enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE FOURTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES CUNNINGHAM.
- THE VARIED INTERESTS OF THE FOURTH DISTRICT
ITS BOUNDARIES AND CHARACTERISTICS
DISTRICT FOUR includes broadly the territory that is fed by
the Union Elevated Railroad on Myrtle Avenue and DeKalb Avenue street
car line, from Cumberland Street to Throop Avenue. The district is a
parallelogram running northeast and southwest with the two streets last
named bounding its ends. Its northwest side is bounded by Flushing
Avenue from Cumberland Street to Throop Avenue; and the opposite side
by Lexington Avenue, with a triangular addition between Fulton and Grand
Avenues. The district is a great congeries of nearly all the varieties of
building that go to make up a city dwellings, factories, tenements,
armories, churches and business houses. They are of all qualities and
degrees of importance and range from the splendid to the humble.
- DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES CUNNINGHAM : A WORTHY SON OF A WORTHY SIRE
James CUNNINGHAM, District Engineer in command of the Fourth District, in
which are located Engine Companies Nos. 9, 10 and 30, and Truck Company No.
2, perpetuates in his name and service those of his distinguished father,
John CUNNINGHAM who was the last Chief of the Volunteer Department and the
first Chief of the present Department. Mr. CUNNINGHAM has thus grown up
nurtured in the traditions of the Department ever since he was born in the
Fifth Ward on Oct. 1. 1839.
After an education in the public schools and some years spent at the trade
of a shipwright, having moved into the Seventh, or Wallabout Ward, he joined
Columbia Engine No. 10, at the age of twenty-one. He served with this
company until the formation of the present Department, when he was selected
from among many applicants to fill the important position of Foreman of
Engine Company No. 9. This appointment was the best possible recognition
of the value of his previous services; for No. 9 located in Graham Street,
near Myrtle Avenue, held a post of honor, its location being remote and its
field covering from Fort Greene to East New York, and from Flushing
Avenue to the Penitentiary, requiring a self-reliant Foreman to cope with
the responsibilities. The proximity of this field to the Eastern District
frequently called No. 9 to duty there, and altogether the company had more
than its fair share of duty. There was no telegraph alarm in those days,
and when the wind blew strong and wrong the tower bell did not always give
an unmistakable signal. But Foreman CUNNINGHAM always gave the fire the
benefit of any doubt, and started whenever he even thought he heard an
alarm, or saw smoke by day or light by night. The long distances necessary
to travel to cover the district, and the wretched pavements, often broke
down the apparatus; but he was always equal to every emergency, and either
took his horses to the nearest apparatus, or got his hose to the fire in
some other way if his tender broke down, or in various ingenious and
effective ways covered the necessity of the case.
His discretion on arriving at the fire always proved to be exercised in the
wisest way and so great was the value of a life-long experience and an
inherited "head for the business," that he never lost his head under
circumstances that often would baffle others of ordinarily good Judgment.
The rapidity with which he always got his apparatus to a fire frequently
brought him first on the ground, where his special qualities were of the
highest value. His knowledge may be attributed in part to the fact that,
as Foreman of No. 9, he was thus often called upon to perform duties which
properly belonged to a District Engineer, and so well did he perform them
that on the death of District Engineer James GAFFNEY in 1876, he was, on
Feb. 7th.of that year appointed to the vacant position. In command of this
district, he has been successful in keeping down the losses from fire,
although it is a very dangerous district, containing many factories, car
stables and frame houses.
In personal appearance Engineer CUNNINGHAM looks every inch a fireman-six
feet in height and robust of frame. He attends closely to his work and
seldom leaves the city an occasional day off being all the recreation he
desires. He is in the prime of life, and bids fair to live long to give
the Department the benefit of the experience and knowledge of this " worthy
son of a worthy sire."
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 9
A COMPANY OF LIFE-SAVERS
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 9.
Engine Company No. 9 is an organization whose history is full of interest,
not only is to members of the Fire Department, but to the people it has
served so long and faithfully. It is almost inseparably connected with the
growth and progress of the city. It was organized right in the heart of
this great city in 1869, and during its existence of almost a quarter of a
century it has been called upon to battle with some of the fiercest
fires on record, the terrible Brooklyn Theatre fire being one of them. A
fact that speaks volumes for this company is that nearly every member of it
has a record as a lifesaver and a place on the roll of honor.
Engine No. 9 is located at No. 157 Graham Street, just off Myrtle Avenue,
and from this house the brave company who are attached to it have gone out
thousands of times to risk life and limb in defence of the lives and
property of their fellow-citizens. Strange as it may seem, they have been
called out to six fires in a single day, between the hours of 3 p. m. and 2
a. m. It hardly seems possible that men could stand so much strain. This
will give the reader something of an idea of what the average fireman must
go through in the line of duty. The district for which the company is a
responsible is within the following boundaries: Broadway, the city line,
Cumberland Street and Tompkins Avenue. This is a great stretch of territory,
but No. 9 covers it and does it well, as the records of the Fire Department
and the newspapers demonstrate. The mere mention of these boundaries does
not give a correct idea of the extent of the district. To make it clearer,
let us say a first-alarm will send the company flying out as far as the
Kings County Penitentiary, which is only a stone's-throw from the city line,
but nearly two miles from No. 9's house. A second-alarm will also bring it
to the foot of Division Avenue, which is the dividing line separating the
Thirteenth and Nineteenth Wards. In a word. Engine No. 9 is responsible
for and must answer alarms in the Seventh, Ninth, Thirteenth, Nineteenth,
Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-third and Twenty fourth Wards, which embrace
nearly one-third of the city. In cases of second-alarms the company may be
called a mile beyond the boundaries of its own immediate district, while
third alarms will send it as far as Greenpoint in one direction, East New
York in another, or even down to South Brooklyn. The district differs
in several respects from others, inasmuch as it includes both the most
aristocratic and gig the most humble quarters of the city. Palatial
mansions, costing as much as $150,000, which are an ornament to the city,
can be found in one part of the district, and the poorest hovels in other
parts. It is a great industrial centre, too; some of Brooklyn's greatest
factories and mills are in it. And it is a great lumber centre as well.
What is probably the largest publishing house in the world is in one part of
the district, and one of the most extensive markets in the country is
located in another part. Among the structures of note within it are the
United States Naval Hospital, the Pratt Institute, the Adelphi Academy, the
Navy Yard buildings, the Clermont Avenue Rink, the 23d Regiment Armory,
which adjoins it; the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle, the Wallabout Market, the
Girls' High School and the Boys' High School, both magnificent and costly
structures; the Criterion Theatre, the Oxford, Lincoln, Laurence, Union
League and Jackson club-houses; the Pouch mansion, which cost about
$250,000, and the Homoeopathic Hospital. There are also the Baptist Home,
the Sisters of Mercy Convent, where 600 orphans are sheltered; the Home for
Aged Men, the Brooklyn M. E. Church Home, the Emmanuel and Washington Avenue
Baptist churches the Throop Avenue, DeKalb Avenue, Summerfield, Simpson and
Francis Methodist Episcopal churches; the Roman Catholic churches of St.
Patrick, Sacred Heart and St. Ambrose; St. John's Chapel, the Roman Catholic
bishop's mansion, on Clermont Avenue; the Cumberland, Lafayette Avenue and
Central Presbyterian churches ; the Fourth Precinct Police Station.
Clinton Avenue, which is included within the district, is lined with many
costly mansions, among them being the residences of :
Mrs. Charles PRATT,
Gen. Henry W. SLOCUM,
Ex-Mayor John W. HUNTER,
Geo. H. NICHOLS,
William H. WALLACE.
Charles A. SCHIEREN,
Frederick B. PRATT,
D. H. HOUGHTALING,
R. S. BARNES,
Henry T. CHAPMAN. Jr,
J. C. HOAGLAND,
C. N. HOAGLAND,
W. B. BOERUM,
Dr. George R. KUHN. and others.
There are, also, a number of splendid school buildings in the district as follows:
Public Schools Nos. 3, 4, 11, 12, 25,35, 41,42,44,45,54 and 79. The real
and personal property within No. 9's district is worth not less than
$125,000,000, and to guard against the danger of fire this colossal
amount of wealth. Engine No. 9 must keep unceasing vigil.
Engine No. 9 was organized and went into commission on Sept. 15. 1869.
It's succeeded Engine No. 12 of the old Volunteer Department, which passed
out of existence that year, and it occupies the same quarters on Graham
Street, near Myrtle Avenue, which belonged to old No. 12. It is an
interesting coincidence that four of the men who belong to it to-day were
appointed the day the engine, began service as a branch of Brooklyn Fire
Department. They are Foreman James W. CONNELL, John FRIEL, James CASSIDY
and John FARRELL. During its career, Engine No. 9 has been called out
thousands of times, and many dangerous fires have occurred within its
district. Among the ones deserving special notice are those at the Adelphi
Academy, the cocoa-mat factory, and the burning of the Nostrand Avenue flats
which occurred in the winter of 1892 and which rendered one hundred families
homeless and penniless as well. This latter fire was marked by several
thrilling rescues of imperilled tenants from the burning buildings, and in
that brave work the members of No. 9 distinguished themselves. Six
of them assisted in the rescue of a woman who had to be lowered with a rope.
They were rewarded by being placed on the roll of honor. This sketch would
not be complete if we failed to record the splendid service No. 9's company
rendered the unfortunate people who suffered from that calamitous fire.
They went to work the following day and raised a relief fund of $500, which
they distributed among those whose needs were most pressing. All honor to
the brave men! Deeds like that should be recorded in letters of gold.
Foreman JAMES W. CONNELL, although a very young man, is one of the veterans
of the Department. He is only forty-four years old, having been born Jan.
9, 1848, in Brooklyn, yet he has been a member of the Brooklyn Fire
Department twenty-three years. And before he became a member of it he was
for several years attached to the Volunteer Fire Department, serving as
engineer and Captain of Engine No. 12. He organized the company for the
fireboat " Seth Low," and for a year was in command of it. During his
extended career he has served with Engines Nos. 9, 22, 23, (the fireboat
"Seth Low") and 24, but most of his life has been spent with No. 9, of which
he is Foreman. Mr. CONNELL has been a Foreman since June 15, 1885. On
several occasions he has distinguished himself by rescuing or assisting in
the rescue of life, but of his brave deeds it is impossible to get him to speak.
Assistant Foreman MICHAEL MCKlNNEY is a fireman of skilled and recognized
bravery. He was born Dec. 10, 1845, and has been in the Department since
Oct. 1, 1881. He was only a boy when he entered the Union army, in which
he served with credit to himself and his country. He also served in the
navy, so that he was doubly equipped for the hazardous career of a fireman.
He had been in the Department about six years when (March 1, 1887, he was
raised to the rank of Assistant Foreman.
THOMAS J. NASH, Assistant Foreman (detailed), was born April 29, 1855. He
was appointed June 15, 1887, and has rendered the Department most excellent
service. He was promoted Assistant Foreman on Feb. 15, 1892.
JOHN FARRELL is a veteran with twenty-three years of hard and faithful
service to his credit. He is a native of Ireland, born Dec. 20, 1842, but
he has lived in the United States since childhood. He served with credit
in the army, and was one of the first men to enroll in the Brooklyn Fire
Department. His appointment was made Sept 15, 1869. During his long and
useful career he has been noted for the conscientious performance of his
work and his willingness to take any risk in the line of duty.
JOHN FRIEL is another of the quartette on No. 9, who have seen twenty-three
years' service. He was appointed Sept. 15, 1869, the day the company began
its career. He was born in Brooklyn, forty-eight years ago, March 9, 1844.
and was only twenty-five years of age when he became a fire guardian. He
has a war record as well, and a good one, for before he Joined the Brooklyn
Fire Department he had rendered his country two years' service in the army
as a member of Company F, 10th Vols. As he was a good soldier he has
proven himself a good fireman and a life-saver as well.
JAMES CASSIDY is a fire guardian of recognized ability, and like his
comrades Foreman CONNELL. John FRIEL and John FARRELL, he has devoted
twenty-three years of his life to battling fire. He was born in Ireland,
Aug. 12. 1843, and Joined the Fire Department, Sept. 15, 1869. Mr. CASSIDY
is one of the most courageous firemen in the country and he has on more than
one occasion snatched imperilled men and women from the jaws of death at
fires. He was at the Nostrand Avenue fire and his work there secured him a
place on the roll of honor.
Engineer JEROME R. JOHNSON was born in Brooklyn, March 10, 1856. Joining
the Department April 1, 1885, he acquitted himself so admirably that in
about a year he was (on April 8, 1885) raised to the highly responsible
position of engineer, which he has filled over six years with credit to
himself and satisfaction to his superior officers.
EDWARD KARCHER has been attached to the Brooklyn Fire Department over
seven years, having been appointed June 15. 1885. He was only twenty-three
years old when he donned the fireman's uniform. He was born in New York
April 21 1862. During his connection with the Department he has been known
as a brave and capable fire guardian. Mr. KARCHER rendered splendid
service at the great Nostrand Avenue fire, assisting in the rescue of
several persons from the burning buildings, for which he was placed on the
roll of honor. Prior to his joining the Fire Department he served
with credit in the United States Navy.
MAURICE FOLEY is one of the junior members of Engine No. 9, both in years
and length of service, but he has proven himself most worthy of membership
in that company. He is a native of Ireland and was born Christmas Day,
1863. Passing a most creditable examination, and backed by excellent
recommendations, he was appointed on April 16, 1890, by Fire Commissioner
Ennis. Like all his comrades he is a brave and capable fireman and his
services in the work of life-saving have secured for him a place
on the roll of honor. He was with his company at the disastrous Nostrand
Avenue fire and assisted his comrades in their heroic work on that occasion.
JOHN MORAN was born in Brooklyn, Aug. 29, 1861, and has spent all his life
in the city which he is now serving as a fireman. Commissioner ENNIS
appointed him Dec. 3, 1889. so that he has been in service nearly three
years. At first he was attached to Engine No. 10. He is now connected
with Engine No. 9, and as one of his colleagues said of him, is a fireman
from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. Whenever called out he
performs his duty with dash and energy, and bravery as well.
THOMAS J. MULLEN is one of the younger members of this company, having been
born on Sept. 20, 1861, in Brooklyn. He was only twenty-four years old
when he was appointed, Oct. 9, 1885, after passing a most creditable
examination. His career as a fireman, covering a period of seven years,
has been marked by hard service, and he has always performed his arduous
duties with credit -to himself, his company and the Department at large.
WILLIAM B. NERNEY is a Brooklynite, born on Oct. 5, 1860, and was appointed
Jan. 1, 1881. During his service in the Department he has demonstrated his
fitness for the position he occupies. He is regarded as a brave,
cool-headed fireman, prompt and careful in the performance of any duty that
may be assigned to him. He has shown his bravery on more than one
CHRISTOPHER F. SHAW is, like the majority of his colleagues in No. 9, a
native of Brooklyn, in which city he was born. Dec. 2, 1858. He is a
dashing, plucky and capable fireman. At the Nostrand Avenue fire last
winter he assisted in the rescue of several lives and was placed on the roll
JOHN WARREN MANNING was born in Belfast, Ireland, Jan. 20, 1863, and is the
youngest member of the company. He became a fireman Dec. n, 1890, and he
has been connected with the company ever since. His record is that of a
brave, conscientious and efficient fireman. He is thoroughly devoted to
his work and is bound to make his mark in the Department.
There is a member of Engine No. 9 deserving at least a passing reference.
He never joined the Department and yet he is in it. He is always on duty
and serves without pay or hope of reward beyond three square meals a day.
His name is " Spot," the company's fire dog ; a bright intelligent animal
that revels in a race to a fire. Foreman CONNELL says "Spot" knows every
box in the district and is the " first man " to answer when the gong calls
the company to duty.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 10
A TRAINING-SCHOOL FOR FIREMEN
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 10.
The annals of Engine No. 10 show that beside excellent discipline and hard
work a single fire-company may do a great deal for the good of the entire
Department through the careful training of the individual firemen. Engine
Company No. 10 had done that long before it came under the present pay
system. As No. 9 in the Volunteer Department, it was a " training-school"
for firemen, and turned out good men, as their subsequent records show.
The " school" has not changed its location for many years, as the Volunteer
No. 9 occupied for a long time the house on Carlton Avenue, near Myrtle,
that is now the house of No. 10, and save for its slightly antique
arrangements is as serviceable as ever.
It is doubtful if there is a more important fire district in Brooklyn than
District 4, which calls Engine No. 10 in the first-alarms. Part of the
district is occupied by costly residences, and there are also many churches
and public buildings in it. Many of the largest buildings are anything but
fireproof, and if once well started burning would make great fires. In many
of the big flat-houses in the district live hundreds of persons whose lives
are constantly dependent upon the prompt action of the firemen, and in such
case never has Engine No. 10 been found lacking in either promptitude or
energy. Since Engine No. 10 was reorganized under the pays system, she has
had six Foremen, William HARRIS, Charles MCDONOUGH, W.A. BEARDALL, Peter
FARRELL, James F. MURRAY and James GANNON, the present Foreman. MCDONOUGH
and BEARDALL have retired, but all the rest are in active service and are
excellent firemen. At nearly all the big fires that have occurred in
Brooklyn since 1873, No. 10 has done noticeably good work. At the
burning in 1873, of the big storehouses owned by Woodruff & Robinson at the
foot of Conover Street, No. 10 was on hand promptly and for sixty hours,
with but one relief of six hours, the engine, an Amoskeag that was then only
a year old, pumped steadily at the big blaze. Almost every minute of the
working time-54 hours-the men were in danger of their lives from the
possibility of the fall of the lofty walls. Toward the last of the blaze
Fireman BENNETT who occupied a position near one wall that was evidently
cracking was called, back by the Foreman and his fellow-firemen. He rushed
backward just as the wall began to topple toward him, but he was a little
too late and the crumbling bricks knocked him down. When he was taken out
it was thought that his injuries would prove fatal, but after some time in
the hospital he recovered. During the last hours of the work at this fire,
the men of No. 10 were so blackened by smoke and worn out by the long hours
of continuous work, that it was not for several days that they recovered
either their complexions or their natural strength and activity. The
burning of the Havemeyer & Elder sugar refinery .at the foot of North Second
Street, Jan. 13, 1881, was another event that brought out the good qualities
of Engine No. 10. The alarm was sent in shortly after four in the afternoon
and the fireboat "Seth Low" pumped millions of gallons of water onto the
big building, the land forces were kept at work until the next morning at
During all the night No. 10 held a dangerous position near the enormous
building, which was one mass of flames within the lofty walls that bulged
threateningly but did not drive the men belonging to Engine No. 10 from
their work, although several of them had narrow escapes from falling timbers
All of the good work done by No. 10 has not been confined to the saving of
property. When fire started in the bakery on St. Mark's Avenue, near
Albany, and adjoining St. John's Home, the men of No. 10 worked faster and
with more energy than even usual with them. In the Home which is under the
Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, there were more than five hundred destitute
boys, none older than fourteen years and many not three years old. The
flames from the bakery extended to the Home, and three alarms were sent out
at once. The thirty-six Sisters of Charity that had the care of the little
ones aided the firemen in preserving the little children from panic or death
in the flames. The men of No. 10 were among the first to enter the Home,
where the children stood in frightened groups. Fortunately the fire was in
the rear and the little orphans were able to march out of the front doors
between the lines of big firemen. Many of the smallest of the children were
carried out by men from No. 10. After the children were taken out the fire
was subdued in good season.
When an engine working at a fire comes so near being burnt up herself that
water has to be pumped on her instead of the burning building, the fact
should be an excellent proof of the class of work that engine-company does.
Such an incident occurred to Engine No. 10 at the burning of Palmer's
cooperage on Kent Avenue on the first day of June, 1891. Engineer William
F. KINGSLAND had just settled down to the working of the engine when flames
shot out from the building and hemmed the engine in between it and the
river, drove the men away, though Engineer KINGSLAND stuck as long as he
could and, reaching the engine, burned off the tongue and set the wheels
ablaze. Nothing saved her from destruction but a deluge of water from
neighboring engines, which was kept up till the fire was over, and the
horses could be brought down to drag away the charred and blackened machine.
At this fire Engine No. 15 was entirely destroyed in much the same manner
that No. 10 was damaged. Had it not been for the thorough discipline and
the presence of mind of the men of No. 10 there would have been several
of them burned to death at the Smith, Gray & Co. fire that occurred in Feb,
1892, in the big building at the corner of Flatbush and Fulton Avenues.
The fire was in the basement when No. 10's crew entered the building with
their pipe. After a few hours' work it was evident that the fire was deeply
rooted, but the men were so busy working that they did not notice the clouds
of smoke that were pouring up from the floor behind them until they were
almost overpowered. Foreman GANNON ordered the crew to quit work
and run for their lives. There was no time to haul out the hose and it
looked for a few minutes as though the half-suffocated men were not going to
find their way through the black wall of smoke that was between them and the
outer doors. Foreman GANNON decided to make a rush, trusting to his
knowledge of the building to point him in the right direction. His men
dropped the hose and followed. After what seemed hours to the men, who
were holding their breath lest they should inhale the deadly smoke, shouts
from outside guided them to the safe exit, and with parched throats and
blackened faces they stumbled out into fresh air. In the history of Engine
No. 10 there are many instances of such thrilling work and narrow escapes,
but the training of the men and the discipline of the company has stood in
good stead and serious accidents to the men are rare.
Foreman JAMES GANNON is among the oldest of the firemen now in the service
of the Department. He is under middle height, but his frame shows that his
strength is greater than ordinary. He was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 24,
1845, and was in the old a Volunteer Fire Department for five years and six
months before the establishment of the new Department. Mr. GANNON was a
member of Engine No. 12, of the old Department, and was appointed from that
engine to No. 10. On March 1 1887 he was promoted to the position of
Assistant Foreman and in June, 1891, was made Foreman. His work as a
fireman has proved his fitness for the position, and although a
very quiet and reserved man, he is popular with all the men under him.
Assistant Foreman WILLIAM H. BROWN, JR. was born in New York City Sept 18
1862, and appointed to Engine No. 10 in 1887. He is a cool, careful
fireman with a good future before him and a good record in the past. He was
promoted to his present rank Feb. 13, 1892.
Engineer WILLIAM F. KINGSLAND was born in Brooklyn, Jan. n. 1847 and was
appointed Dec. 21, 1872. He has shown in many instances that he knows what
his duties are and how to perform them. On Feb. 15, 1891 he was promoted
to the rank engineer.
VALENTINE HENDRICKSON was born in Brooklyn in 1847, and appointed to Engine
No. 10 April 1, 1881.
ANDREW W. BERTH was born in Brooklyn, Oct. 22, 1857. He was appointed
April 7, 1885.
JOHN J. MULLALY was born in Ireland, March 25, 1849, and came to America
when a young man, entering the Department in April, 1878
JOHN FEENEY was born in Ireland, in 1842. He came to this country and
served a term in the U. S. Navy, later entering the Department, May 3, 1870
HENRY F. MAGUIRE was born in Brooklyn, Feb. 22, l866, and was appointed to
Engine No. 10, Feb. 11, 1891.
JOHN J. MULDARY was born in Brooklyn, Jan. n, 1862, and was appointed April
FRANCIS P. CREIGHTON was born in Brooklyn, Sept. 15, 1857, joining the Fire
Department March 3, 1883.
EDWARD SHAUGHNESSEY was born in Greenwich, Conn., on St. Patrick's Day 1844
He was made a fireman on Dec. 11, 1873.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 30
A WELL-HOUSED TWO-YEAR-OLD
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 30.
From an architectural point of view the quarters of Engine Company No 30 on
Ellery Street near Marcy Avenue, are by far the handsomest in the
Department. The company was organized July 2, 1891, and it is situated in
the heart of a district mainly composed of two and three-story frame
dwellings, the ground floors of many being occupied as business places. In
some portions of the district, there are two buildings (front and rear), on
each lot, which are occupied by Polish Jews. It also contains a great
number of handsome private residences, and numerous factories where various
kinds of manufactured goods are turned out to the value of many millions of
dollars yearly. There are a dozen school-houses, and double that number of
churches of various denominations in the territory. The ninety boxes to
which the members of the company respond on a first-alarm takes in a
district which has for its northerly boundary-line White Street; its
easterly. Berry Street and Myrtle Avenue; southerly, Jefferson
Avenue, and westerly, Classon Avenue. On a second-alarm they respond to
calls from 150 boxes, and on a third they take in the territory bounded by
East New York, Carlton Avenue, the city line and Greenpoint Bridge.
Some of the principal buildings in the immediate district are Fowler's car
shops Dunlap's hat factory, Greenfield's candy factory, Physer's chemical
works, Muller's varnish works, the Brooklyn City Railroad stables, Liebman's
brewery, Uhlmer's brewery, Malcolm's brewery and Obermeyer & Liebman's
brewery, the large moulding mills and sash and blind works of White, Potter
& Page, and Doughty, MacFarland Co. the American cocoa-matting factory,
Batterman's six-story dry goods house, Swatzer's furniture house, Cooper &
McKee's refrigerator factory, Reber's lumber yard, Appleton's book bindery,
Schult's bakery, Bossert's planing mills. New York Gutta-percha Works, Hoop
& Gore's hat factory, Ferguson's planing mills, Bindrin's carriage factory.
North American Iron Company's works and Mollers' knitting works.
The company is made up of men who never shirk their duty, and who are
willing at any time to risk their own lives to protect the lives and
property of citizens. They are quick workers and so are the four bay
horses, their average time in getting out of the house after an alarm being
nine seconds. They are equipped with a second-class Amoskeag steamer,
which is kept as bright as a piece of burnished silver, and a new hose-cart
with all the latest fire appliances. The men individually have exhibited
great taste in decorating the interior of the house, and everything about
their quarters is as orderly and cleanly as it can possibly be.
Foreman JOHN F. DOBSON was born in Brooklyn, Jan. 29, 1854. He is married
and lives at No. 637 Willoughby Avenue. Prior to becoming a fireman, on
Jan. 7, 1876, he was a conductor on the South Side Railroad. He served as
a private with Engine No. 16 until Dec. 15, 1880, when he was promoted to
the grade of Foreman and sent to organize Engine Company No. 19. He
remained in command of the latter company until July 2, 1891, when he was
called on to organize Engine Company No. 30. At a tenement house fire on
Fifth Avenue near Tenth Street, Foreman DOBSON worked himself up to the top
floor through the blinding smoke, and took in his arms the unconscious form
of a girl, who had been overcome, and bore her to the street. She was past
all hope of recovery and died a short time after being taken out. Mr.
DOBSON returned again into the burning building and assisted in rescuing
four others of the same family who after being taken to the hospital
recovered consciousness. In 1881 at a fire on Underhill Avenue, the flames
had burned away the stairs and cutoff a woman and two children who lived on
the top floor, from all means of escape. When Mr. DOBSON and his company
arrived on the scene and learned the facts, he was the first to mount a
ladder to go to their rescue. He reached the windows of the top story none
too soon, for the terrified mother was about to throw her children out of
the window when Foreman DOBSON shouted to her and at the same time seized
one of the children just as it was about to drop into the street. Through
his coolness and bravery both mother and children were taken out in safety.
On the night of Feb 15, 1892, a fire broke out in the frame tenement, No.
546 Flushing Avenue. On an upper floor were six persons, among them a woman
seventy years of age who weighed nearly 300 pounds. The smoke was so dense
that it was impossible for the people to escape by the stairway, and when
Foreman DOBSON and his men at great risk to themselves lowered her carefully
down the stairway until the house was freed from smoke, when with much
difficulty Foreman DOBSON his men a great risk to themselves lowered her
carefully down the stairway.
Assistant Foreman John J. ENNIS was born in Brooklyn, April 7, 1861. He is a
nephew of the present Fire Commissioner and was appointed Jan. 21, 1887. He
served as a private in Engine Company No. 9 until June 1, 1891, when he was
promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman and transferred to No. 30. Mr.
ENNIS is a fine-looking young man, and as a fireman is a valuable
acquisition to the Department. He is married and lives on Grand Avenue,
near Devoe Street. On Oct 16, 1891, in jumping from the tender, he received
severe injuries to one of his legs.
Frank VANDERLINE, the engineer, was born in Brooklyn, Jan 10, 1861. He is
married and lives at No. 178 Penn Street. Before his appointment to the
force, he served four years and a half in the United States Navy, serving
successively on the following war vessels: "Minnesota," "Wyoming,"
"Trenton," "Wabash," and the "New Hampshire." On the "Trenton" he made a
long cruise to the Mediterranean. He was appointed a fireman on Nov. 1,
1883, and did duty with Engine Company Co. 9 until he was transferred to his
Edward J. MAY, the driver was born in Ireland, Nov 30, 1857; and was
appointed April 1, 1885. Prior to the organization of No. 30, he was
attached to Engine No. 19 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 2.
JOHN S. GILLESPIE, the driver of the tender, was born in Brooklyn, Dec. 23.
1847. During the Civil War, he served in the 93d Regiment, N. Y. Vols., and
as an ordinary seaman in the United States Navy, and was honorably
discharged at the end of three years. Mr. GILLESPIE was appointed a
fireman March 7, 1888, and was assigned to Hook and Ladder Company No. 2,
where he remained until transferred to No. 30. He has a family and lives at
No. 492 Marcy Avenue.
JOHN W. JENNINGS was born in Brooklyn, March 22, 1863, and was a railroad
man up to the time of his appointment, April 1, 1892. He is married and
lives at No. 1469 Fulton Avenue.
JAMES J. COLLINS was born in Brooklyn, June 29, 1865. He is a carpenter by
trade, and lives at No. 144 North Fifth Street. His appointment dates from
April 1, 1892.
JOHN GRAHAM TILLEY was born in Brooklyn, Feb. 3, 1861. He was made a
fireman March 19, 1878, and assigned to Engine Company No. 11, where he
remained up to the time Engine Company No. 30 was organized. He is a
bachelor and lives at No. 209 Ross Street.
PATRICK WHITE was born in Ireland, June 10, 1861. He was an employee of
the Brooklyn City Railroad Company when he was appointed a fireman March 31,
1892 and assigned to duty with No. 30. Mr. White is married and lives at
No. 110 North Henry Street.
WILLIAM F. ALLEN was born in Providence, R. I., July 6, 1842. He served
four years in the army and navy during the Civil War and received an
honorable discharge. Subsequently he joined the Volunteer Fire Department,
and was attached to "Young America' Hook and Ladder Company No. 3 for four
years. He is a member of the Exempt Firemen's Association of the Eastern
District. He became a member of the Paid Department on March 14, 1888, and
prior to being transferred to No. 30 did active duty with Engine Companies
Nos. 16 and 21. At the Waterbury rope works fire, Sept. 23, 1891, he was
overcome by the smoke, but recovered a few hours later at the hospital.
Mr. Alien is married and lives at No. 154 South Third Street.
JOHN H. JEFFERS was born in New York City. When the war broke out he
enlisted in the 56th Regiment, N. Y. Vols., and later joined the 1st
Veterans, 2d Battalion, Hawkins Zouaves. As a volunteer fireman he was
connected with Eagle Engine No. 6, Lafayette Hook and Ladder No. 2 and Hose
No. 6. He became a member of the Paid Department Nov. 20, 1877, but
subsequently resigned. He was reappointed, however, on Nov. 1, 1887, and
did service with Engine No. 24 and the fireboat " Seth Low." He was
injured at the Planet Mills fire in 1889.
HENRY GOTTLOCK was born in the town of Newtown, L. I., on April 30, l860,
and prior to becoming a fireman on July 1, 1892, he had worked for seventeen
years at the house-painting trade as foreman.
