Archive for category Fire Department History

Justice Fire Department history

From Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT-The former Justice Fire Dept.’s Engine 551, a 1981 Hendrickson 1871/Pirsch 1250/500.
Mike Summa
1981 Hendrickson Pirsch fire engine

Mike Summa photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 37

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THE END OF THE ROARING TWENTIES 

On May 20, 1928, EFD Engine No. 1 (the 1917 Seagrave 750-GPM TCP) sustained $4,000 in damage when it struck a large pot-hole on Bridge Street near McCormick Boulevard while returning to quarters from an alarm in North Evanston. Chief Hofstetter accompanied the apparatus as it was conveyed via rail back to the Seagrave factory in Columbus, OH, apparently hoping to influence the Seagrave maintenance shop to put a priority on repairs for a good Seagrave customer like Evanston. Meanwhile, the City of Evanston sued the Sanitary District of Chicago – responsible for the maintenance of Bridge Street –- to recover the cost of the repairs.

With its rig out of commission for an indefinite period of time, Engine Co. 1 was assigned the venerable 1911 Robinson Jumbo pumper, which back in the day had been the EFD’s first automobile fire engine, but by 1928 was on its last leg. The inhalator normally carried aboard Engine 1 was temporarily transferred to Engine 5, since the Jumbo was not particularly reliable and was prone to mechanical breakdowns.

After being out of service for nearly four months, Engine 1 was finally returned to Station # 1 and placed back into service on September 18, and the Robinson pumper was placed back into reserve at Station # 2. Among the repairs made to the damaged pumper while at the Seagrave shops were a new drive-shaft, a new front axle, a suspension upgrade including new springs & shocks, new wheels, and pneumatic tires, matching the factory-installed suspension, wheels, and tires on the three EFD Seagrave rigs built in the 1920’s. New wheels and pneumatic tires replacing hard rubber tires were installed on Truck 2 and Engine 3 in 1929.

In December 1928, the Evanston City Council appropriated $800 to purchase a Ford Model “A” Tudor sedan for the fire prevention inspector. Since being appointed to that position on May 1, 1928, Capt. J. E. Mersch had been transported to his inspection duties by the chief’s buggy-driver (if available), or by taxi cab, or sometimes by use of public transportation. However, it just wasn’t very convenient for a man who walked with a cane to not have his own reliable means of transportation. The Ford sedan also provided a back-up automobile for the chief, no doubt considerably more appropriate than the dog catcher’s wagon that had been employed as a temporary replacement when Chief Hofstetter’s automobile was out of service a few years earlier     

On February 5, 1929, the Evanston City Council passed the “Fire Prevention Ordinance,” which officially established the EFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau.The ordinance assigned the following duties and responsibilities to the Fire Prevention Bureau:

1. Prevent fires through education;
2. Regulate 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 cases of fire involving factories, schools, hotels, rooming houses, asylums and sanitariums, hospitals, churches, assembly halls, theaters, amphitheaters, and any other establishment where persons work and/or congregate;
6. Investigate the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires. 

Also in February 1929, two new electrically driven high-lift pumps were installed at the waterworks at Lincoln & Sheridan. One was capable of pumping 10,000 GPM, and the other 7,000 GPM. The two new pumps replaced the old Gaskill 3,500 GPM steam-driven pump that had been in service since 1888.

In August 1929, the Robinson Jumbo pumper failed its annual pump test at Becker’s Pond. Because the Robinson Fire Apparatus Manufacturing Company had gone out of business several years earlier, a replacement pump could not be located, so the Jumbo’s pump was disconnected, its chemical tank & red line, ground ladders, hose load, fire extinguishers, and other miscellaneous firefighting equipment were removed, and the rig was transferred to the street department for use as a utility truck. The street department was still using horse-drawn carts and wagons in 1929, so any type of auto truck – even an old fire engine – was a welcome addition to their fleet.    

On Monday, December 2, 1929, Engine Co. 5, Truck Co. 1, Engine Co. 1, and Engine Co. 2 responded to a fire at Thompson’s Restaurant at 618 Davis Street in Evanston’s downtown high-value district. Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol No. 8 responded for salvage work when it was reported as a working fire, and Truck Co. 2 and Engine Co. 3 were dispatched on the second alarm after the blaze communicated to the DeBreuil Tea Room located next-door to the west.

