enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE NINTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER WILLIAM MC CARTHY.
- LIVELY WORK IN AN IMMENSE DISTRICT- A CITY IN ITSELF
JUMPING from one end to the other of the Ninth District makes pretty lively
work for the companies that take care of the immense expanse of city
territory included in its extensive limits. To get an idea of the vastness
of the district one must look at the map and compare this with other
districts. It is four miles long, and in its greatest width is more than
three miles wide. The First, Second and Third Districts, which include all
the waterfront from Gowanus Bay to the Navy Yard, the Heights, Wallabout,
and the busy line of the elevated roads up to Cumberland Street and Sixth
Avenue, could be dumped into the Ninth District and be lost. It is a city
by itself, and the men and officers, yes, and horses, too, that have to cover
its needs find as much work cut out for them, merely in getting over the
ground, as many a provincial Fire Department. It includes, besides parts
of other wards, all the great Twenty-sixth Ward. Its centre of activity,
from the civilian point of view, is East New York; but for the fireman the
central point is where the fire of the moment happens to be ; and that may
take the various commands to the extreme limits of their territory. The duty
of keeping the district from destruction is laid on Engines Nos. 25, 27, 31
and 33, and Trucks Nos. 7 and 12. The last-named engine company and truck
company are the new ones for which houses are under construction as this
history goes to press. Until these are completed and their companies
organized, the Other four commands have all the responsibility.
- DISTRICT ENGINEER McCARTHY
DISTRICT ENGINEER WILLIAM McCARTHY. William McCARTHY is one of the five
Foremen whom Commissioner ENNIS, on July 18, 1892, decorated with three
trumpets, the insignia of the rank of District Engineer. Among the five,
there was not one better entitled to advancement than Mr. McCARTHY, who had
risen from the ranks simply on his own merits. It was on June 10, 1873,
that Mr. McCARTHY was made a member of the Fire Department and assigned to
duty with Engine No. 12. He had been in the Department but a few months
when a fire occurred in an old frame building at the foot of Grand Street.
The building had a gable roof and the only foothold for the firemen was in
the gutter. McCARTHY was standing in the gutter and near him was Foreman
KEIGHLER of Engine No. 13. In attempting to change his position Foreman
KEIGHLER's foot slipped from the edge of the gutter, and had it not been for
Private McCARTHY's prompt action and firm grip, the sturdy Foreman of Engine
No. 13 would have fallen to the street. It was an heroic act on the part
of McCARTHY, for in stretching out his hand to save his brother fireman he
well knew that he was in eminent peril of being dragged down to a horrible
death with the man he was trying to save. But luck and skill were with
him, and his strong right arm clung with death-like tenacity to its burden
until assistance arrived and Foreman KEIGHLER was rescued from his perilous
position. It was an exciting moment in the lives of both men. Foreman
KEIGHLER and a few others who witnessed the brave act have never forgotten
the occasion nor ceased to praise the gallant deed. At the Locust Hill oil
works fire, where Foreman Charles KEEGAN lost his life, John W. Smith, then
Assistant Chief Engineer, was an eye-witness to this scene:‹One of the crude
oil tanks sprung a leak and the flames ignited the oil. A man with his
clothing ablaze rushed out of the building and sprang off the dock. It was
low tide, and instead of jumping into the water, the man landed in the soft
mud. Just at this juncture Mr. McCARTHY, then a member of Truck No. 4, was
seen running in the direction of the man who had jumped overboard. As he
ran, he was pulling off his heavy fireman's overcoat, and when he reached
the point where the man, whom he then supposed was Foreman KEEGAN, had
jumped off, he leaped off into the mud and with his coat began to beat out
the flames, which were fast eating away the flesh of the unfortunate man,
who was afterward found to be not Foreman KEEGAN but Captain DEARING, the
owner of a canal-boat laden with oil. When assistance arrived McCARTHY
aided materially in getting the unconscious form of Captain DEARING to the
dock, where he died soon after.
In the earlier history of the present Fire Department men were not advanced
in rank through civil service examinations, but were selected for promotion
simply by their superiors' estimate of their ability and worthiness. From
the day that " Billy " McCARTHY entered the service his adaption for the
business was noted by his superiors in office, and especially by Assistant
Chief Smith. He was a man who could be depended upon at all times. His
judgment was good, and no better worker could be found in the Department.
When he was detailed for a time to the sub-telegraph office in the Eastern
District, there was never a fire of any importance but McCARTHY reported for
duty to his company and took an active part in the work. When Engine
Company No. 21 was organized Assistant Chief Smith recommended McCARTHY for
Foreman and he was promoted to that rank on July 1, 1885, and placed in
command of that company. The man who recommended him says, "I have never
had reason to regret that recommendation." Mr. McCARTHY was born in the
Emerald Isle on June 16, 1847, and came to this Country with his parents
when quite a young lad. He served his adopted country in the Civil War as
a member of Company 1, 87th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers, and after receiving
an honorable discharge took up his residence in Brooklyn. His service in
the Fire Department constitutes one of the most creditable careers recorded
in the Department annals.
- ENGINE COMPANY No. 25 : PROTECTOR OF NEW LOTS
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 25. When the law annexing the town of New Lots to
Brooklyn went into effect on Aug. 4, 1886, the old Volunteer Department of
that town disbanded and the city authorities took immediate steps to afford
the residents of that new ward the protection against fire guaranteed them
by the provisions of the annexation act. Accordingly on the night of Aug.
3, an engine company and a truck company were organized and installed in the
annexed district ready to do service as soon as the midnight hour arrived.
The tolling of bells, the shrieking of whistles and other noisy
demonstrations, announced to the towns-people that New Lots only lived in
history and that henceforth the territory was a part of Brooklyn. Engine
Company No. 25 was accordingly born with the ward. Thirteen men under the
command of Foreman Michael J. MURRAY made up the company. A two-story frame
building on Liberty Avenue, near Vermont Avenue, had been fixed up as a
temporary home for the men, and everything started under the most favorable
auspices. For some time the company had no engine, the tender doing all
the duty necessary. As the flow of water in every part of the ward is
great the lack of an engine was not felt. In the meantime a site for a new
engine- house was selected on Liberty Avenue near Cleveland Street, and work
on the present structure was begun. A fine double-cylinder engine of the
Clapp & Jones pattern was ordered for the company's use. On June 10, 1890,
the house was in readiness and the formal transfer was made. The men were
pleased to get into the new quarters and the occasion was one participated
in by many prominent city and fire officials and citizens of the
Twenty-sixth Ward. The present house was built expressly for Fire
Department uses, and it is needless to say has all the latest appliances and
improvements known to facilitate the work which above all others must be
done promptly. It is of brick, two stories in height, with brownstone
trimmings, 25 x 100 feet. The interior is finished in yellow pine, with
racks, lockers and other necessary requisites for the men, horses and
apparatus. The district covered by the company is a large one and includes
all the Twenty-sixth Ward. It is bounded by the Queens County line on the
east and north, by the town of Flatlands on the south, and by Rockaway
Avenue oh the west. It covers an area of seven and three quarters square
miles, and while essentially a residential district, it has several large
manufactories and institutions within its confines. The houses are mostly
of wood. There is perhaps no section of the entire city growing as rapidly
as the Twenty-sixth Ward. During the year 1891, permits for the erection
of upwards of 500 buildings were issued. At the present time the company
responds to thirty-two first-alarms and twelve second-alarm calls. In 1891
the company attended between forty and fifty fires, but none of them, thanks
td the efficiency of the company, made much headway. Among the large
structures in the district is the House of the Good Shepherd, taking up the
entire block bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street and Rockaway
Avenue, with its nearly 2000 inmates; the Truant Home and St. Malachi's
Orphan Asylum. The manufactories include Clever & Nelson's torpedo works,
Davis' starch works and other large concerns. The district is the terminal
point for three lines of elevated railways, where hundreds of cars and
locomotives are housed. In addition to these Atlantic and Fulton Avenues
are lined with large buildings used for mercantile purposes. Four of the
fleetest and best-trained horses in the Department belong to the company. -
Excellent time is made hitching up and not a second is lost in getting to a
fire. The personnel of the company is equal to any other in the entire
Department. At present there are thirteen men on the roster. Up to the
present time Engine Company No. 25 has a " clean sheet " on the records at
Headquarters, and from the willing way in which the men perform their duties
and the family-like feeling that pervades the house it will be a long time
before this meritorious record is broken. The men are all ambitious,
devoted to the business, and have a full knowledge of what is expected of
them. They go about their work coolly and intelligently, and in the
parlance of the day, get there every time."
Foreman MICHAEL J. MURRAY is an. old-time fire laddie. He was born in
Ireland on Nov. 1, 1847, but arrived in this country before he was able to
tell his name. Before the Paid Department was organized he was a member of
old Volunteer Hook and Ladder Company No. 4. On Washington's birthday,
1872, he was made a member of the Paid Department, and assigned to Engine
No. 1, where he remained for nine years. From there he was transferred to
Truck No. 1, where he spent a short time. He was then sent to Engine No. 19.
and continued a member of that company for six years. When Engine Company
No. 25 was organized, he was appointed Foreman. His record as a fireman is
good. During his twenty years' service he has taken part in all the big
fires. He has assisted in the rescue of several lives, notable among them
being the removal of a woman from the third story of a burning building in
Sheffield Avenue, near Glenmore Avenue, on April 13, 1888. For this brave
act he was complimented by his superior officers. He was also commended
for his action in extricating a woman from the ruins of a building that
collapsed in the Twenty-sixth Ward, on May 10, 1890. Foreman MURRAY served
in the navy during the war and is a member of the Grand Army of the
Assistant Foreman JOSEPH H. BENNETT enjoys the distinction of being the
first man appointed in the Paid Department. Six days before the Department
was in running order he was delegated to look after the horses that were to
be used, and on the 15th day of September, 1869, was assigned as driver to
Engine No. 10. He served with that company for nearly twenty years, the
only interruption being a short time he did service with Engine No. 22, to
which he was transferred by Commissioner POILLON. He then returned to
Engine No. 10, where, he remained until he was made an Assistant Foreman on
July 1, 1889, and sent to his present place. Like Foreman MURRAY, "old man
BENNETT," as he is familiarly called, served in the navy during the war, and
not only has a good fire record but a good war record. He has been at
nearly all the big fires and has had several narrow escapes from death. At
a fire in Moore's stable on Pennsylvania Avenue, he was overcome by the
heat. but his wonderful vitality enabled him to recover in a few minutes.
On another occasion he fell from a ladder a distance of twenty feet, and his
associates thought he was dead. The only injury he received was a sprained
ankle which kept him indoors only for a week. Mr. BENNETT was born in New
York City on May 11,1842, and though 50 years of age is as sprightly as the
youngest man in the company.
PATRICK J. KELLY, the driver, although a member of the Department only since
September 1, 1887, is an old fireman. He served in the New Lots Fire
Department before the town was annexed, being a member of Independent Pump
and Bucket Company. He was promoted to Assistant Foreman and later to
Foreman, and at the time when the New Lots Department disbanded, had been
raised to the responsible position of Assistant Chief Engineer. Since his
connection with the Paid Department he has served for a short time with
Truck No. 7, and was then transferred to Engine No. 25. He was born in
Brooklyn in 1862, and before becoming a fireman was engaged in the furniture
Engineer PETER H. CARROLL has a record that any man might feel proud of.
He was born in New York on May 27, 1845, but became a resident of Brooklyn
at an early age. During the days of the Volunteer Department he ran " wid
der masheen " and was a member of Hook and Ladder Company No. 2, of the
Eastern District. On April 9. 1872, he was appointed a fireman, and has
done duty respectively with Truck No. 5, Engines Nos. 15 and 16 and has been
with Engine No. 25 since February 10 1891. He won much praise for the
daring rescue of two children from a burning house on Ainslie Street, near
WILLIAM H. BERDAN was born on Feb. 20, 1849, at Paterson, N. J. He was
appointed a fireman Dec. 9, 1878, and has a good record. For two years he
was a member of Truck No. 7, and for six years of Engine No. 10. When
Engine No. 25 was organized, he was sent there and has been a member ever
JOHN R. BRAISTED was born in Brooklyn, June 20, 1852. On Dec. 15, 1885, he
was appointed a fireman and assigned to Engine No. 22. He served there for
only four months, when he was transferred to Engine No. 14. From there he
went to Engine No. 25, and for four years he has served faithfully. Before
becoming a fire laddie he was an agent and collector, and possesses all the
wit and snap characteristic of men in that business.
CHRISTOPHER MANG has been a member of the Department since Feb. 1, 1887. He
was born in this city on Feb. 27, 1858, and with the exception of one
month's service as a member of Engine No. 19, he has spent his entire time
with Engine No. 25.
PATRICK J. GRAHAM has been a fireman since Dec. 2, 1887. He was born in
Ireland on March 25, 1860, but has spent a quarter of a century of his life
in this city. He was a member of Truck No. 7 for three years and was then
transferred to Engine No. 25. His record is good. At a fire in the
Twenty-sixth Ward two years ago he fell from a ladder a distance of 27 feet
and escaped uninjured.
HENRY CARLIN was born in Ireland on Sept. 14, 1854, but came to this country
at an early age. His family located in Brooklyn, where Henry has spent an
active life. On July 15, 1889, he was appointed a fireman and assigned to
Engine No. 25, where he has served since. On Feb. 10, 1891, he was made
stoker. He is popular with his associates, and enjoys the confidence of
his superior officers.
WILLIAM J. CALLAN was born on May 4, 1867, in this city. On Oct. 15, 1800,
he donned a fireman's uniform, which he has worn with credit to himself and
the Department. He is a quiet, unassuming young man who promises to make his mark.
JAMES J. COZINE was born in this city on Jan. 18. 1869, and was appointed a
fire- man on March 12, 1891. Although only a short time in the business he
has demonstrated that he is made of the material so much desired in a
ARTHUR T. ROBB was appointed on Nov. 16, 1891. A perfect athlete in build
and cool as the proverbial cucumber, he possesses all the requisites of a
good fireman. He was born in this city and before being a fireman was a car conductor.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 27 : A MAJORITY OF VETERANS
Although a comparatively new company, Engine Company No. 27 is made up of a
thoroughly disciplined and brave body of firemen, who are fully equipped and
prepared for any call that may be made upon them. Some of them are new men
in the fire service, but the majority are veterans. Taken as a whole they
are a body of men of whom the citizens of Brooklyn have every reason to be proud.
Engine Company No. 27 covers a wide territory, which a few years ago had but
scant protection against fire. Before No. 27 was called into existence,
the district now to covered by that engine was dependent in case of fire on
the services of engine-companies stationed miles away and which could reach
a fire within it only after long and trying runs. Commissioner Ennis
realized the necessity for an engine-company in the district and promptly
organized one, and events have justified his excellent foresight in the
matter. No. 27's house is located on Herkimer Street, near Ralph Avenue, in
the heart of the territory for whose protection it was organized. The
section of the city in question has practically been built up during the
past ten years, and 90 per cent. of the buildings within it are of frame
construction, being erected outside the established fire-limits. It is an
important district on account of the great number of public institutions
which are located in it. Each of them gives shelter to hundreds of persons,
most of them helpless. Should a fire break out in any of them, nothing
would save the inmates but the prompt response of the Fire Department.
Hence it is -that a great responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the
members of Engine No. 27, and they fully realize it. So far as is known no
fire which No. 27 has ever been called to was marked by a loss of life.
