Archive for December 8th, 2013

Down memory lane … suburban departments

This from Martin Nowak:

Thanks to Squad546 for allowing me to use his photos. Thought it was time to go back in time,

Matteson Fire Department history

Matteson, former Snorkel 5-1967 Pierce/FWD 75′. Squad546 phot

Elk Grove Village Fire Department history

Former Elk Grove Engine 117-1971 Mack. Squad 546 photo

Forest Park Fire Department history

Former Forest Park Engine 2-1968 FWD. Squad546 photo

Dolton FIre Department history

Former Dolton Truck 1442-1981 Pierce/Oshkosh 75′ TeleSqurt. Squad546 photo

Elwood Fire Protection District history

Former Elwood Fire Protection District Truck 619-1980 Pemfab Wedge/E-ONE/75′ Tele Squrt quint. Squad546 photo

York Center Fire Protection District history

Former York Center Fire Protection District, Engine 76-1982 Spartan/1992 E-One 1500/3000. (Lombard). Squad546 photo

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Waukegan Fire Department history (part 1)

The Waukegan Fire Department shared their history with us for the website. Here is the first installment:

The History of Waukegan Fire

1849               The first Hook and Ladder Company was formed in Little Fort although it wasn’t empowered to become a village by the General Assembly until February 12, 1849.  On March 31, 1849 the citizens voted to change the name from Little Fort to Waukegan.  The first village organization was also selected on March 31, 1849, with D. O. Dickenson as President.


1850               May 3rd, 1850 a committee was appointed to determine the cost of a fire engine for Waukegan and to seek a suitable building to house the Hook and Ladder Company from the weather.


1852               On November 18, 1852, the village board authorized the executive a bond for purchase of a fire engine from the City of Chicago.  They also ordered 300 ft. of hose pipe from Charles E. Peck of Chicago.


1853               October 5, 1853, a committee of the Fire Co. Regular Bucket Brigade #1 said that several trial runs had been made with the new fire engine and the new fire engine would not be effective in an emergency and thought that the fire engine should be abandoned.  The village board authorized an attorney to notify the City of Chicago of the worthlessness of the machine.


1854               On March 13, 1854, the village decided to buy a new fire engine from L. Button & Co. of Waterford for $825.00.  It was a 32-man power machine.  The December 14, 1854 meeting approved a bill of $32.50 for payment of freight on the new fire engine.


The December 30, 1854 meeting approved $50.00 for the first six (6) months rent of a building owned by S.W. Dowst.  The same meeting approved the first payment of $275.00, raised by subscription, for the new fire engine.


1855               The June 21, 1855 meeting approved an expenditure of $371.00 to buy a lot from Joseph Wallon to build a firehouse.  The village board also directed James Wiseman to clean up the old (useless) fire engine, put the same in good order, and take the engine to Chicago whenever directed by the city attorney.


The same meeting also approved a warrant of $450.00 to Wm. H.J. Nichols for construction of the new firehouse.  On October 20, 1855, James Wiseman reported the delivery of the old fire engine to the City of Chicago.  Chicago accepted the engine and returned the city’s bonds.


1859                      On May 13, 1859, the board passed a resolution that all male residents of the city, over 21 and under 50 years, and not exempt by the charter, be required to furnish three (3) days of labor on the streets and highways of the city.  The person could commute for such labor by paying 75 cents for each day.  (All volunteers on the fire department were exempt).


On June 23, 1859, the State of Illinois granted the City of Waukegan a special charter.  This was followed by an election to incorporate the City of Waukegan.  The election was held on February 23, 1859 with 529 persons voting.  The results were 407 for the charter and 122 against.


1860               On April 7, 1860, an ordinance was recommended to create a fire limit, within which no wood building shall hereafter be erected.


In later years, the City Fire Brigade always insisted upon the building of brick buildings with fire walls, in the dense downtown area, so fires could not spread easily.


1870                      On the January 3, 1870 meeting, the Fire Department requested heat for the Fire Engine House, because the fire engine and hose were freezing up and couldn’t be used


The August 18, 1874 meeting approved the purchase of a Selsby Steam Fire Engine and a hose cart.  The hose cart to cost $300.00.


1874               A special session of the Council on August 21, 1874 authorized the Fire and Water Committee to obtain proposals for the purchase of a lot on which to build an engine house.

