Celebrating Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day in March 2019. Top montage created in 2019, bottom three created in 2017. Compiled from a decade-plus of fire photography by Legeros, of women in emergency services around Raleigh, Wake County, Durham, Chapel Hill, and more. 

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Vintage Photo of Charlotte Tanker

Would you believe a yellow tanker in Charlotte? This nifty picture was posted to the Fire & Rescue Apparatus 25 Years And Older group on Facebook. Photo by Dan Mack via Scott Mattson’s collection.

It’s a 1972 International/Etnyre, 500/1500. As the story goes, Charlotte added these tankers when the city began growing faster than planned in the mid-1970s. (Raleigh added a pair of tankers in 1960, for similar reasons.)

The tankers were based on a street-flusher design, and were apparently chosen for their ready-availability and affordability. The body was built by Etnyre, which still builds road flushers and other specialty vehicles. 

See the Charlotte FD Trucks site, for more information on fleet history: http://www.charlottefdtrucks.com.

More Old Photos

Reader Shawn Royall shared these vintage pictures, from Station 23 in East Charlotte, in this Legeros Fire Line posting on Facebook.

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Vintage Photo of Sunbury Pumper

This vintage picture was posted by Thomas Landen to the N.C. Old Photos and Things of Interest group on Facebook.

Late 1930s or maybe early 1940s American LaFrance 500 Series, ex-Melfa, VA, and the first truck for Sunbury Volunteer Fire Department, in Gates County. Bought in 1957 for $750.

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Two Alarms on Aileen Drive

Pre-arrival picture via Joel Brown on Twitter @JoelBrownABC11, of last night’s two-alarm apartment fire in Raleigh at 3121 Aileen Drive. Dispatched 6:00 p.m. Engine 20 arriving with heavy fire showing, and people “jumping out of windows” said radio traffic.

Second alarm at ~6:09 p.m. Plus two EMS alarm assignments, for potential for numerous patients. Controlled 6:28 p.m. Three units heavily damaged. Sixteen people displaced. Minor injuries to some residents. Cause determined as accidental, resident with gasoline used to start a fire in a fireplace.

Run card: E20, E8, E2, E5, L7, L4, R1, B3, B2 (1A), A2, C20, C402 (WF), E13, E3, Sq14, L8, L3 (2A), Car 4; EMS51 (1A), EMS 33, D1 (WF), EMS 55, EMS 32, M92, D5 (alarm 1), EMS 52, EMS 54, M92, D4 (alarm 2), T1, EMS 200, Ops Chief.

See Legeros photos, from the aftermath.

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Help Wanted – Old, Old Conference Proceedings

History peeps, who can help me locate pre-1910 conference proceedings from the North Carolina State Firefighter’s Association? Anyone have any of these small paperback booklets in hand?

Making an inventory, and my findings are below. Plus a link to some scans of these, for your reading pleasure.

1888 – Greensboro History Museum 
1889 – ?
1890 – ?
1891 – ?
1892 – Greensboro History Museum
1893 – ?
1894 – Greensboro History Museum
1895 – Duke University library
1896 – UNC library
1897 – UNC library
1898 – UNC library
1899 – UNC library, Greensboro History Museum
1900 – UNC library
1901 – UNC library, Greensboro History Museum
1902 – UNC library
1903 – UNC library
1904 – ?
1905 – ? 
1906 – ?
1907 – ?
1908 – North Carolina State Firefighters Association office
1909 – ?

Have whereabouts of 1910 and later. Good to go there. But trying to find the first couple decades. Also, TBD if proceedings were even printed in the first couple years. Don’t know.

Here are some scans from 1895 to 1903: https://legeros.com/history/fa/proceedings/ncsfa

Also, important note. Will later conduct a second inventory for proceedings from the North Carolina Colored Firemen’s Association. They were a separate group, with separate events.

More history here: https://legeros.com/history/fa/

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Guilford County Fire System, 1966


Here’s a historical perspective on Guilford County’s fire system in 1966, including dispatch procedures, unit numbering, radio signals, and run cards. Plus a pair of incident details.

This was presented at the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association annual meeting that year, held in Carolina Beach on August 1 and 2, and is copied from the printed conference proceedings. 

Subheadings in [bold and brackets] were added by Mr. Blogger, along with additional paragraph breaks and a couple bulleted lists to improve readability.

See also this detailed history of Guilford County Fire Rescue, and these prior blog postings:


By R. W. Grant

Fire Marshal of Guilford County, North Carolina

Mr. Chairman, fellow firemen—at a relentless pace, time moves on; and no human hand can stay its pace. In the inner recesses of mind we may cry for the status to remain quiet. But ladies and gentlemen, the flow of time is never backward. It pushes man and events onward at a rate that never slackens and never falters. We are, thus, thrust into the future. We of the fire service have come to feel the effect of the jet age.

