Archive for February 21st, 2018

New fire station in Aurora (more)

Excerpts from the

Aurora firefighters will hold a two-day celebration starting Friday to mark the opening of the city’s new $4 million station. The city broke ground last year on the facility just west of the existing 1950s-era station in a neighborhood across from Abraham Lincoln Park. Firefighters made the move and began handling calls from Station No. 7 on Monday.

Space constraints were a major shortcoming of the 60-year-old station that wasn’t designed for modern fire apparatus. The building had room to house just one fire engine. Privacy also was an issue with one community-use bathroom and a 10-bed dormitory without any dividing walls.

By contrast, the new station has four individual bathrooms, living quarters arranged in cubicles, a workshop and a fitness area. A company officer, two paramedics, and two firefighters staff the roughly 10,500-square-foot station in 24-hour shifts.

Last summer, the city approved adding an ambulance to the station. But until the three-bay station opened, Medic 7 was running out of the central station downtown to cover the neighborhood on the city’s West Side. The city’s seventh advanced life-support ambulance has responded to more than 1,200 calls since it was put into service last July.

Firefighters will continue moving equipment into the new station over the next several days. Officials will gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Friday at 824 Kenilworth Place. They also will give tours of the building until 1 p.m. Guests are encouraged to RSVP by calling (630) 256-4008 or emailing

Then on Saturday, the department will host a public open house from 1 to 4 p.m.

The building was designed with natural tones and materials that tie into the station’s surroundings in the neighborhood east of Aurora University.

The city plans to open bids for the demolition of the old station at the end of the month. The site of the existing building will become the parking lot for the new station. Officials hope to tear down the shuttered station before asphalt plants open at the start of April.

thanks Ron

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Evanston Fire Department history

This from Phil Stenholm:

100 years ago today (February 21, 1918), the last three horses were retired from service with the Evanston Fire Department as the EFD became fully motorized. (This was five years before the Chicago Fire Department retired its last horse and became full-motorized).

The Evanston Fire Department utilized horses to pull its apparatus for nearly 35 years. Horses could pull firefighting apparatus at a speed of approximately 10-12 miles per hour (depending on the size and weight of the apparatus, weather, road, and traffic conditions, and the number of horses used), although the speed would decrease as the distance to be traveled increased and the horses became fatigued. Then once on the scene of a fire, the horses would be uncoupled from their apparatus and kept warm or cool (as necessary)–and out of harm’s way while firefighters battled the blaze.

Firemen were responsible for the care and feeding of the horses, although horses that were ill or injured would be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Fire department horses were kept in service for ten to 15 years (sometimes a bit longer), depending on the horse’s age and general health. Horses used by the Evanston Fire Department were usually transferred to the Street Department when no longer able to meet the demands of pulling firefighting apparatus.

The Evanston Fire Department’s horses were treated with the respect and dignity normally accorded to a friend or family member. When firefighters from the Evanston Fire Department won a muster in Blue Island in 1902, “Bob” and “Dan” (the horses pulling the hose wagon) were given the same “hero’s welcome” as the firefighters when the hose wagon returned to Evanston. .

In 1912, the Evanston Firemen’s Benevolent Association staged a fund-raising performance of “The Still Alarm” (a popular melodrama of the era) at the Evanston Theater. Members of the Evanston Fire Department were featured in the play, including EFD horses “Sharkey” and “Buttons.” (With a predilection for biting the buttons off the clothing of anyone who might come near, “Buttons” was an unusually talented horse. He could actually open a water-faucet by himself, and he performed this trick in the play).

The Evanston Fire Department first employed horse-power to pull its firefighting apparatus in November 1883, after the Village Board of Trustees purchased a horse named “Dave” from a farmer in Indiana to pull the new four-wheeled fire patrol/hose wagon. (Prior to 1883, all EFD fire-fighting apparatus was hand-drawn).

Four additional horses were acquired for the Fire Department in 1884-85, after the formerly hand-drawn Babcock chemical-engine was converted to horsepower and after the Village of Evanston purchased a hook & ladder wagon from the Davenport Fire Apparatus Co. The horses were kept in a stable at the EFD’s engine house (an old wood-frame remodeled paint shop located at the northwest corner of Sherman Avenue and the north alley of Davis Street) that was acquired for the use of the Fire Department in 1883.

