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Exciting Recent Posts

Volunteer Firemen at Morrisville Ready For Action With New Truck - 1956
Vintage Photos of Raleigh Red Cars
North Carolina Fires of $5,000 or More Loss - 1928-1929
Fire Commission Meeting Recap and Mike Wright Appreciation (1 comment)
Streakers Invade Lee Hall, Fire Department Called Out - March 1974
UPDATE #4: Fort Fisher Fire Departments (2 comments)
Airport EMS Station Update (3 comments)
Out of Town Firemen Man Stations For Chief Lloyd's Funeral - February 1955
Chapel Hill's New Blue Beast
Fire at Watauga Hall - January 24, 1920
Help Wanted - Are You a Former Morrisville Firefighter? (3 comments)
Apex Announces New Fire Chief
Presenting a History of the Morehead City Fire Department
Historic Fire Trucks at Historic Oakwood This Weekend
Car vs. Apartment Building, Driver vs. Jail
Corinth Holders New Engine, Holly Springs New Aerialscope (1 comment)
Wake County Fire Commission Meeting - December 11, 2014
Two Apparatus Accidents in Durham County at Same Fire - April 1975
Charlotte Engine Hit by Train, 1973
Hose & Nozzle, 1972 - Five Perish in Wake County Fire

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Grizzle Medic (Airport EMS Stati…): The airport station (EMS6) was busy, sort of. Mos…
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Airport EMS (Airport EMS Stati…): It’s interesting that they had a EMS Station near…
A.C. Rich (Help Wanted - Are…): Part-time early 93 to late 96.
PJ (Airport EMS Stati…): One of the aforementioned docks was quite handy f…
Silver (Fire Commission M…): First and foremost, good luck in your retirement!…
Timothy Luther (Help Wanted - Are…): I worked part time for Morrisville FD from 1998 t…
Mike Wallace (Help Wanted - Are…): I worked with Tony Chiotakis, and then Mike Chamb…
Chris Yaroch (Military Surplus …): Anyone know if this truck is still for sale? Any…
Legeros (Corinth Holders N…): Chapel Hill has placed a military surplus 6×6 tra…
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CFD (Groundbreaking fo…): Walnut Street Station (or Station 9) is slated to…
joseph webb (Snorkels in North…): STANTONSBURG MOYTON VOL FIRE DEPT 1979 PEIRCE 85 …
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Legeros (UPDATE #2: Histor…): Hose & Nozzle article from July-August 1973, abou…
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maybe not... (Two Alarms on Roy…): I believe the only difference in the new engine w…
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+ 0 - 0 | § Volunteer Firemen at Morrisville Ready For Action With New Truck - 1956

Raleigh Times story from March 14?, 1956. Plus inset photo from the North Carolina State Archives, courtesy of the News & Observer. Story by Trow Ford about Morrisville's first fire engine, a converted "war surplus tank truck" that had been placed in service the prior week. Was housed in a "small garage behind Jones and Sears store." They also installed an "air raid siren" the week before. It was donated to the fire department by "Civil Defense."

The truck was purchased for $175 last spring. They moved the 750-gallon tank "farther back on the chassis" and "rearranged the pumping system." They purchased $1,500 of equipment for the rig, including hoses, ladders, and lights. The truck was equipped with 500 feet of 1 1/2-inch hose, and 400 feet of 3/4 inch hose. That was the minimal county requirement. "Skirting" was done by Parrish Body Works for $500. Painting was done by Neville Paint Shop for $23. Everything else was done by firefighters or townspeople. Total expenditure, $2,500.

The fire department was organized one year earlier. They had 17 active members by the time of the story, plus one honor member, Willie Hester, a local blacksmith who did the welding on the truck. Click once or twice to enlarge:

+ 1 - 1 | § Vintage Photos of Raleigh Red Cars

Get your red cars right here! Reader David Raynor shares these vintage film prints of Raleigh Fire Department chief's cars. Let's see if we can date these. Say, late 1980? Ford Crown Victorias of unknown vintage. Readers? Last picture is a full shot of the chief's buggy. That's Fire Chief Sherman Pickard as Car 1. Click to enlarge:

David Raynor photos

+ 0 - 0 | § North Carolina Fires of $5,000 or More Loss - 1928-1929

From the North Carolina Fire Prevention Bulletin, Volume 12, No. 1, March 1930. Published by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Click once or twice to enlarge:

+ 0 - 0 | § Fire Commission Meeting Recap and Mike Wright Appreciation

Thursday's special-called meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission was notable for three reasons.

