawn as fire extended into attic space of adjoining unit. Aerial stream was deployed into the rear of the building from Ladder 1 on Lead Mine Road. (The building was behind the trees, on the southwest corner of Lead Mine and Strickland roads.)

Two hydrants were caught, with Engine 4 on Quarter Point boosting to Engine 18, and Engine 15 on Strickland and Lead Mine boosting to Ladder 1. Ladder 9 also deployed on Strickland. Command at the corner of Lead Mine and Strickland. Staging on both streets. Rehab on Lead Mine and on Quarter Point at Engine 18.

Dispatched 8:44 p.m., working fire at 8:46 p.m., special call for two engines at 9:09 p.m., rest of second alarm requested at 9:16 p.m. Controlled 10:15 p.m. Cause determined as accidental, and started on the back deck. Three people in the fire building self-evacuated. Four people from two units displaced. One firefighter with dislocated shoulder, transported to hospital.

First alarm E18, E4, E16, E15, L1, L9, R1, B4, B5, working fire A2, C20, C420, C401, special call E23, E9, second alarm E1, L2, L5, B1, C2, C1, medical EMS 35, EMS 38, EMS 12, EMS 15, D4, D9, T1, Logistics 1. Coverage included E6 to Station 9 and E29 to Station 18.

See more photos by Mike Legeros, who snapped his first picture at 9:00 p.m. 
 

+ 5 - 3 | § Vintage Forest Service Photos

From a reader (thanks Greg!), the Forest History Society (that happens to be located in Durham) maintains a photograph collection of over 30,000 items. They've digitized a portion of same, and searching "fire North Carolina" finds 201 matches. People, places, and things, from plows to planes to foresters. Here's a sampling, click to enlarge:
 


Courtesy Forest History Society

  
Left to right, top to bottom:

+ 3 - 2 | § Raleigh's Original American LaFrance Ladder Trucks

Happened upon a reproduction of American LaFrance Catalog No. 20 (1923), via eBay last week. Forty-eight pages and a thick, glossy stock. Printed in 1972. Within are entries for their popular Type 17 tractor-drawn aerial ladder and Type 14 combination service ladder truck. One of each was bought by the city of Raleigh, in 1916 and 1922, respectively.

Here are drawings from the catalog. The service truck says "R.F.D."  Doubtful that's Raleigh, as ours said "R.F.D. No. 2" on the hood. Rochester? Racine? Reno? No telling. Click once or twice to enlarge:
 


 

Below are the complete catalog pages. Raleigh's 1916 American LaFrance Type 17 aerial ladder (#1047) had a manufacturing date of February 5, 1916. It was originally delivered in white and repainted red in the early 1920s. Two decades later, the tractor was replaced with a 1939 American LaFrance 500 Series. Note the height of the tillerman seat. That's because the ground ladders were stored in a single stack, instead of side-by-side as seen in later decades. Read more of the truck's history and see some photos, here and here. Click once or twice to enlarge:
 


 

Raleigh's 1922 American LaFrance Type 14 combination service ladder truck (#3941) had a manufacturing date of September 26, 1922. It was placed in service on August 10. Cost $9,457.00. The truck was operated as a two-piece ladder company. Based on the location of the reported fire, Truck 1 members would take the service ladder truck (for higher buildings) or the service ladder truck (for lower buildings). Both were housed at Station 1 on West Morgan Street until 1941, when they were moved to Station 2 at Memorial Auditorium. Read more of the truck's history here. Click once or twice to enlarge:
 


 
American LaFrance buffs or others, what else would tell about these great old rigs?

+ 4 - 3 | § People at the South Atlantic FIRE RESCUE Expo

Made this video the other week at the South Atlantic FIRE RESCUE Expo in Raleigh. Mobile phone for recording, Microsoft's free Movie Maker for editing, and Flash Integro's free video editor enhancements. (Looking for photos? Yours Truly was otherwise camera-free. See these pics on Flickr from John Franks and Tim Blasidell, for starters. Pics from Lee Wilson are pending.)
 

View on YouTube

+ 3 - 4 | § West Virginia DOT Adds Fire Trucks for Tunnel Response

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has taken delivery of three 2015 Freightliner M2-106/Pierce pumpers, 1250/1000 with Husky foam systems. (And bumper turret!) The trucks will protect a pair of mountain tunnels on Interstate 77. They’ll be staffed with contractors (four employees per shift are trained to operate the trucks) and provide preliminary response until local fire and rescue departments.

