Annual Report 1974-75

The Raleigh Fire Department does more than just put out fires. Protecting Raleigh citizens and property from the dangers of fire means emphasizing fire prevention through a continuing educational program and a strong fire inspection program. Raleigh's fire problem is different from problems of other, more industrialized cities. Most of the property in the City, worth $1.5 billion, is office, commercial, business, and residential. Raleigh has wide streets and many parking lots, providing a separation of buildings which minimizes the risk of fire. The City's Building and Fire Prevention Codes have been rigidly enforced for a number of years. This has been a major factor in lessening the fire loss. Raleigh's primary fire problem is the danger of loss of life, especially in high-density residential developments such as apartment complexes or high-rise apartments.

On the average, a fire alarm goes off once every four hours in Raleigh and a team of highly trained firemen respond. These fires can range from a fire in a car along the street to a large, dangerous fire in an office or apartment building. Last year, out of more than 2600 fire alarms answered, 319 of these calls were fires which resulted in damage. Four lives were lost in fires last year. Monetary losses were approximately $1.1. million which is just .07 percent of the total property value in the City. The per capita loss was $7.47, which compares favorably with the national per capita loss of $13.50. Fires in residential properties accounted for 63 percent of the total damage done by fire in the City. The leading causes of fires last year were:. (1) food left in or on the stove;. (2) careless cigarette smoke;. (3) faulty electrical wiring;. (4) faulty electrical appliances. Almost 50 percent of the fires last year were caused by one of these four reasons.

There are 14 fire stations in the City now in service. The site for another station has been selected in the Crabtree Valley area and one is planned for the Avent Ferry-Lake Johnson area. Strategically located throughout the City in order to provide fire services within a reasonable distance of all properties, the stations house 15 pumping engines and five ladder trucks. Value of the physical resources is about $4 million.

Each fire station in staffed 24 hours a day by a team of fire fighters. When not fighting fire, the firemen spend much of their time in training programs and maintaining their equipment. Areas of training include learning and practicing new fire-fighting techniques and rescue operations. This training, under the direction of a training officer and his assistant, is a continuous process to insure that personnel are familiar with the most up-to-date techniques. There are approximately 280 persons in the Fire Suppression Division of the Fire Department.

Rescue services are also a part of a fire suppression division. With 14 men training as Emergency Medical Technicians, the Fire Department provides medical assistance in emergency situations. Last year, 840 rescue calls were answered by the Rescue Units. Emergency transportation service is furnished only in cases where transportation is not otherwise available.

The Fire Prevention Division carries out a number of programs to educate all groups in matters of fire safety and methods of fire prevention. The Fire Marshall and his staff made 4300 inspections last year, checking all types of buildings in Raleigh for fire hazards and fire code violations. These inspectors point out hazardous conditions and make sure these conditions are corrected. Schools are visited regularly to conduct fire drills, give safety talks and to check for fire hazards. The Fire Prevention Bureau staff made almost 400 talks last year to civic groups, clubs, and to owners and occupants of commercial, industrial and hospital buildings. There are several on-going special projects in the area of fire prevention. One, Operation EDITH. (Exit Drill in The Home), stresses the importance of every family planning and practicing fire drills in the home. At the requests of citizens, Fire Inspectors visit homes and help families plan exit routes. The Fire Prevention Bureau issues to invalids to indicate where invalids are located, making rescue operations easier.

An efficient and well-run fire department benefits all citizens both directly in fire protection and also in insuring a good fire insurance rating for the City. A good fire insurance rating helps determine the cost of fire insurance in a locality. The Fire Department is but one aspect of a City's fire defense program. A Fire Department without an adequate water supply could not function. The City's water system, therefore, is an important part of its fire defense program, as is the City's Building Inspections Department. A City's total fire defense program is graded by the Insurance Services Office of New York, with points being assigned to each major item graded. The Fire Department is graded along with the water system, the Fire Service Communication System, and the Building Inspections Department. After grading on a point scale, the points are subdivided and a number of points are assigned to the City. Fire insurance classifications are on a scale of one to ten, with one being perfect. (There are no perfect fire defense systems in the United States.) A ten means unprotected or no fire defenses. The City of Raleigh is in Class III. There are no better ratings in North Carolina or in the southeastern part of the United States.

Source: Raleigh Annual Report 1974-75

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