Honors for Empire City Firemen.
The rays of the afternoon sun, slanting down from the western sky upon the Riverside drive last Saturday afternoon, shone upon the finest display and the most interesting series of exercises which the New York Fire Department has given to the public for many a long month; and incidentally set a number of brave and deserving men winking and blinking under the visors of their uniform caps.
The occasion was the presentation to the elected men, of the Bennett and Stephenson medals, which are awarded annually, the former to any member or the force for the most conspicuous act of gallantry in saving life, the latter to the foreman whose company is adjudged to have shown the highest standard of discipline and efficiency.
Last year the fire commissioners decided to postpone the presentation ; this year there were consequently awarded both the Bennett and Stephenson medals for 1889 and 1890, and an audience of from 5000 to 7000 persons turned out to view the function, filling the grand stand at Riverside drive and Seventysixth street, lining the sidewalks and clustering on the roofs of the buildings commanding a view of the scene.
They were not disappointed, either. The weather was all that could be desired, the selection of the reviewing spot exceptionally fortunate and the whole affair was a pronounced success and extremely creditable to the managers and the New York Fire Department.
The situation of the grand stand, upon the crest of the high bluff along which the drive runs, allowed to the occupants an uninterrupted view of the proceedings on the street before the stand, while also enabling them to watch the drill of the life savers on a building between the bluff and the river, and the exhibition of the working of the water tower and the throwing of streams from the fireboat New Yorker, which, with the Zophar Mills, was moored to a wharf on the Hudson river front.
It was a representative crowd which packed the grand stand, long before the time set for the exercises. Lots of pretty girls were there, and a goodly number of matrons. The insurance men were represented in force among the masculine element and there was a considerable sprinkling of city officials and well-known professional men. Everyone seemed in good humor, and, while awaiting the time for the presentation, watched with appreciation the drill of Capt. McAdam’s life saving men, who, with their pompier ladders and lines, scaled the walls of a building and showed how imperiled men and women were rescued from burning dwellings.
The mode of using the life net was also illustrated. Patrick Brennan of Engine 2 leaped from the second floor; and the firemen threw a dummy from the roof, which was caught by the men below with the net. It was deemed an unnecessary risk for Brennan to jump from the roof.
Before the life savers were quite through, the fireboat New Yorker began an exhibition of her water-throwing powers. First of all she threw a five inch stream from the stand-pipe at the bow. Then she spouted a smaller stream from a pipe on the quarter. Hose had been carried ashore from her many other vents, and a tremendous water battery had been arranged in the middle of the open ground by slanting fifteen nozzles against a framework so that they pointed upward at a slight elevation. Eight of these nozzles threw two inch streams, two threw five inch streams. The rest threw three inch and three and one-half inch streams.
The new Hale water tower stood near this battery, and was supplied by lines from the fireboat Zophar Mills, which was moored astern of the New Yorker. It was raised and lowered between its limits of thirty and fifty feet and hurled a stream high in the air. A Siamese connection was also attached to a five inch nozzle and supplied by lines from the Zophar Mills. When all were going at once and making rainbows high in the air, the sight was stirring and aroused applause.
While this was still going on, a body of blue uniformed men, about 250 strong, detailed from different parts of the city, under command of Chief Bonner, were drawn up in line before the grand stand.
Each man looked as if he had just stepped out of a bandbox, and. indeed, as a body, they were about as fine a looking set of men as one would want to see. And then the Rev. Dr. John Hall and Mayor Grant, Fire Commissioners Purroy, Robbins and Eickhoff, Chief Hendrick of the New Haven Fire Department, and a number of other notables placed themselves in the “ judges’ stand,” so to speak, and the band played, and the four chosen firemen were called to the front to receive their medals and hear some talk from Dr. Hall.
Fine looking men they were, all four, and our pictures of them don’t do them justice.
