Archive for category Fire Department History

Evanston Fire Department history Part 46

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

GIVE THE LADY WHAT SHE WANTS

On June 10, 1947, the pump on Engine No. 4 broke-down during a routine annual pump test and could not be repaired. The 1917 Seagrave 750-GPM pumper had been in nearly-continuous front-line service for more than 29 years – as Engine No. 1 1918-37, and then as Engine No,. 4 since 1938 — and because its frame and chassis had extensive corrosion and rust damage, it was not likely to survive much longer, even with a new pump.

With the gravitas of a long-time chief of the Evanston Fire Department, Albert Hofstetter requested and received an audience with the mayor and the city council. Chief Hofstetter explained that replacing the pump on a 29-year old rusted-out fire engine would be a waste of money, maintained that the safety of all Evanstonians was at risk, and convinced the aldermen to immediately issue an emergency appropriation in the amount of $18,000 to purchase a new triple-combination pumper.  

Seagrave (naturally) won the bid, and the EFD’s lone spare pumper – the 1917 Seagrave chemical & hose booster pumper that had been rebuilt at the Seagrave factory in 1930 as a 500-GPM Suburbanite TCP with a 50-gallon booster tank — was temporarily placed back into front-line service at Station # 4, thereby leaving the EFD without a spare pumper for the 18 months it would take Seagrave to build the new rig. Meanwhile, the Seagrave engine with the broken pump was dismantled for spare parts to help keep the other two 1917 Seagrave rigs running, and then the frame & chassis and whatever else was left of the relic were sold for scrap.      

In 1948, downtown Evanston was a vibrant area with many high-end stores that provided a significant commercial tax base for the city. The downtown area was anchored by three large department stores,  Wieboldts’s at 1007 Church Street, Lord’s at 1611 Orrington Avenue, and Marshall Field & Company at 1700 Sherman. While the Evanston Field’s store was a smaller suburban version of the company’s world-famous headquarters store that occupied an entire city block at State & Washington in Chicago’s Loop, it was considered to be the most exclusive department store on the North Shore. 

Just a few days before Christmas in December 1948, the Marshall Field warehouse at 1224 Emerson Street was gutted by fire. Four engine companies, two truck companies, and a number of men from the off-duty platoon battled the stubborn blaze for hours, attempting to salvage as many of the valuable goods as possible, while at the same time working to contain and extinguish the flames without injury to firefighters. It probably would have been useful if Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol No. 8 on Ravenswood Avenue was still in service and responding to fires in Evanston to provide dedicated salvage work, but unfortunately that arrangement had ended in January 1933.  

The Marshall Field warehouse fire occurred during the period of time when the EFD had no reserve pumper, so Engine Co. 4 operating with its four-man crew plus additional manpower from the off-duty platoon, and another eight off-duty men staffing the reserve 1917 Seagrave city service truck, provided a modicum of fire protection to the city from Station # 1 while the rest of the EFD was fighting the fire. At the behest of Field’s president Hughston M. McBain, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Michael J. Corrigan ordered the CFD’s Main Fire Alarm Office to immediately dispatch whatever assistance the Evanston Fire Department might request to help extinguish the fire.  

The CFD wasn’t needed, but the estimated $177,430 loss to the Marshall Field & Company warehouse and its contents was the third-largest loss from fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time, with only the Northwestern University Technological Institute inferno in December 1940 and the Boltwood School conflagration in January 1927 incurring a higher loss.

With the new more-favorable state pension law now in effect, there were a slew of retirements involving very senior members of the EFD in 1948, as 46-year veteran 1st Assistant Chief Tom McEnery, 40-year veteran Capt. Ed McEnery (Tom’s brother), 38-year veteran 3rd Assistant Chief Carl Windelborn, and 28-year veteran Lt. Harry Jasper all retired at about the exact same time 

Assistant Chief J. E. Mersch remained commander of the Fire Prevention Bureau and by virtue of seniority automatically became 1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal with the retirement of Chief McEnery. Capt. Henry Dorband was promoted to Assistant Chief and replaced Chief McEnery as both company officer of Truck Co. 1 and a platoon commander, and Capt. Jim Geishecker was promoted to Assistant Chief and replaced Chief Windelborn as company officer of Truck Co. 2 and a platoon commander.

