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History of the City of Hartford Fire Department

   

  The first mention of a Fire Department is in 1789 when the City's population was 4,000. (the Hartford Courant Sunday February 18, 1962).  In celebrating the end of the Revolutionary War, in 1783, the roof of the State House was set on fire.  Although the structure was saved, it led to the construction, in 1796, of the brick structure now known as the "Old State House."  The first ordinance governing fire safety, in Hartford, was passed in 1788.  This ordinance outlawed bonfires in Hartford's streets. 

   July 19,1790, firemen where to be paid one shilling and six pence per day, not exceeding eight days in the year which
was repealed April 21, 1795. A paid department in Hartford over two and a quarter centuries ago!


The first hook and ladder company was organized in 1812.

In 1816 the Silas Sack and Bucket Company was organized.  The buckets were employed in bringing water to the fire point.  Sacks were used  to carry silverware and other valuables from a building to safety. The first hose company was organized in 1821.      

In 1851 the names of the companies were as follows:

1. Protection
2. Neptune
3  Phoenix
4. Damper
5. Deluge
6. Bravo
7. Eagle

There were also the Aetna Hose#1, Pioneer Hose#2 and the Silas Sack and Buck Company.

The first mention of a firehouse built on Pearl Street is in 1845 at 12 Pearl Street in the rear. It was set on fire April 23rd 1852.

   The Hartford Fire Department officially dates its organization to 1864 when The Board of Fire Commissioners was founded and established control over all appointments in the Department; however, fire fighting and the recognition of the importance
of providing fire safety to our citizens dates to colonial Hartford.

    Prior to 1864 Hartford's fire protection was volunteer.  The volunteer Fire Service was served by merchants and all citizens.  These neighbors would, upon need, drop what ever they were doing and run to fight a fire and aid their fellow citizens.

Residents pulled the "engines" and hose carts.  Often as many as forty persons were needed to pull one apparatus.

    The City's early fire fighters were sponsored by Hartford's Insurance Industry.  These companies paid special premiums to the first and second fire engines arriving at a fire.  In addition the "City" paid a dollar to any person who rang a church bell for a fire.              

   In 1876 the Hartford Fire Department became the first to own a steam-driven, self propelled fire Engine.  "Blak(sic) Seven" weighed between five and six tons, cost $5,000 dollars and pumped 700 gallons per minute.  It served the city for almost 40 years.

  During this time period all fire companies were assigned names in addition to there numbers. The names and the company numbers list were as follows:

Engine Company 1 was Charter Oak
Engine Company 2 was Hope
Engine Company 3 was Phoenix
Engine Company 4 was Annihilator
Engine Company 5 was Lawrence
Engine Company 6 was Colt
Engine Company 7 was Blake


The Hose Companies were named:
1. Alert
2. Stillman

The Ladder Company was named Hayden

Click here for a complete history of the fire company locations: 

 

HFD Firsts

The first Chief of the Department was Miles Beach.  He served as Chief from 1789 until 1805

The first Chief of Training was...John C. Moran

The first Chief of Prevention was...Robert H. Ramsden

The first Deputy Chief was Agustus Loomis.  He began serving in 1904

The first District 1 was John C. Moran.  He began serving in 1908

The first District 2 was Agustus Loomis.  He began serving in District 2 in 1908

Hartford, at the turn of the last century, had a diverse population.  The first African-American member of the Hartford Fire Department was William Henry Jacklyn.  On December 6, 1898 Firefighter Jacklyn began his service as a substitute.  He served in this capacity until 1903.  In this year he joined Engine Company 7, Main and Sanford Streets, as a full volunteer.
He continued his service until his retirement in 1914.  Firefighter Jacklyn resided at 14 Warren St.  The next African-American Firefighters began their careers with the Hartford Fire Department on October 4, 1948. 


The first Hispanic member of the Hartford Fire Department was Victor Solis. On February 3, 1969 Firefighter Solis began his service. He served in this capacity until March 3, 1976. The next Hispanic Firefighters began their careers with the Hartford Fire Department on June 18, 1980

 

The Hartford Fire Department began a radical reorganization; in 1907 it began to motorize its companies and in 1908 the Department became permanently paid.

 The Firefighters Drill school was established in 1909.  Chemical equipment was added to  the arsenal of fire fighting tools and the central alarm system began.  

The Hartford Fire Department adopted the two -platoon system on October 1, 1918 eliminating the 24 hour duty requirement.  The last two Hartford Fire Horses were retired, from Engine Company 4 located on Ann Street,  in 1920.   The fire horses were replaced with a new combination hose and chemical engine.  This apparatus was able to reach speeds of over 30 miles per hour.

A new, to Hartford, fire response procedure became operational in 1934.  This fire suppression response placed two Engines (pumpers) in the same Fire House.  Both Engines respond to the same fire and work in tandem.  The procedure was first adopted in Engine Company 4, located at 275 Pearl St.

