Last updated January 20, 2020
- Added delivery and in-service dates for new CFR 1.
- Added references to 1957 pick-up, purchased as replacement
for 1952 dry-chemical unit.
- Moved all linked crash information to new site at
- Restored a number of incidents, notably crashes and hard
landings with minor or no injuries, or minor damage.
1939, North Carolina
General Assembly authorizes construction the airport, through
the chartering of the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority,
comprised of the City of Raleigh, City of Durham, Wake County, and
1941, Just after workers break
ground, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. The federal government takes
over the facility for use during World War II. Nine days later, work
begins around the clock on Raleigh-Durham Army Air Base (December
1941, Raleigh-Durham Army Air Field becomes
operational. Has barracks and three runways. Serves as training
facility for Army Air Corps. (May 1, 1943)
Raleigh-Durham Airport opens. Eastern Airlines is permitted
use of the airfield. First
commercial flight is DC-3, southbound from New
York to Miami. (May 1, 1943) rdu-ws
1945, Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority is
renamed Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.
1946, Raleigh-Durham Airport is returned to the
airport authority. The airport has 1,223 acres of land.
1947, fire protection needs noted in October 26
edition of the Durham Morning Herald. "One of the crying needs" upon
close inspection of the airport is "provision for firefighting
facilities." There's no apparently fire equipment at the field, and
the airport relies upon units from Raleigh or Durham. Nor are there
personnel trained for fighting fires. "The problem is not in
securing the actual equipment but in maintaining trained personnel
necessary for the work." The Field Manager is quoted as saying he's
"negotiating" for a "crash truck and a fire truck" that would be
manned by "present field personnel" as a "step in the right
direction." (October 1947)dmh26oct47
1947, the airport is described in the prior October
1947 story as having three runways (one or more are 4,500-foot
long), 90-foot wide taxiways, instrument landing equipment for ILS
approaches, and a 75-foot control tower. The small terminal has 60
seats in the waiting room, and a restaurant that seats 32 people.
The terminal ramp can accommodate six airplanes at one time. Two
airlines serve the airport, with 21 flights daily, carrying
passengers, freight, and mail. Navy and Army Air Corps planes also
use the field, along with private pilots and students using the
three flight schools at the field. In August 1947, a total of 6,844
lands were made, including 1,506 air carriers, 88 Navy planes, 41
AAF plans, 659 civilian itinerant, and 4,550 civilian local.
1948, the Army Air Corps ceases using the airport as
a training facility. However, a military presence either remains or
returns, as a National Guard hangar is operating at the airport by
July 31, 1951. (January 1, 1948.)dmh31jul51
1951, Air Force Sabre fighter
crash lands. Aircraft bursts into
flames after striking concrete runway at 120 miles an hour. Second Lieutenant Coy Austin springs from cockpit of burning craft
after plowing almost 4,500 feet along runway. He is
uninjured, having made the emergency landing due to engine failure
at 35,000 feet 20 miles north of Raleigh. The plane lands
wheels-up and friction ignites two wing-tip fuel tanks. Airport
firefighters save the aircraft from a total loss (April 1, 1951)
C-47 transport crashes in Crabtree Park. Just before midnight
on January 2, 1953, an Army C-47 transport plane crashed in Crabtree
Park while attempting an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham
Airport. Read narratives.
(January 2, 1953)rt03jan53, no04jan53,
notes. Fire equipment consists of:
- 1946 International/Bean pumper, likely former Army Class 125,
which were originally equipped with John Bean multi-piston pump,
50-60 GPM at 600 PSI, 300 gallons water, 20 gallons foam.
- 1952 Chevrolet pick-up with
skid-mounted dual-agent system, 400 pounds dry-chemical. (October 1, 1955)oh, faj,
1955, the first terminal
opens. Fire department is described as:
- Led by R. S. Page "of the Leesville Road."
- Page and three others are paid.
- Three men provide twenty-four hour protection, and work
alternating shifts: Herman C. Porter of Durham, Tom Lynn of
Neuse, and Ural Wright of Chapel Hill.
- One man "can always be found on duty" and "when an emergency
call is sounded, it's his job to see that the equipment gets to
the right spot at the shortest possible time." They "take charge
of the volunteers" in the event of an emergency. They also have
"regular jobs at the airport."
- Rest of department is volunteer, members who "hold other
jobs at the airport." One member is Bill Price of Eastern Air
Lines ground operations.
- "Crash crews" hold frequent/periodic drills.
- Apparatus stored in temporary quarters, in "the hangar
building next to the new terminal building."
- Future plans "call for a separate building to be erected to
house the fire-fighting equipment."
- (October 1, 1955)dmh01oct55, no??sep55
1955, Morrisville Fire
Department organized. Future mutual aid responder to airport.
1950s, mid (?), fire station building
southwest of airport terminal, on then- or later-named South Ramp. One-story structure with three bays
and office space on northeast side. See maps &
diagrams. Built perhaps 1956 to 1958, based on fixtures and
purchase. New Chevrolet three-quarter ton pick-up, painted
safety yellow, and with dry-chemical equipment moved (or replaced
from?) the 1952 unit, which was repurposed as a utility truck for
the airport. (July 1957)ds16jul57, ds17jul57
1959 - News story in the July 23, 1959, issue of the Durham Sun
mentions that the National Guard also has a fire truck at the
airport, a "$28,000 water-foam truck" that it proposes to replace
with a larger and more expense ($62,000) one" for use at a proposed
new facility. The story adds that the National Guard is seeking a
40-year lease on another 20 acres of land at the airport, to "set up
an Aviation Company there." The airports fire equipment is described
as "two small crash trucks" that "are manned by volunteer
personnel." (July 1959)dmh23jul59
1961, Airport Authority sends letter to Wake County Board of
Commissioners, stating that they have "taken cognizance of the
inadequacy of Airport fire-crash equipment to deal with a large
aircraft fire disaster" and are seeking to remedy the situation.
They presently own "one pickup truck equipped with a dry chemical
unit and one small foam truck," which are limited to "small
fire-crash situations." But they are "without current funds to
acquire heavy fire-crash equipment" due to their funds committed to
retiring their revenue bond debt, and that "financial burden of
airport improvement and development will undoubtedly prevail and
encumber airport funds for several years." Thus they request the
letter be sent to Col. David L. Harbee, Director of Civil Defense,
to see if there's any "federal surplus participation" that "could be
used in this sort of emergency." (February 17, 1961)wcboc
1961, County Civil Defense Director sends letter to
Wake County Board of Commissioners, nothing that new firefighting
equipment "cannot be procured through civil defense on a government
matching funds basis, and their only chance to be of help in this
request would be to procure this equipment through the Surplus
Property Depot, as they have been issuing some fire fighting
equipment for the County's rural fire departments and that he will
attempt to justify its issuance for the Raleigh-Durham Airport.
(February 24, 1961)wcboc minutes, 06mar61
1962, fire protection equipment described in
February 6 edition of the Durham Sun. The airport has two pieces of
- "Small capacity foam truck"
- Pick-up truck with 600-gallong (pound?) dry-chemical tank,
with a "five or six minute duration for retarding the spread of
Also available are two fire trucks at the National Guard hangar:
- "Walters type 1500 foam truck" which can also pump water.
- "Medium-sized water truck."
The Airport Manager is quoted as saying "we believe that we are
in pretty good shape" to handle fires. He says there are at least
two men on duty at all times, to serve as firemen, plus "other
terminal personnel on hand" where there's more air traffic and more
planes landing. Their fire equipment is housed in a building, which
was "paid for by local funds." (Versus by federal funds, which the
federal program at the time now includes.) He notes "we were one of
the first airports to put up a fire-crash building" to house the
equipment. "We have led in this through the years" and "where it has
had to be used, it has been used successfully on small craft." He
adds that the FAA is making a study of firefighting needs (at the
airport?) and "there probably will be some changes in the
recommendations." The context of the story is a recent crash at the
Greensboro-High Point airport that killed all seven men aboard an
Air Force plane. (February 6, 1962)ds06feb62
1963, 930th [?] Air Force Reserve Recovery Squadron relocates to
airport, after operating out of a former USO building on Morris
Street in Durham. The squadron has been conducting part of their
training operations at the airport for the past year. They occupy a
building southwest of the US Weather Bureau station, in part of a
space that was formerly occupied by Carolina Air Traders. They also
staff a crash truck, cited in earlier articles as a "Walters type
1500 foam truck." (July 1963)ds15jul53
1964, Durham Highway
Fire Department organized. Future mutual aid responder to
twin-engine private plane crashes on take-off. Aircraft is
"completely wrecked" after coming down in a "sandy
area" past the runway. Four residents from Silver Springs,
Maryland, escape injury, breaking windows in craft and climbing
out. After walking "about a mile, " they reach the
runway and flag down a United Airlines plane "ready to
take-off. " At about the same time, a search party
"organized at the airport terminal" reaches them reports
the February 21 edition of The Raleigh Times. (February 21,
1965, commercial jet services begins with Eastern
Airlines Boing 727 service.
