enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE TENTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES WALSH.
COMPANIES OF THE TENTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES WALSH.
- BETWEEN THE WATER-FRONT AND THE ARISTOCRATIC PARK
- RAPID GROWTH ALONG THE ELEVATED LINES
- LIMITS OF THE TENTH DISTRICT
AVERAGING a mile in width and stretching out to a length of three miles, the
Tenth District gives plenty of work to the four companies that are specially
charged with its guardian- ship. It extends from Flatbush Avenue and
Butler Street south to the city line at Bay Ridge, and is contained between
Prospect Park, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Cemetery and the easterly city
line, and Gowanus Bay and Canal. .The mention of these limits will indicate
at once the varied character of the district from a fireman»s point of view.
The entire northerly section of the district consists of residences, except
along the canal; and including as it does the newly and handsomely developed
region along the borders of Prospect Park, it contains what are perhaps the
most beautiful and costly of all the residences in the city. Through the
heart of the district runs the Brooklyn and Union Elevated railroad, and
this means that within the few years that this line has been in operation
there has been a constant and rapid growth of building and population.
Steadily has the fire duty here increased in importance and magnitude; and
these are conditions that exact untiring vigilance from a corps of
fire-companies, who would find their enemy beyond their control if they
relaxed their watchfulness in the least. The recent re-districting of the
city for fire purposes has set apart for the new Tenth District so much of
the old First District as was included in the territory covered by Engines
Nos. 1, 20, and 28 and Truck No. 9, leaving in the new First District of the
old guard only Truck No. 1 and Engine No. 2.
- DISTRICT ENGINEER WALSH : TWENTY-THREE YEARS IN COMMAND OF ENGINE COMPANY NO 8
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES WALSH. James WALSH is the District Engineer charged
with the responsibilities of this district. To its duties he was recently
transferred from the scene of his faithful labors of nearly a quarter of a
century, where he had directed the fortunes and shared the dangers of Engine
Company No. 8, on Front Street, in the Third District. There was little
question as to the early promotion of an officer of his experience and long
service with high rank; and when he came out second in the examination for
promotion with a percentage of 78%, following close on the heels of the
leader in the contest, it was no surprise to any one that he stood so high
in the competition and secured so surely the second of the five appointments
that were given out in July, 1892. Mr. WALSH was an old-timer in the fire
business, by whatever standard he was measured. Born in Ireland, on Oct.
18, 1845, and making his home in Brooklyn since his youth, he early joined
the Volunteer Fire Department, and served continuously with old Constitution
No. 7, until the days of the Volunteer Department were numbered and the Paid
Department in all its glory of reorganization was ushered in. At this time
many old firemen were put to the test of merit, and so far as selection for
the new Department was evidence of faithful work and demonstrated ability,
those who received appointments had cause for satisfaction.. In an eminent
degree this satisfaction was enjoyed by James WALSH, for not only was he
numbered with the elect who were taken into the new Department, but he was
so highly esteemed for the work he had done under the former auspices as to
be made at once a Foreman under the new regime, and was assigned to the
command of Engine Company No. 8, of which he has been the captain ever
since, to the great satisfaction of his men and his superiors. So long a
service with one command, comprising the entire period of the company's
history, has identified him with No. 8 inextricably, and the record of No. 8
is the record of Foreman James WALSH. The honorable career and the
excellent condition of this company are the monument of its admirable
commander. He not only has successfully directed its work in
fire-fighting, but he has himself shared the dangers to which he exposed his
men. Twice during his term of service with the company has he been
injured. The risk of firemen in handling fires where chemicals are among
the combustibles was illustrated in his experience at a fire in the chemical
works at Main and Water Streets on May 10, 1881, when the bursting of a
bottle of vitriol kept him at home for nearly three months with a badly
damaged arm. And a few years before that, in 1875, he was seriously hurt
when the butt end of a pipe struck him in the eye while he was leaning over
a cornice directing the operations of his men. To get a bluff, brave man
like Mr. WALSH, to whom the accidents of a fireman's life are a natural part
of it and are lightly considered, to tell much of what has happened to him
during, twenty-three years of practical fire duty, is not very easy. It is
pretty certain that his experiences would fill a very interesting book; but
he does not want too many of them to go into this book, and nothing further
can be said of him here than that he is regarded as a most admirable officer
worthily filling an honorable position.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. I : THE PIONEER OF THE PAID DEPARTMENT
Engine No. 1 as its number indicates, was organized when the Paid Department
came into existence. It was installed in the house on Fourth Avenue, between
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets, which, prior to that time, had been
occupied by Putnam Engine No. 21, of the Volunteer Department, and remained
there until Aug. 20, 1891, when it was reorganized and moved to a new
building of better design and more ample accommodations on Fourth Avenue,
between Fifty-first and Fifty-second Streets. The building is of buff
colored brick with trimmings of red sandstone, and is an ornament to the
neighborhood. While there is little or no pretension to embellishment on
the interior, it is neat and comfortable and well adapted to the purposes of
the company. In its early days this company had a large, but not a
particularly populous district to cover. For the past ten or twelve years,
however, building operations have been brisk, and where vacant lots and
wooden dwellings were once numerous, there have been erected many fine large
factories, public institutions, and apartment houses. Early in the year
1889 Commissioner ENNIS was appealed to by the property owners and residents
of the lower section of the Eighth Ward for better protection from fire.
