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+ 14 - 9 | § Swab Ambulances (and Rescue Units) of Wake County

Here are a couple photos and some factory data about the Swab ambulances (and rescue units) that were delivered in Wake County back in the day. Includes both new and remounted bodies. The data's based on factory records compiled by Swab historian/ambulance historian Richard Litton. Notes were added by Legeros from research notes available at As for the photos, you can see more at the History of EMS in Wake County Facebook page.


Click to enlarge:


See this PDF document.

+ 20 - 25 | § Armored Fire Engines of Japan

Anyone who collected die-cast models in the 1970s was familiar of the Shinsei Mini Power range. They were made in Japan and distributed in the United States under the brand name Cox. The company produced construction and commercial vehicles in scales around 1:80, and a quartet of fire engines (PDF).

One of the four was a Fuso "chemical fire engine" of peculiar appearance. First, for the front-mounted dual axles, which was common for Japanese fire apparatus of the time. Second, for the armored body style. Looked like the severe version of an airport crash truck. Click to enlarge, including the far right picture, which is my modified version of the model, with red and silver painted details:

Did such a truck actually exist? That was a question that bugged me for decades. Seemed likely, based on the prototypically accuracy of the model range. But where to find a photo? Then the Internet was invented. Then came Google. Then came the first photo found of this truck, which is included in this Shinsei model fire engine guide (PDF) of mine. (Sorry, can't find a larger version right now.)

Doing another round of Google searching and Japanese language translation (via Google) this morning finds some more images of similar vehicles. As you might expect, they were used for firefighter at refineries or other locations with potential for explosions.

This one was deployed in 1969 and had iron plating around the body that was 1cm in thickness. Photo credit unknown, appears to have appeared in a print magazine or book called Fire Rescue EMS. See this web page. Click to enlarge:

This one was used in the Chiba Prefecture, and introduced in 1972. Built by Isuzu or upon an Isuzu chassis. Photos appear scanned from film prints and are shown on this web page. Click to enlarge:

Here's another photo of the same model of apparatus, from this web page. And the other side of the truck, from a picture on a box of model produced of the truck, from this web page. (Who made the model? What scale? No idea.) Click to enlarge:

Then what happened? How many of these armored fire engines were produced around Japan? Don't have the first idea. How long were such vehicles produced? Based on Google photos of later-era "chemical fire engines," the armored designs were a fad through the 1980s or abouts. 

Maybe someone from the other side of the pond will happen upon this page, and add their two cents. (Or more likely, the real story that's only hinted at here.) We can translate with Google!

+ 13 - 12 | § Vintage Atlantic Beach Apparatus

Found for sale on eBay, pair of postcards showing vintage Atlantic Beach Fire Department apparatus. Ford/Bean and an International, both appear from the 1960s. Maybe readers know. Click to slightly enlarge:

+ 13 - 6 | § For Those Curious About Local Aircraft Accidents...

As this WTVD story notes, two people were injured in a plane crash at the air park in Apex yesterday. The single-engine craft crashed into trees as the pilot was attempting take-off. Notes the story, the same pilot crashed a craft at the same strip in August. Fire photographer Jason Thompson was in the area, and posted a few photos

For those curious about other local aircraft accidents, this NTSB database is pretty interesting. Goes back to 1962. There's also the ASN Aviation Safety Database, which has information dating to 1921. From a comment to this blog post from 2006, these were the crashes through July 11 of that year:

Of course, we've had plane crashes in Raleigh and Wake County going back to the 1920s! From my Raleigh Fire Department history timelines, from the 1920s and 1940s:

Plane crashes at Poindexter Field. Pilot is killed at airstrip located outside city limits. Fire department responds. Incident is first fatal airplane crash in Raleigh. [AA] (January 11, 1929)

Including even bomber (!) crashes:

Army plane on nighttime approach to Raleigh airport. The A-24 Douglas dive bomber slices off tops of several pine trees and crashes and burns in the middle of a tent encampment of the 25th Air Base Group. Plane bursts into flames immediately after striking a recreation tent and a mess tent. Pilot is killed and plane's radio operator is thrown from the plane, injured but able to walk away. Two men in the recreation tent are also injured. Fire department is not called. [AA] (November 10, 1941)

Including even a B-17 (!) bomber:

Army Air Corps bomber crashes in Garner. Two crew members are killed after a B-17 bomber crashes into a wooded area, five miles southeast of Raleigh. Eight others parachute to safety. The fire department is notified of the accident at 5:30 p.m and sends two trucks and twelve men to the scene. Firefighters are directed by Chief R. W. Butts, who is one of the first officials to arrive at the scene. Highway Patrol officers and military authorities arrive at about the same time. The burning wreckage is scattered over an area 600 yards long and 100 yards wide. Bombs and bullets continue exploding long after the crash. Spectators attracted the scene are warned to keep clear for fear of further explosions. [AA] [MA] (May 9, 1944)

Here's some more information of mine:

Plus any number of other pages or sites at

+ 13 - 6 | § For Those Curious About Local Aircraft Accidents...