1965, FATAL, private
plane crashes into lake at Umstead State Park while attempting
landing at airport. Five people killed after landing in
freezing waters about two miles south of airport. Searching
party finds body of woman floating near the plane. Crash
occurs between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Plane is found in middle of
55-acre lake, submerged except for portion of tail. (February 25, 1965) no26feb65
FATAL, one-person rotorcraft crashes. Pilot is killed during
low-altitude, high-speed maneuver as part of final day of third
annual Popular Rotocraft Association fly-in. Aircraft crashes
around noon from some 20 feet off the ground. (June 27,
FATAL, one-person rotorcraft crashes on east end of east-west runway.
is killed instantly when aircraft plummets an estimated 1,500
feet. Accident occurs about 11:30 a.m. (October 22, 1966)
1967, fire department summary from Report on the
Master Plan for Raleigh-Durham Airport (July 15, 1967):
- The Airport Authority maintains
personnel on the airport 24 hours daily. These men are
trained in the theory of Fire-Crash-Rescue and the use of
dry chemicals, foam, and CO2 equipment.
- The equipment
available consists of a pick-up truck carrying 600 pounds of
dry chemical and a pump truck carrying 300 gallons of water
than can be converted to foam. it is planned to acquire a
"light water-dry chemical" truck in the future.
- Crash crews
are composed of Airport Authority personnel who are
instructed daily in the use of the equipment and with life
fire at frequent intervals. V
- various personnel from the
airlines volunteer when emergencies occur; however,
arrangements to give these people training in theory and use
of equipment is in direct ratio to the frequency of
emergency or "crash calls."
passenger plane suffers nose wheel collapse. United
Airlines Viscount spews "sheet of flame" from front of
plane on landing as it skids to a halt, reports the November 29
edition of The Raleigh Times. Crash crews extinguish flames
immediately. Four person are treated at Wake Memorial Hospital,
including one woman who suffers a skinned knee from using the
canvas escape chute. The incident occurs about 9 p. m. The flight
is inbound from Washington D.C. (November 28, 1967)
FATAL, twin-engine private plane crashes on take-off, crashing
about a half-mile away from the front of the main terminal. One
passenger killed; two others injured. Incident occurs about 12: 20
a.m. Aircraft is headed west and crashes about 2,300 feet
from the end of the runway, having veered around 750 feet to the
left. (December 16, 1968) no17dec68
1969, apparatus bid awarded. Contract awarded to
Southeastern Safety Appliance Company of Charlotte, low bidder of
$32,256.50, for a new dry-chemical/light-water crash truck. One of
three bids received on July 30. Durham Morning Herald story says
that the current crash truck "employs dry chemicals and a small
mobile foam generator" and has been "successful in fighting two
blazes resulting from non-commercial plane crashes in recent years."
However, the truck's success was "due more to the speed and
efficiency of the emergency crew" than to the equipment on the
truck. And the Airport Manager, speaking at an earlier Airport
Authority meeting, emphasized the "necessity of speed in handling
airport emergencies" and said "the intense heat generated in a jet
crash could kill occupants of the plane in less than a minute."
(August 5, 1969)dmh06aug69
delivery: 1969 International/Ansul
Magnum 480 crash truck with 1350 pounds of Purple K dry chemical
and 200 gallons of light water. Placed in service as CT-2. (September 1969) faj, oh
1969, the airport's fire rating changes upon
delivery of new crash truck. Rating is raised from "B" to "A" for
three weeks, then drops back to "B" when an Eastern Air Lines DC-8
lands. Airport Manager Henry Road tells Raleigh Times in September
24, 1969, story that "ideas are being kicked around to bring the
airport back to an 'A' rating, but so far everything is being
'played by ear." New crash truck is operated by "sales service
personnel" at the airport who are trained on the new truck. The "old
equipment" will be retained. That includes "converted foam generator
World War II brush fire fighter, 650 pounds of dry chemical, and
Purple K fire extinguishers on all airport vehicles." (September 24,
FATAL, twin-engine private plane crashes south of Interstate 40. All
five passengers killed while aircraft attempts landing in fog.
Late-night crash site is not discovered until morning. (April 2,
1970, summary of fire department from
Feasibility Studies Raleigh-Durham Airport, June 1970:
- Safety equipment available at the Airport includes:
- Ansul 480 Mangum light water/Purple k truck with a
capacity of 1,350 pounds Purple k plus 200 gallons light
- crash truck with 300 gallons of water and 30 gallons
- pick-up truck with 600 pounds of Purple K
- 5,000 gallon tractor-trailer foam generator now
under construction and modification.
1970, circa, apparatus
acqusition: 1959 Walter Class 1500 crash truck, 1500/950/200,
former US Army. Placed in service as CT-3. Almost certainly was the Walter Class
1500 crash truck formerly operated by the National Guard, and housed
at their hangar since at least 1962.
Notes military fire historian Ted Heinbuch: In the
early 1960s, the Army had an excess of these trucks. They were
offered to the Air Force, which declined due to the large amount of
money it would take to bring the trucks up to USAF standards. Notes
Walter history book author Mark Simiele, many of the retired trucks
were sold to civilian airports in like-new condition.
1971, FATAL, single-engine
private plane collides with Eastern Airlines passenger jet
southwest of airport. Both people aboard
Cessna 206 are killed when McDonnell Douglas DC-9 descends on top
of it, while on final approach to Runway 5. Accident occurs
at 1:46 p.m. Cessna crashes. Flight #898 carries 23
passengers and four crew. NTSB determines probable cause as
"inadequacy of air traffic control facilities and
services in flight paths of the two aircraft and the configurations
physically limited each flight crew's ability to see and avoid the
other aircraft." (December 4, 1971)ability to see and avoid the
other aircraft." (December 4, 1971)no,
1971, apparatus note:
Airport Authority agrees on purchase of $6,000 dry-chemical
unit, after Airport Manager Henry K. Boyd Jr. says the current unit
"would have to be completely rebuilt." He cites same as fifteen to
eighteen years old. And that the unit's "supply of fire extinguish
material" was exhausted after a fatal crash at the airport on
December 4. The new equipment would hold 450 pounds of dry-chemical
(incorrectly cited as foam) and 50 gallons of light water. It would
be "spring equipment" and "essentially it would be the first piece
of equipment to get there" at a crash." The unit was described as
"small and less expensive to operate than larger fire fighting
vehicles." The equipment could be delivered in 30 to 40 days, and
could be mounted on the pick-up currently carrying the older unit."
(Either 1952 Chevy pick-up or 1957 Chevy pick-up.) The older unit
might be salvaged and used for back-up equipment or for training
purposes." During the meeting, authority members asked Boyd how long
it took "crash equipment" to respond in emergencies. His goal was
within 30 seconds, for crews to be on the runway after "emergency
signals." He cited a recent landing with a forward gear collapse, and
the pilot's report that crash crews reached his craft within 37
seconds. (December 7, 1971)dmh08dec71
1972, equipment note:
- New skid-mounted dual-agent dry-chemical system delivered, mounted on current
CT-1, a 1957 Chevy pick-up. Capacity of 450 pounds of
dry-chemical and 50 gallons of light water
- Older skid system with 400 pounds (alternate capacity of 600
pounds) of dry chemical is mounted on a military surplus trailer.
private plane crash lands on rural road near airport.
