Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders Ceremony at FDIC International 2019

On Thursday, April 11, 2019, at Opening Ceremony Day 2 of FDIC International 2019, the National Fire Heritage Center (NFHC), which serves as a research facility for fire departments, collectors, fire service professionals, and others who need detailed specifications, base information, and general history relative to the fire service, inducted six members to its Hall of Legends, Legacies, and Leaders (HLLL). The NFHC includes the National Fire Heritage Archives, the National Fire Museum System, and the National Fire Heritage Foundation.

Established in 2010, the HLLL includes prominent fire service leaders who have made significant contributions to fire protection who have been a member of the fire service or fire protection disciplines for at least 25 years and who are known/recognized in the national/international fire service arena.

This year’s inductees are the following:

Chief Luther Fincher was hired by Charlotte, North Carolina, in January 1966 and rose through the ranks to the position of chief in 1987. He was the city’s first hazardous materials coordinator and directed the implementation of the 17 recommendations established by the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Chemical Safety. He was president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) in 1999-2000 and the only chief to serve on the IAFC and National Fire Protection Association boards of directors at the same time. He represented  the U.S. fire service with CTIF (International Association of Fire and Rescue Service).

Chief Theodore Jarboe, a 50-year veteran of the fire and rescue service, retired as deputy chief in 2003 from the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service. Known nationally as an author, an inventor, an instructor, and a safety advocate, Jarboe was instrumental in bringing advances to many fire and rescue topics. In 1995, he was among a team of first responders called to help search for survivors at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City following a bombing that killed 168 people.

Greg Noll began his career in hazardous materials in an environment where limited training materials and no national-level regulations and standards existed. He collaborated with other catalysts in the field, such as John Eversole and Mike Hildebrand, to collectively develop the foundation on which today’s hazmat response and training community is based. His contributions to the national hazmat response community have been substantial. He was a leader in the development of hazmat preparedness policies, doctrine, training, and standards that are the “standard of care” in today’s hazmat response community. Noll also represented the emergency response community on numerous national-level hazmat response initiatives involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fire Administration, U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and National Academies of Science.

Robert Quinn was Chicago fire commissioner in 1957-78. In 1934, he climbed eight stories to rescue three civilians from a fire in a downtown loop building. That same year, he put a 200-pound woman over his shoulder and, with her clothing on fire, leaped across a four-foot space to an adjoining building. While serving in the Navy during World War II, Quinn was decorated for heroism during a three-day battle against a fire on the tanker USS Montana, which was loaded with aviation fuel. His most notable accomplishments include the early adoption of two-way radios, use of helicopters, attention to firefighter physical fitness, use of performance metrics and initiatives leading to the City of Chicago achieving an ISO Class 2 rating.  He revolutionized firefighting tactics in Chicago and around the world through the introduction of the highly maneuverable large caliber and elevated streams of the Snorkel.  This capability is almost universal in today’s fire apparatus and field tactics.

Chief Julian H. Taliaferro began his fire service career with the Harrisonburg (VA) Fire Department on October 1, 1960. Taliaferro was then appointed to the Charlottesville (VA) Fire Department. His fire service career was interrupted in the Fall of 1966 when he entered the United States Army. He served in Vietnam in 1967-68 and was a TET Offensive survivor; he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. In 1968, he returned to the Charlottesville Fire Department and was assigned to training. On February 1, 1970, he was promoted to deputy chief and then was appointed Chief of department on September 1, 1971, at the age of 30, making him the youngest chief in the city’s history. During his 34-year tenure as chief, he made many improvements that raised the level of service to the community.

David White is widely respected for his influence on municipal and industrial fire protection education, training, and standards and for bringing industrial fire and emergency response into the forefront with the municipal and volunteer fire service. He has impacted the knowledge and leadership development of thousands of emergency responders worldwide and the professional development of many members of the fire service, particularly in the industrial world. He provided consultation and customized training for industrial and national fire service facilities in 53 countries. 

About the Center

As an IRS 501c3 non-profit organization, the National Fire Heritage Center exists to preserve, protect and increase the utilization of contributors to the body of knowledge of the American Fire Protection Services and allied disciplines through identification, acquisition, preservation, conservation and restoration.


Photos: Thursday Opening Ceremony Photos: 04


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The executive officers for the National Fire Heritage Center are William D. Killen, president/CEO; Willie G. Shelton, vice president-operations; Stuart M. Nathan, secretary; Rodney A. Slaughter, vice president-finance; and Paul D. Brooks, treasurer. For additional information, contact public information officer, Christopher Baker cbaker@fireheritageusa.org

Nomination period for the Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders opens Jan. 15

Nominations for the Fire and Emergency Services Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders (HLLL) will be accepted from Jan. 15 through Feb. 28, 2019. The HLLL provides individual recognition of significant contributions and distinguished service to the fire and emergency services mission. We encourage your submittal of individuals who you believe have made significant contributions to this profession.