Also in 1948, Lt. Ed Hanrahan was promoted after having scored first on the 1947 civil service test for captain, and was assigned as company officer of Engine Co. 1, Lt. William Murphy scored second on the test, was promoted to captain, and was assigned as company officer of Engine Co. 5, and firemen Lincoln Dickinson, Ronald Ford, William Owens, and Fred Schumacher were promoted to lieutenant.

Besides the loss of a number of veteran EFD officers to retirement in 1948, firemen John Monks (38 years of service), John Lindberg (28 years), John Anderson (21 years), and Lou Knockaert (21 years) also retired in 1948, and Fire Equipment Mechanic Norman Fochs (21 years of service) and firemen Dominic Bartholme (25 years), John Gleeson (21 years), Ted Thompson (21 years), and Walter Janz (20 years) retired in 1949.

30 men – mostly all veterans of World War II – passed the entry-level civil service test for fireman and were hired over the three-year period 1946-49 to replace the many veteran firefighters who had retired or died, and so the Evanston Fire Department suddenly got a lot younger.

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 45

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THAT’S VERY ROOD! 

There were no significant fires in Evanston during the World War II years, so the volunteer Evanston Auxiliary Fire Service (EAFS) that was organized in June 1942 with Auxiliary Truck Co. 3 at Fire Station # 3 and Auxiliary Engine Co. 7 at Station # 4 was never needed. The EAFS was disbanded in 1944 after Auxiliary Engine Co. 7’s 1917 Seagrave 300-GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper (ex-Engine 3) broke-down at a training drill and could not be repaired.   

Meanwhile, the older members of the Evanston Fire Department felt the stress of the manpower-shortage caused by the drafting of younger firefighters into the military — some almost immediately after they were hired — as well as the loss of prospective EFD recruits waiting on civil service lists who enlisted or were drafted before they could even be hired. Many long-time members were becoming increasingly demoralized and/or ill because they were being forced to work overtime for straight-time comp days they could never actually use due to WWII manpower shortages. 

29-year veteran EFD Capt. Anthony Steigelman died at the age of 57 after a lengthy illness in June 1944, and Capt. Henry Tesnow retired after 30 years of service, Lt. Ed Newton retired after 34 years of service, and master Fire Equipment Mechanic J. K. “Karl” Wilen retired after 21 years of service that same year. Firemen Lawrence Ahrens (24 years), Frank Altenberg (28 years), Jerry Moriarty (25 years), Herman Peters (21 years), and Herman Windelborn (24 years) also retired in ’44.

Lt. Jim Geishecker – a future chief of the EFD — was promoted to captain and replaced Capt. Steigelman as company officer of Engine Co. 1, Lt. Frank Sherry was promoted to captain and replaced Capt. Tesnow as company officer of of Engine Co. 2, and firemen William Murphy, William Rohrer, and Edward C. Fahrbach were promoted to lieutenant. Note that there was an Edward C. Fahrbach and a much older Edward G, Fahrbach in the EFD at the same time in the 1920’s and 30’s.  

21-year veteran Truck Co. 1 assistant company officer Lt. William Elliott died at the age of 43 while off-duty in January 1945 and chief’s buggy driver Ed Hanrahan was subsequently promoted to lieutenant, Lt. John Reddick retired after 22 years of service with the EFD in 1946 and Jim Mersch was promoted to lieutenant, and with Lt. Schmidt in Berlin, chief’s buggy driver and future EFD chief Lester Breitzman was promoted to lieutenant and replaced Lt. Schmidt as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 1 and administrative assistant to Chief Hofstetter in 1947.

During those same years (1945-47), firemen Herman Godeman (21 years of service), John M. Mersch (40 years), Michael Olk (22 years), John Balmes (34 years), Harry Nelson (disability pension after 18 years of service), Lou Morgan (20 years), Charles Lapp (20 years), Harold Anderson (20 years), George Wilson (20 years), William Brundage (23 years), George Paugels (25 years), and Fred Godeman (27 years) also retired, leaving the EFD with a critical shortage of experienced firefighters to staff shifts. 

