Posts Tagged Chicago Fire Department history

Evanston Fire Department history Part 73

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about the History of the Evanston Fire Department


On May 1, 1975, the Evanston City Council accepted bids for a new 1,000 / 300 triple-combination pumper, with the exact same specifications as the two Howe pumpers purchased a year earlier. The new pumper would replace the 1952 Pirsch 1000 / 100 TCP (Engine 25) that was originally Squad 21 before being rebuilt as a TCP by General Body in 1966. Mack came in with the low bid of $53,725, beating out FWD Seagrave, Pirsch, and several other apparatus manufacturers for the contract. As expected, EFD Chief George Beattie specified that the new Mack pumper be painted “safety yellow,” just like the two Howe pumpers delivered in 1974 and 1975.

In addition, Chief Beattie received a new Plymouth sedan (fleet #301) in 1975 that was painted red instead of “safety yellow,” with the chief’s 1973 Plymouth station wagon transferred to the platoon commanders as the new F-2 after a light bar was installed on the roof replacing the portable “Kojak light.” The former F-2 (1971 Dodge station wagon) was transferred to the Fire Prevention Bureau to be used by the newly-created fire investigation unit (arson squad) that would be staffed each shift by a trained fire investigator, with one of the two FPB captain’s positions eliminated after Capt. Joe Thill retired and was not replaced.  

Also, as part of the contract resulting from the firefighters strike of February 1974, the average work-week for firefighters was reduced from 56 hours to 54 hours, with two new positions created in the EFD in 1975 that increased  total membership from 100 to 102. One fireman would now be assigned each shift to cover for a fireman absent while on a “short day” (formerly known as a “Kelly Day”), with three firemen on each shift covering for vacations and sick leave. As a result, the de facto EFD minimum shift staffing was reduced from 28 to 27, with six three-man companies (the five engine companies plus Truck 22), two four-man companies (Truck 21 and Squad 21), and the shift commander (F-2).     

Eighteen new firefighters were hired in 1974-75, including Samuel Boddie, Art Miller, Bill Betke, Jim Potts, Dave Lopina, Bob Hayden, Mike Adam, Don Gschwind, Thomas Simpson, Joe Hayes, Bob Wagner, Keith Filipowski, Ken Dohm, Tom Kavanagh, Milton Dunbar, Ward Cook, Jim Keaty, and Donald Williams. Also, Fireman James “Guv” Whalen was promoted to captain, firemen Harry Harloff and Ken Perysian retired after 23 years of service, and several other firefighters resigned.  

On Wednesday, May 28, 1975, the Evanston Fire Department responded to a report of a fire in the rear storage yard of the Rust-Oleum Corporation at 2301 Oakton Street. A second alarm was struck immediately upon arrival of the first companies, and a MABAS box was eventually pulled, the first time the EFD had requested a MABAS box since the system was implemented in 1968.

At the peak of the fire, 19 2-1/2-inch hand lines, two deluge nozzles, one multi-versal, one ladder pipe from Truck 22, one street jack, and one deck gun from Squad 21 supplied streams that were played onto the storage yard and nearby exposures, as numerous 55-gallon drums full of paint exploded and were sent hundreds of feet into the air. Evanston police temporarily evacuated some of the residences to the east and north. 

A 200,000-gallon water storage tank located at the southwest corner of Cleveland & Hartrey was supplied by a 24-inch feeder main that extended south from Church Street. The storage tank fed a 1,000-GPM pump owned by Rust-Oleum and operated by their company fire brigade, as well as the standard ten-inch and twelve-inch residential mains in the neighborhood. Engines from the Evanston, Skokie, Wilmette, Morton Grove, and Winnetka fire departments pumped water from numerous hydrants located to the east and north of the fire, including one hydrant at the dead-end of Cleveland Street at the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks 1/4 mile north of Rust-Oleum.