There are numerous educational institutions in the district, all fine, large
and costly structures. Among them are Public Schools Nos. 25, 26, 28, 35,
57, 68, 70 and 73 which thousands of children are taught daily. The
district is dotted all over with 33 immense structures such as asylums,
hospitals and homes and retreats of various kinds. The principal ones are
St. Mary's (Catholic) Hospital, the House of the Good Shepherd, in which
over 400 women are quartered, St. Malachi's Home, St. Joseph's Institute for
the Education of Mutes, the Sanitarium, St. John's Hospital, St. John's
Catholic Home for Boys, in which over 1,000 inmates are cared for, the
Brooklyn Nursery and Infants' Hospital, St. Martha's Sanitarium, the Day
Nursery of the King's Daughters, the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, the Zion
Home for the Aged, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. with its new structure now
being built at Ralph Avenue and Pacific Street, the Brooklyn Orphan Asylum,
the Church Charity Foundation Home for the Aged, and the Orphan. age, the
Truant Home and the Wartburg Home for the Aged, the Bedford Dispensary, and
the Brooklyn Diet Dispensary. There are many churches within the district,
among them being St. Benedict's, St. Malachi's, Church of the Holy Rosary,
the Presentation church, St. Timothy's, Ocean Hill Reformed church, the
Beecher Memorial church, the Rochester Avenue Congregational church. Good
Shepherd Episcopal church, and Embury Methodist Episcopal church. The above
list, extended as it is, does not by any means include all the institutions
for whose protection against fire Engine No. 27 is responsible, but it will
suffice to show the importance of the district covered by this engine which,
by the way, has made a splendid record in keeping down the losses at fires
to which it has been summoned. The district boundaries are Halsey Street,
Kingston Avenue, city line on the south and the Queens County line. No. 27
responds to calls within these boundaries; second and third and special
alarms call it miles beyond. No. 27's house is located at No. 979 Herkimer
Street, between Ralph and Howard Avenues. It is a plain, two-story brick
structure. 25 x 90 feet, fitted up in a solid and substantial manner. The
company was organized in 1889, and it began service at 2.36 P.M., on Jan.
11, of that year.
The commander of this serviceable company is Foreman JOHN FRANCIS O'HARA,
who is probably one of the youngest Foremen in the United States. He has
been connected with the Brooklyn Fire Department over ten years and his
record is Ai. Foreman O'HARA is a native of Ireland, where he was born Sept.
22, 1860. He became a fireman Jan. 22, 1882, before he was twenty-two.
After five years of excellent service, he was, on March 1, 1887, raised to
the rank of Assistant Foreman. Two years later, when Engine No. 27 was
established, he was appointed Foreman and placed in command of the company.
Assistant Foreman JAMES S. JONES is a Brooklynite by birth, born on the
Fourth of July, 1859. He became a fireman on St. Patrick's Day, March 17,
1888. After three years' meritorious service he was promoted to the rank
which he now enjoys. Transferred to Engine Co. No. 29, August 11, 1892.
Assistant Foreman MARTIN F. BRADY was appointed to his present office on
Aug. 11, 1892, when Assistant Foreman Jones was transferred to Engine No.
29. Mr. Brady was born in Brooklyn Feb. 28, 1858, and was appointed to the
Department on Jan. 15, 1882. His service was continuous with Engine No.
17, to which he was originally assigned, up to the date of his promotion and
transfer to this company.
Engineer ELISHA SNETHEN is one of the veterans of the Department, having
served as a fire-fighter for nearly a quarter of a century, during which
time he has served in various quarters of the city. He was born in New
York, July 23. 1845 but has resided in this city the greater part of his
life. He was only twenty-four years old in September, 1869, when he was
appointed. He proved himself a steady, careful man, faithful in the
performance of every duty assigned him, and on several occasions
distinguished himself as a life-saver. On June 16, 1885, he was created
engineer, and when Engine No. 27 was organized he was assigned to it.
JOHN J. DEEGAN is a native of Brooklyn, born in 1841. It was late in life
when he joined the Department, but he has shown himself to be a valuable
member of it. The date of his appointment is Dec. 15. 1885, since which time
he has been attached to several companies. Fireman DEEGAN has a splendid
army record as well. In 1862, when only a stripling, he joined the Union
army, and served to the end of the war as a member of the 158th Regiment, N.
Y. Vols., of which Gen. James Jourdan was commander. DEEGAN was a brave
and an excellent soldier and rendered his country three years' service.
JOHN J. HUGHES, the driver, is a fireman of ten years' standing. He was
born Sept. 23, 1854. in New York City. He joined the Department on June
19, 1882, and is known as a steady, trustworthy man. He has often assisted
in the rescue of life at fires. On May 1, 1886, he was promoted to the
position of driver.
JOHN JOSEPH CANTWELL is a man with a gratifying record. During his career
he has served his country as a fire-fighter, a soldier, and as a sailor in
the navy. Mr. CANTWELL is a native of the Green Isle, where he first saw
light on Jan. 19, 1844. He came to America when but a boy. During the
Rebellion he joined the navy and served faithfully for fourteen months. He
afterward joined the army and served nearly a year, when he was honorably
discharged. He received his appointment as fireman, March 15, 1888, and
the same day was assigned to duty on Hook and Ladder Company No. 8. On
Jan. 11, 1889, he was transferred to Engine No. 27.
THOMAS McNAMARA is a veteran fireman with a long and honorable record.
He was born in Ireland, July 31, 1848. He was appointed Nov. 19, 1876, and
since then he has served with credit in various companies. He has assisted
in the rescue of life on several occasions.
ALEXANDER JOHNSTON was born in New York City on Feb. 28, 1853, and nearly
seven years of his life have been devoted to the Brooklyn Fire Department,
of which he is one of the most valuable members. His commission is dated
Dec. 15, 1885.
HENRY JOSEPH SMITH is a Brooklynite. He was born Sept10, 1861, and
appointed to the Department June 15. 1887. He was first assigned to Engine
No. 19, as driver. After nearly four years' faithful service with that
company he was, on March 25, 1881, transferred to Engine No. 27. He is a
plucky and energetic member of the force.
CHARLES FRANCIS CONNOLLY is a native of the great city which he serves as a
member of the Fire Department. He was born June 5, 1862, and he joined
the Department Jan. 2, 1889. During his connection with the service he has
been noted as a reliable and efficient fireman and capable of performing the
most difficult work that may be assigned to him.
