11/23/12 132 W, 1 I - + 10 - 4 Calling KICs and KSOs - North Valley Apartments, 1970

This is my favorite picture on display at the Raleigh Fire Museum, a vintage News & Observer image, depicting a fire at the North Valley Apartments at 4343 Lassiter Mill Road on September 6, 1970. Superb image by Frank Urben, absolutely superb. Even the narrative is great. Woman was taking shower, looked up, and saw her ceiling on fire. Happened around noon. Engine 9 was first due, back when it was riding an open-cab 1950s American LaFrance. Three units were extensively damaged. For your Black Friday discussion, how many things do you see done different then than now? Go nuts and play KIC (Keyboard Incident Commander, coined by Dave Statter) or KSO (Keyboard Safety Officer, coined by me). Click to enlarge:

Frank Urben/News & Observer image

What do these people expect to accomplish? 1) There can’t be an Incident Command system in place 2) Looks like two booster lines are laid in, hardly an effective fire flow for this volume of fire 3) Turnout gear must be optional, but it looks like at least one has a helmet on his head and a coat on his back. The cop’s participation in this photo has not changed and may be found at fires today.
Jim Guy (Email) - 11/23/12 - 11:13

At least some salvage is going on but I do not know if that should be the priority effort with the staffing on scene at the moment.
Charles Chapman - 11/23/12 - 13:05

One thing about these guys is a person can learn a lot from them that no book could ever teach you.
Rescue Ranger - 11/23/12 - 21:52

That said, Double R, how different is today’s firefighting, based on the building materials and burning materials that are encountered? Is it still wet stuff on red stuff, 40 years later? That’s simple, that straightforward?
Legeros - 11/23/12 - 22:09

Silver - 11/23/12 - 23:18

Clueless is the first word that comes to mind. That feeling of “impending doom” should not be reserved just for heart attack victims as these folks should be experiencing that sensation full throttle about now.

Immediate concerns should include evacuation, accountability, roof construction, cutting the fire off at the exposure and throwing ladders for emergency egress once that overhang starts to drop.
Tiger Schmittendorf (Email) (Web Site) - 11/24/12 - 00:23

Let’s see. 1970. Staffing was alot worse then today. Most fire fighters lived close to the city back then and probably came to do anything to help. Different mentality than today, most were veterans and had a stonger "sacrifice mentality" than people do today. Didn’t have to worry about cutting a hole in the roof, looks like it vented very well. No smoke coming from the apartments. Non truss roof construction, and i would venture to say that the ashalt shingles and thick plywood (solid boards, not OSB) under them is providing most of the fuel load. Different era, if you ever saw the turnout gear and plastic helmets from that day you would realize it wasn’t much better than the clothes they have on now. Probably only had 1 SCBA on the rig. They evidently went as far and did as much as they were comfortable with at the time, put wet stuff on the red stuff and the fire went out and the building did not burn down. Point is this; you cannot compare strategies and tactics of that time with today. Advancements in firefighting equipment with the addition of crappy roof construction, hydrocarbon based furniture has drastically changed fuel loads and amount of time you have to get the fire under control. I’m not going to question their decisions from that time period, but I would not expect to see that done today.
gen3fire - 11/24/12 - 10:42

The interesting thing about historical staffing comparisons, are the five and six person companies that Raleigh ran back in the day. I am thinking 1950s, for that. With smaller companies in the “suburbs. “

In 1970, there wasn’t even a third shift yet! Er, platoon.
Legeros - 11/24/12 - 11:23

2 Engines, 2 Truck companies and 1 rescue fought the fire. Then 1 relief Engine later on. Think about what kind of response would happen for the same building today.
gen3fire - 11/24/12 - 14:14

Found the logs for the engines. E9 had four: Carter, Stell, Peacock, Warren. E4 had five: Mabrey, Burchette, Hicks, Hunnicutt, Maidon.
Legeros - 11/30/12 - 22:30

Love seeing my photo from way back then; appreciate the compliment.
I’m sorry to inform you that it is a copyrighted photo.
In order to avoid litigation, you’ll need to invite me to a firehouse meal, AND let me ride along on a respond-to-fire (or at least a routine inspection of fire hydrants)!
Frank Urben (Email) - 01/11/18 - 13:39

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