enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE FIRST DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES DOYLE.
- DIVISION OF THE CITY INTO FIRE DISTRICTS
- REAPPORTIONMENTS IN JULY 1892
- OLD DISTRICTS OUTGROWING OLD FACILITIES
- NEW DISTRICTS, DISTRICT E ENGINEERS, AND COMPANIES
- THE DISTRICT LIMITS
- THE FIRST DISTRICT
COMMISSIONER ENNIS' plans for extending the facilities of the Fire
Department and increasing its efficiency, took what will be their final
shape for some time to come in July, 1892 when he announced the newly
apportioned fire districts and appointed five new District Engineers to fill
existing vacancies and assume the new commands. The growing density of
population in the built-up portion of the city, and the constant extension
of the house-covered area in the outlying portions, had for a long time past
given the companies guarding the immense interests at stake an undue amount
of work. The District Engineers found their duties growing more and more
pressing, as the city grew and even with the increase already made in the
number of new companies there was still the need of others to divide the
work with them. Besides two new companies organized daring the early part of
the year plans were laid for the organization of four others as soon as
accommodations could be gotten ready for them-two engine-companies, one
truck-company and a second fire-boat, for which houses and apparatus were
at once put under construction, and the city was re-districted for fire
purposes, making ten districts in place of eight.
By this apportionment, the districts may be said, generally, to cover the
city as follows : the First District includes South Brooklyn south of
Harrison and Butler Streets; the Second District protects the Heights and
the shopping centre, as far up as Sixth Avenue; the Third surrounds the Navy
Yard, as far as Cumberland Street; the Fourth continues on from the border
of the Third as far as Throop avenue ; the Fifth and Sixth cover the most
populous portion of the Eastern District of Brooklyn and its water-front;
the Seventh adjoins them, toward the east; the Eighth and Ninth protect the
great territory within the city line at its easterly boundary, not covered
by the other districts ; and the Tenth lies between the city line and
Gowanus Bay. To particularize regarding the First District, which will now
be described, with its District Engineer and its constituent companies, this
district takes in all of South Brooklyn below the line of Harrison and
Butler Streets, the northerly boundary; the Gowanus Canal describing the
easterly limits, while Gowanus Bay and the waters of New York Bay surround
it elsewhere. It is a very important water-front that is entrusted to the
companies of this district, the great Atlantic and Erie Basins occupying a
large part of the shore line; and an extensive residential district lies
- DISTRICT ENGINEER DOYLE, HIS WAR AND FIRE SERVICE
District Engineer James DOYLE, in command of the First District, was born in
Brooklyn on March 14, 1842, and received his education at the parochial and
public schools. In Oct., 1862, he enlisted in Company G. 9th Reg't, N. Y.
Vols., (Hawkins Zouaves,) which took part in all the principal engagements
in the early days of the struggle between the North and the South, and whose
ranks were so depleted by killed and wounded as to necessitate its
consolidation later in the conflict with the 3d Regiment. New York Vols. At
the battle of Pleasant Hill, N. C., in 1864, Private DOYLE was severely
wounded in the left shoulder. While lying in the Lincoln General Hospital
in Washington he was promoted to the rank of corporal. Having recovered
from his wound he rejoined his regiment just as they were setting out for
the second attack upon Fort Fisher. After this engagement. Corporal DOYLE
was advanced to the rank of sergeant for meritorious conduct on the field.
In June, 1865, he was honorably discharged from the army, and returned to
his home in Brooklyn.
He joined Hope Hose Company No. 9, then located in Van Brunt Street, near
Carroll. which later was furnished with a steam fire-engine, and had its
name changed to Hope Engine Company No. 8. The present Chief Engineer of
the Department was made Foreman of the new company, and Mr. DOYLE continued
to do duty under him until the new Fire Department came into existence.
Mr. DOYLE was one of the first Foremen appointed, and he was put in command
of Engine Company No. 2. He continued in command of the company up to
1877 when the first "Three-headed" Commission was appointed, and he with
other members of the force was discharged. When the Commission of 1879
came into power, Mr. DOYLE was reinstated and placed in command of his old
company. In 1884, when Commissioner Richard H. POILLON created two new
districts. Foreman DOYLE became a candidate for District Engineer of one of
them, and on July 1, 1885, Commissioner POILLON promoted him to that office
and assigned him to the First District, which then comprised that portion of
the city extending from Union Street south to the city line, and from
Prospect Park to the East River. In this District were located Engine
Companies Nos. 1, 2, 20 and 28, and Hook and Ladders Nos. 1 and 9. The
action of Commissioner POILLON in making this promotion met with favor from
the residents of the district, in which Mr. DOYLE had long been a popular
resident. In Fire Department and Grand Army circles he is held in the
highest regard. As a soldier he proved himself worthy of promotion, and as
a fireman he has been advanced on his merits. As a District Engineer, in
the early morning hours of June 28. 1886, at a fire in the three-story brick
building. No. 464 Fifth Avenue, he assisted in saving the lives of Elizabeth
HAWES and her three children, who lived on the top floor, and had been
overcome by the smoke and badly burned.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 2, OF RED HOOK POINT
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 2. Engine Company No. 2. located at Van Brunt and
Seabring Streets, adjoining the house of Truck No. I. was organized when the
Paid Department was created. The two-story, brick double house is familiar
to thousands of people who have occasion to traverse Red Hook Point.
