Posts Tagged Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol

Evanston Fire Department history Part 29

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


On March 11, 1919, five year-old Robert Oldberg died, one day after he was burned when his clothes caught fire while he was playing with matches in the basement of his home at 1024 Maple Ave. His mother was severely burned trying to extinguish the fire. Then, a year after the Oldberg child was killed, Minerva Iverson, a maid in the employ of the Walter Neilson family at 2711 Harrison Street, died from burns suffered after an alcohol stove exploded while she was curling her hair. Ten years earlier — on December 27, 1910 — a six year-old girl had died from burns suffered after her clothes caught fire when she came into contact with candles on her family’s Christmas tree at the Rostowski residence at 1107 Washington Street. 

With three deaths resulting from “careless use of fire” within ten years, Chief Albert Hofstetter initiated a fire prevention educational program on October 10, 1922, to correspond with National Fire Prevention Day, which had been declared by U. S. President Warren G. Harding a year earlier to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. The EFD’s educational program involved detailing one member from each company to go into Evanston schools and teach children about the danger of fire. This program would eventually be formalized as part of the EFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau after the FPB was created in 1929, and eventually led to educational campaigns such as “Learn Not to Burn” and “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”   

At 6:20 AM, Saturday morning, December 16, 1922, and while on routine patrol, Evanston police officers William Lanning and Arthur Sievers discovered a fire at the prestigious Evanston Country Club at 1501 Oak Avenue. The Evanston Fire Department was alerted, and flames were shooting 35 feet into the air as companies from Station #1 arrived. Engine Co. 2 responded on a second alarm, as Chief Hofstetter ordered the opposite platoon to be called in. The first off-duty firefighters to arrive at Station #1 placed the Robinson engine into service as Engine Co. 4 so that Engine Co. 3 could respond to the fire, and all remaining off-duty personnel who arrived at Station #1 walked three blocks west down Grove Street to the fire. Three EFD engines were still pumping at noon, but the clubhouse was destroyed. However, firefighters did save structures to the north on Grove Street. The $83,500 loss from this fire was the second-highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time, second only to the Mark Manufacturing Company fire in December 1905. The country club was subsequently rebuilt on the same site, and was sold to the City of Evanston in 1941 at which point it became the new city hall, replacing the previous city hall that had stood at the northwest corner of Davis & Sherman since 1893.  

In the period between 1892 and 1912, Evanston’s population grew from 15,277 to 26,253, an increase of 65 percent. Then in the ten year period between 1912 and 1922, Evanston’s population grew from 26,253 to 43,339, an increase of 80 percent! It was during this latter ten-year period — most especially between 1916 and 1922 — that most of the classic hotels and apartment buildings that dot Evanston’s landscape were constructed. As might be expected, when Evanston’s population increased, the fire department’s workload increased as well. For instance, just from 1921 to 1922 alone, Truck Co. 1 showed a 30% increase in alarms, Engine Co. 1 a 15% increase, Engine Co. 2 a whopping 62% increase, and Engine Co. 3 a 24% increase.

In its report following a 1924 inspection of the Evanston Fire Departmemt, the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) strongly recommended that the EFD acquire an aerial-ladder apparatus for Truck Co. 1 at Station # 1, construct a fourth fire station in the vicinity of Dempster & Dodge, and organize an engine company and a ladder company at this new firehouse, with the new west-side ladder company manning the city service truck and responding first-due to all alarms west of Asbury Avenue. Although the EFD did acquire an aerial-ladder apparatus and did organize a second truck company in 1924, the proposed firehouse in the vicinity of Dempster & Dodge was not constructed at that time. Thus, when the new truck company was organized, it was placed into service at Station # 1. In fact, both of the EFD’s truck companies would run out of the same fire station for the next 30 years, until the new Fire Station #2 was placed into service in March 1955.

Truck Co. 2 — later known as Truck Co. 22 — was organized at Fire Station # 1 on September 1, 1924. Ten firemen (eventually twelve) were hired to staff the new truck company. As recommended in the 1924 NBFU report, the city service truck was assigned to Truck Co. 2, while Truck Co. 1 received a brand new tractor-drawn 85-foot aerial ladder truck (TDA), purchased from the Seagrave Corporation for $16,500. Tom McEnery — who had been company officer of Engine Co. 1 since being promoted to captain in 1918 — was the first captain assigned to Truck Co. 2. At that same time, Capt. J. E. Mersch was transferred from Engine Co. 2 to Engine Co. 1, and Lt. Pat Gaynor was promoted to captain and replaced Mersch as company officer of Engine Co. 2.

In addition, four firemen were promoted to lieutenant in 1923-24. Lt. Harry Schaefer (Truck Co. 1) — whose son Harry Jr would later serve with the EFD, retiring as an assistant chief in 1967 — died of a cerebral hemorrhage while off-duty in June 1923, and Lt. William Ludwig (Engine Co. 1) retired in 1924 after twenty years of service with the EFD. Firemen Carl Windelborn and Ed Newton were promoted to lieutenant, with Windelborn replacing Lt. Schaefer and Newton replacing Lt. Ludwig. Firemen Dan McKimmons and Henry Tesnow were promoted to lieutenant when TrucK Co. 2 was organized on September 1, 1924, with McKimmons replacing Lt. Gaynor on Engine Co. 1, and Tesnow assigned as the assistant company officer of Truck Co. 2.      

Just as the two truck companies had different rigs, they also had different responsibilities. Operating with the EFD’s lone aerial ladder truck until 1937 and then with the only 85-ft aerial truck until 1952, Truck Co. 1 was first-due to all alarms east of Asbury Avenue, an area that included the downtown “high-value district,” the Northwestern University campus, both hospitals, most of the city’s churches and apartment buildings, and all of the hotels and movie theaters.

Operating with the city service truck  from 1924-1937 and with a 65-ft aerial-ladder truck 1937-1952, Truck Co. 2 was first-due to all alarms west of Asbury Avenue, an area consisting mainly of single-family residences and factories. Both of the truck companies responded to alarms received from hospitals and schools during school hours. When Truck Co. 2 was placed in in service in 1924, the chemical & hose booster pumper that ran with the tractorized steamer as the second piece of Engine Co. 2 at Station # 2 became known as Hose No. 2. Previously, it was called Truck No. 2 out of force of habit, because the Seagrave combination truck that ran with the steamer at Station # 2 in the horse-drawn era prior to motorization was designated Truck No. 2. 

Also in September 1924, the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol (CFIP) began to respond to all working fires in Evanston. Patrol No. 8 had been established at 3921 N. Ravenswood Avenue in 1922, and it was the first-due CFIP salvage squad to Evanston. Patrol No. 8 was disbanded on January 1, 1933 due to budget cuts related to the Great Depression, and the City of Evanston’s contract with the CFIP was terminated at that time. The CFIP was dissolved in 1959, with many of its members joining various local Chicago-area fire departments, most notably the Skokie F. D., which ended up with a former CFIP officer as its new chief, and an ex-CFIP salvage truck as its Squad 1.   

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X-Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol rig for sale

From the SPAAMFAA Facebook page:

1949 Ford F-7 Big Job
Chicago, IL

1949 Ford Insurance Patrol wagon. A division of the Chicago Fire Department. Back in the old days the insurance Patrol would rush in with tarps to salvage your property after the fire department dumped copious amounts of water on it.
There are only three of these left in the world this 49 and a meticulously restored 51 and a 56 model. Whether you wanted to restore this or make a Resto rod out of it you would definitely be the only one with one around.
The body has seen better days and the doors are made out of wood with steel wrapped around them. The back door is still well hung but the front doors are rotten where they used to mount to the piano hinges and they are just wedged in place for the photographs.
Under the hood is the big 337 Ford flathead V8 which was only used in these big trucks and the Lincoln automobiles. This motor was free 10 years ago but someone left a spark plug out and it is currently stuck. The asking price for this one-of-a-kind vehicle is $3,500 complete or $2,500 without the motor and trans. The vehicle is currently located in Alsip illinois.

thanks Dennis & Dan

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New use for old Chicago firehouse … for sale (more)

old firehouse is luxury home now

Former home of a Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol company is for sale.

Excerpts from

For a cool $1.1 million, you could own a genuine Chicago firehouse. The home’s asking price has dropped $250,000 since it was first listed in June.

The building, at 3921 N. Ravenswood Ave., dates back to 1907 and has been completely renovated as a 4,500-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom home. The original firehouse doors remain in place, opening to the street for dramatic effect.

The firehouse housed the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol, according to the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago. From 1871 to 1959, fire insurance companies operated patrols that salvaged furniture, machinery, and other items in burning buildings. Patrols also did maintenance work on sprinklers, roofs and doors to protect them.

There are a couple dozen firehouses still in Chicago built in the 1920s or earlier. Some in Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Wicker Park have sold in recent years, typically as single-family homes.

old firehouse is luxury home now

View from the street.

old firehouse is luxury home now

First floor interior

Excerpts from

A rare and unique property just steps from the Irving Park Brown Line station has returned to the market with new photos and a big price reduction. The old firehouse, originally built in 1907, hit the market in June seeking $1.35 million, but can now be had for $1.1 million—a quarter million dollar reduction from its initial asking price.

It’s certainly got curb appeal. But behind the brick exterior and shiny red garage door lies a spacious 4,500-square-foot home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The attached garage space doubles as a place for entertaining. If you’ve been looking to get into the events business, this one could be a solid investment.

The listing agent mentions that the kitchen was rehabbed last year. It features some neat extras, like a two-keg home draft setup. There’s also a spacious outdoor deck area to take the entertaining outside during the warmer months.

old firehouse is luxury home now


old firehouse is luxury home now

The kitchen.

old firehouse is luxury home now

Kitchen and living area.

old firehouse is luxury home now

The second floor.

old firehouse is luxury home now

Interior stairs.

thanks Dan

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Of interest … three generations at firefighter graduation

This from Drew Smith:

Friday, September 12th NIPSTA Firefighter Academy class 1403 graduated 29 candidates. As is customary near the end of the ceremony, candidates are afforded the opportunity to have their badge pinned on by a family member in the fire service, currently or retired. In this class there were five such candidates. One of these candidates, Josh Hutchison of Northfield Fire Rescue had both his father, Winnetka Captain Tom Hutchison and his grandfather, retired Chicago Fire Department Captain Jerome Hutchison pin his badge. This was a first for a NIPSTA class. Jerome, now 83, attended in his Class A uniform. His son Tom provided the follow history of his father’s assignments. Of particular note is his original service with the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol shortly before it was disbanded. The retired captain also shared some stories with members of the Skokie FD who were in attendance regarding the old fire patrol wagon which he served on and was purchased by Skokie and used as their squad in the 1960s.

From Tom: Here is a quick snap shot of Dad’s career;

56-58    Fire Insurance Patrol 1 & 2

59-67    Engine 24 Firefighter

67-69    FPB Lieutenant (Hotel inspector)

69-71    Salvage Squad 2 Lieutenant

71-75    FPB Lieutenant (New Construction of Sears tower)

75-77    1st Division relief Lieutenant

77-80    Engine 30 Lieutenant

80-82    Engine 7 Lieutenant

82-92    Administration Captain

Drew Smith, Director

NIPSTA Firefighter Academy

3 generations fo firefighters

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