100-Year History of the Salt Lake City Department
The Salt Lake City Fire Department, Chief J. K. Piercey, has issued a simple but interesting historical account of the growth of the organization from its inception in 1853 to the present. It is disclosed that in 1871 the department was reorganized and a Silsby steamer added. In 1879 the city council began paying volunteers 25 cents an hour for the time they were engaged in answering calls. This continued until 1883 when a demand for 50 cents an hour was made.
The council thereupon concluded a paid department would be cheaper, and in September, 1883, the volunteer organization was disbanded. The last chief of the volunteer department Was George M. Ottinger. He also was first to head the paid department.
From its beginning the paid organization strove to improve its fire fighting methods and techniques, and to secure better conditions for the men. In 1919 the two-platoon system went into effect.
As of June 1, 1951, the department had 216 members, consisting of chief of department; 4 assistant chiefs, 4 battalion chiefs, 14 captains, 22 lieutenants and 171 firemen.
The department is divided into divisions, including combat; fire prevention and records; training; alarm and signal and maintenance. The department’s first gasoline motor pumping engine was secured in 1911. The Annual Firemen’s Training School, sponsored by the Salt Lake City Fire Department, was first held in 1945. The Sixth School, held in June, 1950, had an attendance of 383.
Chief Piercey, in the introductory to the brief history, emphasizes the need of maintaining a historical record of the fire department. Memory cannot be counted upon.. he believes.