There, for nearly a quarter of a century, the two companies, lying side by
side, have protected millions of dollars worth of property. The history of
Engine No. 2 is the history of the early days of the Department. It is
also closely identified with the history of the Twelfth Ward. The residents
of that section have long looked upon it as one of their institutions, and
without it Red Hook Point would not appear like itself. When the company
was first located there, that section was sparsely settled, but it offered
admirable facilities for manufacturing purposes. One of the finest
water-fronts in the world was the inducement that attracted many large
manufacturing firms in New York, and in fact from all over the country, to
locate there. Besides that it was within five minutes' walk of Hamilton
Ferry. In a short time immense factories and warehouses grew up with
surprising rapidity. Now it is by far the greatest manufacturing centre in
the city. Among the large industries that give employment to hundreds, who
live in, and go to make up the large resident population of the region,
are the stove works of the Richardson & Boynton Company, the factory of the
Chesboro Vaseline Manufacturing Company, Worthington's Hydraulic Pump Works,
the Pioneer Iron Works, the Lidgerwood Iron Works, the South Brooklyn
Machine Company, the India Wharf Brewing Company. J. M. William- son's Drop
Forging Works, P. H. Gill's Elevator Works, Casey's Rosin Works, the South
Brooklyn Fire Brick Manufactory, and many other large concerns. Besides
these are the immense storehouses that line the water-front, including those
of the Beard estate, the Robinson estate, the Atlantic Dock Company, the
Erie Basin Stores, Findlay's Stores, and the Long Dock Stores. Added to
these are the large ship-building concerns located along the bay, and
thousands of vessels, large and small, that are continually loading and
unloading their cargoes there. It is estimated that more goods are handled
at the Atlantic Dock and Erie Basin than at any other similar places in the
country. Recently the Inman and White Star Steamship Companies have pur-
chased property in the district, and before long it will be the headquarters
of these and other large lines of transatlantic steamship companies. When
the company was started fourteen reliable and experienced men who had served
in the Volunteer Fire Department made up the membership. The present
District Engineer of that section, James DOYLE, was placed in charge of the
company. He was one of the first Foremen appointed and was known as a fire
fighter from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. And what a
company it was! Every man was an athlete, fearless and enthusiastic in his
new and novel calling. From the old system of the Volunteers to the new
system, provided with every improved appliance and contrivance for
suppressing fire, was a great change, bid timers tell of the valiant deeds
of the original members of Engine No. 2. " No fire," say they, " could get
beyond the control of the boys." The small number of fires, and the
comparatively small losses, certainly bear testimony to their efficiency.
Under the old regime the company had a large district to cover. Not only
was it obliged to cover the Twelfth and Sixth Wards, but its territory
included all Gowanus as far as Bay Ridge. Until less than two years ago,
when Engines Nos. 1 and 28 were placed in the lower end of the Eighth Ward,
the company was compelled to do a great amount of duty. Since then it does
not go over the Gowanus Creek unless a second alarm calls, and to a few
special boxes. Its district now is bounded by Atlantic Avenue, the
water-front, and Gowanus Creek. Altogether the company responds to 44 first
alarm calls. Foreman DOYLE continued in command of the company until his
appointment as District Engineer in 1885. The company was known throughout
the Department for its skill, and was many times complimented for good work
performed at fires; and from this it has in no way retrograded. It still
maintains the high standard set years ago, and is improving with the times.
Better facilities are provided now than when the Paid Department came into
existence. When District Engineer DOYLE assumed his new duties, the command
of Engine 2 was transferred to Foreman Platt VAN COTT a veteran grown gray
in the service. He had served in many companies, and had organized several.
He was born at Rockaway, L. I.. April 6, 1846, coming of the old Long
Island family of his name. Before he attained his majority he came to
Brooklyn, and during the war he served in the navy for fifteenth months.
At the organization of the Department he was appointed a fireman and
assigned to the company in Greenpoint, for three years, after which he was
intrusted with the duty of organizing Engine Company No. 15. He started
that with all new men and was the acting Foreman of it for seventeen months.
On May 10, 1873, he was appointed Foreman, and continued in command of
Engine No. 15. Then he was sent to Truck No. 4, for a year, and from there
he went to Truck No. 6, and spent about the same length of time. He was in
command of Engine No. 13, for six years, until he was called to Engine No.
2, on Feb. 11, 1886. At the special desire of Commissioner Partridge he
organized Engine Company No. 18. He has attended all the big fires and has
never met with an accident. Foreman VAN COTT is of medium height, well
built, with an intelligent face and white hair. He is regarded as a strict
disciplinarian, but is never harsh. He has in his command a fine lot of
men, many of whom, like himself, have served since the Department was
Assistant Foreman JAMES CULLEN is a fine specimen of a fireman. He was
born in New York just half a. century ago, but looks much younger. At an
early age he moved to this city and settled in the Twelfth Ward. On June 1,
1872, he was made a fireman, but had previously served in the Volunteer
Department. His first duty was with his present company, and with the
exception of three months he spent as a member of Engine No. 1, he has
been a fixture in Engine No. 2 ; as a fireman he ranks with the best. He has
had several narrow escapes from death from falling walls, but shows no marks
Engineer FRANCIS CURRAN has served in that capacity since the company was
organized. Before that he was an Engineer in the old Department. He is
regarded as one of the best engineers that ever ran a machine, and can get
as much service out of it as any man living. He was born in New York in
1844, but from early childhood has lived in the Twelfth Ward of this city.
In stature he is below the average. His dean-shaven, thoughtful face is
familiar to every one in the ward, and there is no one more popular.
JOHN DWYER, the driver, is another old-timer. He was born in New York, in
1844, and was made a fireman, July 1, 1872. When the war broke out he
entered the navy and served with credit for two years. He has been
connected with Engines Nos. 2, 3, and 4, at different times, mostly as
driver, and is in every sense a capable one.
JAMES KEMP was born in Ireland in 1849, and landed in Brooklyn when a
youngster. At the age of twenty-one he was made a fireman, his appointment
being dated July 20, 1870. Among his colleagues he is justly popular, and
by his superior officers he is esteemed for his faithful services and good
LAWRENCE FAGAN is every inch a fireman. He would rather tackle a burning
building than any sort of amusement. Born in this city in 1850, he knows
every street and building and is looked upon as a walking encyclopedia. On
Feb. 7, 1876, he was appointed a fireman and has done most of his duty with
Engine No. 2.