While the World War II years were relatively quiet in terms of major fires, the EFD did battle a significant blaze at the iconic Rood Building at Fountain Square in downtown Evanston on the night of February 15, 1946, just a few months after the end of the war. Built in 1895, the magnificent four-story structure adorned with cupolas, gables, and turrets was mostly unoccupied and awaiting demolition at the time of the fire, but a high-value district response (three engines and a truck) followed by a second-alarm (one engine and one truck) and a call-back of the off-duty platoon was needed to help extinguish the blaze and to protect exposures to the north.

The structure itself was still carrying $46,000 in fire insurance, so the timing of the fire was somewhat  interesting. There wasn’t much inside to salvage and there weren’t any occupants who needed to be rescued, so the fight went defensive fairly early-on. At the height of the blaze, all four EFD engines at the fire were pumping from nearby hydrants and both Truck Co. 1 and Truck Co. 2 were operating elevated master streams from their aerial ladders, pouring tens of thousands of gallons of water onto what used to be the Rood Building’s roof and attic. 

As was the norm for an extra-alarm fire occurring in Evanston’s downtown high-value district, Engine Co. 4 transferred to Station # 1 to provide city-wide engine coverage pending the arrival of the off-duty platoon. Members of the off-duty platoon of Engine Co. 2 staffed reserve Engine No. 6 at Station # 2 and members of the off-duty platoon of Engine Co. 3 manned reserve Truck No. 3 at Station # 3, once they arrived at their respective fire stations. The off-duty platoon from the four Station # 1 companies walked to the fire to provide rotation-relief for companies working at the scene, which was located only a block north of Station # 1. 

The manufacture of airplanes, ships, submarines, tanks, trucks, jeeps and other vehicles needed by the military to fight World War II meant that  — with a few exceptions — police cars and fire chief’s automobiles were generally not available for purchase during 1942-45. However, once the war was over, automobile  manufacturers got busy producing new models, such that police and fire departments were able to replace their aging fleets.  

In 1946, two new automobiles were purchased for the use of the Evanston Fire Department, replacing the two  1936-37 Fords. Chief Hofstetter received a Ford Deluxe Fordor sedan, and a Ford Deluxe Tudor sedan was assigned to the Fire Prevention Bureau. 

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Steger Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT- Steger Fire Dept.’s Squad 103, a 1983 Ford F/Gerstenslager.  A re chassis from a 1966 Ford C.
Mike Summa
vintage Steger fire truck

Mike Summa photo

 

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 44

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THEY CALL ME “OBERBRANDDIREKTOR” 

There were only two promotions in the Evanston Fire Department between 1934 and 1942, both occurring on the same day in May 1937. It was for sure a big day for the Dorband family, as Lt. Henry Dorband – a future chief of the EFD — was promoted to captain and replaced Capt, John Wynn as company officer of Engine Co. 2, and Henry Dorband’s older brother Carl was promoted to lieutenant and assigned as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 3. Unfortunately, Lt. Dorband would suffer a fatal heart attack at the age of 50 while sitting in front of Station # 3 on a Sunday afternoon in May 1942.

After the death of Lt. Dorband, there were twenty promotions over the course of the next seven years, as a wave of “new blood” began to take command of the EFD. Fireman John Schmidt was the first to receive a promotion, finishing at the top of the Civil Service promotional list for lieutenant that was established following Lt. Dorband’s death in 1942.

Prior to his promotion, Schmidt had been a long-time chief’s buggy driver as well as Chief Hofstetter’s administrative assistant and personal secretary, so when he was promoted to lieutenant to ostensibly replace Lt. Dorband at Station # 3, Chief Hofstetter stepped in and transferred Lt. Frank Sherry from Engine Co. 1 to Engine Co. 3, thus making sure that Lt, Schmidt would remain at Station # 1 and continue to serve as the chief’s “right-hand man,” in addition to performing his other duties as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 1.    

