Hartford Fire Department
Hartford Fire Department
275 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
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Major Fires

These Alarms are defined as "Major" by the Department, the media or the citizens of Hartford who lived and experienced the incident.  In many instances the Alarm caused change to be effected in Fire Safety codes and ordinances or Fire Suppression technologies and practices.  All too often the alarm caused loss of life.

April 1783 The Wooden State House Present "Old State House" constructed
First Fire Safety Ordinance passed.
Oct. 1832
Sept. 1833
Both fires occurred at the Exchange Corner Building located at Main and State Streets First Tax levied for public support of Hartford Fire Dept.
City Council appointed a committee to review fire safety. The
Council authorized expenditures for riveted hose and Fire Department reorganization.
May 1853 Catholic Church on Talcott St. and the Adjacent building at 2 Talcott St.
March 1854 Fales and Gray Railroad Car Works located on Potter St. The explosion and Fire caused the deaths of 21 persons and serious injury to 50 persons. Twenty - one deaths are attributed to this incident.  Affirmed that Hartford needed a professional health care facility. The State of Connecticut granted a charter for the Formation of Hartford Hospital (May 1854)
June 1856
June 1856
April 1856
July 16 1856
Taylor’s Livery Stable -
Clapp and Sharp’s Barn 74 State St
M. Chauncey’s Barn – 77 Oak Ave
N. Morey’s Paper Stock Company
These fires may have been related. The annual "Fireman's" Ball was held on February 26, 1853. The ball might have irritated neighbors, at 3:00 am the "Fire Bell" was sounded and the Fire Fighters attending the "Ball" reported to a non existent incident. The ringer was arrested and jailed. Within three weeks Engine Company #4 experienced a fire. Closely followed by the rash of major fires.
1858 Willis Thrall's Building on Asylum and High Streets. $118,000 of damage was caused to the property owner and tenants.
February 1859 Exchange Hotel at 150 State Street $18,000 loss
October 1859 The Alcott Allen House located at 44 Farmington Ave. $7,000 loss
January 1860 Hartford Kerosene Oil Factory-Canton Street $10,000 loss
June 1860 H. Burgess and Son Saw Mill
Dutch Point
$14,000 loss
March 1861 Grove Works on Potter Street completely destroyed.  The  Grove Works was housed in the same building that in March 1854 housed the Fales and Gray Railroad Car Works.   $30,000 loss.  Within three years the "City" passed an ordinance establishing a paid fire department governed by a Board of Fire Commissioners.
Feb. 1, 1864  Colt's Fire Arms Factory $73,000,000 loss
Feb. 17,1871 During this fire Fire Fighter Noah Risley became the first recorded death in the Hartford Fire Department.
June 7, 1875 Railroad Car Shops Fire fighter Benjamin F. Harrick, Stillman Hose Company, died in the line of duty.
Jan. 1875 St. Patrick's Church located at 83 Church Street This church was built in 1851 and included in its parish many of the City's Irish Immigrant population.
May 24, 1878 The Novelty Weaving and Braiding Works-brick yard This fire turned into a major tragedy for the Hartford Fire Department and the City. Three fire fighters lost their lives serving their neighbors. Foreman  DANIEL S. CAMP
November 26, 1879 This was the busiest day of 1879.  The Department responded to 4 alarms in 18 hours.  
Jan. 23,1882 Steam Boat Store House State St.
Hartford High School 39 Hopkins St.
Because of the severity of the winter winds and temperatures both structures were lost.
July 1884 South Congregational Church  91 Main St.  
Jan 9, 1887 Averill Building  420 Main St. Mr. Thomas R. Laughton, Clerk of the Hartford Board of Fire Commissioners succumbed to "suffocation" while investigating this fire.
Feb. 18, 1889 Park Central Hotel  54 High Street.
The building's boiler exploded and destroyed the building.  23 people died in this explosion and fire.
1895 Covered wooden bridge between Hartford and East Hartford burned. Disrupted trolley, vehicular and pedestrian traffic between the City and town.  Ferry service employed until the completion of the Bulkeley Bridge in 1908.
