After almost 20 years, Durham Fire Department brings back Rescue 1 company

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Saturday, the Durham Fire Department’s Rescue 1 truck will go back into service after it was decommissioned 19 years ago.

The Rescue 1 company will serve citywide as the department’s new heavy and special-hazards rescue company.

Fire officials say the truck will be staffed with personnel who specialize in responding to vehicle extrications, residential, and commercial structure fire response, building collapse, water rescue response, confined space rescue, and high angle rescue.

Assistant Chief of Operations for the Durham Fire Department Andy Sannipoli said the decision to recommission the company comes after the city has responded to an increasing number of calls as the population continues to grow.

“We’ve run in the neighborhood of close to 30,000 calls a year for service, and several years ago, it was nowhere near that,” Sannipoli said.

Sannipoli added that with more high-rise buildings downtown now, the fires and rescues they respond to have become more complex.

“It’s not only getting to the call, but it’s getting all of our equipment up to the proper floor for the call, or where it needs to be and that’s a staffing intensive operation,” Sannipoli said.

The Durham Fire Department has hired 15 new firefighters to staff the Rescue 1 company. A total of five firefighters will work on the Rescue 1 truck per shift.

The history of the Rescue 1 company goes back to the 1960s when the truck was first commissioned.

“Back in the 60s, before Durham County Emergency Medical Services were around, it used to run all of the EMS calls in Durham County,” Sannipoli said.

The company was decommissioned back in 2000 when the Rescue 1 personnel were transferred to the department’s new squad program at the time.

But these days, with the increase in fire and rescue calls, the department said its time to bring Rescue 1 back to life.

“Bringing the truck back into commission will give us adequate staffing and help alleviate some of that strain,” Sannipoli said.

The Durham Fire Department will be holding a ceremony in honor of the recommissioning of Rescue 1 at 10 am at Fire Station 1 at 139 E. Morgan Street in downtown Durham.

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