Fire protection and fire prevention have literally been part of Raleigh’s history since the City was established in 1792. Raleigh’s original planners designed the first public streets to help prevent fires from spreading block to block, and trees were left intact, also for fire prevention. In 1912, the City’s fire protection services were ramped up when volunteers turned those duties over to a paid, professional force. Thus, the City of Raleigh Fire Department was born.
On Saturday, June 16, the Fire Department will have a free daylong public celebration of its 100th anniversary in Downtown Raleigh near the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Residents as well as visitors to the Capital City are invited to the party which will include a fire truck parade, fire apparatus display, Kid’s Zone, firefighter competitions, and, of course, birthday cake.
Activities for Everyone: The City of Raleigh Fire Department’s centennial celebration on Saturday will kick off with a fire truck parade beginning at 10 a.m. The parade will be a memorable display of antique and modern firefighting vehicles and equipment, representing every decade that the Fire Department has served Raleigh. Fire equipment from throughout the South is expected to be in the parade. Also included in the parade will be pipe bands and current and retired members of the Fire Department.
The parade route will start on Hillsborough Street at St. Mary’s Street and proceed east to the Capitol. It will turn south at Salisbury Street, left on Morgan Street and then right on Fayetteville Street to Lenoir Street where the parade will end.
After the parade is completed, there will be a display of fire apparatus and antique fire equipment in the parking lots on South Street in front of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. There will also be pumping demonstrations and servings of birthday cake. Among the items that will be on display is Raleigh’s first fire alarm bell. The 1,000-pound, solid bronze bell dates back to 1870, a span of 142 years. The bell’s permanent home is the Raleigh Fire Museum at the City’s Keeter Training Center, but it has been moved Downtown for the Fire Department’s 100th anniversary celebration.
In conjunction with the display of fire apparatus and antique fire equipment, trophies will be awarded in three categories: oldest apparatus, best in show and farthest distance traveled.
Located near the display area will be The Kid’s Zone, which also will open following the parade in an area on Salisbury Street between Lenoir and South streets. Kidde, the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products, is sponsoring the Kid’s Zone. Children will enjoy a bean-bag toss, toy fire truck races, and a smoke alarm testing station. There will be balloons, temporary tattoos and other giveaways. Educational fire and carbon monoxide safety information will be available for both children and parents.
There’s more. The Kid’s Zone will have a mock kitchen, bedroom and home exterior section to offer fire safety tips in a realistic environment. Also in the Kid’s Zone, the City of Raleigh Fire Department and other fire departments will present:
- Photo opportunities with Sparky the Fire Dog (the Raleigh Fire Department’s mascot), Blaze or Smoky Bear;
- A kid-sized bucket brigade;
- A puppet show on fire safety; and,
- A hands-on operation of firefighting equipment with real fire hoses to allow children to test their aim.
Starting at 1 p.m., as many as 40 teams of professional firefighters — with four members each — will begin timed competitions on the lot bounded by Salisbury, South, Wilmington and Lenoir Streets. Firefighting teams representing cities throughout the South will compete in four timed events: bucket brigade, command and control, hose stream deployment and quick dress. The Fire Department’s 100th anniversary celebration is expected to conclude by 6 p.m. For more information, visit the anniversary website at www.RFD100.com. Centennial History Book, Roll Call
To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the City of Raleigh Fire Department, production has started on a Centennial History Book. The Fire Department has partnered with Strawbridge Studios to produce the book. It will feature a text history of the department, 100 years of historical photos, fire station histories, fire apparatus photos, personnel portraits and other interesting facts. Measuring 9-by-12-inches, the coffee-table-sized hardcover will contain 260 full-color pages.
The cost of this limited edition book is $60 through Dec. 1. Order forms are available at www.RFD100.com or by calling 919-831-6391. Recognizing that the people are the most important part of the Fire Department’s 100-year history, Fire Department Historian Mike Legeros has created the Centennial Roll Call. The document lists the names of all of the Fire Department’s members since its creation in 1912. More than 1,500 names appear on the Centennial Roll Call which also is posted on www.RFD100.com. To access the document, type “Centennial Roll Call” in the search engine at the bottom right side of the webpage.
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