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A blast from the past

Thanks to for digging up this old ad from the Howe Fire Apparatus Company. It features an engine from the Chicago State Hospital in a November 1953 ad from Fire Engineering Magazine.

Do we have some readers that can expound on this engine or the fire department?

Howe Fire Apparatus OfficeHowe manufactured fire trucks and equipment for 66 years in Anderson. In 1978, the company closed the Anderson plant and moved to RoanokeVa.

Howe Fire Apparatus Company magazine ad

1953 fire truck ad from Fire Engineering Magazine for the Howe Fire Apparatus Company.

An interesting article on the Howe Company was recently published in the Herald Bulletin Online.

By Beth Oljace Anderson Public Library

The year 1871 was a disastrous year for fires in the United States.

On Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed more than three square miles of the city’s north lakefront, killed hundreds of people and leaving a third of the city homeless. On the same day, three cities in Michigan — Manistee, Holland and Port Huron — also suffered huge fires.

The fifth fire that day was the most devastating of all. A firestorm ignited the drought-plagued country around Peshtigo, Wis., burned more than 1 million acres and killed more than 1,000 people. Americans were more than aware of the dangers of fire. It was a good time for B.J.C. Howe to start his business.

B.J.C. Howe had perfected and patented a piston pump fire wagon, the first of its kind, and he began to sell it in 1872. The pump could be operated by a team of 20 men or by the team of horses that had drawn it to the fire. It was a highly efficient water thrower. The design of the pump was so good that versions of it were still being made and used 100 years later.

Howe Fire Apparatus located first in Indianapolis and spent nearly 50 years there. The Howe family’s country home served as the business’ test kitchen. Frequently, new pump units would be tried out on the grounds. (Mrs. Howe must have been a tolerant woman.) The family also maintained a good relationship with the city by servicing its equipment for them. Before summer holidays, one of the Howe sons would visit all the horse-watering troughs in the city to make sure that the well pumps were in working condition. He would also visit fire departments throughout central Indiana to make sure that their Howe pumpers were working properly.

In the 1960s, Howe bought the Oren Roanoke Corp. in Virginia and the Coast Apparatus Company near San Francisco, Calif. They provided the company with regional outlets on the East and West coasts and allowed the company to run three small factories, which was a better approach for a customized service. At that time the Anderson factory had 120-150 workers, creating 140 customized trucks a year.

In 1975, the government eliminated revenue sharing funds for the purchase of fire equipment. This, and other changes in the economy, slowed the purchase of Howe equipment. In 1976, the company was acquired by Grumman Industries of New York. When things did not improve, the company made the decision to close the Anderson factory. Howe Fire Apparatus in Anderson ceased operations on December 15, 1978.

Howe Fire was a four-generation family business. B. J. C. Howe retired from the business in the early 1890s and left it to his three sons, who ran operations until the Depression. The sons of L.M. Howe managed the company into the ‘40s. One of them remained as chairman of the board until the 1970s and his sons were president and plant superintendent.

Manufacture of Howe Fire Apparatus equipment was moved to the Virginia plant after Howe’s Anderson plant closed in 1978. Howe Fire equipment was manufactured until 1982. Grumman Allied Industries, the company which purchased Howe, was absorbed into Northrop Corp. in 1994 and is still in business.

These are only excerpts, read the entire informative article at the link above.


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Antioch Rescue Squad update has an article about the Antioch Rescue Squad and their negotiations with the Village of Antioch to continue providing emergency medical services to area residents.

Troubled Rescue Squad Slips Another Notch

THE ANTIOCH RESCUE SQUAD (ARS) based in the Village of Antioch in Lake County, Illinois, has had plenty of problems over the past year, just about all of them their fault.  And now they have helped create another one.

The ARS has been serving the Antioch Township for 72 years and is still an all-volunteer outfit covering the village as well as all the unincorporated areas of the township.  Their current contract with the village is due to expire soon and they approached the Village Board with a proposal to extend the current contract for another year.  On Monday night the board rejected the proposal and told the squad that they would agree to a 6-month extension instead.  For some reason, the squad was unhappy with that deal and told the village that they would not agree and their association with the village would be terminated on July 1.

The board, seemingly angered by the squad’s cavalier attitude responded with notice that their affiliation would end on June 1 instead.  Then the took immediate moves to line up a replacement service for the community.  This may include cooperating with the fire department to take control over the new operation.  The rescue squad will continue to serve the rest of the township.

The complete article with a summation of the various actions leading up to the current situation is HERE.

We posted previous articles HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Antioch Rescue Squad

Antioch Rescue Squad

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Palatine LODD Anniversary

This from John Tobin from Saturday’s memorial service on the 40th anniversary of the Ben Franklin Store fire in Palatine that claimed the lives of three firefighters.

Ben Franklin fire tribute………The fallen three Feb 23, 1973. 
Very nice to see the friends and family come out to pay their respects…… Plote transporting the precious cargo…….two old war horses reunited after 25 years of being apart……honor guard……PFD rural pumper… of the fallen fire fighters…….the PFD memorial……. yours truly…….
Emotions still run deep after all these years!
Plote Contractor brings old fire truck home

John Tobin photo

Old Seagrave Snorkel on low boy trailer

John Tobin photo

old Seagrave fire engines

John Tobin photo

old Palatine FD Snorkel

John Tobin photo


fire department honor guard

John Tobin photo

Palatine FIre Department

John Tobin photo

old Seagrave engine Palatine Rural FPD

John Tobin photo


family members of heroic firefighters

John Tobin photo

Palatine Firefighter Memorial

John Tobin photo

Elgin Firefighter John Tobin

John Tobin has an article HERE.