On March 19th 1935 Hartford was devastated by flooding caused by the Spring "freshet" and heavy rains.  Hartford is a riverside city and Spring flooding in low lying areas was common. Hartford's entire "Downtown" area flooded and serious damage was sustained by the Hartford Fire Department's infrastructure.  Engine Company 6 suffered structural damage resulting in the building's condemnation.  The High Water mark inundated the apparatus floor at Engine 4; Ladder Company 1.  This Fire property is still an active and integral part of this Department, now serving as Hartford Fire Headquarters (275 Pearl St.)  Although the building avoided structural damage, the apparatus and firefighters were relocated.  The endemic Spring floods, coupled with major flooding caused by hurricanes, resulted in the construction of one of the most intricate flood prevention systems in the United States.

The "Depression" adversely effected Hartford and the Hartford Fire Department as it did the entire country.  The economic conditions of the 1930's caused the Hartford Fire Department to seek cost saving measures and  at the same time assure the City and its residents a superior Fire Department.

Chief John C. Moran guided the Department through the most difficult period of the Depression retiring officially on June 1, 1937.  Chief Moran sought to employ "standardization" in the acquisition of apparatus and equipment, use of mutual aid and changes in staffing/shift patterns and the use of retired fire fighters in his efforts to control costs and field the highest tier in fire protection and prevention services.  

Presidents of the United States and persons seeking that office have often stopped in Hartford and on October 22, 1936 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited our City.  The Hartford Fire Department aided and assisted the Hartford Police Department and the Connecticut State Police providing traffic control during the President's visit.

 

The following is a list of miscellaneous information that was collected from a variety of sources.  The source will be given following the information given, whenever possible.

 

 

In This Year:

 

1862

In 1862 there were 9 companies and 410 men.  320 regular and 90 volunteers. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Company 6's was located on the premises of the deaf and dumb asylum and was manned by a company of deaf mutes.( Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Engine 6's house was on Morgan Street.( Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

There was a reservoir at the head of College Street prior to 1862.  It was demolished and filled up.  (Note:  College Street is now known as Capital Avenue.  It was known as College Street because Trinity College use to be where the State Capital now stands).( Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

The Chief engineer at that time was Edward Norton.  He also retired in this year. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Engine Company 1, then known as Charter Oak Engine Company 1 , was located on Charter Oak Avenue near Main Street. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Company 2, then called Neptune, was located on Main Street, near Trumbull. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Company 3 was called Phoenix and was located on Front Street, near Ferry Street. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Company 4's was on Mulberry Street near Main Street and was called Damper. (Note Mulberry Street use to go from Main Street to Wells Street.  It was discontinued April 26, 1965 having been absorbed into the Bushnell Plaza Redevelopment project).  (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

Company 5's was called Annihilator and was located on Church Street near Main. (Chief engineers report of 1862 Hartford Connecticut:)

 

1864

An ordinance was passed by the City Council October 10, creating a paid Department.( Geers Directory)

1867

The location of the Fire Department was 333 Main Street room 23.(Geers Directory)

The engineer, engine driver hose driver, fireman and the two hose men lodged in the houses of the company to which they respectively belonged. (Geers Directory)

The Fire Alarm Bell and Tower were being erected rear of 19 Pearl Street.( Geers Directory)

The Tower and Bell were complete.( Geers Directory)

In no instance has it sent forth and uncertain sound...(Geers Directory 1870).

1868

The directions on how to pull a hook were given to citizens.( Geers Directory)

The first fire alarm box was box 2 at the corner of Main and Canton.( Geers Directory)  Note: No record of Box #1 could be found.

The numbering of boxes started in the North End (on Canton Street) and extended Southerly. (Geers Directory)

A hose house was rented on Temple Street (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Gamewell Company of New York City was contracted with to erect the American fire alarm telegraph on what they term the automatic principle, the same to consist of about 14 miles of wire, 30 fire alarm boxes and the necessary apparatus for striking gongs in each of the four steam fire engine houses, and also to strike the alarm on the fire alarm bell. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Steamer #2 worked 10 hours at a fire in Tarriffville and 3 hours at a fire in Meriden.( Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1870

Stillman was the name of a Hose company.  It was also the name of a commissioner. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1872

Company 2 was located at 16 Church Street. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

There were 3 Assistant Chiefs in the Hartford Fire Department (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  .

1873

Colts willow works catches fire. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1874

Engine Company 5's was called Lawrence.  Lawrence was the name of a commissioner by the name of R.S. Lawrence (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  .

1875

Ladder 2 was referred to as "Mayor Robinson Hook and Ladder Truck number 2. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Note:  Mayor Robinson served as Mayor of the City of Hartford from 1870 to 1872.  He was so respected that he was offered by the President of the United States, the position of Ambassador to Mexico.  Mayor Robinson responded by saying "what, and leave Hartford?"  He never took the job.

