Archive for category Fire Department History

New home for Illinois apparatus (part 4) – Indiana

More from Luke Whalen:

Indiana

St. Bernice (Vermillion County) X-Chicago Engine 46 
Shirley (Hancock County) X-Bourbonnais, IL Engine 25 
Cadiz (Henry County) X-Bourbonnais, IL Engine 25 
Lynn (Randolph County) X-Cicero, IL Truck 2
Cambridge City (Wayne County) X-Gurnee, IL Truck 
Plainville (Daviess) X-Limestone Township, Kankakee, IL Engine 4 
White River (Gibson County) X-White County, IL EMS Rescue 
Somerville (Gibson County) X-Tonica, IL Tanker 
Wright Township (Greene County) X-Gardner, IL Tanker 6617
Shawshwick Township (Lawrence) X-Chebanse Township FPD, Clifton, IL Engine 2631
Lost River (Martin County) X-Lynch Area FPD, Danville, IL Tanker 
Paoli (Orange County) X-Tri State FPD Truck 529
Gosport (Owen County) X-Wheaton Engine 403
Spurgeon (Pike County) X-Waterloo, IL Engine 
Shelburn (Sullivan County) X-Mundelein, IL Engine 4311
Scott County EMS (Scott County) Unknown IL 
Jackson-Washington (Jackson County) X-Maryville, IL 
Utica Township (Clark County) X-New Lenox, IL Truck and X-Peotone, IL Truck 14 

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Chicago Fire Department history

This from Austin Lawler:

I came across this slide show of some of the different dogs at CFD firehouses, on the Vintage Tribune instagram page. I thought maybe some of the readers would find this interesting. 
 
Austin 
 

The Chicago Fire Department announced today that it will no longer allow dogs at firehouses after a firehouse dog killed a family pet near a fire station. In remembrance, VintageTribune pulled together photos from years past of firehouse dogs and their firefighter owners.

vintage Firefighter and firehouse dog wearing a helmet

Vintage Tribune instagram photo

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Palos Fire Protection District history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT- Palos FPD Engine 6323, a 1985 Pierce Dash 1250/750.
Mike Summa
 
Palos FPD history

Mike Summa photo

And from our archives:

Palos FPD history

Bill Friedrich photo

Palos FPD history

Larry Shapiro photo

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Evanston Fire Department History – Part 19

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

The Importance of Being Earnest 

Even though the $10,000 auto-truck fire engine bond issue was approved by Evanston voters in April 1910, the Evanston City Council took more than a year to purchase the truck. Aldermen wanted a so-called “triple-combination pumper” with a pump, hose supply, 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, which was one of the major manufacturers of automobile fire apparatus at the time. While Robinson combination pumpers were already in service in places like Long Beach, CA, Wichita Falls, TX, Billings, MT, and Ashtabula, OH, there was some concern within the city council that Robinson might not be able to meet the required specifications, since the company had never built a triple-combination pumper before.      
 
EFD Chief Carl Harrison and the three members of the city council’s fire committee visited the Robinson factory in St. Louis during February of 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 triple-cylinder piston-pump, a 50-gallon soda-acid chemical tank with a red-line (chemical) hose reel, and two 25-foot extension ladders. The EFD would provide the hose load and minor equipment like fire extinguishers, nozzles, hose clamps, etc. 

Known as the “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, solid rubber tires, rear-wheel chain-drive, two-wheel mechanical brakes, and a hose bed of polished teak like one might find on 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 were hung from the outside of the apparatus, and a bell was mounted in front of the steering wheel on top of the cowl. As was common for the time, the truck had no windshield.

The auto-truck was fast, powerful, versatile, cheaper to operate than horses, and designed to be manned by a half-dozen firemen or more, prompting the Evanston Index newspaper to enthusiastically describe it as “an entire fire department in itself!”

The Jumbo built for the City of Evanston, was Robinson’s pride & joy, so much so that it was displayed and demonstrated at the International Association of Fire Engineers Convention in Milwaukee in September 1911. Although the idea of combining a pump, hose supply, and chemical fire suppression system in the same gasoline-powered vehicle probably sounded crazy to most fire chiefs of the day, the Jumbo was said to have impressed many convention visitors. 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.

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 named Earnest Erickson drove the five-ton Jumbo up and down the streets of Evanston, reaching a mind-blowing top-speed of 35 MPH. Holding on for dear life, Evanston aldermen Branch, Carter, and Changelon and two engineers from the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU), Dr. F. A. Raymond and Kenneth Lydecker, rode along on the test drive. The road-test was terminated early due to an overheated crankcase bearing, but otherwise it was deemed a smashing success. .