Stacey Page Online has an article HERE.


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Pilot for the TV show Emergency!

Thanks to for posting a link to the original pilot for the show Emergency!

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Country Club Hills Controversy has an article HERE that outlines an issue with the recently hired fire chief in Country Club Hills.

THE … TOWN OF COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, has a moral problem on their hands this week.  Just three months ago they hired a new fire chief Roger Agpawa, previously the deputy chief of the Markham Fire Department.  Following the open application season, Agpawa was selected from the field of candidates bringing with him an impressive resume of fire service credentials.

Unfortunately, he also brought with him a criminal conviction that wasn’t part of his resume.

According to the Sun-Times:

Agpawa was hired as the Country Club Hills fire chief in July for $98,000 a year plus a city Ford Expedition, even though he pleaded guilty to mail fraud as part of a 1997 medical insurance fraud case in federal court in Chicago.

Agpawa, 54, was charged in December 1997 with cashing bogus medical insurance claim checks and splitting the money with his partner in crime who worked as a claims approver.

Agpawa pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and could have served more than a year in prison.

Instead, he was ordered in 1999 to pay more than $60,000 back to the insurance company, serve three years of probation and perform 200 hours of community service.

Under Illinois law, a town cannot hire a firefighter with a serious felony conviction, but in an interesting twist, there is a difference between fire chiefs and rank-and-file firefighters.

Unlike firefighters, fire chiefs are appointed, not sworn, and not subject to the same state law.

But when it comes to fire chiefs, “all fire chiefs step out of the sworn area,” he said. “They are appointed.”

Usually, a mayor or a village manager — and not a fire commission — is the fire chief’s supervisor, Markowski said.

Mayors may use the same criteria as set out in the statute for sworn firefighters or “they can overlook it.”

One Country Club Hills alderman, Vincent Lockett, though, sang the praises of Agpawa.

“The guy has done a spectacular job for the city of Country Club Hills. He has saved the residents $400,000 in the short term,” Lockett said. “We haven’t had this type of management in many, many years in Country Club Hills. The fire chiefs used to allow the department to rape the city.”

“I don’t think one alderman would have anything negative to say about him,” Lockett said. “I guess I would have to say, let his past be his past . . .”I am proud to have him.”

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Gardner Fire Department in Grundy County forced to close has an article about the Gardner Fire Protection District in Grundy County being shutdown by a judge.

 THE GARDNER VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT in Gardner, Illinois, is no more after a Grundy County judge ordered them to cease operations.  The Gardner Fire Protection District is responsible for providing fire and ems services to a large area and had been contracting fire and ambulance service to the GVFD to cover the town and immediate area.

Last week the judge ordered the sheriff to seize all the property of the VFD and return it to the FPD.  On Monday a moving crew showed up at the firehouse and removed all the property including the emergency vehicles, furnishings, fire equipment, running gear, etc.  Everything except the real estate was transferred over to the FPD.

Despite the volunteer’s claim that it will now take ten minutes for a fire engine to arrive, the fire protection district had already prepared to maintain coverage in the town by transferring fire apparatus and an ambulance from other areas into a temporary facility set up at the town hall.  Many of the Gardner volunteers have been accepted onto the rolls of the district.

Read the entire article HERE which includes a video from WBBM-TV Ch. 2 Chicago.



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Who is behind has an article HERE about the man behind

FAMED DISPATCH SCANNER AND RECORDIST “RADIOMAN” has shed his anonymnity.  After 3+ years of monitoring and live-streaming fire activity in the greater Chicago area, he has decided to let the masses know his real moniker is Dave Weaver.

Dave has a great service set up for anybody interested in emergency incidents by webcasting the dispatch and working channels of fire incidents.  He’s very efficient, too.  When you log on to you will notice right away that there are separate channels coming out of each of your computer stereo speakers.  More coverage for you that way.

The article includes a video link to a story done last week on WLS-TV in Chicago about the radio coverage of the NATO Summit.

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Hale Products to consolidate in Florida

Though it’s not something related to the Chicago area … has an article HERE which states that Hale Products with facilities in Conshohocken, PA and Ocala, FL will consolidate their operations in Florida and leave Pennsylvania where they were founded in 1914.

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CFD Engine 62 involved in an accident – 10 hurt

Scooped by the geezer, a report on the MVA Tuesday night involving CFD Engine 62 that injured a total of 10 including four firefighters.

Authorities say they suspect alcohol played a role in the collision between a Chicago fire truck and a carload of people in the Far South Side that injured 10 people.

None of the victims — including three children and four Chicago firefighters — suffered life-threatening injuries when the truck, responding to a fire call, collided with a mid-size sedan at Halsted and 128th streets, police said. A female passenger did suffer a broken neck, authorities said.

Read the complete post HERE.

More HERE.

Bill Friedrich supplied an image of the engine prior to the accident.

Chicago Fire Department Engine 62

Chicago Engine 62, a 2007 Spartan Gladiator/Crimson 1,500/500/30F was involved in an accident Tuesday night. Bill Friedrich photo

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New network TV show based in Chicago .. mentions this morning:

This past Monday the Peacock Network announced that they had picked up the option for a new series following a proposal by the producers and have ordered a pilot episode to be produced under the title Chicago Fire (how original).  The publicity office tells us, “This action-driven drama explores the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Dept.”  Wow!

Check out the information that he has posted HERE.

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