Posts Tagged Evanston Fire Department history

Evanston Fire Department history Part 40

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

NBFU ’35 

In 1935, the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) conducted an inspection and evaluation of the City of Evanston’s fire protection. Besides  evaluating a fire department’s manpower, apparatus, facilities, training, and code enforcement, the NBFU also would analyze a community’s water supply, fire alarm systems, and conflagration hazards in determining the final grade. Previous NBFU inspections of Evanston’s fire protection had taken place in 1912, 1924, and 1930, and Evanston had received a favorable grade in its 1930 NBFU evaluation. However, since the 1930 inspection, the City of Evanston had cut six positions from the Evanston Fire Department as part of the city’s budget cuts as the result of the Great Depression, and that adversely affected Evanston’s final grade in 1935.      

In the aftermath of its 1935 inspection and evaluation, the NBFU issued a number of recommendations that directly affected the future of the Evanston Fire Department.  

1. Relieve the two platoon commanders of truck company officer responsibilities and provide them with an automobile and a driver;  
2  Restore the six positions that were cut cut in 1933;
3. Hire additional personnel to allow for increased nighttime staffing of engine and truck companies (two additional men per company per shift), with additional manpower provided to replace men on vacation or on sick leave;   

4.Construct a fifth fire station in the area of Grant & Central Park and establish an engine company with a minimum 750-GPM pumper at this new station once it has been completed;
5. Replace the 300-GPM pumper at Station # 3 and the 500-GPM pumper at Station # 4 with minimum 750-GPM pumpers;
6. Transfer the 500-GPM pumper from Station # 4 to Station # 1 to be the inhalator squad and reserve  pumper; 
7. Construct a new Fire Station # 2 with space for a ladder truck, and transfer Truck Co. 2 from Station # 1 to the new Station # 2 once it has been completed; 
8. Construct a new Fire Station # 3 with space for a ladder truck, and hire additional manpower and place a third truck company in service at the new Station # 3 once it has been completed.   
9. Dedicate a bay in one of the fire stations as a repair shop and provide the mechanics sufficient spare parts to complete routine apparatus maintenance and repairs in a timely fashion; 
10. Establish a training school with a senior officer in charge to provide instruction to new recruits and to existing members (including officers); 
11. Assign one company each shift to assist the Fire Prevention Inspector with fire code inspections.  
12. Test pumpers twice a year instead of once per year; 

Because of the grip of the Great Depression, the City of Evanston was unable to implement any of the recommendations by appropriation. However, in April 1937 Evanston voters approved a $45,000 bond issue that would allow the EFD to acquire two new 750 GPM triple-combination pumpers and one new 65-foot aerial-ladder truck (all three to be equipped with an 80-gallon booster tank and booster-line on a hose reel).

The Seagrave Corporation (surprise!) won the bid. All three rigs were built with enclosed cabs, a first for the Evanston Fire Department, and the two pumpers had canopy cabs that allowed firefighters to ride on a jump seat behind the cab instead of on the back-step. All future EFD fire fighting apparatus would be ordered with enclosed cabs, with the exception of two Seagrave pumpers purchased in 1957. Also, the bond issue provided funds for the purchase of an additional Ford Tudor Deluxe sedan equipped with a Motorola “Police Cruiser” AM radio receiver for the use of Fire Prevention Inspector that would also serve as a back-up automobile for the Chief.    

The new aerial-ladder truck went into service with Truck Co. 2 in November 1937 and the two new pumpers went into service with Engine Co. 1 and Engine Co. 3 in January 1938. The old Engine No. 1 (1917 Seagrave 750-GPM TCP with 50-gallon chemical tank and red line) was transferred to Station # 4 as the new Engine No. 4, and the 1917 Seagrave Model “E” city service truck (formerly Truck No. 2 ) was placed into reserve, re-designated Truck No. 3, and relocated to Station # 3, with its ground-based 55-foot Bangor ladder removed from the rig and kept in storage so that the truck could fit (just barely) into the north bay of Station # 3.

