Sunday, February 24, 2008

SFD Training From the Past (updated again)

Wow, How things have changed. It seems this is a group of Salsibury Firefighters is attending a training class on auto extracation. I say that because I recognized the vehicle in the background as an early Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute (MFRI) moblie training lab equiped for such a class. My best guess is this photo was taken in the early or mid seventies. The person in the very center of the photo I believe is Harry Waller, now retired. I can't say I know any of the others pictured. The three like helments you see were made of fiberglass and were made by MSA co. Those helmets were basicly just a shell withsome webbing inside to adjust to you head. They wern't even close to the helments in use today. I don't remember what company made the coats but they were made of canvas with emphasis on being water repellent rather than fire resistant. Those things were heavy too especially when the water resistance material wore away with use and the coats absorbed water. It took quite a while to dry them out as well.

Can anyone ID the fellows in this pic? It certainly would be nice to have some names for the faces. Thanks again to BC for the photo.


Most everyone agrees the person in the center is Hary Waller. The "Tall Boy" is Leslie "Josh" Thompson (by his own admission) and the firefighter to Harry's right and in front of Josh is Tim Keenan. (also by his own admission) Some debate on where this photo was taken, but most agree it was probably a regional fire school held in Pocomoke.

That leaves the instructor, in the white hat, and young man to Josh's left. Any ideas?


I have recieved a couple of e-mails recently as well as one phone call concerning the identity of the gentleman in the white hat and the location of this picture. Without a doubt this photo was taken at the SFD training center located on Isabella Street in Salsibury. Other photographs taken that day bear this out. I have also been assured by an individual I trust that the Instructor in the white hat is none other than Edwin "Boots" Raynor.

Boots was an instructor for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institiute, U of MD, and taught the first total Rescue Class on the Eastern Shore. If my memory serves me correctly he also assisted in developing this entire program. Boots was the Chief of Station 13, Rivera Beach over on the Western Shore.
Sadly, Boots died in the line of duty while fighting a natural cover fire in 1986 . I had a photo of the plaque with Boot's name on it at the National Fire Academy but I am unable to locate it right now. Boots was a great friend to all of us in Salisbury and surrounding fire departments. He was also an awesome instructor.

There remains one person unidentifies in the photo. That is the person to the far right. It has been suggested that this may be Bobby Bell. I remember Bobby but I am unsure if this is him.

Also--Thanks to Tony Sterling for stopping by the soapbox and leaving a nice comment. Please feel free to stop by and comment anytime Tony.

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TomCat said...

When was this picture taken? One of them looks like Tall Boy back in the day.

Soapbox said...

When I recieved the photo from BC he also questioned if that was Tall Boy being in the pic.

Hopefully I'll know tomorrow if he attends breakfast.

Anonymous said...

I believe the MSA helmets were known as the models, "TOP GUARD" and "SKULL GUARD".

The turnout coats were made by GLOBE, if I remember correctly. There were NOT any fire resistant properties in the material. I think they were known as cotton duck or army duck. They wouldn't keep you from erupting in a ball of fire but they would keep your hind parts dry!

just hav'n a look said...

Just taking a guess.. If thats Josh, Keenan is it possible that the other could be Chief See??

William Carey said...

There are other pictures that show this at the training ground on Isabella. While not in this photo, you can see the brickyard in the background of others.

Soapbox said...

I believe that person in question is Chief See.

just hav'n a look said...

Most pics I have seen from the past if one of those 3 were in it.. They all were in it..

Anonymous said...

Can the unidentified man in the hard hat be Jim Brown, from WBOC? Looks like him in eariler days.

Soapbox said...

Jim Brown did have a hard hat like that, but I doubt this is him. He usually remained at a distance and if this were him you more than likely would see a camera working.

TomCat said...

There was a Jim Brown who worked for Civil Defence for many years. Could this be the Jim Brown that was involved and not the one from WBOC??

Soapbox said...

The Jim Brown you refer to and the Jim Brown of WBOC are actuall one in the same.

Jim left WBOC to take the job with Civil Defense.

Tony Sterling said...

If Harry hadn't been identified I would have thought he and the unidentified man behind him may have been the Bell brothers. They were active during that time frame. His son I believe is a member of Pittsville or Parsonsburg. If the guy in the white hard isn't Jim Brown, you could have taken everything I'm worth on a bet. lol! ;)