Beck Fire Trucks Built in Davidson County

This is a blog version of Legeros Fire Line Facebook postings from September 2022.

Mike Legeros Photo

We recently learned of another fire truck builder in North Carolina. Jacob C. “Jake” Beck in Davidson County built some 75 fire trucks between the 1950s and 1970s. 


  • Beck operated a metalworking shop in Welcome, NC, in Davidson County. He was the son of a blacksmith.
  • Started Welcome VFD in January 1950, in the community of 1,500 outside of Thomasville. The idea of starting a department originated after he (and others) watched helpless as Ray Zimmerman’s furniture store burned in the late 1940s. 
  • They raised $600 and purchased a 1916 American LaFrance, chain-driven apparatus, with a 300-gallon booster tank, bought for $400 from the Cannon Towel Company in Kannapolis. Other equipment was donated by Lexington FD. 
  • Beck was elected fire chief, and held the position for 23 years, before retiring as Chief in 1973, at age 67.
  • Welcome FD was the first volunteer department in Davidson County. Beck was also called the “founder of the volunteer fire department system” in the county.
  • Beck died July 25, 1992, at age 85, leaving behind a wife of almost 55 years, six children, 14 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. 

Fire Trucks Continue reading ‘Beck Fire Trucks Built in Davidson County’ »

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Raleigh Rescue Boats, Past and Present

With the remnants of Hurricane Ian reaching Raleigh today, here’s a look at the city’s water rescue vehicles, past and present.

Left to right, top to bottom:

1953 wooden rescue boats, originally operated by the Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad at Station 1. And they’ve survived to this date, presently in storage. Lee Wilson photo, from 2008, when they were returned to RFD after years of storage at another city facility.

1975? metal rescue boats. The 14-foot aluminum boats along with trailers were donated by Jeffries Auto Marina Service in the spring of that year. They replaced the heavier wooden ones, which required six people to load and unload, and ten people to transport to harder-to-reach areas.

2000s? SeaArk metal boat plus rigid inflatable, shown in 2006 as pulled by Rescue 7 after remnants of a tropical storm (as memory serves) caused flooding on Capital Boulevard and stranded occupants at the Milner Inn and other nearby locations. More pics at

2007/08? rigid inflatable boats, part of the equipment cache of NC Task Force 8, assigned to USAR 801. Boat trailer was local/shop-built, correct? Identical units were placed in service in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Pulled by a 2007 Ford F-550 Super Duty/Knapheide water rescue unit.

More rigid inflatable boats, assigned to Squad 7 and pulled by Mini 7. Identical/similar equipment assigned to Squad 14 and pulled by Mini 14. Photographed during prep for Hurricane Florence in 2018. More pics at

Still more rigid inflatable boats, assigned to USAR 801. Seen on street, returning to Station 21. (The unit is cross-staffed by Engine 21.) The trailer is newer, as the earlier USAR 801 trailer was destroyed in a (trailer only) roll-over accident on Wilmington Street at Hoke Street circa 2018.

The trailer is one of several assigned to state-funded swift water teams around the state. Couple more pics at See closer views in these pics, during prep for Hurricane Dorian,

2021 Acela/General high-water rescue vehicle, shown in January 2022 on Glenwood Avenue. Designed for standing water operation. Cross-staffed by Engine 17. The vehicle was built from a 2003 Stewart & Stevenson military transport. More pics at

See Mike’s historic register of RFD apparatus for more info and pics :

Also, did you know that a member of the Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad died in the line of duty, during a water search in the Cape Fear River in 1959? Read about volunteer member and Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Battle at

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Raleigh Fire Calls During Hurricane Hazel in 1954

In October 1954, a much smaller version of the Raleigh Fire Department answered dozens of calls as Hurricane Hazel passed across the state. The department–with seven engine companies and two truck companies–had one of their busiest weekends ever, said newspapers.

For four decades, Hazel was recognized as the benchmark of tropical weather in this part of the country. Hurricane Fran passed that benchmark in 1996. What did the fire department response look like, when Hazel blew through Raleigh? 

Fire Calls During Hurricane Hazel

From the Monday, October 18, 1954 edition of the Raleigh Times:

Raleigh firemen experienced one of their busiest weekends as a result of damage wrought by Hurricane Hazel.

