Apex Volunteer Fire Department Minutes 1956 to 1979

Found in my files, excerpts from transcribed minutes of the Apex Volunteer Fire Department Inc., from 1956 to 1979.

Below are some highlights that caught my eye. See related historical photos in this album from the Raleigh Fire Museum: www.flickr.com/photos/raleighfiremuseum/albums/72157687765234902

Note, will be tweaking as any typos are found, or additional annotations needed.

1956 to 1959

1956, Dec 3 – Civil defense report delivered. “Report was made on a civil defense tower. [Colonel] Hardeson was seen about a ground observer corp. Home Demonstration club offered their services to furnish observers to help man the post. The town will cooperate with us on the project.”

[ Legeros: A civilian defense observation tower was installed atop the fire station in 1957, with volunteers participating in the national Ground Observer Corps. Blog post about the tower and the corps: www.legeros.com/blog/cold-war-history-ground-observer-corps ]

1956, Dec 10 – Drivers required to fill gas tanks and check oil after every trip.

1957, Jan 7 – Red lights purchased for all personal vehicles for $6.02 each.

1957, Feb 18 – “Two-way radios will be available in the near future. We can get them for $50. Cost to change their frequency would be about $50.00.”

1957, Apr 1 – Received surplus truck from county at cost of $25.00.

1957, May 6 – Department will receive twenty-five “World War I helmets.” Also, “The fire district will be three miles out on each from the fire house, in order to get better insurance rating.”

1957, Jun 3 – “Fire Chief’s car was brought over to the fire house by James Mason from Clark Chevrolet Company. Several of the firemen made a trial run on it.” Members approve purchase for $275.00.

1957, Jun 24 – Special Meeting – “The Fire Dept. Treasury is about to be depleted, so to keep from going broke, C. S. Schaub donated the sum of $0.01 to the department.”

1957, Oct 7 – County-wide meeting held at Raleigh Fire Station 1. Each fire department in county is supposed to “make a survey and inspection of every house in the Fire District as to defective wiring, etc.”

1957, Nov 4 – Voted to make Ladies Night an annual affair.

1957, Dec 2 – Report on the county-wide radio project. Will cost $8,000 for the entire project, with each unit in the county costing about $600.”

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After-Action Reports to Durham Gas Explosion


Two after-action reports were released yesterday from the deadly downtown Durham gas explosion in April. The reports are from Durham City/County Emergency Management and the Durham Fire Department.

I’ve downloaded copies and they’re stored at the above links. (Since government web doc links can expire after a number of years.) See sundry media coverage, such as this ABC 11 story. See also this earlier blog posting, with notes on Raleigh’s response to the incident

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Two Alarms on Sanderson Drive

This is a blog version of an earlier Facebook posting

Two alarms were struck on Friday morning, November 8, 2019, on Sanderson Drive, at a house fire near the Carolina Country Club. Below are some notes taken while listening and later. See more aftermath photos from Legeros. See also this Twitter video from Jamiese Price, showing some deck gun action. 

ITB Insider photo from Twitter

Two alarms at 2515 Sanderson Drive. Dispatched 8:35 a.m. Engine 9 first-arriving. Heavy smoke showing on arrival, from all four sides. Single-family dwelling, two-stories, with 4,092 square-feet.

Very long, narrow structure. Built 1956. With additions on one end, and a non-common (e.g., cut up) attic. Very difficult operation inside, for suppression. 

Mike Legeros photo

Heavy fire found inside, in attic, and (soon) though roof, and into second story. Interior attack, with later exterior lines and deck gun from Engine 5.

Special call for two additional engines for manpower, dispatched 8:54 a.m. Second alarm then requested, also for manpower, dispatched at 9:18 a.m.

Controlled at 10:00 a.m. Cause determined as accidental. Two people displaced. At least one firefighter treated by EMS for heat exhaustion. 

Mike Legeros photo

Run Card

0833 – E16, E5, E6, E9, L3, L4, R1, B3, B5
0837 – L2 added.
0840 – Working fire dispatch – C20, C402, A1
0854 – E13, E3 added.
0918 – Second Alarm – E8, E11, Sq7, L1, L7
1000 – Controlled

Additional: C401 (Chief Investigator), C2, C3.

