Raleigh Fire Department History – Charts and Data

This posting with updated on January 11, 2023, with additional charts: extra-alarm fires and recruit graduating class sizes. 

Random data play about the Raleigh Fire Department. These charts originally appeared as postings on Legeros Fire Line on Facebook. They were created using Excel. 

Extra-Alarm Fires

This chart compares the counts of extra-alarm fires in Raleigh from January 2022 to July 2022. 

Counts of Companies

This chart shows the number of aerial ladder companies[1], service ladder companies, rescue companies[2], and battalion chiefs over time.

[1] Staffed companies are counting, versus frontline apparatus + reserve apparatus.
[2] Beginning in 1953, “Raleigh Rescue” operated a two-piece unit, but the larger rescue rarely responding. Thus the count is shown as one instead of two, to keep apples to apples in comparing with later counts.

Population Growth vs. Response Growth

This chart compares population growth (orange) and call volume growth (blue) in a given year. Sorry for the gaps. Also, the number ranges are not equivalent. The population range is 10x (or more) of the call volume range. Also, also, the first responder program expanded citywide in 1980, which is a notable factor for the change in growth rate. 

Most Popular Month for Opening New Fire Stations

This section was written on May 29, 2022.

New Station 22 is opening soon. As it happens, June is the most frequent month for opening newly constructed city fire stations in the career-era of RFD. (Meaning, opening a new fire station in a newly construction building. New stations in temporary facilities are excluded.) Here’s that distribution, from data beginning in 1926. See comments for source data. Which specific dates are the most popular? Those are June 9 (3), June 15 (2), and October 9 (2).

Note: Station 22 opened on August 2, 2022.

Recruit Academy Starting Sizes

This section was written on May 28, 2022. The chart was updated on January 11, 2023, adding Academy 49. 

Recruit Academy 48 started this week with 56 new recruits. It’s the largest academy in city history. What has that distribution looked like over time? Here’s a chart of academy sizes, plus notes on those years that new stations and new ladder companies were added, and those academies that started concurrently, or included members of other departments.

Recruit Academy Graduating Class Sizes

This section was written on January 11, 2023

Recruit Academy 48 graduated late last month. Here’s a chart of graduating class sizes. It includes the very short Academy 49, which graduated the city’s first lateral-hired firefighters in the fall. 


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Garner Merger Community Meeting

Merger alert. The Garner Fire Department and the Town of Garner are holding a pair of community information meetings this week, about a possible merger between the two organizations.  They’ll be held on January 11 and January 12, see announcement below for times and locations.

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Wake County Fire Commission Meeting – January 12, 2023

The Wake County Fire Commission will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, January 12, 2023, 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


Afterward, listen to the audio recording, as linked from this page.


  • Meeting Called to Order: Director Darrell Alford
    • Invocation
    • Pledge of allegiance
    • Roll call of membership
    • Election of a Chair
    • Election of a Vice Chair
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Approval of September 15, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes
  • Public Comments:
  • Regular Agenda
    • 200 Club – Larry Stanford
    • Fund Balance Update – John Stephenson
    • Updates to the Staffing & Compensation Guidelines
    • Updates to the Fire Commission Rules of Procedures
    • Long Range Plan Semi-Annual Report
  • 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 Fire Station Land Search
      • NCDOI ( Wendell )
  • Adjournment – Next Meeting – April 13, 2023 6pm
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Oren Fire Apparatus in North Carolina

Let’s start a list of Oren apparatus that served in North Carolina. Pictured rigs marked with (*):

