Posts Tagged horse-drawn apparatus

Evanston Fire Department history

This from Phil Stenholm:

100 years ago today (February 21, 1918), the last three horses were retired from service with the Evanston Fire Department as the EFD became fully motorized. (This was five years before the Chicago Fire Department retired its last horse and became full-motorized).

The Evanston Fire Department utilized horses to pull its apparatus for nearly 35 years. Horses could pull firefighting apparatus at a speed of approximately 10-12 miles per hour (depending on the size and weight of the apparatus, weather, road, and traffic conditions, and the number of horses used), although the speed would decrease as the distance to be traveled increased and the horses became fatigued. Then once on the scene of a fire, the horses would be uncoupled from their apparatus and kept warm or cool (as necessary)–and out of harm’s way while firefighters battled the blaze.

Firemen were responsible for the care and feeding of the horses, although horses that were ill or injured would be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Fire department horses were kept in service for ten to 15 years (sometimes a bit longer), depending on the horse’s age and general health. Horses used by the Evanston Fire Department were usually transferred to the Street Department when no longer able to meet the demands of pulling firefighting apparatus.

The Evanston Fire Department’s horses were treated with the respect and dignity normally accorded to a friend or family member. When firefighters from the Evanston Fire Department won a muster in Blue Island in 1902, “Bob” and “Dan” (the horses pulling the hose wagon) were given the same “hero’s welcome” as the firefighters when the hose wagon returned to Evanston. .

In 1912, the Evanston Firemen’s Benevolent Association staged a fund-raising performance of “The Still Alarm” (a popular melodrama of the era) at the Evanston Theater. Members of the Evanston Fire Department were featured in the play, including EFD horses “Sharkey” and “Buttons.” (With a predilection for biting the buttons off the clothing of anyone who might come near, “Buttons” was an unusually talented horse. He could actually open a water-faucet by himself, and he performed this trick in the play).

The Evanston Fire Department first employed horse-power to pull its firefighting apparatus in November 1883, after the Village Board of Trustees purchased a horse named “Dave” from a farmer in Indiana to pull the new four-wheeled fire patrol/hose wagon. (Prior to 1883, all EFD fire-fighting apparatus was hand-drawn).

Four additional horses were acquired for the Fire Department in 1884-85, after the formerly hand-drawn Babcock chemical-engine was converted to horsepower and after the Village of Evanston purchased a hook & ladder wagon from the Davenport Fire Apparatus Co. The horses were kept in a stable at the EFD’s engine house (an old wood-frame remodeled paint shop located at the northwest corner of Sherman Avenue and the north alley of Davis Street) that was acquired for the use of the Fire Department in 1883.

When the combination engine house/stable was placed in service in November 1883, the Evanston Fire Department became a part-time paid fire department (it had previously been 100% volunteer). So the Village of Evanston employed a full-time “police/fire officer” (combination village nightwatchman/fire apparatus caretaker) to live at the fire house. The duties of the police/fire officer included the feeding and general care of the Fire Department’s horses. A three-man full-time paid Fire Department was established on June 5, 1888, and each man was responsible for one of the firefighting apparatus (Hose 1, Chemical 1, or Truck 1) and the horses used to pull it.

After the Village of South Evanston was annexed by the Village of Evanston (and the City of Evanston was formed) in 1892, the Evanston Fire Department was expanded and more horses were needed. A one-horse one-axle hose cart (Hose 2) was placed in service at the Fire Department’s “Engine Hose No. 2” at the old South Evanston Village Hall at 750 Chicago Avenue (the Evanston Police Department also established a “South Precinct” at this facility after annexation), and the number of horses assigned to pull the fire patrol/hose wagon at Engine House No. 1 was increased from one to two. (By doubling the horsepower assigned to Hose 1, the speed of the apparatus was increased and the Fire Department’s response to alarms was improved).

