History of Wake County Fire Protection and Fire Governance

What’s the history of fire protection in Wake County, as well as the governance of that fire protection? Have been thinking about that this week, in advance of tonight’s Wake County Fire Commission meeting. 

Here’s a research document (PDF) with those details. Created in 2016.

Looking through the fresh eyes, there are a couple things that need attention. Such as showing the size of the Fire Marshal’s Office / Fire Services Department over time. Say, number of authorized positions for each fiscal year. Also worth adding the specific year that county-contracted fire departments were required to submit itemized budgets. That was in the… 2000s? 

Historical High Points

  • 1953 – First “rural” FD created
  • 1954 – First full-time county Civil Defense director hired. Role becomes EM director, and assumes role of county fire marshal.
  • 1955 – Wake County Firemen’s Association former.
  • 1956, by this year – County rural FD program created.
  • 1958 – County-wide, two-way radio network created for FDs.
  • 1963 – Wake County Fire Chief’s Council created.
  • 1972 – County FD dispatching transferred from Raleigh to new city/county 911 center.
  • 1978, by this time – Wake County Fire Districts Commission is operating.
  • 1985 – County fire training center completed in New Hill.
  • 1986 – First full-time county Fire Marshal hired.
  • 1988 – First countywide training program begins.
  • 1994 – TriData study of county fire protection received, includes recommendation for creating a fire advisory board.
  • 1998 – Wake County Fire Commission created, as advisory board to County Commissioners.
  • 1999 – Individual fire tax districts consolidated into single countywide district.
  • 2002 – County ownership of FD facilities introduced, with FVFD Station 3 opened.
  • 2003 – TriData study of county fire/EMS facilities and equipment receives, includes recommendation for closing a number of county stations.
  • 2005 – County ownership of FD apparatus introduced, along with bulk purchasing.
  • 2008 – First (and to date, only) fire station closure, Western Wake Station 2.
  • 2009 – First county fire recruit class graduates.
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Oak Island Fire Departments Family Tree – Long Beach, Yaupon Beach, Oak Island, Southport, Fort Caswell

New history chart! 

Fire departments of Oak Island in Brunswick County:

  • Fort Caswell
  • Long Beach
  • Yaupon Beach
  • Oak Island
  • Southport

This one’s a little less complete than usual. Done entirely through remote research. And includes a few standing question. Will revise as more info is found.

View as JPG (1.8M) | View as PDF (1.8M) | See more charts


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Charlotte Rescue and First Aid Squad – Annual Report, 1953

From page 51 of the previously posted Charlotte Fire Department annual report of calendar year 1953, here’s a neat summary of the rescue squad organization’s activities, members, and assets. Their equipment included three iron lungs!

The Charlotte Rescue and First Aid Squad was a private corporation that was chartered in July 1947. They were one of the oldest in the state, preceded only by Winston-Salem Rescue Squad, chartered in February 1947. 

What’s the later history of the organization? Good question! Maybe readers can help.

Click to enlarge:



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Charlotte Fire Department Annual Reports – 1937, 1953

For your Sunday reading, annual reports of the Charlotte Fire Department for the calendar years 1937 and 1953.

Lots of interesting information and great hand-drawn graphics. The 1953 report also includes hand-drawn pictures of each front-line apparatus!

Scanned from bound copies at Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina, during a recent visit.

Read the reports: 1937 (PDF, 9MB) | 1953 (PDF, 7MB)


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Chapel Hill Fire Station 2 – History of the Original

Chapel Hill’s new Fire Station 2 was dedicated on Saturday. The two-story, 11,246 square-foot engine house was opened in May. See photos.

It’s the ten-years-in-the-making result of a public and private partnership between the town, the county, and a private developer. 

Built on the site of the original 1959 fire station on Hamilton Road, it houses an engine and ladder company, along with a county EMS unit. 

Here’s a look back at the original building’s history. It’s pulled from recent research by Mike Legeros, who’s been diving deep this spring (and summer) into Chapel Hill’s fire history.

2018-07-15-chfdPhoto credits, left to right, top to bottom: Roland Giduz/UNC Collection, Chapel Hill Fire Department, Lee Wilson, Mike Legeros

Pre-History – 1950 to 1956

1950 – Glen Lennox Apartments open, a planned residential community on the east side of town, with 314 units. It’s were located outside the corporate limits and is protected by a community-created (or developer-provided?) volunteer fire department. Source: Legeros blog.

1952 – Glen Lennox shopping center opens, the first for the town and believed to be the second in the state. Source: Glen Lennox history

1953, April 11 – New pumper delivered to town, 1953 American LaFrance 700 Series, 750/110. The $16,180 apparatus is bought with joint funds from the town and the University. It’s later the original Engine 2, when Station 2 opens in 1959.