Fireman PATRICK MCGRATH commenced doing fire duty on July 1, 1892. He was
born in Ireland, on March 20, 1868.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 31 : A NEW BROOM THAT SWEEPS CLEAN
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 31. On the Eastern Parkway, within a short distance of
the grounds of the Brooklyn Baseball Club, stands the handsome two-story
frame building, thirty-five feet front by one hundred and twenty-five feet
in length, occupied by Engine Company No. 31. The date of the formation of
this company was March 12, 1892, and at twelve minutes past two o'clock in
the afternoon of that day, the company began active operations, under the
command of Foreman Charles D. RUDDY, who for several years was Foreman of
Engine Company No. 3. The interior of the house is fitted up in a
first-class manner, and the members of the company have added much to the
beauty of it, by their tasteful decorations. It is equipped with a Clapp &
Jones steamer, which formerly was used by No. 27. It has been in service
about four years, and weighs about 6500 pounds. The hose-cart, a
four-wheeler, is new and has all the latest improvements. The horses ‹four
bays-are well trained, strong and serviceable. "Paddy," one of the tender
horses, was seven years old when he was purchased for the Department. That
was nearly fifteen years ago, but notwithstanding the fact that he weighs
only 1300 pounds he can pull as much weight as any horse in the Department.
Foreman RUDDY was so much attached to the animal that he asked permission to
have " Paddy," transferred/to No. 31, when that company was organized.
"Tanner," the mate to "Paddy" came from Engine Company No. 20. "Tanner"
acquired a reputation for good work during the blizzard of 1888. The
engine horses came from Hook and Ladder No. 3 and Engine No. 19, and are
both young, gentle and serviceable. The indicators alarm bells,
telephone, clocks and other paraphernalia used in engine-houses, are all new
and have the latest improvements. The district covered by the company on a
first-alarm is an exceedingly large one and includes the entire Twenty-sixth
and a portion of the Twenty-fifth Wards It is bounded by Saratoga Avenue
and Bainbridge Street, the city line. New Lots Road and Buffalo Avenue and
Dean Street. On a first-alarm they respond to calls from 43 boxes, and on
the second from 75 boxes. The majority of the dwelling-houses in the
district are two and three-story frame buildings. The principal buildings
included in this territory are the House of the Good Shepherd, German
Lutheran Hospital St Marys Hospital, Piel's brewery. Public Schools Nos. 84,
72 and 73, Father Hand's Catholic church, a Congregational church, a Jewish
synagogue, the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. German Orphan Asylum, Bennett's
Casino, the Howard House, Bourke & Ryan's dry goods store, Miles Brothers'
brush factory, Cummings' moulding mills, the New Jersey mills. Adams' coal
yards, the Twenty-sixth Ward 'Bank, the East New York Bank, Linton
banking-house. Post Office Station " E." Ratners flower hall, Morris
assembly rooms, Washington Hall, the repair-yards and shops of the Kings
County Elevated Railroad Company, and of the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad,
Brooklyn City Railroad stables, Schellein's Hall, a Baptist church, St.
Francis De Sales' church, Union gas works, two Brooklyn pumping stations.
Long Island Water Supply Company's works, Burnett's Hall, the Beecher
Memorial church, and the handsome new police- station of the Seventeenth
Precinct, corner of Miller and Liberty Avenues. The company attended its
first fire on March 13. 1892, the day after its organization. The company
is composed of active men, selected, with only one exception, from other
companies in the Department, and among them are those who have been exposed
many times to serious danger, and others who have risked their lives to save
others from perishing. Foreman CHARLES D. RUDDY is an old fireman, and his
record in the Department is that of a brave and fearless man. He is highly
esteemed not only by his superior officers but by every man who has worked
under him since he was first put in command of a company. He was born in
the County Donegal, Ireland, in April 1851. He came to this country with his
parents in infancy, and when at the age of eleven he lost his father, he
found work in Hauck's cracker bakery on Water Street, and took upon himself
the responsibility of supporting his mother and educating his two younger
brothers. He acquired an education by studying at night after having
performer a hard day's work, and as he grew up to manhood, he applied
himself diligently to such work as his hands found to do. Before he was
twenty-one he had thoroughly mastered the housesmith's trade, which stood
him in good stead when he became a fireman. He was possessed of a fine
baritone voice, and developed such talent as a character sketch artist, that
comedian Hugh Fay, of the Barry & Fay combination, became interested in him.
and later Mr. RUDDY made his appearance with Mr. Fay in several sketches
which became very popular with the public. Mr. RUDDY is a widower, and
lives at No. 14 Hicks Street. He was appointed a fireman on Dec. 20,
1872,' and assigned to duty with Engine No. 7. From this company he was
transferred to Engine No. 6, then back to Engine No. 7.then to Engine No. 5
and again to Engine No. 6. While in the latter he was made Assistant Foreman
and detailed to organize Engine Company No. 26. He remained in command of
this company until he was promoted to the grade of Foreman and sent to take
command of Engine Company No. 3. His knowledge of iron-work made him a very
valuable man in the district in which Engine No. 3 was located, for it
contained the large warehouses along the water-front, all of which were
secured by iron doors and shutters. When Commissioner Ennis resolved to
organize Engine Company No. 31 for the better protection of property in the
Twenty-sixth Ward, Mr. RUDDY was transferred to the command of the new
company. His superiors regarded him as most valuable in the district in
which he was and disliked to transfer his services. But for years he had
had nothing but the hardest kind of work and his transfer to a less arduous
post was favorably regarded by the Commissioner. While he was connected
with Engine No. 7, a fire occurred in a photograph gallery in St. Ann's
Building on Fulton Street. He was obeying the orders of the Chief Engineer
to open up the building, when a large plate glass in one of the windows
broke and in falling struck Mr. RUDDY 's right wrist and severed the artery.
