Posts Tagged Chicago Fire Department history

Evanston Fire Department history Part 39

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


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 – 1938. It was difficult to find work during the Depression, and anyone who had a job made sure to keep it! So why were there any openings in the EFD during the 1930’s? In most of the cases, a veteran fireman unable to work any longer simply elected to retire with a pension; but in four other cases, leaving the EFD was not a matter of choice.

Besides the fatal heart attack suffered by Assistant Chief Ed Johnson in October 1932, Fireman Milton Jasper (Truck Co. 1) died while off-duty in March 1931, Lt. Frank Didier (Engine Co. 2) died of a heart attack at his home in September 1931, and Fireman Fred Walters (Engine Co. 5) died at Evanston Hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolism following a combined training exercise with the Wilmette Fire Department at Gilson Park in October 1936.   

Meanwhile, a number of firefighters received promotions in the years 1929-34.

1. Fireman Henry Dorband was promoted to lieutenant in 1929 and was assigned as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 5, with Lt. Ed Newton transferring from Engine Co. 5 to Engine Co. 4, replacing the deceased Walt Boekenhauer.

2. Fireman Harry Jasper was promoted to lieutenant in 1931 and replaced the deceased Frank Didier as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 2.

3. Captain (and Fire Prevention Inspector) J. E. Mersch was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal in 1932, and Captain Carl Windelborn was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal in 1933, replacing the deceased Ed Johnson as a platoon commander and company officer. Assistant Chief Tom McEnery was transferred from Truck Co. 2 to Truck  Co. 1 at this same time, with Chief Windelborn assigned to Truck Co. 2.

4. Lieutenants Anthony Steigelman and John Wynn were promoted to captain in 1933 and Lt. Michael Garrity was promoted to captain in 1934, with Steigelman replacing the retired George Hargreaves as company officer of Engine Co. 1, Wynn replacing the promoted Carl Windelborn as company officer of Engine Co. 2, and Garrity replacing the retired Pat Gaynor as company officer of Engine Co. 4.  

5. Firemen Frank Sherry Sr and Jim Geishecker were promoted to lieutenant in 1933 and Fireman William Elliott was promoted to lieutenant in 1934, with Sherry replacing John Wynn as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 1, Geishecker replacing Anthony Steigelman as assistant company officer of Truck Co. 2, and Elliott replacing Michael Garrity as assistant company officer of Truck Co. 1.

With budget cuts and a reduction in staffing, it is fortunate that the Depression years saw a limited number of major fires in Evanston. The worst ones were at the Hemenway Methodist Church at 929 Chicago Avenue in September 1932 ($52,000 loss), and at the Weise Brothers planing mill & lumber yard at 1124 Dodge Avenue ($35,000 loss) on October 8, 1937 (the 65th anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire). Actually, the EFD fought more large fires in other towns than it did in Evanston during this period!
During the early-morning hours of January 15, 1931, the Evanston Fire Department assisted the Wilmette F. D. fighting a spectacular blaze atop the Baha’i Temple at 100 Linden Ave, With Wilmette and Evanston firemen working in bitter-cold, firefighting efforts were initially hampered by frozen hydrants, and engine companies had considerable difficulty throughout the night maintaining the water-pressure needed to ultimately extinguish the flames. EFD Truck 1’s “big stick” was extended to its full 85-feet to provide an elevated master-stream, but the steel skeleton of the now world-famous landmark could not be saved. Still under construction at the time of the fire, the structure sustained $50,000 in damage, and because of the fire, the Great Depression, and World War II, the temple was not completed for another twenty years.

Then on July 27, 1933, firefighters from Evanston, Chicago, Niles Center, and Morton Grove assisted the small Tessville volunteer fire department battling a blaze that destroyed the Becker Box Company factory at Touhy & Lincoln. (Tessville is now known as “Lincolnwood”). The Evanston F. D. also assisted the Niles Center Fire Department at a conflagration at the Hughes Oil Company storage yard on Howard Street near the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks in Niles Center on August 17, 1934. (Niles Center is now known as “Skokie”). Earlier that same year (on May 19th), EFD Engine Co. 1 was moved into Chicago F. D. Engine Co. 71’s quarters at 6239 N. California Avenue, helping to provide fire protection to Rogers Park and the far north-side of Chicago while most CFD companies were busily engaged fighting an inferno that destroyed much of the Union Stockyards and surrounding neighborhood. On November 18, 1935, EFD Engine Co. 3, Engine Co. 1, and Truck Co. 2 assisted the Wilmette F. D. battling a blaze that gutted the D. S. Lyman drug store at 4th & Linden ($30,000 loss).   

Although budget cuts stemming from the Great Depression kept the Evanston Fire Department from making any significant purchases in the years 1933-36, there were a few minor upgrades. In 1935, the aging wooden ladders on the city service truck were replaced with new ones, and in 1936, the chief’s 1926 Lincoln Model “L” automobile was traded in for a new 1936 Ford Tudor Deluxe sedan equipped with a “Motorola Police Cruiser” AM radio receiver.

The Galvin Company had been manufacturing its Motorola AM radio receivers for civilian automobiles since 1930, and the Evanston Police Department had been one the first police departments in the nation to place Motorola Model 5T71 AM radios into its patrol cars. When they were initially made available, the vacuum-tube radios cost almost as much as a new car, required complicated installment and maintenance procedures, and were subject to sudden failure if a tube blew or a wire became disconnected while driving.

Also, the radios were strictly one-way receivers, and Chicago-area police radio traffic – at first limited to emergency broadcasts only — was transmitted over WGN radio’s 720 KHZ frequency, available to be heard by anyone with an AM radio receiver. Obviously this could not be sustained long-term, so in 1935 police departments were granted the use of AM radio frequencies between 1550 and 2800 KHz.  

At about that same time, Galvin invented its “Motorola Police Cruiser” AM radio specifically for the use of police departments, and the Ford motor company offered a factory-installed Motorola Police Cruiser radio at a discounted price as part of its new “police package” in 1936. The Evanston Police Department had ten patrol cars, ten motorcycles, and one ambulance in service at that time, but only its new Ford patrol cars were equipped with the Motorola Police Cruiser AM radios, tuned to the Chicago Police Department’s new radio frequency.

EFD Chief Hofstetter’s ’36 Ford Tudor Deluxe sedan was likewise equipped with a Motorola Police Cruiser radio, and so the chief — or the platoon commander, in the absence of the chief — could receive emergency Evanston Fire Department radio traffic via AM radio, or even just a message to contact the Evanston Police switchboard.

Among his other duties, the chief’s buggy-driver was in charge of monitoring the radio, but because the Motorola Police Cruiser radio was strictly one-way (receive-only), there was no way to acknowledge a radio transmission. The “two-way” FM automobile radio was invented in the 1940’s and two-way radios were acquired by the City of Evanston for police cars and for the fire chief’s car in 1945-46, but two-way radios were not placed aboard EFD engines and trucks until 1952. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

As seen around … TImbo Arkansas

From Ryan Smith on FaceBook:
Timbo, Arkansas Fire Department
X-Chicago Engine 45 D-494
X-Langley, Arkansas
1985 Federal E-One 1250/500

1985 Federal Motors - E-ONE fire engine

Tags: , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 38

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


In 1930, the civil service positions of Engineer and Assistant Engineer were consolidated with the position of Fireman I, although any firefighter driving a truck or working as a tillerman had to pass a test and be certified as a driver, and any firefighter working as a motor driver on an engine company had to pass a test and be certified both as a driver and as a pump operator.

Three veteran firemen – Frank Altenberg, Max Kraatz, and William Richards —  were certified as steam pump engineers, and they were the only members of the EFD who were allowed to maintain, repair, and operate the tractorized-steamer kept in reserve at Station # 4. Among Evanston firemen who were not officers, only the two fire equipment mechanics – J. K. “Karl” Wilen and Norman “Foxy” Fochs, who were assigned as motor drivers on opposite platoons of Engine Co. 5 — remained separate and distinct (and more highly-paid).

From 1928 through 1932, the aggregate maximum daily shift staffing for EFD companies was 41, with an aggregate minimum daily shift staffing of 34 if each company was running one-man short. Firefighters were allowed two weeks’ paid vacation each year, but vacations were not permitted from November to March.Other than the annual two-weeks paid vacation, firemen were not paid for hours not worked, and that included absences due to illness, jury duty, a death in the family, even a temporary disability resulting from an injury incurred in the line of duty. If the absence of a company member caused the company to run more than one man short on a particular shift, one of the men assigned to the opposite platoon of that company would be required to remain on duty and work his day off, and then he would receive a “comp day off” at a later time, to be determined by the company officer when the company was back at full-strength.

Annual EFD salaries ranged from $4,800 (Chief Fire Marshal) to $3,300 (1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal) to $3,000 (2nd Assistant Chief Fire Marshal) to $2,880 (Captain) to $2,700 (Lieutenant) to $2,640 (Fire Equipment Mechanic) to $2,400 (Fireman I) to $2,280 (Fireman II) to $1,920 (Fireman III).

However, as the “Great Depression” tightened its grip on the country, City of Evanston employees went unpaid over the last two weeks of December 1932. The mayor ordered staffing and pay cuts in all city departments effective January 1, 1933, and as a result, six positions were “axed” from the EFD at that time.

Because only three of the six positions could be eliminated through attrition — 1st Assistant Chief Ed Johnson (a platoon commander and the company officer of Truck Co. 1) suffered a fatal heart attack at the end of shift on October 22nd, and Capt, George Hargreaves (company officer of Engine Co. 1) and Fireman George Gushwa retired on December 31st — the three firemen with the least seniority (Philip Line, Lincoln Dickinson, and John Kabel) were laid-off. All three men returned to the EFD within two or three years, however, after Capt. Pat Gaynor (Engine Co. 4) retired in 1934 and firemen John Gaynor, John Tesnow, and Henry Thoms retired in 1936. For John Kabel, the last three months of 1932 was an especially painful time. Besides losing his job, he also suffered a gunshot wound while duck hunting in October!

At the time that they retired, George Hargreaves and George Gushwa were the longest-serving members of the Evanston Fire Department, with Hargreaves having set the all-time record for longest tenure with the EFD up until that point in time with 38 years of service, a mark that would not be exceeded until the 1940’s. Hargreaves joined the EFD in 1894, was promoted to lieutenant in 1902, and then to captain in 1903, while Gushwa joined the EFD in 1901.  

The staffing cuts of January 1, 1933, caused Engine Co. 1, Truck Co. 2, and Engine Co. 2 to be reduced by one man each shift, resulting in a new maximum daily aggregate shift staffing of 38 if no firemen were absent. The minimum daily aggregate shift staffing permitted was dropped from 34 to 31, which could happen only if all seven companies were running one man short. Engine Co. 5 and Truck Co. 1 – the companies first-due to downtown Evanston’s high-value district –- still required a five-man minimum staffing each shift, but the other five companies now required a minimum staffing of only four-men per shift. Shift staffing would not return to the pre-1933 level ever again.      

Salaries were cut by 7.5% in 1933, with an even greater reduction the following year, for a total cut covering both years of 20 – 25%! 1934 annual EFD salaries ranged from $3,900 (Chief Fire Marshal) to $2,553.60 (Assistant Chief Fire Marshal) to $2,228.64 (Captain) to $2,089.44 (Lieutenant) to $1,920 (Fireman). EFD salaries began to increase slightly in 1937, but pre-Depression salaries would not be seen again until 1944. Meanwhile, Evanston’s population in 1933 stood at 61,754, up more than 40% over the city’s population in 1923.    

