Posts Tagged chicagoareafire.com

New engine for Evergreen Park (more)

This from Larry Shapiro:

Had an opportunity to photograph Evergreen Park Engine 61

2021 E-ONE Typhoon fire engine

Larry Shapiro photo

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Chicago Fire Department news (more)

This from Dennis McGuire, Jr:

Work has started on the new Joint Public Safety Training Campus for Chicago 

Construction of the new Joint Public Safety Training Campus for Chicago

Dennis McGuire, Jr. photo

Construction of the new Joint Public Safety Training Campus for Chicago

Dennis McGuire, Jr. photo

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New engine for Matteson (more)

From Bill Schreiber:

Matteson FD rescue pumper update

Rosenbauer fire engine with Line-X being built

Rosenbauer photo

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 23

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

Aw, Heck!   

On the evening of February 23, 1914, the Evanston Fire Department responded to one of the worst fires in the city‘s history up until that point in time, a spectacular blaze at Heck Hall dormitory on the lakefront campus of Garrett Bible Institute. Most of Evanston’s multi-story hotels and apartment buildings were constructed in the years 1916-23, so at five stories, Heck Hall was the tallest building in Evanston in 1914, and it was one the few structures in the city at that time where the EFD’s 85-ft aerial ladder was actually needed for something other than as an elevated master stream. 

Several thousand spectators gathered as the top floor was engulfed in flames, with embers falling as far away as Dempster Street. Firefighters led 92 students to safety, getting the students and themselves out of the building just before the upper floors collapsed, with charged hose-lines left behind under the rubble. The EFD‘s three-year old Robinson automobile pumper — Motor Engine No. 1 — broke down with a damaged transmission while en route to the fire, so with the first-due engine company unable to respond and with the two horse-drawn steamers coming from further away, any chance to control the blaze while it was still possible to do so was probably doomed from the start. 

Chief Carl Harrison somewhat belatedly requested help from the Chicago Fire Department, and CFD Engine Co. 79 and Engine Co. 102 responded to the scene to assist Evanston firefighters. Engine Co. 102 was operating with the CFD‘s first gasoline-powered automobile fire engine — a 1912 Webb 650-GPM combination pumper, but even with the assistance of the big-city boys, Heck Hall was completely destroyed, with the loss estimated at $50,000. 

To all appearances, the tenure of Evanston Chief Fire Marshal Carl Harrison had been characterized by innovation and modernization, with implementation of a formal training program, a 20% increase in the firefighting force, and the acquisition of a more-powerful steam fire engine, an aerial-ladder truck, an automobile triple-combination pumper, and a “Lung Motor” mechanical resuscitator. But the Harrison regime was also seen by Evanston Mayor James Smart as increasingly erratic and eccentric. After an uncharacteristically poor performance by the Evanston Fire Department in front of thousands of spectators at the Heck Hall fire, Mayor Smart abruptly fired Harrison, just like an owner of a professional football team might fire a coach who just lost a big game.  

Mayor Smart tapped 34-year old Albert Hofstetter to replace Harrison, and Hofstteter would serve as chief fire marshal of the EFD for more than 36 years, until his death at the age of 70 in September 1950. Hofstetter had just turned 21 when he joined the Evanston Fire Department in March 1901, and he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and was assigned as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 2 at the age of 23 in February 1903. He was promoted to captain on March 14, 1914, and two HOURS(!) later was appointed chief fire marshal by Mayor Smart. So Hofstetter’s two-hour tenure as a captain was followed by 36+ years as chief, spanning World War I, the Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, WWII, and the onset of the Korean War. His 49 years as a member of the Evanston Fire Department is the all-time record for length of service with the EFD, as is his 36 years as chief, and it’s very unlikely that either of the two records will ever be broken. 

Meanwhile, a few days after being dismissed as chief of the EFD, Carl Harrison announced he was running for alderman of the 4th ward against Smart political ally James Turnock. This announcement precipitated a ferocious editorial in the Evanston Press newspaper by publisher Albert Bowman, accusing Harrison of alcoholism. Harrison lost the election, and swore out a complaint against Bowman for criminal libel.

