Dayton Fire Department
together with a
Few Chapters Treating on the Successful Men of the
City who in some way Contributed
to its Success.
Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Many of
the Leaders in Business, Professional
and Political Life.
J. E. Brelsford, Dayton, Ohio
A history of the Dayton Fired Department is in many respects the history of the city itself. The progress made in fifty years by the city is no greater, if as great, as has been achieved by the fire laddies.
It appears ludicrous to picture such well-known and successful men as Jas. McDaniel, Henry Hilgefort, Allen Jeffers, Ezra Bimm, John Harries, Edmund Zwiesler, A. Shinn, Geo. Lehman, Wm. McHose, Moses Crowell, Wm. Legler, William Shoup, William Altick, all still living, chasing pell-mell down the street, forty or fifty years ago, with leather buckets to extinguish a big blaze; and later, to think of them dragging by a long rope a fire engine that first had to be filled with water with these same leather buckets, before a stream could be pumped from it on to the flames.
Such was the manner in which these old time fire laddies had to contend with destructive flames, and they often made up by persistent effort, daring and hard work, for what in latter years was easily accomplished with improved machinery; first of which was the suction engine, a very crude and inadequate affair compared with the powerful engines of late years.
Contrast this condition with what prevails today, and you readily comprehend, what progress has been made n the mode of saving lives and property from fire. Dayton at no time lagged in proficiency in her fire department, but not until the organization of the metropolitan department in 1880 did the department forge ahead and soon take its place as one of the best, not only in Ohio, but the United States. Only twenty-five years ago, when the management of the affairs of the department was still in the hands of the city council, the department consisted of only nineteen men all told, three second class rotary engines, six cumbersome hose reels, twelve horses and 8000 feet of hose, half of a cheap and inferior quality. The cost to maintain this department was about $20,000 per year. Today there are 78 men in the department; it has over $200,000 worth of property, and is operated at an annual expense of about $65,000. The efficiency of the department has been multiplied several times, and the levy to defray the expenses is less on the $1,000 valuation of property than it was twenty-five years ago.
In the twenty years since the organization of the metropolitan department, the fire losses in Dayton has reached less than $1,400,000, with an insurance of nearly $12,000,000. The heaviest losses were in the years ’93 and ’94, and last year. The losses over insurance paid has averaged about $2,000 per year for the twenty years since the present department was organized. The loss per capita has but twice exceeded $1.00 in any one year, and frequently has fallen below 50 cents, and on a few occasions as low as 25 cents. The per capita loss for the year ending March 31, 1900, is nearly $6.00, being the greatest Dayton has ever suffered, due to the great fire on east First Street, the burning of the Lutheran Church, the Gebhart Lumber Yard fires, the Dayton Spice Mills, and other serious fires.
The object of this publication is to present these facts, here stated concisely, in detail, and in an interesting manner as possibly, thus hoping to make of the work a volume that will be appreciated.
Return to "Illustrated History of the Dayton Fire Department" Home Page