The Robinson Jumbo passed capacity and pressure pump tests supervised by the two 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. So the pump was officially certified as 750 GPM, rather than the typical 700 GPM of a 2nd size steam fire engine.  

The apparatus was accepted by the Evanston City Council on November 14th, and went into service as Motor Engine No. 1 ten days later. The motor engine’s first alarm was a chimney and roof fire at a residence at 319 Ridge Avenue in the early-morning hours of Saturday, November 25, 1911. The fire was discovered by Chicago FD Engine Co. 102, which had responded to Ridge & Howard for a report of smoke in the area, and the boys from 102 assisted Evanston firefighters in battling the blaze. Six months later, Engine Co. 102 would get the CFD’s first gasoline-powered automobile combination pumper, a 650 GPM Webb. 

Evanston Fire Department membership was expanded from 31 to 34 men at this time, including two newly created civil service positions, that of motor driver and assistant motor driver, which were equivalent in pay to the engineers and assistant engineers assigned to the EFD’s two steam fire engines. Specifically, motor driver was defined as a combination driver, pump operator, and mechanic. The assistant motor driver was defined as a combination driver and pump operator only. 

Only one member of the EFD circa November 1911 — fireman and motorcycle daredevil Arthur McNeil — was able to pass the civil service exam for assistant motor driver. Nobody could pass the exam for motor driver, so the city hired Robinson engineer Earnest Erickson and his trademark duster and derby hat as a temporary civilian motor driver, but only until such time as an Evanston firefighter could pass the civil service test for motor driver. Erickson would end up spending the next six years as the driver of Motor Engine No. 1.

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New home for West Chicago Rescue 9

This from Dieterich Herndobler:

While browsing 5280fire.com, I came across West Chicago’s former Rescue 9. It is now with a fire department in Mesa County, Colorado. Not sure which department as it is still looks like it did with West Chicago FPD.
Former West Chicago FPD Rescue 9

ANTONIO ARCHULETA PHOTO ©

Central Orchard Mesa Volunteer Fire Department – Central Orchard Mesa Station 51 is the home for Brush 52 – 1992 International 4500 / E-One (11008) ARFF – Former West Chicago FPD, IL.

 

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New home for Illinois apparatus (part 2) – Arkansas

More from Luke Whalen

Arkansas
Wilburn (Cleburne) X-Wauconda, IL Engine 3411 
Earle (Crittenden) X-Park Ridge, IL Engine 
Morriston (Fulton County) X-Lisle Woodridge, IL Engine 541 
Lake Hamilton (Garland County) X-Evergreen Park Truck 44
Marmaduke (Green County) X-Harlem Roscoe, IL Engine 3 
Floral (Independence County) X-Hazel Crest, IL Ambulance 1230
Joiner (Mississippi County) X-Rockton, IL Engine 1408
Oak Grove (Pulaski County) X-Itasca, IL Engine 810 
Colt (St. Francis County) X-Pleasantview, IL Engine 1511
Pangburn (White County) X-Mt. Morris, IL 5747 
Maynard (Randolph County) X-New Milford, IL Brush 

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As seen around … Chicago

This from Steve Redick:

Located outside of 127’s present house. Lintel from old 103 and terra cotta panels from old 55. A hidden gem of cool Chicago Fire Department history.
historic Chicago FD artwork outside of Engine 127's firehouse

Steve Redick photo

historic marker describing Chicago FD artifacts

Steve Redick photo

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Evanston Fire Department History – Part 18

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

Although he had steadfastly maintained at the time of the fire that a second steam fire engine could not have saved the Villa Celeste, the mounting calls in the two South Evanston wards for the city to allow itself to be annexed by Chicago led EFD Chief Carl Harrison to go before the city council in April 1909 and request that the aldermen immediately appropriate the funds needed to place the reserve steamer into front-line service at Station # 2. 

The city council refused Chief Harrison’s request because the law-makers claimed there was not sufficient money available in the 1909 budget to do it, but the city council’s fire committee did (somewhat surprisingly) express an interest in purchasing a gasoline-powered motor-driven auto-truck fire engine, at a point in time when automobile fire-fighting apparatus was in its infancy.

The fire committee’s master plan was to purchase an automobile fire engine and place it into service with Engine Co. 1 at Station # 1, move the American LaFrance Metropolitan steamer (the existing Engine 1) from Station # 1 to Station # 3 where it would run with the Davenport H&L / hose tender as a two-piece engine company, transfer the two horses used to pull Engine Co. 1’s hose wagon to the older reserve steamer at Station # 2 since with an automobile pumper in service, the horse-drawn hose wagon at Station # 1 would no longer be needed, and place the older steamer into front-line service, where it would run with the Seagrave combination truck as a two-piece engine company. This arrangement would also mean that with an automobile pumper or a steam fire engine in service at all three fire stations, water pressure in the mains would no longer have to be increased to fight a fire except in extraordinary circumstances, thus saving Evanston’s water mains from further damage and likely eventual collapse.