  • *Burlington – 1940 Diamond T/Oren – #RW&E-1363 – Legeros photo
  • *Cape Fear Rural (Lee) – 1953 Ford/Oren – Engine 51 – Lee Wilson photo
  • *Charlotte – 1953 Ford Big Job/Oren, 500/1000 – Engine 10 at Morris Field, high-pressure unit
  • *Collins & Aitkman (CA-VEL) textiles (Stanly) – 1947 GMC/Oren – #500 A-979
    Factory photo from “Oren Fire Apparatus Photo Archive” by Thomas L. Herman
  • Faith (Rowan) – 1971 IHC 1310/Oren mini-pumper, 300/300, S/N #2913
  • Fleetwood (Ashe) – 1966 Dodge/Oren 400/300 4×4 brush truck – Ex-Lorton, VA and Falmouth, VA
  • Fork Mountain (Mitchell) – 1977 Ford C/Oren, 500/1500 – #15099-V – Ex-Hanover County, VA
  • Granville Rural – 1970 Ford C900/Oren, 1000/500 – Ex-Stonewall Jackson FD in Prince William County, VA. Sold to GFD in 1985.
  • Greensboro – 1955 Duplex/Oren, 1500/240 – #1500 A-1481, first 1500 GPM built by Oren – Engine 1
  • *Greensboro – 1955 Duplex/Oren, 750/240 – Engine 8 – GFD Archives
  • Greensboro – 1957 Ford F800/Oren, 500/1500, #500-B-1570 – Tanker 1 – GFD history book scan
  • Jonas Ridge (Burke) – 1970 Ford C/Oren, 300/1200, #2789 – Engine 584, ex-Woodstock, VA
  • Lasker (Northhampton) – 197_ IHC/Oren – Engine 154
  • *Lexington – 1938 Ford/Oren – #RW-139 – LFD photo 
  • *Kenly (Johnston) – 1944 Ford/Oren – Lee Wilson photo  
  • Kittrell (Franklin) – 1946 Dodge/1948 Oren, 750/300 – Ex-Lutherville, MD. Bought by KFD in 1962. Later sold to Mitchner’s Crossroads in Johnston County.
  • Lasker (Northhampton) – 1976 International/Oren – #15017-0 – Ex-Eastville, VA, bought 1990 by LFD
  • Lewisville (Forsyth) – 1950 Chevy/Oren
  • Maiden (Catawba) – 1945 Chevrolet/Oren, 500/500 – #500A-900
  • Mitchner’s Crossroads (Johnston) – See Kittrell.
  • *New Bern – 1952 GMC/Oren pumper, 500/____, “George H. Roberts” – NCSFA conference program
  • Pikeville (Wayne) – 1952 International/Oren
  • Piney Grove (Forsyth) – 1950s Chevy/Oren
  • Pink Hill (Lenoir) – 1952 Ford F/Oren
  • Pitts (Cabarrus) – Ford F/Grumman/Owen
  • Rockwell (Rowan) – 1953 Ford F-750 Big Job/Oren, 500/500 – #500A-136 – Still on the roster
  • Rocky Mount – 1949 Ford/Oren 500/450? – Engine 6
  • *Rose Hill (Duplin) – 1942 Ford/1951 Oren – Lee Wilson photo 
  • *Rosman (Transylvania) – 1949 Dodge/Oren – Transylvania Times photo
  • Rosman (Transylvania) – 1972 Chevy C60/1949 Oren, 750/800. Sold to local rock quarry in 2005.
  • *Sarecta (Duplin) – Ford/Oren/Grumman – Lee Wilson photo 
  • *Scotland Neck (Halifax) – 1939 Diamond T/Oren – Still on the roster – Factory advertisement
  • *Shallotte (Brunswick) – 1954 Ford Big Job/Oren, 500/500 – Engine 1 – Micah Bodford photo
  • Sharon (Mecklenburg) – 1977 Oren, 1000/1500 – Former Mahopac, NY
  • Tabernacle (Randolph) – 1957 Ford Big Job/Oren
  • *Tramway Rural (Lee) – 1954 Ford F-600/Oren, #VP-HP-1414 – TFD photo  
  • Union (Lincoln) – 1945 Ford/Oren – #500A-898 – Still on the roster
  • *Viewmont (Catawba) – 1952 Ford/Oren, 500/400 – #500AHP1298 – Legeros photo 
  • *Warrenton – 1938 Ford/Oren, 750/150, # RW-134, open cab – Lee Wilson photo 
  • Warren Wilson College Fire Brigade (Buncombe) – 1954 Corbitt/Oren 750/500 – Ex-Wanaque, NJ
  • *Warsaw – Ford F-6/Oren, open cab – #B-1144 – Lee Wilson photo
  • *Whitakers (Edgemont/Nash) – Ford/Oren with front-mounted pump, “rural truck” – #500 F-1110
    Factory photo from “Oren Fire Apparatus Photo Archive” by Thomas L. Herman
  • *Wilmington – 1952 Corbitt/Oren, 750/__ – Shop #216 – Engine 3 – Legeros collection photo
  • Wilmington – 1952 Corbitt/Oren, 750/__ – Shop #242 – Engine 2