Fire has been with us since the beginning of time and yet man is just learning to control its destructive elements. For the next few minutes, we want to focus on Guilford County’s efforts to protect its Citizens and property from the ravages of fire.

[About the County] Continue reading ‘Guilford County Fire System, 1966’ »

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Standard Hose Threads… Statewide? – 1934

In August 1933, the members of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association went on record as favoring standard hose threads for all fire departments in the state. This would aid in mutual aid situations, so visiting apparatus could connect with a particular town or city’s apparatus and water system. A committee was formed on the matter, with State Fire Marshal Sherwood Brockwell as chairman. 

In August 1934, Brockwell gave a report on the project, which was undertaken with the sponsorship of the Southeastern Fire Underwriters Association and the Factory [Mutual Insurance] Association[1]. They provided the free services of an engineer named Mr. Ballard, who either performed the thread changes or provided instruction on changing the threads to National Standard.

Mr. Ballard told attendees that they had just completed the City of Charlotte. He also noted that private fire departments, such as “the mills,” were also cooperated. Chief Hildebrand of Canton chimed in, and said that the nearby Champion Fiber Company performed the conversion. 

Praising Mr. Ballard, the Chief said though “he looks like one of those drug store fellows,” once he started his work “he does not know when to quite.” When the help of “four men that I gave him,” he changed all of the company’s couplings in two days and “did all the rest of the work.”

Added Chief Hildebrand, “it is worth any town’s or any private concern’s money to have that standardization made.” 

Mr. Ballard said that the National Standard thread measured 31/16 inches outside diameter and 7 1/2 threads to the inch. The cost of materials ranged from about $200 to $300 for the city of Durham, as he recalled, to an estimated $10 or $15 for a town the size of Roxboro. 

Chart from Fire Engineering article, July 22, 1925

[1] The name of the second sponsor is incomplete in the proceedings, noting only Factory _____________ Association. Most likely, that was the Factory Mutual Insurance Association. 

Reports on Cities and Towns

From the proceedings of the 1934 conference, Brockwell’s report included this information:

“Originally [equipped with the] standard thread: Muprhy, [Hayesville], Clyde, Weaverville, Burnsville, Forest City, Elk Park, Boone, Blowing Rock, West Jefferson, Bessemer City, Dallas, Wilkesboro, Mocksville. Fairmont, Rowland, Laurinburg, Wagram, Pinebluff, Aberdeen, Siler City, Liberty, Mebane, Tabor, Whiteville, Lillington, Dunn, Wake Forest, Selma, Southport, Wallace, Warsaw, Weldon, Scotland Neck, Bethel, Plymouth, Stantonsburg, Farmville, Greenville, Ayden, [and] Hookerton.”

“In addition to that, starting out with your last year’s convention, the following cities in North Carolina have been standardized: Bryson City, Franklin, Highlands, Canton, Brevard, Mars Hill, Black Mountain, Old Fort, Saluda, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Spruce Pine, Lumberton, Maxton, Red Springs, St. Paul, Raeford, Fayetteville, Roseboro, Clinton, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Roxboro, [and] Charlotte.”

“The cities that I shall read now are cities which would probably require new couplings and new nipples [for hydrants?], they being so far away from the national standard […]: Apex, Asheville, Cary, Chadbourn, Clayton, Columbus, Elkin, Enfield, Henderson, Hendersonville, Hickory, Hot Springs, Louis burg, Morganton, Mount Airy, Newton, Pinehurst, Raleigh, Robbinsville, Southern Pines, Tarboro, Tryon, Waynesville, Wendell, Wilmington, [and] East Flat Rock.”

Historical Perspective

Brockwell opened his report with this historical perspective on hose thread standards:

“Now, in 1876 the International Association of Fire Chiefs promulgated and started a movement to standardize fire-hose threads throughout the
United States and Canada.”

“In 1906, following the Baltimore fire, the National Board of Fire Underwriters undertook, with some degree of success, standardizing the hose threads throughout the United States.”

“In 1910 the National Fire Protection Association started a program and met with a certain measure of success in standardizing fire-hose threads throughout this country.”

“In 1915 the Greenfield Tap & Die Company perfected a process by which they could standardize your own threads and your own coupling if they were within a certain range.”

“Last year [in 1933], this Association went on record as favoring standardization, in so far as practicable, in State of North Carolina, and your humble servant was made chairman of a committee to undertake standardization in North Carolina.”

Related Reading

Here’s a 2014 blog post by Legeros, on the history of Raleigh’s hose threads, and the threads of other state departments in the early 1920s and 1930s. 