Engine House No. 1 was relocated into the new City Hall at the northwest corner of Davis & Sherman (across the alley to the south from the old paint shop) in 1893, and a steam fire engine (an 1895 Ahrens “Metropolitan” 2nd size steamer) was placed into service in March 1895. But because no additional horses were acquired to pull the steamer, the very useful Babcock chemical-engine was taken out of service and placed into reserve as its horses were reassigned to the steamer. .

After a disastrous fire at the home of prominent Evanstonian Harvey Hurd in August 1899 where there was a delay in getting water onto the fire, the City Council acquired two additional horses for the Fire Department and the EFD placed the chemical-engine back into service. By this time “Engine House No. 1” (now known as Fire Station #1) had been relocated again, this time from City Hall into the new Police/Fire public safety headquarters at the northwest corner of Grove & Sherman.

Five more horses were added to the Fire Department (for a total of 14) in 1901, as a two-horse four-wheeled hose-wagon replaced the one-horse single-axle hose cart at Station #2, a two-horse four-wheeled hose wagon was placed in service at new Fire Station #3 at 2504 West Railroad Avenue (later known as “Green Bay Road”) in North Evanston, and a two-horse buggy was purchased for the Chief Fire Marshal (as the Chief was now assigned a “buggy driver”).

Two more horses were added (for a total of 16) in 1903 when a Seagrave combination truck (light-duty hook & ladder and chemical engine) was placed in service at rebuilt Fire Station 2 (the three-bay firehouse was constructed on the site of the former South Evanston village hall/firehouse/police station), and another horse was added (bringing the total to 17) in 1906 when a new three-horse steam fire engine (an American-LaFrance “Metropolitan” 700 GPM steamer) was placed into service as Engine No. 1 at Fire Station #1. (The older Ahrens steamer was kept in reserve without manpower or horsepower 1906-11).

In the Summer of 1907, the hose wagons at Stations #2 and #3 (Hose 2 and Hose 3) were taken out of service and the horses that had been assigned to the two hose wagons were reassigned to the new American-LaFrance four-horse aerial-ladder truck that was placed into service at Station #1. The old Truck 1 (1885 Davenport H&L) was moved to Fire Station #3 (becoming Truck 3), and hose boxes with a capacity for 850-feet of hose-line were added to the Seagrave combination truck at Station #2 and to the Davenport H&L now at at Station #3.

The Evanston Fire Department had 19 horses in service (the most it would ever have) starting on February 15, 1911, when two more horses were acquired so that the old two-horse Ahrens steamer could be placed back into service at Station #2.

But the EFD’s horse-drawn era was on borrowed time.

As early as July 1909, the Evanston City Council had expressed an interest in the possibility of purchasing a gasoline-powered fire engine for the Fire Department. Gasoline-powered automobile fire apparatus were first used in the U. S. in 1906, and by 1909 it was becoming increasingly clear that the fire engine of the future would be motor-driven rather than horse-drawn.

Automobile fire apparatus were cheaper to operate than horse-drawn apparatus (horses needed to be fed every day, even when a fire department received no alarms, while automobile apparatus only needed gas and oil when they were in use), and automobile fire trucks were two or three times faster than horse-drawn apparatus and wouldn’t get tired and slow-down en route to a fire like horses sometimes would (thereby improving a fire department’s “response time,” and reducing or eliminating the need to construct additional fire stations to cover the outlying areas of a city).

The Evanston City Council’s Fire Committee made a fact-finding trip to Michigan in February 1910 to examine a gasoline-powered automobile fire engine–a Webb/Oldsmobile “combination” (pump & hose) pumper–that was in service in Lansing. Following the trip, the Fire Committee recommended Evanston purchase an “auto engine” for the Fire Department, and the City Council concurred. The question was left to voters in the form of a $10,000 bond issue referendum, and the bond issue was approved in April 1910 by a vote of 1,089 to 879 (55% in favor/45% opposed).