First, Fire Services Director Mike Wright introduced the strategic planning that his office has started doing, toward the future of the fire service in Wake County. Second, recommendations were presented on the cost share study that was recently completed. Third, Director Wright addressed his recently announced retirement of December 31, named his interim replacement, and received well-deserved praise for his time in office.

Allow me to attempt a recap. We'll go backwards, starting with Mike Wright. I've had pleasure of making his acquaintance in recent months. We've sat down and talked shop, and he's shared his perspectives on the fire service from thirty-plus years of experience.

Meet Mike Wright

Wright was raised outside Miami (in a town actually called Swamp Water), and first learned about the fire service through his neighbors. They were Miami firefighters. Career guys. Then his family moved to the Triad, and he learned about volunteer fire departments. In high school, he became friends with a Junior Firefighter at Pinecroft-Sedgefield FD in Guilford County.

The rest, as they say, is history.

After high school, he was hired as a career member of PSFD. One year later, he was hired by Greensboro. That was September 1984. He was one of some thirty-five (!) hired. He continued to volunteer with PSFD through the late 1990s and then began volunteering at Colfax FD.

He reached the rank of Fire Equipment Operator in Greensboro, before leaving in 2004. His last assignment was Ladder 5. By that time he was also Fire Chief at Colfax. He held that position from 2003 to 2004. The split also gave him great balance. He loved riding the rig and did that in spades in Greensboro, while his administrative interest was fanned at Colfax.

(Biggest fire while working at GFD? April 13, 1985, when "the entire downtown burned." He'd just come off probation. They emptied the city so companies could go downtown. County units were called to cover, which was unprecedented. Before then the "vollie trucks" stopped at the line and didn't enter the city. Wright was coming on shift the next morning, so he didn't get called back. The other off-duty shift got to fight fire. He remembers a lot of overhaul and rolled hose.)

But by 2004, Wright was ready for bigger things. He heard General Norman Schwarzkopf speak, who said, paraphrased, "if you're tenured but not advancing, you're being a bit selfish by not helping to take care of the younger members of your organization." And he and his academy mates had children who were becoming firefighters. He wanted to help them.

("Maybe administration wouldn't be so bad," he was thinking one day at a house fire, as the younger guys were working less of a sweat pulling ceilings.)

Greensboro, 1990
(Sneaky scan from history book in Legeros library)

From Greensboro to Guilford to Wake

He left Greensboro (and Colfax) in late 2004 to become Deputy Director of Operations for Guilford County. The position was later changed to Deputy Director of Emergency Services. This was a reclassified position created as a head of county fire services. No, Guilford didn't have its own fire department. Rather and like Wake County in some regards, it was a collection of private fire departments. Plus the two cities (Greensboro and High Point).

The position was sorely needed. The county didn't really engage with the fire chiefs and their departments. Sure, the Fire Marshal's office was active with ISO and code enforcement. But things like mutual aid or standards of cover were left to the departments to work out. Which became the purview of the county firefighters association.

Wright worked in that position for nine years. Some of his efforts and project participation including merging the city and county fire department dispatching centers. That was a huge project that included creation and adoption of a county-wide number system (hello!). Guilford County also placed a "flying squad" in service during his tenure, a manpower unit that responded to structure fires anywhere in the county.

(Biggest fire in the county that he saw? Eastern Guilford High School, which burned in 2007. There over 100 responders that day, and maybe twelve fire departments. Initially he was Safety Officer. As more chiefs arrived, he was assigned to PIO after about an hour and a half.)

Last year, Wright brought his talents to Wake County. He started working as the new Fire Services Director on November 12, 2013. And he started talking with folks. Meeting with fire chiefs. Talking to boards of directors. Asking questions. Listening. Hearing.

And as he's been collecting information, he's been building a strategic vision. Which is simply "what's best for the citizens of Wake County." That's a compass point he's used throughout his career. When you're making difficult decisions for agency, he's fold of saying, you can frame it a single question: what's in the best interest of the citizens?

