Archive for January 3rd, 2022

As seen around … Chicago


a visit to cfd engine 70/59’s quarters 

home to 
engine 70 
engine 59 (not there) 
truck 47 
ambo 13 (not there) 
battalion 9
Chicago FD 9th Battalion decal

E-ONE fire truck in Chicago

Chicago FD Battalion 9

Chicago FD Engine 70

Chicago fire station

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 53

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


The civil service rank of lieutenant was eliminated from the EFD in 1954, as the position was now called “captain II,” while the former rank of captain was now called “captain I.” The captain II position had a slightly higher salary than lieutenant, and a lieutenant would need to have served at least one year in the position before he could be promoted to captain II. A captain II would be automatically elevated to captain I after one year.

Five of the seven EFD lieutenants – Leonard Bach, Herb Claussen, George “Bud” Hofstetter, George Jasper, and Willard Thiel — were promoted to captain II immediately, but because they had been promoted to lieutenant on January 1, 1954, and had less than one year experience as a lieutenant, Lt. Harry Schaeffer Jr and Lt. Richard Schumacher had to wait until January 1, 1955, to receive their promotions to captain II. Therefore, Harry Schaeffer Jr and Richard Schumacher were the last EFD lieutenants. All future promotions would be directly from fireman I to captain II.

The Evanston Fire Department battled two significant “storefront” fires in 1953-54.

The first was at the Suburban Surgical Supply Company store at 604 Davis Street, on March 2, 1953. Because the fire was in the downtown “high-value district,” the initial response was three engine companies and one truck company. A second alarm brought in a fourth engine company, a second truck company, and Squad 21. Firefighters confined the flames to the structure of origin. However, the store was gutted, and the damage estimate was a hefty $100,000, tying this fire with the Tapecoat (1951) and Evanston Country Club (1922) fires for the fifth-highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time.

The second fire occurred in September 1954, at the A & P supermarket at 2106 Central Street in North Evanston. Engine Co. 23 was first on scene, and encountered a light haze of smoke in the interior of the store. The second engine company and the truck company arrived and followed Engine Co. 23 into the store. While the companies were probing for the origin of the smoke, the ceiling partially collapsed.

Everybody got out alive, but Capt. Ron Ford, Capt. Herb Claussen, and firemen Arnold Windle, Dave Tesnow, and Ted Bierchen were injured and transported to local hospitals. A second alarm and a call-back of the off-duty platoon were ordered, with the off-duty platoon called-back mainly to replace the injured men. While the fire wasn’t necessarily spectacular, the A & P did sustain an estimated $70,000 loss from fire, smoke, and water damage, not to mention a narrow escape for Evanston firefighters.

Released in October 1954 and now legally in the public domain, the Evanston Fire Department starred in an Encyclopedia Britannica educational short film produced under the auspices of renowned educator Dr. Ernest Horn of the University of Iowa. Called simply “The Fireman,” the plot was somewhat similar to the one in the classic 1903 Edwin S. Porter silent film melodrama “The Life of an American Fireman,” and it featured a number of Evanston firefighters and some of the new Pirsch rigs in action. The film didn’t win an Academy Award, but it was shown in schools around the country.


Rookie fireman “Tom Briggs” (not his real name, but if his real first name is Tom and he is in fact a rookie completing his first year on the job, then it has to be Tom Kostopoulos) arrives for work at Station # 1 and stands morning inspection with his fellow firefighters. Chief “Jim” Dorband (actually it’s EFD Chief Henry Dorband) is satisfied and dismisses the men. Fireman Tom is assigned as tillerman on one of the aerial-ladder trucks by duty officer “Captain Drake” (not his real name, but it would appear to be platoon drillmaster and Engine 25 Capt. Ed Fahrbach).

Under the supervision of Captain Drake and Chief Dorband, Fireman Tom and the other men participate in a training drill, where Tom and another man climb Truck 21’s aerial-ladder to the roof of the fire station and demonstrate how the the hose roller works, another fireman pretends to be overcome from smoke and is carried down a ladder and “resuscitated” by use of an inhalator, and another jumps into a life net from atop the drill tower.

Training over, the exhausted men relax in the station, but only briefly. A voice over a speaker in the firehouse suddenly announces “Alarm! – Third & Main… Alarm! – Third & Main.” Firefighters put on their game faces, slide down the pole to the first floor, and the Pirsch rigs roll out of Station # 1, headed west on Lake Street, with the men probably wondering, “Where the heck is Third & Main?”

After making several right turns, we see Truck 21 going southbound on Hinman Avenue, but then F-1 (Chief Dorband) and the Pirsch parade somehow end up at 2160 Isabella Street, on the Evanston / Wilmette border! Smoke can be seen wafting from the residence, and firefighters waste no time and go right to work, as Engine 21 and Engine 25 lead-out. One of the pumpers hooks-up to the hydrant at the southwest corner of Isabella & Green Bay Road, while Truck 22’s main is extended to the roof in the rear of the structure.

Long story short, Fireman Tom and Captain Drake wearing SCBA run into the house, little Judy’s kitten is rescued, the fire is extinguished, the companies pick-up, and the men return to quarters. The End.

The Evanston Fire Department rarely missed an opportunity back in the day to have firefighters hone their skills by drilling at a house about to be demolished, and that would appear to have been the case in this film. The ground on which the house was located would soon become part of a grocery store parking lot.

Encyclopedia Britannica released another educational short film called “The Policeman” in November 1954. With interior scenes shot inside the Evanston police station and exterior scenes filmed in Highland Park, “The Policeman” follows HPPD “Officer Barnes” and his partner in Car 91 on the mean streets of Highland Park, recovering an abandoned stolen bicycle, writing a traffic ticket, and finding a missing child. Officer Barnes is presented as a regular human being in the film, eating breakfast with his wife and kids prior to leaving for work, and then returning home to his family after the completion of his shift.

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