African American Heritage in the Raleigh Fire Department

The Raleigh Fire Department has a rich heritage of African Americans, both during the volunteer era of the 19th and early 20th century, and as members of the career department beginning in 1963. We’re reminded of this legacy with the recent passing of two retirees: retired Division Chief Richmond Davis, and retired Senior Firefighter Shirley Boone.

Chief Davis was one of seven of the city’s first career black firefighters, hired 1963-64. He climbed the ranks over his 30.2 years, as the city’s first black fire captain (1974), first black Battalion Chief (1980), and first black Division Chief (1991). He also served as Chief of Training.

Firefighter Boone served the city for 20.8 years as a full-time firefighter, and for many subsequent years in a part-time capacity in Administration. She was one of the first black women hired by the fire department, between 1978 and 1982.

Their stories and others have been compiled by Historian Mike Legeros (that’s me!), in a newly expanded history document.

The 50-page document includes stories and information and data about the city’s black firefighters, their volunteer-era predecessors, early station assignments and working conditions, a class-action lawsuit, the hiring of the first females, and new and renewed efforts at recruiting for diversity in recent years.

Read the history at

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Vintage Photo of Guilford County Airport Fire Spill Support Unit

Thanks to a reader, who came upon this vintage picture the other week, from the collection of Scott Mattson.  Thanks for sharing, Micah!

Vintage Guilford County Fire Services support unit. Looks like a 1960s Dodge truck, which had been converted into a lighting and generator unit. It’s pulling a two-axle cargo trailer lettered as “oil spill control unit.”

Scott Mattson Collection

Both were housed at the airport fire station, which was also headquarters for county fire services. The county’s oil spill response team was created around 1977 or 78, and included this 1958 Chevy tanker. Click to enlarge:

Scott Mattson Collection

In a Greensboro Daily News article on February 13, 1978, the “special county oil spill team” was described as being created sixteen months prior. 

Technical expertise was provided by the Division of Environmental Health, while the “sweat and backbreaking labor of containing an oil spill” is provided by the County Fire Marshal’s office.

The fire marshal’s office had created a fleet of emergency vehicles for oil spill response, including a lighting truck with a gas-powered generator, a trailer with absorbing materials and tools for spill containment, a pumper truck that can “suck up offending oil or contaminated water”, a general maintenance truck that pulls the trailer, and a jeep.

Read more in Mr. Blogger’s recent history of Guilford County Fire Services and history of the PTI airport fire department:

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Close Views of Early Raleigh Fire Engines

Random historical photo(s) from the Raleigh Fire Museum. Visit this photo album to see others. Visit this apparatus register to learn more about these rigs. 

Fire apparatus at the North Carolina State Capitol, circa early 1920s. Courtesy Raleigh Fire Department.

Pictured left to right are: 

  • 1912 American LaFrance Type 5 combination chemical and hose truck
  • 1918 American LaFrance Type 45 triple combination pumper
  • 1916 American LaFrance Type 17 aerial ladder
  • 1922 American LaFrance Type 14 combination service truck
  • 1914 American LaFrance Type 12 triple combination pumper. 








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Mayview, Belgrade, Loco Fire Departments Plan Merger

From the Jacksonville Daily News on February 21, three fire departments in Jones and Onslow County are planning a merger.

They began discussions in December, with a merger plan presented at a February 20 meeting. The merger is expected to take effect on July 1.

Details on each department:

Maysville Fire & EMS, Inc.
Jones County
404 Main Street
Chartered 2/5/82
32 members

Belgrade Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
Onslow County
7561 New Bern Highway
Chartered 10/20/59
15 members

Loco Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
Onslow County
2731 White Oak River Road
Chartered 2/22/85
20 members


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Tales of the Union – 1942 to 1951


How about some vintage meeting minute excerpts for your hysterical historical enjoyment? These are from the Raleigh Fire Fighters Association, Local No. 548, as transcribed by Yours Truly. Read many more at

1942 – Meeting came to order at 10:30 a.m. followed by prayer by all members. Motion made and carried that men at work on duty at No. 4 and 5 be marked as present.”