The company turned out to the first fire after their organization on the
morning of July 4, 1891, and between that time and midnight they were called
out five times more. On the 13th of the same month they performed several
hours' hard duty at a fire at Nos. 191, 193 and 195 Sanford Street, which
destroyed a sash and blind factory and some frame tenements and stables.
At the Waterbury rope works fire, Sept. 23, 1891, they worked twelve
consecutive hours. Their next big fire was at J. W. Lyon & Co.'s
rag storage house, Nos. 832 and 834 Kent Avenue, on Oct. 12, 1891. At the
Nostrand Avenue tenement house on Nov. 17, 1891, this company was the first
due at the scene, and for fourteen hours the men worked like beavers in
rescuing the seventy-five or more families who inhabited the big four-story
"double-deckers," and by the destruction of which buildings several persons
lost their lives and the rest were left homeless and shivering in the
streets. On Nov. 24, 1891, made memorable by the water famine, in
Brooklyn, they turned out on a " special call " to a fire at Van Brunt and
Union Streets, after having done active duty at three other fires. On Nov.
25, 1891, they responded to a second-alarm of fire at Hooper's glass works
on Maujer Street near Stagg, and they did some effective work on Jan. 7,
1892, at the burning of a row of private houses, sheds and stables, Nos. 797
to 803 Monroe Street; on Jan. l6th, at a large fur factory at No. 538 Park
Avenue, where they worked three hours; on Jan. 28th, at the immense
bagging factory on Kent Avenue, between South Third and Fourth Streets; and
on a " special call" on Feb. 29 they presented themselves at the Smith, Gray
& Co.'s fire and remained on active duty for several hours. The company have
attended numerous small fires in their immediate district within this
period, but owing to their promptness in reaching the scene and their active
work afterward the losses in most cases were only trifling.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 2 AND ITS GALLANT RESCUES.
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 2.
Truck No. 2 was organized Sept. 15,1869. This company came into existence
during the last days of the old volunteer service and the initial period of
the present Paid Fire Department. John S. DOOLEY, now deceased, was the
first Foreman. The old truck-house was located on Bedford Avenue, near
Myrtle Avenue, only two doors from the present headquarters, to which the
company moved in February of the present year, upon the completion of it's
new building. The Foremen down to the present time have been John S.
DOOLEY, George L. APPLEGATE, retired from the Department; Platt VAN COTT,
the present Foreman of Engine Company No. 2 in South Brooklyn; David
KIRKPATRICK, the present Foreman of Truck No. n ; Thomas BURNS, retired from
the Department; and Michael FRIEL, the present Foreman.
The company has made an enviable record for itself by faithful attention to
duty, having done splendid service at all the fires in the district since
Among the noteworthy conflagrations at which the fire laddies of Truck No. 2
have done hard work are Havemeyer's sugar house fire in Jan., 1881, the
burning of the oil works of Sone & Fleming, and the Orphan Asylum fire, in
which one of the sisters and several of the children were burned to death.
Many gallant rescues have been made by the members of this company. At a
fire in Myrtle Avenue, near Spencer Street, in 1871, four persons were taken
out of the flames by Foreman Michael FRIEL and others of this company. The
fire started in a scenery painting shop on the ground floor, and before the
firemen could get the water turned on the whole building was in flames. A
Mrs. ANDERSON and her little son and daughter were found unconscious on the
top floor, and rescued by the firemen at a great risk to their own lives.
An adjoining house caught fire and began to blaze. The occupants came
running down to the street, when one of the men said that there was a sick
boy in the house. Fireman FRIEL made an effort to get the boy out,
wrapping a blanket about him and starting for the stairs. The fire
which was coming in from the adjoining building cut off all escape in that
way, and it was only by the hardest exertions of Truck No. 2, that the
rescuer and rescued were saved from the flames. The gallant fireman's face
and neck were terribly burned and for several weeks it was feared that he
would die. After he recovered it was learned that the little boy he
rescued was suffering from the small-pox. At a fire Oct. 8, 1883, at No.
694 Atlantic Avenue, a Mr. Curry was rescued from the flames by Foreman
Platt VAN COTT. On Nov. 24, 1883 Fireman FRIEL was detailed to the Grand
Opera House for duty. A fire broke out in the property-room, endangering
the lives of 1,600 spectators. After a hard battle the fireman managed to
extinguish the flames and for his heroic conduct was given a splendid gold
badge. At a fire on DeKalb Avenue in Feb. 1887, a man and wife were rescued
from an upper story of a burning tenement house.
The scene at the time of the rescue was a thrilling one. The firemen of
Truck No. 2 quickly arranged scaling ladders and took the people from the
windows of the upper story with the flames bursting out of the burning
building above and below them. Two members of Truck No. 2 distinguished
themselves at a big flat-house fire on Franklin Avenue, near Myrtle Avenue,
in the fall of 1889. The flames broke out in the dry goods store on the
ground floor, and shut off all chance of escape by the stairway. Firemen
ROACH and FRIEL made an entrance by an upper window and took out a Mrs.
WOODS, who was lying unconscious in the middle of her room. The woman's
mother was caught in the flames and burned to death.
