1957, Western Boulevard Fire Department
formed. See timeline
1961, organized after Western Boulevard Fire
Department dissolves. Incorporated as Fairgrounds Rural Fire
Department, Inc. (February 24, 1961) sos
1961, first Fire Chief is B. J. Abbott. First Assistant Chief is Dale Graham ar92
1961, fire station constructed at
1515 Blue Ridge Road. The one-story block building has
two bays facing Blue Ridge Road.
1962, first apparatus includes:
- 1957 (?) Chevy/American pumper originally utilized by Western
- 1959 International Harvester tanker, 2700 gallons
1962, three rows of display
booths at Fairgrounds destroyed by fire. Worker at Red
Star Oil Company spots blaze in exhibition building. Firefighters, including two Raleigh units, bring blaze under control
in less than 20 minutes. (September 22, 1962) no23sep62
1963, Camp Polk mattress plant and
woodwork warehouse destroyed by fire. Fire is
discovered about 3 p.m. at warehouse. Winds fan flames and
spread to nearby mattress factory. Total damage is about $58,000.
Two fire companies from Raleigh assist. (November 14, 1963) rt15nov63,
1964, portable restaurant at
Fairgrounds destroyed by fire. Located between Dorton Arena
and the Red Cross Lounge, the 50 by 100 foot eatery catches fire
with around 6:20 p.m. Between 70 and 150 people are in the
restaurant when the fire starts. First fire truck arrives at
6:32 p.m. Raleigh, Cary, and Apex respond as mutual aid. Fame of
building collapses at 6:45 p.m. Damage is estimated at $100,000.
Fire is watched by thousands of spectators. (October 13, 1964) no14oct64,
1965, Camp Polk woodworking
shop suffers explosion and fire. One corner of the building
is heavily damaged by 8:15 a.m. explosion. Fire is confined to
one room. Raleigh Fire Department also responds with one unit
from Station 5. (September 23, 1965) rt23sep65
1965, concession stands at State
Fairgrounds burn. The 4 a.m. fire alarm
sweeps through 315-stretch of stands. Public address system
tower also gutted. Damage to stands is about $25,000. Three
units and 22 volunteer firefighters battle blaze. Raleigh Fire
Department also responds with five men and a pumper. (September 29, 1965) rt29sep65
1967 (?), apparatus
delivery: 1967 tanker, 1500 gallons. wcfar
1968-69, fire station catches fire. Overflowing oil heater starts fire
that doesn't combust. Interior is singed. Lenses on fire
trucks are melted and paint is cracked. Discovered by passing
firefighter. Interior is subsequently renovated. oh
1969, Wayside Furniture Company destroyed by fire.
One firefighter is injured when a "burned out wall" falls
on him during the 3 p.m. fire at 5425 Hillsborough Street Extension.
B. J. Abbott, the Fairgrounds Fire Chief, is treated at Wake
Memorial Hospital for "a leg broken in two places, cuts on his
hands and first and second degree burns over his entire body"
reports the March 29 edition of the News and Observer. Abbott
was "hosing water on the burning building when the roof
collapsed, knocking over a concrete block wall on him and showering
him with burning debris from the roof." Four rural departments
respond: Fairgrounds, Durham Highway, Yrac, and Swift Creek, as well
as "units from the Raleigh Fire Department." The fire was
"brought under control within about one hour." (March 28
Line of duty death. Assistant Chief
Norwood C. "Dick" Massengill, 57, dies on duty, after suffering heart attack
while operating apparatus. Fire engine is wrecked beyond
repair on Grand Avenue while returning from false alarm and collides
with trees in residential yard. Accident occurs around 2:23
p.m. He is found dead upon arrival of the Raleigh Fire Department
rescue squad. Funeral services are held on February 12, at Apex Funeral Home and burial
at Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh. Massengill, a mechanic, was a
charter member of FFD. (February 10, 1971) oh, rfd
1974 (?), apparatus
- 1974 Chevrolet/American LaFrance pumper, 750
GPM, 750 gallons
- 1974 Dodge equipment van, with "quick
mount air packs, generators, and lights."
1975, annual meeting held at 8:00 p.m. at the fire
station. (April 17, 1975) fdr
1975 (?), apparatus delivery: 1975 American LaFrance mini-pumper. wcfar
mid-1970s, station improvements:
- day room added in rear of building.
Firefighters construct same over a series of Monday night
- two additional apparatus bays. Female
workers through government work program complete same.
Fire department pays only cost of materials. Completion
takes about a year. oh
1985, Tanker 197 overturns on Blue
Ridge Road near the entrance to the art museum. The
Chevrolet/Atlas tanker swerved to avoid a car that had made a u-turn,
and hit a curb and overturned. The driver of the fire truck, Richard
"Will" Ernest, was treated at Rex Hospital and released. (November
1985 (?), apparatus deliveries:
- 1985 Kenworth/Grumman Firecat pumper/tanker, 1250 GPM,
2500 gallons. Placed in service as Engine 196/
- 1985 Ford/Grumman Firecat tanker, 350 GPM, 1500 gallons. Placed in service as Tanker 198/
1987, furniture store on
Bashford Road burns. Numerous fire departments respond.
(January 1987) oh
1992, fire department moves into
new station at 4120 District Drive. Building
has 6,536 square-feet with six bays, sleeping quarters, and other
rooms. Former station is located on state property, and the
Department of Transportation sought to expand its maintenance yard.
New location is also leased from the state. Reports the News &
Observer on March 30, 1990, the 6,400 square-foot station will be
twice the size of the current, and cost between $320,000 to
$340,000. Funding will include the department's savings, fire tax
revenues, fire protection contracts with Raleigh and the state, and
a $140,000 grant from the state. (April 25, 1992) ar92,
1992, Fire Chief is Percy Evans/ (April 25, 1992) ar92
1996, January 30 – Special Services 19 placed in service.
The specialized emergency response unit carries equipment for responder rehab
and medical surveillance, including foods and liquids. The unit is operated by
the Fairgrounds FD, who are contracted by Wake County Public Safety.
Procedure for dispatching the unit:
- Unit should be
requested by incident commander.
WC1 should be paged and made aware of reque
indicate whether or not to dispatch SS19, based on availability and other events
occurring in the county.
will be dispatched to respond with SS19. WC1 can also request the unit directly
Basic criteria for incident commanders should be when
multiple departments are involved and more than 25 emergency workers are
involved, or mass transportation is involved.
The unit is equipped with VHF, UHF, and 800 MHz radios.
It’s designed to support county emergency personnel, and is not intended as a
substitute for Salvation Army or Red Cross services. It’s available to any fire
department within Wake County.
SS19 operates a converted modular ambulance. Later a
trailer with additional supplies is added. Both units are removed from service
in 2000, with Wake County Public Safety citing budget issues. In 2007, the
county resumes scene support and rehab with Truck 1 operated by Wake County EMS.
Sources: WCPS memo, Oral Histories.