1942 – Brothers, O. L. Wilkerson and L. Q. Godwin, sworn in as members of Local 548.

1942 – Motion made by Bro. J. S. Honeycutt that a man be in the department for 60 days before accepting him in union. Passed unanimously.”

1942 – Discussion concerning the purchase of pajamas [as a Christmas present] for Chief Butts. Bro. Ellen stated that #5 refuses to pay any part on same. Bro. Averett stated #4 would pay their part, but later disagreed to pay. Bro. Pearce stated that his wife did not wear silk pajamas and he would not buy any man some. Motion made by Bro. Mills that the other stations play for the entire sum. Passed.

1943 – Motion made by Bro. Sadler that the minutes of each meeting be copied and sent to each station to be placed on the bulletin board, in order that Stations 4 & 5 will know what is going on when they can’t attend the meetings. This motion passed.

1943 – There was considerable discussion concerning writing the men in the service. Capt. Burnette suggested that we send the boys the News & Observer. This was adopted, the money to come from the treasury. The following were appointed to write each man: J. D. Grimes to Puryear; Wilkerson to Holmes; Randolph to Alexander; Strayhorn to Gregory.

1943 – Pres. Keeter asked for 2 volunteers to visit H. V. Lloyd [who had had a stroke] at intervals. Bro Lassiter & Watkins volunteered.

1944 – Pres. Keeter discussed State Fire Fighters Convention to be held here July 27th & 28th. Bro. Burnette suggested that we give a supper and a dinner for delegates. Br. Burnette, Smith, Lassiter, High, & Godwin to help Pres. Keeter toward preparations for convention.

1945 – Bro. King mentioned that there [was] too much profane language used by members during Local meeting.

1945 – After some discussion by various members on 24 on 24 off, motion was made by Bro. Smith that Pres. Keeter go to Chief Butts & discuss the matter with him. Bro. Sadler asked for an amendment that 90 day trail be included. Motion carried 100%.

1946 – Pres. Keeter gave his findings on the meat situation in regards to the proposed barbecue. Bro. Burnette spoke on the great cost of a barbecue, and suggested that it be postponed.

1946 – Pres. Keeter gave a talk on meeting & various bills taken up by IAFF at Toledo. Bro. Hayes gave talks on the opinions of other city firemen in regards to pensions & the IAFF.

1947 – The initiating committee prepared our shivering & shaking candidates for their coming ordeal. This program was carried out with hilarious gusto.

1947 – Bro. Hayes explained why some of the men were not able to get into the ballpark on their passes. He explained (as it was told to him) that some of the firemen had been loaning their passes to non-members and that they were trying to get others in on their passes. Bro. Blake said that he had talked to Grimes. Stephenson and Grimes told him that no pass cards had been wrongly used at his gate.

1947 – Bro. Keeter gave his view on the condition of the Fire Dept., and also working dances at auditorium.

1948 – The union voted to accept the state [fire fighter’s association] meeting if High Point turned it down.

1948 – A discussion followed on extended sick leave by several members. Bro. Keeter explained about sick leave.

1948 – A very lengthy discussion on the political mechanics of the Charlotte Fire Dept. was held.

1948 – Hobby made a motion that we vote on 24 on, 24 off. Seconded by Bro. Brannan. Motion carried unanimously that we adopted permanently the 24 on, 24 off mode of working with only 4 voting against.

1949 – Discussion was brought up on the seniority and ability method for making promotions in the dept. After a lengthy discussion, Bro. Mims made a motion that the organization go on record as favoring the plan, and that the President appoint a committee to represent the dept. at the Civil Service Commission about this method of promotion.

1949 – J. W. Godwin made motion we repair typewriter. Motion carried.

1950 – The condition of [original Raleigh Fire Chief] Sherwood Brockwell was discussed, and the need for blood donor was brought out by several of the members.

1950 – Brother J. W. Godwin made a motion that an assistant driver be made on each shift for each company. Brother Burnette seconded. Motion carried.