At a factory fire in the "Old Glass House," on State Street in May, 1885,
Mr. RUDDY was severely burned about the head, face and hands while rescuing
Fireman James Fay, who by the force of an explosion of a naphtha tank had
his skull fractured and his arm broken. In Dec., 1887, at a fire in the
old Harper mansion on dark Street at which two men were killed, Mr. RUDDY
rescued two colored female servants from the third story. In Sept. 1891,
at a fire at No. 42 Atlantic Avenue, he brought out a Swedish man from the
building who was so nearly suffocated that he died soon after. At a fire in
Evert's jewelry store, Dec. 28, 1891, he carried an aged Swedish woman,
weighing two hundred pounds, down the fire escape and saved her from being
suffocated. In 1880, at a fire in the paint works, comer of Gold and Tillary
Streets, an explosion occurred while Fireman MCSHANE, a member of Mr.
RUDDY's company, was in the building. Mr. RUDDY dashed into the building,
in which another explosion was liable to occur at any moment, and brought
out MCSHANE, bruised and bleeding. Mr. RUDDY has been to every big fire
which has occurred since his appointment.
Engineer JOHN MORAN was born in this country on Aug. 29, 1859. He is
married and lives at No. 833 Kent Avenue. He was appointed a fireman Dec.
3, 1888, and has served with Engine Companies Nos. 6, 10, and 9. He was
promoted to be an engineer March 12, 1892, and transferred to his present company.
WILLIAM T. CANNING, a first-grade fireman, was born in the Nineteenth Ward
on Jan. 1, 1861. He is married and lives at No. 118 Division Avenue. He
became a fireman April 2, 1885, and has done duty with Engines Nos. 13, 21,
and 11. He was with Engine No. 21 when transferred to the new company.
Mr. Canning is a life-saver. In 1860 at a fire in a tenement house at Wythe
Avenue and Keep Street, he rescued a woman sixty years of age who lived on
the second floor. At the burning of Stover's dry goods store, on South
Eighth Street and Bedford Avenue, he saved Foreman MAGUIRE, of Engine No. n,
from being killed, by pulling him away from the coping just as the walls
fell. At Dietz's lock works fire, at Wythe Avenue and Clymer Street, Mr.
Canning U was overcome by smoke. He has been present at every big fire
which has occurred in Hi the Eastern District in the last seven years,
except the Church's soda works fire, and then he was on the sick list.
WILLIAM LYON was born in New York City, Aug. 12, 1869, and was appointed a
fireman April 1, 1892. and assigned to the new company. His father was an
old fireman in the New York Department, and was killed on Nov. 8, 1885, in
discharge of his duty.
JOHN J. TOBIN was born in. Gloucester, Mass on Aug. 20, 1850. He is
married and lives at No. 107 Skillman Avenue. Mr. TOBIN was made a fireman
June 15 1885 and has done duty with Hook and Ladder Companies Nos. 4, 6, 7,
and 8 and Engines Nos. 15, 16, and 21. He has been slightly injured twice
during his term of service.
WILLIAM O'BRIEN, the driver, was born in Bristol, England, Oct. 27, 1853.
He is married and lives at No. 438 Rockaway Avenue. He was appointed a
fireman April 15. 1882 and since that time has done duty with Engines Nos. 5
and 7. At the fire at Harbeck's stores, July 19, 1882, at which fireman
Robert McDougall of Truck No. 3 was killed and eighteen men were seriously
injured, Mr. O'BRIEN was among the latter number and had his right leg and
two ribs broken. In 1885, while responding to an alarm of fire he was
thrown from the tender and had his left leg broken. On a cold Sunday
morning in January, 1892, a fire broke out in a laundry on Henry Street. A
stout woman, who lived on an upper floor, had climbed out of the window and
was hanging to the coping of a stable roof adjoining. Mr. O'BRIEN. then a
member of Engine Company No. 5, as soon as a ladder was put up, was the
first to mount it and rescued the woman from her perilous position, by
dragging her up on the stable roof.
FRANCIS H. STRICKLAND was born in New York City. April 1, 1843. During the
Civil War he served nine months with the 47th Regiment, and two years in the
Regiment, N. Y. Vols. He was an old volunteer fireman and ran with "
Columbia" Engine No. 10. He is a member of the Veteran and Volunteer
Firemen's Associations of the Western District. He was appointed to the
new Department Feb. 18, 1879 He was assigned to Engine No. 10 and
subsequently transferred to the fireboat, " Seth Low." He was afterward
transferred back to Engine No, 10, where he remained until he became
attached to his present company.
JOHN RAMSAY, the driver of the hose-cart, was born in Scotland. Feb. 7,
1862, and came to this country in June, 1865. He was a truck driver in New
York City up to the time of his appointment, July 19, 1891, and was
transferred from Engine No. 14 to No. 31. He is married and lives at No. 499
PETER B. CARNEY was born in this city, Sept. 28, 1850, and lives with his
family at No. 13 Pleasant Place. He was made a fireman May 5, 1885, and
has done duty with Truck No. 5 and Engine Nos. 9, 17, and 19.
