After months of hard, tedious work, we were able to throw the switch and share what we have been working on. is now live.

To understand this project, you have to go back nearly twelve years to 2000.

It started out as a simple thought: “Is there a list of fire departments in North Carolina?”

In 2000, very little information was available on-line. So we decided we would start a list. Easier said than done.

After formatting the information into each of the one hundred counties, we decided the next logical step would be to list each individual fire station. There are just under 1,300 departments in North Carolina, and at the time, over 1,900  stations. Very little information existed on the 600 or so other records that we needed to capture.

Another problem was sorting through addresses. Many departments did and still use Post Office Boxes as their address, not a physical street address.

As the list started to fill out, it became obvious that we would want to figure out and display county numbering schemes. Again, a large task.

We would take in submissions from readers and typically update the list once or twice a year. Our data was finally getting pretty complete.

Fast forward to 2012. I’ve always had an interest in mapping, so I started thinking about how to take the data we had accumulated for twelve years and do something with it. We started playing around with various software and plug-ins and decided for the initial presentation of the information, to use a format that most people would be familiar with.

This would allow us to present very simple maps with icons. Visitors can pan and zoom into street level, choose satellite or map view and even Google Street View.

Having the information in this format allows visitors to review and provide updates to the information.

Right now, I consider this the “Review and Reconciliation Phase” of the project. More eyes to review and continue to update and correct the data.

So what’s next? Well, I’m learning GIS skills that will allow us to present the data in various dynamic ways on-line. It’s one more gadget in the toolkit.

Check back often. We hope you find this new resource useful.

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