Also, the 1917 Seagrave chemical & hose booster-pumper that was rebuilt as a 500-GPM “Suburbanite” TCP in 1930 (formerly Engine No. 4) did not become the inhalator squad at Station # 1 as was proposed by the NBFU, but it was placed into reserve and re-designated Engine No. 6 at Station # 4, the 1917 Seagrave 300-GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper (formerly Engine No. 3) had its pump disconnected and its chemical tank & red line, ladders, hose load, and other equipment removed, and was transferred to the Street Department for use as a utility truck (just like the Robinson Jumbo pumper had been in 1929), and the tractorized-steamer that had been in reserve at Station # 4 since 1930 as the EFD’s lone reserve apparatus was removed from service, with the 1918 Seagrave Model “K” tractor dismantled for spare parts and the 1906 American LaFrance 700-GPM steamer sold for scrap.  

However, the 1937 bond issue did not provide the funds needed to restore the six positions cut from the EFD in 1933, relieve the two platoon commanders of their company officer responsibilities, or build three new fire stations, so those NBFU recommendations would have to wait a few more years before they could be implemented.

Tags: , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 39

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

MOTOROLA 

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: , , , , , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 38

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THE GREAT DEPRESSION 

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: , , , , , ,

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. 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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. 

+++++++++++++++++++++

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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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).
 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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). 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 34

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

AFTERMATH 

About a month after the Boltwood School fire, at 6:30 PM on Monday evening February 7, 1927, Engine Co. 2 and Truck Co. 1 responded to a report of a fire at Lee Drugs at 901 Chicago Ave. Encountering a significant working fire upon arrival, Chief Hofstetter ordered a second alarm, and Engine Co. 1, Truck Co. 2, and CFIP Patrol No. 8 responded, with Engine Co. 3 changing quarters to Station # 1.

The off-duty platoon was ordered to report for duty and staff the reserve Robinson Jumbo pumper and provide relief for firefighters on the scene. EFD companies battled the blaze throughout the bitter-cold night and into the next morning, but the drug store was gutted, sustaining a $50,397 loss, the fifth-highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up to that point in time.  

On April 5, 1927, in the aftermath of the Boltwood School and Lee Drugs fires, Evanston voters resoundingly approved a $75,000 bond issue supporting construction of a fourth fire station in the area of Dempster & Dodge, and the purchase of two 1000-GPM triple-combination pumpers, a new “auto-buggy” for the chief, a portable high-pressure turret nozzle, and additional large-diameter nozzles and hose .

The bond issue also directed the city council to hire twenty additional firemen in 1927 and then three more in 1928. This would increase EFD membership from 61 to 84 (a 38% increase in personnel). The chief would work business hours at Fire Station # 1 but be on call at all other times, and the new fire prevention inspector  would work business hours. There would be 41 men assigned to each platoon, with minimum shift staffing set at 34 if each company was running one man short, which was permitted and was frequently the case, due to vacations, sick time, and overtime comp.  

A 1925 Lincoln Model “L“ sedan was purchased (used) at a cost of $2,000, replacing the 1917 Haynes touring car that had served as the chief’s buggy for the previous ten years. Outbidding American-LaFrance and Ahrens-Fox, Seagrave was awarded the contract for the two pumpers, agreeing to supply two 1000-GPM “standard” triple-combination centrifugal pumpers with a 50-gallon booster tank and hose reel at a cost of $24,480 ($12,240 per engine). By 1927, all fire engine manufacturers were offering the Ahrens-Fox booster system, replacing the venerable soda-acid chemical tank & red line that had been a staple of the American fire service for more than 50 years.      