The recipients of the Bennett meda’s were : For 1889. First Grade Fireman William Reilly of Engine Company No. 24 ; for 1890, Foreman Thomas J. Ahearn of Engine Company No. 5. The,Stephenson medal for 1889 went to Foreman William Duane of Engine Company No. 39 ; that for the year 1890 to Foreman John S. Honan of Hook and Ladder Company No I.
The deed which earned the golden disc for Fireman Reilly was a very plucky one, and was not the first that stands upon the records of the fire department to his credit. In 1884 he was mentioned for gallantry in saving the life of Mrs. Lizzie McGloin at a fire in a building on Varick street, and again in 1885 he rescued Mrs. Julia Welch at great personal risk from a burning tenement on Greenwich street. Altogether since he his been in the service he has made, or helped to make, it is said, eleven rescues. The act for which Reilly was awarded the medal for 1S89 was the rescue of 65-year-old Enoch Wilkins from the roof of the burning brick building at No. 102 Barrow street. Reilly saw Mr. Wilkins climb out of a top story window and lie down upon the eaves of the roof. The fireman made his way along the eaves of an adjoining house, while several thousand persons in the street held their breath while watching him. He reached Mr. Wilkins and, taking him on his back, Reilly carried the old man down to the street through another building.
Reilly was born in New York in 1854, and joined the service in 1880. His name is clear from a single complaint to the commissioners. With the exception of a few months at first, he has served with Engine Company No. 24.
Foreman Thomas J. Ahearn of Engine Company No. 3r, the Bennett medallist for 1890, has also a record of which any man might feel proud, He joined the department in 1873. and has since served with credit in both hook and ladder and engine companies. In 1881 he was made assistant foreman of Hook and Ladder Company No. 6, but was transferred to Hook and Ladder No. xi. While with this company he joined the life-saving corps, anti in 1884, while at drill upon the face of a building, he saved the life of Assistant F’oreman Meehan, whose foot had slipped, and whom Ahearn held up until help came. Later, in 1885. he rescued Mrs. Mary Connolly, the wife of a brother fireman, and her three children from the second story of a burning house on East Seventh street. Within a few months after that he had saved two more children front the flames, and in July of last year, as foreman of Engine Company No. 5, performed the brave act for which he has just been honored. It was at a fire at the Consolidated Gas Works at the foot of East Twenty-first street. There had been an explosion, which shattered the building, and ihe firemen were ordered back from the ruins because several well filled naphtha tanks were known to be on the lower floor. Ahearn, in looking through a window, saw the apparently lifeless form of Devoe lying face downward in the burning building, only a few feet from one of the tanks. Ahearn never thought of the anticipated explosion, but, leaping through the window, he ran across the room, and seizing Devoe bore him out of the reach of danger. The fireman had scarcely gone fifteen yards when the naphtha tank beside which Devoe had been lying exploder! with such force that the entire building collapsed, and the spot where Ahearn had stood three minutes before was a pile of burning debris.
The winner of the Stephenson medal for 1889, Foreman William Duane of Engine Company No. 39, was born in 1840. He served, with credit, in the old volunteer department, and was appointed a fireman in the paid force in t868. In 1871 he was made an assistant foreman and in t88t was promoted to the position of foreman. His zeal and the efficiency of his services are attested to by the decoration just conferred upon him.
The Stephenson medal for 1890 is now in the possession of John S. Honan, foreman of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, who, by the way, is next to the youngest foreman of a company in the New York F’ire Department, having been born in 1859. lie was appointed to the department in 1882, in 1885 was made an assistant foreman and in 1888 appointed to the position which he now holds. His company is quartered in Chambers street, and does duty in the dry goods district, the richest and most dangerous portion of the city.
Well, Dr. Hall made a very pleasant speech to all four men, telling them among other things what great confidence New Yorkers had in their fire department, and praising them deservedly for their services to the community, while, modest now, as well as brave, they stood as best they could the glare of the sunlight full in their faces and the admiring looks from the eyes of the hundreds of pretty women on the stand ; and then Chief Bonner pinned the glittering medals upon their breasts, and they marched away with their comrades while the band played and the spectators applauded vociferously.