The district had grown wonderfully, and as a truck company was needed in the
neighborhood the Commissioner took occasion to transfer the engine as soon
as the house was completed and ready for occupancy. James CONNORS, who
served as Foreman for several years, and was then Assistant Foreman of
Engine No. 1, was placed temporarily in charge, and was subsequently
promoted to a foremanship, and his place at the head of the company was made
permanent. The district is bounded by Prospect Avenue, New Utrecht, Bay
Ridge and New York Bay. Among the important buildings in the district are
many large structures where machinery is used, including the electrical
stations of the Brooklyn City Railroad Company, from which several lines of
surface trolley cars are to be operated, the big factory of the United
States Projectile Company, where the manufacture of shells for government
guns is a specialty; the oil refinery of Bush & Denslow, and the large paper
manufactory founded by the late Robert Graves, several large factories where
high combustibles and explosives are the output and stock in trade, the
great storm shed of the South Brooklyn Terminal Company, and the ferry-house
of the Thirty-ninth Street Ferry alongside. All these contribute
materially to the possibilities of serious and disastrous conflagration
within the limits of the bailiwick so creditably covered by Engine No. 1.
Since the reorganization of the company a few months ago it has had little
chance to distinguish itself, but what duty it was called upon to do was
performed satisfactorily. It was in its early days and while in the old
quarters that the company won praise for valiant services. It was a
tradition that " Engine No. 1 " was always first at a fire, and the last to
leave and did the most effective, service. The engine was formerly in the
service of No. 9. It is a second-class Amoskeag, and while yet in perfect
condition was one of the first brought into the Department. The tender, or
hose-carriage, is one of the "old originals," and is equal to the
emergencies that beset its path. " Harry," " Jim " and "Jerry " are the
engine pets that speed their way to fires. Their intelligence and affection
are not to be overlooked. They require no urging or driving, when the
noisy, clanging gong denotes a conflagration and summons No. 1 in haste to
the foremost line of duty.
Foreman JAMES CONNORS was born in Brooklyn, Aug. 8, 1844. His appointment,
made Sept. 15, 1869, places him among the oldest and most reliable members
of the Department. In his youth, through the medium of the Volunteer
Department, he was enabled to satisfy an ambition for fire-fighting. When
old enough he became actively identified with Hose No. 14, which was then
quartered in Ninth Street near Third Avenue. Here he speedily earned
promotion to Assistant Foreman, a position he held 1! until the advent of
the Paid Department, of which he became a member. The rapidity with which
Foreman CONNORS forged ahead in his new place, and the events of his period
of duty, confirm the adage that " a good man cannot be kept down." On Jan.
23, 1872, in recognition of faithful and earnest work, he was elevated to
the rank of Foreman, though only to be reduced to the ranks seven years
later by an act of the Shannon- Ryan Commission. The following year his
worth was again proven by his reinstatement as Foreman, but on Oct. 21,
1881, among others he suffered another reduction to the ranks. For six
years thereafter he continued as a private. When the position of Assistant
Foreman was created he was one of the first men appointed by Commissioner
ENNIS, being fourth on an eligible list of over fifty. This occurred March
1, 1887. Under the same official he worked his way back to his old post, his
advancement taking place June 9, 1891. Foreman CONNORS, like many other
veterans of the Department, has had more than one narrow escape from instant
death, besides sustaining bodily injuries several times. At the buildings
of Woodruff & Robinson in 1872, he was stationed in front of the building,
when ordered to the rear. He had hardly reached there when the front of
the structure fell in with a thunderous crash, almost upon his back. At the
same conflagration he ascended a ladder which rested on an insecure shed,
part of an adjoining building. Several firemen also climbed the rungs.
They had just thrown a stream on the roaring flames when a creaking sound
below attracted the attention of the men. They had scarcely turned their
heads to learn the cause of the noise when the roof gave away leaving a
small patch secure enough to keep the ladder and its imperiled occupants
from being precipitated into the ruins, which meant a horrible death.
Assistant Foreman HENRY PLATT was born in New York City, May 22, 1856, was
appointed a fireman April 1, 1885, and assigned to Truck No. 1 Later he was
transferred to the fire-boat " Seth Low." On Feb. 13, 1892, he was made an
Assistant Foreman and assigned to Engine No. 1, where he has served
creditably since. With others the last big fire in Pratt's Oil Works,
Greenpoint, saw him detailed for ten days by his superior to guard the ruins
against a fresh outbreak. It proved his longest and most eventful period
of out-door duty since he joined the Department.
Engineer ROBERT STACK was born in New York City, March 14, 1862, and was
appointed July 1, 1885. His first duties in the Department were performed
as a fireman on Engine No. 28. He was made Engineer Feb. 10, 1891, and his
transfer to Engine No. 1 occurred when that company moved into its present
quarters. Engineer Stack sustained painful injuries at a fire on Conover
Street, near William, in the winter of 1888, by accidentally falling from a
two-story window to the street. The mishap confined him to his bed for two weeks.
