Raleigh Fire Department Training Towers


By Mike Legeros


1896 - Headquarters Fire Station constructed at 112 West Morgan Street. The two-story building includes a ten-square-foot bell tower used for hose drying and training.1.1 Drills include climbing the outside of the tower with scaling ladders.1.2 By the 1930s, the city wants to demolish the tower, which is several inches off-center. Considered cost-prohibitive, the tower is finally removed in March 1938 during construction of an addition to the adjacent Revenue Building. Contractor H. L. Coble can´┐Żt get his trucks through the seven-foot alley between the buildings, so the wrecking job is performed for free. 1.3 The rest of the station is condemned by the city building inspector the next year and demolished in 1941. The property is sold to the state for $35,000 and the Morgan Street lot is used for expansion of the Revenue Building. Station 1 relocates to old Station 2 at 412 South Salisbury Street.     

1932 - Memorial Auditorium constructed in the 700 block of Fayetteville Street. The Greek Doric-designed building, both dedicated and transferred to the city on August 14, 1932, includes a fire station under the stage. Facing Fayetteville Street, the station includes two apparatus bays, an officer's room, and sleeping quarters.2.1 The stage and rear part of the auditorium building are designed for use as a "fire school room" and drill tower, which State Fire Marshall and former Raleigh fire chief Sherwood Brockwell claims is the largest in the country.2.2 Both the rear of the building and the large apparatus apron are used for training. Exercises include jumping off the side of the auditorium into the life net. Station 5 on Park Drive is also a training site at this time. Light traffic on both Oberlin Road and Park Drive allows the street to be used for hose drills. After the construction of a drill tower in 1954, most training is subsequently conducted there. Station 2 is relocated to 263 Pecan Road on October 16, 1969.


1954 - Drill tower constructed on Highway 15-A South, now South Wilmington Street. The five-story, 20-square-foot tower costs $30,000, including pavement,3.1 and is completed in the summer.3.2 The structure includes a standpipe system, a safety net, and an exterior escape. Early drills include "ladder and net work" with "occasional jumps from the windows,"3.3 though only from the first two floors. Later additions to the training grounds include fire pits, hydrants, and a smokehouse. Added by August 1964,3.4 the approximately 1,190 square-foot smokehouse is built with bricks from Old Station 5 on Park Drive. Firefighters from both Raleigh and Wake County train on the tower for decades, along with other area fire and rescue agencies. The adjacent Keeter Training Center opens in May 1982 at 105 West Hoke Street, now Keeter Center Drive. The 7,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to former Fire Chief and Mayor Pro Tem Jack B. Keeter. With the exterior escape condemned in its last years, the tower is demolished in April 2005.


2006 - A five-story replacement tower and residential simulator opens in April.



1.1Raleigh Times, January 16, 1913

1.2Raleigh Times, October 1, 1915

1.3News & Observer, March 4, 1938

2.1News & Observer, August 14, 1932

2.2News & Observer, August 13, 1936

3.1Raleigh Times, November 5, 1955

3.2News & Observer, March 15, 1954

3.3Raleigh Times, August 6, 1956

3.4Raleigh Times, August 13, 1964







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Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros