Chicago has had its share of tragic, large-scale fires (e.g. The Great Chicago Fire, The Iroquois Theater Fire, Our Lady of the Angels School Fire, The La Salle Hotel Fire). Fortunately for Chicago, it’s had a fire department since 1832. Of course, at the time, the department was a company called the “Washington Volunteers;” the first paid Chicago fire department was organized in 1858.
Technology improved from mandatory fire buckets in stores and hand-engines used by the fire department to horse-drawn engines. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 demonstrated the inadequacy of the department at the time, leading to significant alterations and additions. Fire boats were incorporated, the fire pole was invented and installed, and the force expanded.
“The Chicago Fire Department”
The fire department stopped using horses for fire trucks February 5, 1923, with Fire Engine 11, at 10 East Austin Avenue. Fire alarm box 846 at State and Chicago Avenue was pulled at 12:40 p.m. and with the horses scrubbed and groomed, the old steamer rolled out of the swinging doors for the last time. While they were gone the new motor apparatus was backed into place, and the motorization of the Chicago Fire Department was an accomplished fact. The city purchased 28 Model “A” Fords for their Battalion Chiefs. The roofs were left black while the bottoms were painted red, the now-familiar color scheme of fire engines.The drivers took a cheer from the crowd on the return to the firehouse and then the horses were taken to the House of Correction to be sold.
The Chicago Fire Department is the largest fire department in the Midwest, and one of the largest and oldest major organized fire departments in the U.S.
CHICAGO VS. NEW YORK FIREMEN.
Baseball teams representing- the Chicago and New York firemen played a series of three games ifn New York city July 20, 21 and 22, 1922. the visitors winning the first two contests by scores of 4 to 2 and 10 to 9. New York won the third game 13 to 6. In 1921 the New York team won two out of three games.
Captain David Kenyon invented the first sliding pole in 1878. The pole was placed in the quarters of Engine 21, located at 313 Third Avenue (909 South Plymouth Court). Captain Kenyon was a member of the volunteer fire department from 1856 to 1859. He became a paid member in 1869, assigned to Engine 5.
“Descending From the Bunk Room”
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine
Programme of the Fireman’s Tournament held in Chicago, September 3-7, 1879.