As of 1927, Seagrave was offering four models of pumpers, the 300, 400, and 500-GPM “Suburbanite” that was a favorite of small-town fire departments, the 600-GPM “Special” that was often equipped with a squad body, the 750 & 1000-GPM “Standard,” and the heavy-duty 1.300-GPM “Metropolite.” The two Seagrave Standards purchased by Evanston in 1927 were the work-horses of the EFD, remaining in continuous front-line service for 25 years, and then serving as reserve apparatus for a number of years beyond that. 

On May 1, 1927, the Evanston City Council officially authorized the hiring of twenty new firemen effective November 1, 1927, to staff the two new engine companies. Engine Co. 4 was to be organized at Station # 2 and then relocated to the new Fire Station # 4 as soon as the firehouse could be completed, and Engine Co. 5  was to be organized as the second engine company at Station # 1. Engine Co. 2 and the new Engine Co. 5 would receive the new Seagrave Standard pumpers, with the new Engine Co. 4 operating with the American-LaFrance tractorized-steamer and the Seagrave chemical & hose booster pumper that had previously been assigned to Engine Co. 2. 

In addition, the Evanston City Council approved pay raises for most members of the EFD, including a $25 per month raise for the chief fire marshal and assistant chief fire marshal, a $5 per month increase for all captains, lieutenants, and motor drivers – engineers, and a $10 per month increase for the new civil service rate of “Fireman I” (defined as a fireman with a minimum of one year experience). The former rank of assistant motor driver was eliminated and combined with Fireman I, but the rank of assistant engineer was not eliminated because of the expertise required to operate the EFD’s steam fire engine (the tractorized steamer). The new position of “Fireman II” (a fireman with less than one year experience) did not receive a pay raise. Also, a new civil service position of “engineer – mechanic” was created, as one of the engineers would now be responsible for routine maintenance and repair of all fire apparatus at Station # 1. The engineer – mechanic was to be paid $7.50 more per month than the other motor driver – engineers.

On June 10, 1927, the Evanston Civil Service Board administered the entry-level exam for Fireman II, and promotional exams for captain, lieutenant, engineer – mechanic, and motor driver – engineer. It was probably the most-hectic single day of testing in the history of the civil service board up to that point in time. There was a feeling of anticipation and excitement in the Evanston Fire Department, as the number of fire stations, the number of companies, and the number of firefighters were about to grow by more than a third in  one fell swoop.       

Then on Sunday afternoon, September 18, 1927, Capt. J. E. Mersch of Engine Co. 1 was seriously injured when the Evanston police ambulance in which he was riding was struck broadside by a bus at Lake & Sheridan while he and two Evanston police officers were en route to Greenwood Street Beach on an inhalator run to aid a drowning victim. Evanston Police Officer Richard Guess was critically injured and was permanently disabled, and Capt. Mersch sustained a fractured leg and other injuries. It was feared that Capt. Mersch might not ever walk again, and at the very least he would certainly not be able to continue performing the duties of a firefighter. There were no injuries on the bus, but the drowning victim died, and the 1916 White / Erby police ambulance was demolished.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 33

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

BOLTWOOD 

At 1 PM on Sunday afternoon, January 9, 1927, boy scout LeRoy Kreutzer noticed smoke wafting from the Boltwood Intermediate School at the southeast corner of Dempster & Elmwood. Boltwood School served as Evanston’s lone junior high school at the time, as well as the headquarters of the Evanston chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, but the facility had previously served as Evanston Township High School for forty years, until the new ETHS campus was opened at Church & Dodge in 1924. Kreutzer pulled fire alarm box # 313 at Dempster & Elmwood, and then ran over to EFD Chief Albert Hofstetter’s residence at 1228 Sherman Avenue, awakening the chief from his Sunday afternoon nap.
 
