Posts Tagged fire apparatus history

Chicago FD Turret Wagon History (pt7)

More on the history of turret wagons in the Chicago Fire Department.

This from Steve Redick

I was surfing through my collection..kinda bored cause I haven’t shot any fire photos in a while. I found this shot and thought I would share it because it’s relevant to our recent turret wagon photos. I am not sure of the source of this photo..might be a CFD negative..I do know it is not one I took. A few interesting things to see…truck 2 is using an old Mack magirus and you can see how they had to use a ground ladder to ascend to the main ladder…really gotta wonder what the designers were thinking there…and ya gotta wonder even more why the heck did CFD buy these??!!!!??? Prominently in the photo is the original “Big Mo”..turret wagon with lots of lines hooked up and sporting the CD paint job of white over blue. This thing changed paint schemes like a chameleon changes colors.The other detail I could pick out was what I remember as snorkel 4…it had a stripping ladder mounted on the boom, easily accessible from the basket. Snorkels weren’t just elevated master streams..before tower ladders they did lots of regular truck work too. The fire is downtown somewhere and I estimate the time frame as the mid 70s..anyone recognize this location??
This stuff is way cool…any comments will be shared!!

Chicago Fire Department Turret Wagon Big Mo

Turret Wagon Big Mo at work at a large fire in Chicago. Photographer unknown.

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Vintage CFD fire apparatus photo

From the collection of Bill Friedrich:

CFD Engine 13, 209 N Dearborn, 1953 FWD  1000-gpm, Shop #D-268.  Assigned Feb.23, 1954.
Chicago Fire Department vintage apparatus photo historic photo FWD engine

Engine 13 shown here was on a 1953 FWD conventional chassis with a 1,000-GPM pump and no water tank. Bill Friedrich collection

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A Commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 3 of 3

Part 3 of a commentary by Bill Post on the Chicago Fire Department history: Part 1 can be found HERE and Part 2 can be found HERE.