The conflagration was eventually surrounded, drowned, contained, and extinguished, but not before causing $775,000 in damage, making it the fourth highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time. Only the fires at the American Hospital Supply Corporation (October 1963), the Rolled Steel Corporation (January 1970), and Bramson’s clothing store (October 1971) cause greater damage. If nothing else, the Rust-Oleum fire was certainly the most spectacular fire in Evanston’s history!

The next day — May 29, 1975 — the Evanston Fire Department celebrated its centennial. Although May 29, 1875, was the date that the EFD was legally established by ordinance, the actual genesis of the village fire department was January 7, 1873, when the 60-man volunteer Pioneer Fire Company of Evanston was accepted for service by the village board. 

The purpose of the fire department ordinance of May 29, 1875 was not to create a firefighting force. The Pioneer Fire Company — renamed “Pioneer Hose Co. No. 1” in December 1874 when the Holly High-Pressure Waterworks was placed into service — already existed, and had existed for more than two years. Rather, the  real purpose of the ordinance was to legally describe the method by which additional volunteer fire companies could be organized and accepted for service with the village going forward, since by May 1875 the C. J. Gilbert Hose Company was already in the process of being organized, chartered, and trained.

Once the C. J. Gilbert Hose Company was ready to be accepted for service, the ordinance needed to describe the relationship between the two hose companies. They might be rivals, but they could not be competitors. They had to work together for a common purpose. Also, the ordinance legally installed the fire marshal as chief of the fire department, with the two hose companies plus any other companies that might eventually be organized and accepted for service officially and legally under the command and direction of the fire marshal.  

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 72

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


The concept of the “paramedic” in a non-military, civilian environment, was introduced on a limited basis in several American cities in the late 1960’s, mainly to improve life-saving care to cardiac patients. In 1972, the NBC-TV series Emergency! provided the American public with a weekly glimpse into the world of Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics, helping to spread the idea across the nation. What was unique about the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s paramedic program was that firefighters were cross-trained as paramedics. 

In the Chicago area, fire departments with a tradition of providing ambulance service were the first to train paramedics and place Advanced Life Support (ALS) Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) ambulances into service. The Niles Fire Department – which had provided ambulance service to its residents since 1946 – established a paramedic-program in 1973. The Skokie Fire Department placed two MICU ambulances staffed with paramedic firefighters into service in 1975, replacing its two 1969 Cadillac Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.

The Chicago Fire Department, which had provided ambulance service since 1928 and had 33 Cadillac and Pontiac BLS ambulances in service in 1974, placed their first two paramedic-staffed MICU ambulances into service in July 1974, with Ambulance 41 replacing Ambulance 1 at E1/T1 and Ambulance 42 replacing Ambulance 21 at E13. Five additional CFD MICU ambulances were in service by the end of 1974, with Ambulance 43 replacing Ambulance 11 at E22, Ambulance 44 replacing Ambulance 24 at E57, Ambulance 45 replacing Ambulance 2 at E103, Ambulance 47 replacing Ambulance 7 at E108/T23, and Ambulance 16 at O’Hare Field.

The City of Evanston borrowed an MICU “demonstrator” – minus the drugs and the specialized ALS gear only paramedics would be certified to use – from the State of Illinois Department of Public Health in June 1974, and it was tested over a 60-day period by the EFD. It was a modular ambulance, meaning it was a cab & chassis with a “box” mounted on top of the chassis. Personnel from Squad 21 were assigned to the unit (known as Ambulance 1) and responded to inhalator calls and ambulances runs city-wide throughout the summer. An engine company was dispatched as a “first responder” for inhalator calls outside Station # 1’s first-due area.

Three Evanston Police Department station-wagon patrol-ambulances were still in service in 1974 and (if available) could respond to inhalator calls and ambulance runs if the EFD’s MICU demonstrator was unavailable. The police patrol-ambulances were backed-up by the three stretcher-equipped EFD station-wagons. However, the three EFD stretcher-equipped station wagons (F-3 at Station # 5, F-4 at Station # 2, and F-5 at Station # 1) were used by Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors and the training officer during business hours, and normally could be staffed by personnel from an engine company (presuming the engine company was available and in quarters) only at night, on weekends, and holidays.   

