The Fire Department of Chicago

The Fire Department of Chicago

Fire Marshal Thomas O’Connor, Chicago.

The fire department of Chicago, Ill., the city in which the International Association of Fire Engineers will meet next week for its forty-sixth annual convention, is, as it should be in view of the importance of the city, one of the most important fire departments in the country. Fire Marshal Thomas O’Connor is the head of the department and he has six assistant fire marshals. There are also twenty-six battalion marshals and seven relieving battalion marshals. This gives some extent of the size of the department to which is intrusted the safety o-f the great city of Chicago. Some further idea is obtained from the fact that there are one hundred and sixty-one fire companies and five fire boats and that the equipment consists of four hundred pieces of fire apparatus, thirty per cent, of which are motorized and the balance horse-driven; also by the numbers of men on the force. At the close of the year 1917 the total uniformed force numbered 1,968; the total not uniformed, 26; the city telegraph bureau, 21; repair shop, 12, making a total force of 2,027. In addition four volunteer companies, furnished with supplies and apparatus and making reports to the department, number 61 men. It is interesting that of the 1,968 uniformed men 1,613 are natives of the United States.

The Department’s Motor Equipment.

The department has in service twentyone motor pumping engines. Eleven of these were manufactured by the Seagrave Company; five by the Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company and five by the American-LaFrance Fire Engine Company. The balance of the motor apparatus for the engine companies consists of Christie tractors attached to the department’s steam engines. The hose wagons in service were manufactured by the White Company, the Mack Company and the Robinson Company. The hook and ladder trucks in the department have been standardized on Mack tractors and White tractors. There are two Seagrave service trucks and this completes the motor apparatus equipment, other than motor cars for the chief officers Fire Marshal O’Connor and the assistant fire marshals and John F. Cullerton, superintendent of machinery of the department, use Haynes cars, while the twenty-six battalion marshals all use Ford runabouts. That the value of motorized equipment is realized in Chicago is seen by the fact that it is now proposed to spend approximately $200,ooo for replacing horse-drawn apparatus and making extensions in the service. The entire hook and ladder service will then be entirely motorized by the first of next year.

Department Buildings.

The matter of motor apparatus is not the only one in which progress has been made in recent years and in which large sums are to be expended for further improvement. In less than three years Chicago has spent something like $500,000 on buildings, in replacements and extensions to the department and it is the intention to spend that much more within the next two years for the same purpose.

Chief Officers.

Thomas O’Connor is fire marshal and chief of brigade. The assistants are:

First assistant fire marshal, Patrick J. Donahoe.

Second assistant fire marshal, Edward J. Buckley, department inspector.

Third assistant fire marshal, John C. McDonnell, chief of Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety.

Fourth assistant fire marshal, Arthur R. Seyferlich.

Fifth assistant fire marshal, Jeremiah McAuliffe.

Sixth assistant fire marshal, Patrick J. Egan.

Following is a list of the twenty-six battalion marshals, as well as the seven relieving battalion marshals:

First, Daniel Carmody.

Second, Benjamin O’Connor.

Third, Frank Oswald.

Fourth, Charles N. Heaney.

Fifth, Henry F. Wendt.

Sixth, Thomas J. Reynolds.

Seventh, Michael Kerwin.

Eighth, John P. Stahl.

Ninth, James Crapo.

Tenth, David J. Mahoney.

Eleventh, James J. Costello.

Twelfth, Joseph L. Kenyon.

Thirteenth, Frank Conway.

Fourteenth, Michael R. Driscoll.

Fifteenth, James Ward.

Sixteenth, John Smith.

Seventeenth, George H. McAllister.

Eighteenth,Edward F. McGurn.

Nineteenth, James J. Costin.

Twentieth, Thomas P. Kenney.

Twenty-first, Anthony McDonald.

Twenty-second, William H. Miller.

Twenty-third, Eugene Sweeney.

Twenty-fourth, John J. Evans.

Twenty-fifth, Michael J. Corrigan.

Twenty-seventh, Patrick Rogers (relieving).

Twenty-eighth, William Dillon (relieving).

Twenty-ninth, John H. Touhey (relieving).

Thirtieth, Charles Persons (relieving).

Thirty-first, Richard W. Thomasius (relieving).

Thirty-second, Francis Byrnes (relieving).

Thirty-third, Daniel Moore (relieving).

The Volunteer and Paid Departments.

The Chicago fire department was organized in 1837 and was a volunteer department until 1858 in which year D. J. Swenie, the last chief engineer of the volunteer department, became fire marshal and Chief of Brigade. Fire Marshal Swenie was a well-known figure among chiefs of fire departments and he was elected the president of the International Association of Fire Engineers in 1884, the association meeting in that year in Chicago. In the course of a brief sketch of Marshal Swenie the Chicago “Times’’ gave an interesting view of his reputation as a disciplinarian and of the events leading up to and attending the change from a volunteer to a paid department, as follows: “In 1856 he w’as elected assistant marshal, and in 1858 he was elected by the people chief marshal. In that year the volunteer hand-engine department was reorganized into the present paid steam engine department, and Marshal Swenie was succeeded by Marshal Harris. While assistant marshal, Mr. Swenie had acquired a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, and the old volunteer deparment was a pretty free and easy affair. The boys were rather wild, and they didn’t relish the election of Mr. Swenie as chief. These companies mutinied, and hauling their machines up to the city hall they invited the mayor to run them himself. The meeting was quelled, and the chief result was to hasten the end of the volunteer department.” Mr. Swenie again attained the post of fire marshal and chief of brigade in 1879, retaining it until 1901. The present head of the department became fire marshal in 1914, succeeding Charles F. Seyferlich, who occupied it since 1910.

Fires Extinguished in 1917.

During the year 1917 ninety persons in peril were rescued by members of the department. The department responded to 17,400 alarms and the number of actual fires amounted to 12,034. The value of property involved at the fires was $185,247.-911, and the loss for the year was $4,094,639. It is notable that there were only three fires at which the loss exceeded $100,000 and only four where the losses were between $50,000 and $100,000, speaking well for the effective work accomplished by Fire Marshal O’Connor and the men commanded by him. The manner in which fires were extinguished during 1917 is given in the department’s annual report as follows: By occupants and oth«rs before arrival of department, 565; by department’s smothering, cutting out with axes and hand pumps, 577; with pails of water, 16; with fire hydrant stream. 406: with fire hydrant stream and chemical, 6; with portable pumps, 4,326; with portable chemical extinguishers, 9; with portable chemical extinguishers and pumps, 43; with one chemical engine. 201: with two or more chemical engines, 7; with one steam engine, 1,775; with one steam engine and one chemical engine. 92; with one steam engine and two or more chemical engines, 14; with two or more steam engines, 497; with two or more steam engines and chemical engines, 48: chimney fires, prairie fires, burning rubbish, etc., 3.452; total number of fires, 12,034.

Inspections by Fire Prevention Bureau.

Inspections during 1917 by the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety were as follows. Theaters (nightly), 3,643; buildings (complete) all classes, 5,011; reinspections of various classes of buildings, 1,520; visits to advise regarding improvements, 2,452; visits to check improvements, 28,547; condition inspection, 9,749; total inspections, 111,922.

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