FRANCIS H.. MOLLOY was born in this city. Dec. 5, 1850, and was appointed a
fireman. Dec. 28, 1876. During his long service he has been in many hot
fires and has been complimented several times for heroic service. At a
fire in a grain elevator at the Erie Basin in 1879, he had a close call.
Just as he with several others, left an adjoining roof, the elevator fell
over, striking the spot they had just abandoned. He has assisted in the
rescue of several lives, notably among them being the removal of a woman and
child from a burning building on Hamilton Avenue.
PETER DUNNE was born in Ireland in 1846, but is a thorough American. He
was made a fireman on May 27, 1880, and has distinguished himself on several
occasions by his coolness and bravery. Most of his service has been
performed with the company he now serves so faithfully.
THOMAS P. SHEA has been a member of the Department and of Engine No. 2 for
three years. He was born in this city on Nov. 29. 1865, and was made a
fireman on May 20, 1889. He is spoken of as a good fireman, and he looks it.
JOHN MAHONEY is another veteran who has done a good deal of real service and
performed it intelligently. He was born in New York City, May 26, 1844,
and was made a fireman on June 10. 1870. a few months after the Department
was organized. He has served faithfully as a member of several South
Brooklyn companies, but for several years has been a fixture in Engine
Company No. 2.
WILLIAM P. SKIDMORE was born in this city in 1853, and always had a liking
for fire duty. On New Year's Day, 1883. he first reported for duty.
Since then he has performed some creditable work and is looked upon as one
of the best men in No. 2.
JOHN B. DONOVAN has been a fireman since Dec. 15, 1885, and is as
enthusiastic to-day as he was the first day he wore a uniform. Born in
this city on June 26, 1859, he knows the territory thoroughly. There is no
fire so hot or smoke so dense as to keep him out of a building.
FRANCIS MONNAVILLE was born Jan. 20, 1859, and was appointed a fireman April
1, 1885. He is willing, intelligent and brave, and possesses every
requisite necessary in a fireman. Most of his duty has been with Engine
GEORGE J. RYAN was born in this city. Nov. 27, 1866 and was made a fireman
on Dec. 10, 1891. Although young in years he is old in experience and
promises to make his mark in the Department.
MICHAEL QUINLAN was born in Brooklyn on June 3, 1862, and was appointed to
the uniformed force on July 1, 1892.
- ENGINE COMPANIES NOS. 3 AND 4 AND THE IMPORTANT DISTRICTS THEY COVER
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 3. Engine Company No. 3 also began its existence on Sept.
15, 1869. It occupies a Three-story brick building with brownstone front
on Hicks Street, near Degraw which in the days of the Volunteer Department
was the quarters of Neptune Engine No. 2. The figure of a "rooster " and
the words " Neptune No. 2 " carved in the keystone over the doors are still
plainly visible to the passer-by. The first floor of the building as in
all other engine-houses, is taken up by the apparatus and horses. On the
second floor are the sleeping apartments of the men, and the third floor is
fitted up as a gymnasium The company is equipped with a second-class
Amoskeag engine, a hose-cart of the old two-wheel style, and three of the
finest horses in the Department; -Paddy," a large handsome iron gray horse,
is used on the hose-cart, and "Sam." a glossy black, and Pete, a gray, draw
the engine. These fine young animals are the best groomed and
fleetest-footed in the service. Chief NEVIN's horse, "Jim," a beautiful
chestnut sorrel occupies one of the stalls. There are, also, three finely
bred dogs, whose superior intelligence entities them to favorable mention
in the history of this company. " Bob" a thoroughbred Gordon setter is
the exclusive property of chief NEVINs. and "Frank" and "Nell", both English
coach-dogs with long pedigrees, are the especial pets of every man in the
company. "Nell" is noted for her high-jumping qualities, and her agility
in hand-ball playing. She can easily bring down a piece of sugar from the
top of an eight-foot fence, and can catch a ball in her mouth as well as the
average boy can with his hands. The company is one of the best disciplined
in the Department, and every man in it is a worker. They have one of the
largest and most important districts in the city to cover and one in which
many disastrous fires have occurred. Joralemon Street is the northern
boundary; Third Avenue and Twenty-first Street the eastern; Gowanus Bay the
southern; and the East River the western boundary. On a first-alarm they
respond to calls from eighty-seven boxes, and sixty-five additional on a
second-alarm Among the most important buildings in the district are the
Harbeck, Pierrepont, Watson, Martin, Columbia, Mediterranean, Dows,
Robinson, Baltic and Anchor Line stores which form a continuous chain along
the river front south of the Fulton Ferry slips; the India Wharf Brewery,
Marks & Rowell's glycerine works. United States Warehousing Company stores,
Atlantic Dock Company stores, Dow's, Pinto' s and Lambeer's large grain
elevators. Hydraulic Works, Richardson & Boynton's stove works. Pioneer Iron
Foundry. Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company, German American stores. New York
Warehousing Company, Beard's stores and elevators, Boston Dry Dock Company,
J. K Bricks fire-brick yards, Burtiss' ship-yard, Cheeseboro Manufacturing
Company, Casey's rosin works, Taylor's saleratus works, Reilly & Crowley's
foundry, Williams- Drop Forging Works, Gill's machine shops. Smith & Gray's
storage house at foot Hamilton Avenue, Downing & Lawrence ship-yard,
POILLON's ship and lumber yards. New York Mica Roofing Works, Bowne's
storage and grain elevator, Clombach's boiler shops, Creamer's brass
foundry, Hodge's sale stables, Brooklyn City Railroad stables. Swan &
Finch's oil works. Nelson Brothers' wood yard, Haggerty's glass works.