The committee recommended the purchase of the Arnold Lot, 25 ft. by 132 ft., with a 12 ft. alley on the north side of the lot for a price of $1,180.00 (location not shown, but on Block 25).


The September 9th meeting, on presentation of a petition to protect the purchase of the Arnold lot on Block 25 and asking for the engine house to be located on the Hogan lots on Washington Street – the council rescinded its action to purchase Arnold’s lot.


On the same date, the bill for the purchase of the Silsby Fire Engine (Steam) 250 ft. of rubber hose and one hose carriage all for $4,800.00, was approved.


The October 5th, 1874 meeting approved the hiring of William H. Wright as Engineer of the Steam Fire Engine at a salary of $125.00 per year.


1875               The October 2nd meeting concerned a letter in regard to the use of water from the new artesian well, the piping of the water to fire hydrants and the building of a tank for the water to be used for fire purposes.


1876               The June 9th meeting authorized $300.00 for purchase of uniforms for Fire Engine Co. #1.


The September 7th meeting authorized, by the Fire and Water Committee the laying of a water main, South of Washington Street, on Genesee Street to Belvidere Street for the residents of the Southside.  Since the artesian well has a surplus of water it is advised to furnish water mains to all parts of the City when funds are available.


At the October 2nd meeting the Fire and Water Committee was authorized to hire an engineer for the maintenance of the City Steam Fire Engine.


The engineer Wm. H. Wright was hired by authorization of the December 4th meeting at a salary of $125.00 per year.


1880               At the June 5th meeting the Fire and Water Committee was authorized to install a telephone connecting the Engine House with the residence of the City Engineer.


1882               The June 2nd meeting authorized a cistern to be built in the cellar of the Engine House to be used by the Steam Fire Engine.  The cistern to have a capacity of 300 barrels.


On April 3rd the council authorized the committee on Fire and Water to repair the bad condition (?) of the Engine House and the Lockup  (At this time the City Lockup (jail) adjoined the Engine House).


1884               The September 7th meeting held up a bill for making water records until a map of water mains and connections could be made.  The clerk was instructed to make out water licenses for all parties using water from city’s artesian well and have the City Marshall collect the bills.


1888               The tax levy was adopted and $3,000.00 was allocated for Fire and Water.


1889               Central School was totally destroyed by fire and the February 4th meeting asked approval for the use of several church basements for the various grades of the schools.


1891               P. W. Cunningham resigned as chief of the Fire Department on January 5th and the council approved the nomination of George D. Wardil as Fire Chief.


The February 2nd meeting heard a report of the new Fire Chief voting the worthless condition of the Fire Department and the need for a new chemical engine and another hook and ladder truck.  It also asked for three (3) fulltime firemen and another 5 or 7 men to be paid for actual work – a fixed sum for every fire.


On June 1st the council heard a communication from Dr. Norman J. Roberts requesting permission to erect a frame building at the southeast corner of State Street and Washington Street.  (State Street is now Sheridan Road) the said building to be covered on sides and roof with sheet steel and the inside would be fireproofed after the best methods of fire proofing wood frame buildings was then read.  Permission OK’d.


1891               The June 15th meeting heard a petition from Robert Dady requesting the privilege to build a frame building that would be sided with corrugated iron.  The roof would have the same material or tar and graveled to make it conform to a new city ordinance on fire proofing buildings.


(This building is still standing, just south of the Waukegan building.  I think it was one of the buildings written about in Bradburys Dande-lion Wine in which the Lonely.  One frustrated the police).


1892               The June 27th meeting agreed to employ John A. Cole to prepare plans and specifications for a water plant and system for procuring water directly from the lake.


1893                      The April 6th meeting discussed and passed a motion to erect a Power House for the City Water Works as designated by the previous water ordinance.  And on April 11th the council voted to have water pumps with a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons each – one high duty and one low duty.  On the evening of August 22nd, during a fire in block 12, one residence of 128 Madison Street was partially torn down to prevent the spread of a fire next door.  On September 18th the council approved a partial payment of $140.00 to owner of the house.


1894               An ordinance was adopted on February 19th for the city’s water works systems.


1912               In 1912 the Central Fire Station was remodeled.


1918               Manufacturers Terminal burns resulting in demand by U.S. Government to their fire protection system.



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