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Thursday, May 19, 2011

What you find right at home - Old Fire Fighting Equipment

People in the east long to photograph out west where "its better". People out west want to photograph the east with all the colors, where "its better". It's always better in somebody else's locale. I have a sunrise shot and a snow shot that people always want to know where I went. I hate to tell them they were both taken at or near the end of my driveway, shooting across the woods on the other side of the street. (PS don't tell anybody, its our secret.)

    So I have taken some photowalks in different areas, Raleigh, cary, and Rocky Mount. (A photowalk is where you simply walk around the area taking photos.) While I was photowalking Rocky Mount at the train station, I discovered discovered a fire station with historic fire fighting equipment across the street from the train station.

It was closed; I guess because it was Good Friday (hold on I will explain a fire station being closed). So I came back the following Saturday. No luck, nobody home. Hhhmmm. Finally I called a local fire station a few days later and it turns out this station is a training and administration station and doesn't have fire trucks etc. Hence, it is only open Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. So I finally got down there during the week (Monday) and asked to take photos. They were more than welcome and explained some of the equipment. The shots are also posted to my photo website at www dot HLDPhotos dot com (spelling to fight spammers) under the Galleries/Projects-Events section.

 Here are the personnel of the fire station. They were a really great bunch of people.

(Left) First of all is the permanent resident, Sparky to the left. He's been around a loong time.

(Right) Pete Weaver 

(Left) Brian West

(Right) Frank Bandy 

(Left) Phillip Davis

 (Right)  Pete one last time.

Yes, it really works! At a fair of some type a few years ago, they loaded the coal and  lit the boiler and had it up and running.

The history board.

These photos are pretty much self explanatory.

How did they know where to go back in those days? Well here is the "automated system".

(Left) Here is the Code Sheet where each number corresponds to a location. (The fingers belong to one of the firefighters who helped me get the shot. They were all great.)

(Right) Here is the machine that gave them the codes. Each wheel had a different "code" of gears that would produce a different ring for each location.

Here is a tape type device that also signaled the station.

The old alarm box.

Whhaahh! These are antiques? I remember these phones growing up!

Now for some fire fighting equipment! 

Here you can see where the driver sat (where the hat is).

(Left) The coal burning engine.

(Right) The Coal for the steam engine. (I believe the fire extingusiher shown is a more modern addition in case the steam engine or coal catches fire.

(Wonder what they did in the old days?)

Did people really jump into those trampolines you see in old movies and did they actually work? YES! The firepeople (Pete)  told me that about 6 or 8 firefighters would hold the "net" and they could catch people from up to the second or third story. Higher than that I guess you hoped for the best.

BTW - I was laying on my back to get this shot as the net is affixed to the ceiling. It is about 8 feet across. The red pole is an unrelated piece of equipment that had to be suspended from the ceiling.

(Left) Here is an old fire extinguisher on wheels. The larger the wheel, the easier it is to roll over holes or rough sections. 

 (Right) An old "bucket" they used to get water or sand to the fire. The fire people would form a long line and pass the bucket to the next person.

I just realized that the person at the front of the line had to be really close to a big fire in order to be able to throw the contents of the bucket on the fire.

The carriage that hauled the hose.

The hose nozzle.

I love that fancy high tech lighting device. There's a certain sense of irony as they had to burn coal to work the steam engine and burn gas to light the light all to put out a fire. I sit here and think about the battery commercial on television about the batteries "firefighters trust" in their communications devices and these firefighters didn't even have electricity fighting the fire! Amazing what they did.

The ladder wagon. Note the two yellow leather buckets hanging off the frame.

In all of this, you may have figured out by now that fighting fires higher than a couple of stories was not very viable.

Notice the two leather buckets used, like the pointed container above, to carry water to the fire. Again, the fighters formed a long line and passed the buckets to the person up front who threw it on the fire. I can't help but think of the arm strength they had to have (not that today's demands are easy by any stretch.)

Fire Fighters Helmets from days gone by.

Nobody was sure but it appears to be a clamp of sorts that allowed fire fighters to hook two hoses together.

(Left) Yes they really slide down the pole to get to the equipment. (Note: the hole is sealed off by a mirror which explains the red floor reflection)

(Right) Poles and ladders on display.

In memory of those that served and those that fell. 

For more photos check out www.HLDPhotos dot com


  1. Great post Lee and some great pics too. (I remember those phones too:-)
    Hey check out my latest post of pictures. I went to the Orchid Trail last week and took photos of tons of orchids. Fun:-)

  2. the clamp is actually for burst hose on the fire ground. they are called hose jacket's and could also be made out strong leather.


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