PITTSBURG’S SILVER ANNIVERSARY
On June 13 last, the paid fire department of Pittsburg, Pa., completed its twenty-fifth,or silver anniversary. In its ranks are still to be found some of its original members. Of the six chief engineers who have held office in the department during that quarter of a century,the first, John McElroy, resigned, and was succeeded by George Guppies, William J. White, and John Hammil, who was compelled to resign, owing to being nearly suffocated while attending a fire. His place was filled by John II. McElroy. who served till Samuel W. Evans was elected chief, the latter serving till his death in 1890, when the present chief, Miles Humphries, was chosen.
Twenty-five years ago there were only six enginehouses, all of which, with one exception, that of the Yigi lant, are still in use, though of course they have been re. constructed or remodeled in accordance with modern requirements. There were also one hook and ladder and one hose company separated from each other by a very long interval. There were sixty-nine employees, for whose use there were sixty-three fire alarm boxes, sixty-five miles of wire, 8,000 feet of rubber hose, 800 feet of linen rubber lined hose, 8,600 feet of inferior rubber hose, 700 feet of leather hose in good serviceable order, and 410 fire plugs. At the present time there is one chief engineer, with four assistant chiefs, one chief clerk, and 250 men, formed into nineteen steam fire engine and four chemical engine companies, one hose company,and five hook and ladder companies, with 119 horses against twenty-five in 1870.
Chief Miles Humphries, than whom there is not a more able and efficient fire otlicer in the United States, has had a varied career. He has been captain of an engine company, a member of the legislature,and manager of Oliver’s mills in the “Smoky City,” but lias undoubtedly found his vocation where he is, and where he is the object of the affection and esteem of his subordinates. His assistants are John Steel, first; Wm. Coates, second; John Stewart, third, and Michael Hnunlgan, fourth. These now enjoy annual salaries of $8,(MX) and $1,800 respectively, and the firemen $900. In 1870 the chief received $1,200 and Ida one assistant $800 respectively, and the firemen $00 a month, the salaries of the chief and his second in command being afterwards raised $800 and $400 apiece.
Pittsburg is essentially the city of big fires, by far the worst of which were those of 1877, when the rioters destroyed railroad and other property to the amount of $8,000,000, the other fires of that year amounting to over $500,000 more. During the riots the department worked unceasingly from Saturday night till Monday night. The introduction of natural gus introduced a new elementof danger into the city,and the fire department was fora long time hard put to it to fight the flames engendered by the frequent explosions which were constantly occurring In factory and in residence,some accompanied with terrific risks to the men, as Assistant Chief Johnson can personally attest, he having been dangerously burned and otherwise injured by one of these explosions.