Nominating criteria and format

Any person or organization may submit a nomination for the HLLL in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Nominees should have completed at least 25 years of service in the fire service and or fire protection disciplines and be known/recognized in the national/international fire service arena (local/regional recognition does not qualify).
  • Nomination packages shall be a single page, printed both sides of the paper, typed, and in Arial font 10 point. Only one page is permitted.  
  • Nomination packages shall be postmarked no later than Feb. 28 and delivered to the National Fire Heritage Center, P. O. Drawer 76, Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

Email submissions may be sent to hampvafire@yahoo.com.

What to include in your nomination package

  • A cover page.
  • Photo of nominee, complete name to include middle initial, date of birth, current address, phone number and email address, if available. NOTE: If nominee is deceased, provide date of death and place of interment.
  • Current and/or previous fire and emergency services affiliations with dates.
  • Chronological listing of fire service experience/positions held (most current first), including significant elected positions held.
  • Professional accomplishments and distinguished service, including publications, texts and articles published.
  • Education, training and/or certification achievements, honors and awards received.

The candidates for this year’s induction will be vetted by the HLLL committee, submitted to the NFHC Board of Directors for final approval, and announced at the Fire Department Instructors Conference.  Selections will be limited to no more than six inductees per year.

For additional information contact:

George Morgan, Chairman
Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders Committee
National Fire Heritage Center
P.O. Drawer 76
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Email: hampvafire@yahoo.com

Open-ended questions for oral history interviews

This is Part 5 in a series of articles that provide oral history guidelines for those who share our passion for collecting American fire history before it is lost to the ages.

Read Part 1Read Part 2| Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

The types of questions you ask are critical to the success of your interview. Open-ended questions are questions that encourage people to talk about what is important to them. They help to establish rapport, help you gather additional information, and increase your understanding. An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” response.

Continue reading → Open-ended questions for oral history interviews

Oral history tools of the trade and interview questions

This is Part 4 in a series of articles that provide oral history guidelines for those who share our passion for collecting American fire history before it is lost to the ages.

Read Part 1Read Part 2| Read Part 3

The pre-plan

In preparation for your interview, you should:

  • Learn as much as you can about the person beforehand.
  • Bring a file folder of archived material.
  • Be prepared with a set of questions to help get the interview started and to keep it going.
  • Check audio and/or video recording equipment before going to the interview and check it again just before the interview session begins. Start each recording with the date, place, and names of participants, including your own.
  • Keep and use notes of names, places, events and dates.
  • Listen carefully to the interviewee. Follow leads in the conversation. Know when to move on to the next question by recognizing when the subject has been fully discussed. You can return to your list of questions at this time.
  • Be reassuring and aware that when telling stories, memories and emotions may surface (joy, sadness, anger). Respect the interviewee’s feelings and be gentle.

Continue reading → Oral history tools of the trade and interview questions

Preplanning your oral history interview


This is Part 3 in a series of articles that provide oral history guidelines for those who share our passion for collecting American fire history before it is lost to the ages.

Read Part 1| Read Part 2

There is a pretty good chance at this point that you already know a person that you would like to interview. If not, look around your organization and you will probably find an active member of your department in their sixties or seventies, or even eighties. These people have the institutional knowledge of your department that would be of great historical benefit.

Look also around your community. There may be survivors of past disasters or victims of emergencies that would like to tell their story, too. Surviving family members of department personnel who have recently passed away may also be interesting interview subjects. There is really no end to the interview possibilities in your own community.

Continue reading → Preplanning your oral history interview

Ethical considerations for oral history interviews

This is Part 2 in a series of articles that provide oral history guidelines for those who share our passion for collecting American fire history before it is lost to the ages. Read Part 1

Interview styles

If there is a contemporary interview style that you could easily identify with and effectively adopt, it might be that of a mental health care professional. A psychologist, or psychiatrist, will first establish a safe environment for the interviewee and provide an appropriate atmosphere for a person to tell their story. The person being interviewed is thoughtfully allowed to tell the story with carefully crafted follow-up questions asked by an attentive interviewer.

As an interviewer, you should never exploit the person you are interviewing or their story. An interview example that many of us see on television is the technique used by investigative reporters. But this type of interview technique is not the best example of how to conduct a historical oral interview! Investigative reporters are all about their story — regardless of who gets hurt in the process of getting to the “truth.”

Continue reading → Ethical considerations for oral history interviews

Conducting oral history interviews

The American fire service is fascinating in terms of the breadth of its history, the richness of its traditions, and the deeply embedded values and beliefs of those that serve this profession. The National Fire Heritage Center (NFHC) exists precisely to document and hold in trust the history and culture of the American Fire Service for future generations to study, explore and enjoy.

Much of our historical information is carried from one generation of firefighters to the next by our oral histories. The NFHC’s Board of Directors realizes that we must not wait to begin gathering these life stories. We must begin in earnest, to collect our oral traditions, one individual firefighter and fire service leader at a time. Collectively, we will capture important features about our firefighting culture that are seldom recorded or preserved. This type of information will expand our knowledge of the profession and be of value to future generations of fire service professionals and historians.

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40 years ago: The day the American fire service changed

A fire that swept through the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, on May 28, 1977, killed 162 people and injured more than 100. As a result of this tragedy, national fire codes for public assembly occupancies were changed to require — for the first time — fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems to help prevent such an event from happening again.

Continue reading → 40 years ago: The day the American fire service changed