The Commissioners rooms were at 43 Pearl Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1876

Engine Company 7's was called Blake.  Blake was the name of a fire commissioner by the name of Thos. J. Blake. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1882

The disbandment of the old companies and the organization of the new company went into effect January 1882.  This change increased the permanent force two members and reduced the call force 21 members.  Our early opinion that "the services of a carriage capable of carrying as much or more hose than the hand carriages and to be drawn by horses, would be far more efficient and available at all times for use at any part of the city has been confirmed and the permanency of men, horses and apparatus more than compensates for the reduction of the numerical strength of the Department. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1877

A second horse was added to truck 1 because of the long distances the horse had to pull it. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

In this year box alarm assignments started being used.  Prior to this year whenever there was an alarm the entire Department responded.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Permanent men were paid monthly and call men were paid quarterly.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1878

3 Firemen were killed at a general alarm fire, May 24th 1878.  The location was Market Street at the foot of Kinsley Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Their names were:  Daniel S. Camp, John Parker and Charles E. Harper.( Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

 

1879

 

The colored school property on Pearl Street was acquired.  It cost $5,000.00 and took another $3,000.00 to alter and add to it so that it could serve as a firehouse.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

There were tenements on the second floor for the families of the Driver and Tiller man.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Fire Department moved in April 1st, 1879.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The substitution of modern post (or upright) for the old and almost inaccessible surface hydrants took place.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Chief of the Department was referred to as the Chief and not the Chief Engineer for the first time.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1880

On December 30th the Common Council voted to create the position of permanent substitute.  One person was hired  to fill this position.  The duty of this person was to fill in when a permanent was absent.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1883

The firehouse poles were installed.  The first houses to receive them were 4's, 5's and 7's.(Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The fire alarm telegraph of  Hartford was the first of its kind in New England and the second in the United States.(Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The mention of the telephone first occurs.( Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Eleven Blows following a first of second alarm constitutes a general alarm which calls into service all reserve companies. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1886

To meet the wants of the Department for a building that could be used for storage, repairs, of apparatus, care of sick or disabled horses, and for other useful purposes, a substantial frame structure was erected in the rear of 1's house.( Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Clapp and Jones is placed in service January 1. Note:   It would later be restored and placed in the exhibition hall of the Old State House on Main Street.

 

1897

Company 4's was at 60 Ann Street between Allyn and Church  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  .

Henry James Eaton (Chief of the Department for 38 years) lived at 92 Pearl Street. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Department has 40 horses. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  .

In this year the Department had 36 horses.

John C. Moran and John Francis Dungan began their careers.  Both men would serve 50 years.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Photo's first begin to appear in the Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report manuals.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1898

In this year the officers of the Hartford Fire Department consisted of one Chief Engineer, Three Assistant Chief Engineers, one Superintendent of Fie Alarm and one Assistant Superintendent of the same.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Company 3's has the largest "self propeller" in the world.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1900

A new uniform was adopted for the officers and men. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 

1902

There were Commissioners responsible for "furniture and bedding".  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The condition of Engine House number 2 (on Pleasant Street) with its inadequate accommodations might suggest the idea of removing the house n the near future to a more advantageous location farther to the west, where the rapid growth in buildings will soon demand attention and yet leave it in touch with the center of the City.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

On February 2 the City of Waterbury required the assistance of the HFD.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1903

For the first time William Henry Jacklyn (Hartford's first African American Firefighter) is listed in the Board of Fire Commissioners book as a hoseman.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Chief Henry James Eaton retires after 52 years in the Hartford Fire Department (as of 2009 this is the longest icareer in the 220 year history of the Department) he retires after serving 35 years as Chief.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1904

The Commissioners office was located at 36 Pearl Street and the printers of the Commissioners Annual Report was at 49 Pearl Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

To rent a tenement at Engine Company 6's cost $125.00 per year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Honorable Court of Common Council passes an ordinance this year to create a Deputy Chief's position.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1906

On the evening of March 28 in responding to an alarm from box 321 a collision occured at Central Row and Main Street between Hose Company number 1 and Engine number 2.  The latter driven by permanent substitute George F. Goodrich.  As a result of which Mr. Goodrich lost his life.  A faithful man gone to his reward.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1907

Engine Company 14's goes into commission on April 1st.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The first gasoline powered apparatus in the HFD is purchased for Company 2's.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1908

On February 25th Company 12's is sent to the Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford to fight a fire.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

On October 1st the entire force became permanent.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Each permanent man in the Department is allowed one day off in ten and ten days vacation without a deduction in pay.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

June 15th the Govenors Horse Guard armory was burned out on Main Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

In September the office of Lieutenant was created in each company.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

John C. Moran is promoted from the position of Engineer at company 4's to the rank of 2nd Deputy.  His quarters are at Company 1's.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  

1909

The Department utilizes "meal hours".  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Deputy Chief Loomis answers all alarms north of Farmington Avenue and Deputy Chief Moran, all south of that Avenue.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

 The maximum age is changed from 40 to 30 and the minimum height from 5' 7" to 5' 6".  Minimum weight remains the same at 137 pounds.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1910

The Drill School was founded.  It reads "Through the courtesey of Commissioner Hayes and Chief Croker of New York and Mr. Charles Sloan, manager of the Hartford Manufacturing Company, we have been enabled to start a drill school".  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

2nd Deputy Chief John C. Moran and Captain Robert H. Ramsden of Engine company 4 go to New York to learn about firefighting.  They were quartered in fire stations.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The water Main System for Prospect Hill is installed.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1911

Company 2's (formerly Windsor Ave. and Belden currently  Main and Belden) was constructed so that every man in the Company had a seperate room. 

