enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE SEVENTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JOHN J. FANNING.
- BOUNDARIES OF THE SEVENTH DISTRICT "DUTCHTOWN" AND ITS " TINDER-BOXES"
'EARLY all the Eighteenth and Sixteenth Wards and parts of the
Twenty-first and Twenty-seventh Wards are included in the
Seventh District. This territory is irregular in shape, and is
contained within the following boundary lines: Throop Avenue,
where it adjoins the Fourth District; Graham Avenue, adjoining
the Fifth; Maspeth Avenue, adjoining the Sixth; Lexington Avenue
to the southeast. Gates Avenue to the east, and to the northeast
the city line from Gates Avenue to Newtown Creek. The
district is large and, from the fireman's point of view, important.
It contains much material for a good rousing fire, such as, under conditions
favorable to it, might extend no one knows how far. In the Sixteenth Ward
is the settlement known as " Dutchtown," which is composed almost entirely
of frame buildings, classed as " tinder-boxes," and fires once started there
are very destructive.
- DISTRICT ENGINEER FANNING- AN HONORABLE RECORD IN WAR AND FIRE DUTY
District Engineer John J. FANNING, in command of the Seventh District, was a
Brooklyn boy who was turned from the peaceful career of a milkman into a
soldier by the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, won honor and
promotion on the field., and owes his present high position in the Fire
Department to his merit. He was born in 1845, and was educated in the
public schools of this city. On the call for troops in 1861, he enlisted
in Company D, 25th New York Zouaves, and won a first sergeant's
chevrons by his bravery. He served twenty-five months, and then returned
to Brooklyn, where he followed the trade of a ship-carpenter. He never was
a member of the Volunteer Department, but he had many friends in it, and in
connection with them performed so much fire duty, more, in fact, than many
regular members of the Department, that he was regarded as a comrade by his
On Sept. 16, 1869, he was appointed a member of Engine Company No. 11, in
the new Department, and was very soon made driver of his company. The duty
was arduous, the company being one of only three to cover the entire Eastern
District, for which the only communication with the rest of the city was by
the police telegraph, and the protectors of all that region from the East
River to East New York and from the Navy Yard to Newtown Creek had to depend
largely on their own resources.
Driver FANNING performed his duty so well that when the Foreman, the late
George A. FROST, was promoted to be District Engineer, he was made
Foreman of No. 11. In 1877 he was assigned to Truck No. 6, but preferring
his original service he was very glad when a year later, he was
transferred to Engine Company No. 15, located on India Street, in the
Seventeenth Ward. At that time there were many small oil refineries on
Newtown and Bushwick Creeks, and oil fires were of almost daily occurrence,
requiring diligence, courage And good judgment on the part of the Foreman,
to save not only property but lives.
On the accession of Commissioner POILLON to the charge of the Department,
it was decided to create two additional districts, in order to reduce the
duty required of the District Engineers, and a civil service examination of
the Foremen was ordered to decide who should be promoted. In this
examination Foreman FANNING was among the successful ones, his percentage
being very high, and on July 1, 1885, he was promoted to his present
position. It has been predicted that if a great fire ever does occur in
Brooklyn, it will start in the dangerous district in which he is located,
but Engineer FANNING has shown good judgment and no serious fire has
The engines assigned to duty here are Nos. 17, 18 and 22, and Truck No. 8.
Engineer FANNING is assiduous in his attention to his duties, and with a
preference for domestic life spends his spare time with his family.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 17- LEADERS IN LIFE-SAVING
Engine Company No. 17 has been in existence sixteen years, and during that
time its members have acquired an enviable reputation for bravery and
efficient work. At every fire of consequence and many of little importance,
the boys of Engine No. 17 have been present to fight the flames and risk
their lives to save the lives or property of others. The company was
organized in 1876 and was located on DeKalb Avenue, near Lewis Avenue, in
the Twenty-first Ward. John CONNORS was appointed Foreman, and at once got
his company into a good state of efficiency, which has under succeeding
Foremen been kept up ever since. The present quarters of this company are
in a handsome two-story brick building specially designed for their
occupancy, and it is fitted up with every convenience to facilitate quick
work and for the convenience of the men. On the first floor, ready at the
sound of the gong to rush forth to any part of the district and fight fire,
are the engine and hose-wagon; the four horses, favorites with the men, and
known as " Bill," " Dan," " Mike " and " Terry," stand in their stalls at
the rear, always ready for a quick run.
They can be on the street in seven seconds after the signal is received. The
company's life-saving record is a good one. At a fire in a candy store on
DeKalb Avenue in 1886, they took three persons from the flames after the
building was given up as lost. In their work, one fireman was seriously
injured by a falling wall. One of the most dangerous fires to which Engine
No. 17 responded, was that of Sept. 21, 1887, which consumed the big
four-story brownstone flat-house at Lafayette and Lewis Avenues. The alarm
came in at 10 o'clock that night, quickly followed by a second and third
alarm. When the engine-company, which was the first to reach the
conflagration, came on the scene, they found that the fire had started in
the dry goods store of Peter ALLSGOOD on the first floor and was making
rapid headway through the building. The front windows of the third and
fourth stories were filled with anxious men, women and children, cut off
from all escape by the stairways, and watching from their position the
flames mounting higher and higher, and coming closer to them with every
second that passed.