As this WTVD story notes, two people were injured in a plane crash at the air park in Apex yesterday. The single-engine craft crashed into trees as the pilot was attempting take-off. Notes the story, the same pilot crashed a craft at the same strip in August. Fire photographer Jason Thompson was in the area, and posted a few photos

For those curious about other local aircraft accidents, this NTSB database is pretty interesting. Goes back to 1962. There's also the ASN Aviation Safety Database, which has information dating to 1921. From a comment to this blog post from 2006, these were the crashes through July 11 of that year:

Of course, we've had plane crashes in Raleigh and Wake County going back to the 1920s! From my Raleigh Fire Department history timelines, from the 1920s and 1940s:

Plane crashes at Poindexter Field. Pilot is killed at airstrip located outside city limits. Fire department responds. Incident is first fatal airplane crash in Raleigh. [AA] (January 11, 1929)

Including even bomber (!) crashes:

Army plane on nighttime approach to Raleigh airport. The A-24 Douglas dive bomber slices off tops of several pine trees and crashes and burns in the middle of a tent encampment of the 25th Air Base Group. Plane bursts into flames immediately after striking a recreation tent and a mess tent. Pilot is killed and plane's radio operator is thrown from the plane, injured but able to walk away. Two men in the recreation tent are also injured. Fire department is not called. [AA] (November 10, 1941)

Including even a B-17 (!) bomber:

Army Air Corps bomber crashes in Garner. Two crew members are killed after a B-17 bomber crashes into a wooded area, five miles southeast of Raleigh. Eight others parachute to safety. The fire department is notified of the accident at 5:30 p.m and sends two trucks and twelve men to the scene. Firefighters are directed by Chief R. W. Butts, who is one of the first officials to arrive at the scene. Highway Patrol officers and military authorities arrive at about the same time. The burning wreckage is scattered over an area 600 yards long and 100 yards wide. Bombs and bullets continue exploding long after the crash. Spectators attracted the scene are warned to keep clear for fear of further explosions. [AA] [MA] (May 9, 1944)

Here's some more information of mine:

Plus any number of other pages or sites at

+ 12 - 7 | § Scotts Hill Fire Station Under Construction in Pender County

This WECT story reports that Pender EMS and Fire is building a new station in Scotts Hill. The $800,000 facility should be completed in about four months, and will house two engines and a brush truck. The area is presently protected by New Hanover County Fire Department, a contract adopted in June 2013.

This blog post covered that and other events that led to the creation of Pender EMS and Fire. Scotts Hill was once protected by its own fire department. They incorporated in 1977 and operated until around 1992. Read that prior posting.

Residents have wanted a fire station for years, and the Hampstead Fire Department had been pursing the project in recent years. (They were one of the departments that merged to create Pender EMS and Fire last year.)

The news story also notes that Pender EMS and Fire are planning another new station of similar size on Highway 421. The below photo is from the department's Facebook page. Thanks Greg, for passing along this news!

+ 10 - 8 | § UPDATED: Wake Forest House Fire - Fully Involved on Arrival

April 26
Reader Matthew Bass shares a couple photos from this fire. Talk about before and after! Heck of a stop by firefighters. This photos story tells more, and shows the closed door that helped halt the spread of the fire. Units on scene included Wake Forest E1, E3, E5, L1, Rolesville E153, T15, EMS 64, EMS 10, D3. Readers are welcome to add more details.

April 18
Even with the proliferation of camera phones and reader photos on news sites, it's reasonably rare that we see an arrival photo as dramatic as this image posted by That's from Saturday's house fire in Wake Forest.

The photo is by Teresa Martens and appears in a story submitted by Wake Forest News Editor Steve Rhode. Arriving units found the front of the structure fully-involved at 417 Cottesbrook Drive. The two-story, single-family dwelling measured 2,485 square-feet and was built in 2010.

Read more about the fire from, including the list of Wake Forest and Rolesville units that responded. The Wake Forest News has also posted a trio of stories about the fire, the family's praise for the firefighters, and community efforst to raise money for the family: April 13 #1, April 13 #2, and April 16.

Teresa Martins/ photo

+ 13 - 3 | § DATE CHANGE - Special Called Wake County Fire Commission Meeting - Thursday, May 1, 2014

April 26
This meeting was postponed one week, as there wasn't a quote. The meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 1. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.

April 19
The Wake County Fire Commission will have a special-called meeting on Thursday, April 24, at 7:00 p.m. The location is the Wake County EMS Training Facility, in the lower level of the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive.

The purpose of the special-called meeting is for the Fire Commission to receive and discuss the Budget Committee's recommended FY 2015 Fire Tax Budget.

Here's the document packet (PDF) for the meeting, including the agenda and budget information.

+ 8 - 9 | § Raleigh Police Memorial Events This Weekend

From press releases.

Friday Night - Memorial Dedication

A blue hue will be cast over Downtown Friday in honor of the dedication of the Raleigh Police Memorial. The Raleigh Convention Center’s Cree Shimmer Wall and the City Plaza towers lights will be blue to honor the sacrifices of the eight officers who lost their lives serving the City of Raleigh.

The Raleigh Police Memorial Foundation Department will make good on a long-standing promise made by department veterans to honor and keep the memory sacred of the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice serving Raleigh. The promise will be fulfilled in the dedication of the Raleigh Police Memorial, 6 p.m., April 25.

The ceremony will be held at the entrance to the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex at 222 W. Hargett St., where the memorial will be unveiled.

Read entire press release

Saturday Morning - Run For Our Heroes 

Then on Saturday, April 26, the Raleigh Police Memorial Foundation’s Sixth Annual Run for Our Heroes 5K race will be held in downtown Raleigh.