Guilford County, 2013


+ 0 - 1 | § Streakers Invade Lee Hall, Fire Department Called Out - March 1974

From the March 18, 1974, edition of the North Carolina State University Technician, click to enlarge:

From Ray Stevens:

Don't look Ethel!

+ 3 - 8 | § UPDATE #4: Fort Fisher Fire Departments

December 17, 2014
Research complete. Read about the histories of the fire departments at Fort Fisher Army Air Field, Fort Fisher Air Station, and Fort Fisher Recreation Station.

December 11, 2014
Narrative revised from December 9. Four vintage photos also added. Still collecting more information. From the 701st Radar Squadron (RADS) Facebook group, here are four vintage images from the 1980s. See this photo album for larger versions. Credits unknown. Click to enlarge:


+ 0 - 0 | § Airport EMS Station Update

What's happening with the airport EMS station project, you ask? The station was closed on October 14, 2014. EMS 34, EMS 35, and Medic 95 were relocated to the Lynn Road EMS station. That is, they start their day at same. EMS 34 anchors at WakeMed Brier Creek. EMS 35 anchors at Pleasant Valley Shopping Center. Medic 95 also sort of anchors at that location.

As for the building, that's the former Bay Leaf Station 3 / Six Forks EMS / Six Forks Rescue / Six Forks Fire Department building. Ownership of the 12,642 square-foot structure and its 1.09 acre parcel transferred to the county on September 19, 2012. Read more history in this prior posting.

The address of the airport EMS station is 6901 Mt. Herman Church Road. That's right before one of the airport's runways start. (Awesome views of incoming aircraft. They're right over your head.) As the aforementioned prior posting also notes, the three-bay building will cost $1.25 million. Estimated 4,084 square-feet, including supervisor's office, four-bed dorm, kitchen, and day room.

We're told that completion is estimated in June or July. Only changes to plans is a slight shift of the building. The thing's been moved a little to the northwest, to get out of the flight line restrictions. Demolition should be starting now. The property is owned by the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. They've had the land since June 21, 1990.

The former EMS building was built in 1972 and opened in 2005 as a Six Forks EMS station. Unsure the former tenants. The airport acquired same in 1990. Couple neat loading docs on the side and rear. Doubtfully will be missed. See exterior pictures of the building, from the other week.

+ 1 - 0 | § Out of Town Firemen Man Stations For Chief Lloyd's Funeral - February 1955

Found this interesting clipping from February 28, 1955, after Raleigh Fire Chief Alvin B. Lloyd died off-duty. He passed away at Rex Hospital on February 25. Died of a heart ailment. Reported the unidentified newspaper:

Out of Town Firemen Man Stations Here

Firemen from all over North Carolina were in the city yesterday for funeral services for Raleigh Fire Chief A. B. Lloyd, who died Friday afternoon at Rex Hospital from a heart ailment, and to relieve local firemen in order that they might attend.

Members of the following fire department stood by at stations in Raleigh to answer any alarms that might have come in: Cary, Greensboro, Wilmington, Durham, High Point, Winston-Salem, Apex, Burling, Greenville, Rocky Mount, and Goldsboro.

Assistant Chief R. L. Matthew expressed appreciation [on behalf] of Raleigh firemen for the courtesy and help given them.

Chief Lloyd's obituary as published in the February 26 issue of the News & Observer:

Raleigh Fire Chief Dies

Alvin Brown Lloyd, 63, chief of the Raleigh Fire Department, died of a heart ailment at Rex Hospital here about 12:35 o'clock Friday afternoon.

Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Edenton Street Methodist Church here. Officiating will be Dr. Howard P. Powell, pastor of the church, and the Rev. Charles K. McAdams, assistant pastor. Burial will be Montlawn.

The following members of the fire department will serve as pallbearers: R. L. Matthews, J. M. Burnette, J. W. Godwin Jr., J. B. Keeter, J. G. Harrison, and R. C. Lassiter.

Chief Lloyd entered the hospital Feb. 18, three days after suffering a heart attack, and remained there until his death. He had first been troubled with a heart aliment a few years ago.

Born in Granville County, he was the son of Duncan McRae Lloyd and Margaret L. Lloyd. A veteran of World War I, he was a member of the American Legion, Raleigh Post No. 1, and the Edenton Street Methodist Church.