1950 – It was brought up about forming a ladies auxiliary, but it was decided we talk with our wives about it first, and see how they feel about it.

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New EMS Station in Wendell

Update 8:14 a.m. – Corrected to note that Eastern Wake EMS will exclusively occupy the facility. 

Wake County is building a new EMS station at 3001 Wendell Boulevard, which is across the street-and-to-the-right from the fire station. It will replace the current Wendell Main EMS Station, located downtown. Construction is nearing completion. Lee Wilson took this photo this weekend:

Lee Wilson photo

The 4,231 square-foot building will be equipped with three ambulance bays and eleven parking places. The 0.95 acre site is located at 3001 Wendell Boulevard. The $1.7M building was designed by Williard Stewart Caliendo Architects. 

It will occupied by Eastern Wake EMS, which currently utilizes the old Wendell Rescue Squad building at 401 E. Third Street. That 4,080 square-foot structure was built in 1974, and will be retained by Eastern Wake EMS as an administration facility.



See larger version of rendering and floor plan on the county’s project page.

Project Summary

Here’s a project summary, from this county’s project page:

On May 12, 2016, Wake County closed on a 0.95-acre tract of land located at 3001 Wendell Blvd., Wendell, for the purpose of building a new EMS station that would serve the Town of Wendell and provide improved response times to the target coverage area.
On July 18, 2016, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved the schematic design for the new EMS station, composed of 4,231 SF, including 3 single-length ambulance bays, room to house a peak load unit, a 24-hour response unit, and an Advance Practice Paramedic vehicle. Eastern Wake EMS will also [exclusively] occupy and operate EMS units from this location.
On January 17, 2017, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a construction contract with Cadet Construction Company of Raleigh to construct the new facility along with all of the necessary site improvements.
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Durham City/County Fire Merger – The Plans, The People, The Background

Durham County Fire Marshal Jim Groves is concerned about the future, and the sustainability of the fire service as it currently exists in Durham County. Specifically the southern part, now protected by the county’s fledgling fire department: Durham County Fire-Rescue (DCFR).

DCFR was organized in 2013, after the Bethesda Fire Department requested that Durham County take over their operations. The county received their equipment, facilities, and personnel. Two years later, the Parkwood Fire Department requested the same thing, and DCFR expanded from two to five fire stations.

With 53 firefighters and five fire stations, Groves is proud of his department and the level of service they’re providing. They staff three engines, two tankers, a ladder company, and a battalion chief daily. They also have additional apparatus including included two rescues, two brush trucks, and a mobile air unit.

”I’m extremely proud of our firefighters and their dedication to providing fire, rescue, and EMS services to the residents, workers, and visitors in Durham County. Individually and collectively they reduced the District’s ISO rating last year, and they continue to meet and exceed our quarterly response metrics, which is no small task”.

But he’s concerned about the future.

Inherited Infrastructure

DCFR inherited their infrastructure from Bethesda and Parkwood. Theirs was a legacy of community fire protection, whose organizations were created and expanded in response to the immediate needs of rural and suburban populations. They were grass-roots groups that started small, and grew in relative proportion to their needs and available resources.

Decades later, and now combined into a single system, the former Bethesda and Parkwood fire stations need upgrades and even relocation.

“These stations were located based on what was needed at the time,” says Groves, “but station planning and building did not keep up with growth, and residential and business density. Today, and from a strategic perspective, they’re poorly located.”

DCFR Station 82 on South Miami Boulevard is too close to Durham city Station 13, for example. Others are now within the city limits, or overlap with city stations planned to open this year or in later years.

And some of the fire stations are also too small. They weren’t designed for 24/7 operations, and expanded or replacement facilities are needed for long-term operation.

Station 84 on Leesville Road, former Bethesda Station 2.

Growth = More City, Less County

As he looks ahead, Groves sees continued growth, both in southeastern Durham County and in the Research Triangle Park (RTP). More residential, more mixed use, more business, and more industrial. As those unincorporated areas outside of the RTP become more robust, the property owners will likely request voluntary annexation by the city in order to use city infrastructure.