Relief: E24, others?


EMS 52 on original dispatch
EMS 49, 19, 73, D1, C200, T1. 

Move ups:

0847 – E24 > Sta 9
0847 – L9 > Sta 16
0858 – L7 > Sta 1
0859 – E11 > Sta 3
0936 – L3 > Sta 1

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Fire Protection is Weak at Raleigh – 1911

The June 1911 issue of Fire & Water Engineering Magazine, Issue 24, Volume 49, featured this story on a fire protection report issued by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Read more about the 1911 report, as well as the 1924 report and 1931 report.

Editor’s Note: This report compelled city officials to reorganize the fire department as a full-time, full-paid entity. It was placed in service in December 1912. The city’s volunteer fire companies all ceased operation.

Fire Protection is Weak at Raleigh

Raleigh, N.C., has just passed the scrutiny of the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, which reaches this conclusion as to the city’s fire hazard:

“In the principal mercantile district blocks arc compactly built up along the street fronts only with joisted brick buildings, mainly of moderate height and area and with unprotected floor and roof openings. Many are of hazardous occupancy, a few are of considerable height, a number have large or excessive areas and there are many frame buildings, porches and extensions. The main street is sufficiently wide to afford a vantage point for fighting a fire, except during the occasional high winds, but the fire department is extremely weak, the water supply is inadequate and unreliable and overhead wire obstructions are serious, making spreading fires probable. Manufacturing plants are isolated and the more important ones are equipped with automatic sprinklers or other private lire protection. Residential sections are mainly frame, with shingle roofs, and, in the compactly built portions, conflagrations are probable.”

Raleigh has a population of over 20,000 and covers an area of 4 miles. The elevations above the sea level range from 211 feet at the southern city limits to 380 feet near the western limits.

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Interactive Map of Local Plane Crash Sites

New interactive map: Raleigh-Durham area plane crashes. With an emphasis on major / serious / notable.

Displays information about crash sites in Wake, Durham, Orange, Harnett, Johnston, and Franklin counties. Most are exact or close-close locations. Some are noted with question marks, and tagged in a general location. 

Let’s calls this the final-for-now version. Will be editing and adding sites, here and there, over time.  

View the map. And see more info at Mike’s new site of Raleigh-Durham Area Aviation History.

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Brad Harvey as Interim Fire Chief

This was originally posted to Legeros Fire Line as a Facebook posting.

Who’s the new Car 1 in Raleigh, following the retirement of Chief McGrath on [November 1]? Last week, interim Chief of Department was announced as… drum roll… retired Asst. Chief Brad Harvey. More on Chief McGrath’s retirement in a moment.

Chief Harvey came out of retirement earlier this year, to serve as interim Fire Chief for the Town of Carrboro. He’ll be starting his duties later this month.

Bradley R. Harvey retired in 2017 as the Asst. Chief of Operations, with 27.8 years of service. He’s a graduate of Appalachian State University and the National Fire Academy, where he completed the Executive Fire Officer program in 2012. Read a short profile of Chief Harvey on Page 3 of the Winter 2018 issue of the Raleigh FD Newsletter: www.raleighfirenews.org/pdf/2018-vol1.pdf

Mike Legeros photos

Fun fact, Chief Harvey is fourth Raleigh FD member connected with Carrboro’s command staff. Retired Asst. Chief Rusty Styons (1980-2008) served as Carrboro’s Interim Fire Chief in 2015. Former Raleigh Captain William “Trey” Mayo (1996-2006) was Deputy Chief at Carrboro from 2006 to 2010, along with former Fire Protection Engineer Travis Crabtree (1997-2005), who served as Fire Chief from 2005 to 2015.[1]

Congrats Chief. Welcome back.

And see below for some other “chief connections”.

Retirement of Chief McGrath

City of Raleigh Fire Chief John T. McGrath retired on October 31, 2019. He was the city’s sixteenth career fire chief, and second longest-serving, and retired with 13.8 years of service. During his tenure, from 2006 to 2019, the department grew in size, from 26 to 28 fire stations, and from 549 to 621 authorized positions. (And a budget from $42.7M to $65.6M.)