GEORGE SPRAGUE, Assistant Engineer of Engine No. 1, was born
Jan. 14, 1846. He received his appointment April 1, 1890, and became a
member of Engine No. 6, receiving his promotion as stoker sixteen days
later. From Engine No. 6 he was transferred to Engine No. 28, upon the
organization of the latter, and reported for duty to Engine No. 1, the day
it located in its present place. Mr. Sprague enlisted in the Navy on April
12, 1863, and received his discharge April 13, 1865. He arrived in
Washington on the night Lincoln was shot. His two years of service were
put in on board the government dispatch vessel " Cactus," which is to-day
doing duty in the Federal Lighthouse Service.
ALEXANDER F. NORTON was born in New York City, March 7, 1863. He was
appointed Oct. 14, 1890, and was assigned to Truck No. 1. He was
transferred to Engine No. 1 Aug. 20, of the following year.
WESLEY SPRAGUE, a son of George Sprague above, was born Dec. 28, 1868. His
appointment was made Jan. 31, 1891. He first reported for duty to Engine
No. 28, and has been with Engine No. 1 since it has occupied its present
THOMAS F. NOLAN was born at Fort Hamilton, July 2, 1864. He was appointed
July 15, 1889, and began his fire career on Truck No. 5. On April 17,
1890, he was transferred to Engine No. 28, where he filled the position of
driver. His connection with Engine No. 1, where he also handles the
ribbons, began in 1891.
JOHN J. SHANNON was born in Ireland, July 9, 1867. He received his
appointment March 12, 1891, and after serving on Engines Nos. 2 and 28
respectively, became attached to No. 1 in 1891.
LOUIS FRITSCHLER, who drives the hose-cart of Engine No. 1 was born in
Baltimore, Md., in the year 1846. He served five years in the Fifth United
States Artillery Band prior to his appointment in the Fire Department, which
was on Aug. 6, 1883. He reported for duty to Truck No. 1 His transfer to
Engine No. 1 occurred Jan. 24, 1884. A short stay with the latter
organization was followed by an official order to join Engine No. 28, and in
1891 he returned to Engine No. 1.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 20 : A HUNDRED FIRES IN ONE YEAR
On Eleventh Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is located the well
appointed house of Engine No. 20. When the company was organized, in 1882,
by Commissioner John N. Partridge, the house, then just completed, was
looked upon as a model for comfort and convenience. It was the first of
the fine quarters that now m shelter several of the recently organized
companies, and to Colonel Partridge more than anyone else is due the credit
for many of the innovations. The building is of brick, m two stories in
height, with a one-story extension for stables and storehouse. On the .
former is a lookout, from which fires can be. seen for a long distance in
every direction, The neighborhood is one of the finest in the city. It is
within a block of Prospect Park, on an elevation and in a fast-growing
section. When first organized the company was composed of a Foreman and
eleven picked men, mostly from other companies. A fine new Amoskeag engine,
with an improved tender and a trio of trained steeds were the pride of the
members. Patrick LAMEY, a fireman of long experience, was the first
Foreman. The district, at that time, was not as important as it is now.
The company responded to only 42 first alarm calls and it was nothing
unusual for it to go for two and three weeks without attending a fire. Not
so now. It responds to 71 first alarm calls, and during the year 1891 did
service at ninety-three fires, large and small. The district covered by
the company is bounded by the city line, Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues,
Gowanus Canal, Greenwood Cemetery and Twenty-eighth Street. Within its
confines are several large car stables, including the Brooklyn City stables.
the Fifth Avenue stables, the Seventh Avenue stables, the Vanderbilt Avenue
stables. the depot of the Prospect Park & Coney Island Railroad and the
stables of the Smith and Jay Streets line. In addition to these there are
many large factories and institutions. Among them are the mammoth works of
the Ansonia Clock Company. William M. Brasher & Co.'s oilcloth factory,
Somers Brothers' ornamental tin manufactory, also the Home for the Aged, and
all the large business houses that line Fifth and Seventh Avenues.
The company, as now composed, is an excellent one. The men are quick,
intelligent and conscientious, and have won encomiums from the Commissioner
and Chief Engineer of the Department, besides the business men and residents
of the district, for the way in which they have performed their duty. By
prompt action on many occasions, disastrous fires have been averted.
During the ten years of service of the company, there has not been what can
really be called a big fire in that district. The nearest approach to this
was the conflagration at the oilcloth factory of William Brasher & Co.,
where one of the members of the company, William Chinn, lost his life while
going to the fire, and two others were injured. The company has rendered
excellent service at large fires throughout the city. At the recent
disastrous fire in Smith, Gray & Co.'s building it was one of the last to
leave the scene.
PATRICK LARNEY, the first Foreman, served for nearly five
years, when he was retired.
MATTHEW FOHEY, who is now Foreman of Engine No. 28, was LAMEY's assistant
and was placed temporarily in charge. He served in that capacity until
July 1, 1889.
PETER FARRELL, the present Foreman, was born in the Sixth Ward, on the last
day of Aug., 1850. In the days of the Volunteer Fire Department, when
still in his teens, he was a member of Neptune Engine No. 3, located on
Hicks Street, near Degraw. On June 1, 1874, he was appointed a fireman and
served as a bell-ringer in the Sixth Ward tower, and for three years in the
same capacity at the City Hall. He spent eleven years as a member of Engine
No. 3 and from there went to Engine No. 17, where he remained six months.