And with each annexation by the city, the DCFR fire district will shrink. “If our fire districts shrink, so will our revenues,” says Groves. “And that would impact our ability to provide service at the levels expected by taxpayers.”

Thus, Durham County Fire-Rescue sits at a sort of crossroads. While their district may shrink in coming years, the department still needs to grow. They need new fire stations in better locations, which means new station construction, and that’s going to cost money. They also have equipment needs, including an aging fleet that needs upgrades.

“To improve our facilities and apparatus could cost over $20 million in capital projects alone, over the next seven to ten years,” notes Groves.

But the City of Durham and its fire department are also growing. They’re planning new stations. They’ll be equipping with new apparatus and new crews.

“It will soon cost more for the county and the city to operate separate fire protection organizations, than a single serving both,” notes Groves.


Enter Chief Curia

Groves was hired on October 1, 2015, and two years after a county fire district feasibility study (see sidebar below).

That fall, he began talking with Durham (City) Fire Chief Dan Curia about opportunities for their organizations. And as their conversations continued into early 2016, they quickly realized they had a common need for both their departments and the citizens they serve.

“Honestly, we started examining changes in service delivery because it was the right thing to do,” says Curia.

“As public servants, people should expect us to put the good of the community first, which I feel we are doing. It’s always difficult to do something different than the way ‘it has always been done’; but DCFR and DFD are good partners and are willing to work through any issues that arise.”

The City of Durham was planning three future fire stations in locations very close to three DCFR station locations. And if they could join forces with their facilities—instead of each building their own new stations—that alone could save taxpayers millions of dollars.

And the more that Curia and Groves talked about it, the more they recognized the benefits.

“The solution we’ve been working toward really represents a win-win for all parties involved. It cuts cost, improves service, and provides long term stability,” says Curia.

For the DCFR District, service levels would increase, including likely ISO rating improvements which would reduce insurance rates for property owners. The latter would be a particular benefit and economic incentive for property owners, including the many businesses in the Research Triangle Park.

For DFD, the merger would get them “closer to the bulls eye” for proposed station locations, and opened much earlier until permanent facilities were built.

Both departments would benefit from operational and organizational alignment, from suppression to training to logistics.

Durham Station 17 on Leesville Road, under construction

Benefits for County Personnel

For Groves, one more benefit was immediately apparent: DCFR firefighters would have jobs in the long term, and with an opportunity to remain in the local government retirement system until they retired.

He notes, “DCFR employees would have the opportunity to finish their careers with another very progressive and supportive organization versus worrying about a shrinking DCFR tax base that could necessitate a reduction in staffing levels at some point in the future.”

“While no one wants to reduce staff, the projected growth of the City of Durham in the DCFR Service District suggests that it could be a real possibility that should not be overlooked,” adds Groves.

“Chief Curia and I chose to be proactive and plan for this occurrence now instead of being reactive to it in the future.”

Battalion 81 at Station 82

Sidebar – Fire District Feasibility Study

In November 2013, the county released a Fire District Consolidation Feasibility Study. Among the recommendations was merging the Bethesda and Parkwood districts, and later looking to the city to take over fire protection. It also recommended that the city take over fire protection in western Durham County, currently served by a pair of Orange County fire departments.

In 2014, the city and county held some informal discussions on these ideas, but no actions were taken. Read the study.

Bethesda’s old siren, still standing on South  Miami Boulevard

Sidebar – EMS Coverage

Bethesda and Parkwood fire departments were also long-time EMS providers. When Durham County Fire-Rescue was created to assumed fire protection for the Bethesda fire district, Durham County EMS took over the role of EMS provider. Two years later, DCEMS took over EMS for the Parkwood fire district, as well.

Durham County EMS unit at Station 85.

The Proposed Merger

In the spring of 2016, Curia and Groves briefed city and county leaders on their idea: merge Durham County Fire-Rescue into the Durham Fire Department.

The proposal was accepted as an action item, and both city and county staff were requested to develop a conceptual plan that could be reviewed.