Chief Hofstetter ran across the alley and met up at the front of the school with companies arriving from Station # 1, and it was quickly determined that the fire was confined to a manual arts classroom in the basement. Although the fire was contained to just the one room, EFD engine companies had difficulty getting to the fire due to heavy smoke throughout the interior of the school. Despite the heavy smoke conditions, a monkey, and several white mice located in the science lab were rescued. The truck companies attempted to ventilate the heat and smoke from the structure, but the efforts failed as a strong gust of wind entered the building and fanned the fire. The flames swept past firefighters, traveling up an interior stairway, before blowing out through second-floor windows.

A “General Alarm” was sounded, as all on duty AND off-duty EFD firemen were ordered to the scene. The blaze was out of control, with the very real possibility that the flames could jump over the alley and threaten homes (including Chief Hofstetter’s house!) located to the east of the school as well as the Dempster Street business district. After two firemen barely escaped when part of the roof collapsed, Chief Hofstetter ordered all personnel inside to evacuate, and the fight went “defensive.”

With the EFD seemingly helpless to stop the firestorm, Chief Hofstetter requested assistance from the Chicago Fire Department. The Chicago F. D. had responded into Evanston on numerous occasions in the past, in each case assigning no more than two engine companies. However, this fire was larger and more threatening than any other previous Evanston blaze, and the Chicago Fire Department — with 1st Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Jerry McAuliffe in command at the scene — ended up sending six engine companies, two truck companies, a high-pressure wagon, and a water tower to Evanston.

At least two traffic collisions were blamed on the chaos resulting from so many fire trucks and spectators pouring into the neighborhood. At the height of the blaze, engines were pumping from various hydrants located within a six square-block area. Reportedly 20,000 spectators (about 1/3 of Evanston’s total population at the time!) gathered to watch the conflagration. Off-duty Evanston police officers were summoned to help with traffic and crowd control. 

Thanks in large part to the great assistance provided by the Chicago Fire Department, the fire was brought under control. Although Boltwood School was gutted, the homes located across the alley and the Dempster Street business district were saved. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries. Damage was estimated at $308,500, by far the highest-loss recorded in an Evanston fire up to that point in time. Two new District 65 junior high schools were subsequently constructed to replace Boltwood; Nichols in South Evanston, and Haven in North Evanston (with Haven initially being K-8, as it also replaced Cranston Elementary School).     

In the aftermath of the Boltwood fire, the competence of the Evanston Fire Department was called into question. The city council conducted an investigation, and quickly discovered some things they probably should have already known. The EFD of 1927 was simply a small town fire department operating in a city of 60,000 people, it was substantially undermanned and under-equipped and lacked “big water” capability, and that therefore a disaster like that of the Boltwood School fire was inevitable. 

Evanston voters were presented with a $75,000 bond issue in the city election of April 5, 1927. The bond issue passed, resulting in many improvements in the EFD:

1. Twenty (eventually 23) additional firefighters were hired within a year
2. A fourth fire station was constructed
3. Two new engine companies were organized;
4. Two 1000-GPM pumpers were purchased
5. A portable high-pressure turret nozzle was acquired 
6. A Fire Prevention Bureau was established

Tags: , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 32

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

A BAD NIGHT FOR FEET 
 

At 1:30 AM on Wednesday morning, January 7, 1925, EFD Engine Co. 2 and Truck Co. 1 responded to a report of a fire at the Evanston Boot Shop at 919 Chicago Ave. Chief Hofstetter was notified by his buggy-driver that the blaze was confirmed as a working fire, and was picked up at his residence at 1228 Sherman Avenue and conveyed to the scene. Upon arrival, Chief Hofstetter ordered a second alarm and a call-back of the opposite platoon, and EFD Engine Co. 1 and Truck Co. 2 and CFIP Patrol No. 8 responded to the fire, while Engine Co. 3 changed quarters from Station # 3 to Station # 1 and began to call-back off-duty firefighters.