Chief Lloyd, who joined the Raleigh Fire Department July 26, 1919, had more years of continuous service than any member of the department. Promoted to lieutenant in 1926, he became a captain the following year, second assistant chief in 1939, first assistant chief in 141, and acting chief in 1950. He was appointed chief April 1, 1950, succeeding W. R. Butts, who had resigned.

Chief Lloyd belong to the International Fire Chiefs Association, the State Firemen's Association, and the State Fire Chief's Association. He was a past district vice president of the latter organization.

Surviving are his wife, the former Miss Gladys Reeves of Madison County; a son, Harold Brown Lloyd of Granby, Quebec, Canada; two daughters, Mrs. J. K. Neely of Lafayette, La., and Mrs. Francis C. Edwards of Raleigh; four grand children; two brothers, G. Cleveland Lloyd of oxford and J. Frank Lloyd of Raleigh; and two sisters, Mrs. Lee Rogers of Creedmoor, and Mrs. H. E. Shaw of Raleigh, Route 4.

+ 0 - 1 | § Chapel Hill's New Blue Beast

Downtown Chapel Hill posted this photo on their Twitter feed on Saturday. That's the newest piece of apparatus for the Chapel Hill Fire Department. Named Tac 52. Military surplus 6x6 transport truck obtained through the NC Forest Service VFAP Cooperative Program. Outfitted with a skid-mounted suppression package.

Will serve as a brush unit for wildland interface fires, as well as support for storm response and special events. Should be a boss for flood rescue. Recall that there's an area of town on the east side that's prone to flooding during severe storms. Believe it's presently housed at the shop.

Photographed during Saturday's holiday parade. As the tweet states, needs a nickname. Blue Beast? Big Blue? Ram Tough?

Downtown Chapel Hill photo

+ 0 - 0 | § Fire at Watauga Hall - January 24, 1920

Heard the new digital archives of the Technician, the student newspaper of North Carolina State University? The first seventy years of the newspaper are now available online, from the 1920s to the 1990s. And every issue is text searchable! Search for "fire department" and you'll find such gems as this, describing a fire at Watagua Hall on January 24, 1920. The issue date was February 1.

+ 1 - 1 | § Help Wanted - Are You a Former Morrisville Firefighter?

The Morrisville Fire Department is preparing to celebrate their 60th anniversary next year. And they’re compiling an anniversary roster of every volunteer, paid, and career member in the fire department’s history.

Are you a former Morrisville firefighter? Please take a look at this document (PDF). Verify your name and period of service. And of course, please advise if you’re not listed!

Also, your contact information is requested, as well as a photo. (Anything from a snapshot to formal portrait, please.) They’re trying to collect photos of every prior member.

The contact is Firefighter Brian Oliver, The deadline is December 31, 2014.

More information is forthcoming about their anniversary plans. Stay tuned and thanks for your help.

+ 1 - 1 | § Apex Announces New Fire Chief

As this News & Observer story reports, the town of Apex has found their new Fire Chief. From Rocky Mount comes Keith McGee. He's a lifelong firefighter who started in high school in Wilkesboro. He's been a member of the Rocky Mount Fire Department since 1991, and presently (or now formerly) their Operations Division Chief. McGee was chosen out of 164 applicants from across the nation. He'll start later his month.

Retiring is Fire Chief Mark Haraway, who's led the department since June 2002. He's also been key contributor to the Wake County Fire Commission. Haraway was formerly Fire Chief of Elizabethtown, from January 2000 to June 2002. His fire service career also included the ranks of Captain at Wilmington (1995-1999) and Engineer and Training Officer at Wrightsville Beach (1990-1995). He's retiring this month after over thirty years in emergency service.

Congratulations to both! Welcome to Wake County, Chief McGee. And see you on the proverbial other side, Chief Haraway.

+ 1 - 0 | § Presenting a History of the Morehead City Fire Department

Announced a new page of historical information: Landing page is a basic web page. Research documents are PDF files. Three of them: apparatus, infrastructure, and timeline. Why Morehead City? That's is my adopted hometown. Moved there at age fourteen from Minneapolis. Their history has increasingly interested me as the decades have passed.