Old Company 2's (on Pleasant Street) is used for Fire Alarm telegraph equipment.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

"Meritorius acts attended with personal risk" commendations are mentioned for the first time this year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The original drill tower (near 6's on Huyshoppe Ave.) is completed this year, August 22nd.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1912

Company 3's on Front Street is closed as it moves to Market Street in March.  In May it is turned over the the public bath house committee.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1913

April 1st, Engineer and Mechanic Charles A. Cutler who has been in charge of the shop is promoted to the new position of Master Mechanic and has general supervision of all repair work.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The total number of men in the Department reaches 154.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The number of horses in services reaches 55.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

A new feature "competitive company" drill was inaugurated in this year.  The company making the best company record received a special prize cup.  If you won it 3 times you got to keep it.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1914

A warning blow is stuck on the tower bell, as soon as an alarm sounds at headquarters, and for the first alarms two rounds of the box number are sent out from the tower.  For second alarms four rounds are struck.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The water tower was put to use for the first time since it was purchased in 1911 at the railroad station fire.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Deputy Chief Dahill spends 2 weeks on duty in the Boston Department studying that City's Fire Prevention and mutual aid systems.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The subject of Mutual Aid is covered extensively for the first time on page 35.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The office of the Master Mechanic, Charles A. Cutler is at 2's house.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Superintendent of Fire Alarm is at 43 Pearl Street.  With the Bell Tower.  Fire Alarm has 4 people working in it, the Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendent and 2 Linemen.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1915

The first female employee of the HFD is recorded.  Miss Mollie O. Sack.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Approval for an additional Deputy Chief takes place whose special work should be for Fire Prevention.  His office was at 5's house (Sigourney and Niles) and his name was Robert H. Ramsden.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The motorization of Engine Company 12 and 14's and Truck Companies 3 and 5 took place this year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The number of horses in regular use has been reduced from 45 April 1, 1914 to 31 March 31, 1915.  during the summer arrangements were made with the Park Department which had been in thee custom of hiring horses during the summer to take over the spare Fire Department horses as fast as motor equipment was installed.  The horses have been housed in the City barn in Colt Park convenient to the spare barn of this Department.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

When the first due company to a fire reprted back, the tower bell was struck.  This informed the public that the fire was under control.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Still alarms were 1 or 2 companies.  Box alarms and assignment of companies.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The Hartford Fire Department responds to the east side district of West Hartford for a $50.00 per hour fee.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

In this year, William C. Case is listed as the "bell tower operator".  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

On the completion of the Municipal Building, quarters, which had been occupied in the Connedticut Mutul building since the year 1903, were vacated and the office of the Commission located in room 221 in the new building October 1, 1915.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1916

The new schedule of one day off in eight is used instead of one day off in ten.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

As of April 1, 1916 there were 12 horses in service.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

1917

4 members of the Shop were employed all year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

The "Shop" is located in the basement of 2's house, currently Main and Belden.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The apparatus floor or he rear yard is used to house the apparatus while it is being worked on.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Firefighter Albert Lacker of Engine 12 and Ladder 5 is recognized for rescuing the Torah at a fire.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Firefighter Lacker is a relative of Manny Liebert, namesake of Liebert Road in Hartford. 

During the First World War, 21 men are pressed into service.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Fire Alarm Superintendent George W. Hamilton, the oldest official in continuous service presents his resignation December 2, 1918.  He has held his position from September 18, 1883.  35 years.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1919

There are only 7 horses in use this year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The new "Nepaug System" for water availability and pressure is mentioned for the first time.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Company 8's is stuck by a trolley car when leaving the station.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Chief of the Department handles minor disciplines but serious ones are handled by the Discipline Committee or the Board.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Truck 1 is moved to Engine house number 3 on Market Street on May 1, 1918 and operates there until the new building is in shape for occupancy on March 10, 1919.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Apparatus at 2's, 7's and 8's have been run into by trolley while starting out to a fire.  As a partial safeguard red lamps have been ordered installed in from of all stations on a trolley line with the connection so arranged that the lamps will be lighted on receipt of an alarm.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Company 15's lamp is still in operation today, 90 years later.