Then he was made a Foreman and assigned to Engine No. 10. After three years'
active service in the latter company, he was transferred to his present
post, which he has filled with signal ability. During his nearly eighteen
years in the Department he has had several narrow escapes from death. In
the Glass House fire on State Street, in 1885, he rescued a woman from the
ruins. The walls fell and buried her with many others in the debris.
After a hazardous effort, in which his own life was in danger, he brought
the victim to the surface and was publicly thanked for his valor. At a
fire in Casey's rosin factory, on Richard Street, he assisted in the rescue
of two men who were entombed in the storehouse.
Foreman FARRELL is surrounded by a capable company of men. He is known
among firemen as one of the most considerate of captains, but at the same
time strict disciplinarian. All he asks the men under him to do is to live
up to the rules of the Department and do their duty. Men who shirk their
duties find no quarter with him.
Assistant Foreman MARCUS FITZGERALD,
At the present time the company has no Assistant Foreman. MARCUS
FITZGERALD, who served since his promotion in Feb 1892, up to the middle
April, was transferred back to Engine No. 12, where he had served ten years
as a private. . Engineer DAVID ROCHE, who has been a member of the company
since its organization, was born in Ireland, in 1842, but came to this
country when a boy. When the war broke out he joined the Confederate army
and served with Company A Fourth Georgia Infantry, Doles Brigade. He was
a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, running with Hose No. 9. When
that company was organized into Engine No. 8, he was made Engineer and
continued as such until the organization of the Paid Department. He is the
present Engineer of the company and is regarded as a superior mechanic.
JOHN W. DUNN has been a fireman since Aug. 6, 1883. He served as a member
of Truck No. I for two years and was then transferred to Engine No. 20,
where he has continued since. DUNN is a good fireman and is immensely
popular with his associates. He weighs two hundred and twenty pounds, but is
as active as a professional athlete, and like all stout men he is
good-natured and fond of a joke. While going to a fire one dark night three
years ago, he was thrown from the tender and received an injury to hip that
incapacitated him from duty for four months.
JAMES T. SHANNON was born in New York City, March 7, 1847. At the age of two
he removed to this city, and has lived on Sixteenth Street ever since. He
was appointed a fireman Sept. 15, 1878. He served successively in Truck
No. 1 and Engines Nos. 1 and 4, until Engine No. 20 was organized, since
when he has been a member of that company. He is the only member of the
original company with it at present. In the days of the Volunteer Fire
Department he was a member of Fourteen Hose and Engine No. 21.
GEORGE H. FLETCHER, after his appointment as a fireman on Feb. 1, 1884,
served for fifteen months as a member of Engine No. 2 and for a short time
with Engine No. 1. The remainder of the time he has been a member of Engine
No. 20, of which he is stoker. Before becoming a fireman he was a machinist
JEREMIAH J. DELANEY has an enviable record as a fireman. He was appointed
Nov. 1, 1883 and assigned to Truck No. 1, where he served for a year, and
was then sent to Engine No. 20. He rescued a child from a burning building
at Henry Street and Hamilton Avenue, and at the fire in Cobb's foundry in
Feb., 1884, he had his ankle broken while-assisting in the rescue of a man.
On another occasion he suffered internal injuries from a fall while in the
discharge of his duties. He served in the navy during the late war and was
present at the taking of Mobile and also in the blockade of that port.
RICHARD S. HEARD, a brother of Veterinary Surgeon Heard of the Department,
was appointed a fireman Sept. 10, 1887, and has served continuously with
Engine No. 20 since that time. He was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., forty
years ago, and before becoming a fireman was a veterinarian. He knows all
about a horse, and the excellent condition in which the animals of Engine
No. 20 are always to be found is evidence of his skill. He is a jolly
bachelor and likes the life of a fireman.
THOMAS F. ENNIS was born July 29, 1865, in this city, and was made a fireman
Feb. 1, 1887. He served for a year and a-half as a member of Engine No. 19
and was then transferred to Engine No. 20. He was a truck driver before
being a fireman, and that he was a good one is attested by the fact that he
is the present careful driver of his engine, and has never met with an
accident. During the blizzard he rescued a woman from a snowbank on
Seventh Avenue. But for his timely assistance she would have been frozen
to death. ENNIS comes of an old Brooklyn family.
JAMES T. DONOHUE has been a fireman a little more than a year, but in that
time has shown that he is made of the right material. He was appointed
March 12, 1891, and has performed duty only as a member of Engine No. 20.
He is thirty-one years of age and a perfect athlete. Before becoming a
fireman he was an iron-smelter.
ALEXANDER J. REEKIE, the most recent acquisition to the company, was made a
fireman March 23, 1891, and was a member of Truck No. 1 for eight months.