Chief Harrison and the fire committee traveled to Michigan in February 1910 to examine a motor-driven fire engine – a Webb / Oldsmobile combination pumper, so-called because it combined a pump and hose on the same rig —  that had been in service in Lansing for 14 months. Harrison and the committee were apparently impressed by what they saw, because when they returned to Evanston, the members of the fire committee convinced their fellow aldermen to place a $10,000 bond issue on the ballot in the city election of April 1910, asking voters to decide whether or not Evanston should purchase an auto-truck fire engine.

It wasn’t clear if Evanston voters would support the measure, so the local newspapers expended quite a bit of newsprint in the days leading up to the election explaining to voters that acquisition of an auto-truck fire engine for Fire Station # 1 would actually improve fire protection at all three fire stations – meaning the entire city – because placing an auto-truck fire engine in service at Station # 1 would allow steam fire engines to be placed into service at both Station # 2 in South Evanston and Station # 3 in North Evanston.   

It also probably didn’t hurt that on the eve of the election, a large fire destroyed the Original Manufacturing Company plant at 721 Custer Avenue, as well as a residence to the south at 719 Custer and another across the street at 724 Custer. The EFD did otherwise save the neighborhood and were hailed as heroes by the four South Evanston aldermen for doing so, but the $35,000 aggregate damage estimate from the conflagration was one of the highest losses from a fire in Evanston’s history up to that point in time. Whether the timing of the blaze made a difference in the outcome of the election cannot be known for sure, but the bond issue did pass, albeit by a slim margin.    

Talk of annexation died as fire protection in South Evanston was upgraded in 1911. Although the bond issue had passed in April 1910, Chief Harrison and the three members of the city council’s fire committee were not yet satisfied that any automobile fire engine manufacturer could build what Evanston wanted, that being a so-called triple-combination pumper, which would combine a pump, hose, and soda-acid chemical tank in the same vehicle. At that point in time, a handful of automobile combination pumpers (pump & hose only) were in service with various fire departments around the country, but only one automobile triple-combination pumper had been built in America, and that was a one-off rig built by a local auto truck manufacturer for a volunteer fire company in New Jersey. . 

So not willing to wait any longer and risk losing support from the South Evanston aldermen, the Evanston City Council transferred $2,500 from the Water Fund to the fire department in January 1911  — something they had been unwilling to do in 1909 and in 1910 — allowing an engineer to be hired plus two horses and related equipment to be purchased that would allow the reserve steamer to be placed into front-line service at Station # 2, without waiting for the city to purchase the auto-truck fire engine that was authorized by the bond issue.

The acquisition of the two horses in 1911 brought the number of horses in service with the Evanston Fire Department to 19, the most the EFD would ever have. In addition, an assistant engineer and a fireman were transferred from Station # 1 to Station # 2, allowing the Ahrens steamer to (finally) be placed into front-line service at Station # 2. Thus, Truck Co. 2 became Engine Co. 2 on February 15, 1911, with nine men (a captain, a lieutenant, an engineer, an assistant engineer, and five firemen) assigned to Station # 2, operating with both the Ahrens Metropolitan steamer and the Seagrave combination truck (chemical engine, H&L, and hose tender).    

During the five years that it was in reserve at Station # 2, the Ahrens steamer made one run of significance. On Tuesday, September 6, 1910, the Village of Niles Center (later known as Skokie) sent an urgent message to the Evanston Fire Department, requesting assistance in battling a conflagration that threatened to destroy the village.

Chief Harrison detailed a squad of Evanston firemen to respond to Niles Center with the Babcock chemical-engine, a hose wagon, and the reserve steamer pulled by a team from the street department. Drafting water from Blameuser’s Pond, the EFD’s Ahrens steamer supplied water used to extinguish the blaze. Eight structures — two saloons, a barber shop, a furniture store, two barns, and two sheds — were destroyed, but the village was saved.

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Chicago Fire Department history

Vintage Film – 1969 Chicago Fire Department – Fire Trucks – Cadillac Ambulance – Fire Boat

 

thanks Steve

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Evanston Fire Department History – Part 17

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

The Villa Celeste
 
The Village of Evanston annexed the Village of South Evanston thereby forming the greater City of Evanston in 1892. The proponents of the annexation argued that if the two villages did not unite and form “a strong city of our own,” that separately they were both almost certain to be annexed by the City of Chicago. This domino theory was soon given further credence, as the Village of Rogers Park — South Evanston’s neighbor to the south — was annexed by Chicago in 1893.    