The nose gear of the Cessna 182 is torn off and the plane flips on
its back and becomes tangled in some power lines, about ten feet off
the paved road. Both occupants are transported to the hospital by
State Highway Patrol helicopter, which located the crash site at 12:
35 p. m. about two miles northeast of the airport. (April 13, 1972)no14apr72
1973, apparatus delivery:
1973 Walter CB3000 crash truck, purchased new, and placed in service as CT-4. Capacity 3000
gallons water and 500 gallons ARFF foam. Equipped with dual
driving engines, dual transmissions, and dual 750 GPM pumps. Truck can be driven with both: pump with one and
other, or pump and roll with both. Not equipped with any
mufflers. Diesel engines are Detroit 6V92s (?), with 460 HP. Cost
$144,000, with 82 percent of funding from FAA. The truck is
purchased to comply with new FAA safety requirements for airporst. (July 1973) oh,
1973, demonstration of new crash truck is conducted
for media with a 5,000 square-foot pit filled with aviation
fuel that's ignited. Flames boil "more than 100 feet in the air" as
the new 58,000 pound truck "growled, roared, and rumbled" nearly to
the edge of the pit. The truck demonstrates spraying both foam and
light water. Truck was delivered in mid-July and has "undergone some
testing and fine tuning." William E. Pegram is in
charge of all fire equipment at the airport. (August 8, 1978)rt08aug73
1973, Airport Authority authorizes development of
emergency medical procedures, to "ensure proper treatment for
victims of a possible aviation disaster." Author member Dr. Kenneth
A. Podger proposes the procedures be developed "in conjunction with
Triangle area doctors and hospitals." The airport's emergency
procedures, which were recently updated to meet FAA regulations,
"deal only with getting injured persons to an ambulance." The new
procedures are needed for "'physicians input on what happens after a
patient is in the ambulance.'" A committee is created to study the
needed. Consulting with officials at hospitals in all three cities
in recommended. (December 18, 1973)dmh18dec73
apparatus bay added onto fire station to accommodate new crash
truck. Two-story section in rear with small classroom on
ground floor and foam storage on second floor. Bid accepted for
"building to house the airport's new fire crash truck" awarded by
airport authority on December 4, 1973. Contracts would follow,
contingent on approval from FAA, because federal funds would be used
in several phases of the awarded projects, which aligned with the
airport's plans to build a new runway in several years. The federal
grant was awarded on January 30, 1974. Contracts had already been
taken for the work, which was expected to be "well underway in just
a few weeks." The airport improvements included "expansion of the
fire-crash building to accommodate a new fire crash truck." (Spring?
1975, White Oil Company in
downtown Raleigh burns. 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. Crash truck from
Raleigh-Durham airport is requested, but later turned back while en
route. (July 10, 1975)
1975, Eastern Air Lines
passenger jet crashes short of runaway. About
8:00 p.m., the Boeing 727 strikes the ground approximately 282
feet short of runway 23, bounces up onto the runway, and slides to
stop 4,150 feet past runway threshold. Accident occurs
during instrument landing system (ILS) approach during heavy rain
showers. Aircraft is substantially damaged, with belly of
plane caving in and the flaps sheared off of both wings. Landing
gear apparently collapsed upon landing. Of 139 persons aboard
craft, eight are injured, one serious. NTSB determines
probably cause as "pilot's failure to execute a missed
approach when he lost sight of the runway environment in heavy
rain below decision height." After a single call to the "Wake
County Communications Center," five fire trucks, six ambulances,
"airport security men," sheriff's deputies, and state troopers
arrive within minutes. (November 12, 1975) ntsb,
1975, former Cary Fire Chief Terry
Edmundson hired as training officer.oh, rt02jun77
1975, circa, airport apparatus all
painted lime-yellow (not safety yellow). oh
1976, fire department featured in News & Observer
- Fire Chief is Terry Edmundson.
- Twenty-two members, including Edmundson.
- "Watch crew" works twenty-four hours a day.
- Five men work each fourteen-hour shift, working two days and
taking the next two off.
- Train at least one hour every day.
- They're trained in first aid and are equipped with "oxygen,
75 stretchers, and a first aid cabinet capable of treating more
than 100 people."
- Check every truck, and every piece of equipment daily.
- They also have additional airport duties, performing
- Four times a year, they have "hot drills" where they
extinguish aviation fuel at a training pit near the runway.
- Once a year, the FAA sends an inspector, who triggers a test
alarm, to ensure that their trucks can reach any point in the
runway within three minutes.
- Their slowest time has been one minute and 55 seconds. "But
that's for the biggest of their five trucks."
- Emergency plan has two phases:
- Phase one - Five fire trucks, six ambulances.
- Phase two - Several more fire trucks, fifteen more
ambulances. (August 30, 1976)no
1977, The Raleigh Times features front
page story about need for more training at the fire department.
- "Chief: RDU fire protection lacking - Training of firemen called
inadequate" is the headline.
- Writer Dudley Price conducts series
of lengthy interviews with "fire crash rescue manager"
- Expresses grave concerns that his twenty-two
part-time fighters are inadequately trained to deal with a major
- Notes that personnel also
function as linemen who fuel and service private airplanes,
something not required of firefighters at other similar-size
airports. (The distance from the fueling location to the firehouse
is as far as 100 yards away, notes a June 14 story in the
- He attempts to train the firefighters for two to five hours
each week, but often cannot due to the "men's duties servicing
planes as linemen."
- In addition to lacking training, Edmondson says the department's communication system is
inadequate. They need "walkie-talkies" to supplement the radios in the four
fire trucks which can only reach the control tower. "Firemen can't
communicate between trucks until controllers finish directing
- He has requested additional radios that can "alert fire and
rescue units [from] other towns and direct ambulances to where
they are most needed in the event of an air disaster." He's
tried to convince the airport manager for two years to purchase
- He cites the airport's disaster plan, which has airport
officials contacting hospitals and fire and rescue agencies in
nearby towns. "The entire operation would be coordinated by air
traffic controllers in the RDU tower, not by firemen."
says that the firefighters should have medical skills beyond
the basic first aid required by the FAA. He thinks they should
have EMT training, "know how to operate resuscitators," and
"train more on a piecemeal basis on basic fire fighting
techniques and fire situations."
- Some of the members have these skills, he notes. Four have
EMT training, twelve are schooled in triage, and Sixteen can
operate resuscitation equipment.
- He adds that the department has been affected by turnover,
nine of whom have quit since last August. Pay ranges from $6,841
to $9,168 per year.
- The the airport was certified by the FAA on March 22, and that
airport fire departments served by major airlines are required
only to meet FAA and not state or local requirements.
are required to have adequate fire and medical equipment, that
firefighters know how to operate the equipment, and have basic
first aid and some firefighting training. The exact amount
of training is not specified.
- Airport fire trucks must also
be able to respond to the midpoint of the furthest runway from the
firehouse within three minutes.
- The story also compares the fire departments at the airports
in Charlotte and Greensboro, which both have full-time
firefighters. They have better communications equipment, better
training, and higher pay. Both are city or county operations,
unlike Raleigh-Durham's, which is operated by the airport. They
are also the largest airports in the state, by airline traffic
- Greensboro's airport fire department has been full-time
since 1968, and has a twenty-one person department. It's
operated by Guilford County. Each member voluntarily takes the
eighty-five hour EMT program, can operate resuscitators, and has
ten hours of firefighting skills training each week. They also
have a mock airline made of two 10,000 gallon oil tanks, which
are "loaded with dummies" and set ablaze. They train on that
prop three times a year. They earn $8,916 to 11,184 per year.
- Charlotte's airport fire department has been full-time since
1958, using city firemen to operate Air National Guard
Equipment. They have thirty-three members, and access to
six-channel radios for requesting help from Charlotte, and even
"directing ambulances in the event of a crash." Their training
is the same as all others in the city, plus special ARFF
training. They're required to study firefighting skills for
twelve hours every twelve days. They have four gasoline drills
per year, among other drills. They earn $8,892 to $11,336 per
year. (June 2, 1977) rt
1977, reactions of the Airport Authority are
reported in the following day's Raleigh Times. Two members call for
an "investigation in charges that the part-time firemen at the
airport lack adequate training and equipment to combat a major air
disaster." They and other authority members are not aware of the
issues (and react with surprise), and will request a full report at
their next meeting. The authority's chairman is cited as satisfied
with the fire department, and they've "done a pretty good job" in
the "two or three times we've had emergencies." There has never been
a major crash at the airport, the story notes. Though the airport
has funded nearly $4 million for a planned runway expansion, they
can't afford a full-time fire department, which would cost $350,000
to $400,00 per year. "We can't afford to pay firemen to just sit and
wait for a plane to crash," says one member. The Airport Manager
defends the department as adequate, and meeting minimum FAA
standards. In November 1975, note members, the crash landing of a
Boeing 727 saw airport firemen on scene within sixty seconds. A
spokesman for the four major airlines that serve the airport says
he's also satisfied with the fire department. (June 3, 1977)rt
1977, a pair of front page article appears on the Raleigh Times
- "RDU firemen need training - Double Duty"
- The county Director of Emergency Preparedness agrees with
the need for more training, notably EMT training.
- The fire chiefs of Raleigh and Cary also agree that the
airport firefighters need EMT training.
- EMT training is being given to all Raleigh firemen, and Cary
is halfway through training all of its firefighters.
- The Fire Chief cites that it takes ten minutes for the
nearest ambulance in Cary to reach the airport. They can help
"get the patient started toward stabilizing while help is on the
- "Disaster plan rarely tested - Help nearby"
- Hundreds of area firefighters, rescue workers, and policemen
from surrounding communities within minutes.