While firefighters were working to quell the stubborn blaze at the boot shop, another fire was reported at 3:30 AM at the Swanson Brothers shoe store at 1906 Central Street in North Evanston. Engine Co. 3 responded to the alarm on Central Street (which was located only a block from Station # 3) with a longer-than-usual response time, because the company was responding from its change quarters at Station # 1. Engine Co. 3 — operating with its own five-man crew plus a few off-duty firefighters who had reported to Station #1 over the previous couple of hours — encountered heavy fire conditions upon arrival. A man was sent on foot to Station # 3 to call for additional assistance, and more firefighters from the opposite platoon who had just arrived at Station # 1 formed-up as a temporary Engine Co. 4 and responded to the fire aboard the reserve Robinson Jumbo pumper (Engine No. 4).   

With all other firefighters from the on-duty platoon committed to fighting the blaze in South Evanston, Chief Hofstetter – who had been advised by his buggy driver of the second fire — immediately ordered Truck Co. 2 (the city service truck) to pick-up from the first fire on Chicago Avenue and respond to Central Street. CFIP Patrol No. 8 also responded to the second blaze to perform salvage work. Chief Hofstetter then requested assistance from the Chicago Fire Department to help battle the blaze in North Evanston, and the Main Fire Alarm Office dispatched Engine Co. 102 and Engine Co. 79 to Evanston. In September 1921, the City of Chicago established a fee for assistance provided by Chicago F. D. companies to neighboring communities — $20 for the first hour, and $15 for each additional hour, per company — and so the EFD did not request assistance from the Chicago Fire Department very often after 1921.    

The Swanson Brothers shoe store was gutted and several several other stores in the block sustained smoke and/or water damage before the conflagration could be contained, with a combined $84,000 damage estimate (combined) between the two fires ($50,000 aggregate damage to stores on Central Street and $34,000 damage to the boot shop on Chicago Avenue). Although it was never proven, the two fires were believed at the time to be arson, because the Retail Clerks International Union (RCIU) had been encountering resistance while attempting to organize employees at the two shoe stores. Back in those days, it was not uncommon for some union locals to employ thugs to damage property by breaking windows, throwing stink bombs or feces into the stores, or sometimes even setting a fire, after more-peaceful attempts to organize workers had failed.            
About six weeks later, on Sunday night, February 22, 1925, Evanston firefighters battled an inferno at the Lynch-Clarisey Oil Company storage yards on Main Street at the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks. A cloud of black smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air as 170,000 gallons of oil burned. The fire was extinguished only after the fuel was exhausted. Engine Co. 2 and Engine Co. 1 went to work immediately, and Truck Co. 2 was sent back to Station # 1 to bring the reserve pumper (the Robinson Jumbo) and reserve three-inch hose to the scene. Engine Co. 3 remained in service at Station # 1 to cover the city, and Truck No. 2 was staffed by off-duty firemen when they arrived at Station # 1. All three pumpers including Engine Co. 2’s 300 GPM booster pumper went to work, each pumping at full capacity (2,500 GPM combined) to cover exposures and feed three-inch hose lines into the Eastman Deluger and to an elevated master stream operating from atop Truck No. 1’s extended aerial ladder. Although there was a fear of a possible explosion, that did not happen. While the Chicago Fire Department did place several Foamite rigs into service in 1927 that could be used to attack oil and gasoline fires, setting up defensive positions, covering nearby exposures, and allowing the fuel to burn itself out was the usual method used by fire departments when dealing with a large oil or gasoline fire in 1925. There were no injuries at this fire, but $30,000 worth of oil was lost.     

The fires at the shoe stores in January and at the oil storage facility in February clearly illustrated the need for a fourth engine company in Evanston – either a second engine company at Station # 1, or an engine company located in a fourth fire station to be constructed on the west-side of town — but the Evanston City Council took no action at the time, even though establishing a fourth engine company had been recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) following their inspection of the EFD in 1924. However, the aldermen did approve $1,500 in July to construct a three-story drill tower in the rear of Fire Station # 3 (which had also been recommended by the NBFU), and it was completed in November. Typically one engine company and one truck company would drill together under the direction and supervision of Chief Hofstetter, parking their rigs in the alley (which would be temporarily closed to traffic) behind Station # 3. Prior to the construction of the drill tower, the EFD had drilled at Fire Station # 1 or at buildings that were in the process of being demolished. In fact, even after the construction of the drill tower, setting fire to a condemned building and then extinguishing the fire was a favorite practice of the EFD for many years.           

