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Exciting Recent Posts

Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center Gets Windows (1 comment)
Three Pierce Impel Pumpers Delivered in Wake County
Bunn's New Tanker - 2015 Spartan/Custom Fire (2 comments)
County Logos Added to County Fire Apparatus (5 comments)
Two Alarms in Cary This Morning
Wake County Fire Commission Meeting - November 19, 2015
Reasons For Rejecting Apparatus Bids, Circa 1958
Turkey Fire Meets Thanksgiving Fire
How Many Firefighters Have Died in the Line of Duty, Ever?
Raleigh Tiller Delivered by Train, May 1958 (1 comment)
Two Alarms on Atlantic Avenue on Friday
Bidding on Aerial Apparatus, 1960
Building a Fire Station in Cary
UPDATED - Who Responds When a Rocket Explodes? - The Antares Incident at Wallops (6 comments)
New EMS Station Opens at Airport (1 comment)
Weddington Fire Service Explainer Video (1 comment)
New Pierce Pumpers Nearly Ready For Wake County
New Beaufort Fire Station, New Morehead City Tanker
Vintage Photo #2 - Garner's 1957 Chevy/American LaFrance
UPDATED - Vehicle Fire Spreads to Attic, Destroys Two Homes in North Raleigh (1 comment)

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GR511 (Raleigh-Wake Emer…): The current center has 24 consoles, the new site …
Legeros (County Logos Adde…): Don’t be a turkey today! I like the branding. N…
A. Rich (County Logos Adde…): It is required by the NC general Statutes; but is…
Rescue Ranger (County Logos Adde…): It was just a few years ago there was talks the c…
Sigmund (County Logos Adde…): I’d say it’s a subliminal message foreshadowing a…
Parks (Bunn's New Tanker…): Out where I live I believe Bay Leaf runs four cus…
2405 (Bunn's New Tanker…): Sounds like they are going the way off all these …
cking (County Logos Adde…): Why is this so important?
Legeros (Kannapolis Fire D…): And here’s a picture of the truck (!), via anothe…
Legeros (Kannapolis Fire D…): Google newspaper copy of 1950 story, about the fo…
Josh Clay (Kannapolis Fire D…): Mike, I believe the ALF pumper is the one you ref…
bfd1151 (Kannapolis Fire D…): From the introduction written by John Peckham, it…
Legeros (Kannapolis Fire D…): Wish I knew more about Peckham’s registry. Does i…
bfd1151 (Kannapolis Fire D…): I’m stumped on this ALF as well. It is nowhere in…
Legeros (Kannapolis Fire D…): Awesome find! Wonder where the 1916 ALF origina…
bfd1151 (Kannapolis Fire D…): Mike, while searching for something else, I came …
Legeros (Raleigh Tiller De…): Posting updated with a correction. The 1958 tille…
Legeros (Scotts Hill Fire …): From WECT, Pender County is breaking their contra…
Legeros (New EMS Station O…): Photos posted, both interiors and exteriors, http…
Parks (Weddington Fire S…): I’ve followed it from the beginning as I heard ab…
Marcus Answer (NC Ambulance Stri…): Regional Coordination Center East- NCEM
Brian Moffett (UPDATED - Vehicle…): Returning from a business trip actually flew over…
Legeros (Clayton Rescue Co…): Liz, Wake-New Hope is a contracted agency that…
Liz Danton (Clayton Rescue Co…): The county is still investing in Wake-New Hope? …
D. Cates (Clayton Rescue Co…): Here are the planned inspection dates in Wisconsi…
Ilovefiretrucks (Clayton Rescue Co…): It’s my understanding that they are listed as Wak…
Legeros (Clayton Rescue Co…): Jeremy, the three Pierce pumpers in production ar…
Jeremy Meares (Clayton Rescue Co…): Mike,what’s the story on the 3 engines on Atlanti…
D. Cates (Clayton Rescue Co…): Due to rising operating(repair) costs of their re…
Parks (Clayton Rescue Co…): More power to Bay Leaf if they do. They had a wre…
Doppler (Clayton Rescue Co…): I am rather sure Bay Leaf has a truck committee i…
DJ (Clayton Rescue Co…): If memory serves correctly, the light duty unit t…
Parks (Clayton Rescue Co…): Facebook user now advising Bay Leaf DID opt to re…
Parks (Clayton Rescue Co…): I always thought it was interesting how there wer…
Legeros (Clayton Rescue Co…): Believe replacement has been so far deferred by B…
Parks (Clayton Rescue Co…): Anyone know if Bay Leaf is replacing this rig? If…
Legeros (Clayton Rescue Co…): As it happens, New Hope’s 1993 International/S&S …
BFD1151 (Cannon Mills Fire…): Fieldcrest-Cannon’s truck is a 1966 Ford C/ALF wi…
Billy Bob (Origins of Rural …): DJ, that probably also explains their motto of “t…
DJ (Origins of Rural …): I have been told that the “Hipex” name was a deri…
Legeros (Vintage Photo of …): And a roster from 1967
Legeros (Vintage Photo of …): News story: Annual report, 1961:
Evan Caulfield (UPDATED - Upcomin…): Mike Looks likes Fuquay Station 1 is open on the …
Carson Collins (Durham's New Engi…): Greenville Fire Rescue operates 4 ladders as engi…
MCNelson (New Hanover Count…): Upon a little more research, The center unit is n…
TJ Howard (Durham's New Engi…): Kinston operates a 75’ E-One Quint as an Engine C…
MCNelson (New Hanover Count…): Mike, Units are current Rescue 18, Engine 18, and…
Marcus (NC Ambulance Stri…): What is RCCE?
Thanks for the he… (NC Ambulance Stri…): Bladen County is the host but NCEM RCCE requested…
Steve Edwards (UPDATED - Upcomin…): Mike. Cary/Morrisville’s was canceled due to weat…
commentator (German Fire Appar…): ooops….I actually meant to say “they are NOT stro…
commentator (German Fire Appar…): I like the fact that most of the German trucks ha…
911 (UPDATED - Holly S…): The ladder was in service but had some cable issu…
Legeros (National Fallen F…): Meanwhile, a Hurricane churns…
DJ (National Fallen F…): Here in Emmitsburg right now. We had a lot of rai…
Bentley Powell (National Fallen F…): I will be traveling up with the family of Chief R…
Manpower (UPDATED - Holly S…): How many members will staff the truck?
Planning (UPDATED - The His…): @rfburns Perhaps a lack of planning and foresight…
Steve (Still More Beacon…): Photo 1 & 2 look like the service location on Hil…