The air was already filled with heat, sparks and smoke, and they could
hardly see the street below, or the preparations the firemen were making to
rescue them. No hook and ladder company with their apparatus had yet
arrived, and the members of Engine No. 17 saw that if anything was to be
done to save human life it must be done at once. They scattered in search
of a ladder, and found one at a builder's near by. When placed against the
building it was found to be about six Feet too short to reach the windows.
The flames coming from the lower windows were already licking the rounds of
the ladder and threatening to bum it away in a few minutes. The firemen
were determined to rescue the people and ascended the ladder through fire
and smoke. One man took a position at the top of the ladder, clinging as
best he could to the smooth brick walls of the building in front of him
while a comrade climbed to his shoulders and reached with his fingers the
window above. Another member of the company climbed over the living ladder
and entered the building.
From here he passed the frenzied occupants of the house down to another
fireman who in turn passed them one at a time to others, until they
were all placed safely on the ground. Ten persons were thus rescued. The
following members of the present company took part in this noble work
and were complimented by their chief for having brought credit to themselves
and the Department: Phillip McDONOUGH, Martin F. BRADY, Patrick McGUIRE
and Thomas CULKIN. On the night of Oct. 23, 1891, there was a big fire
in a two-story frame tenement house at No. 471 Knickerbocker Avenue. Through
the exertions of the members of this and other companies, the occupants
escaped without loss of life, and the fire was confined to the one building.
Early on the morning of Nov. 16, 1891, a second-alarm brought the boys of
old " 17 " to a big fire in a row of four-story frame tenement houses,
extending from Nos. 120 to 126 Nostrand Avenue. There were seventy-two
families living in the houses and it was only by almost superhuman work on
the part of the firemen that they were saved from a terrible death. The
brave firemen entered the houses, through the suffocating smoke, driving out
the stupified occupants, and carrying out such as had been overcome by the
smoke. The members of the company then turned their attention to the fire
itself, taking a position on the roof of the house at No. 124. So perilous
was their position that they were obliged to retreat, but not until their
hose had burned behind them.
Returning to the ground they played water on the third story for an hour and
a-half, but the fire was so fierce that it did not seem possible to
extinguish it until the whole building was burned to the ground and perhaps
some of the adjoining ones as well. Their next hour and a half's work was on
the fourth floor. From here, in obedience to orders from the District
Engineer, they shifted their hose to No. 122, where for half an hour they
worked at the fourth floor. After half an hour's hard work on the fourth
floor of No. 120, their work was concluded, and almost ready to drop to the
ground from exhaustion, the members of Engine No. 17 returned to their
quarters. The fire was under control and not one of the hundreds of
occupants of the rickety frame houses had been killed or injured. It was a
good morning's work and has added laurels to the brows of the deserving
firemen. They were engaged in fighting the flames continuously for
seven hours and fifty minutes.
In the big fire on May 16, 1892, at Zoellner Hall, corner of Broadway and
Willoughby Avenue, in which two lives were lost, the members of this company
succeeded in getting out the family of Carl Richter, the janitor, who lived
on the top floor of No. 878 Willoughby Avenue, and this prevented even
greater loss of life. In another fire on DeKalb Avenue, near Hamburg/a row
of eight three-story tenements was burned down. The houses were thickly
populated, and there was great danger of loss of life.
The members of this company alone saved seventeen persons from the flames.
Among the other big fires at which Engine Company No. 17 did valiant
service, were those at the Old Folk's Home, Bushwick and DeKalb Avenues, at
which many lives were lost; the famous Brooklyn theatre fire, the Roman
Catholic Orphan Asylum, in December, 1885, where a number of lives were
lost; the Ridgewood car stables, in February, 1886; Feigenspan's Ridgewood
brewery, in August, 1886; Pratt's oil works, where they fought the flames
for twenty-two and one-half hours, and where several firemen were badly
injured; Havemeyer's sugar house, Dick & Meyer's sugar house; the saleratus
works, on Ash Street, where they worked all night; the Adelphi Academy;
Palmer's cooper shop, where one man was burned to death, several injured,
and a valuable fire-engine destroyed by a falling wall; Smith, Gray &
Co's store, and at the big fire on Court Street during the water famine.
Foreman FRANK J. DUFFY is a young man to fill his responsible office, but
during his whole service with the Department has never been found at fault
in any matter of duty. He is a native of Brooklyn and was born January 5,
1855. As a boy. he served an apprenticeship as a shipsmith in the
construction department at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, remaining there from 1869
to 1876. On July 7, 1880, he was appointed to the Fire Department and
assigned to duty with Engine No. 4. Three months later he was transferred
to Engine No. 5, and two years later to Engine No. 7. He received his
first promotion, to Assistant Foreman, on July 1, 1889 and was assigned
to Engine No. 26. He became a Foreman by appointment on April 27, 1892,
and was put in charge of Engine No. 17. On July 19, 1883, while a member
of Engine No. 7, he was on duty at a big fire at Harbeck's stores on the
water-front. A British ship unloading there had caught fire and the flames
communicated to the dock and storehouses. Mr. DUFFY and sixteen other
firemen were fighting the fire from a position on top of a shed, where they
were close to the ship and yet screened from the terrible heat.