In Oct.1891, he was transferred to his present post, and in that short time
has commended himself to his superior officers, by his intelligent devotion
to duty. Before his appointment he was an engineer in the dry goods house of
Wechsler & Abraham, the members of that firm signing his application and
urging his appointment. He was born in Brooklyn on Jan.17,1858.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO 28 : CITIZENS COMMEND THEIR BRAVERY
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 28. Engine Company No. 28, located on Thirty-ninth Street
between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, is one of the recent companies created by
Commissioner ENNIS, and was organized on April 17,1890. The need of an
engine in that locality was long felt by the residents and tax-payers, who
were persistent in their appeals for protection. Several delegations called
upon Mayor Chapin and the Commissioner, and pointed out the necessities for
prompt action. They had facts and figures showing that the population of
the district had doubled in less than three years, and that the number of
new buildings erected in the Eighth Ward for the four previous years
exceeded that of any other ward in the city. The nearest engine. No. 1, then
at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Nineteenth Street, they claimed, was not
enough to cover such a large, growing, and important manufacturing and
residential district. In accordance with the general demand the
Commissioner, by direction of the Mayor, leased the two-story brick building
on Fourth Avenue between Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Streets, and
fitted it up as temporary quarters. An apparatus formerly used by Engine No.
2 was pressed into service and with six experienced men from Engine No. 1
and six new men, under the command of James CONNORS, now Foreman of Engine
No. 1 but at that time an Assistant Foreman, the new company was ready for
business on the morning of April 17. In the meantime the site upon which
the present-house is located was purchased, and work on its erection began.
On Dec. 30, 1891 the house was ready for occupancy and the company formally
took possession. The building is of suitable design. It is built of brick,
with brown stone trimmings, two stories in height, and is especially adapted
to the purposes for which it was erected. It contains all the modern
improvements for the accommodation of the men, horses and apparatus, and is
a model house in many respects. The district covered by
the company is an important one. It is bounded by Twelfth Street, Bay
Ridge, Ninth Avenue and Flatbush and the New York Bay Within its boundaries
are many large manufactories, depots, institutions and handsome dwellings.
Among them are the depot and stables of the Brooklyn City Railroad Company,
of the Fifth Avenue line, of the Seventh Avenue line, of the Ninth Avenue
line and the Culver depot, of the Jay. Smith and Ninth Streets line, the
depot of the Brooklyn Bath & West End Railroad Company, the terminal
station and car houses of the Union Elevated Railroad Company, the large
depot of the South Brooklyn Terminal Company, the Thirty-ninth Street
ferry-house, the large wall paper manufactory of the Robert S. Graves
Company, the Denslow & Bush oil factory, the Phoenix Oil Works Arnott's
Stores, the power station of the Brooklyn City Railroad Company, the factory
of the United States Projectile Company, the works of the South Brooklyn Saw
Mill Company and the mammoth building of the American Water Meter Company
besides 9 many other large structures. In addition to these the large number
of vessels that load B and discharge their cargoes along the water-front
brings the total amount of property to S be looked after away up into the
millions. Since the company was organized no large conflagrations have
occurred in the neighborhood. Whatever work has fallen to the company has
been performed with promptness, intelligence and fearlessness. During the
year 1891, the company responded to nearly fifty first alarms, but
fortunately the aggregate s loss of property was only a few thousand
dollars, and no lives were lost. The property - owners feel perfectly
secure, and are pleased with the good work performed by the company. They
have sent several letters to the Commissioner and Chief Engineer commending
the men for their bravery at fires and for their good deportment when not
actively engaged. Since Engine No. 1 was transferred from its old quarters
at Fourth Avenue and Nineteenth Street, to its new house on Fifty-third
Street, it has relieved No. 28 of a large part of the lower end of the
district. But from the way buildings are growing up in every direction,
the time is not far distant when the two companies will have plenty to do
and have one of the most important districts in the city to cover
Exceptionally good time is made by the company in getting to a fire. Seven
seconds is the average time for getting out of the house on an alarm, but
this time has been beaten repeatedly. The men fake an especial pride in the
company horses " Tom " " Dick " and "Harry." The two latter are a team of
iron grays that run along with the engine as though it were a sulky.
Assistant Foreman CONNORS remained in charge of the company until he was
appointed a Foreman and assigned to Engine No. 1. His place was taken by
the present Foreman on June 1, 1891, the day CONNORS was made a Foreman.
Foreman MATTHEW FOHEY had been in charge of Engine No. 20 for three and
a-half years and brought with him to his new command a long and varied
experience. He was born in Ireland, June 24, 1849, and came to this country
when a boy, settling in the Twelfth Ward of this city. After pursuing the
trade of a carpenter for some years he was made a fireman on June 20, 1878,
and assigned to Engine No. 3, on Hicks Street. There he served for a short
time, and then was transferred to Engine No. 2. He remained with the latter
until he was made an Assistant Foreman and assigned to Engine No. 20, on
Eleventh Street. He was in charge of the company for a long time on
account of the disability and subsequent retirement from the Department of
Patrick LAMEY, the Foreman. Foreman FOHEY has a good record as a fireman.
While a member of Engine No. 2, he assisted in the rescue of a woman from a
burning building in Hamilton Avenue. He also assisted in the rescue of a
child at a fire in Court Street. At a fire in one of the large warehouses at
the Atlantic Dock, he, with other members of his company, was on the roof;
suddenly it began to sway, and they were obliged to flee for their lives.