Even though the bond issue was approved in the Spring of 1910, the City Council took more than a year to purchase the truck. Aldermen wanted a so-called “triple-combination pumper” (pump, hose, 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–along with Howe and Webb, one of the leading manufacturers of automobile “combination pumpers” (pump and hose only) at the time, but there was some concern within the City Council that Robinson may not be able to meet the required specifications, since the company had never built a triple-combination pumper before. (The first triple-combination pumper ever built was placed into service on December 1, 1909, by the Monhagen Hose Company of Middletown, N. Y. The experimental prototype rig was manufactured by a New Jersey firm known as the “Tea Tray Company,” on an American Mors truck chassis).

Evanston Chief Fire Marshal Carl Harrison and the three members of the City Council’s Fire Committee visited the Robinson factory in St. Louis in February 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 (approximately 700 GPM) triple-cylinder piston-pump, a 50-gallon soda-acid chemical tank with hose reel (the soda-acid chemical system being an automated version of the horse-drawn chemical engines of the 19th century), and two 25-foot extension ladders. The Evanston Index newspaper enthusiastically described the “auto truck” fire engine as “an entire fire department in itself!”

Known as the Robinson “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, rear-wheel chain-drive two-wheel mechanical brakes, and solid rubber tires. (In spite of their “bumpy” ride, solid-rubber tires were considered safer and more reliable than pneumatic tires at the time). The hose-bed was polished teak (just like the deck of 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 (some with a clear lens, some with a colored lens) were hung from the outside of the apparatus, and a bell was mounted in front of the steering wheel on top of the cowl. (Sirens were not placed on Evanston fire apparatus until January 1927). As was common for the time, the truck had no windshield.

The “Jumbo” built for the City of Evanston was displayed at the International Association of Fire Engineers (IAFE) Convention in Milwaukee in September 1911, and the fire engine impressed many convention visitors. (Most had never seen a triple-combination automobile pumper before, since the Evanston “Jumbo” was one of the first triple-combination pumpers ever built).

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 to Evanston.

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 drove the five-ton “Jumbo” up and down the streets of Evanston, reaching a top-speed of 35 MPH.

Riding along on the test-drive were three members of the Evanston City Council (Aldermen Branch, Carter, and Changelon), and two engineers from the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU), Dr. F. A. Raymond and Kenneth Lydecker. The road-test was terminated early due to an overheated crankcase bearing, only the first of many mechanical problems to dog the Jumbo.

The Robinson “Jumbo” (officially rated at 750 GPM) passed capacity and pressure pump tests supervised by 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. The apparatus was accepted by the Evanston City Council on November 14th, and went into service as “Motor Engine No. 1” ten days later. Four new men were hired, including a civilian “Motor Driver” who had been specially trained at the Robinson factory in St. Louis. (A “Motor Driver” was defined as a combination chauffeur/mechanic/engineer).

The arrival of the “auto truck” allowed the City of Evanston to transfer four horses previously used by the Fire Department to the Street Department and transfer a steam fire engine (the EFD’s oldest engine, an 1895 Ahrens “Metropolitan” 600 GPM steamer) to Station #3 from Station #2. So by January 1912 (and for the first time ever), an engine company operating an automobile pumper or a steam fire engine was in service at each of Evanston’s three fire stations.

Because the Robinson “Jumbo” was so much faster than horse-drawn apparatus, Truck Co. 1 (operating at the time with a four-horse 1907 American LaFrance 85-ft HDA) was combined with Engine Co. 1 as a 15-man company (ten men on duty at any one time) known as “Motor Engine Co. 1,” and all personnel assigned to Station # 1 (except for a teamster and a tillerman assigned to drive the aerial-ladder truck and another man assigned as the chief’s “buggy driver”) rode to alarms aboard the “auto truck.”

In January 1916, fire gutted Rosenberg’s department store at 820 Davis St. Two Chicago F. D. engine companies assisted, and both of the CFD companies (Engine Co. 102 & Engine Co. 110) sent to Evanston were equipped with modern gasoline-powered automobile pumpers–Engine No. 102 a brand-new Seagrave, and Engine No. 110 a 1912 Webb that had previously been assigned to Engine Co. 102. With EFD Motor Engine No. 1 (the Robinson “Jumbo”) also working at the scene, it was a chance for Evanston officials to compare the performance of the three rigs under “game” conditions.