MICHAEL J. MCGINN was born in Lowell, Mass. Sept. 17. 1852. He is a
widower and lives at No. 33 South Sixth Street. When appointed, Aug. 1,
1875, he was sent to the Repair-yard, where he remained for two years and
four months, and was then transferred to Engine Company No. 11, from which
company he was transferred to No. 31 While with Engine No. 11 he was thrown
from the tender and had his head severely injured.
PHILIP FREY was born in New York City on Christmas Day, 1863. He is a
machinist by trade. He was appointed a fireman March 12, 1881, and
assigned to Hook and Ladder Company No. 8, where he remained until No. 31
- LIVELY WORK IN AN IMMENSE DISTRICT- A CITY IN ITSELF
- DISTRICT ENGINEER McCARTHY
- STEADY PROMOTION THROUGH MERIT
- ENGINE COMPANY No. 25 : PROTECTOR OF NEW LOTS
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 27 : A MAJORITY OF VETERANS
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 31 : A NEW BROOM THAT SWEEPS CLEAN
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 7 : THE FIRST IN THE ANNEXED DISTRICT
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 33 AND TRUCK NO. 12
NEW COMPANIES FOR THE NEW DlSTRICT.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 7 : THE FIRST IN THE ANNEXED DISTRICT
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 7.
Truck No. 7 is located on New Jersey Avenue, between Fulton Avenue and the
Jamaica Plank Road. It was organized on Aug. 4, 1886, the day the town of
New Lots was made a part of Brooklyn. The first home of the company was in
a little two-story frame building on the Jamaica Plank Road near New Jersey
Avenue, which was fitted up for temporary quarters. For nearly three years
the company remained there, until the present fine structure was built and
ready for occupancy.
On the night before the law annexing New Lots to the city of Brooklyn went
into effect, twelve tried and true men were delegated to go out to East New
York and do service with the new truck company. Captain Peter Campbell,
for many years in charge of Truck No. 3, was placed in command, and as he
has often said since, he was surrounded by a force of men that seldom had an
equal and never a superior in the Department. The hour of midnight
announced to the men that their duty had begun. Provided with a new and
perfectly equipped Hayes Truck and a spanking trio of horses, the men
started out under the most favorable auspices. How well the trust reposed
in them has been discharged is. best attested by the esteem in which the men
are held by the residents and tax-payers. There was of course some
opposition to the Paid Department in the new ward, but it only came from the
members of the Volunteer Fire Department. For a long time the latter had
performed all the fire duty in the town and looked upon the work and
attendant honor as theirs by right. But it did not take the residents and
tax-payers long to appreciate the change for the better, and while they felt
grateful to the volunteers for what they had done the introduction of the
Paid Department of Brooklyn was hailed as a great boon, the effect of which
has been felt since in the large number of houses that have been erected.
The territory covered by the company is a large, growing and important one.
It includes all the Twenty-sixth Ward and the upper end of the Eighteenth
Ward. The company responds to thirty-six first-alarm calls and to twenty
on the second-alarm. Last year the company attended over 100 fires, the
largest of which was in the dry goods and furnishers' house of Bourke &
Ryan and the adjoining houses, with a loss of about $100.000. Truck No. 7
was the first company at the scene, and owing to the hard and intelligent
work performed by the men the fire was limited in its extent. Among the
large and important structures in the ward are the car houses and terminal
stations of. the Kings County and Brooklyn Elevated Railway Companies, the
car houses and freight depot of the Long Island Railroad Company, the Long
Island Water Supply Company's plant, the House of the Good Shepherd, St.
Malachi's House, and several large manufacturing concerns. The men of the
company are well drilled and disciplined. Excellent time is made in hitching
up and getting out to a fire. On several tests the "turn was done" in
twelve seconds, although the horses necessarily have far to go on account of
the length of the truck. Among the members of the company are many
veterans in the business, together with a sprinkling of young men of brawn
Foreman PETER CAMPBELL is one of the best-known men in the Department, He
was born in New Orleans, La., on March 10, 1844. His parents, four years
later, removed to this city. Peter attended the public and parochial
schools of the Second Ward and at an early age was apprenticed to the hat
trade. When old enough he joined the Volunteer Fire Department, becoming a
member of old Engine No. 4 then located on High Street, where Engine No. 6
now lies. Later he served with Constitution Engine No. 6, stationed in
Bridge Street. When the Paid Department was organized in 1869, he was one
of the first men appointed and was assigned to Truck No. 3, on Concord
Street. In 1883, when the civil service law went into effect, he was one
of the first applicants to enter the examination for appointment as a
Foreman. Out of a class of nearly thirty, he stood first in the list and
was appointed on March 20, 1883. He was sent to command Engine No. 9, but
only remained there a few months, when he was returned to Truck No. 3, to-
take charge of it. When the town of New Lots was annexed to Brooklyn.
Commissioner ENNIS selected Foreman CAMPBELL to organize Truck No. 7, with
which he has since remained. Since his residence in the Twenty-sixth Ward
he has earned the respect of his neighbors and the business community. He
is cool and self-possessed in time of fire and has frequently distinguished
himself in the rescue of people from burning buildings. At a fire in Mr.
Campbell's bakery at No. 75 Main. Street, in 1881, he rescued a three
years' old boy from the third story. He then returned to the burning
building and took a woman and child out by way of adjoining roofs. On Jan.