Engine Co. 4 changed quarters to Station # 1 to cover the city, and the off-duty platoon was called-in to provide relief for crews working at the fire, with men walking a block and a half to the scene from Station # 1. The aggregate damage to the two businesses and the structure was $57,274, making it one of the top five highest dollar losses from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time.

In the aftermath of the fire at Thompson’s Restaurant it became clear that the EFD needed a reserve pumper to replace the Robinson Jumbo. So the Evanston City Council appropriated $3,000 to have the Seagrave shops rebuild Engine Co. 4’s hose truck as a 500-GPM Suburbanite TCP, with a 50-gallon booster tank and 150-foot booster line replacing the original factory-installed 300-GPM booster pump, chemical tank, and red line. New axles, wheels, shocks, pneumatic tires, fenders, sealed-beam headlamps, and side-mounted green & red warning lights were also installed. In appearance, the Suburbanite closely resembled the two Seagrave Standard pumpers purchased by Evanston in 1927, except it was a bit shorter and had only a 500-GPM pump instead of the 1000-GPM pumps that were on-board the Standards.

As soon as the Seagrave shops finished the rebuild, the pumper was quickly returned to Evanston and went into service as the new Engine No. 4, as the old Engine No. 4 – the 1906 American-LaFrance Metropolitan 700-GPM steamer that was permanently attached to the 1918 Seagrave Model “K” one-axle tractor — was placed into reserve at Station # 4 as Engine No. 6, with the decommissioned Robinson Jumbo pumper available to be temporarily returned to the EFD from the street department to run as the tractorized-steamer’s hose truck anytime the reserve steamer needed to be placed into front-line service.       

Sadly, a number of active members of the Evanston Fire Department died while off-duty during the 1920s:

1. Lt. Harry Schaeffer Sr. (Truck Co. 1), whose son Harry Jr. would later serve with the EFD and retire as an assistant chief, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in June 1923;
2. Fireman and chief’s buggy-driver Orville Wheeler, (whose two sons, James and Chester, would later serve with the EFD, with James retiring as Chief in 1973) died of pneumonia in July 1924, six weeks before he would have been promoted to lieutenant;
3. Fireman Clinton Claypool (Engine Co. 3) died of meningitis in January 1925;
4. Rookie Fireman Fred Michelau (Truck Co. 1 ) drowned while on vacation in Michigan in August 1928,
5. Lt. Walt Boekenhauer (Engine Co. 4) died of a heart attack suffered while on vacation in July 1929. 

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New home for Deerfield-Bannockburn FPD engine

Found on Facebook:

Engine 22, Columbus, NC – 2002 Pierce Dash 2000 1250/750 #13655-02 X- Deerfield-Bannockburn FPD 

former Deerfield-Bannockburn FPD Engine 20

Dave Organ photo

thanks Dennis

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South Holland Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT-South Holland Squad 669, a 1972 Kenworth/Security.
Mike Summa
1972 Kenworth 3D rescue squad

Mike Summa photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 36

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

EVANSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT CIRCA 1928:

FIRE STATION # 1 (809 Grove Street) – four-bay firehouse opened in March 1897, occupying the west half of the police/fire headquarters building located at the northwest corner of Grove & Sherman. 

Chief Fire Marshal Albert Hofstetter’s office was at Station # 1

TRUCK Co. 1: 14 men (seven on each platoon, with one of the assigned as the chief’s driver), with 1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Ed Johnson (company officer & platoon commander) and Lt. Michael Garrity (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Truck Co. 1.

TRUCK Co. 2. 13 men (six on each platoon, plus one man detailed as fire prevention Inspector), with 2nd Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Tom McEnery (company officer & platoon commander) and Lt. Anthony Steigelman (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Truck Co. 2. Capt. J. E. Mersch was appointed Fire Prevention Inspector in May 1928 and was administratively assigned to Truck Co. 2 1928-32.  

ENGINE Co. 1: Twelve men (six on each platoon), with Capt. George Hargreaves (company officer) and Lt. John Wynn (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Engine Co. 1. As of 1928, Capt. Hargreaves was the longest-serving member of the Evanston Fire Department (34 years and counting…).    