Although the fire department was testing the MICU ambulance, Evanston Mayor Jim Staples wanted police officers – NOT firefighters – to be trained as paramedics, with the Evanston Police Department – NOT the Evanston Fire Department – operating the MICUs! He wanted the ambulances to be out on the street 24/7, just like the police patrol-ambulances. 

Evanston Police Chief William McHugh was apoplectic, saying there was no way his police department wanted any part of the new emergency medical service (EMS). Crime was on the rise in Evanston, gang activity was starting to become a problem, and the police department was hard-pressed just to provide rudimentary “throw-and-go”style ambulance service, without having to commit personnel and resources to a sophisticated new program.
Mayor Staples’ idea was politely considered, and then with approval of the Evanston City Council, City Manager Ed Martin assigned the the new EMS paramedic program to the fire department. Seven firefighters — Roger Bush, Dave Cleland, Jim Dillon, Randy Drott, Jerry McDermott, Jim McLaughlin, and Dave Pettinger — were trained and certified as paramedics at St. Francis Hospital during 1975. Although the fire department had not been the primary provider of ambulance service in Evanston over the years, firefighters knew all about saving lives. The EFD had been responding to inhalator calls since 1913!

In addition to establishing the new EMS program, the face of the Evanston Fire Department was changing in other ways as well. On November 26, 1973, the Evanston City Council agreed to appropriate funds to purchase a new 1,000-GPM pumper with a 300-gallon water tank. Only two bids were received; one from Howe ($43,242), and one from Pirsch ($47,721). Howe was awarded the contract, with an expected delivery date of one year. The pumper would feature an International-Harvester cab. 

On January 21, 1974, the city council authorized funds to purchase a second pumper with the exact same specifications, and Howe once again was awarded the contract by offering to supply the second pumper for $44,575 (slightly higher than its bid for the first pumper, but still below the Pirsch bid), but with the understanding that the price would go up substantially if the contract was not signed by February 5th. The city council wasted no time, and the contract was signed immediately.

The two new Howe – International pumpers were to replace the two 1958 Seagrave 1000 / 300 open cab pumpers at Station # 3 and Station # 4. On the orders of Chief Beattie, both of the Howe rigs were painted “safety yellow,” had rear-facing jump seats so that firefighters would no longer need to ride on the tailboard, were equipped with electronic sirens to be set in manual mode to reduce noise pollution, and had only one rear discharge port for a 1-1/2 inch pre-connect line, instead of the two rear discharge ports and two 1-1/2-inch pre-connects that had been standard on EFD pumpers since 1958. By eliminating one of the pre-connected attack lines, there would be more room in the hose-bed for larger-diameter hose.

Instead of a second rear discharge port and a second 1-1/2-inch pre-connect hose line, Chief Beattie specified that the new pumpers have a top-mounted booster reel (sometimes called a red line) that could be led-out quickly at a car fire, trash fire, brush fire, or gas wash, and in some cases even at a structure fire. EFD pumpers had not been ordered with booster reels since the Pirsch pumpers in 1952, something Chief Beattie believed was a mistake.  

Besides the new pumpers, the Evanston Fire Department also added a 1974 Dodge van (fleet # 341) for use as a utility vehicle, replacing the 1956 International-Harvester pick-up truck. Located in the shop bay at Fire Station # 1, the van could be used by EFD mechanics to run errands or to respond to a repair job at a fire, on the road, or at one of the four outlying fire stations, as well as to transport manpower and supplies to and from a large fire or other major incident. As with the two new Howe pumpers, Chief Beattie ordered the van be painted “safety yellow.”