While Fire Commissioner Quinn did put the six Flying Manpower Squads in service, he (understandably) decided to keep Snorkel Squad 1 in service. Instead, Snorkel 2 was taken out of service and less then a year before the Maatman Report recommendations were implemented, five additional salvage squads were put in service.  When the Flying Manpower Squads were put in service during 1969, Salvage Squad 1 (the squad that the consultant wanted retained) was taken out of service on May 1, 1969. That was the day that Flying Manpower Squad 4 was put in service; in fact they went in service using Salvage Squad 1’s 1954 AutoCar Squad.
Rescue 3 (the remnants of Snorkel Squad 3) also went out of service on that day. While the 1968 Maatman report was released in November of 1968 and the recommended six Flying Manpower Squads were all in service by November of 1969, Fire Commissioner Bob Quinn hadn’t acted to take Snorkel 6 out of service and he hadn’t even moved Snorkel 4 from Engine 25 to Engine 67. The south side still had more then one Snorkel assigned to it despite Snorkel 2 going out of service in February of 1969.
On March 9, 1970, Truck 31 was relocated out of Engine 104’s south loop fire station to a new station on the far southwest side. Snorkel 4 was relocated from Engine 25 to Engine 104 on the same day. On July 7, 1970, the brick wall of a multi-story vacant factory (in the 1700 block of north Ashland Avenue) collapsed on Snorkel 7 as they were pouring water on the smoldering ruins from a 5-11 alarm fire the previous day. Snorkel 7 was a total loss, and Firefighter Jack Walsh eventually succumbed to injuries sustained during the collapse. Snorkel 7 was never replaced and Snorkel 5 was the remaining Snorkel on the north side of Chicago.
Several months later, early in 1971, the fire department’s consultant Gerald Maatman released a follow-up progress report and review of the fire department’s compliance with the 1968 report. While many of the recommendations contained in the 1968 report had been followed, a few items had not been administered. Since Fire Commissioner Quinn had opted to keep Snorkel Squad 1 in service and instead took Snorkel 2 and Salvage Squad 1 out of service, the consultant recommended that Snorkel Squad 1 be relocated to Engine 5’s house.
Snorkel Squad 1 wasn’t relocated and stayed at 1044 N. Orleans despite the recommendation. So Commissioner Quinn not only kept Snorkel Squad 1 in service, but he kept it in the original location (as long as he was the fire commissioner). The 1971 Maatman report did recommend that a 7th Flying Manpower Squad be put in service at Engine 108’s quarters on the far northwest side. Flying Manpower Squad 5 (as it would be known) was supposed to cover the far northwest side from Engine 7 and Truck 58’s house. It was never located there but instead had been put in service at Engine 114’s old station at Fullerton and Central Park. This was really too far southeast to adequately cover the far northwest side.
Chicago’s Flying Manpower Squads were all using old pumpers from the 1950s and late 1940s, and really weren’t carrying much squad-type equipment as was recommended in the 1968 report. The consultant had made specific recommendations as to exactly the types of and amounts of equipment that the Flying Manpower Squads should be carrying and had even included general specifications as to what type of apparatus they should be using.
There were still six Salvage Squads that were in service and the consultant had recommended that Salvage Squads 6 and 7 be taken out of service as they were in areas that were normally covered by the Flying Squads, which was redundant.
Last but not least, two truck companies (43 and 46) that had been recommended in the previous reports to be taken out of service were still active. The space that these were occupying had been recommended in 1968 to have Snorkel companies. Once again, it was recommend that these two trucks be taken out of service.
Snorkel 4 was supposed to be relocated to Engine 67 (Truck 46) and Snorkel 7 was supposed to have been relocated to Engine 110 (Truck 43) along with Flying Squad 6. Snorkel 4 couldn’t be relocated as long as those two trucks were in service. On November 16, 1971, Trucks 46 and 43 were finally taken out of service and Snorkel 6 was relocated from Engine 46 on the southeast side to Engine 110 on the north side. Snorkel 6 was originally recommended to be taken out of service, but since Snorkel 7 was destroyed in July of 1970, Snorkel 6 was relocated instead.