- However, plan hasn't been tested since September 1975.
- The plan needs to be tested more often, says the county
Director of Emergency Preparedness.
- FAA requires that the plan be tested only once.
- Responding fire departments would be Cary, Morrisville,
Bethesda, and Parkwood.
- Responding rescue squads would be Cary, Apex, Raleigh,
Durham, and Parkwood.
- In event of disaster, the airport manager or designate would
summon groups based on severity. "Fire trucks from Morrisville
could be on the scene in ten minutes."
- Hospitals would also be alerted: Wake Medical Center, Durham
General Hospital, Rex Hospital, Mary Elizabeth Hospital, Duke
Hospital, the Veteran's Hospital, and Memorial Hospital in
- The plan was implemented on a limited basis in November
1975, when a Boeing 727 crash landed. Within ten minutes of the
plan landing short on the runway, twelve ambulances were at the
scene. Then fire trucks were summoned from Morrisville, and
ambulances from Cary took six people with minor injuries to the
- The Airport Manager said that they were planning to test
their plan again this summer. (June 4, 1977)rt
1977, another front page article appears in the Raleigh Times.
- "Only two tend RDU night crash-rescue - 'Bare minimum' crew
surprise to many"
- While eight
firefighters are normally on duty during daylight operations, only
two people are working between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- During that
time, nine commercial airliners arrive and department and about
private planes land.
only one firefighter is actually at the firehouse as the other
must go on patrol to keep deer off the runway and perform other
duties such as replace burned out runway lights.
- This is
contrasted to the eleven firefighters on-duty around the clock at
Charlotte's Douglas Airport and the seven firefighters maintaining
similar shifts at the Greensboro/Winston-Salem Regional Airport.
- Airport manager insists in an interview that three people
work at night. The Airport Authority Chairman is surprised, and
thought that nine members are on duty at night.
- FAA certification inspector in Atlanta characterizes the
staffing as a "bare minimum."
- Two person night staffing has been present since at least
- Eight are usually on duty during the day. Four work in the
evening until 9:00 p.m., with two remaining until 6:00 a.m. The
last commercial flight lands at 11:37 p.m.
- Additional night firemen are assigned, when unusual numbers
of private or chartered flights are scheduled.
(June 13, 1977) rt
1977, Airport Authority members
express concern about "conflicting accounts" regarding
effectiveness of fire department. Member J. Willie York,
citing stories read in The Raleigh Times, moves to hire
retired Raleigh Fire Chief Jack Keeter to independently review the
airport's crash-fire-rescue capabilities. Authority members
unanimously agree to hire Keeter for a fee of about $35 an hour.
"They've solved it to their satisfaction," says one member of the
airport's administrators reaction to the claims of deficits, "but
not to my satisfaction." Keeter is serving his second term as a
member of the Raleigh City Council. He was a city fireman for 41
years, including 17 years as Fire Chief. (June 21, 1977) rt22jun77
1977, Region J Emergency Medical
Services Council votes to send "statement of concern" to
airport officials over safety provisions. Group includes
hospital and emergency medical workers and government workers
representing Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham, Lee, and Johnston
counties. Concerns are voiced concerning airport's handling
of single-engine plane crash 100 yards short of the airport on
June 13, when a State Police helicopter was on scene within
minutes and offered to transport an injured passenger to North
Carolina Memorial Hospital. Instead, airport officials
called the Cary Rescue Squad, which resulted in a 45-minute
transport time. In addition, Wake Medical Center was placed
"on alert" for an aircraft emergency, but with no
additional information regarding aircraft type or number of
persons aboard. Action comes hours after airport authority
meeting on same subject. (June 22, 1977) nojun23
1977, in another front page
article, The Raleigh Times surveys six comparable airports
in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee and
finds all have full-time firefighters with better staffing, more
training, and higher pay. (June 25, 1977) rt
1977, in another front page
article, The Raleigh Times reports improvements at the fire
- "RDU fire training upgrade" is the headline of the story by Dudley Price.
- Additional training has been received.
- The airport's Operations Manager is assigned to help the
fire department coordinate training duties.
- They've practiced extinguishing fires in a fuel pit three
times, after over a year since practicing in May 1976.
- They've also responded to one practice drill after 9 a.m.,
when an FAA inspector was visiting. They responded within the
required three-minute period.
- They've also had four hours of training on access routes,
for reaching hard-to-reach areas of the 4,000 acre airport.
- Night-time manpower has been increased by one person, who
works until midnight.
- Additional communications equipment is being investigated
for purchase by airport officials.
- Airport has applied for $16,000 in federal grants, to buy
four two-way radios.
- Consultant Jack Keeter's report is expected by the end of the month. (July
warning device installed in airport's computerized radar system
(August 2, 1977) rt
fully-loaded food truck catches fire on US.70 about one-quarter
mile north of the airport exit. One foam truck responds,
along with two Durham Highway units. Truck becomes fully
involved when one of two freshly filled 100-gallon gasoline tanks
ignites. Smoke is visible for miles. (August 8, 1977) rt
1977, in another front page story for the
Raleigh Times by Dudley Price, Jack Keeter reports back to
Airport Authority, advising that airport firefighters are
inadequately trained, are undermanned, are underpaid, and lack
proper radio equipment. His recommendations include:
Hire a full-time Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief to staff the
firehouse around the clock, and assist part-time firemen who also
work as ramp personnel.
Have at least three firemen
on duty at the firehouse at all times, in addition to
part-time firefighters who are servicing private planes.
Purchase radio equipment so
firefighters don't have to communicate through the control
Provide training using air
masks in smoke and fire conditions at the Raleigh Fire
Department drill tower.
Raise firefighter salaries from
current $6,841 per year to $7,200 per year, and to $7,900 per
year after twelve months on job.
Purchase an additional fire
truck. The airport is seeking $30,000 in matching state funds,
to purchase one.
Instruct airport police to work
with firefighters to control crowds and direct arriving
emergency vehicles in the event of disaster.
Report also praises the news reporter. "I don't know why [Mr.
Price] began his investigation about this. And I haven't asked
him. But I feel the airport authority owes [him] a letter of
gratitude for bringing it to light."
Report also notes how firemen found out about planned FAA
inspections, and were "fully dressed and ready for the drills"
the day of the event. "Not all firefighters are dumb," he notes.
"They get the word ahead of time that the FAA man's in town and
spruce up for operation." (September 14,
1977, Airport Authority approves plan to improve
fire department, reports Durham Morning Herald:
- Cost of about $220,000 year.
- Hire thirteen new people for "round the clock" staffing:
eight firemen, four captains, and a new assistant to the Airport
- Improve training.
- Improve supervision.
- Increase salaries of twenty-one present employees, from $6,840 to $8,731 per year.
- Plan is supervised by the airport's Operation Manager.
- Three people would be on-duty at the fire station at all
times, with others performing other duties on the flight line on
a rotating basis. (November 2, 1977)dmh
1977, airport makes $200,000 worth of improvements, including:
1977, full-time staffing starts during hours that
commercial flights are arriving and departing from airport. Shifts
are 12 hours, with firefighters working two days on and two days
Personnel assigned as follows:
Two on duty at North Ramp,
mostly for FBO fueling. In event of Alert III (actual
crash), personnel respond
Three on duty at fire
Three on duty at South
Ramp, where "transient aircraft" arrive. Airport
also has contract to fuel aircraft for Piedmont Airlines
at that location. In event of Alert II, personnel report
to fire station
One person reports to North
One person reports to fire
station, which shuts down at 2400 hours or when the last
flight arrives, whichever is later
Two persons report to the
South Ramp and at 1900, one of which goes to the fire
Three persons report to the
Prior to this point, firefighters
are ramp personnel with fire training who respond from North and
South ramps when siren sounds, which could be activated from the
control tower. Fire crews continuing filling dual roles with
separately assigned ramp crews until about 1979, when Airport
Authority sells aircraft fueling business. (After November 2,
1977, apparatus notes:
North Carolina Department of Transportation approves
$42,500 of $250,000 needed by the airport to "beef up its
fire-crash-rescue squad equipment." The state funds will match
those from the Airport Authority. The FAA will supply the
remaining amount. The monies will be used to purchase:
- New 1,500-gallon crash truck.
- New "quick response fire truck."
- New fire communication and emergency radio equipment.
The "Aeronautics Council had previously approved
a request for $5,554 in state aid, to require a light
rescue truck [and a] emergency communications system." The
$61,710 project would have been covered by $50,603 in federal
funds, and matching state and airport amounts. The airport did
not have any "specialized rescue equipment" on its truck, and
the project would've added "emergency lighting, power rescue
tools, air packs, and a winch to free trapped people from the
wrecked aircraft." The communications system would "tie in all
airport emergency equipment and the Wake and Durham sheriff
departments, fire departments and communication networks."