1920

The 2 Platoon system goes into effect April 1, 1920.  It allows 1 day off in 6 as opposed to 1 day off in 8.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Chief's office which was formerly located at the quarters of Engine company number 3 on  Market Street is now in the new Headquarters on Pearl Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

In this year there are 2 horses still in active service.  They are at Company 4's on Ann Street.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

3 new 8" gongs are place in the dormitories of Engine Companies 1, 2 and 3.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

William F Daley becomes 5th Deputy Chief promoted fro Captain of Company 5's.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

In addition to a Machine Shop, a Woodworking Shop and a Paint Shop are created.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1922

Traffic horns are installed on various corners announcing to traffic officers the arrival of the Fire Department apparatus.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

A vehicle replacement program is implemented with the goal of purchasing at least one piece of apparatus every 5 years.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Salvage covers are placed on the apparatus.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The completion and connecting up of the new Nepaug reservoir was completed this year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The tower bell and striker are removed from the rear of Squad A (43 Pearl Street) and stored in a shed in the rear of Number 12's Engine Company.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1924

On September 7, 1924 Assistant Chief Daniel J. Dahil dies in the performance of his duties.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1925

Mr. James Nelson, an Instructor in the Drill School introduces calisthenics to the Department.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Standardization of all hose connections in the Department and in buildings throughout the City and hydrants is accomplished.  "All Cities and Towns in this section of the State as well as Cities in Massachusetts located within the mutual aide area of Hartford are now standardized". 

For the first time the 1861 Steamer does not appear among the spare apparatus of the Department. Total length of service...62 years.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1926

For the first time in the history of the Hartford Fire Department horse drawn apparatus was not in use at some period through out the year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Department suffers 2 fire related fatalities in this year, both of them Captains.  Captain Joseph X. O'Connor on February 16th, and at the Jewish Orphanage fire  Captain John J. McNally on March 22nd, 1926.  Both of them a little more than a month apart.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1927

A time capsule, a copper box is sealed into the structure, of Headquarters 275 Pearl Street,  containing the following articles:  A scroll bearing the names of the members of the Fire Commission, the report for 1925-1926, and copies of the Department rules, City manual, City Treasurers report and the daily newspaper. 

The quarters of Engine Company 4, 230 Ann Street are abandoned March 14.  3 days later Squad "A" which had been at 3's station since June 15 1921 are moved to Headquarters as a permanent location.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The clerical force and records of the Fire Commission are transferred during the same period from the Municipal Building to rooms on the 3rd floor of Headquarters (275 Pearl Street) and the Commission met there for the first time March 21st, 1927.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Fire Department Headquarters now holds: The Commission, the Chief of the Department, the Assistant Chief, the first Deputy Chief, the Fire Prevention Chief, Fire Alarm Central office with the Superintendent, Truck 1, Engine 4 and Squad "A".

Members of the off duty platoon assist in handling of traffic and crowds at Brainard Field on July 20,th, 1927 on the occasion of Colonel Charles A. Lindberghs visit to the City.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Note: Lindy hopped the pond on May 20, 1927. 

1928

Much new work is turned out by the Machine Shop including a platform built for the lecture room at Headquarters.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)  Note:  The lecture room was where the Management Services Unit now operates, 2009.

Engine 4's is the first apparatus ordered with pneumatic tires.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

With the approval of the Chief of the Department it has been decided to discontinue Squad "A" now at Headquarters, as a seperate unit when Engine Company Number 16 is placed in comission.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report) 

Squad "A" when into servce in 1910 with a Pope-Hartford two tank chemical auto, and for a good while answered all box alarms.  Squad "A" 1910-1928.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

A red light , casting a broad beam is placed on all the apparatus and chief cars at headquarters as a distinctive warning signal to traffic at night.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Ladder 6 opens on May 7, 1928.  It is manned by a Lieutenant and 6 men on each platoon.  They are all under the charge of the Captain of the Engine company. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1929

Prior to implementation of the 2 platoon system, the department experienced lengthy meal hour periods.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

To avoid any conflict or division of authority through having two Captains on duty at the same time in the same station, the policy is adopted of placing a Lieutenant instead of a Captain, in charge of a Truck Company when located in the same station with an Engine Company.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The honorary position of Department Chaplin is created and appointment conferred on Reverend Father James H. Dragan of ST. Peters Roman Catholic Church and on Reverend Raymond Cunningham of Trinity Episcopal Church.   (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Drillmaster Deputy Chief  Keron J Finn Dies while in office. He is succeeded by Thomas J. Skelley, a future Chief of the Department.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

In this year, the Assistant Chief and Deputy Chief at Company 2's  Chauffer is a Lieutenant.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Two outstanding occasions during the year were the successful promotion of fire prevention and cleanup week campaigns.  For the work, Hartford was awarded for the third consecutive year, first place in its population class for the best accomplishment in fire prevention by the United States Chamber of Commerce.  (Municipal Annual Report)

1930

For the first time since there has been a competition in Company work at the drill tower the winner was a truck company platoon, of truck Number 3, whose time was the fastest yet recorded. (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

A small hand press is purchased and the fire alarm assignment cards printed with it.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

At the Miller building fire on Main Street November 7, 1930, 2 people die but 2 are saved via life net.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1931

The replacement of the last steam fire engines by modern pumpers takes place within a year of this date 4/1/31.  That's 70 years the HFD uses Steamers, 1861-1931.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

Calls to rescue cats from trees are refered to the humane society.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

In order that a good appearance by the personnel may be maintained, company officers are under instruction to not their condition at every roll call, and official inspections are made twice a year.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

The Department's budget for furniture is $1,200.00.  (Board of Fire Commissioners Annual Report)

1932

The title of "Driver" is used instead of the title "Chaufeur" for the first time.

