Raleigh Retires Snorkel

End of an era. This week, the City of Raleigh Fire Department’s beloved Snorkel was retired. Effective April 1, 2020. The 1988 Pierce Arrow, with an 85-foot boom and no pump, had served as a reserve apparatus for over a decade. It was currently designated Ladder 210.

Most recently and famous, it operated at one of the largest fires in the city’s history, at the Metropolitan fire in March 2017. Mike Legeros photo, on the cover of Firehouse. It also operated a decade earlier at another historic conflagration, the six-alarm blaze at Pine Knoll Townes that destroyed dozens of townhomes. As Ladder 22 on reserve that day. Lee Wilson photo.

And as Truck 1, its original assignment, it saw action at many a working fire and major fire in and around downtown Raleigh. There’s Truck 1 operating at the IGA Grocery fire in December 1992. Three alarms. News & Observer photo.

So many memories for so many members. It was also photographed by Jeff Harkey in 1992, posed on Dix Hill with the city skyline behind it.

The snorkel was delivered on/around August 31, 1988. Cost $396,325, job number E-4266, shop number 011005. Placed in service as Truck 1 on September 21. Moved to Truck 15 in 1999, then Truck 22 in 2001, then Truck 26 in 2005, then reserve in 2006, then Ladder 24 in 2009, then renumbered Ladder 6 in 2009, then back to reserve in [need year].

It was Raleigh’s second aerial platform, and it’s only snorkel. And only the second snorkel in the Raleigh-Durham area, after Durham’s 1971 Ward LaFrance/Hi-Ranger. Statewide, over three-dozen snorkels–both Snorkel brand and others–have served and are still serving. Here’s a blog post about them: https://legeros.com/blog/nc-snorkels/

What’s planned for this truck, post-retirement? Watch this space. The Raleigh Fire Museum is on the case.

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When Iron Lungs Were Added

Long before COVID crashed out shores, our fire departments and rescue squads assisted with another national health crisis. During the polio outbreaks of the 1940s and 1950s, they added iron lungs to their emergency equipment. Here’s the Durham Fire Department receiving one, as photographed by Charles Cooper for the Durham Morning Herald and/or Sun on March 30, 1948. Citation below.

Charlotte’s rescue squad had three iron lungs and a trailer in 1953. The Charlotte FD their 1953 annual report listed an “iron lung trailer” along with two adult and one baby models on the equipment roster of the “rescue and first aid squad.” They performed 45 local iron lung transports that year, and 25 out-of-town transports. (They also had 18 operating room stand-by calls [!] during tracheotomies of polio patients.)

The Greensboro Fire Department rescue squad had one by 1945, donated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Noted one newspaper account, it was “light enough to be taken to the scene.” Below is a newspaper article from 1950, noting that both GFD and the Greensboro Life Saving and First Aid Crew had one.

Greenville’s Rescue Squad had a portable iron lung by 1959, as the below Rocky Mount Telegram story notes. And the only one in eastern North Carolina.

Believe the Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad also had an iron during its early years of operation in the early 1950s. Can’t put my hands on the citation at the moment, however.

Photo citation: P0105-01-01-07-085 in the Durham Herald Company Newspaper Photograph Collection #P0105, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Visual History of the (Early) New Bern Fire Department

Forgot to blog about this last year. Another Legeros history chart, this time about the New Bern Fire Department. Created in July 2019, following the release of Daniel Bartholf’s book, History of Firefighting in New Bern, North Carolina – Colonial Days to the 21st Century. See earlier posting

One disclaimer, it’s a draft version. Will revisit at a later date and create a final version. Also, it’s primarily about the evolution of the volunteer fire companies, from 1845 to 1917. See what you think.

See the chart in JPG format (4.8M) or PDF format (4.8M).

See more history charts at https://legeros.com/history/charts


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The Grandstand Burned… But The Race Continued, 1959

This content was original posted on the Legeros Fire Line Facebook page. Go there for more content and much more frequent postings.