Also in 1974, the WWII-era DUKW amphibious vehicle (F-7) that had been in service with the EFD since 1964 and the rescue trailer acquired from the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1954 were taken out service. Some of the equipment and gear carried in the trailer was placed in storage at Station # 1, in the event that it might be needed for a tornado, flood, airplane crash, or some other disaster or mass casualty event. A 17-foot Boston Whaler (the new F-7) with an outboard marine engine and a boat trailer were purchased to replace the DUKW as the EFD’s Lake Michigan rescue vehicle, with a trailer hitch installed on the new van so that it could tow the boat & trailer to the Church Street Boat Ramp if it was needed.

The first of the new Howe – International pumpers arrived in November 1974 and was placed in service at Station # 3 as the new Engine 23 (fleet # 326), and the second Howe – International pumper arrived in May 1975 and was placed in service as the new Engine 24 (fleet # 324) at Station # 4. The 1958 Seagrave pumper that had been running as Engine 23 was placed into reserve at Station # 3 as Engine 26, and the 1958 Seagrave pumper that had been running as Engine 24 was sold at auction.; #EvanstonFD; #FireTruck

photographer unknown

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

This from Danny Richardson:

Hello does anyone know these Chicago Firefighters from 1982? I was at Engine 50 truck 18 visiting from London (ex London Fire Brigade) and spent some time at what they called the Snake Pit! going on calls . If you can help or put me in touch with anyone that can I would appreciate it.  

Kind Regards Danny Richardson

The young buck in the pic is me. Good memories.

vintage Chicago Fire Department photo

vintage Chicago Fire Department photo

vintage Chicago Fire Department photo

vintage Chicago Fire Department photo

Tags: , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

This from Drew Smith:

In these photos of the old CFD squad, does someone know what the device on the left side of the tailboard is used for?

vintage Chicago FD Autocar squad

vintage Chicago FD Autocar squad

vintage Chicago FD Autocar squad

Tags: , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

Excerpts from the

The year after the Great Chicago Fire, city officials kept their fingers crossed and hired six Black firefighters.

The Tribune reported on Dec. 6, 1872, that a Black fire company would be stationed on the foot of May Street, and cautioned those who might decide to protest: “Any infringement on the rights of the members by the people residing in the vicinity will be punished by the removal of the engine.”

That was a credible threat in a city where 300 had been killed and 100,000 made homeless by the enormous fire of 1871, for which the city’s fireD department was woefully unprepared. New pumpers were acquired, including one to be staffed by the city’s first Black firemen.

Even if city officials hadn’t foreseen that a small measure of integration would be anathema to white Chicagoans, they would have realized that the day after Engine 21 with its Black crew was assigned to May Street, near the site of the previous year’s fire.

Two crew members ordered drinks at Chaplin and Gore’s saloon on Monroe Street, as the Tribune reported. They were told Black people weren’t served at the bar. “One of them appeared to take the refusal in good part, but the other fellow declared it was a direct insult to the whole fire department, of which he was proud to be a member.”

Mr. Gore won the physical confrontation that followed but said he would complain to the fire marshal about his missing gold watch.

Engine 21?s firemen were not about to acquiesce to the indignity they’d experienced in Southern childhoods.

Born a slave in Kentucky, Stephen Paine served in the Union Army, then came to Chicago where he worked as a coachman. Being a fireman gave him a social standing equal to white people. Others on Engine 21?s crew had taken a similarly big step up. When challenged, they were more likely to fight back with a demonstration of their prowess than their fists.

In 1885, Engine 21 was called to the scene of a lumber fire that threatened the South Side and the adjoining town of Lake.

The crowd of spectators made fun of the men as they dragged their hose in, according to a Tribune report. “But the levity was soon succeeded by admiration. … They went up to within 10 feet of the burning lumber pile so full of danger to the city and Lake, and soon made an impression on the flames. The pipe got away from three of them once, but the fourth held on though he was knocked down and thrown around and knocked around on the ground.”

Still, why did city officials risk confrontations between Black firemen and racist whites, given all else they had to do to get Chicago up and running in 1872? The credit is due to Mayor Joseph Medill, says Dekalb Walcott, Jr, author of “Black Heroes of Fire,” an account of Engine 21.