"recent breakdowns on a large crash truck" as well as "a
quick-response truck which [is] beyond repair," the Airport
Authority requested the prior request be cancelled, and replaced
with this project. The authority earlier this year decided to
seek additional emergency equipment, at the recommendation of
consultant Jack Keeter. (December 29, 1977)dmh29dec77,
- New CFR 3, 1977 Walter B1500 crash truck,
delivered new, and placed in service
as CT-3. Capacity is 1500 gallons water and 180 gallons ARFF foam. Equipped with 1000 GPM pump driven by
- Old CFR 3 (1959 Walter) removed from service. Disposed to
Durham Museum of Life and Science as outdoor exhibit.
1978, FATAL, twin-engine
private plane crashes near airport. Aero
Commander 680 disappears from radar at 8 p. m. and begins emitting
automatic distress signal. About 300 searchers, including private
citizens who join after hearing about the crash on their CB radio,
are hampered by fog, swampy, wooden terrain, difficulty tracing
the emergency transmitted of a downed craft.
Read narratives. (February
13, 1978)no15feb78, oh
1978, twin-engine private
plane crashes at airport. Beechcraft Bonanza loses power
during afternoon take-off from Runway 5. Crashes just across runway
from North Ramp about 100 yards into woods. Occupants walk away but
are treated at local hospitals. (Fall 1978) oh
1978, private plane crashes
just short of Runway 5 . No fatalities. Aircraft operated by
Wheeler Air Lines, small commuter service based at RDU. oh
1979, disaster drill. Sunday afternoon exercise has
forty people as victims of an air disaster, from NC State and Duke
universities and the National Guard. The emergency plan being tested
would request help from nine fire departments and six rescue squads
in Wake and Durham counties. Patients would be transported to
hospitals in Wake, Durham, and Orange counties. The two-hour drill
brings an estimated 200 rescuers. The drill starts at 2:33 p.m.
Within thirty seconds, three airport fire trucks have arrived at the
scene. Eleven minutes later, two fire trucks and an ambulance (?)
arrive from Morrisville. Shortly afterward, rescue units from Cary,
Apex, Wake County EMS, and Six Forks Rescue arrived, followed by
other fire and rescue units. Some patients are purposefully sent to
the wrong hospital, to see if they're transferred to the appropriate
facility. (Sunday before November 5, 1979)rt
1979 (?), private plane crashes just east of
approach to Runway 5. Incident occurs in afternoon, during a
thunderstorm. No fatalities. oh
- 1979 Chevrolet/Reading/Ansul rescue
truck delivered as new CT-1. The skid-mounted dual-agent system with 450 pounds of
dry-chemical and 50 gallons of light water is removed from the
1957 Chevy pick-up, and installed on the truck. Also serves as EMS response vehicle and
carries full range of extrication equipment, including Hurst power
tool previously carried on CT-2.oh, faj
- Older dry-chemical skid system is moved from trailer to a
1966 Chevy pick-up, one of two previously used as ramp vehicles
CS-12 and CS-13. The installed greatly overloads the truck, and
the skid system is removed. Both the truck and the skid system
are sold as retired, and sold as surplus in the next year or so.oh
1979, Airport Authority sells
aircraft fueling business.
- Firefighters no longer fulfill dual
roles as firefighters and ramp crew members.
- Fire department size reduces from around twenty-two line
members to around twelve.
- Several personnel laid off, but are quickly hired by
Raleigh-Durham Aviation and Raleigh Flying Service.
schedule changes to three persons from 0700-1900, three persons
from 1900-1700, and one 1200-2400 person.
- Duties continue to contain ramp and operations tasks,
ranging from wildlife patrol to vehicle escorts to fuel farm
1980, snapshot of firefighter duties during calendar
year, as recorded in log book entries:
- Aircraft emergencies or crashes (alerts)
- Bomb threats on aircraft
- Fire alarm activations
- Fires (structure, vehicle, trash, woods, etc.)
- Medical emergencies, on airport property
- Medical emergencies on incoming (and often diverted) flights
- Medical patients arriving via air ambulances
- Motor-vehicle accidents, on airport property and nearby roadways
Requests for service:
- Crowd control, assisting police on north ramp (celebrity arrival? Dignitary?)
- Fuel spill, wash down
- Missing person searches
- Runway stand by, during inclement weather (such as snow) or high winds
- Cleaning fire station
- Equipment checks
- Equipment and vehicle maintenance
- Fuel farm duties, including recording fuel
shipments, checking tank levels, sump pumping to check
for trash and water, etc.
- Fuel transport to fire pit (old fuel for burning)
- Hot line check, phone line from control tower
- Gate escorts, for vehicles onto airport property
- Moving furniture (!) from airport hotel
- Perimeter (security) checks
- Radio checks
- Runway checks for debris
- Runway checks for deer
- Runway debris removal
- Runway lighting check, and replacing burned out bulbs
- Runway wildlife control, running off deer
- Snow removal, detailed to operate equipment
- Tours of airfield, taking people on
- Training classes
- Training exercises
- Washing trucks
station moves into airport multi-purpose building #3.
Building is located on south ramp, a few hundred feet southwest of
the old fire station. Fire department occupies small portion of
building, along with Building & Grounds (small portion, left of
fire station) and a number of air cargo
vendors (majority of building, right of fire station). See maps and diagrams.
(January 24, 1980) oh,
1980, fire department announces formation of IAFF
chapter at press conference. Twelve of the department's fifteen
members join. President is Jerry W. Snead. Secretary is
Pauline J. Massey, the department's only female member. Airport Authority
never officially recognizes the group. Their requests include:
- More manpower, with two more firefighters needed on each of
the two shifts.
- Higher salaries.
- Shower and kitchen facilities at the fire station.
- Restroom at the fire station for the female firefighter.
(February 12, 1980)rt12feb80
Several changes result:
Working hours and staffing
levels changed from 12 hour shifts with three personnel on
duty to 24 hour shifts with five personnel on duty.
Rescue and EMS capabilities
upgraded, with VHF portable radios made available.
Fire station renovations.
station space renovated.
- Located in airport multi-purpose
building #3, living quarters consist of a single large day
- Funds are provided to divide it into three bedrooms (one
for the Lieutenant, one for female firefighters, and one for
male firefighters), a day room, and a radio desk area.
storage rooms are converted into a kitchen and an office for
the shift Lieutenants (presently called Captains).
from the Chief's office is converted to a shower and a door is
added between it and the restroom. Firefighters do most (all?)
of the work.
- Work on the remodeled bathroom and shower starts
May 3, 1980. oh, cfr
FATAL, single-engine private plane crashes at airport. Pilot
killed while practicing take-offs and landings.
Passenger seriously injured. oh (February 13, 1980)
plane crashes at airport. Aircraft from Richmond runs out
of fuel just short of Runway 23 (present Runway 23L). Firefighters
actually observe plane go down. Two people are injured, but walk
away from crash. (February 16, 1980) oh
apparatus note: skid-agent dual-agent system moved from
1966 Chevrolet pick-up onto trailer. (By March 1980) oh
1980, department summary from master plan document
- Fifteen personnel.
- Average five on duty during day, three at night.
- CT-1 - 1979 Chevrolet/Ansul "quick response truck" with 450#
dry-chemical, 50 gallons light water.
- CT-2 - 1969 International/Ansul "light-duty crash truck" with
1350# dry-chemical, 200 gallons light water.
- CT-3 - 1977 Walter "heavy-duty crash truck" with 1000 GPM, 1500
gallons water, 200 gallons light water. Equipped with hoses and
nozzles, for use as structural firefighting.
- CT-4 - 1973 Walter "heavy-duty crash truck" with 1500 GPM, 3000
gallons water, 500 gallons foam concentrate.
- Trailer with 400# dry-chemical.
- Trailer with mass-casualty supplies.
- Airport rated as Index "C", based on B-727-200 as largest
aircraft served by airport.
1981, twin-engine private
plane experiences landing-gear collapse upon landing. No one
is injured aboard Beechcraft BE-95. (May 26, 1981)faa
1981, Altair Airlines Fokker
F-28 makes emergency landing after three people are injured
and aircraft sustains minor damage from air turbulence. (June 2,
1981, twin-engine private
plane makes emergency landing after landing gear fails to lower.
No one is injured aboard the Beechcraft BE-58. (October 5,
1982, Terminal A
1982, apparatus designations changed from CT to CFR.