ENGINE Co. 5  Twelve men (six on each platoon), with Capt, Henry Tesnow (company officer) and Lt. Ed Newton (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Engine Co. 5. Engineer J. K. Wilen was a motor driver of Engine Co. 5 in addition to being the EFD’s fire equipment mechanic.

In addition to being company officers, Assistant Chief Ed Johnson (Truck Co. 1) and Assistant Chief Tom McEnery (Truck Co. 2) were also platoon commanders, and they responded to alarms in the chief’s automobile if the chief was off duty. 

Chief Hofstetter and Capt. Mersch normally worked business hours Monday through Friday and a half day on Saturday. 

STATION # 1 APPARATUS:

1. Truck No. 1 – 1924 Seagrave TDA equipped with an 85-ft aerial ladder, about a dozen ground, roof, and pompier ladders, salvage covers, fire extinguishers, and a life net;

2. Truck No. 2 – 1917 Seagrave Model “E” city service truck equipped with about a dozen ground, roof, and pompier ladders (including a 55-ft Bangor  ground ladder that required four men to raise with tormentor poles), a 50-gal chemical tank with a 150-ft lead of red line, a heavy-duty jack, salvage covers, fire extinguishers, and a life net;

3. Engine No. 1 – 1917 Seagrave 750 GPM TCP equipped with a 50-gal chemical tank and a 150-ft lead of red line, 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch line, 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch line, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, nozzles and hose clamps, siamese and wye connections, fire extinguishers, two ground ladders, and an inhalator; 

4. Engine No. 5 – 1927 Seagrave “Standard” 1000-GPM TCP equipped with a 50-gal booster tank and a 150-ft lead of booster line, 1,250 feet of 2-1.2 inch line, 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch line, and 500 feet of three-inch line, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, nozzles and hose clamps, siamese and wye connections, fire extinguishers, and two ground ladders;  


5. Chief’s automobile – 1925 Lincoln Model “L” sedan.   

After the police ambulance was demolished in September 1927, Engine Co. 1 was designated as the EFD’s “inhalator squad,” but a second inhalator kept at Station # 1 could be loaded onto any available rig if Engine 1 was not available. (The EFD consistently averaged about 100 inhalator calls per year prior to 1960).   

A portable high-pressure turret nozzle purchased in 1927 was kept at Station # 1 and could be loaded onto any available rig and transported to a fire if needed.
 
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STATION # 2 (750 Chicago Avenue) – three-bay firehouse constructed during 1902 and opened in February 1903, which replaced the previous one-bay Fire Station # 2 that had been located in the old South Evanston village hall on the same site.  

ENGINE Co. 2: Twelve men (six on each platoon), with Capt. Carl Windelborn (company officer) and Lt. Frank Didier (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Engine Co. 2       

STATION # 2 APPARATUS:

1. Engine No. 2 – 1927 Seagrave “Standard” 1000-GPM TCP equipped with a 50-gal booster tank and a 150-ft lead of booster line, 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch line, 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch line, 500 feet of three-inch line, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, nozzles and hose clamps, siamese and wye connections, fire extinguishers, and two ground ladders;  

2. Reserve Engine No. 6 – 1911 Robinson “Jumbo” 750-GPM TCP equipped with a 50-gal chemical tank and a 150-ft lead of red line, a reserve hose load, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, fire extinguishers, and two ground ladders. This rig was the EFD’s lone reserve automobile apparatus 1918-29. 

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STATION # 3 (2504 West Railroad Avenue) – two-bay firehouse constructed during 1900 and opened in January 1901 

ENGINE Co. 3: Ten men (five on each platoon), with Capt. Ed McEnery (company officer) and Lt. Dan McKimmons (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Engine Co. 3.    

STATION # 3 APPARATUS:


Engine No. 3 – 1917 Seagrave 300 GPM chemical & hose booster pumper equipped with a 50-gal chemical tank and a 150-ft lead of red line, 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch line, 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch line, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, nozzles and hose clamps, siamese and wye connections, fire extinguishers, and two ground ladders.

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STATION # 4 (1817 Washington Street) – two-bay firehouse constructed in the aftermath of the Boltwood School fire and opened in December 1927 

ENGINE Co. 4: Ten men (five on each platoon), with Capt. Pat Gaynor (company officer) and Lt. Walt Boekenhauer (assistant company officer) commanding opposite platoons of Engine Co. 4.  

