KNOXVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Specially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
The fire service of Knoxville, Tenn., has made rapid strides in the past few years to rival that of other cities with larger populations arid more fire risks at stake. Although the city has now within its limits nearly 35,000 people, with a large fire area to protect, yet its fire loss has been remarkably small for the past twelve months, showing that its fire department is well equipped and in the hands of a competent chief engineer. It has seventy-five miles of water mains and 261 hydrants and a fire pressure of seventy-five pounds. Its paid department consists of only twenty-five men—apparently too few for such a large city, and its equipment would seem to warrant an additional steamer, hose and special appliances. With the present provision made for fire protection, the chief and men are entitled to great credit for the good work they have recently performed. Among the improvements under way is a handsome new fire hall as headquarters. It is situated on the corner of State street and Commerce avenue, and is constructed of red pressed brick and Tennessee marble, with white brick trimmings. It is a two-story and basement structure, sixty-nine by 121 feet, pressed brick being used in the interior and outside of the building. The basement will be used as a city prison, but will have no connection with the fire hall. The apparatus room on the first floor is sixty-five feet front and 121 feet deep, with the ceiling nineteen feet three inches high. Nine stalls have been placed across the floor, each stall occupying a space of fire and one-half feet by ten feet. The floor is concrete, for the apparatus, and all the stalls connect with the sewer. Four double doors have been provided in front for the exit of apparatus, the doors being ten feet wide by twelve feet high. On the main floor in the rear of the stalls is a space for reserve Silsby engine, coal wagon and box stall for an extra horse, in case it may be required for an engine or truck. This space, which is fifty by sixty-five feet, may also be used by the firemen for exercise. A fuel loft is likewise provided, and along the side of the building is a space, with concrete floor, of seventeen by 121 feet, and with a tower in the rear sixty-five feet high and twelve feet square for drying hose. In this tower there are windows at proper distances to be used for drilling the men. with a net placed near the ground. On this floor will be in service one new second-size La France engine, one two-horse reel, with capacity of 1,000 feet of hose, one fourth-size La France engine, one double, thirty-five gallon tank combination wagon, with 1,000 feet of hose, one seventy-fivefoot Babcock new truck and one chief’s buggy. In reserve will be one fourth-size Silsby engine. The number of men in the building will be one chief engineer, one assistant chief, eight men in each engine company and five men in truck company, including one electrician—twenty-three in all. The other commendable features about this structure are four sliding poles, a stairway to the second floor leading up the centre from the street and running back the full length of the building. The office of the chief engineer has a private bedroom in the centre of the building, with a private bath and toilet. On either side of these rooms are the dormitories, each twenty-two by fifty-six feet, and by these rooms are large apartments containing showerbaths, toilets and a perfect equipment of sanitary appliances. This brief description of Knoxville’s modern fire department building goes to show that that leading Southern city is provided with a home for its firemen equal in every respect to the great fire stations of the leading cities of the country. The other fire halls are those at North Knoxville and West Knoxville. In the former are one thirdsize Silsby, with one two-horse reel of 1,000 feet capacity, and eight men. The latter has a wagon company, with J,ooo feet of hose and seven men. The new Gamewell fire atarm system has sixty-three boxes, in charge of Herman Schenck, electrician. The department consists of thirty-nine full paid men—ten having been added in the past sixty days. The cost of the new fire department headquarters was $40,000, exclusive of the lot, and Leon Beaver was the architect. Photographs of the new building and Chief Sam. B. Boyd are given herewith. The chief was born on March 20, 1865, in Washington county. Va., and moved to Knoxville one year later. He graduated at the public schools; went to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; and afterwards entered the furniture business with his father, where he spent ten years. After a stay of two years in New York, he again took up his old calling, and was elected chief engineer on February 23, 1900. Chief Boyd served no time to the fire business before his election as chief. He was an alderman when twenty-two years old and served as chairman of the fire and police committee, also of the water, gas and public lighting committee, and was vicechairman of finance. The fire department is under the control of the board of public works. Promotions, transfers and appointments must receive the indorsement of the chief, who is responsible for the discipline of the men. When Chief Boyd entered the department, the salaries were as follows: Hosemen, $50 per month; captain. $55; engineer, $75; assistant chief, $55; chief, $80. The salaries have now been raised twenty-five per cent. The department has lately been increased by the following additions: Ten men; a second-size La France engine; a seventy-five-foot truck; sixteen new alarm boxes, with the entire fire alarm system improved; a thirty-five-gallon combination wagon: 4.000 feet of new hose; a supply wagon; two Cooper hose jackets; six shut-off nozzles; a Hart cellar-pipe; a Hart nozzle for the seventy-fivefoot truck, and a lot of modern appliances to keep the department up to the highest standard. The present fire department of the city has thirty-nine men, eighteen horses, three engines in commission, one in reserve, one seventy-five-foot truck, two hose reels, two two-horse combination wagons; Gamewell fire alarm, with sixty-three boxes. The population of the city, including suburbs, is 61,000.