The rigging of the ship was in flames, and suddenly, without a second's
warning, the ponderous mainmast of the vessel fell, striking the shed where
the firemen were at work. One fireman, Robert McDOUGALL, whose handsome
monument in Greenwood Cemetery was afterward erected by his comrades, was
fatally injured. Thirteen others were injured. Fireman DUFFY, luckier
than his companions, escaped with slight injuries, but was confined to a cot
at the Homoeopathic hospital for two weeks thereafter. In April, 1891,
while a member of Engine No. 26, he was coming down State Street, on his
return from supper, when passing a house, he heard a cry and saw flames
bursting from the windows. He rushed in and found a woman with clothes on
fire, running about in terrible agony, and the sides of the room on fire.
Picking up a rug from the floor, he threw it about the woman's form,
smothering the flames, and then rushing out again gave the alarm that
brought a fire-engine to the spot and put out the remaining fire. The
woman, who was terribly burned, had been lighting a kerosene
lamp when it exploded, throwing the burning oil over her clothes. Mr.
DUFFY was at the big fire at Wescheler & Abraham's store. No. 292 Fulton
Street, in 1882, at Talmage's church when it burned down a few years ago, at
the big penitentiary fire and at Hyde & Behman's theatre in 1891. Besides
these he has been at nearly every fire that Engine No. 17 has been called
Assistant Foreman PATRICK McGUIRE is a native of New York City, born on
April 3, 185 5. He was appointed to the Department on June 9, 1883, and
first assigned to Engine No. 6. March 1, 1884, he was transferred to
Engine No. 18. and again on June 16, 1885, to Engine No. 22, where he was
made driver. He came to Engine No. 17, on June 1, 1891, as Assistant
Foreman. He was present at the big fire at Harbeck's stores, the one at
Worn's furniture factory, in June, 1884; at Herseman's bakery in June, 1884,
when two men were killed ; at the penitentiary fire in 1890, at the Warner's
Institute and adjoining buildings, and at nearly every big fire that
Engine No. 17 has worked at since 1883. Mr. McGuire is a faithful and
efficient member of the Department.
PHILIP McDONOUGH, the engineer, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 18.
1856. He was appointed to Engine No. 17 on April 1, 1885. In Oct., 1890,
he went to Engine No. 22 as Assistant Engineer, and came back to Engine No.
17 again on Feb. 7, 1891, as engineer. In the big fire at Feigenspan's
brewery, in Aug., 1886, Fireman McDONOUGH saved the life of a man who was
pinned down beneath the falling timbers. He has done other good work at
fires with this company.
EDWARD ElCHHORN was born in Brooklyn, Sept. 1, 1859. He was appointed a
fireman Feb. 1, 1882 and assigned to Engine No. 17. He served about four
years with Engine No. 18, and seven months with Engine No. 6; the rest of
his service having been passed with Engine No. 17. Fireman EICHHORN once
had the opportunity, fortunately not often accorded to members of the
Department, to save the lives of his own wife and children from the flames.
While he was with Engine No. 18, he lived on the top floor of a three-story
house at Humboldt and Moore Streets.
One night he went out with his company on a still alarm and found the fire
to be in his own house. The fire was on the ground floor and filled the
stairway with flames and smoke, but the gallant fireman noticed nothing of
this as he fought his way up-stairs to the rescue of his wife and little
ones. He reached the top floor and succeeded in carrying them down the
fire-escape to safety. He helped fight the flames about two years ago on a
big British ship at Robinson's stores in Furman Street. More than twenty
firemen were overcome by the heat and smoke and it became necessary to sink
the vessel to save the surrounding vessels and docks from destruction. At
the big fire at Pratt's oil works, he was working on the roof of a building
and the flames became so fierce and hot that he came very near being
roasted. While backing from his position, he stumbled and fell from the
building, striking below in the waters of Newtown Creek. Comrades
noticed his fall, and rescued him. Mr. EICHHORN is one of the oldest
members of the company.
THOMAS CULKIN, who has been in the Fire Department longer than any other
man in the company, was born in Brooklyn, Feb. 20, 1840, and was appointed a
fireman May 29, 1871. He served in Engines Nos. 16,17, 18 and 22 and
Trucks Nos. 4 and 8. Owing to long service, he has been present at "most of
the big fires in the city, serving always with credit to himself.
ANDREW BOYLAN was born in Ireland, April 4, 1860. He was appointed a
fireman Nov. 16, 1891, and was assigned to Engine No. 17, and has been with
this company since. He has been at all the big fires with his company the
CHARLES H. DOUGHERTY is another New York City man, born Jan. 28, 1854.
He was appointed to the Fire Department April 1, 1885.
JOHN J. EAGAN was born in Brooklyn, April 4, 1860. He has become one of the
most popular members of the company since his appointment, which was made on
July 15, 1889.
FELIX HERLING was born in Germany, Jan. 18, 1871, and is the youngest in
years of any member of the company. He was appointed Aug. n, 1891, and was
assigned to Engine No. 17.
FRANK P. MORAN was born in Ireland, Nov. 1866, and was appointed to the Fire
Department May 4, 1892.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 18- STATIONED BETWEEN CLUB HOUSES AND FACTORIES
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 18.