July 2, 1902 The Capewell Horse nail Company, 58-60 Governor St. The construction of the new factory employed the latest in Fire Safety and Prevention  technologies developed for commercial construction.  Standards included steel members, brick curtain walls and concrete floors.  
Feb. 11, 1906 The Day Estate, 139 Asylum Avenue $22,000 loss
March 28, 1906 Alarm Box 321-A.  Hose Wagon # 1 collided with Engine Company #2 responding to this alarm. Permanent Substitute George F. Goodrich died as a result of the collision.
May 5, 1909 Hartford mattress Company, Temple Street.   11 Engine Companies committed to the incident   
May 7, 1909 Hose Driver E.M. Quigley of Engine Company #7 died while fighting a fire.
June 29, 1912 The Central New England Railroad Company Building, Spruce Street, burned. $60,000 loss
Dec. 1, 1912 The Gray Telephone Pay Station Company, 64 Asylum St. $50,000 loss
Feb.21, 1914 Union Railroad Station.  13 companies responded to the incident.  Chief Moran ordered a "3-3" at 2:33 a.m.  At 2:52 a.m. an explosion occurred injuring many fire fighters. $ 160,630 loss
Feb. 26, 1914 The Auditorium Building, 183 Asylum Street. $53,608 loss.
Dec. 4, 1915 The Hartford and New Haven Transportation Company suffered fire at its steamboat dock. $10,000 loss
Jan. 29, 1917 Box 271 came in at 11:15 p.m. closely followed at 11:17 p.m. by box 27. both the  G. Fox & Company Department Store, 956-989 Main St. and the F.W. Woolworth company, 988 Main St. were lost to fire.  All Hartford Fire Department resources were committed to this general Alarm  $711,000 loss.  The Department requested, through the Board of Fire Commissioners a pay increase.  The "City" approved a 10% increase.
June 25, 1917 In responding to Box 46, Squad "A" was involved in the first serious accident involving motorized apparatus. Fire Fighter James Hughes succumbed to injuries sustained in the incident,  five days after the accident.
May 19, 1917 3 Alarm fire at The Loydon,  Northan  and  Loydon Ware house on Windsor St. $100,000 loss
1917 The R. S. Peck Company $77,000 loss
Dec. 18, 1920 Jewell Court, 212 Farmington Ave. $200,000 loss
Dec. 28, 1921 The Main St Garage and the Crown Theater Fire $150,000 loss
March 31, 1923 Although not a fire, the Fuller Brush water tower crashed killing nine persons.  Responding fire fighters were credited with heroics that saved many persons.  
Sept. 7, 1924 Assistant Chief Daniel J. Dahill died in the performance of his duty."
Feb. 16, 1926 Fire alarm at Box 241 Captain Joseph X. O'Connor became ill at the alarm and died on his way to the hospital.
March 22, 1926 The Jewish Orphanage Fire Captain John J. McNally died as a result of," expose to the fire."
Dec. 4, 1928 The Hotel Trumbull, 355 Trumbull St. $52,000 loss
November 7, 1930 This 3-3 alarm at 934-945 main St.  Two people died in this fire.
Feb 6, 1932 Herrup's Furniture Store, 1052 Main St. $94,992 Loss
March 6, 1932 Wise Smith & Co. 1217 Main St. $58,214 Loss
March 6, 1932 Merchandise Distributors Inc. 209-211 State St. $40,565
Jan. 3, 1933 Walker's Restaurant, 424 Asylum St. Captain Phillip E. Duffy died in the line of duty.
July 29, 1933 Responding to a fire; Engine Company 5 collided with a truck resulting in a fatality. Captain Austin A. Dungan died in the line of duty.
Dec. 12, 1933 The Department experienced its third death of a member during 1933.  Box 628 at 177 Kenyon St. Lieutenant John R. Lyons expired on December 13, 1933 from smoke inhalation and exposure to heat.
Dec. 30, 1936 24-26 Capitol Ave. Fire Captain Edward T. Lyons died on January 5, 1936 from exposure experienced at this fire.