More Pictures

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Raleigh Run Numbers – 2022

Here are the Raleigh run numbers for 2022. Historical numbers in this PDF document.


53,238 – Total Incidents
77,425 – Total Per Unit Runs

Unit Runs

E1 – 1,945
E2 – 2,494
E3 – 2,943
E4 – 1,500
E5 – 1,615
E6 – 1,505
Sq7 – 3,014
E8 – 2,114
E9 – 2,088
E10 – 1,970
E11 – 3,006
E12 – 3,037
E13 – 1,956
Sq14 – 2,069
E15 – 3,017
E16 – 2,515
E17 – 1,588
E18 – 1,494
E19 – 3,181
E20 – 2,037
E21 – 2,357
E22 – 1,875
E23 – 1,266
E24 – 1,344
E25 – 1,096
E26 – 1,669
E27 – 992
E28 – 1,185
E29 – 504

L1 – 2,098
L4 – 1,113
L6 – 1,499
L12 – 2,137
L14 – 1,317
L15 – 2,103
L20 – 1,065
L22/L25 – 941
L23 – 1,118

R16 – 1,361

B1 – 541
B2 – 656
B3 – 692
B4 – 456
B5 – 993

Safety Officer 14 – 1,108
Division Chief 1 – 124
Investigator 1 – 198
Chief Investigator – 26

80 – Air 10
70 – Air 28

57 – HM2
56 – HM8
08 – HM25/HM22
59 – HM27
39 – HM29
26 – Haz-Mat Program Manager

17 – Mini 7
22 – Mini 14
17 – Mini 28

28 – USAR 801
46 – USAR Program Manager

21 – ATV14
02 – ATV22
01 – ATV25

Busiest Engines

E19 – 3,181
E12 – 3,037
E15 – 3,017
Sq7 – 3,014
E11 – 3,006

Busiest Ladders

L12 – 2,137
L15 – 2,103
L01 – 2,098

Busiest Rescue

R16, baby! – 1,361

Busiest Battalion Chief

B5, yet again – 993

And that’s a wrap. See you in January 2024.

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Ten Years Ago – Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District

Morning history. Random find. Ten years ago this week, the Wake County Board of Commissioners received a presentation from county staff on the future of fire service in the Fire Tax District, which comprises the unincorporated areas of the county plus the town of Wendell. The county funds protection in those areas through contracts with private (non-profit) and municipal fire departments.

The presentation noted that the budget for same could not be sustained in its present form, and that savings could be achieved through such strategies as consolidations and mergers, realignment of stations, and shared use of resources.

Further, they confirmed/affirmed that no property tax increase would be considered, until sustainability strategies were identified and pursued. Thus their action steps included identifying areas for potential consolidations, such as the areas around Falls Lake, Swift Creek, and Little River/Eastern Wake County. Also, county staff would begin meeting with the boards of the private fire departments, to share this perspective and begin discussions on consolidations and/or other strategies for long-term financial sustainability.

Then what happened? County staff did just that and some consolidations (BLFD + SHFD = NWFD), mergers (EWFD > KFD), and station realignments (RFD < NHFD Sta 1) happened. They also (and more importantly) embarked on a multi-year project to collect data, review data, and build a service-delivery model based on that data, to determine the “right size” for delivery in the Fire Tax District.