Roebuck's Planing and Moulding Mills, South Brooklyn Saw Milling Company,
John ROGAN & Sons' storage house. Bay State shoe and leather factory,
Newmada kid works, New York Color Works, Hobby & Dudy's lumber yard,
Fitzsimmon's bird gravel works, Weber & Quinn's coal elevators. Bush's
saltpetre works, Buchanan & Lyle's Planet Mills and tobacco factory. New
York Tile Works, New York Cream Tartar Works, Gray's Sulphur Mills. Still's
Sulphur Mills, Gregory's oil works, Roger's Planing Mills, New York packing
box factory, Dykman's packing box factory, Loomis Planing Mills, Kenyon &
Newton's sash and blind factory, Watson & Pettinger's lumber sheds,
Sylvester & Ross' lumber yard, Hughes' lumber and lime yards, the works of
the Citizens' Gas Light Company, Bergen's feed storehouse, Whipple's sash
and blind factory, Witte's Weiss beer brewery, Shinnick's pipe works,
McCaldin's lumber yard, Jansen & Hamlin Naval Storage Warehouse, the
Anglo-American stores, Stein's Sale and Livery Stables, the stables of
Wescott's Express Company, O'Brien's dry goods and storage house, Latimer's
storage house. Good Care Storage Company, W. H. Mere's wall-paper factory,
"Herman Behr's sand-paper factory, F. 0. Pierce's paint works. New York ink
works, Brooklyn Button Works, Forsyth Chair Manufactory, Sperry's church
furniture and cushion factory, Columbia Chemical Works, Higgins' soap works.
New York Oil Pressing Company, Brooklyn Stained Glass Works, Gleason &
Howland's coal yard, Casey's wood yards, Klein's coal yards, and the Union
Ferry Company repair yards. Among the large flat-houses in the district is
the Fougera, the Home and Tower flats at Baltic and Hicks Streets, the
Columbia on Union Street, the St. Charles on Sackett Street, and a row of
flat-houses on the same street, the Tower flats at Sedgwick and Van Brunt
Streets, the Waldo and St. Ann's on Hamilton Avenue, and the Windermere on First Place.
Included also in this territory are the Long Island College Hospital, St.
Peter's Hospital, St. Joseph's Home, Public School No. 78 on Pacific Street,
No. 13 on Degraw Street, and a branch of that school on Union Street, No. 29
on Amity Street, No. 27 on Nelson Street, No. 30 on Walcott Street, No. 31
on Hoyt Street, and a branch on Degraw Street, St. Paul's Roman Catholic
church and school, St. Charles Roman Catholic church and school, St. Peter's
Roman Catholic church and school, St. Mary's "Star of the Sea" church and
school, St. Bernard's church and school, St. Stephen's church and school.
Church of the Visitation and school, and St. Agnes church and seminary for
young ladies. Among other edifices are the Baptist Tabernacle, the Italian
and German Catholic churches, Pilgrims' Chapel, South Congregational.
Church of Our Saviour (Norwegian) St. Matthew's Lutheran, St. Paul's
Lutheran Trinity Lutheran, Carroll Park Methodist Episcopal, First Place
Methodist Episcopal, St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal, Warren Methodist
Episcopal, St. Ann's Protestant Episcopal churches, St. Margaret's
Protestant Episcopal Chapel, St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church. Strong
Place Baptist and the Tompkins Place Episcopal church. There are men in the
company who have been to all the big fires since the Department was
organized. The horrible scenes enacted at the burning of the Brooklyn
Theatre are vividly impressed on the minds of these men. for they were among
the faithful, untiring number who worked for days among the ruins to recover
the bodies of the victims of that disaster. Nearly every man in the
company has some reason for recollecting the fires which have occurred at
Arbuckle's Coffee Mills. Pierrepont stores, Harbeck stores. Standard Oil
Works. Richardson's Car Stables, Palmer's Cooperage Havemeyer's Sugar
Refinery, Denslow & Bush's oil works, Ridgewood Ice Company's stables, the
Paint and Starch Works fire at the foot of Sixth Street, the Columbia
Heights flats, the Glass House on State Street at which several of the men
were nearly suffocated by smoke or killed by the falling walls, the Planet
Mills fire, the Boston Dry Dock, SHAW's grain stores, and the burning of the
ship Pythomone, loaded with jute butts, at Pierrepont stores.
PETER FAGAN was the first Foreman of Engine Company No. 3. He was succeeded
by Samuel Duff, who in turn was succeeded by John Duly. Subsequently Charles
D. RUDDY was put in command of the company, where he remained up to March
12, 1892, when he was sent at his own request to take command of the new
company No. 31 in East New York.
Foreman EDWARD F. CONROY. his successor, has found a warm spot in the hearts
of the men who make up a company which has no superiors in the Department as
a "working " body. Mr. Conroy was born in Brooklyn. Nov. 7. 1858. He
became a fireman, April 22, 1878, and first saw active duty with Engine
Company No. 8. From this company he was transferred to Engine No. 5, and
later to Engine No. 6. While in this company, on June 29, 1889, he was
promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman. He was advanced to the grade
of Foreman, on March 13,1892, and placed in his present command.
Assistant Foreman MICHAEL F. JUDGE was born in Brooklyn, Nov. 18, 1861. He
was a truck driver when he was made a fireman, June 15, 1887. He was
assigned to duty with Engine N0.4. and remained with the company until June
i. 1891, when he was promoted to Assistant Foreman and transferred to Engine
Engineer ROBERT REARDON was born in New York City, in 1857. He is a
widower And lives at No. 62 Waverly Avenue. He was appointed a fireman,
June 1, 1883, and has done duty since that time with Engines Nos. 7, 10, 24
MICHAEL F. ROGAN, the driver, was born in Ireland, May 6, 1857. He is
married and lives at No. 497 Hamilton Avenue. He was made a fireman, April
4,1885, and saw active service with Engines Nos. 4, 5 and 24, before he
became the driver of this company. Mr. ROGAN was a member of No. 4, when
the glass house on State Street was burned, May 5, 1885. When the walls
fell he had both ankles sprained and his body badly bruised, and was laid up
for a long time thereafter.