STATION # 4 APPARATUS:

1. Engine No. 4 – 1906 American-LaFrance “Metropolitan” 700 GPM steam fire engine permanently welded to a 1918 Seagrave Model “K” one-axle tractor;
 
2. Hose No. 4 – 1917 Seagrave 300 GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper with a 50-gal chemical tank and a 150-ft lead of red line, 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch line, 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch line, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, nozzles and hose clamps, siamese and wye connections, fire extinguishers, and two ground ladders.      
      
Both rigs assigned to Engine Co. 4 had previously been assigned to Engine Co. 2. Just as was the case with Engine Co. 2 before Engine Co. 4 was organized, the chemical & hose booster pumper provided the hose supply for the tractorized steamer.  

Engineer Max Kraatz and Assistant Engineer William Richards were assigned to Engine Co. 4 because they were two of only three members of the EFD in 1928 who were qualified to operate, maintain, and repair the steamer. (Engineer Frank Altenberg of Engine Co. 3 was the other one).
 
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Each engine and truck company could run one man short  — and frequently did, due to vacations, sick calls, on-duty injuries, and/or overtime comp payback — so as of May 1928 the maximum aggregate staffing for each platoon each shift was 41 men (if each company was fully-staffed), and the minimum aggregate staffing for each platoon each shift was 34 men (if all seven companies were running one man short). 

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Milwaukee Fire Department history

This from Asher Heimermann:

To view more pictures of historic and current apparatus of the Milwaukee Fire Department, visit HERE

Vintage Milwaukee fire engine

Asher Heimermann photo

old Milwaukee FD air supply unit

Asher Heimermann photo

vintage Milwaukee FD Truck 11

Asher Heimermann photo

Hendrickson Pirsch fire engine in Milwaukee

Asher Heimermann photo

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Orland Fire Protection District history (more)

This from Danny Nelms:

After the throwbackthursday post I looked around on Facebook and found some photos from the past couple years of that tower ladder from Orland in service in Gillett Wisconsin
former Orland FPD tower ladder in Gillett WI

From Facebook

former Orland FPD tower ladder in Gillett WI

From Facebook

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Orland Fire Protection District history

From Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT-The Orland FPD Truck 6014, a 1988 Spartan/LTI 1500/0/100′ tower.
Mike Summa
Orland FPD Truck 6014, a 1988 Spartan/LTI 1500/0/100' tower

Mike Summa photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 35

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

EXPANSION 

In November 1927, lieutenants Henry Tesnow and Carl Windelborn were promoted to captain, firemen Walter Boekenhauer, Michael Garrity, Anthony Steigelman, and John Wynn were promoted to lieutenant, Motor Driver J. K. Wilen was promoted to the new rank of “Engineer – Mechanic,” and twenty new firemen were hired: Harold Anderson, John Anderson, Albert Balmes, Charles Bammesberger, Fred Carlson, Herbert Claussen, Norman Fochs, Edward Hanrahan, Knud Hanson, Milton Kummer, Charles Lapp, Fred Michelau, Louis Morgan, William Murphy, Elmer Nepstad, Charles Novak, Fred Schumacher, Francis Williams, B. V. Williamson, and L. P. Williamson. Ten of the new men were assigned to one of the platoons, and ten were assigned to the other, with no more than three of the new men assigned to any one company.       

As part of the November 1927 EFD expansion, Engine Co. 4 was organized at Fire Station # 2. Ten men were assigned to Engine Co. 4, and the new company was provided with equipment and apparatus (a tractorized-steamer and a booster-pumper) formerly used by Engine Co. 2. Pat Gaynor was the first captain. The company moved into brand-new Station # 4 at 1817 Washington Street on December 30, 1927. The two-bay Station # 4 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.

Also, Engine Co. 5 was organized at Fire Station # 1 on the same day that Engine Co. 4 was organized at Fire Station # 2. Twelve men were assigned to Engine Co. 5. 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. Henry Tesnow was the first captain.

Capt. J. E. Mersch was supposed to have been 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. 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 declined to take a disability pension and instead was appointed to the newly-created position of “Fire Prevention Inspector.” He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief Fire Marshal 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.