Snorkel 4 wasn’t relocated to Engine 67 until June of 1972 however. After June of 1972, not only was Snorkel 3 the only Snorkel left on the south side, but Snorkel 4, which had been in the south loop and was second-due on the south side, was now much further away since they were now on the far west side. It was ironic that now there were two Snorkels on the north side, one on the west side, and only one on the south side. There were no Snorkels downtown, unless you counted Snorkel Squad 1 with their 50-foot Snorkel on the near north side. To be fair about it, Snorkel 5 was located in a high fire frequency area back then and Snorkel 6 was also just west of a high fire frequency zone.
Since the south side was so far away from a second Snorkel company, Snorkel 5 was automatically relocated to Snorkel 3 on a Still and Box Alarm when Snorkel 3 was due on it. Snorkel 5 wasn’t relocated to Engine 5 (from Engine 57) until about two and a half years later in January of 1975. This at least brought them closer to the south side by putting them in the west loop. Two years later in 1977, Snorkel 5 was once again relocated, this time to the west side at Engine 23’s house. It wasn’t until April of 1981 that the south side had regained a second Snorkel. The new Snorkel 4 (using Snorkel Squad 1’s 1975 Hendrickson Pierce 55-foot Snorkel) was put in service at Engine 123’s station.
One month later, Snorkel 3 was renumbered as Snorkel 5 (to match the new fire district that it was assigned to) and was relocated to Engine 72’s station. In May of 1981, each Snorkel was renumbered and relocated to match each of the five new fire districts where they located. The new districts had replaced the seven old fire divisions on April 11,1981. Snorkel 5 became Snorkel 1, Snorkel 4 became Snorkel 2, Snorkel 6 became Snorkel 3, Snorkel 4 was a new company, and Snorkel 3 become Snorkel 5. Snorkel Squad 1 had been taken out of service on Oct 3, 1980.
So Mike, Commissioner Quinn had literally saved Snorkel Squad 1 and kept them from going out of service in 1969, and he did delay relocating some of the other Snorkels, but after Snorkel 7 was destroyed he had to relocate Snorkel 6 to the north side. Once again the city didn’t want to hire more firefighters to properly staff all of the fire companies after 1967, so Gerald Maatman the consultant was told to find a way to run the fire department on the same budget without having to hire more men.
Some of his recommendations were good which included adding useful equipment like K-12 saws and ladder pipes to trucks, and multi-versals to engines. He also recommended that air masks be put on the engines and trucks, which the CFD was extremely slow in doing. This didn’t really occur until the late 1970s and early 1980s. On some of the basic concepts, the CFD was way behind other fire departments.
Most of the new fire stations that were built in the 1970s were due to recommendations of the report. Engine 70 and Truck 47’s new house was recommended by Maatman in 1968. If the city would have been willing to hire more firefighters, then the report wouldn’t have had to organize four-man company districts and recommend that special companies be cut. By the way, did you know that in 1968, the last full year that Snorkel Squad 3 and Snorkel Squad 2 were in service, they were the busiest companies in Chicago. Snorkel Squad 3 had 5,952 incidents and Snorkel Squad 2 had gone out on 5,117 runs.
This wasn’t bad when you consider that Snorkel Squad 3 hadn’t been running with a Snorkel since January of 1967 and Snorkel Squad 2 had also stopped running with a Snorkel by mid 1968. In those years, all the styles of squads that Chicago had been running with were automatically dispatched to still alarms with the engines and trucks. They didn’t wait for a confirmation of a working fire, so there were an awful lot of “hold the squad” messages and squad turn backs.
As the Snorkel Squads were the only rigs with the K-12 saws, multi-versals, and back mounted air masks, you would have all three of the Snorkel Squads respond on the same 2-11 alarms citywide. In 1967 and 1968 they first started putting power saws on the truck companies and multi-versals on the engines, so there was less of a dependence on the Snorkel Squads for that basic type of equipment. Air masks weren’t put on engines and trucks until the latter half of the 1970s.