The race starts at 9:00 a.m. near the Raleigh Municipal Building on Hargett Street, proceeds up Salisbury Street to Lenoir Street, down Fayetteville Street around the State Capitol, to Franklin Street up Blount Street, and then back into the Downtown area where the race finishes in front of the Police Memorial.

A ceremonial wreath-laying to honor the sacrifice and lives of the fallen officers will be held at 8:30 a.m. The 5K race/walk will follow. At 10:00 a.m., a children's 100-yard dash will be held at Nash Square. Following the race, a free social for event participants will be held at Napper Tandy's Restaurant on Glenwood Avenue.

Read entire press release.

+ 11 - 7 | § This Year's Additions to the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial

Eleven firefighters who died in the line of duty will be added to the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial on Saturday, May 3. The ninth annual service will be held at the memorial, which is located in Nash Square in downtown Raleigh. The ceremony starts at 1:00 p.m., and is preceded by a parade at 10:00 a.m. Read event information.

This year's inductees include four legacy names from 1955 to 1970. Here are details on each of them, with information from both the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation and my own research. See my database, which lists 271 fallen firefighters and includes such supporting documents as death certificates through the 1970s. Reader corrections or additions are welcome.  

Name, Age, Title/Rank Death Dept, County, Status Cause, Narrative R/G Notes

James Anton (?) Kennedy

Age: 32

Title: Tractor Operator

3/2/55 NCDFR Died in a tractor accident while fighting fire on Route 1 in Cove City in Craven County. He was killed instantly. The accident occurred at 4:30 p.m. WM Buried 3/4/55 in Trenton.

Born 11/6/22

Thomas Elijah Begley

Age: 55

Title: Forest Ranger

12/21/58 NCDFR Died of a heart attack, after complaining of feeling ill while directing crews fighting a small blaze in/near Asheville. He walked away, and sat on a bank to rest, where he suffered a heart attack. WM Buried 12/23/53 at West Memorial Park, Weaverville.

Born 5/18/03.

John Herbert Cross

Age: 52


7/24/61 Salisbury,
Rowan Co.

Died of a heart attack. Death certificate noted the interval between onset and death was "sudden." Time of death was 10:05 p.m. WM Buried 7/27/61 at Chestnut Hill cemetery in Salisbury.

Born 5/6/09.

Joseph Morris Hicks

Age: 59


11/7/70 Henderson,
Vance Co.

Died after pistol fell from his pocket and discharged at fire station, during period of civil unrest. Pronounced dead at Duke Hospital in Durham. WM Buried 11/9/70 at Sunset Gardens, Henderson.

Born 10/28/11.

Scott A Morrison

Age: 44

Fire Chief

3/3/13 Knotts Island,
Dare Co.
Died after collapsing from an apparent heart attack while operating at the scene of a brush fire. He was treated by fellow responders, and was pronounced dead at the hospital.  WM  

Sarah E Stonesifer

Age: 22


3/29/13 Pine View,
Hoke Co.

Died in a single-vehicle crash on Stubby Oaks Road south of Raeford, when her vehicle ran off the road, struck a fence post, and flipped. She was returning to the Pinehill fire station to eat dinner with the crew. WF Buried 4/2/13 at Bethesda Cemetery in Aberdeen.

Born 9/11/90.

Tony Barker

Age: 36

Rank: ?

6/13/13 Mountain View,
Wilkes Co.
Died after being electrocuted, at the scene of a fire in a small structure ignited by part of a tree across a power line. He was less than three feet from the structure when he collapsed, the electricity likely conducted through the building and the unpaved ground, which was saturated with rainwater. Pronounced dead at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. WM Buried 6/17/13 at Dehart Baptist Church Cemetery.

Born 12/14/76.
David A Heath

Age: 48

10/14/13 New Hanover,
New Hanover Co.

Died of a heart attack, after collapsing while participating in a training exercise.  WM Born 9/14/1965.
David Brophy

Age 41

12/15/13 Parkton,
Robeson Co.

Died at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, after becoming ill at his home, after having answered a call. WM Buried (?) 12/23/13.
Jon Francis Schondelmayer

Age 44

12/18/13 Swift Creek,
Wake Co.

Died after being found unresponsive at his home, after feeling ill at the fire station, and going home to get some medicine with the intention of returning to the fire station. WM Cremated 12/23/13 at Brown Wynn Funeral Home, Raleigh.
Also Career FF, Captain, Cary FD.
Born 3/28/69.
Jeffrey "Jeff" Lee Fields

Age 51

Asst. Chief
12/25/13 Youngsville,
Franklin Co.

Died of a heart attack, after heart surgery following a heart attack on December 12, which within twenty-four hours of responding to a fire call. WM Buried (?) 12/28/13.
Occupation Warehouse Manager.

+ 11 - 7 | § Fire Truck Chasers Get Warning in Apex - March 4, 1953

From the News & Observer.

And, ahem, we all know a couple people with cameras who'd be breaking that law the day it was passed...

+ 7 - 14 | § Transformer in Disguise? The Wasserwerfer 10000

That's German for Water Cannon 10000, a futurist-looking police vehicle built by Rosenbauer in Austria. This Car and Driver blog post from 2009 featured the thing, but I saw this Daily Mail story today. The truck's purpose-built for riot response and is based on the Mercedes-Benz Actros 3341 all-wheel-drive truck chassis. Carries 10,000 liters of water (2,642 gallons). Weighs thirty-one tons. Powered by V6 turbo-diesel engine.

