In the early morning of November 28, 1932, Winston-Salem Fire Department chief Harry E. Nissen responded to a house fire in western Winston-Salem. When that fire was under control, Nissen departed for another fire in the city’s eastern section. He rode in a red automobile used by the fire department with its siren blaring.
Fireman George Jenkins drove the car. At approximately 2:25 A.M., a Greyhound bus struck the car around the right rear wheel. The collision threw the two men from the car. An ambulance took the firemen to City Hospital. Nissen died at City Hospital without gaining consciousness. Jenkins was severely injured. Nissen was a Winston-Salem native. When he was a young man, Nissen joined the “Rough and Ready” volunteer fire company of Salem. When Winston and Salem merged in 1913, he became chief of the unified fire departments. Chief Nissen was a dedicated firefighter. He spent part of his time at home and the other time at the fire station. However, most of the time, Nissen was on duty. He even had a fire alarm at his home. The chief took part in fighting a fire right alongside his men. Fireman Jenkins said Nissen “wasn’t a fellow that would say go do something. He would say, let’s go.” Another fireman stated that the chief “would do anything the men would do.” (Both quotes come from North Carolina Reports, Volume 206, pages 890-891.)
North Carolina Supreme Court. Mrs. Eva Nissen, Widow of Harry E. Nissen, Deceased, Employee, v. City of Winston-Salem, Employer, Self-Insurer, North Carolina Reports 206 (Spring Term 1934): 888-893.
Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, Executor of Harry E. Nissen, Deceased v. Atlantic Greyhound Lines of North Carolina, Inc., and Bernie W. Phillips, Case 36S-744, North Carolina Supreme Court Original Cases, 1930-1939, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
Winston-Salem Journal, November 28, 1932, and November 29, 1932.
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