Colored Firemen’s Association Organized in 1890

Found the correct date for the creation of the state colored firemen’s association, formally known as the North Carolina Volunteer Firemen’s Association.[1]

It’s been previously cited on my site, and in my writings, as “1888 or 1889.” That is incorrect. The year was 1890. The evidence is a pair of period newspaper articles:

  • Greensboro North State
    August 28, 1890
    “The colored firemen of the state will hold a tournament in this city, Sept. 10-11. The principal object is the formation of a state association of colored firemen…”
  • Greensboro North State
    September 18, 1890
    “Wednesday and Thursday of last week the colored fireman met in the city and perfected a State Association. Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington, Monroe and Charlotte were represented. The meeting was a pleasant one and the following officers were elected…”

This discovery aligns with a closer examination of other news stories of the period. There’s no prior mention of a formal organization or organization name prior to 1890. But after that time, the Association is mentioned.

Legeros has started updating and annotating his various web pages. As well as his pages of notes about his book projects, if the “1888 or 1889” date was committed to print in his Arcadia books or Raleigh FD history books.

Learn more at the Association, and read some vintage proceedings, at And, of course, dive into the late Chuck Milligan’s research on the state’s black firefighters at

[1] Or even more accurately, they were incorporated in 1891 as the State Volunteer Fire Association of North Carolina. Read incorporation act at

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Vintage Civilian Defense Handbooks

For your reading pleasure. Vintage Civilian Defense Handbooks from 1942. Extracted from this hardcover compilation, via the Internet Archive: Its missing a couple, notably Auxiliary Policemen. Will scan and add my copy of that one, at a later date.

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Air King Rescue Squad History Book – 1974

For your Friday reading, here’s a bit of Forsyth County rescue history. Found on eBay a year or two ago. Vintage, 24-page “yearbook” of the (all-black!) Air King Rescue Squad.

They operated from 1962 to 1981, previously as Citizens Radio Club, and subsequently as Southeast Winston Rescue Squad. They ceased operation in 1993.

Some (short) history here, scroll to bottom:

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Fire Commission Meeting Cancelled – May 16

Be advised. There are no pending items for business for the May 16, 2019, regular meeting of the Wake County Commission. The meeting is thus cancelled. The next meeting is July 18, 2019, 7:00 p.m., at the Emergency Services Training Center on South Rogers Lane. That is all.

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Durham Fire Department History Book – 1995

For your Monday reading. Here’s another vintage North Carolina fire department history book that I’ve scanned. Slowly building a digital library for everyone.

More to come: CFD, GFD, WSFD, etc. They’re PDF copies and a bit reduced in size. Large but not voluminous.

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Meet the Vendors – 1987

During the combined meeting of the North Carolina Firemen’s Association and the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, held at the Hilton Hotel in Greenville, NC, on August 6-8, 1987, the vendors were invited to introduce themselves at the conference participants. Here’s who they were and what they said, as recorded in the printed proceedings:

I am Candy Frye with Motorola. We have several Motorola representatives who are at lunch. We all have to eat sometime.

This is David Hyer with Coastal Electronics. We invite you to stop by our booth. We have a whole line of portable radios we would like to talk with each one of you, and I think you know that.

I am Ernie Gunnaman, Zimmerman Evans, Greensboro. We are delighted to be with you.

This is Mark Gunther and Jake Faircloth, and Bennie Mobley. Thanks for your support of a good conference.

I am Jack Slagle, the old man of Slagle Fire Equipment, 26 years, based in South Boston, Virginia, with a branch office at Columbia, South Carolina. I would like to thank you for your support. I think I am one of the older fire equipment representatives. I have Mike Turner here, from Western North Carolina. John Slagle, Central North Carolina, and I think the rest of them are at lunch. We appreciate your support. We represent FMC, trucks built of steel, aluminum stainless steel, and round pumps. We appreciate your buying the fire equipment, too, and we thank you in North Carolina for it.

I am David Lee, Lee Fire Equipment and Supplies from Kinston, representing Pierce Manufacturing. This is our salesman, Pete Dixon, or Milton Dixon, along with other names he has been called, too. We appreciate your support, we appreciate your business, we appreciate the opportunity of being here with the group. Thank you a lot.

Good afternoon, my name is Holden Barrett, Harshley Equipment, rescue tools and air bags. It is a privilege to be here, and if we can be of any help, let us know.