The following telephone calls were answered on Friday:

  • 8:05 a.m., 23 Bragg Street, electric wire, no damage;
  • 10:04 a.m., 1206 Park Drive, rug on fire, damage not estimated;
  • 11:30 a.m., 20 E. Cabarrus Street, electric wires, no damage;
  • 1:40 p.m., 714 Glenwood Avenue, electric wires, no damage:
  • 2:05 p.m., Lenior and Salisbury, electric wires, no damage;
  • 2:35 p.m., Colleton Road, house, damage not estimated;
  • 3:00 p.m., 500 S. Salisbury Street, tree on auto, damage no estimated;
  • 3:55 p.m., Carolina Buck Company, use of ladder needed;
  • 6:40 p.m., 400 block Oberlin Road, electric wires, no damage;
  • 7:15 p.m., 908 Fayetteville Street, oil stove, no damage;
  • 8:40 p.m., Cabarrus and Cutler, electric wires, no damage;
  • 9:00 p.m., S. East Street, electric wires, no damage;
  • 10:15 p.m., 500 block Salisbury Street, tree on fire, no damage;
  • 10:53 p.m., 128 N. Harrington Street, inspection;
  • 11:30 p.m., Bloodworth and Edenton Street, inspection

Calls on Saturday included:

  • 7.31 a.m., Box 313 alarm at Manly and Pugh Streets, oil stove, no damage;
  • 2:10 p.m., Mullins Lane, electric wires, no damage;
  • 5:32 p.m., Box 241 alarm at Martin and State Streets, oil stove, damage not estimated;
  • 7:17 p.m., 2931 Wade Avenue, electric wires, no damaged;
  • 8:39 p.m., 109 N. Boylan Avenue, electric wires, no damage;
  • 8:46 p.m., same as above;
  • 11:36 p.m., Franklin and Person Streets, brush and smudge pot on fire, no damage.

Sunday’s calls included:

  • 2:45 a.m., 2302 Byrd Street, electric motor, no damage;
  • 9:05 a.m., 319 S. Dawson, inspection;
  • 10:12 a.m., Sawyer Lane, chimney, no damage;
  • 1:40 p.m., 400 block Peace, bus on fire, no damage;
  • 12:41 to 421 N. Bloodworth Street, look for lost child;
  • 2:52 p.m., to 13 Maiden Lane, tree about to fall, no damage.

Then and Now

As for the size of the Raleigh Fire Department in 1954: Continue reading ‘Raleigh Fire Calls During Hurricane Hazel in 1954’ »

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Wake County Fire Commission Meeting – September 15, 2022

The Wake County Fire Commission held their regular meeting on Thursday, September 15, 2022, at 6:00 p.m., at the Wake County Emergency Services Education Center, 221 S. Rogers Lane, Raleigh, NC 27610. 

The agenda and meeting documents are below.  

View Meeting Documents


Listen to the audio recording, as linked from this page.


Go here.


  • Meeting Called to Order: Chairman Keith McGee
    • Invocation
    • Pledge of allegiance
    • Roll call of membership 
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Approval of June 2, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes
  • Public Comments:
  • Regular Agenda
    • ARPA Recruitment Project Update
    • Updates to the Staffing & Compensation Guidelines
    • Standing Meeting Date for Fire Commission
  • Information Agenda
    • Fire Tax Financial Report – Budget Analyst Aaron Brown
    • Standing Committee Updates
      • Administrative
      • Apparatus
      • Budget
      • Communications
      • Equipment
      • Facility
      • Health & Wellness
      • Training
      • Volunteer Recruitment & Retention Committee
    • Chair Report
    • Fire Services Report
      • Update on Northern Wake Community Meeting
      • New Hope/Raleigh Update
      • Western Wake Update
  • Other Business
  • Adjournment – Next Meeting – November 10, 2022
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Raleigh Wake Scanner Moves to Slack

Raleigh Wake Scanner on Twitter/Facebook changed platforms on May 1, 2022. They moved their posted traffic and incident alerts to Slack channel(s)–generated from their monitoring of scanner radios–and adopted a supporter model with a nominal fee to cover operational expenses.

Slack can be used on any browser on any computer. There’s also a Windows desktop application and Slack mobile apps. Users can be logged into both at once. Slack offers real time push notifications on any device that’s channel-based: users can select which content they want instant alerts for, rather than watching their screens waiting for someone to post.