First dipped my toe into the subject in 2005, for the first of a series of "Then and Now" articles for The series was based on Sanborn Fire Insurance Map information and compared the composition of fire departments around North Carolina between the 1900s-1910s-1920s and present-day. Also around that time a visit was paid to the Carteret County History Place. Obtained old photos, some notes, and a retrospective from 1951 published in the News-Times.

Fast-forward a few years and a few blog posts later. Compiled this timeline in September. Was a good start, but too short. Enter Captain Jamie Hunnings and his historical information. We commenced a long-distance collaboration. Primary sources included the aforementioned article and fire department centennial celebration brochure from 2006. Remote research was conducted, with bits and pieces found via Google searches. Particularly about major fires and notable incidents.

Added some images, including vintage pictures from Jesse Chaplain from Beaufort (from a prior posting) and apparatus photos from Lee Wilson. He's done great work capturing their rigs during annual beach visits over the last couple decades. The site still needs more images. That's something for someday. Maybe we'll see some submissions from readers or MCFD. But the historical information is tight 'n' right. And ready for feedback, from anyone with edits or additions or questions.

View the history of the Morehead City Fire Department.

+ 0 - 1 | § Historic Fire Trucks at Historic Oakwood This Weekend

The 43rd Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour is this weekend in downtown Raleigh. This year, the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood is also saluting the firefighters who have also helped preserve property and save lives within the district. Raleigh Fire Department Historian Mike Legeros recently researched same and found some 125 working fires and over 200 smaller fires, from the late 1880s to present day. Read this blog posting to learn more. Or view his research documents: single-page summary (PDF) or full-report (PDF).

Four pieces of fire apparatus, from both Raleigh and local collectors, are planned to appear at the event, with the oldest on Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. They'll also have 1950s model at the Tucker on Saturday. The following day will see a 1960s pumper. Engine 3 will also be visiting at various times during the weekend. The fire engines will be parking along the tour route.

The tour is Saturday and Sunday, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. This is the 43rd annual tour. Twelve properties are available for viewing. See this tour map for more information. Or learn more on their Facebook page.

+ 1 - 0 | § Car vs. Apartment Building, Driver vs. Jail

As this WTVD story reports, the deck and one wall of an apartment building at 4500 Oak Meadow Lane was destroyed around midnight, when his Jeep SUV left the roadway and struck the structure. The driver fled the scene (e.g. backed away and drove off) and was found at his home shortly after the crash. Says the story, the vehicle "had a busted windshield, scrapes, and still a large amount of debris" piled up on the hood. Including "nails, wood" and "even yard gloves from a storage shed." The driver was arrested. As the joke goes, but maybe he blew his horn first. See also this WRAL story.

WTVD photo

+ 0 - 0 | § Corinth Holders New Engine, Holly Springs New Aerialscope

Photographer Lee Wilson provides a couple local apparatus updates this week, via photographs from Corinth Holders Fire Department in Johnston County and Holly Springs Fire Department. As for other updates, readers are welcome to share their news. We posted an apparatus update for Wake County in October. What other updates do folks have, both here and in the greater Raleigh-Durham area?

Here's Corinth Holders' new Engine 3, a 2014 Spartan ERV MetroStar 1250/1000. Delivered to Station 1 on Wednesday, October 10. And yet another Spartan ERV for our area. They're making definite inroads in the central Piedmont! See more photos.

Lee Wilson photo

Here's Holly Springs' new Ladder 255 (renamed from Ladder 2, story there?), a 2001 Spartan Gladiator/Baker Aerialscope 2000/95-foot. From William Cameron Engine Company in Lewisburg, PA. See prior posting. Has been repainted red over black from its original eye-catching dark yellow. Photographed yesterday at Station 1. Still having equipment added and more lettering and striping. See more photos.

Also, Lee reports that the town's new Squad 1 was placed in service on Wednesday, October 10. That's a 2014 Spartan ERV MetroStar rescue pumper 1500/750/25 that was delivered in September. See prior posting.

Lee Wilson photo

+ 0 - 0 | § Wake County Fire Commission Meeting - December 11, 2014

The next meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission is Thursday, December 11, 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. The purpose of the meeting is a discussion of the cost share study. See prior blog posting.



