Archive for February 6th, 2021

House fire in Lake Forest, 2-4-21

From Max Weingardt:

Lake Forest box Alarm at 1520 S Kathryn Ln

Lake Forest mansion under construction on fire

Max Weingardt photo

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Evanston Fire Department history – Part 7

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

In the aftermath of the Lincoln Avenue schoolhouse fire of March 1894 and at a cost of $4,000, a Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph (initially with 20 fire alarm boxes) was installed in Evanston over a period of three months between November 1894 and February 1895. By 1905, 37 boxes were in service, and by 1935 there were 51 boxes in service. The fire alarm boxes and telegraph system were replaced in 1958 by a network of 80 police/fire emergency telephones manufactured by Western Electric.  

Besides providing the public with the means to report a fire, the fire alarm telegraph also had another function. Members of the fire department (normally a company officer or the chief’s buggy driver) could communicate updates and progress reports from the scene of an incident to the chief’s residence, the city’s fire stations, the waterworks pumping station, and/or to the police switchboard. Messages could be sent via telegraph both ways, so that a firefighter monitoring a particular alarm box could be advised of another alarm elsewhere in the city or other important information.

Shortly after the fire alarm telegraph was placed in service, the Evanston City Council appropriated another $4,000 to provide the EFD with its first steam fire engine. Built in Cincinnati by the Ahrens Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary of the American Fire Engine Company, and christened “City of Evanston No. 1,” the apparatus was a 2nd size Metropolitan steamer with a two-horse hitch, capable of pumping 600 gallons of water per minute (600-GPM). It was placed into service at Station # 1 in April 1895, just two months after installation of the fire alarm telegraph was completed.

Because no additional horses were acquired to pull the steamer, the two horses assigned to the Babcock chemical engine were transferred to the steamer and the chemical engine was placed in reserve until additional horses could be acquired, which didn’t happen until 1899.

Former Waterworks engineer J. A “Dad” Patrick was hired as the fire department’s engineer in 1895, and he was responsible for operating the steamer. Edward Mersch was hired as the assistant engineer in 1896, and he assisted Patrick and operated the steamer when Patrick was absent. A knowledgeable engineer was worth his weight in gold in the steam era. The position of engineer was the second highest-paid member of the EFD (second only to the chief) in the years prior to World War I. In fact, as late as 1904, the salary of Engine Co. 1’s assistant engineer was as much as the salary of its company officer!  

Civil Service was mandated & established for City of Evanston employees in 1895. Only five members of the fire department; Jack Sweeting, George Hargreaves, Carl Harms, Edwin Whitcomb, and J. A. Patrick, qualified under Civil Service. The position of fire marshal was exempt from Civil Service. Jack Sweeting was promoted to captain of Engine Co. 1 at this time. Five new firefighters including Assistant Engineer Ed Mersch were hired in 1895-96 only after passing Civil Service tests. Just like being on active duty in the military, all firemen were on duty at all times, although each man was permitted to take meal breaks away from the firehouse each day, and an occasional furlough at home. 

A fire and police headquarters was constructed at the northwest corner of Grove & Sherman in 1897. Financed by a $40,000 bond issue approved by Evanston voters in April 1896, Fire Station # 1 featured four large bays for apparatus, with an adjacent fifth bay used as a garage for the new horse-drawn police ambulance. The facility was abandoned in the summer of 1949, and the structure was razed. The land was used for more than 25 years as a parking lot for the Valencia Theatre, before one of Evanston’s first high-rise office buildings (originally known as One American Plaza) was built on the lot in the 1970’s. Construction of the 18-story structure began in December 1975, and was completed in 1977.

To read all the installments of this history, click HERE

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New ambulance for Aurora

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Thank You to the City of Aurora Fire Department for their loyalty to Fire Service, Inc. and Wheeled Coach, on the order of their latest ambulance. Since 2013 we have been extremely proud to partner with the second largest fire and EMS agency in Illinois.

2022 Ford F550 7.3L gas Wheeled Coach Type I ambulance.

Full aluminum interior, highly sought after curbside forward design. With the Cool Bar HVAC system, Per4Max controlled decelerator restraints, extended module, Stryker Power Load and Whelen LED lighting and warning systems the safety and comfort of the occupants are realized. Compounded with the patented Anti Cor and Tough Coat Paint processes and True Form and Safeguard construction, this, like all Wheeled Coach ambulances, are “Trusted by the Toughest”.

Drawing of 2021 Ford F550 Wheeled Coach Type I ambulance

click to download

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