When the combination engine house/stable was placed in service in November 1883, the Evanston Fire Department became a part-time paid fire department (it had previously been 100% volunteer). So the Village of Evanston employed a full-time “police/fire officer” (combination village nightwatchman/fire apparatus caretaker) to live at the fire house. The duties of the police/fire officer included the feeding and general care of the Fire Department’s horses. A three-man full-time paid Fire Department was established on June 5, 1888, and each man was responsible for one of the firefighting apparatus (Hose 1, Chemical 1, or Truck 1) and the horses used to pull it.

After the Village of South Evanston was annexed by the Village of Evanston (and the City of Evanston was formed) in 1892, the Evanston Fire Department was expanded and more horses were needed. A one-horse one-axle hose cart (Hose 2) was placed in service at the Fire Department’s “Engine Hose No. 2” at the old South Evanston Village Hall at 750 Chicago Avenue (the Evanston Police Department also established a “South Precinct” at this facility after annexation), and the number of horses assigned to pull the fire patrol/hose wagon at Engine House No. 1 was increased from one to two. (By doubling the horsepower assigned to Hose 1, the speed of the apparatus was increased and the Fire Department’s response to alarms was improved).

Engine House No. 1 was relocated into the new City Hall at the northwest corner of Davis & Sherman (across the alley to the south from the old paint shop) in 1893, and a steam fire engine (an 1895 Ahrens “Metropolitan” 2nd size steamer) was placed into service in March 1895. But because no additional horses were acquired to pull the steamer, the very useful Babcock chemical-engine was taken out of service and placed into reserve as its horses were reassigned to the steamer. .

After a disastrous fire at the home of prominent Evanstonian Harvey Hurd in August 1899 where there was a delay in getting water onto the fire, the City Council acquired two additional horses for the Fire Department and the EFD placed the chemical-engine back into service. By this time “Engine House No. 1” (now known as Fire Station #1) had been relocated again, this time from City Hall into the new Police/Fire public safety headquarters at the northwest corner of Grove & Sherman.

Five more horses were added to the Fire Department (for a total of 14) in 1901, as a two-horse four-wheeled hose-wagon replaced the one-horse single-axle hose cart at Station #2, a two-horse four-wheeled hose wagon was placed in service at new Fire Station #3 at 2504 West Railroad Avenue (later known as “Green Bay Road”) in North Evanston, and a two-horse buggy was purchased for the Chief Fire Marshal (as the Chief was now assigned a “buggy driver”).

Two more horses were added (for a total of 16) in 1903 when a Seagrave combination truck (light-duty hook & ladder and chemical engine) was placed in service at rebuilt Fire Station 2 (the three-bay firehouse was constructed on the site of the former South Evanston village hall/firehouse/police station), and another horse was added (bringing the total to 17) in 1906 when a new three-horse steam fire engine (an American-LaFrance “Metropolitan” 700 GPM steamer) was placed into service as Engine No. 1 at Fire Station #1. (The older Ahrens steamer was kept in reserve without manpower or horsepower 1906-11).

In the Summer of 1907, the hose wagons at Stations #2 and #3 (Hose 2 and Hose 3) were taken out of service and the horses that had been assigned to the two hose wagons were reassigned to the new American-LaFrance four-horse aerial-ladder truck that was placed into service at Station #1. The old Truck 1 (1885 Davenport H&L) was moved to Fire Station #3 (becoming Truck 3), and hose boxes with a capacity for 850-feet of hose-line were added to the Seagrave combination truck at Station #2 and to the Davenport H&L now at at Station #3.

The Evanston Fire Department had 19 horses in service (the most it would ever have) starting on February 15, 1911, when two more horses were acquired so that the old two-horse Ahrens steamer could be placed back into service at Station #2.

But the EFD’s horse-drawn era was on borrowed time.

As early as July 1909, the Evanston City Council had expressed an interest in the possibility of purchasing a gasoline-powered fire engine for the Fire Department. Gasoline-powered automobile fire apparatus were first used in the U. S. in 1906, and by 1909 it was becoming increasingly clear that the fire engine of the future would be motor-driven rather than horse-drawn.

Automobile fire apparatus were cheaper to operate than horse-drawn apparatus (horses needed to be fed every day, even when a fire department received no alarms, while automobile apparatus only needed gas and oil when they were in use), and automobile fire trucks were two or three times faster than horse-drawn apparatus and wouldn’t get tired and slow-down en route to a fire like horses sometimes would (thereby improving a fire department’s “response time,” and reducing or eliminating the need to construct additional fire stations to cover the outlying areas of a city).

