Posts Tagged Chicago Fire Department history

Chicago Fire Department history

This from Danny Nelms for #TBT:

Found a small Stack of the Old Chicago Fire Fighter magazine. Here is an apparatus profile in the autumn 1967 issue profiling all the new “usual”  vehicles joining the department.
vintage Chicago Fire Fighter Magazine Autumn 1967

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vintage Chicago Fire Fighter Magazine Autumn 1967

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vintage Chicago Fire Fighter Magazine Autumn 1967

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new Chicago fire trucks circa 1967

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new Chicago fire trucks circa 1967

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new Chicago fire trucks circa 1967

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Vintage Chicago 5-11 Alarm + 4 Specials, 5-25-66

This from Steve Redick:

This was a 5-11 and 4 specials at 1400 W 32nd Place on May 25, 1966 in a large, vacant, wood-frame grain elevator. I have not seen very many color photos of this. My favorite shot is what looks like SS3’s Snorkel working. I would assume the fireboat would was Engine 41.
These amazing images were taken by Gerald Bean.
huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

huge 1966 fire in Chicago

Gerald Bean photo

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Chicago Fire Department history (more)

More from Steve Redick on the Main Fire Alarm Office history:

This shows Ken Little hitting the master key on the amplifier panel that allowed him to send a signal over all the joker circuits at once.
 
Kenneth Little

Don Neal photo

Here are the two dispatching positions at the main panel with a microphone on each side. The master key is seen lower center. The little switches next to it allowed us to cut out certain circuits when transmitting. This was done when repeating certain signals we received from individual companies like out of service. All the switches between the microphones opened the circuit to each firehouse.  They were color coded. The black were single engine houses, red were single truck houses, and olive green were houses with both an engine and truck. We could open and talk to any number of houses at a time. On the right side we threw the switches up and on the left side we threw them down. That way both positions could be in use at the same time. The row of switches above the black area was to activate the simulcast where we could speak to every firehouse citywide or north side only. Above that a panel with counters and meters to monitor output. Above that were speakers including the Englewood talker circuit as well as a direct intercom with the same type of console at Englewood, simple, effective, efficient. 
vintage fire alarm dispatch setup

Don Neal photo

This image shows the satellite amplifier panel. This was extra and not used much It  operated the same way but had telephone style handsets rather than microphones. The yellow switches along the bottom were to allow us to use individual talker circuits. We would use this to send announcements to small groups for water shutdowns and the like. If you look closely you can see another master key to the right. The gray box above was a register to print out what was transmitted on the striking keys.

vintage fire alarm dispatch setup

Don Neal photo

 
I spent my early years on the job at the switchboard in the Main FAO. The red phone was hooked up to FI7-1313. The 911 call director is off to the left and not visible in the photo. The green phone is a call director with many lines, some direct and some regular IBT circuits. Front and center is the old cam operated switchboard. Red caps bottom row were incoming marshal lines, green caps in the middle were outgoing marshal lines and the top black caps were in and outgoing IBT lines. By placing the cams all the way in the down position you could link them with the other lines in that same column. The black dial phone is wired into the switchboard. The red phone is connected to the off camera 911 console. To the far right you can see the edge of the Motorola radio console. I spent many an hour at this position listening and learning my trade.
vintage fire alarm dispatch setup

Don Neal photo

This large panel had a light corresponding to every company in the city. As you might guess black for engines, red for trucks, black again for buggies, and red again for ambos. The only part of this I ever saw used were the middle rows indicating battalion chief status. The light was on if they were on the air and available. We controlled this by use of a large keyboard that took up a big chunk of the desk.
historic photo of the Chicago FD Main Fire Alarm Office located at City Hall

Don Neal photo

Ken Little in the Chicago FD Main Fire Alarm Office

Don Neal photo

 

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Chicago Fire Department history (more)

More from Steve Redick on the Main Fire Alarm Office history:

Continuing with the Don Neal Photos

These are the keys and sounders for the joker lines. Each represents a circuit containing several firehouses. We could communicate with each grouping individually by a numerical code, NOT Morse code.You can see the listings on the back wall of each circuit and the companies thereon. We had a master key that would transmit to all the joker circuits at once when we sent out the signals indicating groups of companies responding on alarms. When companies arrived in quarters they would send the return signal on the telegraph key on their joker stand and it would sound a click and flash a light on the appropriate sounder circuit. They all had slightly different sounds and you could generally tell the circuit being activated without having to look for the flashing light. We would use the individual circuits to send out water shutdowns and street closures as well as alert a company when their amplifier was unavailable. There were 20 such circuits at main and I don’t recall how many at Englewood but it was a lesser number.

Keys and sounders for the early Chicago Fire Department Main Fire Alarm Office used to dispatch units

Don Neal photo

Keys and sounders for the early Chicago Fire Department Main Fire Alarm Office used to dispatch units

Don Neal photo

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Chicago Fire Department history

This from Steve Redick:

These are Don Neal photos from June of 1979, exactly 1 year before I went into the fire alarm office. These are some great shots of the equipment I worked with in my early years.
 
The first is the Gamewell striking machine. It was usually broken but we would dial up the box number and it would transmit four rounds, two on the joker circuit and two on the alarm circuit. We could not use it for extra alarms or special boxes. It was a real timesaver and produced a good consistent readout on the registers in the firehouses. 
Chicago FD history

Don Neal photo

 
The senior’s desk. I spent many an hour here later in my career. The man in charge sat here and would organize all the resources using the map. Each cap was removable and was connected to a light with the company number on the big overhead map. Black were engines, red were trucks. The caps would be removed and placed in the holes with each row representing an alarm level. You could take one cap and place it on another and raise the switch to show occupancy at that firehouse and the cap would be raised above the others to call attention to the fact a foreign company was in the house. A simple system that was better than any electronic stuff since. In the picture you see a row of caps and a boxcard indicating companies at a working fire.We only used this for long term incidents like extra alarms or companies tied up at the shops or academy.
Chicago FD senior alarm operator desk in the old Main Fire Alarm Office

Don Neal photo

 
The red phones were direct ring-down lines to the city hall lobby, county building, and McCormick place. Box cards were in the drawers on either side.
Chicago FD senior alarm operator desk in the old Main Fire Alarm Office

Don Neal photo

Even though Englewood kept their own status with their map, we tracked it citywide. I much a time on a high stepladder changing the burned out bulbs on the map, long before the days of LEDs.
Chicago FD senior alarm operator desk in the old Main Fire Alarm Office

Don Neal photo

 

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Chicago Fire Department replica models

From Fire Replicas:

Classic Chicago Fire scale models are in stock!

Fire Replicas Museum Grade Models

Fire Replicas Museum Grade Models Fire Replicas Museum Grade Models Fire Replicas Museum Grade Models

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Chicago Fire Department history

This from Danny Nelms:

Full page pre strike ad from the Rich Rehner collection

full page ad prior to the 1980 Chicago Firefighter Strike

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Chicago Fire Department history

This from Steve Redick:

This is from the Department General Order Dated May 31, 1965. It shows the organization of Snorkel Squad 3 and the controversial disbandment of Squad 7, Squad 1, and the relocation of Engine 66. Some great stuff here. Thanks to Jack Connors for sharing this.
Chicago FD disbands Squad 1 and Squad 7 in 1965

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Chicago FD history

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Chicago Fire Department history

This from Steve Redick:

Enclosed is a Division Marshal’s Consolidate Fire Report on the extra alarm for the crash of American Airlines flight 191. Every extra alarm resulted in this large format report being generated and some of these are really fascinating. They would account for the actions of every company at the fire along with other detailed information. Thanks to Hank Sajovic for sharing this.
 
Steve
crash of American Airlines Flight 191

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Chicago Fire Department history

Chicago FD Mack fire engines

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mack Magirus fire trucks in Chicago

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Jeep/Darley high pressure fog pumpers for Chicago

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thanks Danny

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