Also in July 1925, the City Council granted pay raises to all members of the Evanston Fire Department. The Chief Fire Marshal’s monthly salary was increased from $333.33 to $350, with a $20 per month increase for the Assistant Chief, a $25 per month increase for captains (company officers), a $15 per month increase for lieutenants (assistant company officers), and a $10 per month increase for all other members of the EFD, with an additional $5 per month increase for all members of the EFD except the Chief in January 1926.

On April 10, 1926, Evanston firefighters battled a stubborn blaze at Annie May Swift Hall (School of Oratory) on the campus of Northwestern University that resulted in $34,000 in damage. Both truck companies were heavily involved with ventilation and salvage efforts at this fire. Because it was first-due to the area west of Asbury Avenue which consisted mainly of single-family homes and a few commercial structures along the C&NW RR Mayfair Division tracks, Truck Co. 2 was staffed by only ten men (five men per platoon) at that time, but a week after the Swift fire and at the insistence of Chief Hofstetter, the Evanston City Council approved increasing staffing of Truck Co. 2 by two (Ronald Ford and Frederick Walters were the new men), with henceforth six men on each platoon instead of five, and bringing the total number of Evanston firefighters to 61 (30 on each platoon, plus the Chief).    

 

On Saturday afternoon, October 9, 1926, an observation plane flying over a college football game (Northwestern versus Notre Dame) at brand-new Dyche Stadium crashed on the canal bank near Noyes & Ashland. While en route to the scene, Truck No. 2 (the city service truck) was struck broadside by another vehicle at Ridge & Church. Capt. Thomas McEnery and truckmen John Lindberg and Anthony Steigelman were injured, with $3,500 damage to the fire truck. All three firemen recovered and there were no injuries to the occupants of the plane, but Truck No. 2 was heavily damaged and it was believed that it would have to be scrapped. Meanwhile, Truck Co. 2 was temporarily designated “Engine Co. 4” at Station # 1, utilizing the old Robinson Jumbo pumper and running as the second engine company out of Station # 1. In the aftermath of the crash, sirens were placed on all EFD apparatus, to be used in concert with the rig’s bell.  


At 9 AM on Tuesday, November 30, 1926, Evanston firefighters responded to a report of a fire at the Flossy Dental Supply Company plant at 1851 Benson Ave. Firemen spent all day battling the blaze and the off-duty platoon was called in, with relief crews walking three blocks up Sherman Avenue from Fire Station # 1 to the scene. With the city service truck in the repair shop, the EFD was running with four engine companies but only  one truck company at this time, so Chief Hofstetter made good use of CFIP Patrol No. 8 to protect Flossy’s expensive heavy machinery with the insurance squad’s many salvage covers. However, there was $46,326 in damage to the building and contents before the fire was extinguished. 

In December 1926, John Wilbern of Engine Co. 3 retired after twenty years of service with the Evanston Fire Department, the sixth member of the EFD to take an “old age” pension (minimum 50 years old with minimum 20 years of service) since the Evanston Firemen’s Pension Fund became fully funded in December 1915. John Schmidt was hired to replace Wilbern. Then on December 29th, the city service ladder truck was returned to the Evanston Fire Department after being repaired at the Seagrave Company factory in Ohio. The ladder truck was placed back into front-line service even though the damaged chassis frame could not be completely straightened. However, the master mechanics at the Seagrave factory were somehow able to reorient the rear wheels so that the truck could be driven without impediment, although it was more difficult to turn and maneuver than had been the case prior to the crash.