Oct. 31, 1939 Engine Company 15 left quarters responding to an alarm Firefighter Edward J. Farrell died of injuries resulting from this alarm
Dec. 4, 1941 The Department responded to the collapse of the, under construction, Charter Oak Bridge This incident caused 15 persons to loose their lives. 
July 6, 1944 The Ringling  Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus Fire.  The "Greatest Show on Earth" appearing on  Barbour St.  The "big top" burned causing many deaths and many more injuries.  This fire took the lives of 168 people.  Widely known as the "the day the Clowns Cried”"  fire caused changes in Fire Safety Regulations.  Most families in and around Hartford suffered the loss of a loved one or knew family and friends who lost someone they knew and loved. "See Circus Fire Memorial Home page"
Feb. 24, 1945 A 3-3 Alarm experienced at 57 Center St.  
Dec. 24, 1945 The Niles St. (60-62 Niles St) Convalescent Hospital fire. Caused by a short circuit in Christmas decorations. This fire caused the loss of life to Twenty - 0ne people and injury to 12 persons.
Nov. 15, 1949 The Arsenal School, 1400 Main St This was the last 4-4 call transmitted in Hartford
Dec. 9, 1949 The Cleveland Block, 561-563 Main St. $150,000 loss 3-3 alarm
Oct. 6, 1954 The Hartford Electric Light Co. South Meadows Because of the rapid and aggressive suppression response the damage loss was limited to $6,000.  The loss of vital electric service to the City was avoided.
Dec 29, 1956 St. Patrick's  Church, Church and Ann Streets. For the third time this significant church fell victim to fire.
Dec. 30, 1956 St. Joseph's Cathedral, 150 Farmington Ave The Cathedral suffered total loss to fire. $5,000,000 Loss
Jan 12, 1959 The Van Dyke Restaurant, 563 Main St. 3-3 Alarm 
Dec. 8, 1961 Hartford Hospital Fire.  Nine persons died in this fire.
Feb 22, 1963 Frank's Restaurant 250 Asylum St. $500,000 loss.  3-3 Alarm resulting in injury to Firefighters.
Sept. 5, 1963 Canada Dry Bottling Co. Franklin Ave. 3-3 Alarm
September 15, 1974 529 Park St.  This was the second fire experienced at this location in as many days. Pump Operator Thomas Fischer died in the line of duty.
April 10, 1981 210 Judson and 139  Clark Sts. 3-3 Alarm fire  This 3-3 alarm destroyed many buildings, displaced many families from their homes and caused damage to fire apparatus.
June 28, 1982 19 Belden St. This alarm resulted in permanent injury sustained by  many of the firefighters who responded to the incident.
Dec. 14, 1982 950 Asylum Ave.  
July 12, 1992 The Royal Typewriter Company, 151 New Park Ave. Although "The Royal" closed many years prior to the fire, this building was a major architectural feature in Hartford.  The neighborhood is now served by a Super Stop and Shop Supermarket  complex.  Adjoining the Supermarket is a modern and recently opened  motion picture complex.
May 27, 1995 Crystal Lab Fire, 612 Capitol Ave. 3-3 Alarm. 
Sept. 14, 1995 House of Bread, Main and High Sts. 3-3 Alarm
June 23, 1999 The Hawthorn Street Fire, 103 Hawthorn St.

This fire developed into a multiple alarm event. Due to the size of the emergency, mutual aid was requested, and received,  from Fire Departments as far away as New Britain, Ct.  Departments  that provided mutual to the Hartford Fire Department included elements of: Glastonbury, Newington, Farmington, New Britain, East Hartford, West Hartford, Windsor, Manchester, Bloomfield and the Blue Hills fire services.

June 8, 2001 The 12 Willard St. Fire forced 58 families and over 200 persons from their homes. This multi alarm event caused a long term mass care and feeding.  The American red Cross housed and cared for the fire victims for an extended period of time.
February 26, 2003 Greenwood Health Center, 5 Greenwood St. 16 people lost their lives. As a result of this fire, laws governing the use of sprinklers in convalescent homes were changed so that all nursing homes in CT must have them.  This fire was the greatest disaster in the City’s History since the Niles Street Convalescent home fire of 1945. It was the nation's deadliest nursing home fire in a half-century.