I am Clint Gilly, Ashley Emergency Services. We have the 3D fire equipment line. I have been a fire fighter for 25 years, and a Chief of the fire department for 20 years. I would like to have an opportunity to have your business.

I am Tracy Melton, with Harold Sales and Services out of Marietta, Georgia. Rick Tyler is outside. We represent [Seagrave] fire apparatus; we have our own line we just started, the American Fire Fighter Apparatus. Please stop by our booth.

I am Charles Green with Unicess Corporation, and we are here this weekend showing computer hardware and software designed to make the paper work tracking a little easier for the fire service. We are real glad to be a part of the North Carolina Firemen’s Association, and I appreciate the chance to be here.

I am Tommy Osborn with Action Fire and Safety. I appreciate the opportunity to be here. We have a booth here, we appreciate your going by, and if you are in Charlotte come by and see us. Thank you very much.

I am John Hefrin, Burgess Fire Equipment in Lenoir. We represent a full line of fire apparatus and equipment. We would invite you to look at a truck, the Steelcraft, here in Farmville. We also represent Ward 79 Limited and Better Systems Lifting Bags. We appreciate the opportunity to be here, and we thank you for your support.

I am Don Hamm, President of Rainbow Production out of Charlotte. We are a photography fundraising company. We are currently raising $3,000,000 a year for fire departments and rescue squads. We thank all of you.

I am Sam Campbell with Fire Equipment Company in Burlington, North Carolina. We specialize in fire hose and hardware. I count it a privilege to be with you.

I am Don Davis with Adams Industrial Sales. We have the neon line of gas monitoring equipment. I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

I am Susan Morrison with the National Fire Safety Council. My husband, Ralph, and I are State Safety Coordinators of North Carolina, and  we produce the complete Learn Not To Burn program for children in the lower elementary grades. This is our third conference, it is so nice to see familiar faces.

I am Ed [Finch], with the Emergency Apparatus Company out of Durham, North Carolina. We represent Emergency One Fire and Rescue throughout North Carolina, with the exception of the Coastal States and some of the southern counties. We have a complete display outside and we are showing some booth space outside with the Piedmont. This is my son Dan behind me, who is trying to figure out how to get out that door without me introducing him. It’s been a real pleasure being here. Please stop by. We are offering demonstration rides in our new Hutch, and we are also giving a way a jacket at the booth. So please stop by and register.

I am the volunteer firemen’s insurance representative, Bob McGee, and Angela Prescott, who kinds of keeps us together. We do appreciate the support. We currently insure 844 fire departments in the State of North Carolina, and you guys keep us hopping.

I am Clois Anders, and Robert Boyd from New Bern, from Dixie Fire and Safety. Bill and myself and Warren from American LaFrance is here with us, and we have our new Century 2000 outside. We would like for you all to look at it. I am real proud to be associated with American LaFrance, and we are back on the road again. It is real nice to be here, especially this close to home, and I hope all of you have a good conference. Come by to see us and we really appreciate it.

I am Jim Sprayger, and we are with Alexander Battery Company. We appreciate your support, and anything we can do for you let us know.  

I am Bill Field with American Honda Motor Company. I am in charge of our equipment sales for North Carolina. We also have a lawnmower plant in Alamance County. We make 500 lawnmowers a day, and we are in the process of making 1,000. That helps me with the generators. We appreciate your support and thank you for the interest.

I am Darryl Newton of Newton Gear and Safety of Swepsonville. As most of you all know, my partner was supposed to be here, but he went out to eat about three days ago and I have not seen him since.

I am Dick Mclntyre with the North Carolina Society of Fire Service. We are the guys that distribute training manuals. After you buy all this equipment, come by and see us, we will sell you the books.

I am Tommy White with North Carolina Fire Master. We are the other E-One dealer. We are the Coastal Counties of North Carolina, and we cover the State of South Carolina for emergencies. We have a booth in the other room, and salesmen in the parking lot, and we also have a couple of other trucks, and, like he said, the hutch truck, please come by and see it. We enjoyed being here.

I am Tommy McNuff out of Asheville. We represent LTI, and this is Chris McDonald, Bob Huff, our Regional Manager of LTI is with us, and Steve Brown with Triad. We represent Drum and Emergency Products, and LTI Snorkel.

