Three Asheville Firefighters Killed in Bostian Bridge Train Wreck, 1891

This posted was updated in March 2023 with an important correction, about the correct names of the three firefighters killed. It’s also been expanded with new narratives about the incident and its aftermath, and converted to a linked PDF document. 

On August 27, 1891, three Asheville firemen were killed and three others were injured when the passenger train they were riding plunged from a trestle in Iredell County. They were returning from the state firemen’s convention Durham. The train had just passed Statesville and plunged from the iron trestle over Third Creek at about 2:00 a.m. The steam locomotive, tender, baggage car, two coach cars, a Pullman sleeping car, and a private car dropped 65 feet into the ravine. Twenty-two people were killed and 30 were wounded. Firefighters Charles Barnett**, Perry Barnett, and Samuel Gorman were killed, while firefighters Will Bradford, John Gaze, and Marshall Nix were injured.

**For years, Legeros had incorrectly cited W. E. Winslow as one of the three firefighters who were killed. The correct person is Charles Barnett, brother of Perry.

Read a detailed narrative of the accident. (PDF)


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Raleigh Fire Department History – Charts and Data

Updated on February 24, 2023, with additional charts showing fire station growth. 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.

Growth Trends – Number of Stations


Extra-Alarm Fires Continue reading ‘Raleigh Fire Department History – Charts and Data’ »

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Charlotte Airport Fire History

Let’s build a history of airport fire protection in Charlotte. 

Update, February 24, 2023. Migrated to PDF format. 

See this document: 

See also this fleet roster:

See also this infographic on early NCANG ARFF rigs: 

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Aerialscopes of North Carolina

Flash montage. Aerialscopes of North Carolina. 

Details below.

Avery County
1976 Mack CF/Baker – 0/0/75′ – Ex-???? – Lee Wilson photo

1987 Mack/Baker – 0/0/85′ – Ex-demo unit? – Lee Wilson photo

Civietown (Brunswick)
1971 Mack/Baker + 1991 H&W refurb – 0/0/75′ – Ex-King County, WA – Micah Bodford photo

Cleveland (Rowan)
1978 Mack/Banker, 0/0/75′ – Ex-FDNY, Ex-Westbury, NY – Andrew Messer photo

Denver (Lincoln)
2002 Seagrave/Baker, 0/0/95′ + 2017 Seagrave refurb – Andrew Messer photo

East Side (Randolph)
1989 Mack/1990 Baker – 0/0/95′ – Patrick Shoop photo

Holly Springs (Wake)
2001 Spartan/1995 Salisbury/Baker, 2000/0/95′ – Ex-Lewisburg, PA – Lee Wilson photo

Huntersville (Mecklenburg)
2019 Seagrave – 0/0/95′ – Seagrave photo

Mount Mourne (Iredell)
1990 Mack/Baker, 0/0/75′ – Ex-White Hall, PA – Patrick Shoop photo

Mount Mourne (Iredell)
1997 Seagrave/Baker +2020 Seagrave refurb, 0/0/75′ – Micah Bodford photo

Newell (Mecklenburg)
1973 Mack/Baker – 0/0/75′ – Ex-FDNY – Lee Wilson photo

1977 Mack/Baker – 0/0/75′ – Elizabeth Reid Murray photo

2015 Pierce/1990 Baker – 0/0/75′ – Ex-Kings Park, NY – SFD photo

2001 Seagrave + 2020 Seagrave refurb – 0/0/95′ – Ex-Progress, PA – WFD photo

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Elon College and a Tale of Two Fire Departments

The story is a familiar one. Members of a municipal-based fire department separate themselves into a second group to serve rural residents. A second organization fire department is formed. The resulting relationship between the two departments can be good or not so good. The latter was the case in Elon College in Alamance County in the mid- to late-1970s. Members of the volunteer Elon College Fire Department (ECFD) formed the separate, short-lived Boone Station Fire Department (BSFD) and a rivalry resulted.  

Here’s an narrative of the events, based on articles from the Burlington Times-News and Hose & Nozzle (H&N) magazine, plus a couple other sources.  

Years 1974 and 1975

June 24, 1974 –  Agreement signed between ECFD and town board, for money raised or to be raised for the purpose of buying a truck for responding to fires outside of town. Source: Times-News, Nov 17, 1975.

Summer 1975 –  ECFD members wanted to establish a fire district for the areas they served outside the town limits, to reduce fire insurance rates for property owners. By that summer, they had raised about $4,000 to buy a rural fire truck, when someone suggested that they split into two groups under one roof. ECFD members voted down the idea. The 16 or so members that favored the idea went to the town board and eventually formed their own fire department. Part of the reason for the split, said the BSFD attorney later, was that “the best fire-fighting equipment was reserved for the town” and that “interference by the town board” had been the biggest problem. Source: Times-News, February 20, 1977.

June 20, 1975 – The non-profit organization Elon Rural Fire District (ERFD) was incorporated by Ralph McIntyre and his brother Richard McIntyre, the board chairman. Richard McIntyre was a Fire Training Area Coordinator with the Fire Service Training Division of the state department of community colleges. The department was located on Highway 100, about a mile west of town. Sources:: State corporate records, Times-News, Nov 20, 1975; April 25, 1976. 