(Circa February 1, 1982)cfr
1982, FATAL, Piper
Cherokee crashes into Umstead Park. Seconds after
taking off, pilot sees flames coming from engine and radios tower. His last words are "so long." Plane crashes into
treetops of Umstead Park about midnight, landing upside down and
in flames. Pilot escapes after kicking out cockpit door,
suffering a few broken ribs and cuts to his head and arms. Plane lands a quarter of a mile
from a parking lot near the main
entrance and is located two hours later, at about 2 a.m., with
three helicopters (North Carolina National Guard, WTVD-TV, and
WRAL-TV) and more than 100 rescue workers searching for the
downed craft. (Wednesday before August 6, 1982)no06aug82, oh
1982, twin-engine air taxi
makes emergency landing after engine fails at cruise altitude.
Camshaft failure and crankcase crack discovered. No one is
injured aboard the Piper PA-60. (November 30, 1982)faa
1982, firefighter's union disbands
due to internal conflicts oh
1984, twin-engine private
plane makes emergency landing after landing gear fails to lower.
No one is injured aboard the Piper PA-60. (June 15, 1984)faa
electrical fire forces evacuation of about 1,500 travelers and
employees from Terminal B. Fire starts and is
confined to ground-floor janitor's room. Smoke from the
room, located three floors below control tower, filters up second
and third floors. Fire also knocks out power, as room
carries electrical and telephone wires (and plumbing) throughout
terminal building. Airport officials begin investigating
report of smoke by a security guard about 9:30 a.m. Airport
police officers check the building but are unable to locate the
source of the smoke. During a second search, the source of
the smoke is located. About 1,500 passengers and airport
workers are evacuated about 12:30 p.m. Fire is quickly
extinguished by firefighters from two Morrisville fire companies,
one Durham Public Safety fire company, and the airport fire
department. For about eight hours afterward, air traffic
controllers in Virginia handle incoming and outgoing flights while RDU controllers man a rooftop and direct flight traffic via
high-powered walkie talkies when aircraft come within 200 to 300
feet of ground. A second controller elsewhere on airport grounds
then communicated the information via telephone to the Virginia
control center. A total of 179 flights are handled by the
Virginia control center. (November 25, 1984) no26nov84
1984, single-engine private
plane damaged while taxiing to tie-down area. Piper PA-28
strikes unoccupied helicopter dolly "dark in color and unlighted.
"Landing gear is torn off plane. (December 14, 1984)faa
FATAL, experimental home-built plane crashes at Umstead State Park
shortly after takeoff. Pilot of McClellan J. Grote
Dragonfly is killed. Read narratives. (February 22, 1985) ntsb, oh
1985, single-engine private
plane lands without landing gear. Pilot forgets to lower gear
on Cessna CE-210 and is not injured. (April 17, 1985) faa
1985, Asst. Chief Jimmy
Thompson named Fire Chief, after Terry Edmundson dies at Rex
Hospital prior to new
station opening. Edmundson, 47, had been hospitalized for about
ten days before his death. He is survived by a wife and three sons.
(December 16, 1985) oh, rdu
FATAL, twin-engine private plane crashes at Umstead State Park after
takeoff. Pilot and wife are killed after Piper PA-60 taking
off from Runway 14. Read narratives. (July 24, 1986)
Airlines passenger jet on final approach struck by bullet fired by
hunter. One passenger injured aboard Boeing 737. (December
31, 1986) faa
1986, new fire station opens
on Rescue Court. Station is relocated to the northeast side
of the airport, to meet required response times for the 10,000 foot
runway constructed at the same time. (March 22, 1986)oh, rdu
1986, new 10,000 foot runway opens.
(April 1, 1986)rdu
1987, Terminal C opens (June 1987).
1987, single-engine private
plane makes forced landing on lake [near airport?] Amphibious
aircraft strikes shore and sustains minor damage. No injures aboard
aircraft (January 2, 1987)faa
1987, private planes crashes
upon landing after encountering wake turbulence. Two people
seriously injured. (July 14, 1978) ntsb
1987, twin-engine air taxi
catches fire on rollout. Piper PA-31 is evacuated. Fire
started by oil leaking from engine nacelle due to oil cap not
properly secured. None of five occupants injured. (November 9, 1987)faa
1987, Delta Airlines passenger
jet experiences turbulence. Flight attendant sustains broken
ankle. (November 10, 1987) ntsb
1988, CCAir commuter plane
makes emergency landing. Smoke discovered in cabin of
Jetstream 41. Plane lands safely. Failed seal found in right engine
compressor. (January 28, 1988)faa
FATAL, American Eagle commuter plane crashes at RDU. Both crew and
all 10 passengers killed aboard after Fairchild SA227-AC crashes
shortly after takeoff. Aircraft departs during low ceiling,
low visibility, and night conditions, impacting a reservoir along
Aviation Parkway. Read narratives. (February 19, 1988) ntsb
1988, FATAL, private
planes collide near airport. Two people are killed
and one person is uninjured aboard Piper PA-28R and Cessna 172,
both departing for formation flight to Petersburg, VA. Piper
is lead aircraft and Cessna is wingman.
Read narratives. (May 25, 1988) ntsb
1988, airport name changes to
Raleigh-Durham International Airport with inaugural American
Airlines flight to Paris. (May 1988)
gasoline tanker overturns in Johnston County. CFR 3
responds to US 70 at Guy Road. (Summer 1988) oh
1989, apparatus purchase. Airport Authority "agreed
to buy" (awarded a bid?) a crash truck from Crash Rescue Service
Equipment., Inc., a "1,500-gallon rapid intervention vehicle" with a
capacity of 200 gallons of foam, and 500 gallons (pounds?) of dry
chemical. (by February 8, 1989)dmh08FEB89
1989, private plane aborts
takeoff and skids off runway. (June 24, 1989) ntsb
1989, FATAL, private plane crashes
near airport. One person
killed aboard Beechcraft E55 after flight departs airport at 11:19
a.m. Read narratives. (August 10, 1989) ntsb
1989, private plane
crashes near airport. One minor injury
sustained aboard Piper PA-32R after engine quits after flight
intercepts glide slop, with landing gear and flaps extended. Pilot establishes 85 knot emergency glide on localizer course. Attempts to start engine fail. Aircraft collides with trees,
falls to grounds, and burns. Pilot escapes burning wreckage
with minor injuries. Examination of aircraft fails to disclose
any mechanical failure or malfunction. Pilot does not report
moving fuel mixture level to rich position. Both normal and
emergency procedures instruct pilot to return fuel mixture level to
said position. Accident occurs about 5:55 a.m. Worker from nearby
construction site finds pilot nearly an hour later, after making
nearly two-mile trek into woods after hearing that Airport Security
reported a plane down. Nearly 100 rescue personnel are involved in
the search. (November 14, 1989) ntsb, rt24nov89
1990, apparatus changes:
- New CFR 4 delivered, 1990 CRES/197_? Walter CB3000, original
owner unknown. Incorrectly remembered as a rebuild of current
CFR 4. (May 30, 1990)
- New CFR 4 placed in service, replaces 1973 Walter CB3000.
(By June 4, 1990)
- Old CFR 4 renamed CFR 14. Used as third front line crash
truck, while CFR 3 is rebuilt.
- CFR 3 (1977 Walter) drained of foam and water, and equipment removed,
and loaded on truck for transport to Dallas, for rebuilding by CRES. (June 4,
1990, air taxi
makes emergency landing. No injures aboard Swearingen SA 226TC
after commuter flight arrives at destination airport and discovers
right main landing gear will not extend using both normal and abnormal
procedures. Flight returns to departure airport and lands with
all wheels retracted. Subsequent examination of landing gear by
operator reveals the right main gear door actuator fork had been
incorrectly installed. As a result, the landing gear would not
open. Pilot circles airport to burn fuel and lands on north end of
10,000-foot runway at 5:41 p.m. After a shower of sparks, the
plane comes to rest about a half-mile from north end of runway. None of the 11 people aboard are injured. (January 24, 1990) ntsb,
1990, disaster drill conducted. (June 2,
1990, apparatus changes:
- Rebuilt CFR 3 delivered, 1990 CRES/1977 Walter B1500.
Upgrades include new monitors and roof-mounted piping,
under-bumper booster reel, and air-conditioning. (By November
- Rebuilt CFR 3 placed in service. (November 12, 1990)
CFR 14 (1973 Walter) retired.