The Evanston City Council’s Fire Committee made a fact-finding trip to Michigan in February 1910 to examine a gasoline-powered automobile fire engine–a Webb/Oldsmobile “combination” (pump & hose) pumper–that was in service in Lansing. Following the trip, the Fire Committee recommended Evanston purchase an “auto engine” for the Fire Department, and the City Council concurred. The question was left to voters in the form of a $10,000 bond issue referendum, and the bond issue was approved in April 1910 by a vote of 1,089 to 879 (55% in favor/45% opposed).

Even though the bond issue was approved in the Spring of 1910, the City Council took more than a year to purchase the truck. Aldermen wanted a so-called “triple-combination pumper” (pump, hose, and soda-acid fire suppression equipment all in one vehicle), so as to eliminate as many horses as possible.

The only bid received was from the Robinson Fire Apparatus Manufacturing Company–along with Howe and Webb, one of the leading manufacturers of automobile “combination pumpers” (pump and hose only) at the time, but there was some concern within the City Council that Robinson may not be able to meet the required specifications, since the company had never built a triple-combination pumper before. (The first triple-combination pumper ever built was placed into service on December 1, 1909, by the Monhagen Hose Company of Middletown, N. Y. The experimental prototype rig was manufactured by a New Jersey firm known as the “Tea Tray Company,” on an American Mors truck chassis).

Evanston Chief Fire Marshal Carl Harrison and the three members of the City Council’s Fire Committee visited the Robinson factory in St. Louis in February 1911. The visit was apparently a positive one, because on May 16, 1911, the City Council signed a contract with Robinson, agreeing to pay the Missouri company $9,000 for a triple-combination automobile pumper equipped with a 2nd size (approximately 700 GPM) triple-cylinder piston-pump, a 50-gallon soda-acid chemical tank with hose reel (the soda-acid chemical system being an automated version of the horse-drawn chemical engines of the 19th century), and two 25-foot extension ladders. The Evanston Index newspaper enthusiastically described the “auto truck” fire engine as “an entire fire department in itself!”

Known as the Robinson “Jumbo” (Robinson’s other impressive-sounding models included the “Invincible,” the “Whale,” the “Monarch,” the “Vulcan,” and the “Master”), the apparatus was powered by a six-cylinder 110-horsepower Buffalo marine engine, and featured a front-end hand-cranked starter, a right-side steering wheel, rear-wheel chain-drive two-wheel mechanical brakes, and solid rubber tires. (In spite of their “bumpy” ride, solid-rubber tires were considered safer and more reliable than pneumatic tires at the time). The hose-bed was polished teak (just like the deck of a sail-boat). Additionally, two ten-foot sections of hard-suction hose were strapped to the sides of the truck (each resting just above the front fenders, behind the headlights). Also, several kerosene lanterns (some with a clear lens, some with a colored lens) were hung from the outside of the apparatus, and a bell was mounted in front of the steering wheel on top of the cowl. (Sirens were not placed on Evanston fire apparatus until January 1927). As was common for the time, the truck had no windshield.

The “Jumbo” built for the City of Evanston was displayed at the International Association of Fire Engineers (IAFE) Convention in Milwaukee in September 1911, and the fire engine impressed many convention visitors. (Most had never seen a triple-combination automobile pumper before, since the Evanston “Jumbo” was one of the first triple-combination pumpers ever built).

Evanston Mayor Joseph E. Paden and Aldermen John W. Branch, Howard M. Carter, and James R. Smart traveled to Milwaukee on September 20th to meet with Robinson representatives and arrange for delivery of the apparatus to Evanston.

The fire engine arrived in Evanston during the first week of October 1911, and was road-tested over a three-day period starting on October 3rd. A Robinson engineer drove the five-ton “Jumbo” up and down the streets of Evanston, reaching a top-speed of 35 MPH.

Riding along on the test-drive were three members of the Evanston City Council (Aldermen Branch, Carter, and Changelon), and two engineers from the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU), Dr. F. A. Raymond and Kenneth Lydecker. The road-test was terminated early due to an overheated crankcase bearing, only the first of many mechanical problems to dog the Jumbo.