2,000 spectators gathered at Fountain Square, as Evanston and Chicago firemen fought the blaze late into the night. (Steve Redick was there but forgot to bring his camera). All three of the automobile pumpers ran out of gas after the EFD’s reserve fuel supply (120 gallons) was exhausted, but more gasoline was eventually located at a nearby garage. EFD Capt. Ed Johnson (Motor Engine Co. 1) was seriously injured at this fire, but eventually recovered and returned to duty. The $58,700 loss set a new mark (at the time) for the 2nd-highest loss from fire in Evanston’s history.

At the time that the Robinson engine was under consideration by the Evanston City Council in 1910, none of the companies that would later become the leaders in the production of automobile fire engines were manufacturing triple-combination pumpers. However, once Seagrave, American-LaFrance, and Ahrens-Fox began to produce reliable and durable automobile triple-combination pumpers, the temperamental “hot rod” manufactured by Robinson could not compete, and the company went out of business. And once the company was out of business, spare parts could only be obtained by salvaging parts from other Robinson rigs (if any could be located…).

In December 1914 the City of Evanston purchased an Overland roadster (at a cost of $800) for the Chief Fire Marshal, and by February 1918 the EFD was fully-motorized.

Voters approved a bond issue in April 1917 that led to the purchase of a fleet of automobile fire fighting apparatus from the Seagrave Company (total cost of $28,800), including one Model “E” city service ladder truck (equipped with an array of ladders including a 55-foot ground-based extension-ladder instead of an aerial-ladder, pike poles & axes, salvage covers, fire extinguishers, a heavy-duty jack, a life net, and a chemical tank & hose reel), one 750 GPM triple-combination pumper (a definite upgrade over the “Jumbo”), two chemical & hose 300 GPM booster-pumpers (originally specified in the advertisement for bids as chemical & hose wagons only, Seagrave threw-in the 300-GPM “booster-pumps” at no additional charge), and one Model “K” front-drive one-axle truck tractor (used to motorize the previously horse-drawn 1906 American-LaFrance “Metropolitan” 2nd-size steamer at Station #2).

The original Motorization Plan in 1916 included the acquisition of a four-wheel tractor to pull the 1907 American-LaFrance 85-ft HDA, but the truck was demolished in a collision with an Evanston Railway Company street car at Grove & Sherman in September 1916, and so an automobile city service truck was substituted for the tractor. The EFD did lease a 25-year old used (ex-Chattanooga F. D.) 1892 LaFrance/Hayes 65-ft HDA until the arrival of the new Seagrave city service truck in November 1917, but the EFD would operate without an aerial ladder apparatus for seven years, until September 1924 when a new Seagrave 85-ft TDA was placed in service at Station #1.

As a result of “motorization,” all of the EFD’s remaining horse-drawn rigs were scrapped over a three-month period (November 1917 – February 1918), and the horses used to pull the apparatus were transferred to the Street Department or sold. The EFD staged a parade through Evanston in March 1918 (on the first decent day of the Spring) to show off the new Seagrave rigs. No word on whether the old fire horses were watching.

As part of the Motorization Plan, Evanston’s fire-fighting force was increased from 39 to 41 in 1918. Motor Engine Co. 1 was reorganized at this time, with Engine Co. 1 (under the command of Capt. Tom McEnery and operating with the new triple-combination pumper) and Truck Co. 1 (under the command of Capt. Ed Johnson and operating with the new city-service ladder truck) were once again separate companies at Station #1 (as had been the case prior to 1912), Engine Co. 2 (under the command of Capt. Carl Harms and operating with both the tractorized-steamer and one of the new chemical & hose booster-pumpers) remained in service at Station #2, and Engine Co. 3 (under the command of Capt. George Hargreaves) remained in service at Station #3 with the other new chemical & hose booster-pumper. (Engine Co. 3 operated with just the 300-GPM booster-pumper through 1937).