Fluent in both English and German, Lt. Schmidt took leave from the Evanston Fire Department in 1947 after being appointed the temporary Oberbranddirektor of the fire brigade in the U. S. Sector of Berlin, Germany. As Oberbranddirektor, Schmidt helped the severely degraded Berliner Feuerwehr located in the U. S. Sector recover from damage to facilities and equipment incurred during World War II, especially in the last days of the war after the Russian army stormed the city.

Schmidt served as Oberbranddirektor of the Berliner Feuerwehr in the U. S. Sector until the Federal Republic of Germany was established and the City of Berlin was returned to local rule on May 23. 1949, at which point he returned home to Evanston. Because he was next on the promotional list for captain when he took his Leave of Absence, Schmidt was promoted to captain upon his return to the EFD in 1949.  

Schmidt was initially assigned as company officer of Engine Co. 5 upon his return to the EFD, before replacing Assistant Chief J. E. Mersch as commander of the Fire Prevention Bureau after Chief Mersch’s sudden death in October 1950. Definitely one of the Evanston Fire Department’s “best and brightest” and a likely future chief of the EFD, Capt. Schmidt instead chose to retire in 1952 at the relatively young age of 51 after 25 years of service — despite being next on the promotional list for assistant chief —  after he was appointed Midwest Regional Fire Coordinator for the U. S. Civil Defense Agency by U. S, President Harry Truman.

While probably none of the other members of the Evanston Fire Department who retired or who were promoted in the 1940’s had quite as unique a career as John Schmidt, some did make a mark over the course of time.  

Lt. Dan McKimmons retired in 1943 after 32-years of service with the EFD, and Fireman John Reddick was promoted to lieutenant and replaced Lt. McKimmons as assistant company officer of Truck Co. 2. Note that this is a different John Reddick than the one who served with the EFD and was fired after he and several other members of Truck Co. 1 were caught drinking alcohol while on duty at Station # 1 in 1906.

Dan McKimmons was hired in 1911, one of four new men added to the EFD when the Robinson Jumbo automobile pumper was placed into service. When he was a fireman assigned as tillerman on Truck Co. 1, McKimmons had been seriously injured after being thrown to the ground when the American-LaFrance HDA was demolished in a collision with an Evanston Railway Company streetcar at Grove & Sherman in September 1916, and then as a lieutenant assigned to Truck Co. 2, he nearly died before being rescued and resuscitated by other firefighters after becoming trapped and overcome by smoke while battling a blaze in the basement of an apartment building at 1015 Dempster Street in February 1941. 

Dan’s older brother George was the rookie fireman whose first day on the job was December 13, 1905, the day of the tragic Mark Manufacturing Company fire at which two Evanston firemen were killed. George McKimmons would later leave the EFD and join the Chicago Fire Department, and after being promoted to captain, he was the CFD officer who organized Truck Co. 44 at Engine 55’s house on Sheffield Avenue in 1928.

 

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Glen Ellyn Fire Department history … new home for former Glen Ellyn fire engines

This from Danny Nelms:

After doing some searching on the internet, I found this worth a share.

The two Spartan/3D engines operated by the Glen Ellyn  Vol. Fire Dept. were sold at different times and they both ended up in service in Kentucky within 15 miles of each other. They went to Manchester, KY and Lockards Creek, KY both of which are in Clay County Kentucky.
 
Both rigs were later sold at different times to departments in Oklahoma within 10 miles of each other. Sometimes they go on calls together. 
 
The Lockards Creek rig went to Hitchita, OK in 2018, and Manchester’s went to Paradise Point, OK  this year.
1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine formerly owned by the Glen Ellyn FD in Illinois

Paradise Point, OK – From Facebook

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine formerly owned by the Glen Ellyn FD in Illinois

From Facebook

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engines formerly owned by the Glen Ellyn FD in Illinois

From Facebook

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine formerly owned by the Glen Ellyn FD in Illinois

Greg Stapleton photo

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine formerly owned by the Glen Ellyn FD in Illinois

Greg Stapleton photo

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine

Larry Shapiro photo

1994 Spartan Silent Knight - 3D fire engine

Larry Shapiro photo

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Palos Fire Protection District history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT-Palos FPD’s Tanker 6306, a 1983 GMC Top Kick/4 Guys 500/1800.