Continue reading ‘Chapel Hill Fire Station 2 – History of the Original’ »

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Wake County Fire Commission Meeting – July 19, 2018

The Wake County Fire Commission meets on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at the Wake County Emergency Services Training Center,  220 S. Rogers Lane, Suite 160. Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

Agenda is below, and includes the “Insurance District Realignment and Station Closure” presentation  about a proposed concept with impacts to Fairview and Garner fire departments. The concept’s core points are (a.) realigning the Ten Ten and Garner Suburban fire districts, (b.) adding a new Garner station, and (c.) closing Fairview Station 2.

See slides in the supporting documents in the agenda packet.

View agenda packet


  • Meeting Called to Order: Chairman Chief McGee
    • Invocation
    • Pledge of allegiance
    • Roll of Members Present
  •  Items of Business
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Approval of Minutes March 15, 2018 Meeting
    • Approval of Minutes April 26, 2018 Special Called Meeting
  •  Public Comments:
  •  Comments from the public will be taken at this time. Members of the public are invited to make  comment to the Commission, with a maximum of 3 minutes per person. A signup sheet for those who wish to speak during the public comments section of the meeting is located at the entrance of  the meeting room.
  •  Regular Agenda
    •  Insurance District Realignment and Station Closure Presentation
    •  Swift Creek Fire Request
    •  Administrative Committee Scope
    •  Administrative Committee Membership
  •  Information Agenda
    •  Sub Committee Reports as needed
    •  Fire Services Report
  •  Other Business
  •  Adjournment – Special Called Meeting TBD



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Map of Wake County Fire Districts

Here’s a Wake County GIS map of the current county fire districts (plus RDU). That is, all fire insurance districts that are funded by the county fire tax, and protected by contract arrangements with private and municipal fire departments.

Annotated by Mr. Blogger, with larger icons for fire stations, and gray icons added for those handful of “new” stations coming in 2018 and 2019. e.g., Cary 9, Raleigh 6, 12, 14.

With a single color for all current stations, for an “equalized” effect. Did not include further-out future planned stations. Holler with errors and will correct.

View as super-sized PDF.

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The Only Constant is Change

Next week, the Wake County Fire Commission receives presentation from Wake County Fire Services, with a concept for adding a new Garner fire station near Ten Ten Road and Highway 401. Such a facility could provide service to the areas currently served by Fairview Station 2. Whoa.

On June 30, Apex EMS ceased operation. Wake County EMS took over their district, absorbed their assets, and hired some/all of their employees. On July 1, Durham County Fire-Rescue ceased operation. Their assets and personnel and a pair of facilities were consolidated with the city of Durham Fire Department. Whoa.

Big changes, both conceived (Garner/Fairview) and realized (Apex, Durham).

Was thinking about this this week. Change and its consistency in life. Choose your adage and they all, invariably, say something like “this too will change.”

Fire and EMS agencies invariably face changes to their service demands. Populations ebb and flow. Developers develop. Infrastructure expands and contracts. < See Raleigh Fire Station 22, soon closing and relocating to a temporary facility, in response to a rail corridor and right-of-way requirements.

But fire stations and EMS stations are more than just monopoly pieces, easily relocated on a larger gameboard. They embody the legacies of those who served before. And those who created the very agencies. Fairview, Apex, Durham County’s predecessors of Bethesda and Parkwood, they each have decades of sweat equity and community participation.

Plus, things like facility locations and response districts are behemoths of a sort. They aren’t easily budged from their present position. Some is the human investment and how the participants think and react to change. Another piece is the more practical one. You have plan, budget, build, and staff a new facility. You have to research a new response district, and build the necessary stakeholder support. Plus the legal/ISO requirements. Etcetera.

Change is hard, and it takes work.

Was thinking about this. Something something something inspirational goes here. There are good folks and good intentions behind all such initiatives. Even if the roads get rocky to get there, or the end results don’t entirely match expectations.

Historical Perspective

Examples of big changes in fire/rescue/EMS around the Triangle, going back years or decades. Excludes most station openings, except where they involved a relocation:

  • 2018 – Raleigh FD relocates Station 12.
  • 2018 – Durham County Fire-Rescue consolidated with Durham (City) Fire Department
  • 2018 – Apex EMS (municipal) disbanded. 
  • 2017 – Bay Leaf FD and Stony Hill FD consolidate and form Northern Wake FD.
  • 2015 – Cary FD relocates Station 2.
  • 2015 – Durham County EMS takes over operations for remaining Durham County FD EMS providers. (Parkwood.)
  • 2015 – Parkwood FD ceases operation. 
  • 2013 – Bethesda FD ceases operation, Durham County FD created, takes over.
  • 2012 – Falls FD merges with Wake Forest FD.
  • 2011 – Six Forks EMS disbanded.
  • 2010 – Apex EMS merges with town.
  • 2010 – Garner Rescue & EMS ends both rescue and EMS operations. 
  • 2010 – Holly Springs FD ends EMS service.
  • 2008 – Orange County Rescue removed from 911 system. Later disbands.
  • 2008 – Western Wake Station 2 closed, new county-contracted Cary Suburban fire district created.
  • 2004 – Orange County Rescue and South Orange Rescue “un-merge”. 
  • 2007 – Wake County-contracted haz-mat team / Wendell FD haz-mat ceases operation. 
  • 2007 – Rolesville EMS merges with Eastern Wake EMS
  • 2007 – Wake County EMS adds rehab services, takes over role from Wake County Fire Services, which had had a major incident response unit that provided such functions
  • 2005 – Wendell EMS and Knightdale EMS consolidate, form Eastern Wake EMS.
  • 2006 – Holly Springs PS splits into HSFD and HSPD.
  • 2004 – NC RRT 4 moves from Parkwood FD to Raleigh FD.
  • 2003 – Knightdale (rural) FD renamed/re-created as Eastern Wake FD.
  • 2003 – Orange County takes over EMS services in county.
  • 2002 – Apex Rural FD merges with town. 
  • 2002 – Six Forks FD merges with Bay Leaf FD. 
  • 2001 – Town of Knightdale creates new FD. 
  • 2001 – Fuquay-Varina Area Rescue Squad disbands
  • 2000 – Zebulon Rural FD merges with town.
  • 1999 – Orange County Rescue and South Orange Rescue merge. 
  • 1998 – Wake Forest EMS disbands
  • 1998 – Fairgrounds FD and Yrac FD consolidate and form Western Wake FD.
  • 1997 – Holly Springs Rural FD merges with town.
  • 1997 – NC RRT 4 activated at Parkwood FD.
  • 1994 – Morrisville Rural FD merges with town. 
  • 1993 – Raleigh FD relocates Station 4.
  • 1992 – Northern Wake EMS ceases operation
  • Etc.
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Two Alarms on Settle In Lane

Two alarms were struck at 2925 Settle In Lane on Thursday morning, in northeast Raleigh. Dispatched 10:08 a.m. for city companies plus Wake Forest Engine 5 as auto-aid.

Wake Forest Engine 5 and B1 were first-arriving at a two-story multi-family residential building, with 1,648 square-feet in unit, and six units in building. Built 2007. Heavy fire showing from the roof and the rear. 

See superb aerial and ground footage from FocusMedia, posted to Vimeo. The videographer lives across the street. Google for news coverage.

Engine 5 laid their own supply line, and was assisted by the first-arriving Raleigh company, Engine 22, arriving less than a minute behind the Wake Forest engine. Raleigh crews assisted Wake Forest crews stretching the first attack line, to the rear of the building, for an exterior attack on the flames that were extending from the deck to the attic, and across two townhome units.

2018-07-06-rfd2FocusMedia image, screen capture from footage

Another crew entered unit 2927 and took a line inside, and into the attic for fire attack. Wake Forest Battalion 1 was command and requested two additional engines about 10:17 a.m., and then a second alarm about 10:22 a..m. When Raleigh Battalion 1 arrived, he assumed command.

Other companies performed primary and secondary searches for occupants, and checked for extension. Controlled at 10:35 a.m., though companies remained on scene for a few hours, performing salvage and overhaul, along with air monitoring and ventilation in all of the building units.

2018-07-06-rfd3FocusMedia image, screen capture from footage

Due to the high heat, heavy rotation of personnel was performed, along with two sets of relief companies requested, each with two engines and one ladder.

Four people displaced. No injuries to occupants. Two firefighters were injured with heat exhaustion and minor neck burns. Caused determined as accidental, likely started on deck.

Also longer-ish response times for the Raleigh units, as the building is located on the east side of the Falls River subdivision, and just about as far-removed from the main roads as possible. Lots of twisty streets, etc.

2018-07-06-rfdWTVD photo

Run card:

  • 10:08 – E22, E15, E28, E4, L1, L2, R1, B1, B4, WFFD E5, EMS 36, EMS 31, D9, M93
  • 10:18~ – EMS T1
  • 10:19~ – E18, E27
  • 10:21~ – A2, C20, C402. Note: B5 also on dispatch, though that’s an automatic notification, so they can handle move-up. No response.
  • 10:24~ – E23, E9, E16, L9, L6, A1
  • 10:38~ – EMS 33

Plus relief companies. Data from @WakeDispatch on Twitter.

Engine 25 wasn’t on the initial dispatches. They had responded to a service call at 9:55 a.m. Believe they responded to the scene subsequently.

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Visual History of Raleigh-Durham Airport Fire Department

For your holiday enjoyment, here’s another Legeros History Chart. 

Raleigh-Durham International Airport fire department. AKA, RDU CFR.

View as JPG | View as PDF  | See more charts

Here’s the landing page. And only one typo spotted so far. The 1979 quick-response truck was a Chevy, not a Ford. Will be updated.


Here’s the chart in paper form.

Sometimes Mr. Blogger designs on paper. 


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