Raleigh Fire Department History

1970-1979

1970

Nine stations protecting 44.9 square miles and 122,830 residents.


Firefighter work week reduced from 72 to 66 hours. Action requires addition of 24 personnel: 6 captains, 7 drivers, and 11 firefighters. (February 1, 1970)ccm

Quail Corners Shopping Center at Milbrook and Falls of Neuse roads burned. Fire reported at 12:58 a.m. by police department. Loss $41,949. E4, E9, T6, E6, R1, T7, E10 at 4, T6 overhaul. (May 5, 1970)rfd

Embers Club at 320 W. Davie Street burned. Fire is reported about 4. a.m., apparently started when a cigarette is left in a dressing room. Entire front half of structure is gutted with damages estimated at more than $10,000. More than 40 cases of beer are destroyed. [UF] (June 8, 1970)rt08jun70

First modern Mack fire apparatus delivered:

  • 1970 Mack CF pumper, placed in service as Engine 1
  • 1970 Mack CF pumper, placed in service as Engine 15 at Station 1. (June 15, 1970)ccm
    Photos and more information.

Peebles Hotel at 122 E. Hargett Street burned.

Five alarms. Fire is reported at 5:11 p.m. by telephone. Third floor of the downtown Raleigh landmark is destroyed. Smoke and water extensively damage the rest of the three-story, brick building. The building was built in 1921 by Calvin E. Ligtner, father of Raleigh City Councilman Clarence Lightner. It was occupied by a number of businesses, including offices and stores: Cheap Johns clothing store, Peebles Cafeteria, Peebles Hotel Grill, Peebles Cleaners, and the Sweet Pea Green Record Store. There was a ballroom on the third floor. There were about twenty guests staying at the hotel. The fire started in a third-floor bathroom. Hundreds of spectators--estimated by the News & Observer as 500--watched quietly from behind a police cordon, as burning tar on the room billowed black smoke into the air, and often obscuring their view. Flames "flashed about 20 feet high and smoke curled several hundred feet over the state capital," reported the News & Observer.

Noted the Raleigh Times, "the four pumpers, at full blast, poured out about 4,000 gallons of water a minute." And "asked if his men were able to pour enough water on the blaze, Fire Chief Jack Keeter said 'No problems. We filled the basement with water.'" At 8:56 p.m. and 10:02 p.m., additional firemen were dispatched to the scene, to relieve the crews already there. The fire was brought under control about 8:00 p.m., and the last truck left the scene at 12:35 p.m. Other than "routine cuts and scrapes" to the firemen, said the Times, no injuries were reported. The bulk of the damage was confined to the third floor, and the roof was a total loss. Said the newspaper, "streams of water aimed upward through third floor windows could be seen arching into the air over the building."

Crews also used the roof of Mamlin Drugs, beside the fire building and separated by a narrow alley, to fight the fire. As the blaze in the main building was being brought under control, noted the Times, a two-story addition in the rear of the hotel caught fire. Crews worked from a parking lot full of spectators, and brought that part of the fire under control, and prevented a spread to the second floor of the main building. Manager Victor Peebles declared the building a total loss. Kimbrell's Furniture Store, across the street, received some smoke damage on the top two floors of the building. The fire department recorded a loss of $110,220. E3, E1, T1, R1, E10, E5 at 1, T6, T7, E5, E4 at 1, T5 relief, E4 relief. [MF] (June 24, 1970)rfd, rt25jun70, no25jun70

Authorized positions in 1970-71 budget (July 1, 1970)cb:

Fire Chief 1
Assistant Fire Chief 3
Fire Training Supervisor 1
Stenographer Clerk II 2
Chief Fire Inspector 1
Fire Inspector 5
Fire Captains 51
Fire Equipment Mechanic 2
Fireman II 54
Fire Dispatchers 8
Fire Rescue Officer 2
Fire Alarm Technician 2
Fireman I 132
Total 264

K&L Scrap Yard at 2042 Garner Road burned. Fire is reported at 12:29 p.m. by police call. The half-acre fire consumes a pile of tires and several stacks of junked cars. The main building is not damaged. E3, E1, E2, E5 at 1, E10, E7. [UF] (July 20, 1970)rt, no

Firefighter residency requirements reviewed, after city policies are debated, after it is discovered that fire inspector Johnnie Turner had moved outside of Wake County. He appealed to City Council and the Civil Service Commission, was unsuccessful, and was fired for not conforming to the rules. He took the city to court and an order was signed reinstating Turner as suspended without pay, until the case is settled. A survey conducted by the city personnel department finds Raleigh's residency rules are more restrictive than four of the other five major cities in the state. Charlotte, Durham, and Greensboro have no rules, while Winston-Salem allows firemen to live anywhere in the county. Raleigh requires that firemen live in Wake County, be on a paved road, and have a Raleigh telephone. The only city more restrictive is High Point, which requires within Guilford County and within one mile of the city limits. The survey is made for the Law and Finance Committee, which is studying the existing rules. The City Council recently upheld the disputed rules by a four to three vote, but the committee looks into the rules at the request of a Councilman. They also survey Richmond, which has no requirements, and Columbia, SC, which requires residency within fifteen miles of the state. They also note that residency comparisons for policemen are more difficult to compare. Fire Chief Jack Keeter has since discovered at least two other firemen living outside the county, but won't take action until the rules are settled. [No changes are apparently made, as Turner's last date of employment is October 1, 1970.) (September 1970)rt1_sep70

North Valley Apartments at 4343 Lassiter Mill Road burn. Fire is reported 12:46 p.m. by telephone. Three units are extensively damaged by noon-time fire. One fireman cuts "his hand and shoulder" and is treated and released at Rex Hospital. "The fire is believed to have started in the attic over the building's corner apartment, where two young women were living." The apartment office is also heavily damaged. "The blaze then spread to two more second-floor apartments." The fire was "reported by a tenant who was taking a shower and looked up to seek the ceiling on fire." Loss $28,750. R1, E9, E4, T6, T7, E10 at 4, E9 later to help with investigation. [MF] (September 6, 1970)no09sep70, rfd