+ 0 - 0 | § Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center Gets Windows

Last week on Twitter, the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center posted a photo of their new call center, in the new Critical Public Safety Facility that's nearly completed off Skycrest Drive. Lo and behold, they have windows! The new call center will be located on the third floor of the facility, above a new emergency operations center (first floor) and the city's traffic management and data center (second floor).

The current call center is housed in the basement of the Municipal Building at 222 W. Hargett Street. And with no windows, or glorious high ceilings. The ECC opened at that location in 1982, after moving from the first floor of the next-door police headquarters at 110 S. McDowell Street, where they originated in 1972.

And in case you missed it, earlier this month, the RWECC was named of the Top Ten 911 Dispatch Call Centers Centers in the US for 2015, by 911DispatcherEdu. Read that story, or see the RWECC Facebook posting about same.

Congrats to the ECC on their coming new quarters. Can't wait to visit! What are some of the features of the new facility, or comparative stats of future versus present quarters? Maybe readers can advise. 

+ 1 - 0 | § Three Pierce Impel Pumpers Delivered in Wake County

Three new 2015 Pierce Impel pumpers have been delivered to three Wake County fire departments: Stony Hill, Wake New Hope, and Wendell fire departments. They were purchased by the county, and spec'ed by each department, from a base spec created for all county fire departments. No factory photos have been posted yet to the company's Flickr site, but Lee Wilson has already photographed each. He'll take proper posed photos soon enough.

Lee Wilson photos

+ 1 - 0 | § Bunn's New Tanker - 2015 Spartan/Custom Fire

The Bunn Fire Department in Franklin County took delivery of their new Tanker 21 on Monday and Lee Wilson was there to photograph the thing. It's a 2015 Spartan/Custom Fire pumper-tanker, 1250/1000/30, and will replace a 1990 Ford/E-One. See more photos from Lee. That their using a new, custom-cab engine as a tanker is unusual in these parts. What other area fire departments have also done same?