Two Types of Service

Raleigh Wake Scanner on Slack offers two types of services:

  • Supporter only, for $1 per month, which has access to a range of Slack channels that include such topics as fire incident alerts, traffic incident alerts, major incident alerts and discussion, scanner radio discussion, and weather alerts. They have corresponding discussion channels as well.
  • Listener/Contributor, free, but with a requirement that they contribute as an active scanner listener for the benefit of everyone including Supporters. This also provides round the clock coverage as best as possible. They have access to the same Slack channels as Supporter only, plus additional “private” channels for discussion among listener-contributors, including private ops channels for discussion during specific ongoing incidents or events.

    (The benefits of listener/contributors are obvious: members who like to listen, but are away from their radio, will be part of a group that alerts each other. This provides that instant ability for those members to “tune in” on their own radio as events are unfolding.)

How to Join

To become a Supporter, submit a payment at and you will be redirected to a Slack account creation page. Please note that NO MEDIA is allowed.

To participate as a Listener/Contributor, contact

And if you already use Slack for work or other workspaces, once your email address is added to their system, you’ll add the Raleigh-Wake Scanner workplace ( to your existing Slack. 

Note: Please report any technical issues at the above links to

General Notes

  • Incident postings to alert channels must be confirmed by radio traffic.
  • Traffic incident postings to alert channels are often confirmed with traffic map data. 
  • Listener/contributor participation expectations? That they post something every once in a while (or more), to public or private channels, when they hear something significant related to incidents/postings.
  • These services are intended for non-commercial use. Thus, no media are allowed as supporters or listener/contributors.

More Screen Shots

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Raleigh Rescue Squad Member Drowns, 1959

This is a blog version of a Facebook posting from February 2021.

On Thursday, April 23, 1959, Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad volunteer member and Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert L. Battle, 45, drowned in the Cape Fear River in Chatham County. He was serving as a squad member and assisting with a search for a missing boater, after Isaac Barker, 33, of Fuquay Springs, disappeared after his fishing boat overturned the day before, about two miles above Buckhorn Dam. 

A Wildlife Commission plane spotted the overturned boat about five miles below the dam. From the shore, searchers spotted a lifejacket in the back of the boat. Battle swam out to investigate and with a rope around his waist. The rope wasn’t long enough to allow to reach the boat, so he instructed those on shore to let the rope go. As noted in the next day’s News & Observer, Battle “became exhausted” on the swim back to shore and “tied himself to a willow tree in the river.” He was “apparently was too tired to hold his head out of the water” and subsequently drowned.

Deputy Battle had been a “night jailer” for about four years, noted the newspaper. He had previously served as a Raleigh police officer. He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery on April 25, 1959, and was survived by two brothers.

Later Lawsuit

In August 1960, a Wake County Superior Court judge ordered that a $5,000 life insurance benefit for Battle be paid. The payment had been withheld by the insurance company for over a year, because the beneficiary couldn’t be found in the files of the rescue squad.

Raleigh Fire Chief Jack Keeter testified that “sometime after the squad was formed a few years ago,” the organization took out a blanket policy with Glen Falls Insurance Company. All squad members were issued certificates that included instructions to list their beneficiaries. 

Said Keeter, he couldn’t determine if Battle had “turned the certificate back in” or it was lost due to the “‘poor bookkeeping system’.”

Judge Henry A. McKinnon ruled that Battle’s brother Lee, whom with Robert “had made his home,” was the beneficiary of the policy. His brother was also the sole beneficiary of Battle’s estate. See below story.

About Raleigh Rescue

The Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad was created in 1953 as a private organization that operated in partnership with the Raleigh Fire Department. The charter members included Fire Chief Jack Keeter. 

It was based out Central Fire Station and operated two vehicles: a smaller panel van and boat trailer, and a larger Civil Defense rescue truck. The squad was comprised of volunteer members, including Raleigh firemen. In 1954, they were assigned a full-time fire department driver. 

Their early calls included these call types, summarized for a News & Observer story on January 31, 1956. In 1955, the squad answered:

  • 52 – Stand by for fire, “at places where crowds congregate”, include 20 false calls
  • 14 – School visits, for demonstrations
  • 14 – “Give aid to sick and helpless”
  • 9 – Body recoveries from water. (Three of whom survived.)
  • 6 – Heart attack “cases”
  • 2 – Rescue demonstration requests

The volunteer members waned in later years and by the late 1960s/early 1970s, the rescue unit was later exclusively operated by the fire department. Read more history in this earlier blog post.

Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad in October 1955. Courtesy Raleigh Fire Museum

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Volunteer Program Ends at Apex Fire Department

This spring, an era ended in Apex. On May 15, 2022, a twenty-year agreement expired between the Town of Apex and the Apex Volunteer Fire Department Rural Services, Inc. (today named Apex Volunteer Firefighters Organization Inc.) and the municipal Apex Fire Department ended its volunteer program.