The Robinson “Jumbo” (officially rated at 750 GPM) passed capacity and pressure pump tests supervised by engineers from the NBFU at Becker’s Pond (now known as “Boltwood Park”) on Monday, October 23, 1911, successfully pumping 750+ gallons of water per minute at 110 pounds per square-inch through two 2-1/2” hose-lines fitted with 1-1/4” nozzles. The apparatus was accepted by the Evanston City Council on November 14th, and went into service as “Motor Engine No. 1” ten days later. Four new men were hired, including a civilian “Motor Driver” who had been specially trained at the Robinson factory in St. Louis. (A “Motor Driver” was defined as a combination chauffeur/mechanic/engineer).

The arrival of the “auto truck” allowed the City of Evanston to transfer four horses previously used by the Fire Department to the Street Department and transfer a steam fire engine (the EFD’s oldest engine, an 1895 Ahrens “Metropolitan” 600 GPM steamer) to Station #3 from Station #2. So by January 1912 (and for the first time ever), an engine company operating an automobile pumper or a steam fire engine was in service at each of Evanston’s three fire stations.

Because the Robinson “Jumbo” was so much faster than horse-drawn apparatus, Truck Co. 1 (operating at the time with a four-horse 1907 American LaFrance 85-ft HDA) was combined with Engine Co. 1 as a 15-man company (ten men on duty at any one time) known as “Motor Engine Co. 1,” and all personnel assigned to Station # 1 (except for a teamster and a tillerman assigned to drive the aerial-ladder truck and another man assigned as the chief’s “buggy driver”) rode to alarms aboard the “auto truck.”

In January 1916, fire gutted Rosenberg’s department store at 820 Davis St. Two Chicago F. D. engine companies assisted, and both of the CFD companies (Engine Co. 102 & Engine Co. 110) sent to Evanston were equipped with modern gasoline-powered automobile pumpers–Engine No. 102 a brand-new Seagrave, and Engine No. 110 a 1912 Webb that had previously been assigned to Engine Co. 102. With EFD Motor Engine No. 1 (the Robinson “Jumbo”) also working at the scene, it was a chance for Evanston officials to compare the performance of the three rigs under “game” conditions.

2,000 spectators gathered at Fountain Square, as Evanston and Chicago firemen fought the blaze late into the night. (Steve Redick was there but forgot to bring his camera). All three of the automobile pumpers ran out of gas after the EFD’s reserve fuel supply (120 gallons) was exhausted, but more gasoline was eventually located at a nearby garage. EFD Capt. Ed Johnson (Motor Engine Co. 1) was seriously injured at this fire, but eventually recovered and returned to duty. The $58,700 loss set a new mark (at the time) for the 2nd-highest loss from fire in Evanston’s history.

At the time that the Robinson engine was under consideration by the Evanston City Council in 1910, none of the companies that would later become the leaders in the production of automobile fire engines were manufacturing triple-combination pumpers. However, once Seagrave, American-LaFrance, and Ahrens-Fox began to produce reliable and durable automobile triple-combination pumpers, the temperamental “hot rod” manufactured by Robinson could not compete, and the company went out of business. And once the company was out of business, spare parts could only be obtained by salvaging parts from other Robinson rigs (if any could be located…).

In December 1914 the City of Evanston purchased an Overland roadster (at a cost of $800) for the Chief Fire Marshal, and by February 1918 the EFD was fully-motorized.

Voters approved a bond issue in April 1917 that led to the purchase of a fleet of automobile fire fighting apparatus from the Seagrave Company (total cost of $28,800), including one Model “E” city service ladder truck (equipped with an array of ladders including a 55-foot ground-based extension-ladder instead of an aerial-ladder, pike poles & axes, salvage covers, fire extinguishers, a heavy-duty jack, a life net, and a chemical tank & hose reel), one 750 GPM triple-combination pumper (a definite upgrade over the “Jumbo”), two chemical & hose 300 GPM booster-pumpers (originally specified in the advertisement for bids as chemical & hose wagons only, Seagrave threw-in the 300-GPM “booster-pumps” at no additional charge), and one Model “K” front-drive one-axle truck tractor (used to motorize the previously horse-drawn 1906 American-LaFrance “Metropolitan” 2nd-size steamer at Station #2).

The original Motorization Plan in 1916 included the acquisition of a four-wheel tractor to pull the 1907 American-LaFrance 85-ft HDA, but the truck was demolished in a collision with an Evanston Railway Company street car at Grove & Sherman in September 1916, and so an automobile city service truck was substituted for the tractor. The EFD did lease a 25-year old used (ex-Chattanooga F. D.) 1892 LaFrance/Hayes 65-ft HDA until the arrival of the new Seagrave city service truck in November 1917, but the EFD would operate without an aerial ladder apparatus for seven years, until September 1924 when a new Seagrave 85-ft TDA was placed in service at Station #1.