The project to purchase the rigs was initiated in summer 2013. Last year’s truck fire in the East River Mountain Tunnel further validated the plans. (Google for stories and stunning photos from that incident.) Training of personnel and delivery of the vehicles was completed in June.

Both tunnels had their own engines until the 1990s. Notes this Bluefield Daily Telegraph story by Greg Jordan, they fire departments were removed due to “more stringent training standards and costs with associated with implementing those standards” as well as increased costs for operation and maintenance. (Makes and models, anyone?)

They’ll protect the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel (opened in 1972) and the East River Mountain Tunnel (opened in 1974). On average, notes the story, some 30,000 vehicles per day pass through them. (The story only cites two fire trucks. Maybe the third is a spare, or auxiliary truck?)

See pictures on their Flickr site here, here, and here. See specs and download drawings on this Atlantic Emergency Solutions page. Click to enlarge:
 

+ 5 - 4 | § Raleigh's New Engine and Tiller - More Production Photos

Here are some more pictures from the Atlantic Emergency Solutions Trucks in Production page, showing Raleigh's forthcoming Pierce Arrow XT pumper and tiller. See many more pictures at the above site. Tiller is due in four weeks. Both trucks will be assigned to Station 29, as Engine 29 and Ladder 9. The tiller will be Raleigh's second, following a 2010 Pierce Arrow XT that's assigned to Ladder 4 at Station 1. Click to enlarge:
 

+ 3 - 3 | § Bumper vs. Bumper - Cary vs. Raleigh

From the Atlantic Emergency Solutions Trucks in Production page, here's a comparison of the bumpers of Cary and Raleigh's new Pierce engines under construction. Cary adding a white reflective stripe (job #28596, Velocity chassis). Raleigh adding their first bumper-based chevrons (job #28621, Arrow XT chassis).
 

+ 2 - 4 | § When Stock Photos Fail

See if you can tell what's wrong with this picture. Found by FireNews.net on Twitter (they even wrote this headline!), retweeting from WFMY News yesterday. (Promoting story about $1.1 SAFER grant granted to Greensboro. Read that story.) What, you're not following FireNews via Twitter? They're the go-to source for local and national fire news headlines. Worth the leap, if you haven't started using Twitter.

 

+ 2 - 4 | § When Stock Photos Fail

See if you can tell what's wrong with this picture. Found by FireNews.net on Twitter (they even wrote this headline!), retweeting from WFMY News yesterday. (Promoting story about $1.1 SAFER grant granted to Greensboro. Read that story.) What, you're not following FireNews via Twitter? They're the go-to source for local and national fire news headlines. Worth the leap, if you haven't started using Twitter.

 

+ 6 - 4 | § Site Plan of Cary Fire Station 2

Construction is well underway for Cary new Fire Station 2 at 601 E. Chatham Street. Here's the project page on the town's web site. Below is a site plan, found via this document (PDF) on the town's FTP server via Google. Plus a couple photos from this morning. Hearing that the facility should be occupied by late November or early December.

See prior blog postings from January 2013, October 2013, and November 2014. Plus this posting from May 2015, which talks about the town's plans for the existing Station 2. Click to enlarge:
 







+ 5 - 2 | § School Bus Turned Tanker in Warrenton, 1957

Would you believe a school bus turned water tanker? That's what the Warrenton Rural Volunteer Fire Department did in the late 1950s, when they converted a school bus into their first tanker. This picture appeared in the Warren Record on July 26, 1957.

Read the caption: "This is the original built by the rural firemen. It is still in use, but will be located in another part of the county as soon as another tanker can be built. The school truck body was left on chassis to provide cover due to lack of fire house."

The picture was posted to the department's Facebook page in March, and they added some additional details. The tank was 1,000 gallons as best they recall. Round and without baffles. The truck, named Tanker 1, was also equipped with a pump that "ran of belts that engaged a power take-off which was also located inside the bus. A hose would run off the pump [and] out the door."

As far as the department knows, the chassis is still located in Warren County. Make and model of the vehicle? Maybe readers know. Next question, what are some other curious apparatus conversions that you've seen or heard of, around North Carolina? (Thanks for heads-up about this picture, Greg.) Click to enlarge:
 

+ 4 - 2 | § Raleigh Fire Museum at Raleigh Fire Expo

Coming to the South Atlantic FIRE RESCUE Expo this week? Visit the Raleigh Fire Museum booth on the Mezzanine Level, right around the corner from the lobby escalators. Learn about our organization as well as other area and regional fire museums. We'll have one or two digital slideshows to entertain you. 