While the public drama unfolded, Carl Harrison’s father — Justice of the Peace and former Evanston F.D. Chief Sam Harrison — was furiously working behind the scenes in an attempt to influence new Mayor Harry Pearsons to reinstate his son as chief of the EFD. However, Pearsons declined Sam’s request, and to make matters worse for the Harrison clan, the criminal libel complaint against Albert Bowman was summarily dismissed by a Cook County grand jury.

Along with Albert Hofstetter’s promotion to captain on March 14th and then his almost immediate elevation to chief, a number of other promotions occurred within the EFD that day that would affect the EFD for decades to come.

Specifically, Lt. Ed Johnson (Engine Co. 3) was promoted to captain and was assigned to Motor Engine Co. 1, and firemen Tom McEnery, J. E. Mersch, and Pat Gaynor were promoted to the rank of lieutenant, with McEnery replacing the deceased Lt. John Watson as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 2, Mersch replacing Hofstetter as assistant company officer of Motor Engine Co. 1, and Gaynor replacing the newly-promoted Ed Johnson as assistant company officer of Engine Co. 3.

The Hofstetter Boys: 

Ed Johnson: Joined the Evanston Fire Department in 1902, and he was the “man in the middle” who survived the tragic wall collapse at the Mark Manufacturing Company fire in December 1905 that killed Evanston firemen George Stiles and William Craig. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1909, and after being promoted to captain on March 14, 1914, he was promoted to assistant chief in 1918 when Assistant Chief Thomas Norman retired. Johnson served 30 years with the EFD, before dying of a heart attack while being driven home from work by another fireman on October 22, 1932. Coincidentally, besides being 1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal under Chief Hofstetter 1918-32, Ed Johnson was also Hofstetter’s brother-in-law.

Tom McEnery: Joined the Evanston Fire Department in 1902, and after being promoted to lieutenant on March 14, 1914, he was promoted to captain in 1918, and then to assistant chief in 1924. He served 46 years with he EFD — second only to Al Hofstetter’s record 49 years — and retired as a platoon commander in 1948. Tom’s brother Ed retired as a captain on the same day as his brother in 1948, after serving 40 years with the EFD.

John E. Mersch: Not to be confused with his cousin John M. Mersch, who served 40 years with the EFD 1906-46, J. E. (as he was known within the EFD) joined the Evanston Fire Department in 1905, and after being promoted to lieutenant on March 14, 1914, he was promoted to captain in 1920 and was assigned to Engine Co. 2 when veteran Capt. Carl Harms retired after 27 years of service with the EFD — all 27 years at Station # 2! Mersch was company officer of Engine Co. 1 in September 1927 when he suffered a disabling leg injury after the police ambulance in which he was riding was struck broadside by a bus at Lake & Sheridan while he and two police officers were responding with the inhalator to Greenwood Street Beach to aid a drowning victim. Unable to continue working as a firefighter and unwilling to petition for a disability pension, Mersch was appointed by Chief Hofstetter to the new position of fire prevention inspector in 1928. Mersch would continue to take civil service promotional exams, and was promoted to the rank of assistant chief in 1932. He ultimately served 45 years with the EFD — the final 22 years single-handedly running the Fire Prevention Bureau — before dying of a heart attack behind the wheel of his staff car at the age of 67 while leading the annual Fire Prevention Week parade up Orrington Avenue in October 1950, just a little over two weeks after the death of Chief Hofstetter. Besides his cousin, several other members of the Mersch family served with the EFD, not including one who was a member of the Village of South Evanston Volunteer F.D. prior to the annexation of South Evanston by Evanston in 1892. Additionally, Peter Mersch was chief of the South Evanston Police Department prior to annexation.