Next in order the crowd was treated to the sight of a formal and orderly parade of a dozen or more pieces of the finest apparatus in the department, most of the engines with three horse hitches. The people also had a chance to see the new style milk white hose wagons with their pompier ladders, and a big aerial truck and some ot the handsomest horses in the service. The appearance of the apparatus, men and animals was as nearly faultless as could be, and the fire commissioners were overwhelmed with congratulations.
The closing act of the day’s proceedings was a response to a false alarm of fire, which was highly realistic, and drew out round after round of cheers from the crowd as engines, tenders and the big truck dashed passed the grand stand and down the hill. And then the affair was over ; the pretty girls heaved sighs, the notabilities shook hands, the firemen went back to their quarters, the crowd melted away, and the hand adjourned to a less aristocratic neighborhood, not far away, and irrigated their internal regions after the dusty exercises of the day.
Right here it may prove interesting to note the names of those who have in fotmer years received the Bennett and Stephenson medals. The list of Bennett medallists is as follows:
1868—Assistant Foreman Minthorne D. Tompkins, afterward promoted to foreman and relieved from service at fires.
1869—F’oreman Benjamin A. Gicquel, afterward promoted to chief of battalion,
1871—Assistant Foremtn Charles L. Kelley, afterward promoted to foreman and relieved from service at fires.
1871—Fireman Ambrose L. Austin, afterward retired on half pay.
1872—Assistant Foreman Thomas Henry, since promoted to foreman and retired on half pay.
1872—F’ireman Thomas Hutchinson, since promoted to foreman and died.
1873—Chief of Battalion William H. Nash, killed in discharge of duty September 16, 1875.
1873—Kiremen Alfred Connor, since retired on half pay.
1873—Assistant Foreman Henry Schuck.
1874—Foreman William Mitchell, died in service of department. April 26, 1876.
1875—Assistant Foreman James Horn, since retired on half pay.
1876—F’iremen Joseph McGowan.
1877—F ireman Thomas J. Dougherty, killed at fire F ebruary 20, 1880.
1878—F’oreman Daniel J. Meagher.
1879—Fireman Paul Bauer.
1880—F’ircman John Levins.
188J—Fireman Michael Commerford.
1882—F’ircman John L. Rooney.
1883—Fireman William B. Kirchner.
18B4—Foreman John Binns.
1885—Chief of Battalion Peter H. Short.
1886—F’ircman Michael Brady.
1887—Assistant Foreman Samuel Banta.
1888—F’oreman William Quirk.
The Stephenson medal has been awarded annually for each consecutive year to that officer in the department whose company excels, in the opinion of the officials, all others.
The awards for the previous six years have been as follows:
1883—Foreman Arnot Spence, Engine 27.
1884—F’oreman David Connor, Engine 23.
18S5—Foreman Joseph Shaw, Hook and Ladder 13.
1886—F’oreman Daniel Lawler, Engine 13.
1887—F’oreman William McLaughlin, Fingine 24.
1888—F’oreman Thomas A. Kenny, Engine 7.
MAUJ.BORO’S SEWERAGE System.—A delegation of the members of the Boston water board visited Marlboro, Mass., last week and inspected the sewerage system and filter beds. Work on Section 2 is progressing well, two derricks being stationed at the point where the cut is deepest, some twenty-two or twenty-thtce feet. It is estimated that two months’ more work will complete this portion of the work. At the filter beds the arrangements for the distribution of sewage are complete, the first six beds being intended for the reception of the sewage, the liquid portion being conveyed to those divisions further down the line. If preferred the matter can all be carried through the house, without being separated, to the lower beds and beyond, where it is the intention of the sewer committee to run the sewage on natural soil, unprepared for its reception as the beds are, and to try some “sewage farming” experiments. The first six beds are connected by surface gutters made of brick and faced with iron, while the balance are connected by pipe underground. Everything is reported to be in good shape and ready for use when the balance of the system fs completed.