Many decades later, the town of Cary converted to National Standard threads. From this Legeros history page:

December 1980 – Threads changed on 900 fire hydrants in town during a seven-day period. The project cost about $41,000. To expedite the program each hydrant was assigned a number. The town was divided into quarters, and then into routes. Firefighters were divided into teams to install the threads on the hydrants, hoses, and trucks. The existing threads originally matched Raleigh’s, and for the assumed purpose of mutual aid, if Raleigh responded to Cary. The threads later evolved into a different “Cary thread,” and both types were in use. By changing to national standard, there were several benefits: developers could purchase fire hydrants without special ordering. These hydrants would be delivered faster. And the fire department could order new hose couplings faster, without customization. The new equipment was provided by Zimmerman and Evans Fire and Safety in Greensboro. 


  • “Information on National Standard Fire Hose Coupling Threads,” Fire Engineering, July 22, 1925, web page.
  • Proceedings of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association, 1933 and 1934. 

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Durham Fire Chief Dies – November 1946

Found this while doing other research last week. We first discussed on the Facebook side. Memo to self: add to fallen firefighters database.

On November 26, 1946, Durham Fire Chief Frank W. Bennett died at Watts Hospital. His death was duty-related.

Chief Bennett became ill on November 6, while supervising a fire at the Durham Mattress Company on East Trinity Avenue. 

He returned home and was reported the next day as “resting well”. A little later he was taken to the hospital, where he remained “critically ill” until the time of his death.

Chief Bennett had served the Durham fire department since 1909 and had been chief of the department about 25 years. 

He was active in the state and national firefighter associations, and was known nationally as the ‘Singing Fire Chief from North Carolina.’

Chief Bennett was elected Vice President of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association at the 1923 conference in Durham. He was elected President at the High Point conference in 1924, and for a second term in at the Charlotte meeting in 1944. He served until his death.

He was made president of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs in 1938.

Funeral services were held at Watts Street Baptist Church on November 28, 1946. He was buried at Maplewood Cemetery. 

See these supporting documents: 

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Bring Out Your Buckets! – Hillsborough, 1777

In 1777, the state legislature passed an Act for the Regulation of the Town of Hillsborough, which included that every household have two buckets and one ladder, and keep them “in continual readiest” in case of fire.

This pre-dates by decades the 1848 references in town minutes to fire equipment. See that history here, by Legeros. 

What other gems can be found in the old session laws, pertaining to own towns and their fire companies or fire departments? 

Tool over to Mike’s page on historical fire laws, to see what the’s lately found, with excepts added going farther back in time, now the 1740s forward: 

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Two Alarms on Crossroads Arbor Way

Evening update: See Legeros photos.

Two alarms were struck yesterday at 1723 Crossroads Arbor Way. Two-story, garden-style apartment building with sixteen units and 10,656 square-feet. Built 1999.

Dispatched 2:19 p.m. Upgraded to working fire while companies were en route, based on caller information. Swift Creek Car 1 first-arriving, followed by Swift Creek Engine 1. Fire found on end unit, and quickly spread to common attic, with strong winds contributing to the fire spread. 

Three aerials into the air, with Ladder 7 with soon operating, with interior crews withdrawn, and the bulk of the fire knocked down. Then crews re-entered apartments from the opposite end of the building. Ground monitor and hand lines used for exposure protection.

WTVD image

Controlled 3:19 p.m. Crews remained on scene for a number of hours for overhaul. Cause determined as accidental, from improperly discarded smoking materials. Sixteen apartment units rendered uninhabitable. No damage to exposures. No injuries. Twenty-three people displaced. Several pets also rescued. 

Hydrant locations:

  • Crossroads Arbor Way, east side, right front corner of fire building, SCFD E1, supplying hand lines and L7 (initially?).
  • Jones Franklin Road, west side, north of Crossroads Boulevard, with supply line through fence access gate, E5 supplying L7.
  • Crossroads Arbor Way, east side, just west of intersection with Crossroads Crest Way, E1 supplying hand lines.
  • Crossroads Vista Way, east side, halfway between intersecting streets, E2 supplying L8.

Mike Legeros photo

Run card:

  • First alarm: E8, Sq14, E2, E1, L7, L8, R1, B5, SCFD E1, C1
  • Working fire: C20, C402 (investigator), A2
  • Second alarm: E5, E15, E10, E20, L3, L1, B4, plus E20, L4, responding from training
  • Plus: C3, C4, C14 (safety officer), C401 (chief investigator), C54
  • Relief: E22, L24, L9
  • EMS: TBD

Historical note. Though a different building burned, these apartments were scene of an earlier major fire on December 28, 2011. Two alarms, midday. And strong winds also contributing to fire spread. See Legeros photos from 2011.

Mike Legeros photos

Mike Legeros photos

See more photos.

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