Archive for January 23rd, 2022

As seen around … Oak Brook

This from Larry Shapiro

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As seen … north of the border

From Jimmy Bolf:

South Shore fire apparatus

South Shore FD quint in Wisconsin

Jimmy Bolf photo

South Shore FD ambulance in Wisconsin

Jimmy Bolf photo

South Shore FD command car in Wisconsin

Jimmy Bolf photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 56

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department



As of 1955, 70% of Evanston’s firefighters had less than ten years’ experience. This compares to only 10% with less than ten years’ experience in 1940. With a younger fire department, advances in medicine, and the prevention and treatment of disease, only two off-duty deaths occurred in the EFD from heart attacks and other illnesses after 1950. Fireman Clarence Wahle (Truck Co. 22) died in 1955, and Captain George Croll (Fire Prevention Bureau) passed away after a lengthy illness in 1960. 

An explosion and fire in a laboratory at the Union Thermoelectric Company at 2001 Greenleaf Street in May 1955 resulted in a $104,000 loss. There were no workers in the lab at the time of the explosion. The fire was knocked-down fairly quickly by firefighters, but there was considerable damage to the company’s valuable equipment. The $104,000 loss was the fifth highest loss from fire in Evanston’s history up to the point in time, behind only the Northwestern University Technological Institute, Boltwood School, Marshall Field & Company warehouse, and Mark Manufacturing Company fires.

Engine Co. 23 and the reserve truck were relocated from Station # 5 to the new Station # 3 and Engine Co. 25 was relocated from Station # 1 to Station # 5 on Saturday, September 3, 1955. Reserve Engine 26 — one of the two 1927 Seagrave Standard 1000-GPM pumpers — was relocated to Station # 5 at this same time. EFD Chief Henry Dorband led a “noisy” parade down Central Street from Station # 5 to Station # 3, followed by a dedication ceremony that featured speeches by the mayor, the city manager, and the two aldermen from the 7th ward. It was the pinnacle of Chief Dorband’s career. 

With Engine Co. 25 relocated to Station # 5, the 11th and 12th men previously assigned to Engine 25 when it was at Station # 1 were transferred to Squad 21. Thus, Engine Co. 25 was now a ten-man company, with five men on each platoon, one man on a Kelly Day every day, four men scheduled to work the shift, and a minimum three-man crew if a man was absent. Conversely, Squad 21 was now a 14-man company, with seven men on each platoon, one man on a Kelly Day every day, one man each shift assigned as the platoon commander’s driver, five men scheduled to ride the squad, and a minimum four-man crew if a man was absent.    

With the opening of the new Station # 3, all insured structures in Evanston were finally within 1-1/2 miles of an engine company and within 2-1/2 miles of a truck company, meeting the NBFU standards of the day. The two intersections furthest from a fire station were Church & Fowler and Foster & Grey, both 1-1/2 miles from the nearest fire station. Both intersections were in the 5th ward and within the square half-mile bounded by Simpson Street on the north, Church Street on the south, the North Shore Channel on the west, and the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks on the east, an area that would incur more residential structure fires than any other square half-mile in Evanston over the next thirty years.

Once it was relocated to the new Fire Station # 3, Engine Co. 23 became a combination engine / truck company (what would be called a “jump company” today), manning Engine 23 for fire calls and minor fires in Station # 3’s district, and staffing Truck 23 for fire calls in Station # 5’s district. The company at Station # 3 did not normally respond to alarms south of Emerson Street. Truck Co. 21 was the first-due truck in Station # 1’s and Station # 3’s districts, and Truck Co. 22 was the first due truck in Station # 2’s and Station # 4’s districts. Truck Co. 22 would transfer (change quarters) to Station # 1 whenever Truck 21 was at a working fire.

Four of the five engine company first-due areas changed in September 1955. Engine Co. 22 was still first due east of Asbury and south of Greenleaf, but Engine Co. 21 was now first-due between Greenleaf and Emerson east of Asbury, and between Dempster and Emerson west of Asbury; Engine Co. 23 was first due north of Emerson and east of Dodge up to the canal, and then east of Prairie Avenue up to the Wilmette border; Engine Co. 24 was first-due west of Asbury and south of Dempster; and Engine Co. 25 was first due north of Emerson and west of Dodge up to the canal, and then west of Prairie up to the Wilmette border.

All of the engine companies except Engine 23 had a “second engine” district that was larger than their first-due area. There was still a three engine response to the downtown “high-value district” bounded by Lake – Oak – Clark – Hinman, and a three engine / two truck response to schools during school hours, hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement homes.

Engine Co. 24 would transfer (change quarters) to Station # 1 if Engine 21 was at a working structure fire north of Church Street, and Engine Co. 25 would transfer to Station # 1 if Engine 21 was at a working structure fire south of Church Street. Anytime four engine companies were out of service at the same time, the remaining engine company would immediately transfer to Station # 1, if it wasn’t already there. If Engine Co. 23 was the last remaining engine company in service, it would man the engine and transfer to Station # 1, and leave the truck behind at Station # 3.  

Squad 21 (typically with a five-man crew, or a minimum of four men if a member was absent) responded to all fire calls, inhalator calls, and specialized rescues city-wide. Squad 21 was equipped with four military-type searchlights, an inhalator, a portable gas-powered generator, fans, power tools, portable floodlights, salvage covers, two portable turret nozzles, pry bars, axes, sledge-hammers, and an oxygen-acetylene cutting torch, as well as a 100-gallon booster tank and hose-reel. The rig also had a 1000-GPM pump, but it did not have a hose bed and carried no hose load. 

F-2 (the platoon commander and his driver) responded to all fire calls and other significant incidents, and was the back-up inhalator unit. F-1 (Chief Dorband and his driver) responded to working fires and other major incidents, and if the chief was on duty, he could cover an alarm if F-2 was unavailable. F-3 (Fire Prevention Bureau Assistant Chief William Murphy) investigated explosions and any fire of suspicious origin, as well as all major fires. One firefighter was assigned to the Fire Prevention Bureau during business hours as Chief Murphy’s administrative assistant and fire code enforcement inspector.   

Squad 22 (the 1924 Seagrave high pressure turret / hose truck) was kept in ready-reserve at Fire Station #1, and could be manned and driven to a fire if requested by a chief officer. Also, the two reserve 1927 Seagrave pumpers – Engine 26 at Station # 5 and Engine 27 at Station # 4 – were fully-equipped, and could be staffed by off-duty personnel and be temporarily placed into service to cover the city in the event of a major fire. In addition, one reserve inhalator was kept at Station # 1 and another was kept at the Evanston Police station, in the event that both Squad 21 and F-2 were unavailable to respond to an inhalator call. 

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