As a result of “motorization,” all of the EFD’s remaining horse-drawn rigs were scrapped over a three-month period (November 1917 – February 1918), and the horses used to pull the apparatus were transferred to the Street Department or sold. The EFD staged a parade through Evanston in March 1918 (on the first decent day of the Spring) to show off the new Seagrave rigs. No word on whether the old fire horses were watching.

As part of the Motorization Plan, Evanston’s fire-fighting force was increased from 39 to 41 in 1918. Motor Engine Co. 1 was reorganized at this time, with Engine Co. 1 (under the command of Capt. Tom McEnery and operating with the new triple-combination pumper) and Truck Co. 1 (under the command of Capt. Ed Johnson and operating with the new city-service ladder truck) were once again separate companies at Station #1 (as had been the case prior to 1912), Engine Co. 2 (under the command of Capt. Carl Harms and operating with both the tractorized-steamer and one of the new chemical & hose booster-pumpers) remained in service at Station #2, and Engine Co. 3 (under the command of Capt. George Hargreaves) remained in service at Station #3 with the other new chemical & hose booster-pumper. (Engine Co. 3 operated with just the 300-GPM booster-pumper through 1937).

Initially, the plan was to keep the Robinson “Jumbo” in service (moving it to Station #3 from Station #1) after the arrival of the Seagrave apparatus. However, because Seagrave added 300-GPM pumps to the chemical & hose wagons and because of the Jumbo’s history of mechanical problems, the difficulty in locating spare parts, and excessive vibration when operating at full-throttle, Chief Fire Marshal Albert Hofstetter (Carl Harrison’s successor) decided to remove the Robinson engine from front-line duty after only six years of service and have Engine Co. 3 operate with just the 300-GPM booster-pumper.

The Robinson “Jumbo” was kept in reserve as the EFD’s only spare automobile apparatus until 1929, when it was transferred to the Street Department for use as a utility truck. (Evanston’s Street Department operated with mostly-hose-drawn wagons throughout the 1920’s and into the 1930’s, so ANY automobile truck–even an old fire engine–was considered a useful upgrade).

By replacing horsepower with automotive power, the Evanston Fire Department was able to greatly improve its “response time” to alarms, and exchange the higher maintenance costs associated with the care and feeding of horses with the lower maintenance costs associated with autombiles.

In 1920, the City of Evanston replaced the stable facilities (stalls, tack rooms, and hay lofts) in the fire stations with kitchens, pantries, and dining rooms for the firemen, as firefighters now took their meals in the firehouse instead of at home or at a restaurant.

Meanwhile, the much-beloved animals (“Speed,” “Major,” “Buttons,” “Sharkey,” “Bob,” “Dan” and others) that gave horsepower to the Evanston Fire Department spent their last years pulling garbage wagons and utility carts for the City of Evanston Street Department.

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Chicago Firefighter injured at fire scene, 2-21-18

From Chicago Fire Department Media on Twitter:

  • Emergency mayday mayday 43 and king drive.

  • 4327 king drive MAYDAY

  • Companies doing a PAR now. One member has been taken out and is being transported.

  • Chicago Fire Department Media photo

  • The May Day has been secured all members accounted for. One member had been transported. Condition not available yet (Langford)

  • Media update/ the Injured Captain from 43 and King drive remains in serious condition. He has been admitted.

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New truck for Aurora (more)

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

In-Service Training today (2/20/18) for the Aurora Fire Department on the new 95′ platform. Thanks for allowing Fire Service Inc to provide firefighting apparatus to your community. Below is a picture of the old and new Truck 11.


new Aurora Fire Department Truck 11

Fire Service, Inc. photo

Aurora Fire Department Truck 11

Fire Service, Inc. photo

Aurora Fire Department aerial ladder trucks

Fire Service, Inc. photo

Aurora replaced Truck 6 in 2013

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New engine for Bolingbrook

This from Daniel Hynd:

Found this on the E-One In Process website. (so 141498)

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

fire engine being built

E-ONE photo

E-ONE Quest cab being built

E-ONE photo

E-ONE Quest cab being built

E-ONE photo

E-ONE Quest cab being built

E-ONE photo

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