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History’s Corner – September 2018

Left to Right: Claude Owens, Happy Roberts, J.W. Thompson, on 1940 Hercules.

Columbia’s first paid fire department was formed in 1893 and consisted of Chief Albert Newman, an Assistant Fire Chief and 11 part-time or volunteer firemen. Newman received $30 a month and the Assistant Chief received $20.

Motorized equipment came to Columbia in 1913 following a series of major fires. A “Kissel” truck complete with 1,000 feet of hose, several ladders and a 40-gallon chemical extinguisher was purchased by the city and housed in a city-rented two-story brick building located on the northwest corner of Seventh and Walnut (the building located directly across Walnut former Fire Station #1). Beds were included for three fire fighters who were given four hours a WEEK to spend with their families and take care of personal business.

That same year, Earl Kurtz was appointed Chief with a salary of $75 per month. Assistant Chief F.W. Ketchum and Fire Fighters Edward Harrel, Thomas Walden and W.N. Griffiths comprised the remainder of the paid department. Additional personnel came from area volunteers. Continue Reading →

History’s Corner – July 2018

THE EARLY DAYS

Springfield’s earliest days as a community included a volunteer fire department organized in the 1840’s, beginning a rich history of service, compassion and valor.

1847
On August 9, 1847, the City Council and the Fire Commission drew up an ordinance to form the first recorded Ladder Company to cover the City of Springfield. The company consisted of seventeen members, a hand full of painters’ ladders, and a two-wheeled cart that was pulled by two of the members. The seventeen members served as volunteers without pay, uniforms, or firefighting gear. Fires were fought in whatever clothes the men were wearing at the time. The men were highly respected by the community and in return, they took deep pride in the service they provided. Continue Reading →

History’s Corner – May 2018

THE VERY EARLY DAYS

The 1904 Metropolitan, 1,000 gpm steamer saw much duty for Engine Co. 40. The horses are Blondie, Bismarck, and Jim.

The St. Louis Fire Department was established in 1857 and is the second oldest career fire department in the United States. Prior to 1847 a number of volunteer fire companies were in service in the city, starting around 1822. Members of these fire companies came from all walks of life and the fire company member’s wielded considerable political influence. It was the pride and ambition of each fire company to be the first to reach the fire and the most efficient to extinguish the fire.

It was one of the first departments in the nation in 1926 to establish a fire department training academy to study fire and to train recruit firefighters. The department also took the lead in exceptional apparatus, being one of the first departments to purchase a 100’ ladder truck. In 1987 the department was the first in the nation to use a “Total Quint Concept”, combining the traditional fire pumper and hook and ladder into one piece of equipment. The first of 30 new Quint apparatus were placed into service in 1987 and 1988. Continue Reading →

History’s Corner – March 2018

THE VERY EARLY DAYS

Fire protection began in Kansas City with the spontaneous formation of bucket brigades in an attempt to control fires that broke out in the mostly wood buildings of the city.

On March 12, 1867, the Missouri legislature granted permission to the city to form a fire department, to create and enforce a building code and to utilize necessary tax dollars for fire protection.

One year later, the steamboat Kate Kinney delivered Kansas City its first steam engine for the fire department. Chief Frank Foster and his volunteer firefighters tested the new engine on March 14, 1868. The engine was named John Campbell No. 1. The tests were completed at 4:56 p.m. on March 14, 1868, and the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department (KCFD) has existed since that time.

On August 2, 1871, the first career fire fighter was hired. The volunteer force of KCFD continued to decrease and by May of 1872, KCFD was staffed mostly by career personnel. Continue Reading →

History’s Corner – January 2018

THE VERY EARLY DAYS

The St. Joseph, Missouri fire service began in the 1850’s. Various political groups buy and establish fire companies with little standardization of equipment. These various firefighting groups both competed and cooperated at scenes. St. Joseph councilman General William R. Penick began a campaign to establish a professional fire department in St. Joseph in 1860. In 1865 this plan was completed with the election of General Penick as mayor of the City of St. Joseph.

In 1860 the citizens of St. Joseph approved a $25,000 bond for the establishment of a professional fire department. The uncertainties of the Civil War delayed the implementation of the plan. In 1864 the city council now guided by Mayor Penick approved $5,000 for the purchase of a steam powered fire pump. In May of 1865, the mayor presented the steam fire pumper named ”Black Snake” to the community.

The steam pumper was an awesome piece of equipment that could develop pumping pressures up to 165 pounds per square inch. Unlike the “Water Witch”, the unit already in service in the city, which required human powered and lots of it to develop pump pressure. Needless to say, there was a significant competition that developed between the two fire companies. At fire scenes, occasionally fire streams would be redirected from the fire toward member of the opposing fire companies. Continue Reading →

History’s Corner – November 2017

Over the last fifty or so years that I have been blessed with the opportunity to interact with fire service people, I have encountered some really awesome folks. In the 1960’s and 70’s, my position with the University of Missouri allowed me to travel to literally hundreds of fire department’s in the state and teach classes in remote, small communities as well as the metro area’s.

Since it is a beautiful Fall day here in Branson and I am on my back deck writing this article, I am reminded of another Fall day in the late 60’s when my travels took me to the small community of Doniphan for a class we called “Basic Firemanship.” This was a futile attempt to cram everything a community needed to know about firefighting into four classes that took three hours to complete on four consecutive evenings. Continue Reading →

History Corner – September 2017

To some folks that experienced this day in 2001, it seems like yesterday; to others a fleeting memory. It is also astounding to me that there are kids in our country that are now driving age, including my youngest grandson, who were not even born when this attack on our country occurred.

It was the first foreign attack on the United States mainland in almost two centuries and the largest firefighter life loss ever in one incident. Three hundred forty three firefighters and officers of the New Your City Fire Department died as a result of American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of fuel struck the 80th floor of the North tower of the World Trade Center. Eighteen minutes later a second Boeing 767, United Air Lines flight 175 slammed into the 60th floor of the South Tower! Continue Reading →

History Corner – July 2017

MISSOURI TASK FORCE 1

THE NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM

FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are teams of individuals specializing in urban search and rescue, disaster recovery, and emergency triage and medicine. The teams are deployed to emergency and disaster sites within six hours of notification. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the task force concept in 1989 to provide support for large-scale disasters.

There are twenty-eight task forces in the country, each sponsored by a local agency. In the event of a major incident in the United States, the nearest three task forces will be activated and sent to the site of the disaster. If the situation warrants, additional teams will be activated. Continue Reading →