1933

Co-operating with the Welfare Department, the Fire Stations are utilized for distributing  supplies to the unemployed f the City.  The Firemen at these stations distribute these supplies upon presentation of vouchers from the Welfare Department.

1934

The Fire Alarm crew paints all fire alarm boxes.

The original "drill tower" (built in 1910) is condemned.

1935

Captain John McCarthy is killed October 7, when he is knocked from the fire tower during training exercises.  His son, Howard A. McCarthy joins the Hartford Fire Department in October  just 3 weeks after his father is killed.  Howard A. McCarthy is promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief December 22, 1967, 32 years later. 

1948

A major change in the operations of the Firefighting force occurs in October when the men change from a 77 hour work week to a 56 hour work week.  Formerly, each fireman worked a rotating shift which required six days of day duty, ten hours per day, followed by 6 nights of 14 hour nights per night with a 24 hour period off duty at the end of each tour.  The new schedule permits them to work 3 days followed by a 48 period off duty and then 3 nights followed by a similar period.  The hours of day and night duty remain the same.  (Annual report, City of Hartford 1949). 

85 Firemen are hired to accomidate the new 56 hour per week schedule.  (Municipal Annual Report)

1949

The National Board of Fire Underwriters increases the Hartford Fire Department's rating from a Class 2 to a Class 1.(Municipal Annual Report)

Radios are installed on the apparatus.

1953

Hartford becomes the only City in the Nation to win the U.S. Chamber of Commerce grand award for Fire Prevention a third time and retires the winners cup.  The grand aware is presented annually to the City , regardless of size, which is judged the best in the nation in the Inter-Chamber Fire Waste Contest. 

1959

The old drill tower on Huyshoppe Ave. is demolished. 

1960

August 12, 1960 the last of "the asbestosmen" retires.  Asbestosmen was the name given the 12 men and 2 officers who were on Squad "A".  Assistant Chief James p. McSweegan was the retiree. 

McSweegan was Drillmaster from 1944-1960

It we McSweegan who first saw the St. Josephs Cathedral fire. 

1963

The Drill Tower on Fischer Road is built.

1966

Retired Acting Chief Thomas J. Shortel dies in May.  5 months after he retires.

1968

On February 5th Company 12,s is closed and District 3 is opened.

The Special Services Unit is opened.

1969

The Department goes to the 48 hour work week.

1970

May 28th, Pump Operator Charles Arthur Kelly dies after backing his truck into 9's.  He was 45.

Someone throws a molatave coctail through the side window of Company 7's on July 24th.

A thirteen year old girl falls down the pole hole at 11's.  She is critically injured.

1971

The Department goes to the 42 hour work week.

1976

The number of men on a Ladder Company drops from 5 to 4 but 2 trucks are sent instead of 1.

The authorized strength of the Department is 569 people.

20 men receive their layoff notices.  No one is laid off.

1981

The big brass bells are replaced by the voice communications system and the warbler alarm. 

The Training Academy's Administration building is named the William J. Kenny building , the Tower is named the Thomas A. Fischer building and the smoke house is named the Marshal Pl Slavkin building.

1982

June.  2 Women enter the Hartford Fire Department, Zandra Clay and Maria Ortiz.

1988

May 22nd, Pearl Street Fie Communications RTO's Deactivated.  moved to Police Headquarters. 

1992

The position of Employee Assistant Personnel (EAP) Liaison is officially filled for the first time in the history of the HFD.  It is filled by Faye Soltys, a second generation employee of the Department.  She serves in this capacity until 2009.

2001

The Hartford Fire Department becomes the primary first responders to all emergency medical calls in the City of Hartford.

2007

"In 1941 we started to send assignments.  Prior to that only an engine was sent to every call."  (Dan Kelley, former member of the HFD.  Age 90+)

 

 

Hartford Fire Department Notables

Agustus Loomis

Served as Chief of the Department 1912-1913

Career 1866-1887 (resigned) 1892-1913

The City's first Deputy Chief under Chief Louis Krug, Chief Loomis entered on the duties of his newly created office in April of 1904.  At first no special means of transportation was provided for him.  If the company with which he was stationed did not respond to the alarm he had to go to fires by trolley, on foot or as best he could..  Later he was given a horse and a buggy.  But upset by an unpleasant experience with the horse, he bought himself a ford automobile.  Thus inaugurating the motorization of the Department.

Before the Department was placed on a permanent basis, the engineer was in charge of the station with the result that Mr. Loomis had much responsibility.  In 1887 he quit the Department temporarily in characteristic fashion.  While in charge of Number 3 station, he rebelled at the assignment of a man to that house, reported to the Chief that he would not serve with any "jail bird" and left the service.