There are no life-savers in Engine Company No. l8, and the reason is that
the cry for " help " from a human being, hemmed in by smoke and flame, has
never yet reached their ears. But there is not a man in the company who
will shirk from his duty when that heart-rending appeal rings out upon the
night air. Nevertheless, every man of the company has been where the
flames were the hottest, and the smoke densest, and not a few of them will
carry scars to their graves of injuries received while in discharge of
duty. The company was organized and went into active service Nov. 30,
1887. Its home is on Hart Street, a few doors from Central Avenue, and a
very comfortable and attractive place it is. The district in which the
company is located is bounded on the north by the city line, on the east by
Bushwick Avenue and Siegel Street, on the south by Ralph Avenue and Halsey
Street, and on the west by Bushwick Avenue and Boerum
On a first-alarm the men respond to calls from 56 boxes, the farthest being
two miles and a half away. Within this territory are the " Berlin " and
Cutter's large dry goods houses, Lesslan's, Traum's and John Schwartz's
furniture warehouses, the Iron Clad tin factory. Castle Braid Company,
Wall's rope walk, Liska's varnish works, Bonner's cradle manufactory,
Rueger's moulding mills, George Och's and Meyer's moulding mills, Sprower's
brush factory, DeKalb Avenue car stables, three large stables of
the Brooklyn City Railroad Company, Labor Lyceum, Home of the Little Sisters
of the Poor, St. John's College, St. Leonard's Hall. the new building of the
Bushwick Democratic Club, the National Athletic Club House, the Fourteenth
and Twentieth Precinct police station houses, Ryan's paint, wall-paper and
carpet storehouses, Renwick Hall, fourteen large breweries, ten churches and
four public schools.
Assistant Foreman JOHN FRANCIS WELTON was born in New York City Dec 17
I856 His connection with the Brooklyn Fire Department dates from Feb.'14,
1887 Mr. WELTON was promoted to the Tank of Assistant Foreman June 1, 1891,
and the chances are ten to one that before his career terminates he will be
advanced to a higher grade.
Engineer WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM is a native of Scotland, and was born on Sept
15, 1842. During the Civil War he was a private in the 3d Regiment, N. Y.
Volunteers, and from 1867 to 1869 was a member of Atlantic Hose Company No.
2 of the Volunteer Department. He was appointed a member of the Paid
Department, March 26, 1871, and in 1876 was promoted to the grade of
engineer, and assigned to Engine No. 16. It is only necessary to look at
Engine No. 18 to be convinced that he is an expert at his business.
Assistant Engineer JOHN POHLMAN was born in Brooklyn, Nov. 14 1845 He
was made a fireman and assigned to Engine No. 17 on June 2, 1880, and
promoted April 13, 1882.
THOMAS D. DORAN handles the ribbons over "Tom " and "Billy," the two
handsome grays who draw the engine. He was born in Brooklyn Feb 24 1848.
He was appointed to the uniformed force, Sept. 1, 1870 and assigned to Truck
No 5 On Sept. 18, 1872 he was transferred to Engine Company No. 16, and on
April 22, 1878 was promoted to the grade of driver.
CHARLES FREUDEL occupies the driver's seat of the four-wheel hose cart, and
pilots "Ginger "and "Pete," the two fine-looking bay horses attached to it.
Mr. FREUDEL was born in Brooklyn on June 21, 1862, and became a fireman Jan.
2, 1889. The first service performed by him was with Engine No. 16, and
covered a period of sixteen days. He was then found to be an expert driver
and was transferred to the company to which he is now attached.
Of Fireman THOMAS McKEEVER it maybe said " no better man ever wore a fire.
coat There was no place at a fire that he would hesitate an instant
about going into and it is said o him that he is the last man to leave a
burning building when ft become unsafe to remain in it longer. Mr.
McKEEVER was born in Ireland, Jan. 22, 1842. In the days of the Volunteer
Department he was an active member of Metamara Hose No. 5 and at one time
Assistant Foreman. He became a member of the present Fire Department on the
day it went into active operation, and since that time has been connected
with Engines Nos. 13. 16. and 18, and Truck No. 5. During his twenty-three
years of service he has many times been seriously but fortunately not
CHARLES PRICE is a native of Brooklyn and was born Aug. 6, 1845. He was
appointed to the uniformed force, Aug. 1, 1870, and has been a valuable man
to the Department.
HERMAN WEIGEL was born in New York City, Jan. 7, 1871, and has been a
seaman in the United States Navy. He was made a fireman Aug. 24, 1890, and
though young in years and experience, has in him the right kind of stuff to
make a first-class fireman.
PETER J. REILLY was born March 25, 1862 in Brooklyn. Although he has only
worn the uniform since Dec. 10, 1891 his work shows him to be a valuable
acquisition to the force.
LOUIS T. HAUCK is also young at the business, he having been appointed on
Aug.11, 1891. He was born in New York City on Sept. 24, 1864. Mr. HAUCK
possesses all the requirements necessary for making a good fireman.
JAMES McARDLE has been on the force since March 21, 1888, and has made his
mark as a faithful, earnest worker. He was born in Brooklyn, Jan. 19,
PATRICK LAVIN began his career as a fireman on Jan. 2, 1889 and has been
attached to Engine Company No. 18 since that time. He was born in Ireland
on March 15, 1856. Although but two years in the business his record has
been a good one.
There is another member of the company not on the pay roll but who must not
be forgotten, and that is " Nell," a handsome greyhound. She has been in the
service but a few months but has learned considerable.
The company has been called out to some big fires in its day. Among them
may be mentioned the fires at Pratt's oil works. Heckler's iron works.