March 26, 2020
Photo error!. The previously included photos of a burning grandstand were not from this incident, but an earlier speedway fire in Greensboro. The grandstand at their fairgrounds burned on May 1, 1955. We will re-post the pictures in a new blog posting, with information about that incident. 

March 21, 2010
Sunday, March 29, 1959, at the Wilson County Fairgrounds, in Wilson, NC. The annual Easter NASCAR ran was about to begin. But then a fire was discovered smoldering beneath the stands.

Twenty minutes passed before the Wilson Fire Department received the alarm at 1:45 p.m. And by then it was too late. The 200-foot long, 39-year old wooden building was consumed by flames, though without any injuries.

Some 3,000 spectators were safely evacuated, with calm directions over the loudspeakers. Fire Chief T. R. Bissette had praise for the officials, but also condemned the fans for “monkeying with the fire for 20 minutes before reporting it.”

The blaze was only a temporary disruption. Noted the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram on March 30, “the race began as soon as the fire was brought under control.”

These dramatic photos–two views plus closer-cropped sections–are from the Hose & Nozzle archives, courtesy of Troy FD. Original photographer(s) TBD.

See also this racing site posting for information about the fire: https://www.racing-reference.info/showblog?id=3418

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CANCELLED – Wake County Fire Commission Meeting – March 19, 2020

March 17
The special-called meeting on April 9 has also been cancelled. 

March 12, 2020
Due to the very fluid and evolving COVID 19 situation, Wake County Fire Services has cancelled the scheduled March 19, 2020, meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission and all scheduled subcommittee meetings for the remainder of March. They will move the agenda items that were on the March 19, 2020, meeting on to the agenda of the scheduled special-called fire commission meeting on April 9, 2020 [which has now also been cancelled]. 

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Relocating Cary Station 9 – Ready to Open

See photos of project.

March 12, 2020
Ready to Open

Long-overdue update. Cary Station 9 is but days away from going into service. Paid a visit on Tuesday and snapped some pictures inside. Have also been taking pictures over the last eighteen months of construction, both ground and drone pictures. See those photos

Station 9 will house Engine 9 and a relocated Battalion Chief. 

October 25, 2018

The Town of Cary on Tuesday held a groundbreaking ceremony for the relocation of Fire Station 9. The 2.53 acre site is located at 1427 Walnut Street, and will replace a smaller facility built in 1974.

Station 9 currently occupies old Station 2, which relocated in 2015 to a new station on Chatham Street. Engine 9 was activated on December 18, 2015. Read blog post.

The new Station 9 is located 1.4 miles to the south and east, and closer to the interstate and commercial properties on the southwest side of town.

Construction of the $7.9M facility is expected to be completed in winter 2020.

Project History

  • 2013, October 10 – Property purchased by town of Cary. Site had church buildings on the property.
  • 2015, December 18 – Engine 2, Rescue 2 relocate to new quarters.
  • 2015, December 18 – Engine 9 placed in service at old Station 2.
  • 2016, Fall – Planning and design started.
  • 2017, August – Buildings demolished on site.
  • 2017, September 12 – Community meeting at Station 2 about project.
  • 2018, October 23 – Groundbreaking ceremony.

Video of Rendering Continue reading ‘Relocating Cary Station 9 – Ready to Open’ »

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Raleigh Fire and Police Staffing Studies

The City of Raleigh recently received a pair of staffing studies about the fire and police departments. City Council received a summary of the reports at a work session on Monday, February 24, 2020. You can watch that work session at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJJa30Nb9Qo. Start at 01:05:00. Below are links to the studies, the presentation slides, and a summary of the fire study recommendations:

Fire Department Study
Police Department Study
Public Safety Staffing Study – Presentation Slides to City Council
View documents at https://legeros.com/blog/docs/rps/

Fire Study
Report dated February 14, 2020
Matrix Consulting Group
155 pages

Summary of Recommendations:

System Improvements

  • Increase the minimum staffing of seven engine companies [E1, E13, L4, E2, E3, E5, Sq7, E20, L7] from three personnel to four personnel to increase the resources necessary for maximum and high-risk structure fire responses. Begin with adding eight (8) FTE Firefighters to increase staffing of engines 1 and 13 in FY 2021. Monitor call demand and response performance annually to determine the need for additional resources.
  • Completion of the renovations to and rebuilding of Stations 6, 11, and 22 is imperative to ensure adequate resources are available for the fire protection system.
  • Monitor call demand and response performance to determine the need for additional resources.

