City supports effort to honor black firefighter

Published 4:33 pm Monday, April 4, 2016

A historical marker to tell the story of Edward Peed could be erected in Washington.

During its meeting last week, the Washington City Council unanimously endorsed the application asking the state to approve and erect the marker.

The city’s Human Relations Council and Robbie Rose, the city’s fire chief, asked the city to support their request for the historical marker. The city honors Peed every February with a memorial service.

Peed, a member of the all-black Salamander Fire Company, was the first Washington firefighter to die in the line of duty and, according to records, North Carolina’s first black fireman to die in the of duty. He was a 20-year veteran of the force — the fateful fire, one that swept through warehouses on the Washington waterfront. The date was Feb. 8, 1902, a Saturday,

The fire, which started about 5:25 p.m., was blamed on a defective flue at the Atlantic Coastline freight warehouse. Shortly after 9 p.m., Peed, a nozzleman, was spraying water on rubbish when the western wall of the Hoyt Building collapsed, falling on Peed and killing him instantly, according to historical records.

Rose said the city is looking to erect the marker somewhere along the intersection of West Main Street and Stewart Parkway. The North Carolina Department of Transportation restricts placements of historical markers to numbered state or federal highways such as N.C. Highway 32 or U.S. Highway 264.

Applicants should specify the distance and direction from the proposed marker location to the site being marked, according to the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program’s website. The members of the Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee, when reviewing a proposal, will consider the feasibility of placing a marker within a reasonable proximity. Where possible, the marker will be placed at the site being marked. In other cases, they may direct the reader to a nearby site.

Rose said the committee meets this month. If the application is not submitted in time for that meeting, it would be December before the committee meets again, he said. Councilman Doug Mercer said the application needed to be submitted as soon as possible because the marker program will have to investigate the request for a marker before deciding the matter.

The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program, operated by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, will review the application for a marker honoring Peed and determine if such a marker is warranted. Specifically, the Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee oversees the program. The committee is composed of ten faculty members from four-year colleges and universities who are experts in one or more aspects of the state’s history.










About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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