Lee Wilson photo

+ 1 - 0 | § County Logos Added to County Fire Apparatus

Here's a highlight from last week's meaty Wake County Fire Commission meeting (see posting). Lots of good updates and discussions, including this item: county logos will be added to all county-owned fire vehicles. That is, those titled to Wake County. This includes both apparatus and administrative vehicles.

The reason is a North Carolina General Statute that's been inadvertently neglected. The state requires the display of a logo with a minimum of eight-inch size, on both sides of the vehicle, and clearly visible when the vehicle is operational. (The law applies only to counties and not municipalities, incidentally.) This was addressed as part of a recommendation that all future fire department admin. vehicles be purchased through county General Services, to ensure utilization of state contract pricing.

How many vehicles are we talking about? Eleven engines, ten tankers, five rescues, and two admin. vehicles. That's about five years of past purchases. County-purchased apparatus and admin. vehicles before that time--such as the bulk purchases that started about 2004--were titled directly to the departments.

Here's the logo that will be added, and which already appears on Wake County Fire Services vehicles:

+ 1 - 0 | § Two Alarms in Cary This Morning

Two alarms were struck in Cary this morning at 1102 Walnut Street. On the Border restaurant, located across the street from Cary Towne Center. Engine 2 arriving with heavy fire showing from the exterior patio of a one-story, brick-and-wood restaurant with 6,869 square feet. Built 1996.

Fire extending to interior dining room and other interior spaces. Attack with two-inch line from Engine 2, plus additional hand lines. Ladder 1 positioned on Walnut Street. Ladder 3 positioned and deployed (but no water flowed) in parking lot, behind structure. Command and medical also located in parking lot. One hydrant caught, also in the parking lot.

Dispatched 12:16 a.m. Contained within 15-20 minutes. Controlled 1:30 p.m. Extended overhaul, with units on scene for a number of hours. Building unoccupied at the time of fire, and had been vacated about thirty minutes prior. No information on cause yet announced in news.

First alarm was E2, E4, E3, L3, R2, B1, and Swift Creek Engine 1. Second alarm was E1, L1, B2, and Car 3.1 Plus WC1 for investigation. Medical with EMS 51, EMS 8, EMS 4, M91, and T1.

And with Station 2 relocating in two weeks, it's likely the last two-bagger for Engine 2 from that location. (Engine 2 and Rescue 2 will move to the new Chatham Street station. On the same day, Engine 9 will be placed in service at the current Station 2, and Ladder 6 will become the quint company Engine 6. ) on Twitter posted this pre-arrival picture. Below that are a couple pictures by Mike Legeros on Twitter, taken later into the incident. And forthcoming to his photo site: contributor photo

Mike Legeros photos

1What constitutes a second alarm in Cary? There are two flavors:

+ 1 - 0 | § Wake County Fire Commission Meeting - November 19, 2015

The next meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission is Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. The location is the Wake County EMS Training Facility, in the lower level of the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive. The documents for the meeting are linked below.



Agenda packet (PDF, 8.3MB)

+ 1 - 2 | § Reasons For Rejecting Apparatus Bids, Circa 1958

Found this one among records of Raleigh's 1958 and 1960 aerial ladders. Interpreting the thing as reasons for rejecting bids for building one or more pumpers. Likely dates to 1958, when the city solicited bids for a single pumping engine.

American LaFrance won that one. They shipped a 1958 American LaFrance 900 Series pumper (#N-720), 1000/300, on July 31, 1959. Bid price was $21,800. Purchase price was $23,354.85, including equipment.

This document records apparent reject reasons for pumpers from FWD, Oren, Pirsch, and "Seagraves." Some notes on those four apparatus builders. See my Raleigh apparatus register for more details:

Click once or twice to enlarge:

+ 1 - 1 | § Turkey Fire Meets Thanksgiving Fire

From the Turkey Vol. Fire Department Facebook page comes a bit of holiday humor. Left is Fire Chief Tommy Williams of Turkey Fire Department in Sampson County. Right is Fire Chief Paul Zais of Thanksgiving Fire Department in Johnston County. They exchanged t-shirts, both of which will be displayed side-by-side in each of their fire stations. See the original posting for a larger version of the picture. 

+ 1 - 0 | § How Many Firefighters Have Died in the Line of Duty, Ever?