A retired battalion chief, Walcott notes that Medill was committed to the cause of Black people’s freedom.

As editor of the Chicago Tribune he championed Abraham Lincoln for president and hectored him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Elected mayor after the Chicago Fire, Medill rejected his own Republican Party’s courting of voters grown weary of the race issue.

Indeed, Engine 21 would experience mixed fortunes as the nation swung to the right in the 1870?s. Its initial captain was white, and in 1889, the city turned down a petition for Engine 21 to get its first Black captain. That was hardly surprising. From the beginning, its Black crew was badmouthed.

In 1874, F. A. Bragg, a real estate dealer and former volunteer fireman, told insurance adjusters evaluating Chicago’s Fire Department that Engine Co. 21 was political payback to the Black community.

He thought the men “were good drivers and horsemen, generally, but not good firemen,” the Tribune reported. “There was no lack of good and experienced firemen in the city and the existence of this company kept just so many efficient men out of the force,” Bragg insisted. In response to that put-down, Black firemen strove to prove themselves as good, if not better than, white firemen.

In the 1870s, pumpers were drawn by horses stabled on a fire station’s lower floor. The firemen lived on the upper floor and were graded on how fast they could get downstairs and the engine out the door. Seconds matter to someone trapped in a building on fire. Not only did Engine 21 consistently get excellent reviews, but it added a tool to a fireman’s kit that quickened the response time of all companies. A Tribune reporter was shown the prototype by Paine, the former slave, on a visit to Engine 21?s quarters in 1888. “Steve brought it out,” the reporter noted. “It was polished a dark brown and was smooth as ebony and was handled by Steve something as an old battle-flag is handled by a soldier.” It was a pole used to hoist hay to the third floor, where feed for the horses was stored. One day an alarm was sounded, and George Reed slid down the pole and was waiting for the other firemen, who took the stairs.

That prompted David Kenyon, the company’s white commander, to ask his superiors if a circular hole could be cut in the second floor and the pole installed permanently. Walcott notes that permission was granted on condition that if the experiment failed, he would pay for repairing the floor. It worked, and the fire department’s annual report for 1878 noted that sliding poles were being installed in firehouses across the city. The later ones were made of brass, as sliding down a wooden one meant a fireman sometimes took a sliver with him.

For Kenyon, the invention kick-started his rise through the department’s ranks. As deputy fire marshal, he was thrown from his buggy, run over by an engine, and died of his injuries in 1887.

Though the sliding pole was adopted worldwide, it didn’t end the harassment of Engine 21?s crew or quicken the department’s integration. To the contrary, when a Black fireman was assigned to Truck 17, the white firemen burned a Black man in effigy, the Tribune reported in 1907, writing that the white members were so against the idea of a Black colleague that the firemen said they wouldn’t sleep in the same dormitory with him.

The first Back captain was appointed in 1923, and a second Black company was established in 1943. With each small breakthrough, more Black children experienced a thrill a Tribune reporter witnessed when Engine 21 went roaring out of its quarters in 1888.

Little by little, the Black community’s demand for an equal shot at fire fepartment positions grew more insistent. In 2011, a judge ordered the city to hire 111 Black firefighters as compensation for its discriminatory practices. Female applicants won a similar lawsuit.

And so it was that in 2021, a mere 143 years after a Black fireman slid down the first fire pole, Annette Nance-Holt, a Black woman, was appointed commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department.