Churches soda works, Wiedman's cooperage, Dick & Meyer's sugar refinery,
Nostrand Avenue flats, American cocoa-matting works, Och's flat-houses on
DeKalb Avenue, Huwer's glass works, Waterbury Rope-walk, Stern's cow
stables, Harbeck's stores. Smith, Gray & Company's building, Stover's dry
goods' house, and the Zoellner Mannerchor Hall.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 22- PROTECTORS OF BROWNSTONE FRONTS
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 22.
Located in one of the most aristocratic portions of the city of Brooklyn,
the house occupied by Engine Company No. 22 on Quincy Street, near Patchen
Avenue, in the Twenty-fifth Ward, is surrounded on all sides by handsome
brownstone and frame private residences and first-class apartment houses.
The company was organized on June 16, 1885, by Fire Commissioner Richard H.
POILLON. In the district covered by it on a first-alarm there are 64
boxes, which are distributed about in the territory lying between the city
line on the north. Myrtle Avenue and Broadway on the east, Atlantic Avenue
on the south and Stuyvesant Avenue on the west, in all about three miles
square. In this territory besides the hundreds of elegant private
residences arc the House of the Good Shepherd, Lutheran Home for Aged Women,
Warner Institute, Public Schools Nos. 26, 74 and 75, Bohannan's immense lock
factory. Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, of which Rev. Father Mahoney is
pastor, the Reid Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, and any number of
smaller churches, DeKaIb Avenue car stables, Green and Gates Avenue car
stables, Ebert's brewery and Eppigs brewery. It is in this district that
County Clerk COTTIER, School Trustee Ferns and George GLENDENNING, the
leader of the Twenty-fifth Ward, reside.
The majority of the men in the company have been in the service for many
years and notwithstanding this fact they have fortunately escaped serious
bodily harm and with but one exception have not been called upon to rescue a
fellow being cut off by flame and smoke.
Foreman JOHN A. KEVENY was born in the County Roscommon, Ireland, on May
6, 1847, and came with his parents to Brooklyn when he was six years of age,
and settled in the Fifteenth Ward. He attended Public School No. 18 and
completed his education at the Parochial School attached to Father Malone's
parish. After being three years in the Custom House as a broker's clerk, he
engaged in a more lucrative business, which he pursued up to the time of his
appointment to the Fire Department on Dec. 31, 1869.
He was assigned to duty with Engine Company No. 11, then transferred to
Engine No. 9 and subsequently back to Engine No. 11, from which company he
was detailed to the Kerosene Bureau for three years as an Inspector. He
gave up his position in the Kerosene Bureau on March 1, 1887, to become
Assistant Foreman of Engine Company No. 11, and while holding that rank he
was, on July 1, 1889, promoted to the rank of Foreman and sent to take
command of this company. When the Civil War broke out he went out with the
56th Regiment New York State Militia, and received an honorable
discharge when the regiment was mustered out of service. As a volunteer
fireman he as ran for two years with Victory Engine No. 13. During his
long period of service in the Department he has escaped injury.
Assistant Foreman JAMES L. HAVILAND was born in Brooklyn on Jan. 28, 1848,
and became a fireman on Feb. 8, 1876. He was assigned as a private to
Engine Company No. 17. On Jan. 15, 1882, he was promoted to the grade of
engineer, and on March 1, 1887, he was made Assistant Foreman, which
position he held up to June 1, 1891, when he was transferred to No. 22.
While a private in No. 17 he was accidentally knocked off a wagon and had
his head so badly cut that he was unable to do duty for over two months.
Engineer TIMOTHY J. DOLAN was born in the County Roscommon, Ireland, on
Washington s Birthday, 1840. For five years, 1862-67, he was actively
engaged in the United States Revenue Marine Service in looking for
smugglers. He was appointed a fireman on July 9, 1872, and assigned as
engineer to No. 13. At the organization of Engine Company No. 19, he was
transferred there and later sent back to Engine No. 13 where he remained
until the organization of this company.
EDWARD BOERUM, the stoker, was born in the city of Brooklyn, on April 25,
1842. He fought in the Civil War, with the 47th New York Volunteers, from
1861 to 1864, and at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, was wounded in the
right shoulder. On Feb. 15, 1879, he was appointed a fireman and assigned to
duty with Engine Company No. 9, where he remained up to the time of the
organization of this company. While a member of Engine No. 9 one of the
horses kicked him on the left knee joint and seriously injured him. A year
later, on the way to a fire, a DeKalb Avenue car ran into the tender and
upset it, and Mr. BOERUM received severe injuries to his spine.
THOMAS J. McCUE, the driver of the engine, was born in the Fourteenth Ward
of Brooklyn, on Nov. 19, 1863. He became a member of the uniformed force,
on Sept. 7, 1887, and has served continuously since that time with Engines
Nos. 11, 21 and 22. At the fire in Bartlett's stores, in July, 1890, Mr.
McCUE was so badly overcome by the heat and smoke that his life, for a time,
was despaired of.