Firefighter work week reduced from 66 to 60 hours. Third platoon created, "C" shift. (September 23, 1970)yb84, rfd

Holiday Inn North restaurant at 2815 North Boulevard burned. Three alarms. Fire reported 12:50 p.m. by telephone. One-story masonry structure, in a separate building from the motel. About 30 firefighters battle blaze, which is brought under control about 1:30 p.m. The fire started around a grease duct in the kitchen, and spread from the ceiling back, and gutted the back of the building. At 1:23 p.m., a second alarm was requested, and Engine 9 responded. A few minutes later, a third alarm was requested. By 1:45 p.m., some of the companies were cleared from the scene. Loss $60,000. E4, E7, T7, E9, E10 to 4, T6, R1, T1 overhaul, T5 fill-in. [MF] (December 7, 1970)rt07dec70, rfd

Tillery Millworks at 1643 North Boulevard burned. Fire reported 3:38 p.m. by telephone. One-story structure, set ablaze by grass fire. Loss $95,510. E3, E1, E5, E9, E6 relieve E9, E10 relieve E1, T7, E5 to 1. [MF?] (December 7, 1970)rfd

1971

Alarm boxes discontinued. City Manager W. H. Carper recommended to City Council that pull boxes be replaced with a system of telephone call boxes. He noted that 84 percent of fire alarms from call boxes in 1970 were false, versus only three percent of calls by telephone. In a report to council, he noted that the system would be owned by the phone company, and leased to the city. Installation cost to the city would be $14,235, and annual rental for 414 units would be $103,320. The council refers the report to its Law and Finance Committee. The report noted that the percentage of false alarms from pull boxes had grown from 70 percent in 1965, to its 84 percent figure first reached in 1967. It dropped to 82 percent in 1968. Each call box would have a direct phone line to fire headquarters, and would provide a record and voice recording of all calls. The system would save time, the report notes. Also, the present pull box system needs an expansion and upgrade that would cost $127,000. The annual operating cost would be $44,000. Each false alarm costs the city $200 to $300, noted the Fire Chief, and that doesn't count the possibility of collisions involving the fire trucks while en route. The city has 314 pull boxes, and the proposal would replace those with telephone boxes, and add an additional 100 units. The proposal called for financial out of the present city budget, and becoming operational on July 1, 1972. City Council approved the recommendation on January 25, 1971. (January 1971)rt18jan71, rt26jan71

Fire Chief Jack Keeter recommended volunteer fire departments for supplementing the fire protection of a proposed annexation area in west Raleigh. The 3,494-acre annexation area extends along Highway 70 west, and includes the Brookhaven neighborhood, which opposed the plan. The Chief's plans call for "volunteer and regular city crews to answer each alarm" reports the Raleigh Times on January 26, 1971. All the fire calls already come into the fire department's central communications center. "We just punch a button and their siren goes off. And we'd send a [Raleigh] pumper and service ladder truck to each of the calls from that area." He adds, "They're equipped just like we are. We may put some small equipment--some hose, maybe--out there. It would be just the same as putting an extra station out there." Three volunteer departments currently service the area slated for annexation: Fairgrounds, Durham Highway, and Six Forks. The Chief said he'd need the help of FFD and DHFD, who cover the bulk of the area. The city has had similar arrangements in the past. At the time of the 1960 annexations, the city contracted with Six Forks FD for $350 a month, to answer newly annexed areas in north Raleigh. On the west side, however, the city activated a temporary fire station in a rented house until a permanent one was built." Both DHFD and SFFD receive 10 cents per hundred dollars of tax value on property in their service area. The city would probably pay the departments a monthly fee equal to what they'd lose in revenues from the annexation. Most of Brookhaven, however, already received protection, contracted by the city, and for which residents pay a special 40 cent tax levy. The city plans the eventual construction of a fire station in that area. (January 1971)rt26jan71

Andrew Johnson Hotel Annex at 100 Martin Street burns. Two+ alarms. Fire reported 12:22 a.m. Firefighters rescue one person by ladder. Elderly resident dies, his charred body dragged from third floor approximately 90 minutes after alarm is turned in. Twelve rooms of the Annex, facing Martin Street, are occupied at time of fire. Hotel is separated from the rear of the N&O building by an alley. Firefighters "poured water onto the blazing roof from two aerial ladders" and several "climbed atop the News & Observer's loading platform roof to direct more streams of water into the third floor rooms." The " temperature clock" on the bank building across the street "registered 27 degrees" and some of the water flowing into the street "was turning to ice." Cigarette cited as cause of fire, from smoking in bed. Loss $166,610. E1, E3, T1, R1, E10, E5 and T5 at Station 1, T5, T6, T7, E1 help take up hose. [MF] (February 10, 1971)no11feb04, no12feb04, rfd

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Station 11 on Glenridge Drive. (February 23, 1971)rt23feb71

Station 10 opened at 2711 Sanderford Road. Engine 10 placed in service with 1961 (?)American LaFrance pumper at 6:00 p.m. Photos and more information. (February 24, 1971)rfd

Fire protection report presented to City Planning Commission recommends $1.5 million to "construct or start on 12 new fire stations in Raleigh over the next five years." Included in report is detailed map of city "which lack optimum service, generally forming a circle around city boundaries." The report speculates "more than 16,000 additional acres will be annexed in the next five years, bringing 30,000 additional persons into the city." If built, the 12 new stations would more than double the present number of nine stations. The article also notes that Station 10 on Sanderford Road is "near completion." The $1.5 million figure includes only "land acquisition, construction planning, and major equipment costs. No figure was given for personnel or operating costs." One major recommendation is that sites be purchased "as much as two years ahead to reduce land acquisition costs." The proposed timetable:

  • 1970-1971
    Station serving North Ridge and Brentwood.
    Station serving Lake Boone Trail and Blue Ridge Road.
  • 1971-1972
    Station in area of Blue Ridge Road and Highway 70.
  • 1972-1973
    Station at Poole and Williams Road.
    $120,000 classroom and training facility on S. Wilmington Street.
  • 1973-1974
    Station in area of Falls of Neuse and Spring Forest Road.
  • 1974-1975
    Station in area of Highway 70 and Pleasant Valley Road.
    Station in area of Millbrook Road and Highway 1 north.
  • 1975-beyond
    Station on Avent Ferry Road.
    Station in area of New Hope Road and Highway 64.
    Station in area of Old Stage Road and Highway 401
    Station in area of Lead Mine Road and Jeffries School Road.

Read the report. (February 1971)no10feb71

North Carolina League of Municipalities completed a survey of the organizational structure and management practices of the Raleigh Fire Department. It identifies administrative, management, supervisory, and service function deficiencies, and recommends a reorganization plan that includes:

  • Adding or reducing positions:
    • Reducing Assistant Chiefs from three to two, each assigned day duty
    • Adding a civilian position of Administrative Assistant
    • Adding four District Chiefs
    • One fewer Fire Apparatus Mechanic
    • Adding a second Training Officer
  • Organizing the department into three divisions:
    • Codes and Standards, previously the Fire Prevention Bureau
    • Fire Suppression
    • Services.
  • Changes in Fire Prevention:
    • Changing the title of Fire Inspection Chief to Fire Marshall
    • Creating second-level position titled Deputy Fire Marshall
    • Establishing two levels of inspector positions with titles Fire Inspector I and Fire Inspector II.

The survey was authored by Director of Services Sherman Pickard. (March 16, 1971)

City Council approved further negotiations with engineering consultant for air conditioning for Stations 1 through 9. (April 30, 1971)ccm

Authorized positions in 1971-72 budget (July 1, 1971)cb:

Clerk Stenographer II 1
Fire Training Chief 1
District Fire Chief 6
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Administrative Assistant 1
Fire Chief 1
Fire Marshall 1
Inspector I 2
Inspector II 2
Deputy Fire Marshall 1
Fire Alarm Dispatcher 8
Fire Alarm Technician 2
Fire Equipment Mechanic 2
Fire Rescue Officer 2
Firefighter I 132
Firefighter II 54
Fire Captain 51
Total 269

Building at 123 E. Cabarrus Street burned. Two alarms. Fire reported 3:27 a.m. from Box 27. One-story brick building. Loss $68,000. E3, E1, T7, E15, R1, E5 at 1, T7 clean-up. [MF] (June 25, 1971)rfd

Woods 5&10 store at 117 E. Martin Street burned. Two alarms (news headline). Fire reported 7:29 p.m. by telephone. Six units and approximately 40 firefighters battle the Tuesday evening blaze. Workers at Raleigh's east-side water plant also increase the hydrant pressure at the fire department's request. Two firefighters, Larry D. Averette and George E. Hudson, receive minor injuries after falling through an aluminum marquee while manning a second-floor hose stream. Loss $120,560. E1, E3, T1, R1, E15, T5, E5 at 1, E5, E4 at 1, T7, E4, T6, E6 stand by, E7 stand by, T1 for salvage covers. [MF] (July 20, 1971)rt21jul71, rfd

Methodist Orphanage gymnasium at 1001 Glenwood Avenue burned. Fire reported 6:52 p.m. from Box 65. One-story brick building. Loss $22,000. T6, R1, E5, E15, T5. [UF] (July 21, 1971)rfd

Fire Department Administration is reorganized, including implementation of a two-district system and Chief Keeter's naming of seven District Chiefs:

  • William B. Hamilton
  • Rufus E. Keith
  • Walter R. Mabrey
  • C. T. May
  • Stephen J. Talton
  • Norman W. Walker
  • Drewery H. Williams.

The seven are selected from 19 candidates on the basis of written tests, interviews, and evaluations. Their salary range: $9,336 to $12,500. Their collective time in service: 145 years. (August 6, 1971)rt07aug71

Two district chiefs placed in service. Car 5 at Station 1 (around August 21)and Car 6 at Station 4 at 1230. (August 21, 1971)rfd

Station 11 opened at 2925 Glenridge Road. Engine 11 placed in service with 1958 American LaFrance pumper. Photos and more information. (by November 28, 1971)rfd

Building at 119 W. Parsons Street burned. Fire reported 6:40 a.m. by police telephone. Three-story brick building. Loss $350,000. R1, E1, E3, T1, E15, E5 at 1, E5 (?), E4 at 1, T1 with clean-up. [MF] (December 27, 1971)rfd


Apparatus delivered: 1971 Mack CF pumper. Photos and more information. ccm

1972

Police investigate series of 11 fires at Broughton High School. Eight are believed deliberate. All have caused minor damage. One student is arrested and charged with unlawful burning for wastebasket fire discovered in a boys' restroom on January 10. Of the eight fires believed deliberately set, all but one has occurred in a boys' restroom. The other occurred in a girls' restroom. [UF] (January 12, 1972)no12jan72

Fire Department ceased operating dispatching and switchboard services after Raleigh/Wake Emergency Communications Center established. 829-1911designated as County-wide emergency phone number, in anticipation of 911 availability in later decade. (Spring 1972).

