Chicago-New York Rivalry Adds Up to Plenty of Work
Bells, Buffs and Blazes
The rivalry between Chicago’s Snorkel Squad 3 and New York’s Engine 231 was fanned again when the year-end report of activity was tallied by the two outfits.
Commissioner Bob Quinn’s “Green Beret” outfit on the rambunctious west side of Chicago red-inked a total of 6,778 runs in the journal, compared to Chief John O’Hagan’s Brooklyn Blazebeaters, who recorded 4,909 alarms.
If it sounds as if the buffs in these two cities had an interesting year, consider; too, that the SS 3 bucket of red-andwhite bolts hauled off to 171 extra-alarm fires, exceeding by far the pair of fourth alarms, nine thirds, and 19 seconds—a total of 30 extra-basers—handled by the 44th Battalion in which New York’s Engine 231 is located.
The comparison, however, is not necessarily a valid one. Chicago’s snorkel squads (and the city has three of them, variously known as “The Good Guys” or “The Bad Guys” depending upon which side of the city you fan in) automatically turn out to every 2-11 alarm or greater. Should SS 3 be tied up at a 5-11 for any length of time, it would of course miss some runs which would further boost its year-end total.
While the great debate that started in this column not long ago (September 1966) will probably continue, with little of merit ultimately coming from any of it, we could take a look at the number of working fires for both companies.
Engine 231 chalked up 1,401 working fires and Chicago’s Fillmore Street Hilton heroes had but 1,319.
There is, of course, a matter of defining terms in any discussion over which might be the busier outfit. What constitutes a working fire?
“A working fire for a still-alarm engine and truck company that we follow might be a mattress or a garage or shed fire,” points out Captain Warren Redick of SS 3. “But it would not be a working fire for us because our outfit would not be held by the officer in charge and we would go back into service immediately.”
And since this Pier 6 brawl-by-way-ofink began, John O’Hagan interjected that his “old home crew” at Squad 2 in the South Bronx averaged 30 runs a day, for a total of 947 in July of last year. Forty or more runs a day on weekends are not uncommon, he adds.
Reader Patrick Brown of Queens gets his two-bits worth in by observing that Engine 82 and Ladder 31 in the South Bronx (where he buffs) had 796 engine runs for July.
“I think it’s OK to compare engine companies with engine companies, but not a snorkel with an engine because a snorkel is, more or less, a special unit,” he says.
A. very special unit, I might add, although SS 3 runs as a two-piece unit. The second rig carries a high-pressure fog pump and hose.
Complicating the debate, too, is the number of box alarm responses. Snorkel Squad 3 responds to relatively few boxes, and they are generally for hospital, school and institutional-type occupancies.
John J. Weisberger, that bon vivant and booster extraordinaire of FDNY reports, too, that the famous Battalion 44 had 9,195 runs with 6,087 fires in 1966, compared to 7,815 runs the previous year.
Chicago’s energetic 5-11 Club Inc., has, incidentally, published a Chicago Fire Department Directory which is the most remarkable work of its kind I’ve ever seen.
It should be. Russ Mason of the club says that the directory was prepared on an IBM computer from punched cards. The material then was put on a multilith mat and run off on a duplicating machine.
If there is anything you want to know about the CFD—still districts, battalion and division boundaries, station locations, radio signatures, and the like, you’ll find it in this map book and directory. The book and directory are periodically updated—also by computer.
The directory was started by the club to raise money for the welfare fund. The price ($1.25 postpaid) includes revisions through the end of this year. Copies are available to buffs in other cities by writing the 5-11 Club Inc., Directory Committee, P. O. Box 8511, Chicago, Ill. 60680.
Russ sent me a review copy and the quality and information contained in the book is something that should interest all buffs and might even suggest a most worthwhile project for other clubs.
The club recently presented its annual Award for Meritorious Service to Mrs. Maxine Huerta, widow of Fireman William Huerta of Engine 112 who was fatally injured while advancing a line up an outside stairway. He slipped on ice and fell to the ground. Had he clung to the line, he might have pulled other members of the crew with him in the fatal fall, says Edward Prendergast of the 5-11 Fire Fans Club. The award was presented by Bill Nolan.
In New York, Buff Kenneth H. Straus, one of that city’s most respected buffs, hopes to acquire an original set of the small folio prints—four in all—of the “Life of a Fireman” series done by Currier & Ives. Can any reader help him? Ken’s address is 149 East 73rd Street, New York, N. Y. 10021.
Another buff on a quest is Donald K. Dillaby, chairman, American Red Cross Disaster Service, Nashua Chapter, 28 Concord Street, Nashua, N. H. He is looking for buffs interested in serving with the Nashua Chapter’s disaster service. He urges buffs in the Nashua, Hudson, Merrimack, Hollis, Windham, and Pelham areas of New Hampshire to contact him at Tuxedo 3-7112 or Tuxedo 3-7001.
While things continue to boom in New York and Chicago, please continue to send your club notes, magazines, and accounts of individual experiences along the fire line to me at P. O. Box 814, Northridge, Calif. 91324.