This translated Wikipedia page tells more. Climate-controlled interior, a first (?) for such units. Carries up to five people. Two forward nozzles and one rear. Can spray water up to 65 meters (213 feet) forward and 50 meters (164 feet back). Proportioning systems can add agents to the water, such as tear gas. Surveillance cameras record all sides.

Google for more images, both of this truck and numerous other European riot trucks of similar design. Such vehicles have been used for decades. (In the United States they're pretty rare, I think. Though you'll find the odd unit on the web, such as this ex-USAF Oshkosh crash truck used by NYPD. Scroll down this page to see.)

+ 9 - 6 | § Introducing the Leveraxe

Found via this Discovery story. Might be old news. Made in Finland. Here's the product page, and with a nifty diagram on the physics behind the thing. Don't tell anyone in the fire service. They might try to introduce a change!



+ 11 - 6 | § Notes on Wake County's Fire Tax District Budget

As this prior posting notes, the Wake County Fire Commission meets on Thursday, to discuss the proposed FY15 budget for the Fire Tax District.

Though I was unable to attend any of the budget committee meetings, the agenda packet provides useful insight into the issues presently facing the fire commission and county fire service.

Here’s my summary and notes on what’s included in the document. Since I am playing connect-the-dots, feel free to advise corrections or contextual omissions. Lots of moving pieces here.  

Fire Tax

Fiscal Governance

Two Budgets

Fiscal Goals

Lack of Standards

The FY15 Budget Recommendations

The FY15 Capital Projects

Revenue Limitations

What’s Needed for the Future?

How to Contain Costs

Ideas for containing costs in the system of fire departments funded by the Fire Tax District:

Make Sense?

+ 9 - 4 | § Registration Open for South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo

Registration is now open for the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo in Raleigh. This year's dates are earlier than last year's dates: July 23-26 for the conference, July 25-26 for the expo. (This year only. The show returns to August for 2015 and 2016.) Visit the registration site.

There are two web sites: one for attendees and one for vendors. The attendee site is optimized for both desktop computers and your tablets or phone. Super easy to use. Branding and an official graphic have also been released. Recognize those people shown below? Here's a clue: the number 14.

Added this year are firefighter competitions in the style of the annual tournaments held back in the day. (Held from 1889 to 1941. Read some of that history.)

Also new this year is the fourth annual Raleigh's Finest 5K, now scheduled the same weekend as the expo. 

Social Media Workshop

Yours Truly will be co-conducting a workshop on Friday, July 25. Here are those details:

The World Is Watching Your Department. Who Will Tell Your Story, You or Them?
Friday, July 25
3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Social media is everywhere, and everyone is a reporter. Camera phones are taking pictures and recording videos of your actions and activities. Facebook, Twitter, and news site submissions, etc. are putting your department on display.

Fighting this trend is futile, but you can take control of your story and guide the narrative to your department’s benefit. Join Wake County EMS Community Outreach Chief Jeffrey Hammerstein and Raleigh/Wake County fire blogger and photographer Mike Legeros for a discussion on how to make social media work for you and your department.

Big List of Everything

Here's the full list of events, activities, and features (see also this Schedule at a Glance), in addition to the conference (meetings, workshop, keynote, banquet, etc.) and expo (exhibitors):

See you there!

+ 9 - 6 | § The Curious Case of the Copied Patches

First was Burlington's design, which was copied by Raleigh in 1986. These were the first uniform patches for the Raleigh Fire Department. There was a committee that proposed and discussed designs, as the story goes. The Burlington patch was chosen, and not coincidentally due to the fact that new Fire Chief Sherman Pickard was a former member of BFD. (Pickard was appointed as Raleigh’s chief in 1986. He started his fire service career in Burlington. He was a member from 1949 to 1955 and left the department as Director of Training.)

Burlington has since adopted a new design. What year? And when their prior patch adopted? And did they copy from another department? (In the earlier decades of the fire service, there were generic patch designs that were used across numerous departments throughout the state, and probably the country.) Maybe readers can help.

Eight years after Raleigh adopted Burlington’s emblem, the Stony Hill Fire Department in Wake County followed suit. In 1992, the membership cast their votes for a design, also their first. Asst. Chief A.C. Rich, who was (and still is) a member of the Raleigh Fire Department, wasn’t at the meeting. He learned of the decision later, but only after the produced patches had been received. SHFD used the design until 2007. (Read a prior posting about their new patch.)

Archer Lodge Fire Department in Johnson County also copied the patch design, though they copied Raleigh's emblem. They adopted the patch in October 2000, and used the design for four years. The department proposed a new design in March 2004, and it was accepted in October 2004. (That's their current patch, and the design was credited to former Fire Chief Pete Barnes.)

The Raleigh Fire Department is still using their patch. The design also appears on apparatus, signage, and printed materials. The other three departments, as noted above, have adopted different designs.

And that’s the story of that.

Thanks to AC and Duane, for the historical assist. Click to enlarge:

+ 18 - 10 | § UPDATED: Raleigh Hose Thread History

April 18, 2014
Was teaching class last night on North Carolina firefighter history. While discussing the first fire hydrants installed in Raleigh, questions were made about the "Raleigh thread." What's the history there? Here's a blog post from 2009 that provides a bit of information.