I am Jim Edwards, C. W. Williams and Company. We are not giving away anything. This is A. T. Hall, Bernard Brown, we are delighted to be here. Williams is having a birthday, we are celebrating our 31st year providing fire equipment to the Fire Service in North Carolina and South Carolina.

I am Jim Kemtrock from Wake County. Next year we start our two hundredth year making fire hoses. We employ about 200 people in Wake County, and we appreciate any business you can give us. Thank you.

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Cary + Apex + Morrisville – New Fire System in Service

Change log. May 10. Evening. New map, updated with response districts instead of municipal and ETJ areas as base map. May 10. Morning. Slight edits. Noting that existing Cary P25 radio system being used. Annotating map, noting that shaded areas are municipal and ETJ boundaries. Etc.


On Tuesday, May 7, the fire departments of Cary, Apex, and Morrisville began operating as a unified system, with all three departments now dispatched by the Town of Cary, with their unit numbers changed (as needed) to a single system, and their resources operationally consolidated.

Cary + Apex + Morrisville, or… CAM.

They’re now a three-department “fire system” with 17 stations, 15 engines (one as quint), 8 ladders (three as quints), 5 rescues, and 4 battalion chiefs.  

Even better, they’re all dispatched as closest-unit response. For those monitoring Cary Communications[1], those are the new units and dispatch assignments that you’ve been hearing. Such as Engine 34, Ladder 33, Rescue 21, Battalion 4, etc.

What happened? A couple things, including a change to 911 call processing for the towns of Apex and Morrisville. They changed from the Raleigh/Wake communications center to the Town of Cary. And thus the dispatching of AFD and MFD was also changed from “Raleigh” to Cary.

Here’s the skinny on the changes. Big thanks to each department’s Chief of Department, for their help collecting and clarifying this information. Will edit/update as needed.

[1] How to listen? Already listening to CFD? It’s using the same system, freqs., talkgroups (plus some borrowed from Wake County), etc. Otherwise, you’ll need a trunking scanner that can receive P25. And possibly closer physical proximity, at least as Mr. Blogger has experienced. His Whistler WS1065 mobile scanner doesn’t get squat, once he’s a few miles outside of Cary. At home, he uses the live scanner feed on his computer. Just remember to refresh/restart, every X hours. 

The System

  • Town of Cary now processing 911 calls for Town of Apex, Town of Morrisville.
  • Town of Cary now dispatching Apex FD, Morrisville FD, and Morrisville PD.
  • Apex PD continuing to use their own communications center.
  • See this interlocal agreement (PDF, 82 pages) presented to the Apex Town Council in January 2019, for background.
  • See also this short WTVD news story from Tuesday, about the change.
  • CFD, AFD, MFD now operating as a unified “fire system.” They have operationally consolidated their resources, and are cooking joint operational guidelines.
  • AFD, MFD units have been renumbered. Some CFD units, mostly support units, have also been renumbered.
  • CFD, AFD, MFD resources now dispatched as a single fire system, and using closest unit dispatch in additional to jurisdictional dispatch.
  • Each department still maintains its own identify, its own budget, its own municipal reporting structure, etc.
  • CFD, AFD, MFD have been conducting training together for nearly two years.


  • Cary ECC (emergency communications center) first dispatches the closest CFD, AFD, MFD resource with the needed capability, regardless of jurisdiction. And using AVL (automatic vehicle locator) technology, in all units.
  • Cary ECC next adds the CFD, AFD, MFD unit with jurisdiction responsibility.
  • This provides fastest resource, by dispatching the closest unit.
  • Example from morning of May 8. Morrisville R21 was dispatched to Evans Road for EMS call, because they were the closest physical unit. Cary E1 was then added because of jurisdiction responsibility.
  • This will be done for all call types, regardless of unit recommended. Listen for an assortment of CFD, AFD, MFD units, based on capability of units and location of incident.
  • For incidents with a Battalion Chief on the response, the closest BC will be dispatched regardless of jurisdiction.
  • Note that Cary ECC does not dispatch any EMS resources. They perform EMD, dispatch first responder fire units, and then request EMS dispatch from Raleigh/Wake ECC.

Unit Numbers

Cary – 1 to 19
Morrisville – 20 to 29
Apex – 30 to 49

Used for all units and radios, with exception of sequential Battalion Chief designations. MFD B1 now B4. AFD B1 now B5.