Office of Fire Marshal

  • Authorize a FTE Division Chief position in the Office of the Fire Marshal [to realign span of control, free time for Fire Marshal for other duties, etc.].
  • Authorize three (3) additional FTE Deputy Fire Marshals in field inspections function to conduct follow-up inspections on violations found in existing occupancies.
  • Continue to monitor growth in the City and add additional Deputy Fire Marshal (Inspectors) for each 750 occupancies requiring a mandatory inspection constructed in the City.
  • Continue to monitor the growth in the City and add an additional plans examination staff when submittals exceed 6,000 annually
  • Authorize one (1) additional FTE field inspector position and assign the position to work with the Special Projects Team.
  • Continue to monitor the growth in the City and add additional Deputy Fire Marshal (Inspectors) for each 1,250 new construction occupancies requiring an inspection.
  • Continue to develop the public safety education programs and increase exposure of fire and life safety programs to identified at risk groups in the City.
  • Authorize three (3) FTE Senior Firefighter positions to conduct life safety education programs in the City and assign one to each of the inspection districts.


  • Authorize seven (7) FTE Instructor positions for the Training Division with a variety of expertise to support all functional areas in the Division and minimize impact on the Operations Division to provide instructors.
  • Authorize a FTE recruitment specialist for the Training Division that reports to the Academy Captain.
  • Convert the part-time Assistant EMS Coordinator to a full-time position.
  • Authorize a FTE position focused on quality assurance and quality improvement of EMS [first responder] services.

Office of Fire Chief

  • Reassign the Technology and Planning Units to report to the Support Services Division [to realign span of control to manageable levels].
  • Authorize an analytical position to assist the Engineer Planning Officer in carrying out complex assignments.
  • Authorize three (3) dedicated Safety Officers, one on each shift to respond to calls for service requiring a Safety Officer and investigate workplace accidents or incidents resulting in damage or injury.


  • Authorize two (2) clerical positions to the Support Services Division, one (1) in FY 2021 and one (1) in FY 2022 to provide clerical support and to assist in the management of inventory items.
  • Authorize two (2) additional mechanics to the Support Services Division to improve the maintenance and repair of apparatus, other motorized equipment and staff vehicles.
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Snorkels in North Carolina

Edit: Master list updated February 28, 2020.

This is a re-posting of a Legeros Blog Archives posting from December 21, 2013, that’s no longer available on the old site, due to technical problems.

Articulating platforms, to be specific. Snorkel is a brand name. Let’s extend the discussion from this thread, as well as the topic itself, which replays on this blog every twelve to eighteen months.

Here are some photos, with credits listed at the bottom of the posting. 

Continue reading ‘Snorkels in North Carolina’ »

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Durham Public Safety Program Study, 1985

In March 1985, Durham city officials received a comprehensive analysis of their Public Safety Program, a combined fire and police system in place since 1970. The study concluded that both services could be improved and their costs lowered by either modifying the PSO program, or eventually separating the two services. City officials chose the latter. Then what happened? That’s a story for a future time.

Meanwhile, read the study (PDF, 20 MB):  https://legeros.com/history/durham/docs/durham-pso-study-1985.pdf


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Knightdale Fire Study, 2018

On Thursday, February 13, 2020, a community meeting was held in eastern Wake County, to present a proposed merger of the Eastern Wake Fire Department with the town of Knightdale and its fire department. During the meeting, a town-commissioned 2018 study of the Knightdale Fire Department was heavily referenced.