And challenge coins for sale, newly produced by the museum for sale as a fundraiser. (Coins are $10 each. Can't make the show? We'll have them for sale soon on our web site.) The booth will be open Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Looking for Yours Truly? He'll be around all days, including staffing the booth on Thursday night. Mike Legeros is also co-presenting at a workshop on Friday afternoon. Cameras, Citizen Reporters, Social Media and Emergency Services with Jeff Hammerstein (Wake County EMS) from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. That's one of two workshops on the subject of social media, the other's that morning with William Suthard (Huntersville FD). See prior posting.

See you at the show!
 

+ 5 - 4 | § 2015 NC Fallen Fire Firefighters - First Annual Memorial Ride - Sat., Aug. 15

Event announcement. The Brothers of the Inferno Motorcycle Club of Goldsboro is hosting a memorial ride to benefit the North Carolina Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation. The event is Saturday, August 15, 2015. The location is Wayne Community College, 3000 Wayne Memorial Drive in Goldsboro. The cost is $20 per bike with $5 per additional passenger.

Registration is from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Then posting colors and prayer at 9:00 a.m. and kickstands up at 9:30 a.m. The route is from Goldsboro to Raleigh and by way of visiting a few fire departments that have experienced line of duty deaths, some local motorcycle dealers, and Barry's Cafe in Cary. (Meal tickets are $8.00 for lunch at Barry's. They'll also have tee shirts for sale for $15 each.)

There will also be door prizes throughout the ride, provided by the corporate sponsors Shelton's Harley-Davidson of Goldsboro, Cycle Gear of Raleigh, Open Road Biker Gear of Goldsboro, and Team Power Sports of Garner. They'll also hold a 50/50 raffle at the end of the ride, which will conclude at the South Atlantic FIRE RESCUE Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center.

All proceeds will be donated to the NCFFF. For more information, contact Paul at 919-418-4530 or "Beast" at 919-921-2552.

+ 4 - 2 | § Vintage Photo - Guilford County Spill Control Unit

This vintage gem was posted to the SPAAMFAA Facebook group last month. From the collection of Scott Mattson, who posted the image. Guilford County Fire Rescue operated this 1958 Chevrolet tanker. Served as an "oil spill control unit." Recall from our prior posting (in 2009!) that the county fire department was created circa 1965, to protect what was called the Greensboro-High Point Regional Airport. Don't know the date of this photo. Maybe late 1960s or early 1970s? Also, wonder what year the airport took over fire protection? Readers can perhaps help there. Click to enlarge:
 


Scott Mattson Collection

+ 1 - 2 | § Cary Firefighters Form Service Organization, Plan Schondelfire Memorial Marathon on Sept. 6

Let's introduce the Bradford's Ordinary Fire Company, a non-profit service organization recently created by a group of Cary firefighters. They're named for the settlement that was created in 1750 and eventually developed into the town of Cary. Their purpose is simple: doing great things for others. They have a Facebook group and have announced their first event, the 2015 Schondelfire Station Tour Memorial Marathon on Saturday, September 6.

Cary Fire Department Captain and Swift Creek Firefighter Jon F Schondelmayer died on December 18, 2013, after feeling ill while working at the Swift Creek fire station. He went home at lunch to get some medicine and was soon found unresponsive by a Swift Creek firefighter sent to check on him. He was forty-four years old, and a nineteen-year veteran of the Cary Fire Department. Read prior blog post.

The Memorial Marathon spans the entire town, with participants visiting each of the town's eight fire stations. (That's 26.2 miles, with a half marathon option of 14.1 miles.) Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase gifts that promote healthy and active lifestyles to help prolong the lives of needy children. The gifts will be presented during the holiday season, during the town's Interact program that contacts families directly and awards gifts to them individual.

This inaugural event is limited to seventy-people. The registration period is open from August 1 to August 12. See this Facebook event posting for more information, including their e-mail address.
 

+ 3 - 3 | § Monster Wrecker From Fayetteville

Photographer Lee Wilson found this monster wrecker on Sunday passing through Fayetteville. Dual front axles and forward-facing boom. Holy cow!