That question came to mind a couple months ago. How many firefighters have died in the line of duty, nationally, since the earliest days (or records of earliest days)?

The answer is... over 13,000 since 1838. Though that's just a partial answer.


Had to research this one on a state-by-state basis. The obvious go-to source, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), wasn't created until 1981. And their listings don't yet include fatalities from before that year.

Instead started with the NFFF's listing of state firefighter memorials. They have information and links to fallen firefighter memorials in nearly all of the fifty states. The associated web sites, however, didn't always list the names on their state's memorial. Turned to Google, and found comprehensive data in a few other places. Such as an excellent fallen firefighter database from the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

Data on these sites was varied in format. Some were already in a tabular form and easily copied. Other times, it required hand-parsing or hand-counting. Such as the Michigan memorial web site, which displays pictures of the names on the memorial. Printed on paper and tallied using magic markers for highlighting.

Couldn't find any information for Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. In those cases, used the "since 1981" data from the NFFF site. (Also hand-counted, as there's no "flat listing" available on the national memorial's web site.)

Found only totals for Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Mississippi, but no comprehensive data. That is, names, departments, death dates or years, etcetera.

Added all those ingredients into the pot and cooked a total of 13,072. See the results on this temporary web site:

(See earlier posting that provided a peek at this data, Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths Before 1900.)

(Also, my data includes "highest counts by department", some of which were found via Google via individual department information.)


There's more this story and my methology.

Military firefighter fatalities are not necessarily included in those per-state totals. They might even be outright omitted. This site memorializes those members. They've recorded 101 since 1941.

Wildland firefighter fatalities are recorded in this Always Remember database, with over 700 entries dating to the Peshtigo Fire of 1871. These are likely represented in the above per-state totals. And may be duplicated in places. For example, a flight crew from one state killed in another state may be recognized by both.

Fallen firefighter databases are also maintained by other organizations, such as the IAFF and the Hall of Flame fire museum. (The former has 7,490 entries since 1900. But they included cancer deaths, a cause not typically represented in state or national memorials.) The USFA and the NIOSH also produce fallen firefighter data, from 1981 and 1994, respective.

The criteria for recognizing a "fallen firefighter" is potentially (and probably) different between NFFF and organizations that maintain the state memorials. (See this blog post from 2014, which links to this excellent Backstep Firefighter posting from 2013.) Heck, even the definition of "firefighter" can be debated, depending upon the organization delving into the data.


But back to the grand total, and the per-state counts, be they complete or partial. What's the value of that data and this project? Good question. I've been looking at simple numbers. Simple totals. Just an exercise in counting (and comparing information sources).

Deeper-diving researchers are best-served by recent data, as presented by the NFFF, USFA, NIOSH. There are also a couple of the state memorials that provide narrative information on their web sites, such as Illinois and Maryland.

At the highest-level, what conclusion can we or should we draw from this data? Will ponder.

+ 4 - 2 | § Raleigh Tiller Delivered by Train, May 1958

More apparatus history for your morning enjoyment. (It's Tiller Week in Raleigh, with the new Ladder 9 in service on Thursday.) On May 4, 1958, delivery was planned of the city's second tractor-drawn aerial ladder fire engine. Or tiller, as it's commonly called. The apparatus was listed on the letter of notification as "One (1) American LaFrance Rescue 'L' Tractor Drawn Aerial Fire Truck." The 700 Series truck 'n' trailer was a 1958 model year and with the serial number N-374.

The apparatus was shipped on April 30, 1958, via Pennsylvania Railroad. The freight car contained one "self propelled fire apparatus" and seventeen cartons and two bundles of "fittings". The weight was 29,444 pounds. It arrived on May 4. The manufacturer confirmed delivery on May 16. (The original contract was dated January 7. Talk about a turnaround! The purchase price was $38,706.99.)1

Truck 1 was equipped with a 100-foot aerial ladder. As well as a Browder life net, which American LaFrance had shipped in April. (Built with "special heavy canvas" bottoms and "molded rubber hand grips.") Plus the usual assortment of ground ladders, forcible entry tools, smoke fans, play pipe, and such.

It served at Station 1 on Dawson Street until 1977, when the Mack Aerialscope was delivered. The tiller was replaced with a new tractor three years later. The "front end" was replaced with a 1979 Mack MC tractor and the apparatus was moved to Station 5 by May 6, 1980. It was returned to Station 1 on March 16, 1987. (What happened to the truck between 1977 and 1980? Presumably was a reserve ladder.)