I've been told that Raleigh's thread is the same that New York City uses. (Correct?) And I've seen historical references to Raleigh and Durham adapters, carried on each city's engines, for those mutual aid occasions. (Can recall a pair of instances when Durham sent engines to Raleigh, for fires at Dorothea Dix and at the Yarborough House in the 1920s.) 

As memory serves, city engines in more recent decades carried adapters for "other hydrants." That a correct memory there? Would those have been county hydrants? (But there aren't such things, right?) Private hydrants, with different threads? Maybe I'm thinking of adapters for Cary or Wake Forest or...

September 14, 2009
Question of the day. When did Raleigh start using its own hose and hydrant threads? From this 1924 report, there were 464 hydrants in the city on May 31, 1924. All were Mathews pattern, except for 64 Columbia and one Glamorgan. What are or were those patterns? Don't know. Nothing found on Google (yet). Hose couplings sizes were listed in the below chart. And that chart is repeated in this 1931 report, which lists 557 public and 133 private hydrants in the city on February 28, 1931. By that time, the report added, adapters for Durham hose were carried on Raleigh's Engine 1.

Connection Nominal Size,     
Outside Diameter,
Male Threads, Inches    
per Inch
Raleigh Hose 2 1/2 3 21/64 6
Raleigh Hydrants 2 1/2
3 21/64
4 55/64
Durham Hose 2 1/2 3 8
Goldsboro Hose
Fayetteville Hose
Wilson Hose
2 1/2 3 1/16 8
Henderson Hose 2 1/2 3 7/32 8
National Standard     2 1/2 3 1/16 7 1/2

What does the above chart tell us? First, that Raleigh wasn't the only department with its own hose thread. In fact, none of the above departments list coupling specs that exactly match National Standard. When did Raleigh adopt their coupling size? Good question. The city's first fire hydrants were installed in 1887, with hand reels and sections of hose also purchased. Hose had appeared earlier, for the 1870 steamer, and possibly even earlier for the city's hand engines. But it was 1887 that hydrants appeared, and when far more hose was added to the fire department. Hose was subsequently standardized, and by 1924 at least. Alas, Sanborn Maps from the 1880s to the 1910s don't help. There's no information on hose or hydrant threads.

+ 9 - 6 | § UPDATED: New Raleigh Police Cruisers Are Coming

April 18
Lee Wilson has posted photos from the April 2 event, that saw the uneviling of the Raleigh Police Department's new Ford, Chevy, and Dodge cruisers. This News & Observer story from after the event told me about the vehicles and the evaluation process. 

Lee Wilson photo

April 2
Today's News & Observer has a story about Raleigh's new police cruisers. The city will unveil their new Ford Police Interceptor sport-utility vehicles at a media event today. (When? Where?) That's one of three new vehicles that'll replace the now-discontinued Ford Crown Victoria. (The other two vehicles are officially undisclosed, but we've talked about before. We won't spoil the secrecy, at least for today!) The city purchased some 70 of the remaining Crown Victorias after production ceased in 2011. They'll be patrolled for a few more years, as their service life is five to seven years. Then they'll the public auctions. You can get your own Bluesmobile. Read the story.

Corey Lowenstein/News & Observer photo

+ 6 - 6 | § Mounted and Unmounted

Seen last week in Indianapolis, a pair of Methodist Hospital vehicles. One is an ambulance with yellow lights (indicating convalescent unit only?), and one is apparanetly a former ambulance missing the body. Always wondered what a chassis looks like, once the "box" is gone. Click to enlarge these phone photos:

+ 5 - 6 | § Photos From FDIC

Have posted my photos from FDIC last week. Here are the links:

Still in processing are pictures from the IFD museum, twenty-eight historic or former firehouses, and one of the old training facilities.

Still to be posted are a few hundred mobile phone photos, that need sorting and parsing.

+ 7 - 3 | § Last Week's Specialized Rescue in Carrboro

From a reader comes this photo from Carrboro, after a kid's toy was accidentally thrown to the roof of a park shelter on Friday. Firefighters came to the rescue from the station next door. The child was heard to say "This was the most exciting day ever!" Click to enlarge. Thanks, Scott!

+ 8 - 4 | § Morning Reading - April 15, 2014

Recent Twitter activity includes...



Last Week

+ 10 - 3 | § Dash Cam Captures Near Miss at Raleigh Car Fire (Video)

From this posting, here's a video from YouTube user NC DashVids, of a van swerving to avoid an IMAP truck positioned ahead of two Raleigh engines on the ramp from southbound I-440 to westbound Highway 64. The vehicle swerves to the right of the truck, enters the shoulder, and returns to the roadway as it encounters the cones ahead of Engine 2. This happened on April 11.

+ 9 - 7 | § Wake County EMS Employees are Happy (Video)

This one made the rounds last week, an employee appreciation video created by the Wake County EMS Community Outreach office. They're dancing and lip-synching to the Pharrell Williams song "Happy", released in November 2013 on Back Lot Music. Or click here if the embed doesn't work.