Tags: , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department history Part 31

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY (continued)

STATION # 2 (750 Chicago Avenue) – three-bay firehouse completed February 1903, replacing the ex-South Evanston Village Hall with one-bay firehouse that had been constructed in 1888 (Village of Evanston annexed Village of South Evanston in 1892 and formed the City of Evanston)

ENGINE Co. 2: (12)
Captain Pat Gaynor (hired 1903, promoted to Lt 1914, promoted to Capt 1924)
Lieutenant Ed McEnery (hired 1908, promoted to Lt 1918)
Engineer Max Kraatz (hired 1904, promoted to Ass’t Eng 1906, promoted to Engineer 1919)
Assistant Engineer William Richards (hired 1908, promoted to Ass’t Eng 1912)
Fireman George Gushwa (hired 1901)
Fireman John Balmes (hired 1913)
Fireman Frank Didier (hired 1916)
Fireman Lawrence Ahrens (hired 1920)
Fireman Joe Becker (hired 1920)
Fireman George Paugels (hired 1922)
Fireman William Brundage (hired 1924)
Fireman Bernie Lindberg (hired 1924)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

STATION # 3 (2504 West Railroad Avenue) – two-bay firehouse completed January 1901 

ENGINE Co. 3: (10)
Captain George Hargreaves (hired 1894, promoted to Lt 1902, promoted to Capt 1903)
Lieutenant Ed Newton (hired 1908, promoted to Lt 1924)
Motor Driver Frank Altenberg (hired as Engineer 1915, certified as MD 1918)
Assistant Motor Driver John Tesnow (hired 1911, promoted to AMD 1924)
Fireman John Wilbern (hired 1908)
Fireman Carl Dorband (hired 1916)
Fireman Henry Thoms (hired 1916)
Fireman William Elliott (hired 1924)
Fireman Mike Olk (hired 1924)
Fireman Walt Caple (hired 1925)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EFD APPARATUS (MAY 1925):

AT STATION # 1:

CHIEF’S AUTOMOBILE (“auto-buggy”): 1917 Haynes touring car equipped with two fire extinguishers (one five-gallon water can and one chemical) and some miscellaneous hand tools and equipment (ax, pry-bar, rope, lantern, megaphone, fire alarm box key and repair kit, etc). 

TRUCK No. 1: 1924 Seagrave tractor-drawn aerial-ladder truck equipped with an 85-foot wooden aerial ladder, multiple wooden hand ladders of various lengths and types, a life net, ten salvage covers, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon water cans and two chemical), and miscellaneous hand tools and equipment (pike poles, axes, pry-bars, rope, lantern, etc)
NOTE: Replaced the 1917 Seagrave city-service truck as Truck No. 1 on September, 1, 1924, as Truck Co. 2 was organized at Station # 1 and the city service truck became Truck No. 2.  

TRUCK No. 2: 1917 Seagrave Model “E” city service truck equipped with a 50-gallon chemical tank, 150-feet of one-inch red line (chemical hose), a life net, a heavy-duty jack, multiple wooden hand ladders of various lengths and types (the tallest being a 55-foot extension ladder to be raised by four men using tormentor poles), ten salvage covers, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon cans and two chemical), and miscellaneous hand tools and equipment  (pike poles, axes, pry-bars, rope, lantern, etc).  
NOTE: Replaced the ex-Chattanooga F. D. 1891 LaFrance / Hayes 55-foot HDA (Truck No. 1) and the 1873 Babcock double-50 gallon chemical engine (Chemical No. 1) and four horses in November 1917.

ENGINE No. 1: 1917 Seagrave 750-GPM triple-combination pumper equipped with a 50 gallon chemical tank and 150-feet of red line (chemical hose), a hose load consisting of 500-feet of three-inch, 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch, and 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, two lengths of hard suction hose, several nozzles of various sizes and types, one wye and one siamese connection, hose clamps, a hydrant wrench, a cellar pipe, an Eastman Deluger, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon cans and two chemical), one 25-foot wooden hand ladder, one 12-foot wooden hand ladder, and miscellaneous hand tools and equipment.   
NOTE: Replaced the 1911 Robinson Jumbo as Engine No. 1 in January 1918.