After being refurbished by American LaFrance in 1988 (which added a cab to the tiller, jump seats to the tractor, new paint job, and more), it was moved to Station 16 on September 21, 1988. The truck was removed from front line service after February 27, 1995. It served as a reserve truck until 1999, when it was sold as surplus. See my apparatus register for pictures.

The apparatus was purchased by a private party down east, and soon sold to the Wendell Fire Department. From my WFD history page:

Formerly owned by City of Raleigh, the apparatus was first purchased at a surplus auction on April 24, 1999 by a speculative buyer in Beaufort, N.C.  The ladder truck is spotted three or four months later sitting unsold in a lot and is subsequently sold to the fire department for $5,000-$6,000.  Another $6,600 is spent on refurbishing the ladder, which is repaired in places and finally tested by Underwriters Laboratories.  The 1980 Mack tractor has only 40,000 miles on it.  Diamond-plate purchased at an EEI auction in Raleigh is added to the trailer.  Three months pass before the apparatus is placed in service.  The fire department spends about $16,000 total on the truck.

In 2006, they sold the truck to Civietown Fire Department in Brunswick County. One year later, the tiller was posted to eBay, with a starting price of $13,000. Here's a blog post about that. Where's the truck today? To be determined! (Also, search the blog for numerous related postings, including this recently updated history of Raleigh's tillers.)

Click once or twice to enlarge:

News & Observer photos

1How common were deliveries by railroad? Unsure. Believe there's a picture of a Raleigh engine being unloaded from a box car, also in that decade. Guessing that this was delivery method from the 1910s through the 1960s or 1970s. Maybe when the first Mack pumpers were delivered, though they may have been shipped to a local dealer, and then driven for delivery.

+ 1 - 1 | § Two Alarms on Atlantic Avenue on Friday

Two-alarms were struck on Friday afternoon, November 6, at 5020 Atlantic Avenue. Commercial structure fire at Brother’s Cleaners. Two-story brick and metal building with 18,253 square-feet. Built 1998.  (Tax records list building as one-story with mezzanine level in front and left of building.) Four engines, two ladders, rescue, two Battalion Chiefs, and Platoon Deputy Fire Marshal.

Working fire dispatched while units were en route, due to multiple callers. This added air truck, Division Chief, and Investigator. Rescue 1 arrived with heavy fire and smoke from Division B/C (left/rear of building). Engine 15 was right behind them and assumed command, and pulled a pair of attack lines into the structure. (Engine 15 also laid in wet.)

Hazards soon presented themselves, including haz-mats inside the building and deteriorating structural conditions. (Including wall crack developing in C/D corner.) Crews were ordered to withdraw from interior (and ladder company from the roof), and evacuation tones were sounded. This was about ten minutes into the incident (after the first unit's arrival). Second alarm  requested at about the same time. Three engines, three ladders, and third Battalion Chief dispatched.

Defensive operations started. Two portable monitors used in rear, and one in the front. (Ladder 2 also used as aerial stream, positioned in A/B corner.) Doors used for access on front, rear, and right side. Windows on the second story, front and left side. Holes cut into metal walls for ground access on left side. Two additional hydrants were caught. Courtyard lay also deployed in B/C corner. Extended operations for extinguishment.

Engine 15 pumped from front of building. Ladder 2 from B/C. Engine 16 pumped from elevated parking lot, on adjoining property to north. Engine 22 pumped from parking lot at lower grade, on adjoining property to south. About an hour into the incident, fourth hydrant was requested. Two engines were directed to intersection of Millbrook and Atlantic, for additional water supply using a different water main. Three additional engines were requested to scene, about ten minutes later. Squad 7, Engine 5, and Engine 4 were dispatched, all from move-up locations.

See photos from Lee Wilson and Mike Legeros.

Lee Wilson photos

Command located in front of building in parking lot. Medical located on opposite side of Atlantic Avenue, in front of building. Staging on Atlantic Avenue both north and south of scene. Atlantic Avenue closed, between Millbrook Road and north of incident (probably Forest Oaks Drive).

