Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Things Have Changed in the SFD

How things have changed! The first photo here shows the Salisbury Fires Department's Headquarters Station when it was brand new. (this is currently station 16) It is believed this photo was taken in 1928 when this station opened because the flag buntings around the doors and windows indicate that some event of significance was about to, or had recently occured. The equipment pictured here easily falls into the era of the late 20's. Take note of all the open space and the lighting. Near the front of the building is a pendant style schoolhouse lamp and in th foreground you can just see the globe of a ceiling lamp. Also note the four double doors in the front. These doors swung open to the outside on hinges. It was all done manually, no automatic overhead systems here. These doors are replicated in the new Station 16 Heritage center & museum. In the 1950's these doors were removed and the building was altered for the installation of two large overhead doors w/ electric openers.

This photo was taken recently. I tried to take the photo from about the same position on the stairway that the top photo was taken from but of course the camera lenses today are far different than those in 1928 and the field of view with my camera today differs somwhat. None the less I think the angle and view is quite close.

The free space and open areas from 80 years ago is gone. Flouresent lighting long ago replaced the chain pendant fixtures and the "Air-Vac" units are suspended from the ceiling to assist in removing diesel fumes are very evident. The air vacs are in fact quite new and were installed since I retired in 2000. An air cascade system (yellow tanks) is seen in the lower right. This is just one of several necessary systems used to replenish the air bottles used by the firefighters on the fire scene.

The height of the newer vehicles is also certainly noticable. Also seen here are the racks used for the personal protective gear for the firefighters. Long gone are the rubber raincoats and hip boots once issued and required nothing more than a coat hook on the wall for storage . Personal Protective Gear today requires it to be hug and dried after use. This protects the integrity of the gear, provides a comfort level for the next time it is worn, and preserves the layered material built in to protect the firefighter from extreme the temperatures encountered.

These photos only revel a thumbnail of the overall needs for a new and enlarged facility. More than anything the SFD moved from it's house on Church Street 80 years ago to the current house because it needed room for the equipment at the time and for future expansion. Now, eighty years the SFD has once again outgrown its current house. A new station on Cypress Street, built for current needs and with an eye to future is about to open. With any luck it too will serve the citizens for a long and derisive time.

More on the new station to come.
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