When the station of Engine Company Number 7 went into commission at Windsor Avenue and Sanford Street on January 1, 1896 Mr. Loomis was place in charge as Engineer.  With a few machines and tools he started in the basement of the station the beginnings of the Fire Department repair service.  He remained there as engineer until his appointment as Deputy Chief.

In his new position he was located days at what was then fire headquarters, the station of Chemical Company Number 9 near the head of Pearl Street.

In 1911 he was located at the new station of Engine Company number 2 and Ladder company 3 placed in commission that year at Windsor Avenue and Belden Street.

Chief Loomis was head of the Department when the first motor pumper was ordered.

Much of the time when he was located at the Ann Street fire station he spent in the Masonic building across the way.

Chief Loomis is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.  (Obituary)

 

Chief Loomis came on thee job one year after he left the Union Army of the Civil War.  He was a part of Sherman's march to the sea.  he was the first man to drive a horse drawn steamer in the Hartford Fire Department from 3's on Front Street.  When he got on the job, the fire alarm was a bell on City Hall.  (Source unknown)

 

 

 

 



 

 In 1867 the city purchased a 9,000 pound fire bell.  This bell, for three decades, called firefighters to alarm.  


 








 

Retired Deputy Chief Daniel Nolan, wearing a High Eagle Helmet, taking a Hydrant using
an "old Hartford Street set Hydrant Hookup"


 

"Jumbo" the largest engine of its day weighed in at 9 tons.  It was purchased in 1889 at a cost of $7,000.  This apparatus was a frequent subject for photographers and writers for many years.  This apparatus was rebuilt in 1908.  The internal combustion engine was on the horizon and would cause the revolutionary change to the Fire Service as it caused to all transportation in the twentieth  century.    

 


 

The Hartford Fire Department
marching past the Linden Building on Main Street.

 


 

 

 
  

The Pride of Hartford

Crew in front of 60 Ann Street  John C. Moran
at the throttle, Assistant Engineer Charles
F. Grund in the rear. Tillerman Warren A.
Bingham at the wheel. 

The Tillerman steered the engine. 

   The engineer controlled the direction and the 
brakeman as well.

  The fireman kept the fire going in the boiler.

Photo taken around1901.

 
First steam pumper with Henry J. Eaton The Hartford Fire Department continued to use hand pumping equipment until 1861.  The Phoenix No. 3 was the first steam engine purchased by the Department and within three years steam had completely replaced hand pumping. 

 

  



 

G. Fox and Company had expanded to several building on Main Street by the time this fire consumed the landmark store on January 29, 1917. The store was rebuilt into the unified structure.  The building still stands with new purpose on Main Street.  To the far left are the Pilgard Building and the Baptist Church, both of which were unaffected by the fire.

 



Purchased  1912 - Augustus Loomis Chief of Department

Combination internal Combustion Locomotion and steam driven water pumper

Picture taken behind Hartford Fire Department Headquarters.  This apparatus is in the care of the Connecticut Historical Society.  It is under restoration and conservation, and is scheduled to be placed at the Old State House.

Engine Company 2 on Main Street. 
When this picture was taken this portion of Main Street was called "Windsor Avenue"

Picture believed to date to the 1920's


Training Exercise on the corner of Main and Church Streets Picture taken approximately 1890 to 1910



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







The Veterans Fireman's Association line up for a photo in the front their building. The building once stood at the corner of Main and Arch Street where the main branch of the library now stands.



ENGINE COMPANY 2 
located on  
MAIN AND BELDEN STREETS
Engine Company 2, formally located on Pleasant St., opened at this location  on April 11, 1911. The motorized apparatus shown between the two horse drawn apparatus is probably one of three "Fire Wagons" purchased from the Pope Motor Car Company, located on Arch St. Hartford, Ct.  The "Fire Wagons" were delivered in August, 1912.  This photograph probably was taken, by very proud Firefighters, very close to the August 12 apparatus delivery date. 



The State Savings Bank on Pearl Street, notice fire headquarters behind the Bank building.  The old fire bell is at the top of headquarters which once stood at 43 Pearl Street.  


Hartford Fire Department Headquarters Building  Located behind the State Savings Bank.  The fire bell is now located on the east lawn of the Connecticut Historical Society on Elizabeth Street. 
 

ENGINE COMPANY  No.1, No. 
197 Main Street

ENGINE  COMPANY No. 2,
No. 5 PLEASANT STREET

ENGINE COMPANY. No.3, 
No.124 FRONT STREET.

Third Size Amoskeag Put in Service
August, 1900

First-Class Double, Crane Neck, Clapp & Jones. Put in service September, 1880.

(Self-Propeller)
First-Class Amoskeag Engine, Extra Size. Put in service August , 1899


ENGINE COMPANY  No.4,  No. 
60 ANN STREET.