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A Commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 2 of 3

Part 2 of a commentary by Bill Post on the Chicago Fire Department history: Part 1 can be found HERE.

Mike, I too felt that it was ridiculous for the Chicago Fire Department to be running with a ‘Snorkel Squad 3’ for over 2 years without a Snorkel assigned to it. Only for the last few months before going out of service did they correctly re-designate Snorkel Squads 2 and 3 as Rescues 2 and 3. There was a reason for that however. The simple answer would be to say that it was recommended by a consultant study known as the Maatman Report. This was only partially true as ultimately the city didn’t want to spend the money that was necessary to keep fire companies in service and to provide adequate staffing.
The City of Chicago had hired a consultant who was the head of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Fire Science program by the name of Gerald Maatman. He also headed the National Loss Control Service Corporation. The City of Chicago had first hired him in 1963 to do a comprehensive study of the Chicago Fire Department, which included the fire stations, their locations, and the distribution of Chicago’s fire companies. The study was done in part to help Chicago raise the AIA fire insurance rating to a Class 2, which it achieved the following year. For your information, the AIA now is known as ISO and was originally known as the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The 1963/64 Maatman study was really quite good. It recommended that many new fire stations be built and that fire companies from the center city be relocated to the outlying areas of the city that had poor fire station coverage.
While there were some companies that he did recommend be taken of service, there were also some companies that he recommended to be moved into the new fire stations. He didn’t recommend any manpower reductions on the companies, plus there were even a few select fire companies that he had recommended to have a 6th man added. The report recommended that 16 engines be taken out of service from a total of 120 engines that were still in service, and that three new truck companies be added to the 60 that were in service. No Snorkels, Snorkel Squads, or squad companies were recommended to be taken out of service. Five years later (in 1968) another Maatman Report was commissioned by the city, however this time the recommendations were quite a bit different from the first (1963) report.
First let me tell you what had changed. In 1967, the Chicago Fire Department had given firefighters an additional day off (in other words they agreed to further reduce their working hours). However, the city refused to hire more men or increase the number of firefighter positions to reflect the reduction in hours. By 1967, two of the squad companies had been out of service for a few years. Squad 12 was taken out of service in 1964 to create Truck 62. Squad 7 was taken out of service in 1965 to create Snorkel Squad 3. In December of 1966 and February of 1967, Squads 1 and 2 had become Salvage Squads 1 and 2. That really wasn’t a big change as both stayed at their same locations and even had the same apparatus. They were given more salvage covers and would respond citywide on 2-11s to do salvage work. In April of 1967, Squad 3 was involved in a serious accident and the apparatus was declared a total loss. Squad Company 3 was disbanded on April 17th. Squads 6 and 13 were taken out of service on June 16th, just three months after Squad 3 was disbanded. Squads 8 and 10 were downgraded (on the same day) to one-man companies who would only respond on Still and Box Alarms with their driver. Slightly over a month later, Squad 10 was taken out of service and Squad 5 became a one-man company.
By the end of the summer, only Salvage Squads 1 and 2, and Squads 4, 9, and 11 were fully-manned squads. In early 1968, all of the squads (with the exception of Salvage Squads 1 and 2, and Squads 4 and 9) were out of service. I’m not including Snorkel Squads 1, 2, and 3 that were still in service in 1968 even though SS3 was running without a Snorkel for over a year by then. Because of the reduced hours, the manpower situation was so bad that by 1968 one wouldn’t know from day to day if an engine or truck would be running with five men or only four. The unpredictable manpower situation was another reason why the city rehired Gerald Maatman to do another study.
This new study recommended that about 3/5ths of the engine and truck companies run with only four men assigned to them. It further recommended the creation of six Flying Manpower Squads with a crew of six firefighters each to respond to still alarms supplementing the four-man companies. The remaining engines and trucks, which were located downtown, near the lakefront, and in the busy areas of the city, were to run with five-man companies. These wouldn’t normally have a Flying Manpower Squad respond with them.
There was more to the 1968 Maatman Report.  It recommended that all three Snorkel Squads be taken out of service and that only Salvage Squad 1 remain in service as the “downtown” squad company. He stated in his report that the special equipment that was carried on the Snorkel Squads could be carried on the new Flying Manpower Squads and the remaining Salvage Squad. He also had recommended that some of the equipment could be assigned to engines and trucks. He was right about that, as the fire department started equipping most of the engine companies with new multi-versals that previously were only carried on the Snorkel Squads.
The CFD also started assigning all trucks a K-12 rotary power. These saws previously were only carried on the Snorkel Squads. In the same report from 1968, the consultant recommended that one regular Snorkel Company (Snorkel 6) be taken out of service. Another recommendation was to move Snorkel 3 from Engine 84’s old house to Engine 60, which wasn’t a problem after Snorkel Squad 2 was taken out of service. Snorkel 2 was supposed to remain in service at Engine 28’s house, except they were to be given Snorkel Squad 1’s new Mack MB 55-foot Snorkel that had been delivered in 1967. Snorkel 4 was to be moved from Engine 25 (near the Loop) to Engine 67 (on the far west side) and Snorkel 7 was to be moved from Engine 55’s house to Engine Company 110. Snorkel 5 would remain at Engine 43’s house on the northwest side. The idea was to have the five remaining Snorkels located either in or near the high fire frequency areas. In those days (the late 1960s) the high fire frequency area on the south side really didn’t go much further south then 79th or 83rd Street, about as far east as Jeffrey (2000 East), and about as far west as Ashland (1600 west).
The consultant also recommended that ladder pipes be put on every truck company. There weren’t more then 25 ladder pipes in the field at the time. Having a ladder pipe on a truck allowed them to put an elevated stream into operation without having to wait for a Snorkel to arrive.