Equipment removed on November 14, and truck subsequently
disposed to CRES. faj, rdu, oh
1990, Wake County EMS places ambulance in service at
airport. EMS 6 is housed at a retrofitted old house on east side of
Airport Boulevard, just south of Aviation Parkway. (Former home of
earlier Airport Manager?) Ambulance is
stored in A-frame garage building with single door that is erected
beside the house. It's their first EMS unit deployed outside of the Raleigh
municipal limits, and the first ambulance station by any agency at
the airport. It is located about 2.0 miles from the airport fire
station on Rescue Court. First full day of service for new station
is December 8. (December 1990)rdu, oh
1990, Air taxi makes emergency
landing after pilot experiences complete lost of rudder control for
about 20 seconds. ntsb
1991, single-engine private
plane makes emergency landing after manually lowering landing
gear. Front and then right wing gear collapse after touching down
about 1 p. m. No one aboard craft is injured. (Sunday before
February 18, 1991) no
1991, apparatus delivery:
New CFR 1, a 1991 Ford/E-One mini-pumper, four-wheel
drive, 250 GPM, 200 gallons water, and Feecon 30-gallon foam system.
Replaces 1979 Chevrolet/Reading rescue/dry chemical unit. faj
FATAL, single-engine private plane crashes near airport. Four-seat
Piper Cherokee goes down about a half-mile behind a Toyota dealership
at 9100 Glenwood Avenue about 10: 45 p. m. Both persons are
killed, including a Wake County Commissioner.
Read narratives. (February 18,
jet gets stuck on runway. DC-10. (April 17, 1993) no
1993, American Airlines
passenger jet makes emergency landing. Four flight attendants
injured during moderate turbulence. Boeing 767 diverted to
Raleigh-Durham and lands safety. (June 27, 1993)faa
1993, new 800 mhz radio system activated. (November
1993, alert procedures for dispatch and
response updated. (November 1993) wcfar
1994, single-engine private
plane crashes near airport. Piper Cherokee goes down in
heavily wood area near Hickory Grove Church Road, about three miles
from airport. Pilot and passenger walk from wreckage to nearby house
to report crash about 9:45 p. m. Both are transported to Wake
Medical Center and later listed in stable condition.
Read narratives. (April 14,
1995, equipment delivery:
disaster trailer. Carries equipment for multi-patient
incidents. (By November 9, 1995)cfr
1994, FATAL, American
Eagle commuter plane crashes in Morrisville at night, approximately 5
miles short of runway. Both crew and 13 of 18 passengers
killed. Responders take tractors and off-road vehicles to reach crash
site off Davis Dr.
Read narratives. (December 13, 1994)
1995, FATAL, single-engine private plane
crashes on airport property.
PA-28 clips trees and crashes into wooded area. Both
persons are killed. Read narratives. (July 5, 1995) ntsb
note: mobile command post construction begins. Built using
tractor-drawn trailer. Upon completion, is parked on south side of fire station. For
moving, tractor is requested from Airport Authority. (January-February,
1996, air taxi experiences
nose-gear collapse upon landing. Nine persons uninjured
aboard Candair CL-600 after pilot notices discrepancy in landing
gear indicators during instrument landing system (ILS) approach. He
raises and lowers landing gear again. Main landing gear indicator
lights are indicated, indicating that the main gear is extended and
locked, but the nose gear light is extinguished. The light in the
gear handle is off, indicating that the system is functioning
properly. Pilot does use the emergency landing gear extension
system. Aircraft lands and nose gear collapses. Subsequent
examination reveals intermittently operating extend solenoid in nose
gear selector value. (April 1, 1996) ntsb
note: CFR 12 (1969 International/Ansul) removed from service.
On May 5, truck is stripped from all equipment. Dry chemical is put
in CFR 2 and CFR 3. ARFF is put in CFR 3. (By May 5, 1996) oh
Flying Service hanger burns. Four or five aircraft destroyed.
Fire starts about 5:20 p.m. when a single-engine aircraft catches fire
during de-fueling. As entire fire department responds, airport
closes to all incoming and departing flights eight minutes later and
remains closed until 5:55 p.m. Two employees of the aviation service
are transported to Rex Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.
Responding departments include Durham Highway, Morrisville, Six Forks,
Raleigh, Bethesda, and Parkwood. (October 31, 1996) oh, no01nov96
1997, private plane crashes at
airport. No injures aboard Cessna 150G after "big gust of
wind" blows across runway 01 and approaching aircraft starts to
drift off the centerline. Pilot attempts to avoid trees by applying
"full power" and gaining airspeed. Aircraft continues to drift and
strikes trees alongside of runway. Witness says "it was gusty and
the wind was out of the west." Witness heard power being applied to
airplane's engine and thought pilot was "going around." Witness
watched aircraft, saying "he had a high pitch altitude... the wind
started blowing him off the runway... [the aircraft] continued to
drift... and hit one of the pine trees... he still had power on."
Wind was reported to be from 260 degrees at 10, gusting 16 knots.
NTSB determines probably cause as failure of pilot to maintain
proper runway alignment during attempted landing go-around, with
relating factors gusty crosswind condition and proximity of trees to
runway. (April 19, 1997) ntsb
1997, FATAL, single-engine private plane
crashes in woods on airport property. Pilot is killed after
Cessna 172 disappears from radar at 8: 11 p. m., six minutes after
take-off. Wreckage is located at 11:18 p. m.
Read narratives. (December 24, 1997)
1997, new EMS station opens at 1015 National Guard
Drive. One-story, two bay, 2,145 square-feet. The new structure is built
by the airport, and houses EMS 6. It is located about 2.7 miles
from the airport fire station on Rescue Court.
1998, mock plane crash conducted.
Emergency drill starts after noon and lasts until about 6: 30 p.m.
More than ten fire departments participate. (October 3, 1998)no
1998, gasoline tanker explodes
on the Beltline in Raleigh,
just west of Capital Boulevard.
Late-evening accident kills driver when abandoned vehicle is struck
jutting from shoulder. Residents in nearby Brentwood hear explosion;
hear smoke detectors go off from wafting smoke. Adjacent brush also
burns and is contained by engine companies at Highwoods Office Park,
above incident. County departments provide tankers for water support;
airport crash truck is requested and CT-4 responds. Tanker carried 9,100 gallons. Fires burn both
at crash site and at bottom of storm-drain slope. Firefighters let the
blaze burn itself out. (December 18, 1998.)
1999, American Airlines
passenger jet experiences severe turbulence on approach to airport.
Five of 135 persons are injured, one serious aboard McDonnell
Douglas MD-80. Flight attendants are securing passenger cabin and
gallery for landing at time of occurrence. Pilot reports fasten seat
belt light is on and clear air turbulence was not forecasted.
Digital flight recorder reveals turbulence encountered approximately
17,462 feet on magnetic heading of approximately 144 degree, with
subsequent vertical acceleration reaching a maximum of 2.05 G's and
a minim of -.49 G's. (February 8, 1999) ntsb
1999, US Airways passenger jet
aborts take-off after engine has "loud bang, followed smoke and
fire. " Approximately 70 passengers exit the Boeing 737
through both forward doors, three or four sustaining minor injures.
(April 19, 1999)faa
delivery: new CFR 4, a 2000 Oshkosh TI-3000 crash truck. Truck
is delivered via flatbed, along with second flatbed with equipment. Specifications:
1950 GPM pump
3000 gallons water
420 gallons foam
450-pound Purple-K dry-chemical
Akron 600-1200 GPM roof turret
Raytheon night vision
Akron hydrochem systems. (July 27 2000)faj, cfr
2000, FATAL, twin-engine
private plane crashes near airport. DeHavilland DHC-6 crashes
near the center of Umstead State Park while on approach to the
airport. Pilot is killed and two passengers are
transported to Wake Medical Center after control tower loses radar
contact with plane 12: 22 a. m. Emergency workers are
notified of possible plane down at 12: 40 p. m. A park
ranger discovers the wreckage lying across Company Mill Road after
smelling jet fuel, about 2. 5 miles southeast of the airport at 3: 28
a. m. Read narratives (July 31, 2000) no
2000 apparatus notes:
deliveries: new CFR 2 and CFR 3, pair of 2000 Oshkosh TI-1500 crash trucks.
Delivered via two flatbed trucks. Specifications:
1500 GPM Waterous single-stage pump
1500 gallons water
210 gallons foam
450-pound Purple-K dry chemical
Raytheon night vision system
Akron hydrochem systems
Complete set of Hurst extrication
equipment (CFR 2 only)
SPATT tool (CFR 2 only). (November 29, 2000)faj, cfr
2000, apparatus notes:
2001, Terminal A south concourse
delivery: 2000 Ford Excursion, operated by shift commander.