ENGINE COMPANY No. 5, No. 
129 SIGOURNEY STREET. 
ENGINE COMPANY No. 6, No.
98 HUYSHOPE AVENUE
(Self-Propeller) 
Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine, First Class. Put in service August, 1901.
Second-Class, Crane Neck, Amoskeag. Put in service January, 1872 Second-Class, Double, Amoskeag  Steam Fire Engine, Straight Frame. Put in service June, 1868

ENGINE COMPANY No. 7. 
Corner of Windsor Ave. and Stanford St.
ENGINE COMPANY No. 8.
Corner of Park & Affleck Street
DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS AND CHEMICAL ENGINE COMPANY No. 9 No.
 43 Pearl Street.
First-Class clapp & Jones, (American Fire Co.) Steam Fire Engine. Put in service January , 1896  First-Class Clapp & Class (American Fire Engine Co.) Steam Fire Engine. Put in service January, 1896 Double 50-Gallon Tank Holloway Chemical Engine. Put in service 
November , 1896


CHEMICAL ENGINE COMPANY No. 10,  No. 94 BOND STREET

CHEMICAL ENGINE COMPANY No. 11,  No. 3 SISSON AVENUE

ENGINE COMPANY No. 12,
SMITH STREET

Double 35-Gallon Tank Holloway Chemical Engine.  Put in service August, 1900.

Double 35-Gallon Tank Holloway Chemical Engine.  Put in service August, 1900.

Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine Second Class, put in service Dec., 1904. Hollway Combination Chemical Engine, Put in service Dec., 1904.


ENGINE COMPANY No. 14, 
BLUE HILLS  AVENUE

CHEMICAL ENGINE COMPANY No. 15, 
NEW BRITAIN AVENUE

HOOK AND LADDER COMPANIES  Nos. 1 AND 2, NO. 275

Second size steam Fire Engine.  Put
in service May, 1907  

Double 35-Gallon Tank American LaFrance Combination chemical.  Put in service August, 1909.

One First-Class Gleason
 & Bailey Aerial Turn-table Truck, equipped. Put in service August, 1899. One First-Class Iron Trestle "Leverich" Truck, equipped. Put in service 1873

 

CITY OF HARTFORD FIRE CHIEFS

Named by Council

Miles Beach
James Ward
J. Hoadley 
J.M. Goodwin
W. Hayden 

1789-1805
1805-1820
1820-1825
1825-1833
1833-1843

Elected by Firefighters

Allyn  Stillman 
R.G.Drake
Charles Benton 
Erastus Hubbard
John Carter
John G. Parsons 
Joseph Pratt 
Samuel H.Havens 
Edward Norton
Horace Billings 
Jared J. Butler

1843-1846
1846-1848
1848-1850
1850-1852
1842-1854
1854-1856
1856-1858
1858-1860
1860-1862
1862-1864
1864

Appointed Chiefs of the Hartford Fire Department

Henry P Seymour
Henry J. Eaton 
Louis Krug 
Augustus Loomis
John C. Moran
Michael T. Keena
Thomas J  Skelley
John C. King 
Henry G. Thomas
Thomas F. Lee
Edward M. Curtin
Edward F. Fennelly
Charles Gallon*
John B. Stewart, Jr.
Nelson K. Carter, Sr
John Vendetta *
Charles A. Teale, Sr.*
Robert E. Dobson
Charles A. Teale, Sr.

*ACTING

1864-1868
1868-1903
1903-1912
1912-1913
1913-1937
1937-1941
1942-1942
1942-1946
1946-1959
1959-1964
1965-1972
1972-1979
1979-1980
1980-1992
1992-1993
1994-1995
1995
1995-2000
2000

 

THE 
MALTESE CROSS 
(Cross of St. John)
THE UNIVERSAL SYMBOL OF THE FIRE SERVICE 

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection, A BADGE OF HONOR.  Its story is,  hundreds of years old dating to the crusades.  The crusades were a long series of holy wars during which men and women of faith, Christians and Moslems, fought over the holy land and control of the Mediterranean area.  An order of crusader knight/monks, known as the Knights of ST. John, played a central role during the crusades.  They encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors.  It was a simple, but horrible dive of war.  The Moslem armies adopted and used "Greek Fire".  Developed by the Byzantine Empire, in their wars against the crusaders.  The Knights of ST. John risked their lives to save others from the burning infernos caused by the Greek fire.  The heroic actions were recognized by their fellow crusaders.  Each "Fire Fighting" Knight was awarded a heraldic badge of honor.  This badge was very similar in shape to the cross Fire Fighters wear today.

The Knights of ST. John established their order on the island of Malta located in the Mediterranean Sea.  With the passage of the centuries their cross of honor,  awarded their brave Fire Fighting actions, became known as the Maltese Cross.

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and the recognized fire fighting symbol throughout the western world.  It signifies that the fire fighter is willing to risk her or his well being for the their neighbors.  The Maltese Cross is the fire fighter's badge of courage, a ladder-rung away from death.