The new house of Truck No. 2 is one of the finest belonging to the Fire
Department of Brooklyn. It is a handsome two-story brick structure,
twenty-two feet front and extending back ninety-two feet, with a six-foot
yard in the rear. It is fitted with every modern appliance for
fire-fighting, and with every convenience that the members of the company
could desire. In equipment it is one of the finest truck-houses in the
country. The inside walls on the lower floor are of Peerless white brick,
giving a very neat appearance to the room. The floor is of concrete. One
of the improvements made in the new building was in providing separate rooms
for the Foreman and Assistant Foreman, instead of berthing them with the
firemen in the main room have a Hayes patent extension-ladder seventy-two
feet in length, the intersection being 40 feet and the inner section 32
feet. They can also make so-foot extension-ladders, and have others of 30,
22, 18, 16 and 12 feet. The two horses, "Dan " and " Pete," are splendid
animals and are great favorites with the men. Housed so handsomely,
with every convenience for living in the house and every facility for their
work, the members of the company appreciate the fact that their surroundings
go as far as possible to perfect their efficiency, and give them a standard
to " live up to."
Foreman MICHAEL FRIEL was born in Brooklyn, March 8, 1847. He was appointed
Oct. n, 1871, and assigned to Truck No. 2 for duty. Nearly all of his
service has been with this company, although he was for a time Foreman of
Engine No 17. He was made a driver in 1876, and ten years later, on Aug. 6,
1886, was promoted to the grade of Foreman. He served during the war in
both the volunteer army and navy.
CHARLES H. BIXBY, the Assistant Foreman, is also a Brooklyn man, born in the
Fifteenth Ward, Aug. 27, 1854. Appointed to the service Feb. 7, 1879, he
was detailed to duty with Engine No. 17, and later came to Truck No. 2. He
was promoted to be Assistant Foreman March 1, 1887.
CHARLES T. WIEGAND is one of the two oldest members of the company, having
been appointed Sept. 15, 1869. He has been a member of the company ever
since its organization. WIEGAND was born in New York City, Oct. 12, 1834.
During all his years of service his record has been good and never has he
had to appear before the Commissioners to answer to charges of any kind.
Died July 27, 1892.
HUGH REYNOLDS, the driver, was born in Ireland, March 14, 1845. He entered
the service March 3, i88o, and has spent nearly twelve years with Truck No2.
DANIEL FRIEL was appointed Feb. 7, 1876, and re-appointed Jan. 1, 1883, and
has served sixteen years in this company. He was born in New City in 1846,
and has been in both the army and navy.
MICHAEL ROACH has been a fireman and popular member of Truck No. 2 for five
years He was born in Ireland, June 24, 1853, and was appointed January 24,
1887 after having passed with a high percentage the civil service
examination. He was assigned to the company he has since been on duty with
and has proven himself a valuable and efficient member of the Department.
One daring rescue made by Fireman ROACH at great risk to his own life is
told of yet by members of the company. It was a stormy night in the fall
of 1889, when Truck No. 2 was called out to a big flat-house fire on
Franklin Avenue, near Myrtle. The engines soon had several streams of water
on the flames, but it was evident that the buildings could not be saved.
The fire had started on the ground floor and the flames were spreading
through all parts of the building, breaking out from the windows and through
the floors. The firemen had got their extension-ladder to an upper window
and the Foreman called for two men to attempt the rescue of the people on
the upper story of the building. Firemen ROACH and a companion responded,
and without a word about the risk they were running mounted to the burning
upper story. In the middle room they found an unconscious woman partially
suffocated by smoke. They attempted to make an exit by the stairs but the
flames cut off all escape in that way. Blinded and almost suffocated
themselves, they made their way to the roof, from which all three were
lowered to the ground. They had hardly escaped before the floors of the
building caved in and the side walls toppled into the ruins. The woman
rescued was a Mrs. Woods, and her mother who had been in the adjoining room
was burned to death before the firemen could reach her.
RICHARD C. LAMB is one of the oldest members of Truck No. 2 and but few men
in the Brooklyn Department are senior to him in the number of years of
service or age. Since Sept. 15, 1869, he has been working as a Brooklyn
fireman, and when the old Volunteer Department went out of existence he
became a paid fireman in the new Department. He has made a splendid record
as a faithful fireman and this is shown by the fact that for over
twenty-three years LAMB has remained a member of Truck No. 2 without a
single charge being made against him. He was born in Vermont on March 8,
1834. He is a navy veteran and served under Commodore UPSHUR in the
Atlantic blockading squadron. As a fire-fighter he has made a record and at
every big conflagration Brooklyn has suffered during the past quarter of a
century he has been present and worked hard to save life and property.
LAMB became disabled several years ago at a fire and for some time his life
hung in the balance. When he recovered from the effects of his injuries he
was detailed by the Commissioner to special duty in theTelegraph Bureau of
the Department. He has become an expert electrician during his
service on this work.
JOHN FITZSIMONS has made a record as a life-saver and a brave fireman during
his seven years' service in the Fire Department of Brooklyn. He was born
in East Brooklyn. Sept. 29, 1849, and received a good education in the
public schools of this city. During his early manhood days he was employed
in a large mercantile house in New York, but on April 1, 1885, he passed the
necessary examination and was appointed a fireman and assigned to Engine
Company No. 14, at Herkimer Street, near New York Avenue. His transfer to
Truck No. 2 occurred after three years of service. As fireman of Truck No.
2 FITZSIMONS has assisted in the rescue of over ten people. His calm
self-possession in the time of danger has made him one of the admired brave
firemen of the company. At the large fire which occurred in the fall of
1890 in an apartment house on Myrtle Avenue he aided two of his companions
in the rescue of two people.
JAMES H. FLYNN, JR., the most recently appointed member of the company, was
born in Brooklyn, July 28, 1869, and became a fireman on July 1, 1892.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 12
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