History Bits About Salem’s Old Town Hall and Fire Station

Morning history. This week we’re digging into the history of Winston-Salem’s engine houses, both older and newer. Found some neat notes about the old Station 2 at 301 S. Liberty Street, which everyone knows as the old Salem Town Hall. It became a Winston-Salem fire station when the cities merged in 1913.

Learned that the building’s cornerstone says 1909, but is incorrect and was added by a stonecutter who guessed at the thing [!]. The correct date is 1912 is listed in official documents, such as the minutes of the Moravian church, the organization that found the settlement of Salem. That explains sundry citations, over the decades, of 1909 as the build date.

Also learned that the building first-served as WSFD Station 4, as cited in both Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and city directories. WSFD Station 2 was located at the old Winston City Hall building. See a prior post about that. WSFD Station 4 was renamed Station 2 in 1919, or so says a Sentinel article from January 1979. City directories from that period corroborate that date. Pretty interesting.

^ One of the original bay doors is also labeled “Rough & Ready Fire Co. No. 4”. At the time of the station’s closure in 1976, the bay doors were larger and squared. They read “Fire Department – Central Station No. 2.” The bay doorways were later restored or rebuilt as smaller and arched. Guessing that was the appearance of those doors when the building was completed.

More Information

Legeros pics of the building from 2005. Need to make a return visit. 

Research notes on historic and former WSFD stations, to be updated with new findings.

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Bob Biggs, Mike Murray, and Restoring Fire Apparatus

In February 2014, Raleigh Fire Captain Nick Murray recounted the following stories of his father, retired Raleigh Fire Captain Mike Hurry and longtime Raleigh Fire Department friend Col. Bob Biggs, retired USAF, and their work restoring numerous antique fire trucks, including Raleigh’s 1926 American LaFrance pumper. Here’s the original blog archives posting:

Jay Leno and Chapel Hill’s 1921 American LaFrance Video

Original Blog Post

Found this the other day, a video from Jay Leno’s Garage featuring Chapel Hill’s 1921 American LaFrance triple combination. Registration #3600, ship order #57359, and ship date September 24, 1921, says John Peckham’s database via SPAAMFA.
The truck, which was the second motor apparatus to serve the college town, was sold around the mid 1990s. Tt was purchased by the late Bob Biggs, a local apparatus buff and longtime friend of the Raleigh Fire Department.

Recall that he lead the restoration of the city’s 1926 American LaFrance. Biggs and Raleigh Capt. Mike Murray restored this truck. Bob passed away in 2007, and the truck was since sold to Gary Wales in Woodland Hills, CA. He gives Jay the full tour, and then they take the truck for a spin. By way of pre-restoration comparison, here’s a picture of the truck from Lee Wilson at Station 2, taken in the early 1990s.

Continue reading ‘Bob Biggs, Mike Murray, and Restoring Fire Apparatus’ »

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Wilmington’s Temporary Headquarters, 1954 to 1956

Notes on Wilmington’s temporary fire department headquarters at 3 South 2nd Street, just south of Market Street, a leased building that was occupied from 1954 to 1956 during the construction of a new Station 1 at the corner of 4th and Dock streets.

The construction bid for the new Station 1 was awarded in September 1954. The former Station 1, built in 1907, was demolished in November 1954. The new Station 1 was dedicated on May 23, 1956. 

Read more about Wilmington fire station history.

Picture of photo on the walls at Wilmington Fire Station 1.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1955

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Wilmington Terminal and Warehouse Company – Waterfront Fire of 1953

Recounting the story of the major waterfront fire on the Wilmington, NC, waterfront on March 9, 1953.


Read retrospective (PDF) from 2009 by Chris Nelson.

Newspapers Continue reading ‘Wilmington Terminal and Warehouse Company – Waterfront Fire of 1953’ »

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Wilmington Fire Underwriters Reports – 1949, 1958

Research resource alert. Via New Hanover Public Library, pair of National Board of Fire Underwriters reports for Wilmington in 1949 and 1958. These are highly detailed accounts of the fire department, the fire alarm and water systems, and more. Read digital versions in this library at https://legeros.com/history/library/_nbfu

And drop a line of you have other NBFU reports to contribute!

See also, Wilmington Fire History by Legeros. 

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Wilmington Standards of Cover

Found a fine reference document about all things related to the Wilmington Fire Department. Standards of Cover from September 2023. Generously informative document that includes a nice history section. There’s even a full fleet listing on page 120.

Copied and stored here, read document (PDF).

See also, Wilmington Fire History by Legeros. 

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New Hanover County Ambulance and Rescue Services History

Presenting research notes on the history of ambulance and rescue services in New Hanover County.

View chart – JPG | PDF

See below for selected notes.

See this Google Drive folder for 200+ articles, including those referenced below.