JOHN MACKIN is one of the old-timers of the new Department. He was a
volunteer fireman as well, and in the dark days of the Rebellion for twenty
months shouldered his musket with his comrades of the 12 5th New York
Volunteers and marched with them into the thickest of the fight. For
another year he served his country well and faithfully on board the
transport steamer " Corwin." When peace was restored he returned to his
home and joined with his friends and neighbors in the grand work of saving
the lives and property of Brooklyn's citizens. When the Legislature of the
State of New York did away with the old system, John MACKIN was among the
number of '' old vamps" who made application to the first Board of Fire
Commissioners for appointment in the Paid Department. He was a successful
candidate and on Aug.18, 1870, he donned the uniform and began his new
career with Hook and Ladder Company No. 3, and remained in that company
until Engine No. 22 was organized. At a fire on Doughty Street, when he
was a member of Truck No. 3, Mr. MACKIN found an unconscious woman on the
top floor of the burning dwelling and carried her down the ladder to the
street. He afterward assisted in rescuing three other members of the same
family who had been overpowered by the heat and smoke.
WILLIAM FOLEY was born in the Thirteenth Ward of Brooklyn, on June 23, 1853,
and became a fireman on Jan. 24, 1887. Since that time he has done duty
with Engine No. 21 and Hook and Ladder No. 4 and was transferred from the
latter to Engine No. 22, in May, 1890.
BRYAN DUHIGG was born in County Limerick. Ireland, on Dec. 18, 1841. He
was made a fireman on April 22, 1878, and when Engine Company No. 22 was
organized he was transferred from Engine Company No. 18, of which company he
had been a member from the time of his appointment.
CLATUS BURKE was born in the old Ninth Ward of Brooklyn, and is one of the
late appointees to the Department. He first donned the uniform on July 17
1891 and was assigned to this company.
BENJAMIN F DELAMATER was born in the city of New York, on Oct. 28, 1841,
and prior to becoming a fireman, on April 20, 1878, he served in the United
States Navy. He was a member of Engine Company No. 13 when his transfer to
this company took place.
DANIEL R. KETCHAM was born in New York City on Sept. 9, 1833. He was
appointed a member of the new Department when it was organized and did duty
with Engine Company No. 11, up to the time of his transfer to this company.
He is now detailed to the Kerosene Bureau as an Inspector.
FRANK PYBUS HART was born in New York City on Jan. 20, 1857, and he has been
connected with the uniformed force since Aug. 11, 1891.
MICHAEL LANGAN was born in Ireland on March 11, 1844. He was appointed
bell-ringer Dec. 2, 1879. When that branch of the Department was abolished
he was assigned to duty with this company, where he remained in active
service up to June 12, 1892, when he was transferred to Engine Company No.
ANDREW TENNANT was born in Boston, Mass., on Oct. 26, 1847. He became a
fireman on the date of the organization of the present Department, and is
detailed from this company to the Repair-shop.
The men who compose this company are intelligent, active and fearless, and
are in ever, way a credit to the Department. They are equipped with a
second-class Amoskeag engine, a two wheel hose-cart and three well-trained
horses. Since the company has been organized they have had several fires
which have been both wearisome and perilous. Among them were those at
Pratt's oil works' Adelphi Academy, Bartlett's stores, Remsen's carriage
factory, Stover's dry goods' house' the Warner Institute, the
Commercial Street sugar house, and in Smith, Gray & Company's building at
junction of Flatbush Avenue, Fulton and Nevins Streets.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 8-IN THE HEART OF THE " TINDER BOXES."
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 8
Hook and Ladder Company No. 8 occupies a two-story brick structure with
brownstone facings, on Siegel Street near Graham Avenue, in the Sixteenth
Ward. The district covered by this company is a large and particularly
dangerous one, for the reason that nearly every lot has a front and rear
house standing upon it, the majority of which are four-story frame dwellings
occupied chiefly by German families. On a first-alarm the members respond
to calls from 108 boxes, which cover the territory bounded by Leonard and
Jackson Streets, by Newtown Creek, Atlantic and Albany Avenues, and by Penn
Street and Broad way. In addition to this they cover 88 boxes on a
second-alarm and 56 on a third-alarm, which latter takes in the Greenpoint
On "special calls" they go down to the Western District. Among the large
buildings in the district are St. Catherine's Hospital, the Montrose Avenue
Orphan Asylum, St. Joseph's Home, St. John's College, Home for the Aged, the
Beecher Home, St. John's Orphan Asylum, Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, Holy
Trinity Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary's Catholic Church. There are also
in this district several public schools, the Lyceum Theatre, Batter-man's
dry goods and furniture stores, Berlin's dry 'goods house. Worn & Sons'
furniture factory, the Iron Clad manufactory, Bossert's lumber yard,
Newman's lumber yard, and Ruger's sash and blind factory.
This company was organized Nov. 30, 1887. The house was formerly occupied
by Engine No. 18. It has a second-class Hayes truck with
extension-ladders, which was built in 1890. "Tom," a gray horse, and
"Frank" and "Billy," dark bays, all fine, serviceable young horses, furnish
the power for transportation. District Engineer FANNING'S horses "John"
and "Dick," a roan and chestnut, also have their quarters in the house.
The apparatus and horses are always in the pink of condition when not in
active service. There are among the members those who have been in
perilous positions while in the discharge of their duties as protectors of
the property and lives of citizens, and still others who have unflinchingly
thrown aside all feeling of personal safety to save the lives of those who
were cut off by smoke and flame.
Foreman JOHN J. FEE was born in Belfast, Ireland, on April 23, 1856. He is
married and resides with his family at No. 31 Stuyvesant Avenue. He served
four years in the 69th Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., and resigned to become a
fireman. When he was appointed, on April 22, 1876, he was assigned to
Engine Company No. 13 on Powers Street. From it he was transferred to
Engine Company No. 18, then to Engine No. 17, and while attached to this
company on March 1, 1887, he was promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman.
