||Brent A. Upton
March 21, 2019
Retired Lt. Brent A. Upton, 38, died of occupational
cancer and less than three months after his medical
retirement on January 1, 2019, which followed 12.3 years
of service and six months of undergoing chemotherapy. He
was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in May 2018.
Upton entered the department on September 18,
2006. He was promoted to First Class Firefighter on March
13, 2010, to Senior Firefighter on March 23, 2013, and to
Lieutenant on December 13, 2015.
were held on March 24 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
in Raleigh. The private event was live-streamed for others
to virtually attend.
||W. Keith Tessinear
August 29, 2019
Assistant Chief of Training Wallace Keith Tessinear, 55,
died of occupational cancer. He was diagnosed with
lymphoma on June 1, 2018. He passed away fourteen months
later. On November 27, 2019, the North
Carolina Industrial Commission recognized his passing as a
Tessinear entered the
department on February 13, 1991. He rose through the
ranks, promoted to Firefighter First Class (1994),
Lieutenant (1997), Captain (2001), and Battalion Chief
(2007). He was appointed as a Division Chief on
January 14, 2012, first serving in Operations and then assigned to Training
He was appointed Assistant Chief on March 31, 2015,
first assigned to Services, followed by the Office of the
Fire Marshal where he served as the city Fire Marshal
July 13, 2015. He was later reassigned to the Training
division. He had served 28.6 years at the time of his
Funeral services were held on
September 1 at the Chapel at Bright Funeral Home in Wake Forest, with
burial at Clyde's Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery in
Wendell on the same day. Fire department members Lowell Smith, Dennis Marshal, Jerry
Pace (ret.), Marvin Brooks (ret.), Raymond Harrell (ret.)
and Randall Wright (ret.) served as pallbearers.
Chief Tessinear was the
brother-in-law of Battalion Chief David Whitley, the uncle
of Firefighter Justin B. Hales, and the nephew of retired
Lieutenant Bobby L. Smith (ret. 1977), and thus related to
Smith's son-in-law retired Asst. Chief Garry Spain (ret.
2015), his son Firefighter Coulton G. Spain, and Garry's
brother retired Division Chief Barry Spain (ret. 2016).
Photo courtesy Raleigh Fire
Herman S. Jones
January 22, 2008
Lieutenant Herman S. Jones, 58, died after suffering an apparent heart attack..
He was on duty Friday, January 18, at Station 10, when he began to experience chest pains. He was transported to WakeMed and then to UNC Hospital
in Chapel Hill.
He died at the hospital on January 22, 2008.
Jones entered the department on May 5, 1980. He was
promoted to the ranks of Firefighter First Class on June
15, 1983, and to Lieutenant on June 16, 2001. He had
served 27.7 years at the time of his death.
He was buried following a church service on Saturday,
January 26, at Juniper Level Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Fire department members Ronald Ricks, Joseph Callender,
Patrick Canady, Gregory Buxton,
George Jones Sr., and Michael Barnes served as pallbearers.
courtesy Raleigh Fire Department.
Paul A. Mimms
April 20, 1965
Paul A. "Pallie" Mimms, 41, died of an apparent heart attack
while operating a pumper at a commercial structure fire, at 1908 Hillsboro Street. He fainted at the pump panel and was pronounced dead on arrival at Rex Hospital. The fire at Norden
Laboratories Incorporated was discovered about 12:15 a.m. Mimms was the driver of Engine 5.
Funeral services were held on April 22 at Overby Mortuary
Chapel in Raleigh, with burial at Montlawn Memorial Park the
Mimms entered the department on July 16,
1951. He had served 13.8 years at the time of his death. His brother Harry retired as a Captain in 1977,
serving from November 24, 1952, to March 1, 1977. Photo courtesy Joe Mimms.
Vernon J. Smith
March 10, 1956
Driver Vernon J. Smith, 44, died at Rex Hospital, succumbing
to injuries occurred November 14, 1952 while operating Engine
6. The 1926 American LaFrance pumper, being operated as a
reserve unit, overturned while returning from a call at the
sharp curve where Brooks Avenue turns into Lewis Farm Road.
The 1:00 p.m. accident also pinned Captain James T. White
under the wreckage and injured the three firefighters hanging
onto the tailboard. The accident was blamed on a broken brake
lever and the City Council immediately approved funding for a
new pumper, to retire the other 1926 reserve pumper as soon as
The other firefighters recovered from their
injuries, while Smith underwent 29 operations before his
death. He also continued serving the department as a
Funeral services were held on March 12 at Hayes Barton
Baptist Church, with burial at Montlawn Cemetery the same day.
Fire Chief Jack B. Keeter, Assistant Fire Chief R. Lee
Matthews, and fire department members James M. Burnette, James
T. White, Herbert E. Partin, and Jack T. Wall served as
Smith entered the department on July 17, 1942.
He had served 13.7 years at the time of his death. Photo courtesy Harold Smith.
Emergency Rescue Squad, Inc.
Robert L. Battle
Volunteer Robert Battle, 45, drowned in the Cape
Fear River near Battle Dam, about five miles below
Buckhorn Dam, while searching for the body of a Fuquay
Springs man, who had apparently drowned the day before
when his fishing boat overturned two miles or so above
Battle had entered the water to swim
out and investigate an object on the back of an overturned
boat, spotted by a Wildlife Commission plane being used in
the search. Battle was unable to make it back to shore and
drowned in the river.
He had a rope around his
waist, but the rope wasn't long enough to reach the found
object, and he had requested that his fellow squad members
let go of the rope. When he became exhausted on the return
trip, he tied himself to a willow tree in the river, but
was apparently too tired to hold his head out of the
Battle was an employee of the Wake County
Sheriff's Department and had worked as a night jailer for
four years. He had previously served as a Raleigh police
He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in
Raleigh, following a service on Saturday, April 25.
The Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad was organized in
1953, and housed at Station 1 and staffed by a full-time
fire department driver.
Source: News and Observer, August 24, 1959.
This page was last updated April 25, 2022.