Dispatched 1:42 p.m. Working fire ~1:45 p.m. First arrival 1:46 p.m. Second alarm ~1:56 p.m. Three additional engines ~2:50 p.m. Controlled 4:10 p.m. Companies remained on scene for a number of hours, with relief companies at ~6:06 p.m. (Engine 20), ~6:48 p.m. (Engine 1, Ladder 3), and ~7:04 p.m. (Engine 29).  No injuries. Cause under investigation. "A" platoon.

Units on scene included:

  • First alarm: E15, E11, E9, E22, L2, L5, R1, B1, B5.
  • Working fire: A2, C20, C401, C420.
  • Second alarm: L7 (was moved up to 15), E19, E16, E27, L5, L1, B2
  • Additional: C1, C2, C4, C12 (Safety), C21 (Ops Chief Aide)
  • Medical: EMS 10, EMS 13, EMS 2, EMS 31, EMS 15, D3, T1, Logistics 1

Move-ups included:

  • E13 to 15
  • L7 to 15 (dispatched on second alarm)
  • E17 to 16
  • E5 to 9
  • L9 to 22
  • L8 to 12
  • Sq7 to 11
  • L6 to 23
  • L6 to 18
  • E18 to 4
  • E10 to 1

Four hydrants used. Configuration observed about two hours into incident:

See photos from Lee Wilson and Mike Legeros.

Mike Legeros photo

+ 1 - 0 | § Bidding on Aerial Apparatus, 1960

In early 1960, the City of Raleigh issued a request for bids and proposals for new “fire fighting apparatus.” They were planning a pair of 750 GPM pumpers and either a 100-foot or 85-foot aerial ladder.

The engines were the latest in pumper upgrades started a decade earlier and that included new deliveries from Mack, FWD (two), and American LaFrance (five). The ladder truck was planned for the west side of city.

Fire Chief Jack Keeter recognized the need for a second aerial ladder in the city, and specific at Fire Station 5 at the corner of Park Drive and Oberlin Road. The current aerial ladder, Truck 1, was a 1958 American LaFrance tiller at Station 1. The reserve ladder was a 1939/1916 American LaFrance tiller, possibly stored at Station 6. (And later moved to the lower parking lot of Station 8, after its construction in 1963.)

American LaFrance won the bid for both the pumpers and the aerial ladder. They delivered a 100-foot mid-mount ladder on March 21, 1961. The 1961 American LaFrance 900 Series apparatus (#6-1-8390) had a bid price of $42,626.70. It was placed in service as Truck 5 by October 4, 1961.


Lee Wilson photo

The truck served the city until at least 1990. In the spring of 1979, the gasoline engine was replaced with a diesel engine. By September 1984, a fiberglass roof had been added to the cab.

It was removed from service at Station 5 by May 6, 1980. It was activated as Truck 16 on September 16, 1981. Then deactivated as Truck 16 on September 21, 1988. Refurbished by American LaFrance in 1998, it was placed in service as Truck 8 that fall. It was deactivated as Truck 8 on September 21, 1990, and moved to reserved status. It was housed at Station 19 as a reserve ladder.

When was the truck retired and sold? To be determined.

Below are documents recently discovered in the fire department archives. They included a bid proposal from Mack, along with a pair of blueprints of Mack aerial ladders. Plus a letter to the Fire Chief from a Maxim dealer in Hamlet named Phil Gibbons.

Click once or twice to enlarge:

+ 0 - 1 | § Building a Fire Station in Cary

Informal montage of construction photos of Cary's new Fire Station 2 on Chatham Street. Taken during lunch hours. First photo in April. Got my groove a couple months later. Opens in a couple weeks. Click once or twice to enlarge:

+ 5 - 4 | § UPDATED - Who Responds When a Rocket Explodes? - The Antares Incident at Wallops

November 5, 2015
Today NASA released new photos of the Antares explosion from. The dramatic images were taken by NASA photographer Joel Kowsky and include this stunning view of the fireball above the launch site. See larger version and more images. Below is our original posting, with a recap of the incident, the response, and information on the Wallops Flight Facility fire department.

Joel Kowsky/NASA photo

April 4, 2015
On Tuesday, October 28, at 6:22 p.m. EDT, a rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from a spaceport on Wallops Island, VA. The catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corporation's Antares rocket occurred less than a minute after the launch of the unmanned spacecraft.