Mike Summa
4 Guys water tender

Mike Summa photo

and another photo from our files

vintage Palos FPD fire truck

Karl Klotz photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 43

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

EMPOWERMENT & RETIREMENT 

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local No. 742 was organized by Evanston firefighters during 1942, and was officially established on February 1, 1943. Although the city council steadfastly refused to completely restore the pay cuts from 1933-34, a new state law passed in 1941 reduced the average work-week for Illinois firefighters from 84 to 73.5 hours, by granting firefighters a so-called “Kelly Day” after every seven days worked, and resulting in what was essentially a three-day mini-vacation. Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly had invented the “Kelly Day” during the Depression and modestly named it after himself, to give Chicago firemen more time-off when it was not possible to give them a pay raise.

To comply with the new state law and to provide coverage for firemen on their Kelly Days, the Evanston City Council restored four of the six positions that had been eliminated in 1933, but cut minimum staffing from 31 to 28 men per shift. (Actually, 35 men were scheduled to work each shift, but each of the seven companies could run one man short). Five men on each platoon were on a Kelly Day each shift, including three at Station # 1 and two (combined) at the other three stations. 

Not including the chief and the fire prevention inspector, a maximum of 21 men were on duty at Station # 1 each shift, but there could be as few as 17 if each company was running one man short. A maximum of five men and a minimum of four men per company were assigned to Engine Co. 1, Truck Co.1, Truck Co. 2, and Engine Co.5 each shift, plus a chief’s buggy driver.

A maximum of 14 men and a minimum of 11 men were assigned (combined) each shift between Engine Co. 2, Engine Co. 3, and Engine Co. 4, with a maximum of six men and a minimum of four men assigned to Engine Co. 2, and a maximum of five men and a minimum of three men assigned to Engine Co. 3 and Engine Co. 4, depending on which two of the companies had a man off-duty on a Kelly Day.      

By 1944, Evanston Fire Department salaries had at last met (and in fact exceeded) those from 1932. Annual EFD salaries in 1944 ranged from $5,100 (Chief Fire Marshal) to $3,528 (1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal) to $3,384 (2nd and 3rd Assistant Chief Fire Marshals) to $3,180 (Captain) to $2,904 (Lieutenant) to $2,760 (Mechanic) to $2,592 (Fireman I) to $2,532 (Fireman II) to $2,460 (Fireman III) to $2,340 (Fireman Recruit).

In 1947, the Evanston City Council voted to add six more positions to the fire department in order to restore the pre-1942 maximum and minimum shift staffing levels, bringing the total number of members of the EFD to 88, with 43 on each platoon, plus the chief and the fire prevention inspector.

Two of the six new men (one each shift) were assigned to Truck Co. 1 but could be temporarily assigned to any of the other three companies at Station # 1 that might be running a man short. Two of the new men (one each shift) were assigned to Engine Co. 3, and two of the new men (one each shift) were assigned to Engine Co. 4, thus restoring the pre-1942 four-man minimum shift staffing at fire stations 3 and 4. Thirty eight firefighters were once again scheduled each shift, returning to the pre-1942 31-man minimum shift staffing, since each company could run one man short. The staffing increase however was short-lived. 

In 1946, Chicago firemen were granted a Kelly Day after every four days worked instead of after every seven days, and during 1948, Local 742 — led by William Owens, Fred Schumacher, Lincoln Dickinson, John Lee, Ervin Lindeman, George Jasper, and Leonard Bach — campaigned for a further reduction in the work-week, to match that of Chicago’s firefighters. The Evanston City Council eventually agreed, and the average work-week for Evanston firemen was reduced from 73.5 to 67.5 hours, as members of the EFD received a Kelly Day after every four days worked. In exchange for a reduction of hours in the work-week, however, staffing was cut back to the pre-1947 level of 35 men per shift, with a 28-man minimum if each company were to run one man short.