GEORGE L. MOLLOY was born in Brooklyn, Aug. 17, 1861, and his career as a
fireman began June 15, 1885, when he was assigned to duty with this
company. When the paint works on Gowanus Canal were burned, in July, 1890,
he stood at his post until his left leg was so severely burned, that it was
at first believed amputation would be necessary to save his life. It was
several months before he was able to return to duty. In January, 1892, he
assisted in the rescue of two children from the third floor of a burning
building in First Place near Smith Street.
JOSEPH C. RUSSELL was born in Brooklyn, Dec. 23,1858. He resides with his
family at No. 595 Clinton Street. He was made a fireman Dec. 15, 1885,
and has been attached to Engines Nos. 2,4 and 3. In Feb., 1892, Engine No.
3 was first at the scene of a fire on Warren Street, caused by a lamp
explosion, and Russell dashed up the stairway, burst in the door, wrapped
his coat about a German woman whose clothes were set on fire by the
explosion, and carried her out. She was so badly burned that she died
later at St. Peter's hospital. In Sept. 1890 while carrying a hose at
midnight into the hold of a burning ship lying at the North Central Pier,
Atlantic Basin, he fell through an open hatch, forty feet into the hold, but
fortunately struck on a pile of coffee bags, and escaped without having any
bones broken. On Dec. 29, 1891, at a fire in the Amalga Soap Works, at
Nos. 85 and 87 Sedgwick Street, he fell two stories through a hatchway and
dislocated one of his shoulders.
JAMES LAWLER is an " old-timer" and has been an active worker at all the
great fires since he was appointed to the force, April 28, 1870. He was a
member of this company when the Brooklyn Theatre burned, and assisted in
taking out the bodies of many who perished in that fire. He was born in
Ireland, July 21, 1845, is married and lives at No. 140 Van Brunt Street.
He is detailed as an operator at the fire telegraph office in Jay Street.
JAMES MCCARTHY was born in New York City, May 20,1848. He resides at No. 505
Hicks Street, and was made a fireman Nov. 20, 1870. In 1880 while with
Engine Company No. 4, he with fireman John MULLALY of that company,
rescued a man, his wife and three children from the second story of a
dwelling on Atlantic Avenue, near Court Street. At a fire on Second Street,
in the winter of 1880 -'8l, he with Mr. DOOLEY, now Foreman of Engine No.
26, saved the lives of two women, who lived on the third floor and had been
overcome with smoke. He was present and assisted in taking out the bodies
of the victims of the Brooklyn Theatre fire.
MICHAEL HART was born in Brooklyn, Dec. 19.1861. He became a member of the
Paid Department, March 1, 1884 and was assigned to Engine Company No. 5.
He is married and lives at No. 459 Sackett Street.
THOMAS F. BURNS is a native of Brooklyn, born March 17,1865. He lives with
his family at No. 194 Hicks Street, and has been connected with this company
since the date of his appointment, Aug. 1, 1889. At the Smith & Gray fire.
Feb. 28, 1892 he fell from the roof of a building on Grove Place and
received severe injuries to his back and shoulders.
JOHN H. GORDON was born in this city Sept. 15, 1853, and since he became a
fireman, on March 20, 1888, has been doing duty with this company. He is
married and lives at No. 106 Baltic Street.
JOHN W. FARRELL first saw the light on May 29, 1852, in New York City. His
career as a fireman began Dec. 15. 1885 as a member of Engine Company No 3
While coming down the pole in the engine-house to respond to an alarm of
fire on the night of March 5, 1890, he fell and broke his right ankle, and
was laid up for four months. In January 1892, he assisted Fireman MOLLOY in
rescuing two children from a dwelling-house fire on First Place, near Smith Street.
PATRICK HARRIGAN is a native of Ireland, and was born in Jan., 1868. He is
a bachelor and lives at No. 76 Mill Street. He has been attached to this
company since he was made a fireman, Aug. 11, 1891.
ENGINE COMPANY NO. 4.
Engine Company No. 4 is located on Degraw Street, near
Court. Montauk Hose. No. 4, was its original ancestor, occupying a house
opposite the present engine- house, and in 1855-57 was famous in Brooklyn's
first Fire Department. In 1857 the hose-company was transformed into Engine
Company No. 22 of the Volunteer Department and moved across the street to
the site now occupied. When the new Department was established in 1869.
No. 4 was organized with Daniel J. GARRITY as Foreman The house was
remodelled then, but it is now so old as to furnish but a poor home for such
a crack company, which deserves to be better housed. In 1882. James MURRAY
succeeded Daniel GARRITY as Foreman and was in turn followed by James S.
SMITH the present Foreman. Feb. 1, 1890.
The district covered by Engine No. 4 comprises all that section of the
city between the lines running along Hamilton Avenue to the river-front and
along the water-front all the way around Red Hook Point to Gowanus Canal.
Then the boundary goes east to Third Avenue and back to Atlantic Avenue. The
most dangerous localities are the warehouse and tenement districts near the
river, the shipyards at Red Hook Point and the gas houses, lumber yards, oil
works and big factories that line either side of Gowanus Canal. It is in the
last district that the most disastrous fires have occurred and at these the
work of Engine Company No. 4 has been noticeable for its prompt excellence.
During the cyclone of Jan. 9, 1889, both the big retorts of the Citizens'
Gas Company, at the corner of Smith and Fourth Streets, exploded, and
although the damage by fire was small to the surrounding property, that fact
was due principally to prompt and hard work on the firemen' s part.