After Chicago annexed Rogers Park, some of the residents of South Evanston — led by fiery 3rd Ward Alderman Pat O’Neill —  insisted that the brand-new unified City of Evanston should allow itself to be annexed by its larger and more powerful neighbor to the south. The rationale was that a large city such as Chicago could provide significantly better city services — especially police and fire protection — than a smaller city like Evanston could. This was especially important to the wealthier residents of South Evanston, who felt that because they paid a larger share of property taxes, that they should receive better municipal services. And Chicago did, in fact, attempt to annex Evanston in 1894, but Evanston voters declined the offer, and it appeared that the annexation issue was laid to rest. However, the issue was unexpectedly resurrected 15 years later. 

On Thursday, March 11, 1909, at 12:30 PM, the Evanston Fire Department responded to an attic fire at the Villa Celeste, the palatial South Evanston home of P. Leonard (“Guy”) McKinnie, located at 721 Sheridan Road. Directing operations at the scene, Chief Fire Marshal Carl Harrison — as was his usual practice — initially ordered firefighters to attack the fire in the attic with soda-acid from one of the chemical-engines. By using only chemicals, Chief Harrison hoped to minimize water-damage to the rest of the house. But because the fire was entombed within the walls and ceilings, firemen were unable to locate and extinguish the seat of the blaze.

Firefighters soon found themselves utilizing water-flow from some 3,000 feet of hose-line — two 2-1/2” lines from Engine 1, one 2-1/2” line directly from a nearby hydrant, and a line from the chemical apparatus — in a vain effort to suppress the fire in the attic and third floor. With the fire department using 2-1/2” hose-lines, water damage to property located on the lower floors became a problem. All firemen were busily engaged in fire suppression and ventilation efforts, so neighbors enlisted the aid of children from nearby Lincoln School to assist the McKinnies in removing their priceless art collection and valuable antique furniture from the lower floors. 

As minutes turned into hours, it was becoming increasingly obvious to everyone present that firefighters were making absolutely no headway. Frustrated, homeowner McKinnie demanded that Chief Harrison send for the steam fire engine (old “City of Evanston No. 1”) that was kept in reserve at Fire Station # 2 on Chicago Avenue. McKinnie even offered to dispatch a livery-team of his own to Station # 2 to bring the steamer to the scene. Chief Harrison refused, explaining to McKinnie that lack of water was not the problem.

For six hours, the men of the EFD struggled mightily to contain the blaze. However, the flames encroached further into the ceilings and walls, and by nightfall the Villa Celeste was gutted. Six Evanston firefighters suffered injuries while battling the blaze: 

              Chief Carl Harrison – finger severed when cut by glass shards;

              Assistant Chief Jack Sweeting – smoke inhalation;

              Fireman William Hofstetter – hand laceration;

              Fireman Edward Johnson – foot injury;

              Fireman John Wilbern – smoke inhalation;

              Fireman William Wilbern – smoke inhalation / bruised when struck by falling debris.                                       

  As a coup de grace, the stubborn blaze rekindled at about 11:30 PM, five hours after the EFD  had left the scene. Firefighters dutifully returned, and spent another hour pouring water into the ruins.

The final damage estimate was $40,000, the fourth highest damage estimate from a fire in Evanston’s history up to that point in time. The only previous fires with a higher damage estimate had been the tragic Mark Manufacturing Company fire in 1905, the Lincoln Avenue schoolhouse blaze in 1894, and the Willard Block conflagration in 1872.

Chief Harrison would later say “… dozens of engines couldn’t have saved the house… the only way to extinguish the fire would have been to submerge the house into the lake…” (Which Harrison probably would have done if it had been an option!)

The fire was extinguished, but controversy simmered and boiled. Guy McKinnie and other wealthy South Evanston residents asserted that Evanston should once again invite itself to be annexed by Chicago. However, Fire Marshal James Horan, chief of the Chicago Fire Department, threw cold water onto the idea. Chief Horan candidly explained that some outlying areas of Chicago had no fire protection, and that if annexed, Evanston would be mainly ignored until other more-pressing needs were addressed. Horan claimed that major fire protection improvements were needed at the Stock Yards, and that Chicago also needed a high-pressure waterworks in the downtown “high value” district.

And Chief Horan’s analysis of Chicago’s fire protection needs would be proven tragically (and ironically) correct. Horan and 20 other Chicago firemen were killed when a wall collapsed onto them while they were fighting a fire at the Stock Yards on December 22, 1910.

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