Just as they reached the ground, in less than half a minute, the roof fell in
with a fearful crash. It was a close call, and an experience that Foreman
FOHEY and his comrades will long remember. He has had many similar
experiences, and could, if he would, fill a large sized book with stirring
incidents of his life since he donned a uniform. In build, Foreman FOHEY
is of about the average height and of a sturdy figure. He is never happier
than when he has something to do, and goes about a fire as a machinist would
go about a lathe. He is highly esteemed by the men who have served under
him, and enjoys the respect of his superior officers, who have long looked
upon him as a careful and clever man even under adverse circumstances. A
strict disciplinarian, in the sense that he exacts faithful duty from every
man in his company, those under him know what to do and do it willingly.
Assistant Foreman JAMES CUMMINGS is a young man who entered the Department
with a determination to make a record. He was born in this city, April 18,
1863, and was appointed a fireman on April 2, 1885, sixteen days before his
twenty-second birthday. After serving for about a year between Truck No. 1
and Engine No. 2, he was transferred to Engine No. 20, where he remained
until June 1, 1890, when he was made an Assistant Foreman and sent in that
capacity to Engine No. 28. From all accounts he fills the bill well, and
is looked upon as capable of directing a company under any circumstances.
His name is inscribed on the roll of honor for heroic services.
Engineer JOHN BEGLEY is a veteran fireman and a thorough mechanic. He is
one of the few remaining men who entered the Department at its organization,
and before that he served as a volunteer in the old Department. He was
born Jan. 15, 1845, and before becoming a fireman, in 1869, was an engineer
and steam-fitter. During his long years of service he has been a faithful
and earnest worker, and is the originator of the appliance for keeping steam
in an engine at all times. He has also invented other improvements in the
shape of gauges, cocks, exhaust valves, and steam indicators. Engineer
BEGLEY has done service in several companies. At one time or another he
has served in Engines Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 15 and 28. He was the engineer of
Engine No 1 for ten years previous to the time that Engine No. 28 was
organized, when, at his own request, he was transferred to that company.
Assistant Engineer JOHN A. CALLAGHAN was born in this city, June 4. 1852,
and on Dec. 27, 1882, was made a fireman and assigned to Engine No. 1, where
he served until transferred to Engine No. 28 last November. He is a man of
fine physique, a good fireman, and immensely popular with his associates.
At several fires he has distinguished himself for coolness and bravery.
JOHN MEDDIS was born in Ireland, May 15, 1850, and was appointed a fireman
on Sept. 15, 1882. Since that time he has served respectively as a member
of Engines Nos. 19, 4 and 1, and was sent to No. 28 at its organization.
He has received favorable mention for assisting in the rescue of two lives
MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM, although the oldest member of the company in point of
years, has the appearance and the bearing of a younger man. He was born in
Ireland on Feb. 9, 1844, and started for this country to make a name and
fortune. Shortly after his arrival here the war broke out, and he was one
of the first to enlist and go to the front. He served in both the army and
navy. On June 20, 1882, he was appointed a fireman and assigned to Engine
No. 9. For some time he was detailed to the repair shop as a painter, a
trade he pursued before his connection with the Fire Department. He
subsequently served as a member of Engines Nos. 19 and 20, being one of the
first men selected for the former when it was organized. Later, when
Engine Company No. 28 was established, he was assigned to that and has been
a member of the company since.
JOHN H. FARRELL was born in the Twelfth Ward of Brooklyn Feb. 11, 1863. He
was made a fireman on Jan. 2, 1889, and has been a member of Engines Nos. 5,
2, 26, and Truck No. 2. In Feb. 1892, he was transferred to Engine No. 28
where he has served since.
FRANK B. CHARLOCK first saw the light of day in New York City on July 23,
1863. His family moved to this city when Frank was a boy, so that he is an
out-and-out Brooklynite. He had long desired to be a fireman, and on July
30. 1889, his ambition was gratified by his appointment at the hands of
Commissioner ENNIS. He was in the front rank of a large civil service
list. For a short time he served as a member of Engine No. 1, and was sent
to No. 28 when it was organized. He is a good fireman, and enjoys the
respect of his colleagues.
GEORGE A. FREETH was born on Sept. 6, 1865, and was appointed a fireman on
April 16, 1890. The day following. Engine Company No. 28 was organized.
He was. sent there, so that he has done all his fire duty in Gowanus.
Although a comparative novice he has performed duty that is highly
SAMUEL T. ERWIN, for the short time he has been in the Department, has shown
that he is made of the right material for a fireman. He was born on Aug.
8, 1859, and was appointed to the Department on July 17, 1891. He served
for a short time as a. member of Engine No. 1, and was then transferred to
his present quarters.
HUGH LAFFERTY was appointed a fireman on March 31, 1892, and, although
wearing a uniform only a few months, he has displayed the right qualities
for good fire fighting. Born in this city, on Feb. 7, 1867, he knows
EUGENE MCCARTHY was born in New York City on April 3, 1866, and was.
appointed to the uniformed force July 1, 1892.
CHRISTOPHER D. BOYNE was born in Brooklyn on August 12, 1866,and his
connection with the Fire Department began on July 1, 1892.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO 9 : PROTECTORS OF THE FLEET AND FIGHTERS OF OIL FIRES.