In June 2017, a white paper was published with the findings of seven workgroups, which examined the issues related to Operations, Fleet, HR, Finance, Facilities/Infrastructure, and Legal. The paper concluded that the proposed merger should proceed.

In October 2017, Curia and Groves presented this information to a joint city and county board meeting. Their leaders approved the continued planning, including revised and final cost estimates, phase-in plans, and inter-local agreements. But, with the request to withhold a final decision until all final plans and information were available.

In March, the final plans for the proposal will be presented to a joint city/county board for approval. The goal date for the merger is July 1, 2018.


Sidebar – Already Working Together

Parallel to the planning process, the city and county fire departments began working together on some things that have produced immediate benefits.

County firefighters now attend monthly fire and EMS training conducted by DFD. Both city and county crews also jointly participate in after-action review meetings, after major incidents.

The two departments routinely share staffing plans, to ensure that any company shortages can be handled. Both departments are also jointly discussing equipment purchases and apparatus design plans. And they’ve both started working on common operating plans for incidents, including adapting a number of long-standing practices.

Both DFD and DCFR have also adopted a close ladder response policy, for structure fires and vehicle extrication calls. DCFR Ladder 81 is included on the city run card.

Ladder 81 on scene

The Merger

If approved, the proposed merger would move all DCFR personnel positions and several pieces of apparatus to DFD. This would add a pair of ladder trucks to the city fleet, as well as tankers with the capability for shuttling water.

The county firefighters would become city firefighters. Plans for this process include the evaluation of DCFR supervisors (Driver and higher) by a joint-city county panel, to determine if they’ll transfer into their current rank/role, or a similar rank/role in DFD.

Personnel from Durham County will likely be assigned to stations near existing DCFR districts. Crews will likely be split and integrated with DFD personnel and vice-versa over the long term.

“We will attempt to place personnel at or near county districts,” says Curia. “The high number of personnel we’re working with may prohibit solely placing personnel close to DCFR stations.”

The five county fire stations would remain county-owned, but occupied by city fire crews. Two would remain operational, and three would no longer be used for fire protection:

Sta Address Plans Notes


4716 Old Page

Becomes temporary DFD 19

To house engine, ladder, and tanker.

Will be replaced with new facility ~2023 in area of Davis Drive and Guardian Drive or Chin Page Road.


1724 S. Miami


Covered by DFD 8, DFD 3, etc.


1409 Seaton

Becomes temporary DFD 18

To house engine, ladder, and tanker.

Will be replaced with new facility ~2020 on Herndon Road at Stinhurst Drive.


7305 Leesville


Covered by new DFD 17, opening this spring, also located on Leesville Road, about 1.5 miles west. The new station will house engine and ladder.


4200 Farrington


Covered by DFD 16, DFD 6, DFD 11, etc.

Plus co-located Durham County EMS units, which are planned to continue post-merger.

Plans for the repurposed buildings are TBD.

[1] The North Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to convert some five miles of Highway 70 east–including the South Miami Boulevard intersection–to a freeway. Looks like this will impact the Station 82 site, as well as the many other surrounding structures. Property acquisition slated to start in April 2022. See project site.

Click to enlarge:

Sidebar – The Two Departments

  City County

Engine Co.



Ladder Co.



Squad Co.



Battalion Chiefs















Land Area

107.4 sq. mi.

286 sq. mi.

[1] Durham will have 17 stations in April/May.
[2] Not counting cars and light trucks.
[3] 2016 demographics

Next Step – Approvals

In March, Groves and Curia will present the proposed merger plan to city and county officials for their consideration. The goal date for the merger is July 1, 2018.

Watch this space for updates, as we will update this posting with links to media coverage and other news.