On Feb. 1, 1890, he was advanced to the grade of Foreman and placed at the
head of the company which he now commands. On the evening of Jan. 14, 1880
while Mr. FEE was attached to Engine No. 13, a fire broke out in a
three-story frame house at the corner of Bushwick Place and Montrose Avenue.
When the company reached the fire, Mr. FEE was ordered to take the pipe up
the ladder to the top floor. He reached the point indicated and was
standing on one of the window-sills when he felt the front wall rocking.
In an instant he realized his peril, and sprang off the sill just as the
walls fell with a terrific crash, carrying down with them twelve brave men,
among them Foreman William BALDWIN of Engine No. 16, who was
so badly injured that he died three days later. Foreman BALDWIN was the
first fireman killed under the new Department, and the first to be honored
with a monument. Mr. FEE, in his rapid and perilous descent, landed
fortunately in a pile of soft dirt in the street and escaped with slight
injury. At a fire at No. 128 Ewen Street, Sept. 28, 1880 he rescued Mrs.
UHLMAN, the wife of the proprietor of a Grand Street dry goods' store,
who had been overcome with the smoke. At a fire in Ewen Street, near
Johnson Avenue, Mr. FEE saved the life of a little boy by bringing him down
the fire-escape from the top floor of the burning building. Mr. FEE was in
charge of Engine Company No. 17 on Jan. 8, 1890 at a fire at No. 300 Throop
Avenue, and assisted in removing from the ruins the bodies of six persons.
Assistant Foreman Henry WACKERMAN
In the foremost rank of life-savers stands Assistant Foreman Henry WACKERMAN
a man modest and retiring by nature, little given to speaking of incidents
in his career as a fireman, but as brave as a lion where duty calls. He
was born in this city Sept 25. 1860, and lives at No. 312 Maujer Street with
his family. On Feb. 3 1887 he received his appointment to the uniformed
force and was assigned to duty with Engine No. 17. He was promoted to the
grade of Assistant Foreman and on June 2 1891 placed second in command of
Engine No. 12. Subsequently he was transferred to this company. On the
evening of Sept. 21, 1887, a few months after Mr. WACKERMAN became a member
of No. 17. a "still alarm" came in from the corner of Lewis and Lafayette
Avenues. When the company reached the scene the fire had worked
itself up to the third story and had cut off all means of escape for the
NOLAN family , which occupied the top floor. The family consisted of Mr.
NOLAN, his wife and four children, and they were at the windows imploring
piteously for some one to save them Mr. WACKERMAN tried to reach them by the
fire-escape at the rear of the house but the iron ladder burned his hands so
badly that he had to give it up. The truck company had not yet reached the
fire although an alarm had been sent out, and the only ladder available was
a mason's ladder which had been hastily brought from a building in course of
erection half a block away by Mr. WACKERMAN. The ladder was set up on the
side of the house nearest to the kitchen and dining-room windows where the
NOLAN family were gathered, but it would not reach within five feet of the
window-sill on that floor. The smoke was pouring out of the windows on the
lower floors in such volumes as to almost stifle a person mounting the
ladder. Mr. WACKERMAN threw off his rubber coat and his fire-hat and
sprang up the ladder. When he reached the top round, he shouted to Mr.
NOLAN to pass out the children one at a time. The brave fireman stood
on the top round with his face and body pressed against the building and
without a single thing to save him from falling backward, but he assured
Mrs. NOLAN that it was perfectly safe to pass the children out to him. It
was a perilous undertaking, but when the first child was passed out he took
a firm hold of its clothing with his teeth and swung the little one upon
his shoulder, and then after getting carefully down one round slid the rest
of the way down the ladder. In this way all the children were brought
down safely, but when it came to getting Mrs. NOLAN out. Fireman WACKERMAN,
who was becoming exhausted, realized the fact that only by the utmost
coolness on the part of the woman and himself could they ever reach the
ground alive. Mr. NOLAN, taking a firm hold of his wife's hands, lowered
her carefully over the window-sill. "Talk to her and keep her looking up,"
shouted the brave man to Mr. NOLAN, and the direction was carried out to the
letter. Had not Mrs. NOLAN been a brave woman both she and her rescuer
would have been dashed to pieces on the ground, but she obeyed every
direction given her until the courageous man had secured her firmly with one
arm and taken the first step downward to a position where he could get a
firm hold on the ladder with his unoccupied hand. When he had gained the
ground in safety, both the rescued and the rescuer were received with
cheers. Mr. WACKERMAN ascended the ladder again to rescue Mr. NOLAN, but
in the meantime other engine and truck companies had arrived
and Mr. NOLAN had been taken out by a front window. As he was descending
the ladder, congratulating himself that his perilous work was over the crowd
in the street began to shout, " There's a girl on the second floor, go in
and get her." Fireman WACKERMAN swung himself from the ladder and got into
the second-story window. The fire was burning fiercely in the rear of the
apartments and the smoke almost overcame him.
He groped about until he came to a bedroom, but before he could reach the
bed he was obliged to go to a window for air. Then he called for a lantern
and groped his way back until he found the bed, but there was no one in it.