Pat Gaynor: Joined the Evanston Fire Department in 1903, and served 31 years with the EFD before retiring in 1934 to join his family’s monument business near Calvary Cemetery. Pat’s brother John also served as an Evanston firefighter during the same period of time, before retiring into the family business in 1936. After being promoted to lieutenant on March 14, 1914, Gaynor was promoted to captain in 1924, and he became the first-ever company officer of newly-organized Engine Co. 4 at Station # 2 in November 1927. Fire Station # 4 opened at 1817 Washington Street in December 1927 and Engine Co. 4 relocated there from Station # 2 at that time, and so Capt. Gaynor took charge of the new Station # 4. Not satisfied with a conventional meet & greet open house with an offering of coffee and cake for the distinguished guests, Gaynor used his juice as boss of the new firehouse to arrange for a professional boxing match on the apparatus floor on New Year’s Eve to help dedicate the new facility. 

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New engine for Northwest Homer FPD (more)

From Bill Schreiber:

Northwest Homer FPD Rosenbauer Commander rescue pumper chassis update

Rosenbauer Commander cab on the assembly line

Rosenbauer photo 

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New engine for Matteson (more)

From Bill Schreiber:

Matteson FD Rosenbauer rescue pumper update

Rosenbauer fire engine being built

Rosenbauer photo

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New pumper tanker for Sycamore FPD (more)

From Bill Schreiber:

Sycamore FD Rosenbauer pumper tender update

fire truck body mounted onto chassis

Rosenbauer photo

Rosenbauer Commander pumper/tanker being built for the Sycamore FPD in Illinois

Rosenbauer photo

fire truck body mounted onto chassis

Rosenbauer photo

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New tower ladder for Chicago at O’Hare Airport (more)

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Representatives from E-ONE and Fire Service Inc. were on hand at O’Hare International Airport to help provide in-service training to the Chicago Fire Department as they work with their recently delivered new Tower Ladder 63. This 100’ rear-mount platform boasts Federal Signal LED lighting, a 5” stainless steel aerial waterway, 5” front suction, severe duty interior, and painted ROM rollup doors. In addition to it’s full ladder complement, this custom apparatus boasts many unique storage features that will serve the CFD and Chicago’s international airport for many years.

E-ONE Cyclone HP100 rear-mount platform aerial

Fire Service, Inc. photo

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Evanston Fire Department History – Part 21

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

The Changing Face of Evanston

The geographical face of Evanston changed significantly in the years 1907-12. The North Shore Channel sanitary canal was constructed during those years, and the Evanston City Council mandated elevation for most of the railroad tracks located within the Evanston city limits.

Built by the Sanitary District of Chicago, the purpose of the North Shore Channel was to connect Lake Michigan at Wilmette Harbor to the north branch of the Chicago River at approximately Foster & Sacramento. By using water-flow from Lake Michigan, sewage could be flushed south from Wilmette and Evanston to a sewage reduction plant located at Howard Street. This meant that raw sewage would no longer be dumped into Lake Michigan off-shore of Evanston and Wilmette, thus helping to prevent typhoid fever and cholera outbreaks that had plagued the two North Shore suburbs from time-to-time over the years.    

Meanwhile, the two railroads operating in Evanston at the time – the Chicago and North Western (C&NWRR) and the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul (CM&StP, or simply “The Milwaukee Road”) — were required to elevate their main-line tracks and build viaducts at certain locations from Howard Street to the Wilmette border. 

The C&NWRR freight tracks – known as the Mayfair Division — did not require elevation south of Church Street, because those tracks were used to switch freight cars at manufacturing plants and warehouses located in west and southwest Evanston. Also, the Milwaukee Road tracks — which are now the CTA tracks — were only elevated as far north as Church Street at that time, after the CM&StPRR agreed not to run its trains north of downtown Evanston.    