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 9. Hook and Ladder Company No. 9, located at
Fourth Avenue and Nineteenth Street, on Aug. 20, 1891, took the place of
Engine Company No. 1, which had been located there since the Paid Fire
Department was organized. Up to that time that section of South Brooklyn
known as Gowanus, and including the entire Eighth Ward and the lower part of
the Twenty-second Ward, was without a hook and ladder company. Commissioner
ENNIS recognized that it was too important a section to be left without a
truck, and organized a new company. He transferred Engine No. 1 to a new
house on Fifty-third Street, and placed the new truck in the latter's old
quarters at Fourth Avenue and Nineteenth Street. Part of the men from the
old company went to the new quarters and the new men appointed were about
equally divided between the two companies. Foreman Michael QUINN, who had
been in charge of Engine No. 1, was placed in command of the new Truck, and
James CONNORS, his assistant, assumed charge of the Engine Company. The
section of the city covered by the truck company is a large and important
one. It includes all the water-front property from the Hamilton Avenue
bridge down the bay as far as the New Utrecht line. During the winter
months thousands of yachts are moored at the docks. In the past few years
several large factories have been built in that region, including the
immense wall paper manufactory of Graves & Co., the window-shade factory of
Jay C. Wemple & Co., and the Terra Cotta Brick Trimming Company's factory.
The oil works of Denslow & Bush are also located in the district. Firemen
who have been in the Department for any length of time are familiar with the
regularity and fierceness of the fires there. With the immense oil tanks
and chemical retorts filled with the most inflammable material, explosions
have been frequent and fraught with great dangers. In recent years,
however, they are not so frequent. The Phoenix Chemical Works, at the foot
of Fortieth Street, is also one of the places that requires eternal
vigilance. Repeated fires have occurred there, and on many occasions the
fire laddies of Gowanus have rendered yeoman service be fore the arrival of
other companies. A more gallant company of men does not exist in the
Department than those attached to Truck No. 9. Alert, fearless and conscious
of then- duty, they need no further incentive to do the perilous work
allotted to them. In addition to the truck, a hose-carriage is kept at the
house and is used for slight fires in the neighborhood. On account of the
large hills it is sometimes difficult for engines to get to fires above
Seventh Avenue. Truck No. 9 makes excellent time in getting to a fire. A
spanking team of steeds is the pride of the company. Foreman MICHAEL QUINN
is one of the most fearless fire fighters in the Department. He is known
as an excellent disciplinarian, and many young firemen who did their first
fire service under him and have been promoted from the ranks, owe much of
their success to his experienced advice and the knowledge of fighting fire
inculcated by him. Foreman QUINN was born in Ireland, Aug. 10, 1842, but
arrived in the home of the brave and the land of the free when a youngster.
Before he attained his majority he used to frequent the house of the old
Volunteer Engine Company, and always accompanied the men to fires. As soon
as he became eligible, he joined Hose No. 9, and served for six years. On
Dec. 25, 1869, he was appointed on the Paid Department, and assigned to
Engine No. 1, located in the same house where he is now in command. For
three years he served in the ranks, and on Sept. 25, 1872, he was made a
Foreman and placed in charge of Truck No. 1, at Van Brunt and Seabring
Streets. He remained there until Sept. 17, 1878, when through what is known
as the " Shannon " in politics, he, with several other Foremen, was
dismissed from the Department. Foreman QUINN was out for a year and a day,
and was reinstated under Commissioners McLaughlin, Wafer and Brennan. and
sent to Engine No. 1, where he remained until the engine was replaced last
August by the present truck company of which he is still in command.
During his long service he has frequently distinguished himself by acts of
bravery. He has been complimented time and again by his superiors, and his
name adorns the roll of honor. At a fire at Campbell & Thayer Linseed Oil
Works on Front Street, some years ago, he was the last man to leave the
building. A few seconds after he got all his men out, the roof fell in
with a crash, and what might have been a fearful loss of life among his
subordinates was happily averted. He is exceedingly kind and considerate
with the men under his charge, but requires them to attend to their duties.
In the occasional absence of Foreman QUINN, Assistant Foreman STEPHEN F.
GILL assumes command. Although but seven years in the Department, he has
done as much real fire service as many veterans. His promotion to the rank
of Assistant was well deserved, and was a tribute to a fearless and
conscientious fireman, whose excellent record had long attracted the notice
of the Commissioner. He was born in this city on Jan. 11, 1863, and
attended the public schools. Early in life he conceived the idea of
becoming a fireman, and although he engaged in mercantile business before he
attained his majority, he never lost sight of the one object of his desire.
The civil service law went into effect about that time, and young GILL, a
perfect athlete, was one of the first to enter the competitive examination
for the Fire Department. Out of a class of over one hundred, he was tenth
on the eligible list. He was appointed a fireman on April 7. 1885, and
after serving for a short time in different companies was assigned to Engine
No. 26, on State Street, when that company was organized. For a short time
he acted as driver, but asked to be allowed to do hose duty. On two
occasions he distinguished himself by rescuing persons from fires at night.
At a tenement house fire on Atlantic Street, between Hicks and Henry, he
assisted in the rescue of six persons. On another occasion, unassisted, he
carried a half-prostrate woman from the third story of a burning building in
Bergen Street, near Third Avenue. In consideration of these and his
record, he was made an Assistant Foreman on Feb. 13 of this year and sent to
Truck A. 9, where he soon won the confidence of Captain QUINN and every man
in the company, In the company there are several old-timers who have grown
gray in the service..