+ 8 - 7 | § Vintage Image of Charlotte Snorkel

Found for sale on eBay, a 35mm slide scan of Charlotte's Ladder 1, a 1984 Duplex-Grumman/Snorkel articulating platform. See our data from December on all snorkels that have served in our state, including four for Charlotte. Click to enlarge:

+ 11 - 0 | § NC at FDIC

Left to right, top to bottom: American Emergency Vehicles for Stanly County EMS, Guilford County EMS, and Cherokee Tribal EMS; Hackney for Blowing Rock; Smeal for Charlotte; Ferrara for Wilson. Click to enlarge the collage:

+ 6 - 3 | § Extra Alarms and Multiple Buffs in Indianapolis

Was a good day for buffing in Indianapolis today. Started with the second day of exhibits at FDIC, and ended with an extra-alarm fire at 1545 Van Buren Street (previously cited as 2009 Draper Street) east of downtown. (Been nice 'n' confused about this one. Called it three-alarms on Twitter, after seeing news reported. Posted here as two-alarms, as seen on the IFD feed. Now back to three-alarms, via Tri-State Fire Alerts FB page. Plus reader mail that says it went higher than three!)

Four aerial streams, three monitor nozzles, and four hand lines were used, reported @IFD_NEWS via Twitter. Plus multiple buffs and visiting firefighters. Building measured 250 by 300 feet. Defensive operations and wall collapses. One firefighter injured. First due companies were Engine 27, Engine 23, Ladder 14. Building was unburned section of extra alarm fire last fall. 

Yours Truly was en route to the 2014 Firefighter Turnout when he saw the plume of smoke from some ten miles out. Couldn't possibly be a major working fire with so many firefighters in town? Well, yes it was. See more pictures from Mike Legeros, posted to his Flickr page and also accessible from They start about forty-five minutes into the incident. 

+ 10 - 4 | § Technical Support Unit 1

The Raleigh Fire Department has placed its new rescue pumpers in service. The 2014 Pierce Arrow XT engines were activated on April 4 (Squad 15) and April 8 (Squad 14). Also, the reserve rescue at Station 14 has been designated Technical Support Unit 1.

The 2007 Pierce Enforcer, a sister to the truck operated by Rescue 1, is both a reserve unit and a second piece of equipment for Squad 14. (What does it carry? Readers, can you advise?) There's also a second unit staffed by Squad 15, a tractor-drawn trench rescue unit at Station 15.

See photos of the new squads at the station and in action at Lee Wilson's Flickr site. Updates also forthcoming to my photo site, which links to Lee's photos on a per-set basis.

+ 6 - 6 | § Some Former Firehouses of Indianapolis

Reporting from the road and my first visit to FDIC. Awaiting the start of the "show" tomorrow, when the exhibit floors open at noon and 1:00 p.m. (Among the attractions are the unveiling of a new Pierce chassis.) Been here since Tuesday, and been busy crisscrossing the city. Locating and photographing former and historic firehouses, as usual. Also first time in Indianapolis. What an interesting city! Ample attractions for the urban explorer, plus a very vibrant downtown. Here are a couple of the engine houses found so far. Left to right, top to bottom:

Many, many more photos forthcoming. Read my research notes, to be updated. See other firehouses in other cities. Click to enlarge:

+ 8 - 3 | § Morning Reading - April 7, 2014

In case you missed them as tweets, shown on the upper right side of this site, or via web on my Twitter page:

April 6

April 5

See more tweets.

+ 8 - 4 | § This Morning's Postal Facility Fire

Have a few details about this morning's postal facility fire at 1 Floretta Place, the main postal distribution center in Raleigh. The fire, reported after midnight, started in a package sorting area, in a package sorting cart. Witnesses said they heard a "pop" before the fire started. It was quickly extinguished, though several packages were destroyed. Officials are saying that it appears there was a chemical reaction in a package, perhaps from a battery or some type of chemical.

The incident was dispatched at 12:03 a.m. as an explosion and fire (with haz-mat assignments added later?). Engine 23 was first on scene at the one-story, concrete and steel building with 351,250 square-feet. Built 1994. They stretched a single line inside and extinguished the small fire. The building was briefly evacuated, with 155 workers inside at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported, though a number of employees were evaluated by EMS. 

Fire units on scene included E23, E24, L6, B3, B4, C20, C401 (investigator), HM1 (staffed by E2), HM2 (staffed by E27), HM3 (recon unit staffed by E8), HM4 (decon unit staffed by L5), Durham Highway P1, R5. Medical units on scene included EMS 22, EMS 38, EMS 6, EMS 7, D4, D3, M91, T1. Other agencies included Raleigh PD, Wake County EM, and ATF. See a handful of photos from Jason Thompson, including the one below.

Sources include:

Jason Thompson photo

+ 7 - 4 | § Vintage Photo of Hickory Station, Engines

Here's a treat by way of Hickory Fire Department Station 6 on Facebook, a photo of Station 3 on First Avenue in the ealry 1980s. (Located at 1471 1st Avenue SW. Built 1948, closed 1983, still standing.) Shown is a 1936 American LaFrance 400 Series pumper. Model 412 CB PWT, serial #7743, ship date August 13, 1936. (Raleigh also had one, bought for $13,500, with a 1000 GPM pump, twelve-cylinder motor, shaft-drive, and dual rear tires.) The newer truck is a 1968 American LaFrance. Click to enlarge:

The 1936 engine is presently displayed at the Catawba County Firefighters Museum in Hickory. See more photos from my trip there in 2007. (And readers, what's new/different there these days? Might need to do another shoot.) Click to enlarge:

+ 6 - 3 | § Early Video of Mobile Home Fire in Kinston

Dave Statter found this video posted to YouTube by North Lenoir Fire Department, showing their initial attack on a mobile home fire on Ham Street in Kinston on Saturday. Read this WNCT story for more, plus watch the Statter911 story for reader commentary.