Tags: , , , ,

Vintage 4-11 Alarm fire in Chicago, 2-12-71

From Steve Redick:

February 12, 1971 4-11 at 15th & Karlov

vintage fire scene in Chicago

photographer unknown

Tags: , , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

This from Michael Christensen:

Historic photo Halloween 1961 Truck52 Engine 65

Historic photo Halloween 1961 Truck52 Engine 65

Historic photo Halloween 1961 – Chicago FD Truck 52 Engine 65

Tags: ,

Chicago Fire Department history

From Steve Redick:

July 1970, location unknown

vintage photo of Chicago Firefighters battling a fire in 1970

photographer unknown

vintage photo of Chicago Firefighters battling a fire in 1970

photographer unknown

vintage photo of Chicago Firefighters battling a fire in 1970

photographer unknown

Tags: ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 39

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


During the decade of the 1920’s, as the Evanston Fire Department was expanding to an 84-man force, sixty new firemen were hired. During the decade of the 1930’s, however, only nine new men were hired, and only four during the height of the Depression 1932 – 1938. It was difficult to find work during the Depression, and anyone who had a job made sure to keep it! So why were there any openings in the EFD during the 1930’s? In most of the cases, a veteran fireman unable to work any longer simply elected to retire with a pension; but in four other cases, leaving the EFD was not a matter of choice.

Besides the fatal heart attack suffered by Assistant Chief Ed Johnson in October 1932, Fireman Milton Jasper (Truck Co. 1) died while off-duty in March 1931, Lt. Frank Didier (Engine Co. 2) died of a heart attack at his home in September 1931, and Fireman Fred Walters (Engine Co. 5) died at Evanston Hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolism following a combined training exercise with the Wilmette Fire Department at Gilson Park in October 1936.   

Meanwhile, a number of firefighters received promotions in the years 1929-34.

1. Fireman Henry Dorband was promoted to lieutenant in 1929 and was assigned as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 5, with Lt. Ed Newton transferring from Engine Co. 5 to Engine Co. 4, replacing the deceased Walt Boekenhauer.

2. Fireman Harry Jasper was promoted to lieutenant in 1931 and replaced the deceased Frank Didier as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 2.

3. Captain (and Fire Prevention Inspector) J. E. Mersch was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal in 1932, and Captain Carl Windelborn was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal in 1933, replacing the deceased Ed Johnson as a platoon commander and company officer. Assistant Chief Tom McEnery was transferred from Truck Co. 2 to Truck  Co. 1 at this same time, with Chief Windelborn assigned to Truck Co. 2.

4. Lieutenants Anthony Steigelman and John Wynn were promoted to captain in 1933 and Lt. Michael Garrity was promoted to captain in 1934, with Steigelman replacing the retired George Hargreaves as company officer of Engine Co. 1, Wynn replacing the promoted Carl Windelborn as company officer of Engine Co. 2, and Garrity replacing the retired Pat Gaynor as company officer of Engine Co. 4.  

5. Firemen Frank Sherry Sr and Jim Geishecker were promoted to lieutenant in 1933 and Fireman William Elliott was promoted to lieutenant in 1934, with Sherry replacing John Wynn as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 1, Geishecker replacing Anthony Steigelman as assistant company officer of Truck Co. 2, and Elliott replacing Michael Garrity as assistant company officer of Truck Co. 1.

With budget cuts and a reduction in staffing, it is fortunate that the Depression years saw a limited number of major fires in Evanston. The worst ones were at the Hemenway Methodist Church at 929 Chicago Avenue in September 1932 ($52,000 loss), and at the Weise Brothers planing mill & lumber yard at 1124 Dodge Avenue ($35,000 loss) on October 8, 1937 (the 65th anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire). Actually, the EFD fought more large fires in other towns than it did in Evanston during this period!
During the early-morning hours of January 15, 1931, the Evanston Fire Department assisted the Wilmette F. D. fighting a spectacular blaze atop the Baha’i Temple at 100 Linden Ave, With Wilmette and Evanston firemen working in bitter-cold, firefighting efforts were initially hampered by frozen hydrants, and engine companies had considerable difficulty throughout the night maintaining the water-pressure needed to ultimately extinguish the flames. EFD Truck 1’s “big stick” was extended to its full 85-feet to provide an elevated master-stream, but the steel skeleton of the now world-famous landmark could not be saved. Still under construction at the time of the fire, the structure sustained $50,000 in damage, and because of the fire, the Great Depression, and World War II, the temple was not completed for another twenty years.