At 1 AM on Friday, April 26, 1912, the EFD responded to a report of a structure fire at Church & Dodge, and by the time companies arrived, they found multiple residences ablaze. The fire began in an unfinished residence belonging to Renaldo Roberti at 1819 Church Street, before communicating to the William Marion residence to the east at 1817 Church St. Marion’s daughter Pearl jumped from a second floor window into the arms of neighbor Emil Pavel, who had just carried his wife and daughter to safety from their residence at 1715 Dodge Ave. Evanston firefighters saved the Pavel residence, but flames claimed the Frank Kuzik residence at 1717 Dodge Avenue, the Lewis Titus residence at 1809 Church Street, and the Ludwig Veiter residence at 1807 Church Street, in addition to the Roberti and Marion residences.

High winds hampered firefighters battling the conflagration, but they did manage to prevent the flames from extending any further north and east, and were able to extinguish the blaze without any injuries to civilians or to firemen. This was the first time all three EFD engines —the Robinson motor engine, the American-LaFrance Metropolitan steamer, and the Ahrens Metropolitan steamer – were pumping at the same fire. The total aggregate damage to the residences was $11,250.

The Ebenezer A. M. E. church was firebombed in 1903 and two houses and a barn were destroyed by a blaze in the so-called “Italian settlement” at Dewey & Payne in 1911, but the 1912 multi-structure conflagration at Church & Dodge was by far the worst fire to date in the 5th ward. The 5th ward was home mainly to immigrants and African Americans at that time, and it was the poorest and most politically isolated ward in the city, without a significant business district, with no high-value residential properties, no university, and no border with the City of Chicago to give its aldermen the power to make common cause with aldermen from the other wards.

Without the leverage of the other six wards, the 5th was pretty much on its own when fighting political battles within the city council, and so when EFD Chief Carl Harrison recommended in 1912 that a fourth fire station be built at Emerson & Ashland – the bull’s eye center of the 5th ward at that time —  there was no appetite for it in the city council, beyond that of the two 5th ward aldermen.      

About a month later, on May 29, 1912, the entire Evanston Fire Department along with Chicago F. D. engine companies 70 and 112 battled an early-morning blaze at the Bogart Building at 1306 Sherman Ave. Firefighting efforts continued until well into the afternoon, as Evanston and Chicago firemen worked to extinguish the stubborn blaze. The Workers Cooperative Grocery store and the North Shore Creamery located on the first floor as well as apartments located on the second and third floors were gutted. The $16,700 in total damage made it one of the ten worst fires in terms of property loss in Evanston’s history up until that point in time.   

During the Summer of 1913, a mechanical resuscitator known as the “Lung Motor” was placed into service at Fire Station # 1, and it was an instant success. The invention had been demonstrated at Evanston Hospital the previous October, and the Lung Motor was so successful that the Evanston Fire Department received a $25 award from the Life Saving Devices Company of Chicago as the “Top Life Savers in the Nation” at the end of 1913!

The EFD also responded to a number of mutual-aid requests for the Lung Motor received from other North Shore suburbs, and even occasionally responded with the Lung Motor to the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

While the Lung Motor was initially placed aboard the speedy Robinson auto-truck at Station # 1, inhalator runs were taking the motor engine out of service too much. So when an automobile police ambulance replaced the horse-drawn police ambulance in the bay located east of Fire Station # 1 in May 1916, a new joint police-fire policy began at that time which directed a fireman from Station # 1 to be detailed to ride with two police station officers in the police ambulance when responding to Lung Motor (inhalator) calls, thus keeping the motor engine available to respond to fires. 

The first automobile Evanston police ambulance was built by William Erby & Sons on a White Motor Company chassis, and it was in service for eleven years before being demolished in a collision with a bus in September 1927. At that point, the inhalator was moved back to EFD Engine Co. 1. Then beginning in 1952, the inhalator was placed aboard the EFD’s new rescue truck (Squad 21), and inhalators were assigned to all five engine companies beginning in 1959. 

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2-11 Alarm fire in Chicago, 4-24-21 (more)

This from Eric Haak:

Fire ripped through three homes, two of them occupied, early Saturday morning in Chicago’s Fuller Park neighborhood. The back porches of the primary fire building were fully involved on arrival and had already spread to both exposures. The alarm was raised to a 2-11 before being brought under control. 

massive smoke from house fire at night

Eric Haak photo

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