Initially, the plan was to keep the Robinson “Jumbo” in service (moving it to Station #3 from Station #1) after the arrival of the Seagrave apparatus. However, because Seagrave added 300-GPM pumps to the chemical & hose wagons and because of the Jumbo’s history of mechanical problems, the difficulty in locating spare parts, and excessive vibration when operating at full-throttle, Chief Fire Marshal Albert Hofstetter (Carl Harrison’s successor) decided to remove the Robinson engine from front-line duty after only six years of service and have Engine Co. 3 operate with just the 300-GPM booster-pumper.

The Robinson “Jumbo” was kept in reserve as the EFD’s only spare automobile apparatus until 1929, when it was transferred to the Street Department for use as a utility truck. (Evanston’s Street Department operated with mostly-hose-drawn wagons throughout the 1920’s and into the 1930’s, so ANY automobile truck–even an old fire engine–was considered a useful upgrade).

By replacing horsepower with automotive power, the Evanston Fire Department was able to greatly improve its “response time” to alarms, and exchange the higher maintenance costs associated with the care and feeding of horses with the lower maintenance costs associated with autombiles.

In 1920, the City of Evanston replaced the stable facilities (stalls, tack rooms, and hay lofts) in the fire stations with kitchens, pantries, and dining rooms for the firemen, as firefighters now took their meals in the firehouse instead of at home or at a restaurant.

Meanwhile, the much-beloved animals (“Speed,” “Major,” “Buttons,” “Sharkey,” “Bob,” “Dan” and others) that gave horsepower to the Evanston Fire Department spent their last years pulling garbage wagons and utility carts for the City of Evanston Street Department.

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Evanston Fire Department history

This post is from Phil Stenholm:

Today (January 9th) is the 87th anniversary of one of the most significant fires in Evanston’s history. It’s significant because it involved a well-known landmark, it incurred the highest dollar-loss of any fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time, and it called attention to deficiencies in the Fire Department previously ignored that led to a substantial upgrading of the EFD within a matter of months.

At this particular point in time (January 9, 1927), the Evanston Fire Department had 61 members, including the Chief and two 30-man platoons (working 24 hours on & 24 hours off, with a minimum staffing of 30 men per shift November-March, and a minimum of 25 men per shift March-November when each company could run “one man short”). The manpower was further divided into five companies (three engine companies and two truck companies) located in three fire stations (one engine company in each of the three stations, with both truck companies at Station # 1). There was also one firefighter on each platoon who served as the Chief’s chauffeur and administrative assistant.

Engine Co. 1 operated with a 1917 Seagrave 750 GPM TCP, Engine Co. 2 ran as a two-piece company (1906 American LaFrance 700 GPM Metropolitan steamer pulled by a 1918 Seagrave Model “K” one-axle tractor and a 1917 Seagrave 300 GPM chemical & hose booster pumper), and Engine Co. 3 ran with a 1917 Seagrave 300 GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper (the twin of Engine Co. 2?s hose truck), providing Evanston an aggregate potential GPM flow of 2,050 among the three engine companies.

Truck 1 was a 1924 Seagrave 85-ft TDA (the EFD’s only aerial-ladder truck at the time), and Truck 2 was a 1917 Seagrave Model “E” city service truck equipped with a variety of rescue gear (including a “life net”), truck tools, and ground-based ladders, the tallest of which was a 55-ft extension ladder that required four men to raise. Truck Co. 1 was first-due to alarms east of Asbury (covering an area that included the downtown Davis Street “high-value” district, the Northwestern University campus, all of the city’s hotels, both hospitals, and most-all of Evanston’s churches and apartments buildings), and Truck Co. 2 was first-due to alarms west of Asbury Ave. (In its mosr recent inspection of the Evanston Fire Department, the National Board of Fire Insurance Underwriters had recommended a fourth fire station be built at Dempster & Dodge, with a new engine company–Engine Co. 4–to be organized at the new station, and with Truck Co. 2 to be relocated from Station # 1 to the new Station # 4).