Among the organizational accomplishments: three new fire stations opened (one was a relocation), three fire stations completely remodeled, and two more new stations under construction (relocation and rebuild). Two ladder companies added, a fifth battalion added, and a restructuring of rescue resources that added two squad companies and a five-person heavy rescue.

His department expanded the staff of the fire marshal’s office from 21 to 37, as well as adds in Services and Training. There were extensive improvements in Operations, including new equipment and apparatus, and new policies and procedures. (Water supply, portable monitors, etc.) These and other upgrades helped the city receive its first ISO Class 1 rating in 2016.

Read more in this 2006 to 2019 retrospective of the Raleigh Fire Department, in this blog post: legeros.com/blog/raleigh-retrospective-2006-to-2019/

Other Chief Connections

And there many, many other “chief connections” between Raleigh and other departments.

Mr. Mayo, for example, is now the Fire Chief in Winston-Salem. And, closer to home, four, count ’em four, Raleigh members have served as Fire Chief in the Town of Cary. Here’s a blog post about them: legeros.com/blog/carys-new-fire-chief/

That could be a fun project. Big honkin’ cross-department family tree, connecting Raleigh members with any/all departments, where they worked before or later, or have volunteered, or led as a chief officer, or… [2]


[1] Need to check my dates for Crabtree. He may have started earlier than 2000. [Correct, he started in 1997.] Also, that’s Mayo not Meyo. I have misspelled it before.

[2] We’d start in Johnston County maybe, then work our way in Wake County. Let’s see… 50-210 FD… Antioch FD… Swift Creek FD… Fairview FD… etc.

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Raleigh Retrospective – 2006 to 2019

The city of Raleigh has been served by sixteen career Fire Chiefs since 1912. And effective [tomorrow, November 1, 2019], Fire Chief John T. McGrath has retired.

That’s a historical milestone, as he’s the city’s second-longest serving fire chief, with 13.8 years of service. Only Chief Keeter (1955 to 1973) had a longer tenure, with 18 years.

Thus a historical perspective is in order. See this PDF document: legeros.com/ralwake/raleigh/history/writing/recap-2006-2019.pdf

Pulling from past newsletter issues (www.raleighfirenews.org) and other records of mine, here’s a look at the Raleigh Fire Department “then and now”, from February 2006 to October 2019.

Long list of milestones and more. Congrats on your retirement, Chief. And thanks for leaving the Raleigh Fire Department better than you found it.

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1904 American LaFrance Steam Engine #496

Here’s a history of American LaFrance steam engine #496, built in 1904 for Greensboro, NC, and later owned by private collectors in North Carolina and Florida, and finally residing at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. The restored steamer is being auction. This text and these images were copied from the auction listing

“Built for the Greensboro, North Carolina Fire Department in 1904. It is a horse drawn steam pumping engine built shortly after the merger of the American Fire Engine Company of Cincinnati OH and the LaFrance Fire Engine Company of Elmira NY. This company thereafter became known as the American LaFrance Fire Engine Company with a factory in Elmira. This engine was of the LaFrance pattern and was the 496th such engine built by the LaFrance Company, but was the first engine built under the new company name and might well have been numbered American LaFrance No. 1. It is, therefore, an important machine in regard to the manufacturer’s own history.

“This engine is a double steam cylinder, double water pump machine, known as a Second Size Steam Fire Engine, which would pump 750 gallons per minute at a pump pressure of 120 pounds per square inch. It would supply easily three large fire hoses of 2 1/2 inch size with nozzles of 1 1/8 inch opening. It was drawn by two horses, stabled in the fire house with the engine. These highly trained animals would go to their places ahead of the engine by themselves on the sounding of an alarm. A fire alarm received by telegraph from a corner fire box would automatically sound a bell, turn on the lights and release the horses from their stalls. The horses and men would run to the fire engine and with a few quick snaps of the suspended harness, the horses were hitched and the engine would swing out of the station on its way to the fire within 25 seconds of the sounding of the bell. The fire box of the big boiler was prepared with a fire ready to light and the boiler would raise operating steam in three minutes from cold water. At the fire the pump was connected to a water supply and the big steam engine would soon be pumping fifteen barrels of water every minute on the fire. Greensboro firemen used this four ton machine from 1904 until the 1920’s in everyday service and thereafter used it on big fires through the 1930’s as a reserve engine. It was last pumped about 1940.