He held the lantern close to the floor and discovered a man of large build
with his head and arms jammed in the narrow space between the lower part of
the bed and the floor. He was wedged in so tightly that Mr. WACKERMAN had
great difficulty in getting him out. The next difficulty was to get the man,
who was very heavy, to the window. This was only accomplished by lifting
him along a foot at a time. It was an arduous task, and before it was
accomplished, Mr. WACKERMAN was scorched and so overcome by the smoke that
when he was taken to the engine-house, his chances of recovery for a time
were exceedingly doubtful.
The man for whom he had taken the great risk was an invalid, who had been
unable to more than roll from his bed and try to crawl under it when he was
overcome by the smoke. When taken out into the street life was extinct.
Mr. WACKERMAN had an experience at the Havemeyer sugar house fire on Sept.
7, 1889. Two of the sugar housemen were standing on a gravel roof in the
rear of the burning building holding the immense pipe of the fireboat "Seth
Low." The pipe got the best of the men and, owing to the immense pressure
of water being forced through it, began to dance at a furious rate about the
roof, throwing the gravel like hot shot in every direction.
Several men tried to get hold of it before it caused serious damage, but
were unable to cope with the great nozzle, which was tearing up the roof at
a lively rate. Mr. WACKERMAN made up his mind to take a chance with it,
and watching his opportunity flung himself full length on the hose and
grasped the pipe with both hands. The thing seemed to gain renewed
strength when it found there was an effort being made to capture it. It
jumped about so viciously that before Stephen Alien, now Foreman of
Truck No. 6, and two other men could get to WACKERMAN's assistance, the
latter's rubber boots had been torn from his Feet, the coat from his back
and his fire-hat flung a considerable distance away. All this had happened
while a messenger was running to the fireboat to have the stream shut off.
During the tussle with the pipe Mr. WACKERMAN received bruises all over his
body and an injury to his back which still causes him much trouble.
FRANCIS BOWERS is another life-saver, having twice saved the life of Fireman
Jacob LEHMAN. On the first occasion LEHMAN was trying to board the truck
while it was on the way to a fire. He missed his footing and would have
been crushed beneath the wheels of the heavy apparatus had not BOWERS at
great personal risk to himself seized him and hung on to him until he
regained a foot hold. At the big candy factory fire on North Third Street
in 1889. BOWERS and LEHMAN were on the third floor near the rear windows.
The floor suddenly gave way and went down with a crash, only leaving the
last beam nearest the window on which BOWERS was standing LEHMAN was
disappearing with the floor when BOWERS clutched the window-sill and reached
down and seized LEHMAN by the neck and dragged him up on the beam badly cut
and bruised. Mr. BOWERS was born in this city, Sept. 15. l861. and has
been a member of Truck No. 8 since his appointment to the Department on Aug.
1, 1889. He is married and lives at No. 296 Ellery Street.
JOSEPH DAVIS was born in Germany, Jan. 6, 1846. He served in the Civil War
and was appointed a fireman Jan. 1. 1880. He is married and lives at No.
43 Graham Avenue. On the morning of Jan. 8. 1890. Mr. DAVIS assisted in
rescuing six persons from the rums of a house on Throop Avenue which had
been crushed by a falling church, all of whom were seriously injured, two so
badly that they died a short time after being dug out. Mr. DAVIS was
injured on Feb. 16 by the falling of a heavy door while he was at work at a fire.
JACOB LEHMAN was born in New York City on Feb. 1, 1842. He is married and
is the father of nine boys, and lives at No. 29 Scholes Street. He was
appointed to the Department Feb. 15, 1879, and is now detailed as
bell-ringer. He assisted in taking out the six persons who were buried in
the ruins of the crushed building at No. 300 Throop Avenue.
WILLIAM TRACY, the driver of Truck No. 8, was born in this city Sept. 21,
1847. He is married and lives at No. 179 Maujer Street. He was assigned to
Engine Company No. 13 at the time of his appointment, Feb. 14, 1887, and was
transferred subsequently to Truck No. 8.
BERNARD A. MATSCHKE, the tiller-man, was born in New York City, Dec. 31,
1865. He enlisted as an apprentice in the United States Navy, on Sept. 3,
1883. When he was discharged on Dec. 30, i888, he was captain of the top
on the "Essex." He was appointed a fireman April 1, 1890, is married and
resides on Ewen Street.
FRANCIS McLARNEY is a first-grade fireman and was appointed Jan. 1, 1888.
He was born in the city of New York, May 15, 1855.
RICHARD S. WOOD is a third-grade fireman, having been appointed Nov. 16,
1891. He was born in Kings County on Dec. 28, 1865.
GEORGE LAMPERT was born in this city on June 4, 1854, and received his
appointment on June 15, 1889. He is married and lives at No. 719 Hart Street.
CHARLES E. FERNALD was born in New York City, May 22, 1862, and was made a
fireman April 1, 1885, and sent to Engine Company No. 14. He was
transferred to his present company in 1891. Mr. FERNALD is married and
lives at No. 68 Graham Avenue.
QUINCY J. KRAFT has been a fireman since Jan. 2, 1889, and since that time
has been attached to this company. He was born in the city of New York,
Oct. 22, l866, is married and lives at No. 35 Montrose Avenue.
The first fire which this company attended after it was organized was at
Lawrence's rope-walk on Maspeth Avenue, Dec. 2, 1887, at which $20,000 worth
of property was destroyed. It has done active work at all the big fires since.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 15
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