In addition to the cuts in the Evanston Fire Department on January 1, 1933, the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol closed two of its eight firehouses on that same date. Included in the CFIP’s cuts was Patrol No. 8, located at 3921 N. Ravenswood Avenue. Since being placed into service in 1922, Patrol No. 8 had responded to fires in Evanston’s downtown “high-value district,” the Main Street and Central Street business districts, the Northwestern University campus, hospitals, schools, hotels, apartment buildings, factories, and high-value residential properties. 

Patrol No. 8 was located six miles from Evanston’s downtown high-value district and could arrive anywhere in Evanston within 15 minutes of being dispatched from its quarters on Ravenswood Avenue, but with the closing of Patrol No. 8’s house, the nearest CFIP firehouse was now ten miles away. So for that reason, along with the City of Evanston’s budget cuts taking effect on January 1, 1933, Evanston’s contract with the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol was terminated effective on New Year’s Day.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

This from Dennis McGuire, Jr:

Found this article about Chicago Engine 92 being organized along with Engine 73’s new firehouse. The article is from 1927. 

Vintage news article about Chicago Engine 92 being organized along with Engine 73’s new firehouse. The article is from 1927.

click to download

Tags: , , ,

Chicago Fire Department replica models (more)

From Fire Replicas:

Chicago’s Autocar Squad 2 is down to 20 units!

Fire Replicas model of a Chicago FD 1952 Autocar Squad 2 Fire Replicas model of a Chicago FD 1952 Autocar Squad 2 Fire Replicas model of a Chicago FD 1952 Autocar Squad 2 Fire Replicas model of a Chicago FD 1952 Autocar Squad 2

Tags: , , , , ,

Chicago Fire Department history

From Steve Redick:

Engine 66, Squad 7. SS3 was organized in this house at a later time

Tags: , ,

Classic Chicago Fire Department video

Edward Hastings- CFD 1960’s/70’s from Sean McDowell 

thanks Steve 

Tags: , ,

Vintage 2-11 Alarm fire in Chicago, 5-6-71

For #TBT from Steve Redick’s collection:

Graemere Hotel at Washington and Homan May 6, 1971 2-11 alarm

Graemere Hotel fire in Chicago 1971

photographer unknown

Tags: , , ,

New home for Illinois apparatus (part 5) – Kentucky

More from Luke Whalen:

Versailles (Woodford County) X-Mundelein, IL Truck 
Woodbine (Whitley County) X-Glenwood, IL Engine 401
Goldbug (Whitley County) X-Rockdale, IL Engine 
Sullivan (Union County) X-Dupo, IL Engine 192 
Bedford (Trimble County) X-Orland, IL Engine 6083 
Spencer County (Spencer County) X-Park Ridge, IL Engine
Taylorville-Spencer (Spencer County) X-Mitchell, IL Engine 1101
Simpsonville (Shelby County) X-Plano, IL Rescue 
Stamping Ground (Scott County) X-Glenwood, IL Engine 401 and X-Glenwood, IL Engine 402 
Pongo (Rockcastle County) X-Plano, IL Rescue 
Livingston (Rockcastle County) X-Dunlap, IL Engine 215
Climax (Rockcastle County) X-Carlock, IL Engine 110 
Coal Run Village (Pike County) X-Chicago Engine 
Cornettsville (Perry County) X-Springfield, IL Engine 7 
Montgomery (Montgomery County) X-Springfield, IL Engine 1 
Reidland Farley (McCracken County) X-Glencoe, IL Squad 30 
West McCracken (McCracken County) X-Limestone FPD, Peoria, IL Engine 
Lebanon (Marion County) Unknown, IL 
Neon (Letcher County) X-Glen Ellyn, IL Truck 31 
Coon Creek (Leslie County) X-Springfield, IL Engine 2
Little Poplar Creek (Knox County) X-Roberts Park FPD, Justice, IL Engine 
Hindman (Knott County) X-River Forest, IL Truck 221 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,