“It was purchased by Mr. D.R. Callaway of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who used it for parades for several years and then sold it to Vincent K. O’Meara of Hialeah, Florida in August of 1951. It was on display in the Hialeah Fire Engine Museum for nearly four years and in May, 1959 it was moved to the new O’Meara Fire Engine Museum at Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where it was displayed until its removal to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1966. It remained there until it was acquired by its present owner for display at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio in June of 1970.

“This fine machine was completely restored by Cedar Point in 1971 and was in a portion of the Town Hall Museum as a permanent display. Careful consideration was given to the original decoration and the colors used in the restoration and every attempt was made to strive for authenticity. The machine is decorated in red, gold and black and nearly all its original parts, valves and nameplates are intact.

“A brass bell identical to the original one furnished on the machine was added to it, as well as a pair of authentic Dietz-King fire department lanterns.’

“(Written on November 26, 1973 by Thomas C. Layton, Manager of Art Services and Restoration of Cedar Point, Incorporated).

“Dimensions: h: 8 ft. x w: 6 ft. x l: 14 ft.”

Source: https://auctions.graysauctioneers.com/lots/view/1-2DIDAH/an-american-lafrance-steam-fire-engine, retrieved October 25, 2019.

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Run Card for Plane Crash at Umstead Park

See photos from Sunday and Monday at legeros.smugmug.com/Fire-Photos/2019/2019-10-umstead-crash

Here’s a run card for Sunday night’s aircraft incident, after radar contact was lost with a small plane on approach to Runway 32 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. That’s the smallest of the airport’s three runways, and perpendicular to the main runway. The tower notified crash-fire-rescue and airport operations at 7:25 p.m. of a possible plane down in Umstead State Park. 

City and county fire and EMS units were dispatched about 7:35 p.m., to the location of Ebenezer Church Road and Graylyn Drive. The command post and staging areas were established at that location, with search crews entering the park in vehicles and later on foot. Units were on scene until about 3:00 a.m. Two souls were reported aboard the missing Piper PA32. 

Operations resumed after daybreak, with command and staging relocated to the park’s visitor’s center on Glenwood Avenue. Search teams, comprised of fire and law enforcement personnel, resumed after 9:00 a.m. The aircraft was located about 10:04 a.m. on Monday morning, by Raleigh Fire Department members. There were no survivors. The fire department remained on scene for a number of hours, to assist investigators.  

News coverage included:


See Legeros photos from Sunday and Monday at legeros.smugmug.com/Fire-Photos/2019/2019-10-umstead-crash

Run Card

Here’s the run card for Sunday night, with ongoing occasional edits:

Raleigh-Durham Airport Fire
CFR 1 [mini-pumper], CFR 2 [ARFF], CFR 10 [Deputy Chief, SUV], Car 1 
The airport was briefly closed, during the initial response of CFR units. The airport EOC was also activated, with CFR members present. 

Raleigh Fire
Engine 23, 24, 17, Ladder 9 [on reserve], Squad 14, Battalion 3, 4, Car 20 [Division Chief], Car 2 [Ops Chief]
Haz-mat assignment: HM1 [cancelled], HM2, HM3 + UTV trailer, HM5 + foam trailer
Added: Mini 3 + UTV trailer [picked up by HM3 en route], A1, Battalion 5
Rescue assets, special-called: Rescue 1, Squad 7
Battalion 4 was Fire Operations Command

Cary Fire
Engine 1, Engine 4, Ladder 1, Rescue 2, Brush 4 + UTV trailer, Battalion 1, 3, Car 2, Car 1
Units responded to the Harrison Avenue park entrance, with Car 1 and Bat 1 later responding to the command post on Ebenezer Church Road.