Among them are JOHN TIERNEY, who was appointed March 15, 1871, but is just
as spry as any of the younger men.
PATRICK MINTON was appointed Feb. 4, 1872. He has made application to be
retired on half pay on account of rheumatism, superinduced by exposure and
sudden changes incident to a fireman's life.
Another veteran fireman, and the oldest member of the company, is CHARLES
FERRIS, who was appointed June 2,1871, and has a first-class record. He was
a plumber before he became a fire-fighter, and as good mechanics are needed
in the Fire Department, he was detailed to mechanical work, but is attached
to Truck No. 9, and reports there for duty every night.
HUGH RILEY, a brother of the late Sheriff Thomas Riley, is also a member of
the company. He was appointed a fireman Feb. 1, 1882, and after serving in
several different companies was sent to Engine No. 1, seven years ago, and
when Truck N00 superseded the former in the Fourth Avenue house, " Hughey,"
as his comrades call him, remained at the old stand.
There is also a number of new men in the company. Among them are:
DANIEL J. CAHILL, appointed June 15,1887;
ROBERT ENGLISH, appointed Dec. 24, 1887;
JAMES LANGAN, appointed Oct. 15, 1887;
JOHN J. McGRONEN, appointed April 1, 1890;
JOHN F. MULLIGAN, appointed July 21, 1890;
THOMAS J. HILL, appointed Oct. 20, 1890;
FRANK STEWART, appointed Nov. 16, 1891, and
CORNELIUS DONOVAN, appointed Jan. l8, 1892.
None of the new men has had a chance to distinguish himself, but it is not
their fault. They are victims of circumstances which have not allowed them
to show the sort of metal they are composed of. Although several of them
are mere novices in the business, they go about a fire like veterans. Prior
to his connection with Truck No. 9. Hill served for a short time as a member
of Engine No. 19 and Truck No 10; English was for two years a member of
Engine No. 5. All the other new men were sent to Captain QUINN when
appointed, and have only seen service in Gowanus.
Taken altogether. Truck No. 9 is a model company. Its quarters are
beautifully situated in a healthy and fast growing section. The house is
well kept, has all the latest improvements and appliances, and, above all,
the officers and men enjoy the respect of the residents, who retire at night
feeling that life and property can be safely intrusted to the gallant men of
Truck No. 9.
Among the attaches the Fire Department who have not been classified in the
sketches heretofore printed in this volume are the following-‹
MICHAEL REARDON, bell-ringer, was appointed to the Department April 2, 1885,
and was assigned to Hook and Ladder Co. No. 6. During his service there he
received an injury to his spine, and on his recovery was detailed to the
Fourteenth Ward bell-tower where he now does duty. He was born in Ireland,
Dec. 1, 1859, and came this country when he was four years old.
EDGAR COMBS is the latest addition to the bell-ringer's staff at the
Fourteenth Ward owe . He was born in New York, Aug. 26, 1841, and came to
Brooklyn when he was twenty-two years old. He was appointed a bell-ringer
March 1, 1892
GILBERT STEVENSON is in charge of the blacksmith-shop at the Repair-shops.
He was born in Brooklyn, April 12,1832 and was educated in the public
schools of the city. He entered the Repair-shops in 1865, during the regime
of the Volunteer Department And acted as foreman of the blacksmith shop
until the Paid Department came into existence. He is still in the same
PETER LUYSTER is one of the oldest employees in the Repair-shop. He was
born at Oyster Bay, Queens County, July 26, 1833, and came to Brooklyn in
1855. He entered the repair-shop as a wheelwright, June 1, 1862, and has
served as such right THOMAS MORRIS was born in Brooklyn in March, 1845 and
was educated at St James-Catholic School. On March 7, 1864, he entered the
Volunteer Department and became a member of Union Engine Co. No. 5.
remaining with that company when the Department was disbanded. With the
inception of the Paid Department entered the Repair-shop as a blacksmith's
helper, a position which he still holds.
ROBERT J FUREY has served the Department for forty-two years. He was born E
New York City, Oct. 22,1831, and came to Brooklyn in 1840 and attend St.
Paul's- School. He entered the Fire Department in June, 1850, as a member
of Neptune - Engine No. 2. In 1865 he was appointed bell ringer and served
in the Sixth Ward and City Hall bell-towers. The Commissioners of the Paid
Department transferred him to the repair shop and since then he has worked
at the carpenter's bench there.
PATRICK FARLEY was born in New York in 1852. He has passed thirty-seven
years of his life in Brooklyn, and was educated at the Assumption School, in
York Street. He entered the Fire Department in 1879, and was detailed to
his present position as wheelwright at the repair shop.
ROBERT W. FERRIER was born in Brooklyn Oct 20 , 1859, and was educated at
Public School No. 8. He entered the Department as a blacksmith's helper
Jan. 1 1884, and is now working there.
CATHARINTE RALPH, the janitress at Fire Headquarters, is one of the oldest
employees of he Department, her nearly twenty-three years of service having
begun on Jan. 1 1870, since which time she has had charge of the orderly
condition of the office.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
ROSTER of the BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT.
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