Then on July 27, 1933, firefighters from Evanston, Chicago, Niles Center, and Morton Grove assisted the small Tessville volunteer fire department battling a blaze that destroyed the Becker Box Company factory at Touhy & Lincoln. (Tessville is now known as “Lincolnwood”). The Evanston F. D. also assisted the Niles Center Fire Department at a conflagration at the Hughes Oil Company storage yard on Howard Street near the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks in Niles Center on August 17, 1934. (Niles Center is now known as “Skokie”). Earlier that same year (on May 19th), EFD Engine Co. 1 was moved into Chicago F. D. Engine Co. 71’s quarters at 6239 N. California Avenue, helping to provide fire protection to Rogers Park and the far north-side of Chicago while most CFD companies were busily engaged fighting an inferno that destroyed much of the Union Stockyards and surrounding neighborhood. On November 18, 1935, EFD Engine Co. 3, Engine Co. 1, and Truck Co. 2 assisted the Wilmette F. D. battling a blaze that gutted the D. S. Lyman drug store at 4th & Linden ($30,000 loss).   

Although budget cuts stemming from the Great Depression kept the Evanston Fire Department from making any significant purchases in the years 1933-36, there were a few minor upgrades. In 1935, the aging wooden ladders on the city service truck were replaced with new ones, and in 1936, the chief’s 1926 Lincoln Model “L” automobile was traded in for a new 1936 Ford Tudor Deluxe sedan equipped with a “Motorola Police Cruiser” AM radio receiver.

The Galvin Company had been manufacturing its Motorola AM radio receivers for civilian automobiles since 1930, and the Evanston Police Department had been one the first police departments in the nation to place Motorola Model 5T71 AM radios into its patrol cars. When they were initially made available, the vacuum-tube radios cost almost as much as a new car, required complicated installment and maintenance procedures, and were subject to sudden failure if a tube blew or a wire became disconnected while driving.

Also, the radios were strictly one-way receivers, and Chicago-area police radio traffic – at first limited to emergency broadcasts only — was transmitted over WGN radio’s 720 KHZ frequency, available to be heard by anyone with an AM radio receiver. Obviously this could not be sustained long-term, so in 1935 police departments were granted the use of AM radio frequencies between 1550 and 2800 KHz.  

At about that same time, Galvin invented its “Motorola Police Cruiser” AM radio specifically for the use of police departments, and the Ford motor company offered a factory-installed Motorola Police Cruiser radio at a discounted price as part of its new “police package” in 1936. The Evanston Police Department had ten patrol cars, ten motorcycles, and one ambulance in service at that time, but only its new Ford patrol cars were equipped with the Motorola Police Cruiser AM radios, tuned to the Chicago Police Department’s new radio frequency.

EFD Chief Hofstetter’s ’36 Ford Tudor Deluxe sedan was likewise equipped with a Motorola Police Cruiser radio, and so the chief — or the platoon commander, in the absence of the chief — could receive emergency Evanston Fire Department radio traffic via AM radio, or even just a message to contact the Evanston Police switchboard.

Among his other duties, the chief’s buggy-driver was in charge of monitoring the radio, but because the Motorola Police Cruiser radio was strictly one-way (receive-only), there was no way to acknowledge a radio transmission. The “two-way” FM automobile radio was invented in the 1940’s and two-way radios were acquired by the City of Evanston for police cars and for the fire chief’s car in 1945-46, but two-way radios were not placed aboard EFD engines and trucks until 1952. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

As seen around … TImbo Arkansas

From Ryan Smith on FaceBook:
Timbo, Arkansas Fire Department
X-Chicago Engine 45 D-494
X-Langley, Arkansas
1985 Federal E-One 1250/500

1985 Federal Motors - E-ONE fire engine

Tags: , , , , ,