Life insurance company at 434 Woodburn Road burned. Fire reported at 10:14 p.m. by radio. One-story brick building with basement. Loss $245,291. E5, E6, T5, R1, T6. [MF?] (May 12, 1972)rfd

Mass shooting occurred at North Hills Mall. Sniper killed three and wounded eight. Before killing himself, Harvey Glenn McLeod stood between parked cars near the mall entrance and began shooting at 12:05 p.m. The shooting lasted between four and six minutes. Victims included the press secretary of Senator B. Everett Jordan, who was making a handshaking visit to the shopping center. [UI] (May 29, 1972)no30may72

Hurricane Agnes struck western Florida, making landfall as tropical storm with 65 mph winds on June 19. Eye of storm passes through Raleigh with 40 mph winds about 6:00 p.m. two days later. [WE] (June 21, 1972)no24jul72

Apparatus note: Third service truck company placed in service as Truck 11 with 1971 Chevrolet service truck. Photos and more information. (By June 14, 1972)rfd

Authorized positions in 1972-73 budget (July 1, 1972)cb:

Administrative Assistant 1
Clerk-Stenographer II 1
Fire Training Chief 1
District Fire Chief 7
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Fire Inspector I 2
Fire Inspector II 2
Deputy Fire Marshall 1
Fire Marshall 1
Fire Alarm Technician 2
Fire Equipment Mechanic 2
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Firefighter I 138
Firefighter II 57
Fire Captain 54
Total 278

Building at 327 Blake Street burned. Fire reported 8:54 p.m. by ERTS box. One-story brick building. $18,198 damage. E3, E1, T1, R1, E5, T7, E4 at 1, E1 for rekindle, T7 for overhaul. [MF] (August 7, 1972)rfd

1973

Fire alarm system deactivated. Last box alarm received at 2116 hours for an incinerator that set off sprinklers at 712 _acker Street. Box 433 transmits the alarm. The city has about 314 pull boxes, which were replaced with as many as 400 telephone call boxes. (May 14, 1973)rfd, rt26jan71

Chief Keeter retired. (June 1, 1973)cm

Clarence R. Puryear appointed tenth Fire Chief, serves 1973-1974. Puryear joined the fire department in 1941. (June 1, 1973)yb84, rfd

First permanent administrative assistant hired. Ken Farmer is hired, a graduate of State College with a degree in political science. The position pays $7,716. (1973)


No major fires in 1973.

1974

Propane leak injured five firefighters at Dur-Ral Truck Sales on US.64 east. Firefighters called to scene for gas leaking from tanker truck. Subsequent explosion tears " lightweight door from the front of the truck company's garage" and splits "the cinder block structure." Five personnel are injured: Firefighters Steve Hamilton and Roy Strickland, Captain W. H. Clifton, Chief Training Office J. E. Warren, and Chief W. R. Mabry. Three are admitted to Wake Memorial Hospital. Explosion leaves hole "about six feet by ten feet on one side of the garage" and occurs just before 10 a.m., after initial alarm at 9:40 a.m. [UF] (January 21, 1974)rt21jan74, ccm

Hargett Street Apartments burned. Three units are destroyed and at least 13 people are displaced. [MF?] (January 31, 1974)rt31jan74

Building at 505 W. Johnson Street burned. Two alarms. Fire reported 6:08 a.m. by telephone. Loss $68,500. E15, E5, T5, R1, E1, T6, E4 at 1. [MF] (February 13, 1974)rfd

City Council authorized sale of surplus fire alarm equipment, including 250 alarm boxes, 13 gongs, four registers, and one repeater. Purchasers include towns of Henderson, Lexington, and Thomasville. (March 18, 1974)ccm

Apparatus delivered:

  • 1973 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1593. Placed in service as Engine 4 on March 8
  • 1973 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1596. Placed in service as Engine 3 on March 12
  • 1973 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1595. Placed in service as Engine 9 on July 15
  • 1973 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1594. Placed in service as Engine 5 on July 22
    Photos and more information.

Authorized positions in 1974-75 budget (July 1, 1974)cb:

Administrative Assistant 1
Clerk-Stenographer II 1
Fire Training Chief 1
District Fire Chief 7
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Fire Inspector II 4
Deputy Fire Marshall 1
Fire Marshall 1
Fire Alarm Technician 2
Fire Equipment Mechanic 2
Fire Hydrant Maintenance Technician 1
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Fire Rescue Services Officer II 7
Fire Rescue Services Commander 1
Firefighter I 150
Firefighter II 63
Fire Captain 60
Total 291

Station 12 opened at 3409 Poole Road. Engine 12 placed in service with 1951 American LaFrance pumper. Photos and more information. (October 9, 1974)rfd

Station 14 opened at 4200 Lake Boone Trail. Engine 14 placed in service with 1951 American LaFrance pumper at 0942 hours. Photos and more information. (October 9, 1974)rfd

Apparatus notes: Tanker 9 moved to Station 14. (October 27, 1974)rfd

Apparatus delivered:

  • 1974 Chevrolet / Murphy rescue, placed in service as Rescue 9 on October 28
  • 1975 Chevrolet / Murphy rescue, placed in service as Rescue 1 on December 2, 1974
    Photos and more information.

Dark Side of the Moon nightclub at 400 Downtown Boulevard is destroyed by fire. Two alarms? Fire reported 2:52 a.m. E1, E1, T1. [MF?] (November 1, 1974)rt01nov74

Fire Chief Clarence Puryear died of a heart attack. Hundreds of firefighters, some from as far as Greensboro, attend the November 12 ceremony in a small church just off King Charles Road. Escorted by department vehicles, the procession passes Station 1 en route to Montlawn Memorial Park. (November 10, 1974)yb84

Rufus E. Keith appointed eleventh Fire Chief, serves 1974-1982. Keith joined the fire department in 1951. (After November 10, 1974)yb84

Apparatus note: Engine 15 renumbered Engine 13. (By November 26, 1974)rfd

Station 15 opened at 1815 Spring Forest Road. Engine 15 placed in service with 1961 American LaFrance pumper at 1800 hours. Photos and more information. (November 13, 1974)rfd

Class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court charging the fire department with racial discrimination in hiring and promotion practices. The suit is filed by current firefighters, two turned down for employment, and a former firefighter. (December 1974)no14dec74


First hydraulic rescue tools added, by June 1974.  Source: N&O, 7/29/74.  