Readers, anything missing in that high-level take?

See the slide deck (PDF)

See these Legeros research notes for a big honkin’ historical perspective.

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Raleigh Fire Department Recruit Academy 48 Graduation

The Raleigh Fire Department’s largest recruit class ever graduated last night, on Wednesday, December 29, 2022. The ceremony was conducted at the Raleigh Convention Center, with retiring Division Chief of Professional Development David Whitley giving the keynote address.

Three awards were given out, recognizing Joseph Harris as Valedictorian, Chase Johnson as Lt. Herman “Greg” Ellis, Extra Effort Award Recipient, and Adam Peterson as Asst. Chief W. Keith Tessinear, Leadership & Integrity Award Recipient.

The ceremony opened with a presentation of colors by the Raleigh Fire Department Honor Guard. Assistant Chief of Professional Development Ian Toms presided over the ceremonies. Fire Chief Herbert Griffin administered the oath of office.

The forty-nine members of Academy 48 received their station assignments this week.

Continue reading ‘Raleigh Fire Department Recruit Academy 48 Graduation’ »

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Wake County’s First Rural Fire Truck

Morning history. Random find. The first “rural truck” in Wake County history. Built by members of the Apex Fire Department in 1952, to expand service to “rural residents,” e.g. those that lived outside of the town limits. News & Observer photos from May (top) and August (bottom) 1952, scanned from film prints. 

Reported the paper on August 4, 1952, the need for the truck was apparent as most of their fire calls “were to points outside of town.” But many couldn’t be answered, because town officials ruled that the town’s one and only fire truck had to stay within one mile of the town limits.

The department bought a used Chevrolet truck from the state for $200. They stripped and reconditioned the thing, and built a fire engine for about $5,000. Was equipped with a 550-gallon tanker, suction hoses, and “chemical fire-fighting equipment.” As shown it was still incomplete. Pending were “more hand rails for the firemen to grip during rush calls to fight fires” as well as a canvas cover for the one-and-a-half inch hose.

By the time of the article, it had already been credited with saving a tobacco barn from “complete destruction.” The barn “on the old Jackson Brown place about four miles from here” caught fire on a recent Sunday.

Photos courtesy News & Observer

Most of the truck building was done in the “Apex Motor Lines shop of Fire Chief Carter S. Schuab, with Fire Chief A. B. Lloyd of Raleigh and a former Raleigh fire chief, Ralph Butts [then an Apex funeral home director], assisting with the plans for installation of the [pump] and other necessary equipment.” They also received help from Fayetteville [!] Fire Department.

Plans were being considered to divide the department into two companies, one for local calls and the other for out-of-town. At that time, Apex was the only town in the county offering “special fire protection to rural residents in its vicinity.” But it wasn’t long before other town fire departments started their own efforts, starting with Zebulon’s rural program in 1953.[1]

County officials had “at various times in the past years considered offering fire protection outside the incorporated towns of the county,” but those ideas never “advanced” to any “favorable action.”

Read more about all that in these research notes on Wake County fire service governance.

[1] Rural service in North Carolina started in the 1940s, including in Guilford County. Here’s a blog post about that.

The first rural (e.g., “outside town”) departments around the state included:

  • 1940 – Seagate (New Hanover County)
  • 1942 – Bessemer (Greensboro)
  • 1943 – Wilkinson Boulevard (Charlotte)
  • 1944 – Oak Grove (Greensboro)
  • 1945, by – North Asheboro (Asheboro)
  • 1946 – Guilford College (Greensboro)
  • 1948 – Pleasant Garden (Marion/McDowell County)
  • 1949 – Newell (Charlotte)
  • 1949 – Pinoca (Charlotte)
  • 1949 – Sedge Garden (Winston-Salem)
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Cigarette Carried to Attic By Pigeon and Other Unusual Fire Causes

Updated December 2022 with content from archive blog postings, replacing links to pages no longer available.