Beginning in 1948, eight or nine Evanston firefighters were on a Kelly Day each shift, including exactly one man from each company each shift, plus one or two of the extra men assigned to Station # 1. With one man from each company on a Kelly Day every day, a maximum of six men and a minimum of five men were assigned to “high value district” Truck Co. 1 and Engine Co. 5 each shift, a maximum of five men and a minimum of four men were assigned to Engine Co. 1 and Truck Co. 2, and a maximum of four men and a minimum of three men were assigned to Engine Co. 2, Engine Co. 3, and Engine Co. 4. There was also a chief’s buggy driver assigned to each shift. 

In 1947, the state pension law was changed to allow firefighters to receive a larger pension. Previous to 1947, a retired fireman would receive 50% of his final monthly salary as his monthly pension, regardless of the number of years worked. However, firemen who retired after the new 1947 pension law went into effect were granted pensions amounting to 50% of their salary, PLUS an additional 2% per years of service over twenty years up to 30 years of service, PLUS an additional 1% per years of service over thirty years up to 35 years of service. Thus, a firefighter retiring with 35 years or more of service would now receive 75% of his last monthly salary as his monthly pension.

The change in the pension law led to a flurry of retirements of veteran members of the Evanston Fire Department, as 21 men — nearly a quarter of the department! — including two assistant chiefs, two captains, a lieutenant, a mechanic, and 15 firemen, retired in 1947-49. That came on the heels of the retirement of 14 other veteran Evanston firefighters — including a captain, two lieutenants, a mechanic, and ten firemen — who had had their fill of working forced-overtime for straight-time comp days during World War II, which combined with the deaths of three veteran company officers during those same years resulted in a significant and rather sudden drain of a combined 1,000 years of experience(!) within a relatively short period of time.  

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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

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 42

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THIS MEANS WAR! 

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 – 1939.

The four men who were hired between 1932 and 1939 were hired off the same civil service list. They were one of dozens of unemployed men who took a long-awaited civil service test for the position of fireman that was given by the Evanston Civil Service Board in September 1935. Only 18 passed the test, and only four of the them were hired during the life of the list, all four in 1936. Each of them would go on to have stellar careers with the EFD: James Mersch Sr would retire as an assistant chief (and platoon commander) in 1958, George Jasper retired as a captain (Engine Co. 23) in 1963, Ervin Lindeman retired as a captain (Truck Co. 22) in 1967, and Lester Breitzman retired in 1971 after 35 years of service, the last seven as chief. 

The United States of America entered World War II following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by  naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. George Jasper was the first Evanston firefighter to be drafted into the U. S. military in June 1942. The Evanston Auxiliary Fire Service (EAFS) was organized that same month, mainly in preparation for a possible enemy attack by air raid or sabotage on Chicago, but also to help offset an anticipated manpower shortage in the Evanston Fire Department during the war. 

The EAFS operated with the EFD’s reserve city service ladder truck (Truck No. 3), a 300-GPM booster-pumper (Engine No. 7) that had been transferred to the street department for use as a utility truck in 1938 before being returned to the Evanston Fire Department in March 1942 and restored by EFD mechanics as a fully-functioning firefighting apparatus, and three government surplus U. S. Civilian Defense 250-GPM pumps mounted on trailers received by the EAFS in November 1942 that could be pulled when needed by street department trucks.

Lloyd Winne was appointed Chief of the EAFS, with Jared Johnson and M. E. Carter serving as the two company commanders. The EAFS was divided in two, with half of the men organized as Truck Co. 3 at Station # 3, and the other half organized as Engine Co. 7 at Station # 4. To make room for the EAFS engine company at Station # 4, the EFD’s lone-remaining spare rig — Engine No. 6, the 1917 Seagrave 300-GPM booster pumper that had been rebuilt as a 500-GPM “Suburbanite” TCP at the Seagrave factory in 1930 — was relocated to Fire Station # 2.   

The EAFS was disbanded in 1944 after its 300-GPM booster pumper (Engine No. 7) broke down and could not be repaired. The apparatus was subsequently dismantled for spare parts that were used to keep the other 1917 rigs running, most especially the venerable 1917 Seagrave 750-GPM TCP that had been in continuous front-line service for more than 25 years, first as Engine No. 1 from 1918-37, and then as Engine No. 4 since January 1938, but was showing signs of extensive rust damage on the chassis, axles, drive-train, and engine block.   