+ 11 - 2 | § UPDATED: Vintage Virginia Red Car in Raleigh

April 6
Reader Andrew Watters shares this photo of the department's current EMS response vehicle. There are several Hampden-Sydney College alumni that work for fire departments in Wake County, including Watters. The department is comprised almost entirely of students from the college. The average age of their membership is 20 to 21. 

The department has an interesting history. On March 29, 1957, the Farmville FD was dispatched to a fire at the college. McIlwaine Hall was ablaze, a former academic building and assembly hall and now used for storage. The students had a great dislike for McIlwaine and tried their hardest to hamper the firefighter.

They repeatedly flushed toilets across campus and stood on fire hoses, to impede the water pressure. The building burned to the ground. The following day, the Fire Chief declared that their department would no longer respond to the college. The students realized the gravity of their actions, and formed their own fire brigade, which became the Hampden-Sydney FD. 

March 30
From a reader, this vintage "red car" (or more likely, first-responder vehicle) was seen at a house on South Boylan Avenue last week. From Hampden Syndey, VA, it appears. Thanks, Adam!

+ 7 - 4 | § Wake County Conducting Study on Fire Service Funding Allocations

That might be old news to anyone who follows the actions of the Wake County Fire Commission, but it's received some press in this Wake Forest Weekly story by David Leone, about the town's fire department's plans to build a fourth fire station. The story centers on the project's funding, and questions from the town's commissioners. The $2.2 million facility will be located at 1509 Jenkins Road, an "edge-of-town location" that's needed due to the many calls answered in "rural Wake Forest." Like most other towns in the county, the fire department serving Wake Forest is also contracted by the county to provide protection in unincorporated areas around Wake Forest.

The fire department receives most of its $4.4 million budget through town funding, via a 10 cents per $100 valuation fire tax. Fire Chief Ron Early seeks an increase in that tax, to fund the firefighters who will staff the station. Can the county contribute additional funding? Good question. As the story reports, both town leaders and Fire Chiefs have "long complained that the county doesn't fairly reimburse town departments for the cost of providing service to rural areas."

As the story continues, Wake County Fire Services is conducting a study to see if the process can be made more equitable. Emergency Services Consulting is doing the study. The first draft is due this month. Fire chiefs and town managers will be asked for input. The final draft of the report will be received by "county fire service board of directors" (believe that means the county fire commission) by June. Their recommendation (toward changes in funding allocations) will be sent to the Wake County Commissioners. No changes will take effect until the next budget year, however. And even then, notes the story, "major changes may be implemented in tiers over time to lessen [any negative impact] on fire departments."

That's my rewrite of the gist of the issue, via the Wake Forest Weekly story. What points were missed, or under/over emphasized? You tell me! And one thing's for certain.

'Tis an exciting time to watch Wake County's fire services, with better data and documentation being sought as the engine of change is revved higher and higher.

Read the Wake Forest Weekly story

Read earlier Wake Forest News story about Station 4

+ 11 - 8 | § UPDATED: Vintage Engines of Carolina Beach and Wilmington

April 5, 2014
Found another for sale on eBay. One of Wilmington's 1952 Oren engines. Click to enlarge:

August 12, 2013
Found for sale on eBay, these 35mm slide images of vintage Carolina Beach and Wilmington engines. Left to right, top to bottom are a 1953 International/Bean (CBFD E3), a 1976 Ford/Howe (CBFD E2), a 1970 Ford/Howe (CBFD E1), a 1952 Oren (WFD reserve E3), and another 1952 Oren (WFD reserve E4). Absolutely beautiful. Click to enlarge:

+ 7 - 7 | § Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter, Spring 2014

The Winter 2014 edition of the Raleigh Fire Department newsletter has been posted to This quarter's contents include New Apparatus Delivered, Station 13 Breaks Ground, RRT-4 Responds to Smithfield, Raleigh Fire Department Statistics 2013, Photo Gallery, New Staff, Promotions, Transfers, Retirements, Deaths, and Two-Year Old Gets Wish. The newsletter is produced quarterly, by Editor Mike Legeros. And with a copyediting assist from his wife Julie! Read the new issue (PDF).

+ 10 - 3 | § Ambulance Accidents in Raleigh and Wake County

Expanding on the prior story about a pair of vintage ambulance accidents in the Capitol City, here's a list of incidents to date. Those with significant damage and/or unusual circumstances. There are likely others that aren't listed (yet).

October 21, 1939 (or Saturday before) – Lightner Funeral Home and Raleigh Funeral Home ambulances collide at intersection of Cabarrus and Blount streets. They are responding to a reported stabbing, which was later reported as fatal. The ambulances didn’t hear each other, over each other’s sirens. One ambulance driver was seriously injured, another died of injuries. Two other people on the scene were injured, and a third car was damaged. (The Afro-American, 10/21/39)

December 6, 1952 – Ambulance collides with car in front of Warren’s Restaurant at Martin and Dawson streets. Car is pushed into doorway of eatery, where about 60 people are dining. Five people are hurt, including critical injuries to the driver of the car. His two passengers are badly cut, and the two ambulance attendants are injured. The ambulance was responding to an emergency call. (News and Courier, 12/7/52)

April 20, 1978 – EMS ambulance collides with automobile at Salisbury and Hunter streets. Occurs about 5:10 p.m. on a Thursday. Ambulance is answering an emergency call. Occupants of automobile, two men, are transported and treated at Wake Medical Center for their injuries. (N&O, 4/21?/78)