July 8, 1975 – Town board meeting included a report by Richard MyIntrye, chairmen of the rural department’s board of directors. He told them that that the rural department had been incorporated and asked for action on their proposals: that they split from ECFD, have their own chief and officers, be allowed to operate from the town fire station, and be allowed to use town communications equipment but purchase their own fire apparatus. Objections were expressed about turning over $3,783 to the town, which McIntrye said had been collected by ECFD members toward buying a rural fire truck. The town board met the following night and asked those ECFD members who did not want to serve under ECFD Fire Chief Fred Loy to withdraw from the department. Source: Times-News, Dec 9, 1976.

Times-News, May 6, 1976.

Continue reading ‘Elon College and a Tale of Two Fire Departments’ »

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Snorkels in North Carolina

Last updated February 6, 2023 – Content converted from web page to PDF document.

This is a re-posting of a Legeros Blog Archives posting from December 21, 2013, that’s no longer available on the old site, due to technical problems.  

Presenting a master list of all articulating platforms, including snorkels, that have served in North Carolina.  

View the document (PDF)

Photo credits, left to right, top to bottom: Lee Wilson, Scott Mattson Collection,  Dan Mack, Mike Legeros Collection, Jon Umbdenstock, Mike Legeros Collection, Jon Umbdenstock, Lee Wilson, Mike Legeros Collection.

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Waynesville Fire Chief Lawrence Kerley Killed in Explosion – July 14, 1942

This is a blog version of a Facebook posting from August 14, 2020.

Tale of a tragedy. Early in the morning of Tuesday, July 14, 1942, a pair of explosion at a bulk fuel storage facility in Waynesville, NC, killed six people, and also fatally injured Fire Chief Lawrence Kerley. Below are a pair of images from the Waynesville Mountaineer on July 16. Read that digital issue

Some time around 3:00 a.m. an employee at the Standard Oil Company “bulk plant” on Water street discovered gasoline leaking from one of three horizontal storage tanks. He called the Fire Chief, who responded in a town car.

Chief Kerley was apparently near the plant office when fumes from the leak ignited, at 3:20 a.m., and caused the tank to exploded. The chief ran about 400 yards to a nearby home, his clothing in flames. The resident at the house rushed him to Haywood County Hospital. (He would die from his injuries a month later.)

The storage tank, with one end sheared off and landing 50 feet away, was thrown against a parked gasoline tanker truck, and then landed 250 feet away, on the other side of the highway, and over a row of rail cars and their tracks. (While knocking over one of said coal cars.)

The blast also set aflame the nearby residence of the Caldwell family, where the wife and two children were reportedly killed instantly. The husband escaped his burning house and was found 100 yards away by a policeman. The husband died at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. that morning.

Also critically injured was the oil company employee, who died the following day, and a truck driver, who died four days later. Continue reading ‘Waynesville Fire Chief Lawrence Kerley Killed in Explosion – July 14, 1942’ »

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Raleigh Firefighter Loses Leg, 1958

This is an expanded version of a blog archives posting (PDF) from September 4, 2012.

The history of the Raleigh Fire Department includes instances of members who were permanently disabled as a result of injuries on duty. Here’s one of those stories.  

RFD yearbook portrait, 1984

On February 18, 1958, Raleigh firefighter Claude W. Johnson broke his leg on duty. As that day’s Raleigh Times article reported, he fell on ice at the scene of a house fire at 407 Polk Street. Fire Chief Jack Keeter said “he jumped a fence and fell on the ice.” He added that Johnson “was in satisfactory condition, but would be in the hospital for some time.” Johnson was admitted to Rex Hospital, records a notation in a Raleigh Fire Department Local 548 Ladies Auxiliary scrapbook.

Five fire companies responded to the 6:45 a.m. blaze, which was reported by fire department switchboard operator Roy High, while he was returning home from night shift at Station 1. The upstairs ten-room frame house was severely damaged, reported the next day’s News & Observer. No residents were injured, “although it forced occupants into the street in night clothes.” 

Added the paper, “neighbors joined the family in carrying the furniture to safety. Mrs. Throne said she was getting her 11 year-old daughter off to school, when she saw smoke and noticed a trace of fire around the fire place in the living room. The flame moved from the basement along the chimney to the second story. Firemen were forced to fight the fire from the attic entrance.”

The News & Observer on March 24, 1958, reported that doctors had amputated the left leg of the 31-year-old fireman. (His correct age was 34 years old.) The date of his injury was reported as March 1, which may be the date of the amputation. He lost about four inches of his leg below the knee. Surgery was required as blood had stopped circulating to the injured limb. Officials spoke to reports about Johnson on Friday, March 21, 1958.

Johnson had been a member of the department for three years, the article reported, and was a Rolesville native.[1] Officials were quoted as saying he’d be transferred to the fire department’s switchboard.[2]

Johnson retired on March 30, 1976. That’s four years after the Raleigh and Wake County Emergency Communications Center assumed call-taking and dispatching duties.[3] 

Johnson died on July 27, 1991, at the age of 67. Cause of death was pneumonia, follow the onset of “parkinsonian” three years earlier. He and his surviving wife Annie Driver Johnson lived in Raleigh. He was buried at Watkins Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery in Middlesex, NC

[1]Claude Johnson joined the department in September 16, 1956.  

[2]Driver Vernon J. Smith also lost his leg, in an apparatus accident on November 14, 1952. He worked in light-duty roles as his health permitted, including as dispatcher. He died of his injuries on March 10, 1956.

[3]Roy High, mention in the first paragraph, was a former firefighter. He was also seriously injured in an apparatus accident, when the “squad truck” and a Greyhound bus collided on September 11, 1947. High and Firefighter H. S. Stephenson were both thrown from the vehicle, and sustained injuries. As the story goes, High never returned to line duty, and remained a dispatcher the rest of his career.

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