New fiberglass rescue boats added by June 1974, part of twenty-four donated by Industrial Plastics of Louisburg to the seven rescue squads in Wake County. Source: N&O, 7/29/74.

1975

Nowell's Southern Furniture Store at 113 Wilmington Street burned. Damage to the 110 year-old building is estimated as $100,000. One firefighter is briefly hospitalized for smoke inhalation. [MF] (Tuesday before March 26, 1975)rt26mar75

Equipment note: Two rescue boats and trailers donated by Jeffries Auto Marina Service. The lightweight 14-foot aluminum boats replace a pair of heavier wooden ones. The donation originates from a conversation several months ago between Chief Keith and Mr. Jeffries, noting the difficulty in loading and unloading the rescue squad's wooden boats. Chief Keith noted to Mr. Jeffries that the older boats took six people to load and unload, and ten people to get the boats into hard-to-reach area. (April 1975)ccm

Moore's Building Supplies on Highway 401 south burned. Though outside the city, the building contracts fire protection from the Raleigh Fire Department. The alarm time is about 9:45 p.m. [MF?] (Tuesday before May 27, 1975)no27may75

Apparatus delivered:

  • 1975 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1767. Placed in service as Engine 11 on June 19, 1975.
  • 1975 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1768. Placed in service as Engine 2 on June 10, 1975.
    Photos and more information.

Three fire stations dedicated. Station 14 at 2:00 p.m., Station 15 at 3:30 p.m., and Station 12 at 5:00 p.m. (June 22, 1975)

Authorized positions in 1975-76 budget: (July 1, 1975)cb

Administrative Assistant II 1
Clerk- Stenographer II 1
Assistant Training Officer 1
Fire Training Chief 1
Fire District Chief 7
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Fire Inspector II 4
Deputy Fire Marshal 1
Fire Marshal 1
Fire Equipment Mechanic 2
Fire Hydrant Maintenance Technician 1
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Rescue Services Officer II 7
Rescue Services Commander 1
Firefighter I 150
Firefighter II 63
Fire Captain 60
Total 311

White Oil Company at 1114-1115 W. Lenoir Street burned. Flames threaten 140,000 gallons of fuel oil after truck backfire ignites fumes about 10:15 a.m. Blaze is brought under control in about an hour. Four firefighters are overcome by heat. Crash truck from Raleigh- Durham airport is also requested, but later turned back. [UF] (July 10, 1975)no11jul75

Apparatus delivered:

  • 1975 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1769. Placed in service as Engine 6 in July
  • 1975 Mack CF pumper, chassis 1770. Placed in service as Engine 12 in August
    Photos and more information.

The city Law and Finance Committee voted to draft an ordinance to repeal a fire code regulation prohibiting self-service gasoline pumps. (September 1975)

Troutman's College of Hair Styling at 202 1/2 Salisbury Street burned. The fire is reported at 3:55 a.m. Flames destroy the second floor of the building, but are prevented from spreading to Fidelity Bank next door. [MF?] (November 15, 1975)

Commercial building at 222 E. Martin Street burned. [MF] (December 2, 1975)

Asphalt tank exploded at the Department of Transportation maintenance yard on Old Trinity Road. One worker is killed while welding a safety platform onto the half-full, 10,000-gallon tank. The explosion sends a tremor heard in several offices on Blue Ridge Road. Flames leap 50 feet high and the black smoke is seen in downtown Raleigh. Responding departments include Fairgrounds, Cary, Cary Rural, Morrisville, Raleigh. [UF] (December 29, 1975)rt29dec75

1976

Chez Michael restaurant at 505 Hillsborough Street destroyed by fire. Two alarms. The fire is reported at 3:00 a.m. and takes three hours to control Firefighters are hindered by freezing temperatures with coat surfaces with ice. [MF] (January 19?, 1976)rt

Underground fire cistern unearthed by workman digging up Fayetteville Street. Brick structure built as early as 1852. (Saturday before January 27, 1976)no27jan76

Orchards Apartments at 1117 and 1119 Crab Orchard Drive burned. Five upstairs apartments destroyed and several others damaged during early Sunday morning fire. Former volunteer firefighter David R. Kelly, 22, credited with rousting people out of bed at 5 a.m. Damage estimated at more than $100,000. Cause is not immediately known. [MF] (Sunday before February 10, 1976)no

Woman shot and man was held hostage at Albemarle Building. Jeffrey Hugh Lee, 22, sneaks rifle into state office building, shoots his wife four times, and forces her supervisor to lie beside her for about an hour before surrendering to police. Incident occurs around 8:30 a.m. Police evacuate many employees, though some workers lock themselves in offices and refuse to move. The Police Department's six-person Selective Enforcement Team is readied with tear gas and other special weapons, but is not deployed in the actual rescue. Sherry Hedrick Lee, 21, is later reported in critical but stable condition after surgery for four chest wounds from a.22 caliber rifle. Shooter is charged with kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, resulting in serious bodily injury. Lee had filed a missing persons report recently with the Wake County Sheriff's Department, after his wife walked out on him at a restaurant. He had seen neither her nor his baby since. His wife, Lee says, had been depressed for the past three weeks because her application to join the Raleigh Police Department was rejected as she weighed 110 pounds and could not be hired unless she weighed at least 116. [UI] (February 16, 1976)no18feb76