The Evanston Fire Department had difficulty maintaining minimum staffing for shifts during World War II, especially in 1944 and 1945. By November 1943, all civil service lists had been exhausted, and there were no qualified men available to be hired as firefighters. Many of the men who had been on civil service lists in 1942 and 1943 were drafted before they could be hired, and others who were hired were drafted almost immediately afterward.

The firefighters who did not enter the military — many of whom were veteran firemen nearing retirement — were often compelled to work their day off and receive just a straight-time comp day they could bank and use later. During the war it was not unusual for an Evanston firefighter to work 72 consecutive hours and then receive just a straight-time comp day, except he couldn’t actually use it because of manpower shortages.

This caused a morale problem throughout the EFD, and many older firefighters chose to retire rather than accept the burden of forced overtime. In fact, as many Evanston firemen retired during the years 1943-45 as during the previous ten years combined! And as more men retired, an even greater burden fell upon the men who remained. 

A year prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the most costly fire in Evanston’s history (to date) occurred when Northwestern University’s Technological Institute — which was under construction — was destroyed ($620,000 loss) on the morning of December 2, 1940. 64 Evanston firefighters, assisted by Chicago F. D. Engine Co. 70, Engine Co. 110, and Engine Co. 112, battled the blaze well into the afternoon as a cold north wind fanned the flames, threatening other N. U. properties to the south. Evanston and Chicago firefighters poured more than a million gallons of water onto the conflagration before eventually bringing the blaze under control, thanks in no small part to an abrupt change in wind-direction from northwest to south. Eight months later (August 1941), another fire caused heavy-damage ($35,000 loss) to the Pontiac Sales automobile dealership at 1819 Ridge Ave.

On February 23, 1941, the EFD responded into Wilmette and assisted the Wilmette F. D. battling a large and dangerous fire at the Vitreous Enamel Company factory at 1419 Central Ave. Just five days earlier, veteran EFD Lt. Dan McKimmons (Truck Co. 2) had narrowly escaped death after becoming trapped in a smoke-charged basement while battling a blaze in an apartment building at 1015 Dempster Street. Suffocating from smoke inhalation, Lt. McKimmons was rescued just in the nick of time and resuscitated by Assistant Chief Tom McEnery, Lt. William Elliott, and firemen Ed Hanrahan, John Reddick, Lou Morgan, George Thompson, Herb Claussen, and Fred Godeman.

Several other veteran Evanston firemen were not quite so fortunate, however. Fireman Fred Korn retired with a disability pension in 1939 after suffering a career-ending arm injury, Albert Balmes (Engine Co. 5) died as the result of a head injury suffered during a fight at his niece’s weddng reception in July 1940, Walt Caple retired on a disability pension in 1941, Lt. Carl Dorband (Engine Co. 3) died of a heart attack while sitting in front of Fire Station # 3 on a lazy Sunday afternoon in May 1942, and Capt. Anthony Steigelman (Engine Co. 1) and Lt. William Elliott (Truck Co. 1) each died while off duty, Steigelman in June 1944, and Elliott in January 1945. 

The first (and only) fatality to result from a traffic collision involving an Evanston Fire Department vehicle occurred during World War II, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 10, 1943. Truck Co. 2 was headed eastbound on Central Street, en route to Dyche Stadium for a drill with the EAFS, and as rookie Fireman Hjalmar Okerwall turned the lumbering 1937 Seagrave 65-foot aerial ladder truck northbound onto Ashland Avenue, an automobile occupied by an elderly couple heading westbound on Central Street failed to stop and collided with the fire truck. The car’s female passenger was killed.

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As seen around Cordell, Oklahoma

This from Danny Nelms:

Cordell, OK new to them tender/tanker. 1998 E-One 1500 GPM pump/3000 gallons. Former Fox Lake Fire Department Illinois. John Strenski photo 
new home for former Fox Lake FPD pumper/tender

John Strenski photo

From our files, evidently prior to a repaint 

1998 E-ONE Hurricane 3000-gallon tanker in Fox Lake IL

Larry Shapiro photo

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