The spectacular explosion was recorded and transmitted across the globe by spectators and journalists alike. The resulting fireball fell onto the launch facility, while debris was scattered for some miles.

Who were the firefighters that responded, and how did they fight that fire? Let's take a virtual trip to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility to learn about their fire department, their equipment, and the mishap on the launch pad that night.

NASA image

Part I - Department Profile

Wallops Flight Facility Fire Department (WFFFD) protects 6,200 acres on the eastern shore of Virginia on the Delmarva (DELaware, MARyland, VirginiA) Peninsula. The facility employees 1,110 full-time employees and includes the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).

The spaceport is operated as a combination of federal, state, and private concerns. For example, MARS owns the launch pad while NASA operates the airfield and owns several sub-orbital launch rails. The facility also houses such tenant partners as NOAA and the Navy.

The base has two fire stations and fifty personnel including part-time members. They're not federal firefighters, however. NASA contracts with LJT & Associates. The firefighters are contracted employees, while the apparatus and equipment is owned by NASA.



+ 2 - 0 | § New EMS Station Opens at Airport

Wake County EMS opened their new airport station yesterday. It's located at 6901 Mt. Herman Road, adjacent to site of the prior building. (Was a former warehouse first used by Six Forks EMS.) The station houses EMS 34 and EMS 35 at present. Those are twelve-hour trucks, currently operational from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 

The new building is first three-bay county-built EMS station. And the first new EMS building since the Durant Road station opened in 2010. And now the tenth EMS-only for Wake County EMS. (Nine in Raleigh, one in Wake Forest.) Formal grand opening forthcoming.

See prior blog post with some history of our airport EMS stations. First one was an old house in airport property, opened in 1990. Replaced with two-bay station on National Guard Drive in 1997, and closed some years later. Third was the old warehouse on Mt. Herman Road, opened with Six Forks EMS in 2005 and Wake County EMS in 2011. Facility was vacated in October 2014. See another prior blog post.

+ 1 - 0 | § Weddington Fire Service Explainer Video

From a reader (thanks Parker!), here's one of the most interesting videos that I've seen in some time. (And a superb use of visuals and social media to educate and motivate citizens.) Was posted to YouTube by Pam Hadley, who is a candidate for Mayor in Weddington, NC. The municipal election is today, November 3.

The well-produced video targets the current mayor in the context of decisions about fire protection, specifically the town's cancellation of its contract with Providence Fire Department. The department (which has ceased all service) subsequently filed a lawsuit against the town (which has contracted with Wesley Chapel FD). See blog post from July.

This one's a lengthy video, nearly thirty minutes. And it's detailed. Lots of information here, including an excellent overview of fire service delivery models and issues relating to funding, districts, and station locations. Lots of possible reader reactions, as well.

Thoughts on this one? Both on their end and on ours? (e.g., will we something like this locally someday, to leverage public opinion or decisions about fire services in our area?)

View on YouTube

+ 0 - 0 | § New Pierce Pumpers Nearly Ready For Wake County

Three new Pierce Impel pumpers (and pumper/tankers) are nearly finished production. Pictured left to right, top to bottom, are the trucks being built for New Hope, Stony Hill, and Wendell fire departments. See more photos at the Atlantic Emergency Solutions Trucks in Production page. Click to enlarge:

+ 1 - 0 | § New Beaufort Fire Station, New Morehead City Tanker

Couple updates from my high school home town and its nearby neighbor. The town of Beaufort is planning a new fire station. The proposed one-story, three-bay facility was designed by Stewart-Cooper-Newell Architects.

The planned location is the corner of Live Oak and Pine streets, one block from the current fire station on Cedar Street. As this WCTI story from yesterday notes, the current fire station is "old, outdated, and cramped." And the town is growing. (Call volume comparison. Five years ago: 400. Last year: 1,100.)

There was a public hearing on the project last week, due to the lowest bid of $3.4 million exceeding the project budget of $3 million. Another hearing and vote is scheduled for later this week.

See this project page from the town's web site. Below are renderings featured in the new story, via WCTI on Twitter. (There's no tiller in Beaufort. That's presumably just a placeholder added by the architects. Unless...)