Durham Highway Fire
Brush 166, Car 16, Utility truck + UTV [special called?]

Wake New Hope Fire
ATV31 (pulled by new utility truck, not yet in service) [special called]

Wake County EMS
EMS 40, 42, 43, 49, District 5, 9 Medic 92, 94, Chief 200 [Shift Commander], Chief 102 [Ops Chief], Evac 1 [ambulance bus]

Durham EMS
[ TBD ]

Cary EMS
District 5,
Unit 580 [SUV] + Cart 5 [UTV] [special called?]

Other Fire/EMS

Additional Agencies
Wake County Fire Services – WC1 [on-duty fire marshal]
Wake County Emergency Management
RDU Airport Operations
RDU Police
Raleigh Police
Wake County Sheriff
State Highway Patrol
NC State Parks
NC Emergency Management

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The “Hooks” of a Hook & Ladder

What did the “hooks” look like on the original hook and ladder trucks? Master historian Matt Lee included this picture in his 1997 book “A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine – Volume I.”[1]

It’s one of the best pictures and explanations that I’ve come across. Note that there are two of them, a curved hook and a flat hook. That’s a Seagrave factory photo, undated. Probably 1890s? Horse-drawn ladder truck with “T. F. D.” on the side.

He described the hooks as such:

“The curved hook is for pulling down buildings or portions of buildings in order to create a fire break. In the early days of wood buildings and row housing, the only way to effect a fire break was to tear down a dwelling or out building. The curved hook had ten feet of chain attached to it. At the end of the chain was a length of stout rope. The hook had a hollow handle so that a pike pole could be used to position the hook and chain on a burning structure. The end of the rope was attached to a team of strong horses and the building was pulled apart to facilitate a fire break.”

“The flat hook, with a pulley in its base, was for hoisting items over a roof or wall.”

Collapsing buildings to create fire breaks was a tried-and-true technique of early firefighting. Yours Truly wrote this about Raleigh’s volunteer Hook and Ladder Company, in an earlier retrospective:

“As most of the home of the time were constructed of wood, flames could easily jump between buildings. One method of preventing fires from spreading involved the using a “hook.” This large grab hook was attached to about fifty feet of chain and another hundred or more feet of rope. Members would throw the hook through a window and, with all hands helping, they would pull down the house. This was rarely done, however, with the property owner aware. Their fire company even had a slogan about this displayed on a big sign attached to their truck. It read “Say the word and down comes your house!”[2]

Explosives were also to blow up buildings and create breaks in the path of a spreading conflagration. Local examples abound.

In 1803, the City of Raleigh Commissioners were granted “full power to do what they may deem necessary to stop the progress of the calamity, even to the causing of adjoining buildings to be taken down or blown up, without being answerable for any damage to the owner or owners of property so destroyed.”

This method was used to help control the first major fire on record, that destroyed 51 buildings in the first two blocks of Fayetteville Street on June 11, 1816. “In [the fire’s] course northwardly, it crossed a street 66 feet wide; and was arrested finally by blowing up Mr. Stuart’s kitchen and by throwing water continually on his dwelling house, under cover of some trees” wrote the Raleigh Register account.

And 112 years later, during the great fire of New Bern in 1922, nearly 100 homes were dynamited, as well as six houses along Queen Street that were “pulled down by a large cable” attached to a steam locomotive, was was recounted by Dr. Joseph Patterson in a historical presentation in 1992, for the Memories of New Bern Committee. Read that transcript at newbern.cpclib.org/research/memories/pdf/Fire.pdf

Readers, what historical examples of fire hook or fire break blasting can you share?

[1] Mr. Lee has written three volumes of his pictorial histories. They were self-published in 1997 (Volume I), 1999 (Volume II), and 2005 (Volume III). They are easily the best books on fire apparatus history, totaling some 1200 pages of crisply reproduced photographs and expert explanations and presentations of the histories.

[2] From “Raleigh Fire Department 1880-1899”, created in 2009. Read that document at www.legeros.com/ralwake/raleigh/history/writing/1880-1899.pdf

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