Here’s that document: www.legeros.com/blog/docs/2018-knightdale-study.pdf

The four original components of the study’s objectives were:

  • evaluate existing and future station locations
  • evaluate existing and future staffing
  •  evaluate existing and future fleet needs
  •  evaluate the adequacy of future succession planning.

The 114-page study presented these recommendations:

Station Locations

  1.  Commission a feasibility/implementation study to evaluate a merger/consolidation of operations/organizations between the town of Knightdale Fire Department and the Eastern Wake Fire-Rescue Department.
  2.  Develop plans for land purchase for a station location in Grid 11 of the Station Location Matrix located as near as practical to Lynwood Road and the I-540 overpass. This would include search in the area of Lynwood Road and Hodge Road.
  3.  Begin Design work and financial planning for a new fire station to principally serve first due to Grid 11 in the Station Location Matrix. The entire project for the deployment of a new station and the resources required for equipping and staffing the station with a single engine company or quint would be planned over budgets from 2019 until 2021. Based upon recent and similar projects in the region, it is recommended that an estimated budget might be approximately $350,000 for planning and design, and $3.5 million to $4.5 million for land acquisition and construction.
  4.  Begin negotiations with Wake County Fire Services to begin participating in the Wake County Cost Share Program as part of a merger/consolidation effort.
  5.  Begin negotiations with Wake County EMS. This organization has a very strong interest in co-locating in a station that provides them the options in response which new Station #2 might. The degree of financial participation may be based on a number of factors, but could be as high as 20%-33%. The negotiation could include offsets for some operating costs associated with EMS use of a portion of the bay and crew areas.
  6.  Utilizing the forward view approach encouraged by this model, develop a long term plan for additional fire stations (15-20 years out) as the jurisdiction continues to develop.
  7.  The Mingo Bluff property is not a very effective or efficient location for a fire station. It will not be of value to co-locating partners. Access to the nearest main thoroughfare requires negotiating neighborhood streets and would be very close to a school. The property itself may be very xpensive to prepare for construction. The recommendation is to find another use for this site other than emergency response deployment.
  8. . Begin a process to routinely capture and analyze Alarm Handling Time, Turnout Time and Travel Time for the first due unit for incidents as well as the full effective response force. This behavior and data will be required for accreditation.


  1. There is an immediate need to add four personnel to staff the ladder company.
  2. Plan for company staffing of four personnel for a company located in the new Knightdale Sta.#2.
  3. Add a deputy or assistant chief position to assist the fire chief with administration and department management and to enable future succession planning for fire chief’s position.
  4. Transition the part-time fire inspector position to full time.


  1. There is an immediate need to replace [Ladder 135]. This piece of equipment is twenty-one years old, six years older than the current industry standard recommends for the maximum age of a first line piece of fire equipment and is older than the recommended replacement age in the Wake County Fire Commission Apparatus Committee, Policy and Procedures. This aerial device is larger than the district would require therefore, it is further recommended to investigate replacing the 105 foot aerial with a 75’ or 85’ aerial on a shorter and much lighter chassis.
  2. It is recommended to replace Engine 134 in the year following Ladder 135 and rotate apparatus to place the new engine as first out and remaining engines in order based upon their current serviceability. Although Engine 134 is not the oldest engine in the fleet, the component assessment, maintenance and repair costs and current general poor operating condition suggests moving it ahead in the replacement schedule.
  3. A fleet capital plan should be developed to begin programming replacements for large apparatus based upon industry standards and score card results. According to the industry standard, Engine 133 already exceeds the industry standard for first line service and should be retired in 2022. Engine 132 should be taken out of first line service in 2023 and should be retired in 2028. The town has guidelines for replacement schedules for the command vehicle and two utility vehicles.
  4. It is recommended that the department maintain the Vehicle Score Card System used in this study, or some similar process to help manage a fleet replacement and capital program.
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