There was also one reserve apparatus (Engine 4 – the 1911 Robinson “Jumbo” 750 GPM TCP that was Evanston’s first automobile fire engine) at Fire Station #1 that was staffed by an off-duty crew in the case of a large fire where all five front-line companies were working at the scene. (With the exception of the 1906 American LaFrance steamer–which was converted to a so-called “travtorized-steamer,” all of the Evanston Fire Department’s horse-drawn apparatus (including an aerial-ladder truck, a steamer, a combination truck, a chemical engine, and two hose carts) had been junked in February 1918 when the EFD was fully motorized, leaving the EFD with just the one reserve rig).

At 1 PM on Sunday afternoon, January 9, 1927, boy scout LeRoy Kreutzer (who was also a “junior reporter “ for the Evanston News-Index) noticed smoke wafting from the Boltwood Intermediate School at the southeast corner of Dempster & Elmwood. Boltwood School served as Evanston’s lone junior high school at the time, as well as the headquarters of the Evanston chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. The facility had previously served as Evanston Township High School for forty years, until the new ETHS campus was opened at Church & Dodge in 1924.

Kreutzer pulled fire alarm box # 313 at Dempster & Elmwood, and then ran around the corner and alerted EFD Chief Albert Hofstetter, who was taking a nap at his residence at 1228 Sherman Ave. Evanston fire fighters arrived and quickly determined that the fire was confined to a manual arts classroom in the basement. Although the fire was contained to the one room, EFD engine companies had difficulty getting to the fire due to heavy smoke throughout the interior of the school. Despite the heavy smoke conditions, a monkey and several white mice located in the science lab were rescued.

The truck companies attempted to ventilate the heat and smoke from the structure, but the efforts failed as a strong wind entered the building and fanned the fire. The flames flashed-over and swept past fire fighters, traveling up an interior stairway, before blowing out through the second-floor windows. A “General Alarm” was sounded, as all on duty AND off-duty EFD firemen were ordered to the scene. The blaze was out of control, with the very real possibility that the flames could jump over the alley and threaten homes (including Chief Hofstetter’s house) located east of the school. After two firemen barely escaped when part of the roof collapsed, Chief Hofstetter ordered all personnel inside to evacuate, and the fight went defensive.

With the EFD seemingly helpless to stop the firestorm, Chief Hofstetter requested assistance from the Chicago Fire Department. The Chicago F. D. had responded into Evanston on numerous occasions in the past, in each case assigning no more than two engine companies. However, this fire was larger and more threatening than any other previous Evanston blaze, and the Chicago Fire Department (with Chief Jerry McAuliffe in command at the scene) ended up sending eight engine companies, two truck companies (both responding with aerial-ladders), and a water tower.

At least two traffic collisions were blamed on the chaos resulting from so many fire trucks and spectators pouring into the neighborhood. At the height of the blaze, engines were pumping from various hydrants located within a six square-block area. Reportedly 20,000 spectators (about 1/3 of Evanston’s total population at the time) gathered to watch the conflagration. Off-duty Evanston Police officers were summoned to help with traffic and crowd control.

Thanks to the great assistance provided by the Chicago Fire Department, the fire was brought under control. Although Boltwood School was gutted, the homes and businesses across the alley were saved. Three fire fighters suffered minor injuries. Damage was estimated at $308,500, by far the highest-loss recorded in an Evanston fire up to that point in time. Two new junior high schools were constructed to replace Boltwood, Nichols in South Evanston, and Haven in North Evanston (with Haven initially being K-8, as it also replaced Cranston Elementary School).