Pine State Creamery on West Street burned. Warehouse portion of building destroyed during three-alarm fire. Alarm is received at 9:49 p.m. and firefighters battle blaze for about 50 minutes before confining fire to 300 by 250 foot section of building. Warehouse is fully-involved upon arrival and is declared worst of year by Fire Chief Rufus Keith. Shortly after arrival, a 30-foot wall on the east side of the warehouse cracks in several places. Firefighters evacuate the area, though the wall remains intact. Blaze is battled both inside structure and from outside, using aerial-mounted master streams and from a steep railroad embankment beside the building. Fire is brought under control shortly after 10:30 p.m. Four engine and three truck companies respond, with additional equipment requested twice. [MF] (February 16, 1976)no18feb76

Pine State Creamery on West Street burned again. Second fire reported at 11:35 p.m. in section of building housing ice-cream ingredients. Fire wall separates section of building from warehouse area, where firefighters are continuing to douse embers just 200 feet away. Burning area measures 10,000 square feet. Flames burn through roof and threaten to topple ammonia containers on top of the building. Police evacuate entire block bounded by Glenwood Avenue, West Street, Tucker Street, and North Street. Residents of Glenwood Towers, located downwind from the fire, are told to keep their windows closed to avoid possible ammonia fumes should the containers burst. Several firefighters suffer minor burns from ammonia. Police and State Bureau of Investigation assist with investigation of Pine State Creamery fires. Arson is suspected both in Pine State fires and other fires in past week, including the pine-straw fire at Ferguson's Hardware Store, and small fires at North Carolina State University, the NC Library for the Blind, and Broughton High School. Police think a single suspect may be responsible. Fire later called accidental. Investigation indicates employee smoking marijuana on the job accidentally started both fires, which occurred in areas where smoking was prohibited as they contain wax-coated cardboard containers and other materials that "drip when they catch fire and spread the blaze to other areas." [MF] (February 17, 1976)no

City Council adopted plan for ambulance service jointly funded by the city and the county. The plan calls for four new ambulances to be purchased and located at Stations 1, 2, 3, 9, 14, and 15. The city would hire and train 24 new firemen for the program, and also use existing fire department rescue vehicles. (April-May, 1976)

Authorized positions in 1975-76 budget: (July 1, 1976)cb

Administrative Assistant II 1
Clerk-Stenographer II 1
Assistant Training Officer 1
Fire Training Chief 1
Fire District Chief 7
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Fire Inspector II 4
Deputy Fire Marshal 1
Fire Marshal 1
Fire Equipment Mechanic 3
Fire Hydrant Maintenance Technician 1
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Rescue Services Officer II 7
Rescue Services Commander 1
Firefighter I 156
Firefighter II 66
Fire Captain 60
Total 322

Apparatus notes:

  • Rescue 1 removed from service.
  • Rescue 3 placed in service with 1975 Chevy/Murphy ambulance. Photos and more information. (July 28, 1976)rfd

The Lakes apartments off Sandy Forks Road burned. Four apartments are destroyed and eight are damaged by the fire, reported about 11:30 a.m. [MF] (September 24, 1976)rt24sep76

City-wide fire drill conducted. The fire department's 22 pieces of apparatus were driven through neighborhoods with their sirens sounding simultaneously at 8:00 p.m., signaling residents to practice fire drills. They are one part of the observance of Fire Prevention Week. (Thursday after October 2, 1976)rt02oct76

The elimination of nine Captain positions was announced by City Manager Lawrence P. Zachary. The cuts are announced as part of 60 jobs being eliminated by January. The nine Captain positions are eliminated from the three service ladder truck companies. (October 5, 1976)no06oct76

The vacant Biggs Place mansion at Old Wake Forest and New Hope Church roads burned. The 3:45 p.m. fire is fought for about three hours. The house was built in 1920 and was once a country club named Hardimont. [MF] (Sunday before December 6, 1976)rt06dec76


From the 1975-76 annual report: "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." Read the entire excerpt.

Fire department started implementing First Responder and Emergency Medical Technical (EMT) program. Special training is conducted for instructors, followed by classroom and practical training for firefighters. Station 1 and Station 3 personnel are the first to receive training, and begin using their skills in the field in the summer of 1977. The Raleigh Fire Department participated in a pilot program sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. It required the nearest fire engine to respond to every emergency call in Raleigh involving a life-threatening situation.yb12

1977

Third District Chief position created. Three-district system replaces two-district system in effect since 1971. Car 4 is placed in service at Station 4. (around January 1, 1977)rfd

Baker Roofing Company warehouse on Martin Street burns. Fire is reported at 12:15 p.m. and destroys rear third of warehouse before being brought under control about 1:00 p.m. [MF] (January 3, 1977)no04jan77

Eighteen Year Fire Protection Program published by the Planning Department. The document proposes:

  • Two year plan, 1978-1979
    Construction of Fire Station 16 in Crabtree Valley/Lead Mine Road area, engine company.
    Construction of Fire Station 17 in Lake Johnson area, engine and ladder company.
  • Six year plan, 1980-1983
    Construction of Fire Station 18 in Oak Park area, engine and ladder company.
    Construction of Fire Station 19 near city landfill on Highway 64 east, engine and ladder company.
    Construction of Fire Station 20 near Mini City on Highway 1 north, engine company.
  • Eighteen year plan, 1984-1995
    Construction of Fire Station 21 in northwest neighborhood, engine company.
    Construction of Fire Station 22 in Buffaloe Road/New Hope Road area, engine and ladder company.
    Construction of Fire Station 23 on Falls of Neuse Road north, engine company.