ENGINE No. 4 (RESERVE): 1911 Robinson Jumbo 750-GPM triple-combination pumper equipped with a 50-gallon chemical tank, 150 feet of one-inch red line (chemical hose), a hose load consisting of 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch and 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, several nozzles of various sizes and types, one wye and one siamese connection, hose clamps, a hydrant wrench, two salvage covers, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon water cans and two chemical), one 35-ft wooden hand ladder, one 25-foot wooden hand ladder, and miscellaneous tools and equipment.  
NOTE: Placed into reserve at Fire Station # 1 in 1918 as the EFD’s lone reserve automobile apparatus, this rig was the EFD’s first automobile fire engine  — and only the second triple-combination pumper ever built — and it ran as “Motor Engine No. 1” at Station # 1 from November 1911 to January 1918.   

EVANSTON POLICE AMBULANCE: 1916 White / Erby ambulance equipped with a stretcher, first aid gear, and an inhalator was kept in the bay east of the firehouse. Two police station officers and one fireman from Station # 1 (if available) would be detailed to staff the police ambulance and respond to inhalator calls city-wide. A second reserve inhalator was kept at Station # 1 and could be loaded onto any rig in the firehouse — Engine No. 1, Reserve Engine  No. 4, the chief’s automobile, or even the city service ladder truck — if the police ambulance was not available.   

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

AT STATION # 2:

ENGINE No. 2: 1906 American LaFrance Metropolitan 700-GPM steamer pulled by a 1918 Seagrave Model “J” one-axle tractor, equipped with two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, hose clamps, a hydrant wrench, two fire extinguishers (one five-gallon water can and one chemical), a shovel, and a load of coal   
NOTE: The EFD’s last three horses were taken out of service on February 23, 1918, and then the steamer was out of service for about a month after that while it was being modified (“tractorized”) at the Seagrave factory in Columbus, OH.  

HOSE No. 2: 1917 Seagrave 300-GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper equipped with a 50-gallon chemical tank, 150-feet of one-inch red line (chemical hose), a hose load consisting of 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch and 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, several nozzles of various sizes and types, one wye and one siamese connection, hose clamps, a hydrant wrench, a cellar pipe, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon cans and two chemical), one 25-foot wooden hand ladder, one 12-foot wooden hand ladder, and miscellaneous hand tools and equipment.
NOTE: Replaced the 1902 Seagrave combination chemical-engine / H&L / hose tender and two horses in January 1918 as the second apparatus assigned to Engine Co. 2. Even though it was essentially the hose-wagon and chemical engine for the tractorized-steamer, it was known as Truck No. 2 prior to September 1924 because that is what the Seagrave combination truck it replaced was called in the horse-drawn era.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

AT STATION # 3:

ENGINE No. 3: 1917 Seagrave 300-GPM chemical & hose booster-pumper equipped with a 50-gallon chemical tank, 150 feet of one-inch red line (chemical hose), a hose load consisting of 1,250 feet of 2-1/2 inch and 100 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, two ten-foot lengths of hard suction hose, several nozzles of various sizes and types, one wye and one siamese connection, hose clamps, a hydrant wrench, a cellar pipe, four fire extinguishers (two five-gallon water cans and two chemical), one 25-foot wooden hand ladder, one 12-foot wooden hand ladder, and miscellaneous hand tools and equipment.
NOTE: Replaced the 1895 Ahrens Metropolitan 600-GPM steamer (Engine No. 3) and the 1885 Davenport H&L / hose-tender (Truck No. 3) and four horses at Station # 3 in January 1918.
 

Tags: , , , ,