1957, Feb – Cape Fear Ambulance Service was under new management, prices reduced, read an advertisement. [SN, 2/17/58]

1958, Oct – Cape Fear Ambulance Service ceased answering emergency calls in the city and county, due to losing money. The city started providing ambulance service through police department, using two police station wagons. Officers were also “fully trained in first aid.” The first police ambulance call was October 13, 1958. The county planned to equip the sheriff’s department to provide ambulance service. CFAS would continue making non-emergency “house calls.” [SN, 10/2/58, 10/6/58, 10/7/58, 10/13/58 ]

1958, Oct – Wrightsville Beach reported as having emergency ambulance service, through permanent use of a “fully-equipped” Civil Air Patrol ambulance. It operated from the police department and was maintained by CAP squadron members. Ambulance rides were free, but the squadron appreciated donations. [SN, 10/10/58, 10/16/58]

1958, Oct – County made 90 day agreement with Cape Fear Ambulance Company to provide emergency service to unincorporated areas, as a trial basis. [SN, 10/20/58]

1958, Oct – Civil Air Patrol squadron ambulances were operating at Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, and a third was being obtained at Fort Fisher. [SN, 10/20/58]

1959, Feb – Cape Fear Ambulance Service ceased operating. [SN, 8/23/63]

1959, Feb – Ambulance Service Company started operation. Owner is Harold Jackson. By June 1963, the company operated four vehicles. [SN, 6/25/63, 8/23/63] Continue reading ‘New Hanover County Ambulance and Rescue Services History’ »

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Wilmington Fire Department Rescue Squad and Ambulance History

Research notes on the history of Wilmington Fire Department’s rescue squads and ambulances. See second blog posting for wider history of New Hanover County ambulance and rescue services

See also, Wilmington Fire History by Legeros. 

WFD placed first rescue unit in service. [SN, 6/30/71] Was a utility-type truck and was not equipped for transport.  

1971, June 30
Star-News reported that for the third budget year, the fire chief has requested funding for a boat, trailer, and outboard motor. Currently, only the fire boat was available for water rescue calls, which can’t reach most water accidents in the city. The budget request also included a $1,500 resuscitator and other breathing apparatus for the rescue truck. 

1974, June 15
Star-News reported that the proposed city budget included $9,000 for a new rescue truck. This was an ambulance and WFD started transport services, though only for patients with life-threatening conditions.  

1977, Apr 8
Star-News reported that a WFD underwater dive team had been operating for four years. The team consisted of sixteen members. Continue reading ‘Wilmington Fire Department Rescue Squad and Ambulance History’ »

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Wilmington Airport Apparatus History

This is a blog version of a Facebook posting.

Presenting fire apparatus past and present that have served at Wilmington International Airport. 

1954 ALF Type O-11A – 500/1000/100/80
Likely serial #54L210, which was former NCANG
Included 80 gallons Chlorobromomethane
Possibly sold at auction, along with second 1954 ALF crash truck, at surplus airport property sale in June 1991. (Star News, Jun 3, 1991)

1964 Ford F-100 – 300#
Yellow Bird – June 1979 – Wayne Greer photo

1969 Oshkosh MB-5 – 400/400/30 
CFR 19 – March 1990 – Ex-USN – Wayne Greer photo

1974 International/FireBoss – 400#/100
Chief 1 – June 1979 – Wayne Greer photo

1976 Oshkosh M-1500 – 1250/1500/180
CFR 2 – June 1978 – Wayne Greer photo
Also cited as a 1975 model (Star News, Feb 11, 1989)

1989 Ford F-250/___ #1 of 2 – 100/500#
CFR 14 – March 1990 – Wayne Greer photo

1989 Ford F-250/___ #2 of 2 – 250/500#
CFR 15 – March 1990 – Wayne Greer photo

1990 Oshkosh T-1500 – 1200/1500/200
CFR 18 – Wayne Greer photo
Cost $305,000 (Star News, Sep 29, 1989)

2001 Oshkosh T-1500 – 1500/1500/200/460#
CFR 16 – Patrick Shoop photo

2011 Rosenbauer Panther – 1850/1500/200/500#
CFR 18 – Patrick Shoop photo

2024 Oshkosh Striker – Specs go here
Rescue 1 – June 2024 – New Hanover County Fire Rescue photo

Not Pictured

The Wilmington Morning Star on October 8, 1946, reported that the airport–then named Bluethenthal Field–had two small pumpers, each with 300 gallon capacity, and eight men on duty. 

The Star-News on January 15, 1950, reported that the airport had a pumper, a brush truck, and a “chemical crash truck,” all obtained through the War Assets Administration. 

Airport History

  • 1927 – First landing at airport, named Bluethenthal Field
  • 1941 – Army Air Corps took over airport.
  • 1944 – Declared federal surplus, deeded to county.
  • 1950 – Modern terminal building and control tower erected.
  • 195_ – Renamed New Hanover County Airport.
  • 1970s – The Air Force 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron operated at the airport. 
  • 1988 – Renamed New Hanover County International Airport.
  • 1989 – Airport commission took over ownership and management.
  • 1997 – Renamed Wilmington International Airport.


Greer photos from the collections of Jon Umbdenstock and the late Jay Thomson.

The 1969 Oshkosh was acquired in a later decade.

The current incarnation of the airport fire department, operated by the county, was created in either 1972 or 1975, after the Air Force ceased providing crash fire rescue services, after they ceased regular operations at the airport. (Star News, August 9, 1981; Star News, Jan 9, 1982)

In October 1974, news articles reported that grant money for purchase of an estimated $120,000 fire truck had been received. Currently, the airport had an agreement with the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron to use their crash truck to fulfilling FAA ARFF regulations, until the county fire truck was available for use. Bids had been advertised in April 1974 for a “twin dual-agent skid-mounted fire extinguishing” system. [ Was this a separate unit from the crash truck that the grant money was received for? ] (Star News, Apr 7 1974; Oct 11, 1974)

The airport opened a new fire station in March 1981, located north of the passenger terminal. The prior fire station was a former Air Force maintenance hangar. The 8,200 square-foot building had slow-opening hangar doors, so the doors had to remain open at all times for quick response of fire apparatus. In cold weather, the trucks were hard to start and the building was uncomfortable for firefighters. (Star News, Sep 19, 1980; Star News, August 9, 1981)

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