With Capt. Mersch appointed Fire Prevention Inspector, Lt. Ed McEnery was promoted to captain, and Fireman Frank Didier was promoted to lieutenant. Also, Capt. Tom McEnery was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal and Platoon Commander, as an assistant chief would now command each of the two platoons.

With five engine companies and two truck companies now in service, the EFD’s response to alarms changed significantly. Instead of a one engine / one truck response to a report of a structure fire as had previously been the case, two engine companies and one truck company would now respond to a “general” alarm, with a three engine / one truck response to the downtown “high value district” (the area bounded by Lake Street on the south, Oak Avenue on the west, Clark Street on the north, and Hinman Avenue on the east), and a three engine / two truck response to hospitals, sanitariums, nursing homes, and schools during school hours.  

As had been the case since June 1922, Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol No. 8 responded to all working fires in Evanston involving high-value properties from its quarters at 3921 N. Ravenswood Avenue, and as had been the case since September 1924, both EFD truck companies were located at Station # 1, with Truck Co. 1 (operating with the TDA) the first-due truck company east of Asbury Avenue, and Truck Co.2 (operating with the city service truck) the first-due truck company west of Asbury.   

Engine Co. 1 was now designated the city-wide second engine, and also responded to inhalator calls city-wide; Engine Co. 2 was first-due to the area east of Asbury and south of Greenleaf Street, and responded as the third engine south of Dempster west of Asbury, and east of Asbury between Greenleaf and Foster; Engine Co. 3 was first due north of Church Street west of Asbury, and north of Foster Street east of Asbury; Engine Co. 4 was first-due west of Asbury and south of Church Street; and Engine Co. 5 was first-due east of Asbury between Greenleaf and Foster (including the downtown “high value district”), and responded as the third engine west of Asbury north of Dempster, east of Asbury north of Foster, and east of Asbury south of Greenleaf. If available, Engine Co. 2 would “transfer” (change quarters) to Station # 1 if Engine Co. 5 was at a working fire, and either Engine Co. 3 or Engine Co. 4 would transfer to Station #1 (and place the reserve inhalator on-board the rig) if Engine Co. 1 was at a working fire. Prior to the installation of apparatus radios in 1952, returning to quarters and changing quarters had to be done expeditiously, because companies were incommunicado while on the road.

41 men were assigned to each platoon: 14 men (seven on each platoon, with one of the men assigned as the chief’s buggy-driver) were assigned to Truck Co. 1, twelve men (six on each platoon) were assigned to Truck Co. 2, Engine Co. 1, Engine Co. 2, and Engine Co. 5, and ten men (five on each platoon) were assigned to Engine Co. 3 and Engine Co. 4. Each company could run one man short, so the absolute minimum aggregate shift staffing if each company was running a man short was 34 men. .

The assistant chiefs assigned to Truck Co. 1 and Truck Co. 2 (Ed Johnson and Tom McEnery, respectively) were both company officers and platoon commanders, so they worked opposite platoons. As had been the case for many years, EFD Chief Albert Hofstetter responded to routine alarms as long as he was on duty, and he would be picked up at home by his driver and would be driven to a working fire if he was off duty. But beginning in May 1928, the assistant chiefs (platoon commanders) would respond to routine alarms in the chief’s automobile and be acting chief at the scene of an incident, and have the authority to order additional alarms or a call-back of the off-duty platoon, or even request assistance from the Chicago F. D. or other neighboring fire department, if the chief was off-duty.

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Chicago Fire Department history

From Steve Redick:

I came into something really special. These photos are dated April 19, 1961 near the old fire academy. They are testing the feasibility of putting a second turret on the Snorkel basket, and it’s my dad in the basket! (wearing glasses) He was assigned to Snorkel 2 at the time and I remember him talking about how the 2-gun Snorkel (snorkel 5) never really worked well as they could not properly supply both turrets. Dad was only 33 years old at the time of the photo. Many thanks to my friend who found these photos.
Vintage photo from April 19, 1961 of Chicago FD Sni=orkel 2 testing a second gun in the basket
 
Vintage photo from April 19, 1961 of Chicago FD Sni=orkel 2 testing a second gun in the basket
 
Vintage photo from April 19, 1961 of Chicago FD Sni=orkel 2 testing a second gun in the basket

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