Read the report. (January 1977)

The Keg at 3104 Hillsborough Street burned. Believed started in a trash can behind the building, the early Saturday morning fire heavily damages the tavern. An adjoining game room receives smoke damage and a 1975 Vega is also destroyed. [MF?] (March 12, 1977)no, rt

Recruit class started. The eight firefighters become the first firefighters required to pass EMT certification as part of their training. Note: This class is not numbered, and pre-dates Recruit Class #1 in 1978. (April 4, 1977)yb12

Apparatus delivered: 1977 Mack CF Aerialscope, later placed in service as Truck 1. First aerial platform for fire department. Photos and more information. (by June 8, 1977)yb84, no08jun77

Private plane crashed on Ridge Road after striking steeple of Highland United Methodist Church. Accident occurs about 5:48 p.m., the aircraft crashing into the front yard of a house a block away from the church. The pilot's body is thrown clear of the crash, across a driveway, and into a chain link fence. No fire is discovered at either the church or the crash. Neighbors plug the leaking fuel tank with sticks and begin searching for the pilot's body. Twisted piece of metal remains draped on peak of church roof, while shattered parts of aircraft are scattered throughout yard of residence at 1924 Ridge Road. The aircraft was returning from a brief flight to Durham Sky Park when radio communications were lost at 5:10 p.m. At 5:53 p.m., the Raleigh-Durham Airport tower was notified of the crash by the police. [AA] (June 19, 1977)no20jun77

Mass-cauality incdent at Royal Villa Hotel on Highway 70. As many as 200 people attending a convention became ill. Fire department rescue units assisted area rescue squads with transporting victims to Rex Hospital, Wake Medical Center, and Durham County General Hospital. Physicians believed food poisoning was the cause, as the victims suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. More than 100 emergency workers and nine ambulances shuttled patients back and forth between Rex Hospital, Wake Medical Center, and Durham County General Hospital. Rescue squads units involved included Raleigh, Six Forks, Wendell, Cary, Clayton, Butner, Wake EMS, and the private ambulance service Medical Transport. [UI] (June 30, 1977)no30jun77

Fire Department and city Inspections Department performed first joint inspections, as part of crackdown on safety violations in bars, clubs, restaurants, and other places of public assembly. The imitative is influenced in part by a recent nightclub fire in Kentucky that killed 162 people and injured hundreds of others on May 28, 1977. (June 1977)rt21jun77, yb12

Authorized positions in 1976-77 budget (July 1, 1977)cb

Administrative Assistant II 1
Clerk-Stenographer II 1
Assistant Training Officer 1
Fire Training Chief 1
Fire District Chief 10
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Fire Inspector II 4
Deputy Fire Marshal 1
Fire Marshal 1
Fire Equipment Mechanic 3
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Rescue Services Officer II 6
Rescue Services Commander 1
Firefighter I 161
Firefighter II 69
Fire Captain 57
Total 326

Firefighters started using EMT skills in the field. This follows the certification of the first group of First Responder trainees. (Around August 1977)yb12

Gasoline tanker overturned and burned on Beltline ramp at New Bern Avenue. Raleigh responds with one unit, assisting New Hope and Knightdale fire departments. [TF] (August 6, 1977)no07aug77

Apollo Heights Community Center at 759 Lunar Drive burned. Arson is blamed in 12:30 a.m. fire that guts wooden-roofed structure. Damage is estimated at over $10,000. [MF] (December 11, 1977)rt12dec77

1978

Officer training started for conducting in-service inspections of all occupancy types. (February 1978)

Recruit academy #1 graduates 7 firefighters. The academy started February 1 and lasted 10 weeks. (April 11, 1978)rfd

Broadmoor Apartments at 1727 Gorman Street burned. Four units are damaged by the 10:00 a.m. fire that is extinguished after noon. [MF] (June 11, 1978)rt11jun78

First female firefighters entered department. Eight women hired. (July 10, 1978)yb84, rfd

Authorized positions in 1977-78 budget (July 1, 1978)cb:

Secretary II 1
Administrative Assistant II 1
Fire District Chief 10
Fire Assistant Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Assistant Fire Training Chief 1
Fire Training Chief 1
Fire Inspector 4
Fire Marshal 1
Firefighter I 167
Firefighter II 69
Fire Captain 57
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Fire Equipment Mechanic 3
Total 325

Apparatus notes:

  • Rescue 3 moved to Station 12.
  • Rescue 9 moved to Station 14. (July 24, 1978)rfd
  • Car 4 moved to Station 9 (around July 24, 1978)rfd

Tyler Hall at Shaw University burned. Lightning starts the 8:54 p.m. fire in the 1910 building that originally housed Leonard Hospital, part of the college's medical school that closed in 1918. [MF] (July 31, 1978)no, rt

Recruit academy #2 graduates 12 firefighters. The academy started July 10 and lasted 10 weeks. The graduation ceremony is conducted in the City Council Chambers. (September 21, 1978)rfd

Recruit academy #3 graduates 25 firefighters. The academy started September 18 and lasted 12 weeks. The graduation ceremony is conducted in the City Council Chambers. (December 8, 1978)rfd

Fairway Apartments at 4803 New Hope Road burned. Raleigh responds as mutual aid to the fast-moving fire that destroys 12 units at 5119 New Hope Road, a half-mile north of the Raleigh city limits. About 100 firefighters and 10 trucks from New Hope, Raleigh, and Rolesville battle the blaze. Damaged is estimated at about $250,000. [MF] (December 30, 1978)no, rt


City officials agreed to five-year plan to improve hiring and promotion of women and blacks, after Federal Office of Revenue Sharing threatens to cut off revenue sharing grants. City agrees to file annual progress reports. rt

1979

Station 16 opened at 5526 Leadmine Road. Engine 16 placed in service with 1978 Mack CF pumper. Photos and more information. (February 9, 1979)rt08feb79

State Sports Center at 3112 Hillsborough Street burned. The recreation center is totally destroyed by the 5 a.m. blaze that takes two hours to control. Due to freezing temperatures, a sheet of ice over an inch thick forms in the 3000 block of Hillsborough Street. Police block the road from Dixie Trail to Henderson Street and trucks begin pouring salt on the street about 9 a.m. [MF] (February 10, 1979)rt10feb79

Office building at 505 Oberlin Road burned. [MF] (March 14, 1979)