Agenda packet (PDF)

+ 0 - 1 | § Two Apparatus Accidents in Durham County at Same Fire - April 1975

Next in our historical review of apparatus accidents in an unusual story from Durham County in 1975. This AP photo and story appeared in the Herald-Journal on April 30, 1975. The incident probably occured on April 29. Two Durham County fire trucks were involved in accidents while responding to the same the fire. The first resulted in the death of the other vehicle's driver.

Wrote the Associated Press: "Shirley Brown of Durham was killed when her station wagon ran into the path of a Durham County fire truck Tuesday. Four firemen were injured, but not seriously. The station wagon as wedged between the truck and a tree, and workmen had to use torches to cut it up before it could be moved."

"Later, a second fire truck was dispatched to the same house fire and it collided with a car at an intersection, a few blocks from the scene of the fatal accident. Police said in each case, the automobile had pulled into the path of the fire truck from a side street. A third fire truck arrived at the scene without mishap and firemen found a smoking hot water heater."

What specific Durham County units were these? The pictured American LaFrance engine was one that ran out of Durham city Station 1. It was staffed by city firefighters whose salaries were paid by the county. But who sent the second and third units, do you suppose?

AP photo

Historical Perspective

Now the expected question, how many fatal apparatus accidents involving civilians have happened in our state? (See my fallen firefighters database for those with firefighter fatalities.)

On November 7, 1923, a ten year-old boy was killed in Raleigh, when Engine 1 crashed into a group of spectators. They were standing on West Martin Street. The apparatus was operating at Southern School Supply. Another man was seriously injured. A dozen people total were struck. Recalling the November 8 story in the News & Observer, the crowd immediately set upon the driver of the fire engine. Believe police had to be called to protect the fireman. 

A warehouse and small garage were burning, with three lines of hose in operation. The fire was nearly under control when the Fire Chief ordered the operator of Engine 1 to lay another line across the railroad tracks. The apparatus was travelling at a reported 25 MPH when it struck the spectators. As witnesses voiced their anger at what happened, police took the firefighter into protective custody and transported him to police headquarters.

He was held on manslaughter charges, and released on $2,000 bond. The charges were apparently dropped. City Council later awarded a nominal payment to the family of the deceased boy.

+ 1 - 2 | § Charlotte Engine Hit by Train, 1973

Here's another Hose & Nozzle find from my files, this one reprinting a Charlotte News story by Ken Garland from the summer of 1973. Appeared in the July-August issue of that year's magazine. 

Charlotte Engine 2 was struck by a train, while crossing at Bland Street behind the Lance Inc. building off South Boulevard. Neither the apparatus nor the train saw each other, said District Chief Kenneth Helms.

The company was answering a box-transmitted alarm at Wilmore and Summitt. (Was a false call.) The crossing had no signals, said the Chief. He described it as a "blind crossing because the old Lance Building comes right up to the tracks and neither could see."

Engine 2 was pushed down the tracks about 25 feet. The apparatus sustained considerable damage. The firefighters aboard were all transported for observation. None were treated.

Historical Perspective

Just how many apparatus versus train accidents have happened in North Carolina, over the decades? More than a few, including as memory serves a brush truck from western Wake County. Maybe was from Morrisville?

The worst such accident happened in Fayetteville. On March 17, 2000, Fire Engineer David Sharp died after the aerial tower he was driving was struck by a train. He was the lone occupant of the apparatus, and was returning from an automatic fire alarm. The aerial was a 1993 Pierce Arrow tower (_/_/100-foot)  that was acquired from Bonnie Doone FD. The rear-mount rig was serving as Truck 1.

+ 0 - 0 | § Hose & Nozzle, 1972 - Five Perish in Wake County Fire

As best as records reveal, the two deadliest fires in Raleigh Wake County history occurred in 1948 and 1972. Five people were killed in both. The former occurred on February 1, 1948. We've blogged about that fire before. The latter happened in late on August 8, 1972. [Date from Montlawn Cemetery search, where the victims where buried.] Found this Hose & Nozzle story from their September-October 1972 issue. Looks likely as reprinted from the News & Observer or Raleigh Times. Readers may have more information.

Five Perish in Wake County Fire

RALEIGH, N.C. - Five members of a Wake County family died when fire partially gutted their brick home on Penny Road about six miles south of Raleigh.