Replaces Chevrolet Suburban (April 2001)faj
2001, Carolina Power & Light substation in
downtown Raleigh explodes. Dispatched 5:35 p.m. Under control
7:31 p.m. Thick smoke is visible for miles during afternoon rush
hour. The explosion and fire brings hundreds of spectators, as well
as CFR-4 from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, summoned
to spray foam on the burning transformers. Durham Highway, Wendell,
and Six Forks sends foam concentrate as Raleigh's supply dwindles.
(August 7, 2001)
2001, Raleigh Fire Station 24 opens at 10440 Fossil Creek Court,
which adds an structural engine company available as mutual aid
within minutes from the airport. It is located 3.4 miles from the
airport fire station on Rescue Court. (August 24, 2001)
2001, FATAL, private plane
crashes into house at 7609 Stone Horse Court near Umstead Park.
Read narratives. (December 12, 2001)
2002, apparatus modifications: logos added of Casper the
Friendly Ghost. (August 2002)
2002, fire department is featured in On The Runway column in
Apparatus Journal, Number 19, Volume 5, September-October 2002, by
Mark A. Redman and Pete Brock.
- Airport is located on 5,000 acres.
- Average of 550 aircraft movements per day.
- Handled 9.5 million passengers and 121,000 tons of cargo in
- Emergency Services department has nineteen firefighters,
with two officers and four firefighters per shift.
- All members are EMT-D certified.
- Answered 974 emergency calls and 1,200 non-emergency calls in
- Fire station is situated between the two major runways.
- Structural support is provided under mutual aid agreement
from city of Raleigh, from nearby Fire Station 24.
2002, mock plane crash conducted.
2004, Navy F/A-18
Hornet explodes on take-off. Pilot safely ejects. Plane continues rolling and comes to rest about 250 feet from Terminal
A. Jet is one of two refueling at airport. Raleigh Engine
24, Engine 23, Engine 17, Engine 18, Truck 16, Battalion 4, and Car 5 are
dispatched, along with Durham Highway and Western Wake units. (March 26, 2004) no01apr04, oh
2004, single-engine private plane
makes emergency landing on Aviation Parkway at 1:50 p.m. Pilot
reports losing air pressure after taking off and makes safe landing on
southbound lanes while attempting to return to airport. Aircraft is not
damaged. Raleigh Engine 24 responds along with CFR. (March 31, 2004)
2005, Six Forks EMS at 6901 Mt. Herman Road. The
one-story structure, built 1972 and with 10,816 heated square-feet, was
obtained by the airport in 1990. Unit 1273 placed in service, as primary
response for airport proper and to the east. Cary EMS responds from
Morrisville, to Interstate 40 and the airport west. Two rescue boats and
a light trailer are also/later located there. It is located 1.9 miles
from the airport fire station on Rescue Court. (October 1, 2005)
2005, apparatus delivery: new CFR 1, a
2005 Ford F-550/4 Guys mini-pumper
with 500 GPM pump, 250 gallons of water, and 20-gallon foam cell.
Replaces 1991 Ford/E-One mini-pumper. (November 2005)
2005, EMS 6 vacates
their station on National Guard Drive. The Wake County EMS unit is
moved to another service area in the county. The building is
subsequently occupied by UNC Hospital, in January 2006, which stores
mobile care units there. (By December, 2005)
2008, Terminal 2 opens, with first phase
of 550,000 square-foot facility completed. On same day,
Terminal A is renamed Terminal 1. (October 26, 2008)rdu-ws
2009, Raleigh Fire Station 24 adds a ladder company at its location,
Ladder 23, later named Ladder 6. (January 3, 2009.)
2011, second and final phase of Terminal 2
opens. (January 24, 2011)rdu-ws
2011, Six Forks EMS ceases operation.
Wake County EMS assumes role
of provider for their response area at 0800 on Monday, May 3, and
has placed four units in service, including EMS 34 at the airport,
operating 0800-2000. The EMS station at the airport is named RDU. It
later houses EMS 34, EMS 35, and Medic 95. (May 2, 2011)
2012, Ownership of the airport EMS station building its 1.09 acre
parcel transferred to the county. (September 19, 2014)
delivery: 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe MPV, as Fire Chief's vehicle.cfr
2014, Terminal 1 reopens
following $68M modernization project. (April 13, 2014)rdu-ws
2014, Airport EMS station closed. Building to be demolished and
replaced with new structure. EMS 34, EMS 35, Medic 95 relocated to
Lynn Road EMS station. During operation periods, EMS 34 anchors at WakeMed Brier Creek. EMS 35 anchors at Pleasant Valley Shopping
Center. Medic 95 also sort of anchors at that location. By this
time, plans have changed with a slight shift of the building. The
thing's been moved a little to the northwest, to get out of the
flight line restrictions. (October 14, 2014)
- 2014 Command Support Products Foam Chariot III foam trailer, twin-axle trailer
with three 265 gallon foam totes (3% ARFF) plus high-capacity monitor (1000 GPM).
Placed in service August 2014. cfr
- 2015 Ford F-350/UPF brush truck, 300/300/10, designated CFR 12.
Placed in service July 2014.rdu
2015, Airport EMS station re-opens. New EMS station
in service with EMS. The station houses EMS 34 and EMS 35 at
present. Those are twelve-hour trucks, currently operational from
6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Contains
supervisor's office, bathroom, locker/exercise room, dayroom,
kitchen, supply room in apparatus bay. No sleeping quarters. The new
building is first three-bay county-built EMS station. (November 3,
delivery: new CFR 4, a 2016 Oshkosh Striker 3000, 2000/3200/420/450#/460#
plus Snozzle. Truck is purchased with 85% of funding from federal
and state sources, and is thus painted safety yellow.
||Deutz TCD 16.0L V8, 670 HP, 1950 ft. lbs.
of torque at 1400 RPM, US Tier 3
||Allison 4800 EVS automatic
||Oshkosh TAK-4 independent system
||Power divider driven Waterous CRQB, single
stage, pump and roll capable, 2000 GPM at 240 PSI
||420 gallons (3% AFFF)
||450 pounds (nitrogen propellant)
||460 pounds (argon propellant)
||Snozzle, 50 foot extendable boom,
High volume, low attack bumper turret,
Driver's Enhanced Vision System (DEVS)
The Snozzle is called a High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET), and
adds the ability to:
- Flow 500 GPM (low flow), 1000 GPM (high flow), or 1250 GPM
(with limited horizontal travel). Plus 250 GPM through the
piercing tip. (The airport's current crash trucks flow 300 GPM
from the bumper.)
- Flow water, foam, and dry chemical.
- Deliver precise and controlled piercing over the wing, under
cargo areas, and from high angles of aircraft.
- Extend the reach of extinguishing agents, so the vehicle can
be positioned away from escape slides and triage efforts.
- Flow a full master stream at ground level, for such uses as
extinguishing burning tires and/or hot brakes quickly and
- Deliver a wide spray pattern to reach under an aircraft, for
cooling fuel tanks and cargo areas.
- Master stream can be adjusted to deliver a quick mass
- Lift up to 500 pounds.
- Can be used as a stand pipe.
Truck also has Driver's Enhanced Vision System (DEVS), a moving
map display that helps vehicle operators safely navigate in low
visibility conditions. Such as rain, sleet, fog, or smoke from a
fire. It displays the location of the truck on the airfield, and
also provides alerts as the vehicle approaches runway holding
markings and runway safety areas. (Called an Imbedded Runway
Incursion Warning System.)
Additional features of DEVS are:
- Waypoints and crash site information can be placed on the
map for easier low visibility navigation.
- Routes can be programmed into the system to avoid unsafe
areas and for most efficient routing.
- Ability to create geographic zones to avoid areas of
construction and other obstacles.
- Full internet access from within the vehicle.
- Document storage gives personnel access to schematic
drawings of aircraft, hazardous materials information, GIS maps,
- Allows for vehicle location tracking for incident
Truck is delivered via flatbed to airport maintenance facility.
(April 28, 2016)cfr
2016, New CFR 4 placed in service,
after training and FAA certification concludes. (September 19, 2016)cfr
2017, Apparatus delivery: 2017 Oshkosh Global Striker 6×6,
1250/3000/420/450# . (December 14, 2017)
2018, New CFR 3 placed in service. (February 16, 2018)
2019, Apparatus delivery: 2019
Freightliner/Pierce Responder pumper, 1250/750/45. (November 7,
2020, New CFR 1 placed in service.
(January 6, 2020)
||Cary Fire Department
||Fire Apparatus Journal, Volume 19, Number 5, "On
the Runway" by Mark A. Redman and Pete Brock,
||Fire Trucks at War, www.firetrucks-atwar.com
||News and Observer
||NTSB vis aviation-safety.net
||Airport Web Site
||NC Department of the Secretary of State