Raleigh Fire Department Smokehouse History

In 1926, the Raleigh Fire Department opened two new engine houses: Station 4 on Jefferson Street, north of downtown, and Station 5 on Park Drive, west of downtown. The property for Station 5 was purchased on November 16, 1925 for $4,275.00. The construction bid was awarded on July 6, 1926 for $9,875.00. Built to resemble a house, Station 5 measured about 30 by 40 feet. Its single bay, housing a 1920s American LaFrance pumper, faced Oberlin Road.


In 1961, a new Station 5 was erected beside the existing one. Engine 5 relocated to Station 6 as the new building was finished, and the old building demolished. Firefighters performed the demolition, and saved the materials to be used later. Fire Chief Jack Keeter was recognized by the City Council for saving the city money on the cost of tearing down the structure.


In 1964, the bricks from old Station 5 were used to construct a smokehouse beside the training tower in south Raleigh. Firefighters, including companies from Station 1, cleaned the bricks, laid the foundation, and raised the building. As the name suggests, the smokehouse was used by firefighters to practice operating in a smoke-filled environment. Wood palettes and other materials were burned, with personnel participating in drills, both with and without breathing apparatus.


In 1982, a classroom building opened on the training grounds. The building was dedicated as the Keeter Training Center, now the name of the entire facility. By the late 1980s, live-fire training was discontinued at the smokehouse. It subsequently served as a storage building. The building was painted over the years by fire department recruits, including in 1989 and 1997.


In 2002, an entanglement/collapse simulator was built and added in the rear room on the first floor. The rest of the building continued to be used for storage, by both the Training and Services divisions. In 2006, a cascade system for refilling air bottles was installed in the rear room of the first floor. The building continued to be utilized for select training activities, such as "facility" haz-mat training.


In 2008, the smokehouse was renovated. The roof was replaced, the second floor storage area was expanded, and the rear metal stairs were replaced, along with other upgrades.





(Tue) March 24, 1964

0800. Eng #1 & Truck #1 went to tower to clean bricks. 4 hours.

1300. Eng #1 & Truck #1 went [back] to drill tower to clean bricks. Returned to station at 1630.


(Sun) March 29, 1964

0900. Eng #10 went to tower to dig footing for smokehouse.

1200. Eng #10 return to quarters.

1300. Eng #10 went back to tower to pour cement footing for smokehouse.

1530. Eng #10 return to quarters.


(Thu) May 7, 1964

0815. Eng #10 working at drill tower.

1150. Eng #10 returned to quarters.

1300. Eng #1 working at drill tower.

1615. Eng #1 returned to quarters.


(Wed) May 27, 1964

0800. Eng #1 & Eng #10 went to drill tower for 3 hours.


(Mon) August 3, 1964

0900. Eng #1 went to drill tower and drilled in smokehouse on use of breathing equipment.


Excerpts from Station #1 log book.






Compiled by Mike Legeros

August 28, 2008