12, 1880, he heard the cry of fire from a stable at the comer of Gold and
Concord Streets. Responding to the call he found Mrs. Bridget KELLY
enveloped in flames. He instantly divested himself of his overcoat and
threw it around her. She was taken to the Long Island College Hospital,
but she died a week later. Another occasion, when he took great chances
with his own life. was in the rescue of Thomas COMESKY, whom he carried from
a burning building on Poplar Street near Henry Street, April 2, 1882. The
fire broke out about midnight, but before Mrs. COMESKY, the mother of the
boy, could be got out, she was burned to death. For gallant service
rendered at a fire in Silas Ilsen's tin factory at York and Adams Streets,
in 1884, Foreman Campbell was personally complimented by Commissioner
Partridge and the owner, and was made the recipient of an engrossed
resolution reciting his gallant deed. Assistant Foreman JOHN HOGARTH is an
old fireman, although he has been in the present Department only since Feb.
16, 1887. He was born Nov. 26, 1852, in New York City, but went to live in
the town of New Lots when a boy. He joined the Volunteer Fire Department of
that town and was raised from a fireman to be the Chief Engineer of the
Department, filling that important position when the town was annexed to
Brooklyn. It will be seen therefore that he brought a ripe experience to
his duties in the Paid Department and a thorough familiarity with the
district in which he now serves. He first did duty in Engine No. 25; from
there he was sent to Truck No. 7, where he has served since.
JOHN DOWD is an old and faithful fireman. He was born in Ireland on Feb.
12, 1848, but has long been a resident of this city. On Dec. 15, 1872, he
was appointed a fireman. He has been at all the large fires and has met
with several accidents while in the discharge of his duty. He was first
assigned to Truck No. 2. Then he went to Engine No. 10, where he spent
sixteen years. He served for a short time in Engines Nos. 17 and 2, in the
order named, and when New Lots was annexed he was transferred to Truck No.
7, as an original member, and has continued to serve there.
JOHN A. LANGDON has been in the Department since Jan. 28, 1882, and in the
days of the Volunteer Department he ran with Hose No. 6, of the Eastern
District for ten years. He was born in New York City, March 23, 1838, but
removed to this city before he attained his majority. During the war he
was a mechanic in the Navy Yard. He has done duty in the following
companies: three years in Engine No. 22, three years in Engine No. 16, and
the rest of the time in his present place. He is a good fireman, well
spoken of by his superiors and justly popular with his associates.
JAMES S. GARDNER was born in Meriden, Conn., Oct. 18, 1854. On Dec. 15,
1885, he was appointed a fireman and sent to Engine No. 6. He served eight
months there and was then transferred to Truck No. 7, where he has been
since. He is a man of fine build, as brave as a lion and well adapted to the
calling he has chosen.
HORACE C. PENSON, the driver of the truck, was born in Baltimore. Md., in
1846. When the war broke out, although not of age, he joined a Maryland
regiment of infantry and went to the front. When hostilities closed he
came to this city. On July 1, 1885, he was appointed a fireman and
assigned to Engine No. 18. He remained there for a year, and when Truck
No. 7 was organized, was transferred to it. He is a skilful driver,
devotedly attached to his horses, and takes pride in keeping them in a spick
and span condition.
JAMES J. MILLER is a thorough Brooklynite. He was born here and has always
lived here, and says he will die here. He was born in 1864 and was
appointed a fireman on Sept. 21, 1887. Since his connection with the
Department he has served respectively as a member of Engine No. 19, Truck
No. 5 and Truck No. 7. Before being a fireman he was engaged in the milk
JOHN PORTER, the oldest member of the company in years, has been a member of
the Department since March, 1888. He has a good war record as well as a
good fire record. He was born in London, England, in 1845, but came to
this country when a boy. During the war he served with the 7th Reg't.
Maine Vols., and later with the 7th U. S. Cavalry. For eleven months he
was a private, but for bravery he was promoted to be a sergeant. He
enlisted at the age of seventeen years and was present at many important
engagements and was slightly injured at Cedar Creek. At the close of the
war he returned to New York, and finally located in this city, where he
became well known as a horseman. He has served as a member of Trucks Nos. 3
and 5, and from the latter he was transferred to Truck No. 7.
PETER J. HADDOCK was invested with a badge and uniform on Oct. 14, 1890, and
possesses all the requisites of a good fireman. Cool, alert, and
ambitious, he promises to make his mark in fire annals. He was born in
Liberty, Sullivan County, N. Y., on July 29, 1865. He has only served with
Truck No. 7.
HUGH GARRAH, one of the youngest and best men in the company, was born Aug.
1, 1866, in Ireland, and possesses all the agility and wit of the race. He
settled with his parents in this city, and on Feb. 1, 1891, was appointed a
fireman by Commissioner Ennis. He was assigned to Truck No. 7, where he has
JOHN J. MEAGHER, another of the young men, was born in this city, Sept. 19,
1865, and was appointed a fireman March 23, 1891. Although a comparative
novice, he can tell some of his older associates something about fire duty.
Since his appointment he has been a member of Truck No. 7. Prior to his
appointment he was a plumber.
CHARLES E. FIELD is the youngest member of the company in years and service.
He was born in New York City. March 28, 1869, but since his boyhood days he
has been a resident of this city. On July 17, 1891, when he was only
twenty-two years of age, Commissioner Ennis appointed him from a high place
on a large eligible list.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 33 AND TRUCK NO. 12
NEW COMPANIES FOR THE NEW DlSTRICT.
A new truck-company will be added to this district as soon as the house now
under construction is finished. Hook and Ladder Co. No. 12 will then be
organized and located on Madison Street, between Central and Hamburg Avenues.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 17
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