No. 4 reached the scene between the explosions of the first and second
retorts and took up her position not a quarter of a block away. Her men
were laying the pipe when the second, explosion came. Windows in houses
several blocks away were shattered and a volcano of flame rose hundreds of
feet in the air as the escaping gas caught fire. Through the falling glass
and half-crazed crowd No. 4's pipe was laid with as little hesitation or
waste of time as though it had been a practice drill, and her stream was one
of the first on the tenement over on Fourth Street that had begun to bum
along its entire front. At half-past twelve o'clock on the morning of .April
12, 1889 the Planet Mills on Carroll Street, between Hoyt and Bond Streets,
took fire, and for more than six hours the Fire Department worked hard to
save the thousands of dollars worth of jute and bagging material with which
the big building was stored. No. 4 was the first on the scene and did
splendid work. It was impossible to save anything in the factory and most
of the work was devoted to saving the adjoining property that was constantly
endangered by the big masses of burning jute that were whirled up into the
air and scattered over housetops, some two blocks away. It was not until
late in the morning that it was learned that the watchman of the mills had
been unable to escape and was burned to death. The damage at this fire was
estimated at nearly $200,000. The burning of the Watson & Pettinger lumber
yard at the Carroll Street bridge over Gowanus Canal, on March 9, 1890, was
another of the big fires at which Engine No. 4 did excellent work. Again,
on the night of Dec. 22, 1891, when the five-story brick flat house. No. 394
Smith Street, caught fire. Engine No. 4, by prompt work, practically gained
control of the fire, thus aiding in the rescue of the little children that
were taken down the fire escape, the interior of the house being filled with
smoke. On the night of May 9, 1800, Engineer William SHAW and Assistant
Engineer James GERAGHTY particularly distinguished themselves at the
burning of the paint works at Sixth Street and Gowanus Canal. Engine No. 4
was drawn up at the curb next the burning building, but most of the fire
seemed on the other side of the building. Suddenly the fire broke through
the side next the engine that was working at full speed. The flames
rushing out enveloped the engine and the two engineers, and in less than a
minute the woodwork of the engine was on fire. Engineer SHAW never stopped
his machine, but fought hard to save m his engine from burning up. Finally
the hose burst and as there was no use in pumping until reconnected, the
engine was drawn out of reach of the flames. Both Engineer SHAW and
Assistant Engineer GERAGHTY were badly burned about the face and hands in
their attempt to save their engine and hold their position at the same time.
On Nov. 23, 1891, during the drought due to the break in the aqueduct. No.
4 had a hard day's work. There were three alarms that day calling on No. 4
for services and there was not enough water in the hydrants to enable an
engine to throw a stream across the street. About eleven o'clock in the
morning fire was discovered in the top of the four-story brownstone
building. No. 234 Carroll Street. The row extends nearly the entire block
from Court to Smith Streets, and as there was no water it seemed as if in
the strong wind the whole row and possibly the block would go. Fortunately
the firemen remembered that Messrs. BUCHANAN & LYALL, the owners of the
Planet Mills, had an artesian well on the premises nearly four long blocks
away. Engine No. 4 sent a hose down there with a rush and Engineer SHAW
"shook her up," for all the three-year-old Amoskeag engine was worth.
The water came slowly at first but later with a rush, and the building was
saved with but little injury, and No. 4 did the saving. The same night
fire broke out in the top floor of No. 262 and 264 Court Street, in the
three-story brick building used as a furniture storehouse. There was no
water at hand and the firemen as began to tear down the burning portions
that were within reach of their hooks. At last the fire-boat, " Seth Low,"
reached the foot of Harrison Street, but could not pump the water through
the streets as it was up hill. Engine No. 4 got out all her reserve hose
and soon had nearly 2000 feet stretched down toward the fire-boat. Other
engines aided until there was nearly 4000 feet connecting the fire-boat with
the engines and two streams were brought into play. It was this that saved
the north half of the block that, before the water was obtained from the
river, had practically been abandoned. It is for similar prompt work that
Engine No. 4 has gained its name as one of the most efficient in the service
of the city of Brooklyn.
Foreman JAMES S. SMITH was born in Brooklyn. May 11, 1855, and on Aug. 6,
I877, was first appointed to the Fire Department. He showed the mettle of
which he is made at a fire in the tenement house. No. 66 Columbia Street, on
April 12,1885. The flames were found in the rear of the second floor and the
interior of the building was filled with smoke. There was a cry from the
third story window where a woman stood begging to be saved. Smith, who was
then a private in the fire ranks, dashed up-stairs through the smoke, and
succeeded in rescuing Mrs. Julia FLORINE, whom he brought down safely. On
Aug. 6, 1877, he was promoted to Assistant Foreman and did his work so well
that on Feb. 1, 1890, he was made Foreman, which position he now holds to
the satisfaction of not only the men under him but the officers above him.
Assistant Foreman JOHN JOSEPH LEO has distinguished himself several times by
his cool bravery; most noticeably at the flat house fire at No. 394 Smith
Street, on the night of Dec. 22, 1891, when he gallantly aided in passing
down the little children that were rescued by means of the fire-escape from
the upper floors. Leo was born in Brooklyn, Julyl6, 1855 and on Jan. 31,
1882, was appointed to Engine No. 4. On Feb. 11, 1890, he was promoted to
be Assistant Foreman, in which capacity he has done splendid service. He
served two years and eight months in the United States Navy and got a
training there that has stood him in good stead in his career as a fireman.
Engineer WILLIAM HENRY SHAW was born in Hudson, N. Y. Nov. 15, 1845, and
served as an engineer in the old Volunteer Department with Engine No. 22.
When the Department was reorganized Mr. SHAW was appointed to No. 4, the
successor of No. 22 and he has been with it ever since. He is one of the
oldest engineers in the service and has an exceptionally fine record. His
gallant work when his engine was on fire has been mentioned heretofore.
Assistant Engineer JAMES T. GERAGHTY was born in Brooklyn, Feb. 4. 1853. and
was appointed to No. 4 Jan. 30, 1882. He is always careful and painstaking
in his work and is known as one of the best men in the service. He and his
immediate chief, Mr. SHAW, work in perfect harmony, and there is little that
can be done with a fire- engine that these two men will not and cannot do.