New Beginning

The agreement was established after town officials in February 2002 approved consolidation of the newer municipal AFD and the private AVFD, which was organized in 1952. (Though the original AFD dates to 1927.)

Effect May 15, 2002, the town absorbed all volunteer assets and assumed all debts. The town also agreed to keep the volunteer department’s downtown station open for at least ten years. The ten-year agreement was renewed in 2012, but was not renewed for 2022.

Read the 2002 agreement (PDF).

Growth and Change

Over the last twenty years, the Apex Fire Department has grown by leaps and bounds. First and foremost, it transformed from a primarily volunteer organization to a nearly entirely career department. New stations were opened on Hunter Street (2002), East Williams Street (2009), and Kelly Road (2018). And a sixth station is under construction on Wimberly Road.

They’ve added apparatus and additional fire companies and today have fully-staffed: four engines, two ladders, and one rescue company.

End of an Era

With the expiration of the 2002 agreement, insurance coverage and workers compensation for volunteer members ceased to be provided by the town. As a result, AFD suspended the duty-crew program. There were seven volunteer members on the roster, three who were still active on duty crews, and four older members who still participated in training. 

In 2019, town council received information on the future of Station 1, including options for renovating or rebuilding. See prior blog posting

Since the original agreement in 2002, the volunteer members who originated the contract all since retired. Future plans for the volunteer organization include working to help preserve the history of the department. One idea they’ve discussed is creating a museum space to honor the legacy of its volunteer members and their decades of service. 

Shown in bottom photo, left to right, are former volunteer members Sue-Lynn Hinson (retired 2015), Dwayne Vaughn (member since 1965!), Charlie Orlowski, Billy Gilbert, John Hellmann, Ed Jollie, and Matt Runyan. They gathered this week for a dinner meeting.

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Visual History of Wilmington Fire Department

New history chart. Wilmington Fire Department from 1905 to present. Version 1.0. 

Need reader inputs, to double-check dates for station openings. Also seeking the dates/years that second and third aerial company were added, along with the heavy rescue company, and battalion chiefs. 

View the chart: JPG | PDF

See more history charts at

See more Wilmington FD history at


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Wilmington Add Three Squad Companies

On Monday, July 4, 2022, the Wilmington (NC) Fire Department activated three new squad companies, at Headquarters on Market street, Station 3 on Cinema Drive, and Station 8 on Eastwood Road. Each operates a 2022 Ford F-350/Knapheide utility truck, and is staffed with an officer and a Master Firefighter.

The squad concept is part of a new deployment model. By using quick-response vehicles (QRVs) for EMS calls, there will be less wear and tear on the larger apparatus. They’ll respond the same EMS call types as the engines, as well as service calls such as lift assists. 

The squads will also eventually be used in the WFD response program, and will also help meet a department objective of increased community interaction. 

WWAY3 video still


Each squad is equipped with hand tools including forcible entry tools and battery-operated saws, a full inventory of emergency medical equipment, fire extinguishers, thermal imaging camera, portable power generator, and water rescue equipment.

They have tow hitches and can assist with boat/water operations, and pulling boat trailers. They also have a heavy-duty winch, which can be used for such things as quickly clearing storm debris from roadways, to assist with emergency vehicle access.

Also of note, squad is a prior unit designation in Wilmington, used in earlier decades by the units that preceded the rescue companies.

Two Engines Deactivated

Also on July 4, Engine 4 at Headquarters and Engine 8 were deactivated. Their personnel were shifted to the squad, and the remainder to the truck company, allowing four- or five-person staffing on the truck, instead of three people. 

The engines were moved to the reserve fleet, and displaced the city’s two oldest reserve engines, which will be retired. This will lower the overall age of the reserve fleet. 

More Information

See this Facebook posting from WFD for more information.

See this news story from WWAY3.

Google for other news reports.

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Facts and Figures about North Carolina Fallen Firefighters

This is a blog version of an earlier Facebook posting.

Random data play. Facts and figures about the 333 names on the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial, from research by Legeros.


– Career vs. Volunteer vs. Part-Time
– Causes
– Counties with Highest Counts
– Departments with Highest Counts
– Counts of Additions by Year
– Bits and Pieces
– More Charts

Career vs. Volunteer vs. Part-Time Continue reading ‘Facts and Figures about North Carolina Fallen Firefighters’ »

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