First Class Firefighter position created. City Council votes in December 1978 to create the rank as an incident promotion for firefighters, and over the objections of City Manager L. P. Zachary Jr., who argued that the rank had no parallel new duties, and was not needed to reduce turnover. The position is created as a promotion between Firefighter I, the entry-level position, and Firefighter II, or engine-driver. Promotion to First Class will result in an automatic five-percent salary increase. Council members argued that the position was needed because of the number of firefighters who quit at rank of Firefighter I, and because a similar position exists in the Police Department. The new rank carries no special duties beyond those of Firefighter I, except that First Class Firefighters can serve as substitute drivers, when drivers are absent. The Raleigh Fire Fighters Association had also been pressing for the new rank in recent years. In March 1979, City Council killed a proposal to link the promotion to Emergency Medical Technician certification. The proposal was made by the City Manager. But council asked the City Manager to study whenever the EMT exam should be required for any promotion in the fire department, or especially for promotion of firefighters hired in the future. (March 20, 1979)ccm, no15dec78, no16mar79

Truck 7 collided with car at intersection of Raleigh Boulevard and Milburnie Road. The accident occurs about 6:25 p.m. as Engine 7 and Truck 7 are answering a fire alarm at Holly Hill Hospital. The sole occupant of the car is subsequently extricated by firefighters and transported to Wake Medical Center. [AI] (May 31, 1979)no01jun79, rt01jun79

Apparatus notes:

  • Truck 6 removed from service. Moved to Station 16.
  • Truck 16 placed in service with 1964 GMC service truck. Photos and more information. (June 8, 1979)rfd

Recruit academy #4 graduates 10 firefighters. The academy started March 12 and lasted 16 weeks. The graduation ceremony is conducted in the City Council Chambers. (June 29, 1979)rfd

Authorized positions in 1979-80 budget: (July 1, 1979)cb

Secretary II 1
Administrative Assistant 1
District Fire Chief 10
Assistant Fire Chief 2
Fire Chief 1
Assistant Fire Training Chief 1
Fire Training Chief 1
Fire Rescue Service Commander 1
Fire Equipment Mechanic 3
Fire Inspector 4
Fire Marshall 1
Firefighter I 99
Firefighter II 69
First Class Firefighter 68
Fire Captain 57
Fire Rescue Officer 6
Total 325

House at 3108 Beaufort Street burned. The $100,000 home is set aflame with a woman and two children inside after the front door is nailed shut and the telephone lines severed. The children are shot at as they escape and run for help. The husband is charged with arson. Damage to the 13-room home is extensive. Fire is reported at 7:53 p.m. [UF] (October 7, 1979)no08oct79

Montague Building at 128-138 E. Hargett Street burned. Arson is suspected in minor blaze, reported at 7:39 p.m. Second fire is reported at same time in vacant shed about 75 yards across a parking lot. When police arrive on scene, a third fire is discovered burning behind Baker's Shoe Store at 100 E. Hargett Street. [UF] (October 14, 1979)rt15oct79

Southern Railway freight train derailed downtown. Nine cars derail about 1 p.m. near Jones Street crossing, near the midpoint of "148-car, four-diesel train traveling north from Spencer to Southern's Raleigh yard." One boxcar collides with rear of Orthopedic Service Company on Glenwood Avenue, briefly burying at least one worker who escapes injury. Damage to building is estimated at $50,000 or $60,000. Firefighters lay hose as precaution against gas leak from liquid propane fuel tank used to unthaw track switch in winter. Poles and wires for a "railroad telephone system" are also knocked down. Railway cars block Southern-Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company main line route, forcing Amtrak to bus passengers on Miami-bound Silver Star from Petersburg, VA to Hamlet, NC. Derailed cars include flatcar full of lumber, flatcar carrying three US Army trucks, boxcar full of plastic trays, and three tank cars filled with clay slurry. [RA] (November 6, 1979)yb84, no07nov79



Abbreviations

[AA]   Aircraft accident
[AI]   Apparatus incident
[EF]   Early fire
[HM]   Haz-mat incident
[MA]   Mutual Aid
[MF]   Major fire
[RA   Railway accident
[TF]   Tanker fire
[TR]   Technical rescue
[UD]   USAR deployment
[UF]   Unusual fire
[UI]   Unusual incident
[WE]   Weather event

Sources

ar   City of Raleigh Annual Report
bd   City of Raleigh budget documents
cvh   Cameron Village: A History 1949-1999, Nan Hutchins, Sprit Press, 2001
cad City of Raleigh Auditor's Office
ccm / cm   City Council Minutes / City Minutes
ccor   1792-1892, The Centennial Celebration of Raleigh, NC, Kemp D. Battle, Edwards and Broughton, 1893
cer   Chief Engineer's Report
dah   North Carolina Department of Archives and History
dahni   North Carolina Department of Archives and History News and Observer index
fp   City of Raleigh Fire Protection Study
hr   Historical Raleigh with Sketches of Wake County and its Important Towns, Moss N. Amis, 1912
oh   Oral History
mjlr   Mike Legeros records.
mp   Morning Post
nc   North Carolinian
no   News and Observer
noi   News and Observer Index
pb   Peter Brock
pph   Pullen Park History
rla   Raleigh Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary scrapbooks
rpu   Raleigh Fire Department Photo Unit records
rr   Raleigh Register
rt   Raleigh Times
ruh   Raleigh: An Unorthodox History
yb84   Raleigh Fire Department 1984, Raleigh Fire Department, Taylor Publishing, 1984
yb02+   Raleigh Fire and Rescue: 1984-2002, Raleigh Fire Department, Taylor Publishing, 2002, plus additional historical information also compiled by the Raleigh Fire Department around 2002.
wch   Wake: Capital County of North Carolina - Volume 1, Prehistory Through Centennial, Elizabeth Reid Murray, Capital County Publishing, 1983


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