Among the best men in the company is BARTLEY FLANAGAN, who was born in
Ireland, March 12, 1847, and was appointed to No. 4 March 30, 1870. Among
Mr. FLANAGAN'S treasures is the following letter bearing the endorsement of
the Chief of the Fire Department at that time:
COL. J. N. PARTRIDGE, Fire Commissioner; DEAR SIR:"In all cases where
bravery is shown I deem it fitting that just mention should be made. I wish
to express my gratitude to Mr. Hartley FLANAGAN of Engine No 4, who at the
risk of his life put out a fire in my residence on April n, 1882, which, but
for his heroic conduct and promptness, would, undoubtedly have resulted in a
loss of life as well as property. Trusting that you will accord this brave
fireman full merit, I am, Yours Respectfully, DAVID MCGONIGAL. No. 146
Schermerhorn Street, April 14,1884.
BERNARD GRAY was born in New York State, July 9. 1842 and was appointed to
Engine No. 4 July 1. 1874. He had then served one year in the regular army
and has never forgotten his military habits and training.
THOMAS J. MALONE was born in Ireland, Dec. 18, 1843, and came to America
when a young man. In 1863 he entered the army and served with credit
during the war. Sept. 27, 1872, he joined the Fire Department and was
assigned to No. 4. where he has made a good record.
GEORGE F. HARRIGAN was born in Brooklyn, July 10, 1868, and from boyhood had
an ambition to be a fireman. He was appointed Aug. n, 1891, and although
he has not served very long has a promising future.
WAYLAND A. ESTES was born in Brooklyn, June 29, 1860; Dec. 15, 1885 he was
appointed to No. 4 and is popular as a capable and efficient fireman.
PATRICK H. LOWERY was born in Brooklyn, March 17, 1863, and was appointed to
No. 4 on Oct. 15, 1890.
JOHN FRANCIS SPAULDING was born in Brooklyn, Nov. 10, 1863 and was assigned
to duty with No. 4 on Sept. 3, 1888.
JOHN SMITH was born in Ireland, Jan. 2, 1858, and came to America shortly
after the war. He was appointed to the Fire Department Aug. 1, 1889, and
was detailed to No. 4, where he has already done good work.
JAMES DONOHUE was born in Brooklyn, March 26, 1852, and was appointed to No.
4 on April 7, 1885.
TIMOTHY F. CONLON was born in Brooklyn, in 1864, and received his
appointment to the Department on July 1, 1892. He is a blacksmith by trade.
WILLIAM HENRY TIERNEY was born in Brooklyn on Aug. 28. 1867 and was
appointed on July 1, 1892.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO 1, THE FIRST TRUCK COMPANY ORGANIZED.
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO I. Truck No. 1. located at Van Brunt and Seabring
Streets, adjoining the house of Engine No. 2, was the first Hook and Ladder
Company organized in the Paid Department. It has a record for efficiency
unexcelled by any other company, and the officers and men have had encomiums
heaped upon them time and again for yeoman service rendered in time of peril
Until a year ago the company covered all the South Brooklyn District and
responded to more first-alarm calls than any other truck-company iii the
city. Its territory included all that section bounded by Atlantic and Fifth
Avenues, and the bay from Wall Street Ferry down to Bay Ridge. Until
Trucks Nos. 9 and 10 were put in service, at Fourth Avenue and Nineteenth
Street and on State Street near Smith Street, respectively it was one of the
hardest worked companies in the Department. Truck No. 9 has relieved it
of the Gowanus District, and Truck No. 10 of a large part of the Third.
Sixth and Tenth Wards. Before the change in the boundary lines. Truck No.
I was frequently obliged to respond to two and three alarms in one day,,
often going nearly to the extreme end of the Eighth Ward, a distance of
nearly two and a-half miles. This played havoc with the horses and
severely taxed the physical endurance of the men, . Although the district
covered by the company now is considerably smaller than formerly, it still
has a very important territory, and responds to forty-six first-alarm calls.
There are several large manufactories and warehouses within its precincts,
besides hundreds of vessels with valuable cargoes always at the Atlantic
Dock and Erie Basin. Among the large industries are the hydraulic pump
works of Worthington & Co.. the Chesebrough vaseline works, Richardson &
Boynton's stove works, the Lidgerwood Iron works' the South Brooklyn Engine
Company J. M. Williamson & Co.'s drop forging works, Casey's rosin works and
other large concerns. The mammoth warehouses of Beard & Co., Jeremiah
Robinson, the Atlantic Dock Company, the Erie Basin Storage Company and
Findlay-s stores line the water-front. It will be seen, therefore, that
the district covered by Truck No 1 is an important one, and requires great
vigilance on the part of the men. Whenever fires have occurred there,
excellent time has been made by the company, and with one or two exceptions
they have been gotten under control with comparatively little loss The
company as now organized is an excellent one. The men are willing, daring
and intelligent. They like nothing better than fighting a good fire and have
repeatedly demonstrated their ability to cope with one of any dimensions,
even when the chances seemed entirely against them. All the latest
appliances for rescuing lives and saving property are in possession of the
company. A large extension ladder that can be raised to the top of the
highest building in the neighborhood has been provided thus, reducing the
danger of loss of life to a minimum. When the company was first organized it
was located on Fourth Avenue near Ninteenth Street, where Truck No. 9 is
now stationed. In 1872 it was transferred to its present quarters on Red
Hook Point, where it has long been looked upon as one of the institutions of
that primitive district. The first Foreman was TIMOTHY NOLAN who served only
for a short time when he resigned, and shortly after died. He was succeeded
by MICHAEL QUINN the present Foreman of Truck No. 9, who remained in
charge for nearly ten years and was superseded by JAMES SMITH of Engine No 6
The latter was in turn succeeded by Foreman Quinn, who was again placed in
charge but the last tune only remained for a few months when he was
transferred to Engine No. 1. On Oct. 25, 1889 the present Foreman took command.