Onto Morehead City. As this story reports, the town has taken delivery of a new "tanker-pumper." (Was delivered last month, after appearing at the fire show in Atlanta in August.) Same is a 2015 Freightliner M2/Midwest with a 2,000 gallon tank and a 1,000 GPM Darley pump. Two side and one rear dump valves. "Tip down" portable tank carrier. Etcetera. It's been assigned to Station 3 as Tanker 3. See more factory photos and complete specs.


Other MHFD apparatus updates from our friends down east:

Readers, any other notable news out of Carteret County or points nearby?

+ 1 - 0 | § Vintage Photo #2 - Garner's 1957 Chevy/American LaFrance

Here's another vintage photo of an early Garner engine, this time a 1957 Chevrolet 10-500/American LaFrance, 750/600. "Designed for municipal and rural protection." Cost $11,343. From the SPAAMFAA Facebook group, from a posting by Scott Mattson. Plus an early photo of the truck, when it was newer. Originally named Engine 1, and originally outfitted with a single roof beacon. See related posting with a picture of Garner's 1958 Ford/ALF.

Scott Mattson Collection

Garner Fire Department photo

+ 1 - 0 | § UPDATED - Vehicle Fire Spreads to Attic, Destroys Two Homes in North Raleigh

October 22
Here's a very short video by Kyle Berner via WCNC, showing early heavy fire conditions:

View on YouTube

October 21
Or is the better headline "Smoke Detectors Save Lives in Two Homes?" More on that in a moment...

Two homes were destroyed overnight in very north Raleigh, just over the county line in Harrington Meadow. Dispatched as vehicle fire for Durham County E84 at 5309 Golden Moss Trial, off Carpenter Pond Road. Upgraded to car fire in garage, with fire in attic.

Raleigh notified and structure fire assignment dispatched with E29, E23, E18, E24, L9, L6, R1, B4, B5. Working fire added Squad 14, A2, C20, C401. (Move ups were E13 to 24 and L3 to 23.) Durham EMS units were EMS 52, M7, M2. Wake EMS units were D4 and T1. Any additional Durham County FD units? 

Dispatched by Durham County at 11:26 p.m. as vehicle fire, upgraded to structure fire at 11:27 p.m. Raleigh units dispatched at 11:29 p.m. Durham Engine 84 (from Bethesda station on Leesville Road) arrived in three (?)  minutes andfoundfound heavy fire at 5309 with extension to the residence on the left, 5305. The structures were two-story, single-family dwellings with about 1,350 square-feet each. Built 2001.

Ruptured gas line(s) impacted suppression, with a wait for gas company. Both ladders were deployed as aerial streams, along with portable monitors on the gas meter(s). Crews were on scene for nearly four hours.

Controlled at 1:13 a.m. Command terminated about 3:25 a.m. Three displaced from both homes. No injuries. Cause determined as accidental. Thanks to Lee Wilson for the real-time updates via Facebook. Media coverage includes WRAL, WNCN, and WTVD. The latter includes these quotes:

The division chief of the Raleigh Fire Department told ABC11 a woman's smoke detector went off and woke her up. She was able to get out and call for help.

"It could've been catastrophic," the chief said. "She could've slept right through it."

Maybe this story deserves a better and more educational headline. What do readers think?


WRAL photos

Bing Maps (left), Google Maps (right)

+ 1 - 2 | § Raleigh Fireman's Ball - Saturday, November 21

Bought your tickets yet for the ball? The deadline is approaching for the Raleigh Fireman's Ball on Saturday, November 21. This holiday-themed event will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center. The evening will include an opening reception, a program and formal dinner, and a dessert reception after dinner. Plus a cash bar, disc jockey, and dance floor. 

Tickets are $100 per couple, or $50 for individuals. Entire tables can also be reserved with a purchase of ten tickets. All tickets must be purchased in advance. The deadline in November 1. (Want to stay overnight? Special rates are also available at the Downtown Marriott, across the street from the Convention Center.)

If this event sounds familiar, it's being done in the same style as the Raleigh Fireman's Ball in November 2012. (The event was so popular that future balls are planned for every three years.) One notable change from last time is that guests are requested to bring a wrapped children's gift, for ages infant to twelve. They'll be donated to the Wounded Warriors project through Firefighters Assisting Armed Forces - Heroes Helping Heroes.

More information is available, and tickets can be purchased at See you at the ball!


Copyright 2012 by Michael J. Legeros