May 26, 1987 – Vehicle strikes EMS Station 1. Young woman is driving north on McDowell Street and loses control of her 1980 Chevrolet. Her automobile struck the building and she was injured. (RT, 5/27/87)

December 1993 – Mid South ambulance crashes while attempting to access I-40 from Highway 70 in Garner. Believe patient died. Need more details. (OH)

March 1, 1994 – Meat truck fails to stop at stop sign, and collides with Wake EMS ambulance at Milbrook Road and Falls of Neuse Road. The ambulance is responding to an emergency call when struck at 8:10 a.m. The truck strikes the ambulance, which causes both vehicles to veer and strike other cars. Four vehicles involved. Three people are treated and transported, including an EMS member, who suffers a leg injury. The ambulance is a total loss. (N&O, 3/2/94)

February 9, 1995 – Mid South ambulance stops at minor traffic accident on I-40, while traveling to Chapel Hill to pick up patient. A tractor-trailer truck had rear-ended a car, which was pushed into a van. EMT Michael R. Jackson stepped in front of the ambulance while he was retrieving warning markers when the tractor-trailer truck rolled down an incline and into the lane where the ambulance was parked. It struck the ambulance, and both vehicles ran over Jackson, killing him instantly. (NEMSMS)


+ 12 - 3 | § Ambulances Collide in Raleigh, October 1939

Back in the day, ambulances that were "running lights and siren" in Raleigh had to request clearance from RESCOM. The reason for this requirement, as the story was told, was the collision of two funeral home ambulances at the intersection of Martin and Dawson streets, back before the days of Beacon or Raleigh ambulance. What really happened? Google News Archive Search provides some answers.

The Afro-American

October 21, 1939

Death, Wreck, Injuries Result from Fatal Cutting

RALEIGH, N.C. - As the result of a fatal cutting here Sunday evening, an ambulance driver is seriously injured, another driver died Monday from his injuries, a station attendant has a broken leg and a one-legged man has his good leg in bandages.

The Cause

Shortly after 10 p.m., the police summoned the ambulance of Lightner's Funeral Home and the Raleigh Funeral Home. With sirens open so loud one deafened the other, they crashed at the intersection of Cabarrus and Blount Streets.

The Results

The careening cars broke the leg of a filling station attendant, injured the one-legged bench sitter and wrecked a nearby car. The rersults are: dead of knife wounds, Thomas Fletcher; died in the crash, Nathan Burt; injured, Joseph Wilder, a broken leg; a bandaged leg, Manual Williams.

That accident happened at Cabarrus and Blount streets. Where did the Dawson and Martin street memory come from? That was another, later accident.

News and Courier

December 7, 1952

5 Hurt at Raleigh In Collision Involving Ambulance

RALEIGH - Dec. 6 (AP) - Five persons were hurt in a collision involving an ambulance near the heart of Raleigh tonight.

The ambulance, which was answering an emergency call, collided with a car in front of Warren's Restaurant at Martin and Dawson Sts. and bowled the car into the doorway of the establishment, where about 60 persons were eating.

The driver of the car, Herbert Gupton, 44, Raleigh music store operator, was critically injured with a fractured skull and severe cuts and bruises. Gupton's son and daughter were badly cut and two men in the ambulance were injured.

Next question, when did RESCOM start and stop requiring such radio clearance? Was that in place prior to RESCOM? We'll look to readers for that information, as well as any ancedotes on the subject of ambulance collisions.

+ 6 - 3 | § When Red Trucks Roll

Compilation of video clips, of Raleigh Fire Department engines, squads, and ladder trucks leaving the station or en route to calls. Why? Because it never gets old. Footage from 2013 and 2014. Or click here if the embedded video doesn't play.

+ 6 - 3 | § Raleigh Recruit Academy 39 Starts... And Some History

Raleigh Fire Department Recruit Academy 39 started last week, with thirty-four recruits reporting for duty at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 24. They're starting a twenty-eight week academy that'll result in state certifications as EMT, Firefighter I, Firefighter II, NCRIT, and Haz-Mat Operation.

They'll also receive training on technical rescue, fireground procedures, high-rise operations, accountability systems, safety companies, engine and ladder company operations, and firefighter safety and survival.

Read an in-depth article about the academy and the hiring process in the winter edition (PDF) of the Raleigh Fire Department Newsletter. Below is the new crew on their first day, in the first hour of their academy. See more photos from Legeros (Set 1, Set 2) and Lee Wilson.

Curious about the prior recruit academies? Who graduated when? When were the "short" versus "long" academies? How long were the academies way back when? Three documents are available, including a newly posted list of Raleigh Fire Department recruit academy graduates (PDF). There's also this page of each academy's photo and some summary data on the academies. Memo to self, put everything in a single place, instead of three separate places.

+ 8 - 3 | § Fast Link for FireWatch Archives

Found this this morning. The Raleigh Television Network's streaming video site includes a search feature with "hard link" results. Thus, this address becomes a permanent search for all FireWatch videos. That's the half-hour monthly program created by the Public Education division of the Office of the Fire Marshal. There are seven years (!) of shows available on the site, dating back to August 2007. Each includes a DOWNLOAD button, which presents an mp4 version (instead of a streamed version), so you can download a copy. As a bonus, you can use that link as a quick way to find the newest episode of the show. Giddy-yup.