Foreman DANIEL J. GARRITY has the distinction of being the first Foreman
appointed in the Paid Fire Department. On the day that the law abolishing
the old system and creating the new went into effect, he, with the other
appointees was summoned before the new Board of Fire Commissioners, and
whether by accident or intent, he was the first man to receive an
appointment as Foreman. Before that he was an active volunteer, running with
Hose No. 9 from the time he was sixteen years of age. As a fireman he is
regarded as one of the bravest and best in the entire Department. Perhaps
no other member has a larger number of rescues or daring deeds to his
credit. Time and again he has been commended for his heroism Among some of
the more notable acts were the rescue of Mrs. Thomas HART and her four
children from a burning building on Court Street, near Butler, in 1875. At
a fire in the dwelling at No. 619 Fifth Avenue, on Feb. 14, 1885 he rescued
John ANDERSON and his daughter from the third floor. The occupants were
asleep in the house at the time and were nearly suffocated by smoke. On
many other occasions he has distinguished himself. But for one act in
particular he has endeared himself to the people of the Twelfth Ward. At an
entertainment in the hall attached to St. Mary's Star of the Sea School, at
the comer of Court and Nelson Streets, in June, 1887, some one raised the
cry of fire. Instantly the children became excited and rushed for the
doors and windows. Foreman GARRITY happened to be in the audience at the
time and by' prompt action averted what otherwise might have been a panic.
"Dan," as his friends call him, was born on Sept. 19, 1841. Since he was
twenty-one his hair has been gray. When the war broke out he entered the
navy and served for three years He is a member of the G. A. R. Before
coming to Truck No. I he had been for several years in charge of Engine No.
4 on Degraw Street. The Assistant Foreman, who is frequently called upon to
command the company while the Foreman is absent or acting as District
Engineer, is DENNIS J. McKINNEY He was born in this city on Feb. 17, 1859,
and was made a fireman on June 15 1885 After serving as a private for less
than two years, he was in recognition of valuable services promoted to the
rank of Assistant Foreman on March I. 1887, and has served with Truck No. 1
since. His name is on the roster of life rescuers. At a fire in Columbia
Street he removed a child from the third floor just as the flames entered
the apartment. He also assisted in the rescue of others, and is regarded
by his superiors as a cool, daring and conscientious fireman.
PATRICK HANLEY, the oldest member of the company, and one to whom the
younger men look for advice, has grown gray in the service. He was born
Jan. 10 1835, in Ireland, but came to this country when a young man. On
Oct. 1, 1872 he was appointed a fireman and has done duty with Engines Nos.
2, 3, and 4, and Truck No 1 Recently, however, he was detailed to the
Kerosene Oil Bureau, but is still accredited to and connected with Truck No.
1. He has assisted in the rescue of several lives On one occasion he had
a narrow escape. At a fire in one of the large storehouses at Erie Basin,
the roof fell in just as he and several of his colleagues stepped off. Had
they delayed thirty seconds longer they would have been buried under the
JAMES REILLY, the second in point of length of service in the company, was
born Oct. 31, 1862, and although a comparatively young man has battled with
fires for nearly eight years. During that length of service he has proven
himself to be one of the best men in the command and one who promises to be
heard from later. He has spent most of the time with Truck No. 1
JOHN J. CALLAGHAN is a Jersey man by birth, but a thorough Brooklynite by
adoption, instinct and association. At the age of five, and long before the
East River bridge was completed, he made his way to this city. which he says
he finds good enough for him. On Dec. 15, 1885, he donned a blue suit,
silver buttons, and a fireman's badge and started out to make a record.
That he has been successful is attested by his superior officers. He spent
a short time as a member of Engines Nos. 3 and 4, and was then transferred
to his present company.
JAMES J. RYAN was born within a few hundred feet of the house of Truck No i
thirty-six years ago, and was made a fireman on March 21, 1888. Before that
he was a truck driver and his knowledge of horses made him valuable to the
company. He was promptly placed in charge of the splendid team of horses
that is the pride of the company, and he treats them with as much
consideration as though they were human.
RICHMOND J. TRUPP, although in the Department less than three years, is
regarded as one of the most valuable members. He is thirty-one years of age,
and was appointed on July 15, 1889. By good faithful work he has commended
himself to his superior officers, and is personally popular among his
PATRICK TOMAN was born on Dec. 7, 1866, and long before he attained his
majority aspired to be a fireman. His ambition was satisfied on March 12,
1891, when Commissioner ENNIS appointed him and assigned him to Truck No. 1.
DANIEL BOYNE is a perfect athlete in appearance. He stands five feet
eleven inches and is splendidly developed. On the 10th day of Nov. 1862,
he first saw light and on July 17, 1891, he was appointed a fireman. Since
then he has performed duty with Truck No. 1, and is spoken of in high terms
by his Foreman.
SIMON TRACY is one of the oldest members of the company in age, but one of
the youngest in point of service. He was born in Pennsylvania, Dec. 4,
1848, and served creditably during the war with the 5th Regiment, Heavy
Artillery, Pennsylvania Volunteers. After the war he located in this
city and on July 17, 1891. was appointed a fireman. Although past the age
of eligibility, the fact that he was a veteran removed that obstacle.
Although forty-four years of age, in running, jumping and other athletic
contests, he is able to give the young men points.
CHARLES H. FUREY is a member of the old family of that name in this city
He was born in the Sixth Ward' Brooklyn Dec. 3, I867 and was appointed a
fireman and assigned to Truck No. 1 on Nov. 16, 1891.
JOHN J. THORNTON was born March 25, 1863, and like his colleague, FUREY was
appointed a fireman and assigned to Truck No. 1 on Nov. 16, 1891 and he has
proved entirely satisfactory to his superiors.
JAMES KERRIGAN was born in Brooklyn on June 20, 1865, and was appointed on
July 1, 1892.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 9
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