Continue reading ‘Cary + Apex + Morrisville – New Fire System in Service’ »

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Cary Adds Ladder 8

The Town of Cary Fire Department activated a fourth ladder company this week. Ladder 8 was placed in service on Sunday, April 23, 2019, at Station 8 on Mills Park Drive. 

They’ve been assigned the 2018 Pierce Enforcer 1500/300/105-foot rear-mount that had been assigned to Ladder 5. The latter ladder laddies are back on their earlier truck, a 2004 Pierce Dash 1500/300/105-foot rear-mount platform.

In addition to their four ladder companies, CFD also operates a quint company. Engine 6 is assigned a 2008 Pierce Velocity aerial ladder, 1500/300/105′.

Total Count in Wake County?

For those keeping score, the total number of (front-line) ladders in the county:

  • Apex (2)
  • Cary (5)
  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Garner
  • Holly Springs
  • Knightdale
  • Morrisville (2)
  • Northern Wake
  • Raleigh (9)
  • Rolesville
  • Wake Forest
  • Wendell
  • Zebulon

Look for +1 in a couple places, coming soon. Such AFD, which will add a third ladder company at Station 5.

Mike Legeros photo

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Wilmington Fireman Killed by Falling Wall – 1893

On June 17, 1893, Wilmington volunteer fireman Joseph Ballister Willard died in the line of duty. He was a member of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and was killed when a wall collapsed at a warehouse fire.

The fire started at 2:00 a.m. at a brick warehouse on Water Street, which stored about 400 bales of cotton, along with 31 “hogs-heads” of molasses. Flames broke through the glass skylight “with a report that shook buildings in the neighborhood.”

Police Officer Moore “promptly” reported the fire, from Box 43, at the corner of Orange and Front streets. Arriving firemen found the “doors and windows” closed, but the interior “a mass of flames.”

Willard was killed when the “roof and the coping [top of a wall]” collapsed.

They first thought that no one had been “caught in the ruins” until a “fireman’s hat” was found, and no member claimed it. They made a search and found the body of Willard “under the bricks and debris”.

His body was “taken up tenderly” and removed to the residence of his parents. Willard was 25 years old.

The collapse also seriously injured a member of the Howard Relief Fire Engine Company.

A public funeral was planned for 11 o’clock at the First Presbyterian Church.

The story was carried in numerous newspapers around the state,  including these  local papers:


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Notes on Raleigh Response to Durham Explosion on April 10

For those documenting the response to the building explosion and fire and collapse in downtown Durham on the morning of April 10, 2019, here are some details on the response of the Raleigh Fire Department. Both the regional haz-mat and USAR teams were activated by the state, to respond to the incident at 115 Duke Street in Durham.

Regional Response Team 4, operated by the Raleigh FD, responded with Haz-Mat 2 (from Station 29), Haz-Mat 3 (recon unit from Sta 8), Haz-Mat 4 (decon unit from Sta 25), Haz-Mat 5 (support unit from Sta 27), Battalion 3, and Car 55, the Haz-Mat Coordinator. They responded with thirteen firefighters.

The haz-mat team provided air monitoring support to the Durham FD and monitored for natural gas in the multiple buildings surrounding the collapse site, as well as the surrounding sewer system. After they finished, Haz-Mat 3 and Car 55 remained on scene to continue providing air monitoring support for USAR operations.

Task Force 8 responded with USAR 1, USAR 2, USAR 6 (communications), USAR 7 (tractor-drawn flatbed with shoring materials), [those four units from the Keeter Training Center], USAR 801 (swift-water unit from Sta 21, used for personnel transport). Thirty-four members were deployed from the member agencies: Raleigh FD (14), Durham FD (3), Chapel Hill FD (11), Wake County EMS (3), and Atlas Engineering (3).

After their arrival, checking with command, and conducting a 360 of the scene, the USAR members were divided into five teams, with tasks including entry and searching void spaces with search cameras in a second building (and the one most impacted by the blast), surveying and conducting secondary searches of additional buildings on the block, assisting with escorting occupants of evacuated buildings (and retrieving personal effects), and assisting with victim removal from the blast building.

All units had returned to the Raleigh city limits by 8:00 p.m. and began demobilizing.

Photo credit: Raleigh Fire Department.

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