09/26/12 490 W, 1 I - + 6 - 7 Q&A: Glenwood Towers

Question from a reader, regarding 509 Glenwood Avenue. That's Glenwood Towers, the city housing authority's high-rise for seniors. Built in 1971, the 12-story (?) building has 297 units. Or say tax records.

Q: I live downtown, off of Glenwood Avenue. After not having a scanner since my teens, I recently started listening to the Raleigh FD feed on the Radio Reference site. Listening has brought back one childhood memory: hearing the fire department dispatched to Glenwood Towers multiple times a day. Just in the last two hours I've heard three runs dispatched, and I'm sure that 509 Glenwood is the reason that I hear so many sirens when I'm at home.

My questions are: 1) Has there ever been a significant fire there? and 2) Has anyone ever looked to see how many times RFD is dispatched there every year? It seems like this has to be the most responded to address in the city, and Engine 13 might as well just move into an apartment.

A: You are correct, the fire department does respond to 509 Glenwood Avenue on a very frequent basis. (Though with less frequency as I recall when I rode Engine 5 in the early 1990s, when they were first due. During my few years as a firefighter.) And there other popular addresses that you'll hear, for calls ranging from EMS to fire alarms. Near my house, Engine 16 responds with regularity to a couple nursing homes. That is, they respond frequently. I cannot advise if the crew consumes a lot of fiber.

Regarding call counts, I am not in the loop with regard to "most responded" addresses in the current or a given calendar year. Maybe our friends at the ECC can cite some data. (And the percentage of fire versus EMS.)

Has there been a significant fire at Glenwood Towers? There was a two-alarm fire on December 27, 1990. Heater/air-conditioner on fire in a room on the seventh floor. One resident transported to the hospital. The second alarm companies were not utilized, and returned to service. As memory serves, that's happened a number of times over the years and decades. The response starts big or bigger, but is reduced as the severity of the situation drops.

Two alarms were struck on May 18, 1992. Engine 5 arrived, and Car 52 upgraded the call. Heavy smoke on the second floor, with fire found in an air-conditioning unit. I don't have any notes if the second-alarm companies were returned to service. They very likely assisted with smoke removal, other overhaul, and evacuation/re-entry of residents.

If memory (but nothing handy to cite) serves, there has been at least one fatal apartment fire at Glenwood Towers. But neither multi-fatality, nor multi-unit fires. If memory services. Nothing like, say, the Wilmington high-rise fire on February 15, 1983. That one killed three elderly residents and displaced more than 160. Read about that in a prior posting.

Anyway, here's a photo from May 18, 1992. Click to slightly enlarge:

News & Observer photo

There have been 302 incidents at 509 Glenwood since Jan 1, 2012.
RFD - 09/27/12 - 09:45

I am surprised given the location, poor layout for an old persons home, and PRIME real estate of 509 Glenwood that Raleigh hasn’t just sold that property/building for the exorbitant amount of money it would bring in and built something/acquired something more feasible/responsible for its purpose. I’m sure it is not fun for the residents either having to live 20 stories up knowing how far they have to go to go anywhere or for help to reach them.
Rob - 09/27/12 - 10:57

Thanks for answering my posting my question Mike, and for the stat, RFD.
Eric - 09/27/12 - 15:38

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