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A commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 1 of 3

A question was posed to Bill Post from Mike McAuliffe:

Bill, … on the subject of Snorkels, perhaps you could provide some insight as to why Fire Commissioner Quinn was so tight with funds, that he did not purchase a new small Snorkel for SS-3 or a new Snorkel for Snorkel 1 (which became SS-3), and, most importantly, he did not purchase a new Snorkel to replace Snorkel 7?

The Snorkels were his obvious pride and joy, though in my opinion, [this was] to the extent that he was blinded to the potential advantages of [the] Aerialscope/tower ladders. Why didn’t he purchase replacements? This was during a time when Snorkels were fairly common. Some departments were even using small Snorkels as a second-piece engine. Crown was making superb Snorkels on the west coast. The LACityFD had two that they wanted to get rid of. It could not have been that difficult to get a good deal on a used or even a new one.

I always thought it was a mark against Quinn that the city had only one Snorkel on the south side; Snorkel 3, for most of the 1970s when the south side was “really rolling”. Whenever a south side still and box came in, you would always hear on the sounder, “Snorkel 5 to Snorkel 3?.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


Mike, you hit it right on the button. Money was indeed a problem for the Chicago Fire Department in the 1960s. That was one of the reasons why during the early 1960s until late 1966 through early 1967, the Chicago Fire Department only purchased unique or what would be called “specialty apparatus”. As you know, that was basically the Magirus 144-foot and 100-foot aerial ladders, Snorkels, Snorkel Squads, Fog Pressures, the original helicopter (441), jet (rescue) boats, plus of course ambulances and chief buggies.
The Chicago Fire Department was desperate for capital funds. The City of Chicago finally had to go to the voters during 1966/67 with a campaign to get their approval to be able to float a bond issue in order to be able to get a funding mechanism to invest in much needed city infrastructure, which included new fire engines. I even remember that there was a special half-hour long television special one evening (probably on Channel 9) that was about the need for the Chicago Fire Department to acquire new apparatus. Some of our equipment, like a number of the tractor-trailer hook and ladders went back to the 1920s. Commissioner Robert J Quinn was on the show doing an interview where he had said “I don’t see how the hell the voters could keep us from getting new fire apparatus” which was desperately needed.
The bond issue was passed. As far as Snorkel Company 1 goes, Commissioner Quinn had felt a need for a new Snorkel Squad company on the busy West Side, so he converted Snorkel 1’s rig into Snorkel Squad 3, and he purchased three Fog Pressure Wagons on longer chassis to be used as the new second pieces for the three Snorkel Squads. Snorkel Squad 3 went into service on May 16th, 1965 at the fire house at 2858 W. Fillmore. This had been the quarters of Engine 66 and Squad 7.
Engine 66 was relocated to Engine Company 44 and Squad 7 was taken out of service on that day. By the way, another major reason why the CFD didn’t purchase a new Snorkel 1 (besides the money) is for another very elemental reason; there was no space for any new Snorkels on the West Side. As an example, in order for Snorkel Squad 3 to go in service, they had to move Engine 66 and take Squad 7 out of service. At the time, Squad 7 was one of the two busiest squad companies in the city, so Commissioner Quinn figured that he would just replace it with a more modern and well-equipped Snorkel Squad. This made a lot of sense. The other of our “top 2″ squad companies was Squad 3, which had been located with Engine 61. At that time, they were at 54th and Wabash which was only a mile and a half west of Engine 60, Truck 37, and Snorkel Squad 2 in their new station. One of the reasons why Squad 3 stayed in service is because Snorkel Squad 2 was in a new station with plenty of room.  This wasn’t the case though on the West Side. Part of Commissioner Quinn’s reasoning to put Snorkels 4 through 7 in service in 1961 and 62 was because he wanted one Snorkel located in each of the seven Fire Divisions at the time.
Snorkel Company 1 was the smallest of the Snorkel companies (only 50 feet) so they were moved from Engine 50 (on the south side in the 4th Division) to Engine 109 (in the 2nd Division on the west side). The reason for the move was that the only fire station in? the 2nd Division that had (barely) enough room for a Snorkel was Engine 109’s house. The space that Engine 109 had for Snorkel 1 was minimal at best because you need to remember that Engine 109 was in a two-bay station and that one of the bays had Truck 32. The truck had a 1954 FWD tillered aerial ladder which had an 85-foot wooden ladder with a long rear overhang. Since Snorkel 1 was only 50 feet and didn’t have a long front over hang, they were the only Snorkel that could fit into Engine 109’s quarters.
During the early 1960s when most of the Snorkels were put in service, the south side wasn’t that much better then the west side when it came to having fire stations which were large enough to accommodate Snorkels. At the time, there were three fire divisions on the south side. They were divisions 4, 5, and 7.
Division 5, on the far southeast side, had room for Snorkel 6 at Engine 46’s house because they had two exceptionally large apparatus bays. The 7th Division, covered the far southwest side, (including Englewood), and included Battalions 29, 31, 26, and 12. Only Engine 84’s house was large enough and it was located at Halsted south of 57th Street which was only two blocks south of the 4th Division’s southern boundary line on Garfield Boulevard.
Snorkel 3 was relocated there after being moved from Engine 50’s house where they had replaced Snorkel 1 for roughly 6 months. It was a very tight fit in Engine 50’s house. They ended up exchanging Light Wagon 3 (at Engine 84) for Snorkel 3. After Snorkel 3 was relocated into the 7th Division from the 4th Division in 1962, there was no Snorkel assigned to the 4th Division from March 24, 1962 until October 28, 1964. When Engine 28’s new house was opened, they were finally able to move Snorkel 2 there. Before Engine 28’s new station was opened, Snorkels 2 and 4 were located less then a mile apart from May 6, 1961 until October 28, 1964. Snorkel 2 was with Engine 5 and Snorkel 4 was with Engine 25 at the Fire Academy. That lasted for over three years and it was due to a lack of adequate space to accommodate the Snorkels in many of the fire stations around the city.

This is part one of a three-part article.

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Rescue squad has three lives


Bill Friedrich sent this interesting history of a 1991 Ford/Sauber rescue squad.

These photos represent the three lives of this 1991 Ford C – Sauber. It started it’s career at the River Grove FD. Then it was sold to the Franklin Park FD. After Franklin Park had it for a few years, they sold it to the O’Fallon Underwater Search and Recovery Team in St.Clair County, IL.
River Grove Fire Department Rescue 564

River Grove Squad 564 was this 1991 Ford Cargo 8000/Sauber squad. Bill Friedrich photo

Franklin Park Fire Department Rescue 1

Former Franklin Park Rescue 1 was this 1991 Ford Cargo 8000/Sauber that was acquired from River Grove, IL. Bill Friedrich photo


The O'Fallon Underwater Search and Recovery Team runs this 1991 Ford Cargo 8000/Sauber squad as Dive 1. This was formerly Rescue 1 in Franklin Park and before that it was Squad 564 in River Grove. John Fijal photo

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