Stories so far:

Appendix – DCFR Fleet Information

Click to enlarge:





Air 83

2001 Freightliner FL70/Pierce


Battalion 81

2007 Ford F-150 with camper shell


Brush 82

1988 Chevrolet/E-One 500/300


Brush 83

2004 Ford F-450/______, 50/300


Engine 81

2002 E-One Cyclone, 1750/1000


Engine 82

2008 Sutphen ladder 1500/500/75-foot


Engine 83

2002 E-One Cyclone, 1750/1000


Engine 84

2003 Sutphen, 1500/1000. Alt. year 2004


Engine 85

1983 Chevy C-70/E-One, 1000/750


Ladder 81

2003 Sutphen platform, 1500/300/110-foot


Rescue 81

2006 Spartan Diamond/EVI walk-around


Rescue 82

1991 Sutphen/Saulsbury walk-in. Alt. year 1990


Squad 82

2000 Ford F-250 crew-cab utility truck


Tanker 82

2005 Freightliner/US Tanker, 1000/3000. Alt. year 2006


Tanker 85

2005 Freightliner/US Tanker, 1000/3000


Reserve E1 1993 E-One ladder, 1500/500/75-foot 83
Reserve E2 1992 Sutphen, 1500?/1000? 82

Reserve E3

1987 Sutphen, 1500/1000. Alt. year 1992


Additionally, DCFR has ordered a pair of Sutphen pumpers and a Sutphen tanker. They were spec’ed by a joint DCFR/DFD committee, and designed with the same specs and equipment as DFD apparatus.

Appendix – County Fire Facilities

Station 81
4716 Old Page Road
Former Parkwood Station 3
Built 1986
Part of building leased to sheriff’s department as substation until 2004.
One-story, three bays, 2,989 square-feet, 0.656 acres.
Station 82
1724 S. Miami Boulevard
Former Bethesda Station 1
Built 1983
Expanded at least once, with two-story addition.
One-story, four bays, 10,800 square-feet, 0.648 acres.
Station 83
1409 Seaton Road
Former Parkwood Station 1
Built 1976
Expanded two/three times in 1980s, with additional bays, training space, garage space, etc.
One-story, seven bays (in main building), 9,829 square-feet, 1.54 acres.
Station 84
7305 Leesville Road
Former Bethesda Station 2
Built 1988
One-story, three bays, 1,017 square-feet, 0.91 acres
Station 85
4200 Farrington Road
Former Parkwood Station 2
Built 1984
One-story, three bays, 2,467 square-feet, 0.77 acres

Appendix – Historical Perspective #1

Bethesda Fire Department, original station

Parkwood Fire Department, circa 1976

Here’s a look back at fire protection in southeastern Durham County, as well as related milestones:

1948, circa

County purchases fire truck for calls outside the city. Operated by Durham FD, housed at Station 1. 1948 Mack pumper, 600 gallons. Replaced with American LaFrance pumper in the 1960s. First rural fire protection in Durham County.

1957, circa

County purchases Civil Defense rescue truck for city/county response. Operated by Durham FD, housed at Station 1. 1957 GMC panel van.

1963, Dec 19

Bethesda FD chartered. First fire station on South Miami Boulevard.

1968, Dec 8

Parkwood FD chartered. First fire station on Seaton Drive.

1972, Mar

Parkwood adds ambulance service.

1976, Sep 15

Parkwood opens new Sta 1 across street from current station.


Bethesda opens new Sta 1 on S. Miami Boulevard, beside current station.

1984, Jul 16

Parkwood opens Sta 2 on Farrington Road.

1987, Feb 4

Parkwood opens Sta 3 on Old Page Road.


Bethesda opens Sta 2 on Leesville Road.


Durham opens Sta 13 on S. Miami Boulevard.

2012, Dec 31

Bethesda ceases EMS operations, along with Bahama FD and Redwood FD. Operations transferred to Durham County EMS.

2013, July 1

Bethesda ceases operations. DCFR created, assumes operations and assets of BFD.

2015, July 1

PFD ceases operations. DCFR assumes operations and assets of PFD.

2015, April

DCFR adopts new numbering for their stations and apparatus, replacing 40s (Bethesda) and 60s (Parkwood) with 80s (DCFR).

Appendix – Historical Perspective #2

Is this the first county-run FD > city-run FD merger in state history?

Could be.