Operated by AAA Towing and Recovery. See their Facebook page for pics of the truck working. Here are larger versions of this photo and a second shot by Lee.
 


Lee Wilson photo


AAA Towing and Recovery photos

+ 3 - 6 | § Burlington's 1940 Diamond T/Oren Pumper... And a Mystery

Last month, Yours Truly had the privilege of photographing the Thomas Herman Collection. That's a treasure trove of antique fire engines, fire equipment, and fire memorabilia at the home of the legendary collector (and firefighter) of Chesapeake County, VA. (The occasion was a visiting photography group from that area.) See Mike's photos on Flickr.

Herman is an expert on Oren fire apparatus and has spent much of life researching and documenting the company's history. (His excellent book Oren Fire Apparatus Photo Archive was published by Iconografix in 2010.) His collection includes a number of engines built by the Oren Fire Apparatus Company of Roanoke, VA.1

Most of the trucks in his collection served in Virginia. One is from North Carolina, this 1940 Diamond T/Oren (500/200) originally delivered to the Burlington Fire Department.
 

 
See more photos of this beauty. The truck also appeared in this Oren advertisement from the July 1944 issue of Fire Engineering. Click to enlarge:
  

 
What's the history of the truck during it's service in Burlington? Did the truck even have an extended history in Burlington? One curiosity has presented itself. The truck is missing from the summary fire department information included in the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of 1945 and 1952. Look at these exercepts below. Click to enlarge:
 

 
Explanations? Was the truck no longer in the department's possession by 1945, perhaps loaned or sold? Though that doesn't make much sense. Why would they dispose of a such a new truck? Had the thing had an accident and was beyond the capacity of the town to repair? Was it needed for the war effort, and transferred to another fire department (or location needing fire protection)? Another option is an error on the part of the Sanborn Map company. Could happen.

Most curious. Maybe readers can help here.

1The company was a division of the Roanoke Welding and Equipment Company, which originated as an auto repair and welding shop opened in 1917 by Oren D. Lemon. They built their first fire truck in 1934. They began building custom chassis apparatus in the late 1940s, using a custom conventional chassis built for them by Corbitt, based in Henderson, NC. (After that company folded in 1954, they switched to an identical-looking Duplex chassis.) Their first cab-forward custom trucks were introduced in the early 1960s. In 1961, the then-named Oren Roanoke Corporation was purchased by Howe Fire Apparatus. In 1976, Oren and Howe were purchased by Grumman. But by the mid-1980s, both of the brand names were no longer affixed to newly produced apparatus.

Sources:

+ 6 - 2 | § Ca-Vel Fire Departments of Stanly and Person Counties

Found this vintage fire apparatus photo in Thomas Herman's book Oren Fire Apparatus Photo Archive (Iconografix, 2010). Gorgeous 1947 General Motors/Oren pumper, serial number 500 A-979. Delivered to the Collins & Aikman textile plant in Norwood, NC. That's in Stanly County, south of Albemarle.

The author's caption notes that the overhead rack housed a wooden Bangor ladder and a pair of booster reels were mounted in the back, behind the rear wheels. The truck presently privately owned, the author adds. It still resides in Norwood. Click to enlarge:
 


 

Collins & Aikman operated other plants in North Carolina, including in Farmville and Roxboro. We've blogged before about the latter location and in context of the Ca-Vel Fire Department. Or CA-Vel, depending upon your spelling. The plant was located three miles north of town.

The Ca-Vel Fire Department was listed in the rosters of the North Carolina State Fireman's Association from 1938 to 1959. They're mentioned in newspaper articles in the 1940s as assisting Roxboro firefighters.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of 1943 showed a one-story fire station building on the northeast corner of the property. Their equipment was listed as a Ford/General pumper, 300 GPM, 80 gallons, with 1,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose. The address of the fire station was 910 County Road, presently named North Main Street. Click to enlarge:
 

 
The building's no longer there, but a nearby structure looks a bit like a former fire station. (Okay, maybe that's a stretch.) This two-story section of the plant building has two former garage bays facing north. (Maybe, very maybe, a second location for the plant's fire department?) Click to enlarge:
  

 
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the 1943 map and a present-day aerial view. (Person County GIS is the source for the latter.) Click to enlarge:
  

 
Perhaps readers can assist with more history about Ca-Val fire departments in both Person and Stanly counties.