In the aftermath of the Boltwood fire, the competence of the Evanston Fire Department was called into question. The City Council conducted an investigation, and quickly discovered some things they probably should have already known… that the EFD of 1927 was simply a small town fire department operating in a city of 60,000 people… that it was substantially undermanned and under-equipped… and that therefore a disaster like that of the Boltwood School fire was inevitable.

Evanston voters were presented with a $75,000 bond issue in the city election of April 5, 1927. The bond issue passed, resulting in many improvements in the EFD:

* 23 additional firemen were hired, bringing the force up to 84, with 41 men on each platoon and with a minimum staffing of 41 per shift November-March and a minimum of 34 men on duty per shift March-November (when each company could run one man short per shift); Note that present shift staffing in the Evanston Fire Department is back to where it was the day of the Boltwood School fire, the main difference being that the EFD did not provide ambulance service in 1927;

* Two new engine companies were organized, bringing the total number of companies in service to seven (five engine companies and two truck companies);

* A portable deluge nozzle and two new 1000 GPM pumpers with 50-gallon booster tanks were purchased;

* A fourth fire station was constructed to cover southwest Evanston, although it was built at 1817 Washington Street (not at Dempster & Dodge as had been recommended by the NBFU), and Truck Co. 2 was not moved to Station # 4, instead remaining at Station # 1 for another 28 years before being relocated to rebuilt Station # 2 at 702 Madison Street in southeast Evanston in March 1955;

* A “Fire Prevention Bureau” was established.

Engine Co. 4 (later known as “Engine Co. 24”) was organized at Fire Station # 2 at 750 Chicago Avenue in November 1927. Ten men were assigned to Engine Co. 4 (five on each platoon). The company was provided with equipment and apparatus (the tractorized-steamer and the chemical & hose booster-pumper) formerly used by Engine Co. 2. Patrick Gaynor (formerly captain of Engine Co. 2) was the first captain of Engine Co. 4. The company moved into brand-new Station # 4 at 1817 Washington Street on December 30, 1927. To help dedicate the new facility, Capt. Gaynor staged a professional boxing match on the apparatus floor of the firehouse. It was the first Evanston fire station designed and built especially for automobile apparatus (a garage rather than a barn), with a kitchen and a dining room part of the original blueprint.

Engine Co. 5 (later known as “Engine Co. 25”) was organized at Fire Station # 1 at 807 Grove Steeet in November 1927, on the same day that Engine Co. 4 was organized at Fire Station # 2. Twelve men were assigned to Engine Co. 5 (six men on each platoon) . This company was assigned one of the new Seagrave “Standard” 1000 GPM pumpers (the other was assigned to Engine Co. 2), and was the designated “high-value district” (downtown Evanston) engine company for many years until it was relocated to new Fire Station # 5 in nNortwest Evanston in 1955. Henry Tesnow was the first captain. Capt. John E. Mersch was initially assigned (on paper) as the commander of Engine Co. 5, but he suffered a disabling leg injury in September 1927 when the police ambulance in which he was riding was hit broadside by a bus while he and two police officers were en route with the inhalator to aid a drowning victim at Greenwood Street Beach. In May 1928, after he was discharged from the hospital, and after it was determined that he could no longer work as a fireman, Capt. Mersch was appointed to the newly-created position of “Fire Prevention Inspector.” He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief in 1932, and he would continue to serve as both Fire Prevention Inspector and Chief of the Fire Prevention Bureau until his death at the age of 67 in October 1950 (45 years of continuous service with the EFD).

The “Fire Prevention Bureau” (FPB) was established (by ordinance) on February 9, 1929. The ordinance assigned the following duties and responsibilities to the FPB:

1. Prevent fires through education;
2. Regulate the 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 case of fire involving:
a. factories
b. schools
c. hotels
d. lodging houses & rooming houses
e. asylums and sanitariums
f. hospitals
g. churches
h. assembly halls
I. theatres
j. amphitheatres
k. any other establishment where persons work and/or congregate;
6. Investigate the cause, origin, and circumstance of fires.

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