There are hundreds of county-serving departments in the state, but just a handful of county-operated. Believe this is first merger of county into municipal.

Notable private FD mergers into “big city” departments have included:


  • Haw Creek > AFD in 2009
  • West Asheville > AFD in 1917


  • Lafayette Village > FFD in 2004
  • Lake Rim > FFD in 2004

Note: The merger of the airport FD doesn’t county, as the airport has always been municipally-owned. Versus a private entity.


  • District 14 > GFD in 2005
  • Guilford College > GFD in 2001

 High Point

  • Deep River > HPFD in 2005

Readers can chime in.

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Fatal Fires in Raleigh – 1948 to 2018

Presenting the results of a recent research project: Fatal Fires in Raleigh, 1948-2018.

Starting in 1948, and the deadliest fire in the city’s history. Five family members died after their apartment burned above the Carolina Country Club clubhouse in February 1948.

Over 150 deaths, from incidents as limited by (a.) inside the city limits, or (b.) outside the city, but with mutual aid response from the Raleigh Fire Department, and (c.) not related to transportation. Primarily structure fires, but not entirely. 

Plus an interactive Google map with plotting.  



Longtime readers might remember our original posting on this subject in 2013. That was a data dump that sparked a bit of conversation. Then Legeros returned to his records after last month’s fatal fire on Avent Hill. 

This time, he dove deep, started again with fire department historical records, and his own stack of newspaper clippings. Then digging deeper into News & Observer and Raleigh Times back issues, via microfilm and Newsbank. And even consulting the death certificate and death index data from the state, via via local library access. 


View the Data

The revised results have been vastly expanded. More data and better accuracy. With presentation as a PDF document, based on a Word document.

Heavy on the narrative details, though we attempted to record (if available) each cause of death, location of victim, cause of fire, and such. Better format might be exclusively tabular. Say, a spreadsheet with more columns. Future project!

Take a look and see what you think. Feedback welcome, as well as additional inputs.

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Western Wake’s Year End Video… And How They Did It

Western Wake Fire-Rescue has posted their annual “year end” video, a compilation of video clips and still photos. And this isn’t your father’s YouTube video, either. The days of slideshows with “just a couple videos” are long gone. Now it’s helmet cams and GoPro cameras. < But, but, where’s the drone footage?

This year’s video was produced by Engineer Aidan Sheehan. It’s nearly nine-minutes long and nearly exclusively features point-of-video (POV) video footage. Plus a couple bits of news footage, as well as still shots from several sources.

Those clips were recorded using three helmet cams (FireCam HD) and four GoPro cameras (GoPro 6, GoPro 4, GoPro Sessions). The latter were both handheld and mounted on apparatus, including in the cab and elsewhere. 


Sheehan started with about 146 HD video clips. Most of that was helmet cam footage, saved in five-minute increments. The GoPro footage was longer and totaled 128 GB. 

He estimates 12 to 15 hours of raw footage. Using Apple Movie, he estimates he spent 25 to 30 hours of editing. That includes both viewing all raw footage to find the clips to extract, and compiling the video.

The soundtrack features these songs, by artists that this old fart and long-ago Eighties metal deejay has never heard of:

  • Higher by The Score
  • Walk on Water by 30 Seconds to Mars
  • City on My Back by Kid Ink.

Rights were acquired through standard YouTube licensing, e.g., loading the movie and letting YouTube add commercials to compensate the artists. 

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History of Durham City/County Rescue Services

Presenting a history of rescue and EMS services in Durham County and Durham city. This originated as a blog posting in 2014, and has been expanded here. With reader input, it may get further expanded! Click to enlarge:

Early History

Ambulance services in Durham and Durham County included private providers (including Beacon Ambulance Service, based in Raleigh), funeral homes (such as Amey’s Funeral Home and Florist, Burthey Funeral Service, Clements Funeral Service, etc.), and even hospitals. Watts Hospital had at least one ambulance as shown in this image circa 1940. Same is courtesy the North Carolina Collection at Durham County Library. See more information:


Continue reading ‘History of Durham City/County Rescue Services’ »

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