H. O. Jordan, 41; his wife, Elizabeth B. Jordan, 35; the couple's two children, Lisa, 13, and Russell, 2, and Mrs. Jordan's mother, Mrs. Mary K. Bailey, 65, died of smoke and heat inhalation, according to Wake County Coroner Marshall Bennett.

Raleigh Fire Marshal Johnny Holmes, responding to a request from Swift Creek Fire Chief L. D. Warner, inspected the home this morning and said that lightning may have struck the house. Holmes discovered wiring fused together.

Warner said the Swift Creek [Fire] Department received the call at 1:47 a.m., and arrived about four minutes later to find one end of the house engulfed in flames. The roof had caved in.

Warner said firemen learned there were people trapped inside, but the heat and smoke were so intense [that] it was several minutes before they could get in and locate the family. Warner said he believes all five were dead by the time the fire department survived.

"The was no way anybody could survive in those bedrooms for any length of time," Warner said. The family members apparently attempted to get out, but were overcome before they could do more than ge tout of bed. Both the family's small dogs died in the fire, according to Swift Creek fireman Brian Perry. They were buried this morning by neighbors.

The heat and smoke blackened the entire house and all its contents. Paint had blistered and peeled in every room.

Perry said that, when he removed the body of Lisa Jordan, "I think we were just hoping against hope that she could be revived."

+ 2 - 1 | § Abandoned Building Collapses in Downtown Raleigh

We're fortunate in Raleigh to have exceptionally few deteriorating buildings. But those that do exist are obvious challenges for fire crews. Companies must remain aware of their territory. And a complete size-up is imperative to ensure a correct conditions assessment.

The perils of such structures were demonstrated the previous morning when an old bus station on Blount Street spontaneously collapsed. Let's look at the incident... Dispatched at 11:26 p.m. as structural collapse with possible entrapment at Branch Street and Blount Street.

Fire units were Engine 2, Ladder 4, Battalion 2, as first-due companies plus technical rescue response of Rescue 1, Squad 14, Squad 15, USAR 801 (staffed by Engine 25), Ladder 3 (SOC company), and Battalion 5 (rescue chief). Plus Air 1 and Haz-Mat 2, which are automatically dispatched. Medical response was EMS 10, EMS 39, District 10, Medic 92, and Truck 1.

Police were originally dispatched to the incident, and requested fire and EMS due to prior incidents of occupancy by homeless individuals. 

Address 1277 S. Blount Street. Property owner Carolina Coach Company. One-story brick warehouse building with 8,536 square-feet. Built around 1936 (says my research, versus 1939 say tax records). News reports say same had been empty for several years.

Ladder 4 was first arriving and took command. They found the street-facing side of the building (Division A) collapsed into the street. There was a combination of "pancake" and "lean to"? collapses within the front section of the structure (Division 1).

Battalion 2 and Rescue 1 soon arrived, with Battalion 2 assuming command, with Ladder 4 assigned as Operations. Battalion 5 assumed Operations upon his arrival.

Rescue 1 evaluated the structure and began searching void spaces in the collapse area. Ladder 4 searched the section of the building that was undamaged. Other units were staged on the street as they arrived.

After a briefing with all companies present, operations continued. USAR 801 was assigned RIT and also secured utilities. Squad 14 and 15 were rotated into Division 1 to assist with debris removal. Engine 2, Ladder 3, Air 1, and Haz-Mat 2 were released.

Once the primary search of the building was complete, Ladder 4 conducted a secondary search. No individuals were found in the structure. After the arrival of a city building inspector, the scene was secured and transferred to police and the inspector. Demolition will reportedly begin today.

Here's are images from this WRAL story and this NBC17 story. See this WTVD story.

WRAL photo

NBC17 photo

What's the History?

Next question, what's the history of that building? Has it always been used by the bus company. Negative. The parcel was purchased by Carolina Coach Company in 1969. Before that time the structure served as everything from an auto showroom to a sausage plant.

Here are (incomplete) city directory listings for 1277 S. Blount Street that tell some of that story:

Meanwhile, similar listings for the adjoining 1201 S. Blount parcel show the bus company on the site since circa 1940:

Here's a Sanborn Map image from 1950, showing the details of the entire block, and notably the bus facilities. The building at 1277 is addressed 1215 on the map and housed a "sandwich making" facility. Click to enlarge:


Copyright 2012 by Michael J. Legeros