Archive for September 15th, 2021

Pierce Eye Candy … Doylestown, PA

From RB:

Pierce eye candy
100′ mm tower
Unusual copper and gray color.
Piercer Arrow XT Ascendant tower ladder for the Doylestown Fire Company

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 37

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


On May 20, 1928, EFD Engine No. 1 (the 1917 Seagrave 750-GPM TCP) sustained $4,000 in damage when it struck a large pot-hole on Bridge Street near McCormick Boulevard while returning to quarters from an alarm in North Evanston. Chief Hofstetter accompanied the apparatus as it was conveyed via rail back to the Seagrave factory in Columbus, OH, apparently hoping to influence the Seagrave maintenance shop to put a priority on repairs for a good Seagrave customer like Evanston. Meanwhile, the City of Evanston sued the Sanitary District of Chicago – responsible for the maintenance of Bridge Street –- to recover the cost of the repairs.

With its rig out of commission for an indefinite period of time, Engine Co. 1 was assigned the venerable 1911 Robinson Jumbo pumper, which back in the day had been the EFD’s first automobile fire engine, but by 1928 was on its last leg. The inhalator normally carried aboard Engine 1 was temporarily transferred to Engine 5, since the Jumbo was not particularly reliable and was prone to mechanical breakdowns.

After being out of service for nearly four months, Engine 1 was finally returned to Station # 1 and placed back into service on September 18, and the Robinson pumper was placed back into reserve at Station # 2. Among the repairs made to the damaged pumper while at the Seagrave shops were a new drive-shaft, a new front axle, a suspension upgrade including new springs & shocks, new wheels, and pneumatic tires, matching the factory-installed suspension, wheels, and tires on the three EFD Seagrave rigs built in the 1920’s. New wheels and pneumatic tires replacing hard rubber tires were installed on Truck 2 and Engine 3 in 1929.

In December 1928, the Evanston City Council appropriated $800 to purchase a Ford Model “A” Tudor sedan for the fire prevention inspector. Since being appointed to that position on May 1, 1928, Capt. J. E. Mersch had been transported to his inspection duties by the chief’s buggy-driver (if available), or by taxi cab, or sometimes by use of public transportation. However, it just wasn’t very convenient for a man who walked with a cane to not have his own reliable means of transportation. The Ford sedan also provided a back-up automobile for the chief, no doubt considerably more appropriate than the dog catcher’s wagon that had been employed as a temporary replacement when Chief Hofstetter’s automobile was out of service a few years earlier     

On February 5, 1929, the Evanston City Council passed the “Fire Prevention Ordinance,” which officially established the EFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau.The ordinance assigned the following duties and responsibilities to the Fire Prevention Bureau:

1. Prevent fires through education;
2. Regulate storage and use of explosives and flammables;
3. Regulate installation and maintenance of automatic fire alarms and extinguishers; 
4. Ensure maintenance and regulation of fire escapes;
5. Ensure means and adequacy of exit in cases of fire involving factories, schools, hotels, rooming houses, asylums and sanitariums, hospitals, churches, assembly halls, theaters, amphitheaters, and any other establishment where persons work and/or congregate;
6. Investigate the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires. 

Also in February 1929, two new electrically driven high-lift pumps were installed at the waterworks at Lincoln & Sheridan. One was capable of pumping 10,000 GPM, and the other 7,000 GPM. The two new pumps replaced the old Gaskill 3,500 GPM steam-driven pump that had been in service since 1888.

In August 1929, the Robinson Jumbo pumper failed its annual pump test at Becker’s Pond. Because the Robinson Fire Apparatus Manufacturing Company had gone out of business several years earlier, a replacement pump could not be located, so the Jumbo’s pump was disconnected, its chemical tank & red line, ground ladders, hose load, fire extinguishers, and other miscellaneous firefighting equipment were removed, and the rig was transferred to the street department for use as a utility truck. The street department was still using horse-drawn carts and wagons in 1929, so any type of auto truck – even an old fire engine – was a welcome addition to their fleet.    

On Monday, December 2, 1929, Engine Co. 5, Truck Co. 1, Engine Co. 1, and Engine Co. 2 responded to a fire at Thompson’s Restaurant at 618 Davis Street in Evanston’s downtown high-value district. Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol No. 8 responded for salvage work when it was reported as a working fire, and Truck Co. 2 and Engine Co. 3 were dispatched on the second alarm after the blaze communicated to the DeBreuil Tea Room located next-door to the west.

Engine Co. 4 changed quarters to Station # 1 to cover the city, and the off-duty platoon was called-in to provide relief for crews working at the fire, with men walking a block and a half to the scene from Station # 1. The aggregate damage to the two businesses and the structure was $57,274, making it one of the top five highest dollar losses from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time.

In the aftermath of the fire at Thompson’s Restaurant it became clear that the EFD needed a reserve pumper to replace the Robinson Jumbo. So the Evanston City Council appropriated $3,000 to have the Seagrave shops rebuild Engine Co. 4’s hose truck as a 500-GPM Suburbanite TCP, with a 50-gallon booster tank and 150-foot booster line replacing the original factory-installed 300-GPM booster pump, chemical tank, and red line. New axles, wheels, shocks, pneumatic tires, fenders, sealed-beam headlamps, and side-mounted green & red warning lights were also installed. In appearance, the Suburbanite closely resembled the two Seagrave Standard pumpers purchased by Evanston in 1927, except it was a bit shorter and had only a 500-GPM pump instead of the 1000-GPM pumps that were on-board the Standards.

As soon as the Seagrave shops finished the rebuild, the pumper was quickly returned to Evanston and went into service as the new Engine No. 4, as the old Engine No. 4 – the 1906 American-LaFrance Metropolitan 700-GPM steamer that was permanently attached to the 1918 Seagrave Model “K” one-axle tractor — was placed into reserve at Station # 4 as Engine No. 6, with the decommissioned Robinson Jumbo pumper available to be temporarily returned to the EFD from the street department to run as the tractorized-steamer’s hose truck anytime the reserve steamer needed to be placed into front-line service.       

Sadly, a number of active members of the Evanston Fire Department died while off-duty during the 1920s:

1. Lt. Harry Schaeffer Sr. (Truck Co. 1), whose son Harry Jr. would later serve with the EFD and retire as an assistant chief, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in June 1923;
2. Fireman and chief’s buggy-driver Orville Wheeler, (whose two sons, James and Chester, would later serve with the EFD, with James retiring as Chief in 1973) died of pneumonia in July 1924, six weeks before he would have been promoted to lieutenant;
3. Fireman Clinton Claypool (Engine Co. 3) died of meningitis in January 1925;
4. Rookie Fireman Fred Michelau (Truck Co. 1 ) drowned while on vacation in Michigan in August 1928,
5. Lt. Walt Boekenhauer (Engine Co. 4) died of a heart attack suffered while on vacation in July 1929. 

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