Archive for January 22nd, 2021

Chicago Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

A fourth person has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of retired Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Dwain Williams during an attempted carjacking on Dec. 3rd . The veteran firefighter sustained a gunshot wound and was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Jaylen Saulsberry, 19, of Chicago Heights, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and on three warrants.  He was placed into custody at approximately 5:15 p.m. Tuesday night after being extradited from Pennsylvania.

A 20-year-old man, an 18-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy have also been charged in the shooting.

As seen in surveillance video, the suspects jumped back in the vehicle they arrived in as a fourth individual drove the car away.

Police said that it was the past crimes of an alleged carjacking crew around the Chicago area that helped lead to the first arrest.

More can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Double fatal fire in Chicago, 1-21-20

Excerpts from

Chicago firefighters responded about 9:15 a.m.Thursday to a blaze that engulfed a two-story home in the 500 block of North Lawler Avenue. The fire was extinguished within 20 minute. A rear portion of the home collapsed while firefighters worked to extinguish flames.

Crews found a woman, dead in the home’s attic, and later uncovered a man dead on the second floor. Their names and autopsy results haven’t been released by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

A man who survived the fire jumped from a second-story window and went to Stroger Hospital. He was in good condition with a leg injury.

Investigators had not determined a cause yet, but were looking into the fact that gas had been shut off to the building, and that the home may have been using electric heaters.  The home had no working smoke detectors.

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House fire in Berwyn, 1-18-21

This from Steve Redick:

1224 S Clinton  Full still


Seagrave aerial ladder at house fire

Steve Redick photo

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Evanston Fire Department history – Part 3

More from Phil Stenholm – Part 1, Part 2

On May 23, 1881,  the Village Board of Trustees was advised of a letter delivered earlier in the day to the Fire Marshal:

“To: W. R. Bailey, Esq.
Fire Marshal of the Village of Evanston


It having come to the knowledge of the members of the Evanston Fire  Department, that the trustees of said village have determined not to meet the requirements of said department, the Pioneer & C. J. Gilbert hose companies, in joint meeting assembled, have determined to resign as members of the Evanston Fire Department, and do hereby tender their resignations to take effect at once.

The members of said companies, however, agree to respond to all alarms of fire which may occur during the next 15 days, not as firemen, but as citizens.

A. Simpson, Foreman, C. J. Gilbert Fire Co.
A. Hallstrom, Foreman, Pioneer Hose Co.

May 23, 1881″

As requested by the firemen, Chief Bailey delivered the letter to the village board. It was reported that the trustees accepted the letter without comment. If the purpose of the mass resignation was to pressure the trustees into meeting the requirements of the fire department, then the firefighters were disappointed.

But the hose companies were frequently disappointed in their dealings with the village board. Whether it was a dispute over clothing or equipment, or the trustees’ indifference toward collecting the authorized 2% tax on “foreign” insurance companies doing business in Evanston, a tax that could have been used to provide financial compensation for members of the hose companies, the Pioneers and the Gilberts felt they never seemed to receive the respect and attention they deserved. The last straw was when the village board officially accepted the  Evanston Hook & Ladder Company for service with the EFD on April 21, 1881.

The new hook & ladder company had been in training for only a short time, but the village board hurriedly accepted the company for service after two children were killed in a house fire at the William Enders cottage on April 19th. The tragic deaths of the Enders children marked what is believed to be the first fire-related fatalities to occur in Evanston, certainly the first since formation of the Pioneer Fire Company in 1873. It was postulated that a hook & ladder company dedicated to rescue might have saved the two youngsters.

Neither the Pioneers nor the Gilberts wanted the hook & ladder company as it was constituted to be a part of the Evanston Fire Department. The Pioneers however, were especially upset because establishing a hook & ladder company to support the hose companies with rescue, ventilation, and salvage had been their idea in the first place, proposed to the village board in 1875, and the Pioneers wanted control over the hook & ladder company’s membership and training. They wanted the company to be the Pioneer Hook & Ladder Company. The trustees however, apparently wanted the new hook & ladder company kept separate from the Pioneers and from the Gilberts, so as to not give any additional power or influence to either of the hose companies.

The degree to which the Pioneers and the Gilberts were aroused can be measured by the unified stand in their letter to Chief Bailey. Prior to this, the only joint meeting assembled that the rival hose companies ever had was at a fire. But in this final chapter, the Pioneers and Gilberts stood united.

After the hose companies disbanded, the Village Board of Trustees’  Police & Fire Committee was given the task of devising a new fire protection plan. Chief Denis Swenie of the Chicago Fire Department was enlisted as an advisor/consultant, and in less than a week the Police & Fire Committee presented their report to the village board, with the following recommendations:

1. Purchase 1,000 feet of first-class 2-1/2 inch  hose, a four-wheeled horse-drawn hose cart, and a horse. The horse could be used by the street department to pull a wagon when not in use by the fire department;

2. Replace the volunteer fire companies with a paid fire department of approximately four-to-six men, with additional reserve manpower available for large fires.

The committee added that Chief Swenie believed the cost of operating a paid fire department would probably not exceed the funding required to operate the old volunteer fire department, since a smaller paid company–consisting of no more than six men total, would require far less clothing, gear, and equipment than did the much larger volunteer companies with as many as thirty men serving in each company.

However, it should be noted that Chief Swenie was probably somewhat prejudiced as far as whether volunteer firefighters should be the backbone of a fire department. The City of Chicago had been forced to disband several of its more famous (or infamous) volunteer fire companies in 1858, after firemen started a riot in downtown Chicago over the issue of acceptance of steam fire engines for service with the Chicago Fire Department. Because steam fire engines required considerably less manpower than did the labor-intensive hand-pumpers, fewer firemen would be needed, and fewer firemen translated into less political power and influence for the volunteer companies.

Despite the rapid completion and submission of the report, the implementation of the plan was delayed for almost four months, until a village board meeting in late September 1881. There were no significant fires in the village during this time. At this meeting, the trustees at first agreed that it was unfair to ask volunteers to serve as firefighters without some type of compensation, but three hours later the trustees decided that the fire department would remain 100% volunteer, with no compensation for its members. The trustees claimed that because of financial limitations, nothing could be done to change the fire department from volunteer to paid until the next fiscal year’s budget.

The new volunteer fire department would consist of the 15-man hook & ladder company that had been accepted for service in April 1881; one, 30-man hose company whose membership would be determined not by the Fire Marshal, but by the superintendent of the street department, that would definitely not be connected in any way with either Pioneer Hose Company, No. 1,  or the C. J. Gilbert Hose Company, and a new chemical company that would consist of eight Davis Street merchants utilizing the old Babcock chemical-engine in mothballs since 1875.

The new volunteer fire department really only existed on paper, however. Street Department Superintendent Peter Svedlund’s so-called “hose company” had no organizational structure or training drills, and because former Pioneer and Gilbert hose company members were excluded, the company also lacked experience and expertise. The Evanston Hook & Ladder Company, although also lacking experience and expertise, was at least trained and organized, but its mission was to provide rescue, ventilation, and salvage support. It was not trained or equipped for fire suppression. The proposed chemical company was never organized.

On November 1, 1881, after a couple of embarrassing performances by the Evanston Fire Department during the previous month, in which the so-called “volunteers” either failed to respond promptly or did not respond at all, Fire Marshal Bob Bailey offered to resign. The village board convinced Chief Bailey to reconsider, promising him that a better fire protection plan would be implemented in 1882.

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