Back in 2009, we published a series of blog postings, listing vintage fire cause reports from around North Carolina from the late 1940s through the late 1950s, as (a.) reported to the State Insurance Commissioner’s office, (b.) compiled by the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association Statistician, and (c.) printed in the annual conference proceedings. They’re reprinted below. Or read his complete reports.

Part I – March 2009

For your Friday reading, the following are the causes or probable causes of “peculiar or special loss” fires from around North Carolina in the late 1940s. These are quotes from fire chiefs, reported to the State Insurance Commissioner’s office, compiled by the previously mentioned state firemen’s association Statistician, and excerpted from conference proceedings:

  • Painter burning paint off of house, set house on fire.
  • Attendant in wash pit, presumably smoking while washing car, set car on fire.
  • House set on fire by occupant using wooden fire poker.
  • Spark from passing train into load of cotton.
  • City bus hauling gasoline in open can.
  • Belt jumped pulley, friction set fire to building.
  • Fire originated in a box of children’s toys.
  • The loss, $5,263, is the estimated damage caused by burning gasoline flowing in gutters from the Sir Walter Hotel garage, the garage was not damaged, the $5,263 applying to cars parked in the street. [ Raleigh, 1947 ]
  • Person in show room of garage struck match to light cigarette. Set bucket of gasoline on fire.
  • Sun reflecting on glass vase caused paper to catch on fire. Damage to building $400, contents $100.
  • Cemetery fire, no further information available. [ Reported directly to statistician. ]
  • Sun reflecting on auto mirror set fire to car, $1,000. Better look out, fellows! You can see things are hot here on Carolina Beach.
  • Insane person set fire to house.
  • Short in light fixture, penny behind fuse in apartments, loss $900.
  • Chemicals in satchel used in giving permanents, loss $653.
  • Corn shucks scattered around feed mill, loss $6,615.
  • Glue pot left on too long, water damage $5,760.
  • It is rumored that Boots Shays came home drunk and kicked the stove down. The fire occurred shortly. The local police had him up for questioning two times but could not get proof.
  • Electric hair dryer caught on fire, “Wonder what happened to the woman’s hair?”
  • Burning spider with cigarette, loss $275.
  • Dropped acetylene torch on greasy floor, loss $4,000.
  • Spark from machine caused dust floor fire, loss $1,600.
  • Laundry fire, loss $56,500. Employee poured solvent in drain and later threw a match into the drawn.
  • Smoking while fumigating for rats and insects caused explosion, damage $400.
  • Smoking, while unloading gasoline, damage $120.
  • Using torch near open gas, damage $600. “What could you call it but gross carelessness?”
  • Wax fumes, spontaneous combustion, $94,900 damage.
  • Malicious incendiarism. During a fit of anger threw oil lamp against wall which set fire to building, damage $1,276.
  • Repairing gas line, lit cigarette, it cost $25 for one puff.
  • Spotlight in department store window shining on fabric, damage $15,863.67.
  • Hoboes built fire under bridge, damage $800.
  • Fire in theater projection booth, damage $1,200.
  • Hauling lighted warning torches on truck with barrel of gasoline, damage $300.
  • Believe it or not a fire station fire. Durham fire station, the fire originated in small penthouse and extended under floor into attic space. [ The statistician adds, “my town of New Bern also had one of these a few years back.” ]

Continue reading ‘Cigarette Carried to Attic By Pigeon and Other Unusual Fire Causes’ »

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Visual History of Durham Fire Department

Updated on December 11, 2022. Chart has been pushed to production, version 1.0. 

Here’s a draft of a Durham fire history chart, created in early 2020 during a run on DFD research. Let’s revisit and push the thing to production, shall we?

View as JPG | View as PDF | Or via this Google Drive

See also this history chart of Bethesda, Parkwood, Durham County, and Durham city FDs. 

See also Mike’s master site of RFD research notes

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