THE PAID FIREMEN.
And with them came Steam Fire Engines, Horses
and other Improvements.
Probably no man alive today had more to do with eliminating the old and gallant volunteer fire companies, and establishing a paid department, than Ezra Bimm. His first efforts in this direction were many years before the fact was accomplished, and they were met with opposition and derision by his fellow-volunteer firemen. He was as enthusiastic a member of the Neptune Company as there was, but the sound, hard sense that has marked his career in life, demonstrated to his satisfaction even as a boy that the change must come, and the sooner the better. But not until 1859, when he became a member of the City Council was he able to put in "telling licks," as one of the old timers expresses it, for a paid department.
Geo. Lehman, also a prominent and enthusiastic volunteer fireman, with Cal. Childs and Gid. Prugh were among the first converts to the new idea, and Lehman also breaking into council, made a strong team with Mr. Bimm. James Turner soon joined them in their ideas, and though the volunteer boys threatened to wreck any steam fire engine brought to Dayton, and it took till near the expiration of the war—sometime late in 1864—before the proper legislation was passed, their efforts were finally crowned with success, and a paid department, managed almost entirely by the "Committee on Fire" of the City Council, was established. Ezra Bimm bought the first horses for the department, and to this day takes pride in the fact that two of the boys he had appointed on the department are still members—Assistant Chief George Kirby and Henry Swalem.
The first chief appointed by the new council was Wm. Patton, and Wm. Gill, and Anthony Stephans, John H. Winder and James Lewis served in the same capacity, until in 1880 the Metropolitan force was established, and D. C. Larkin was made chief, and has held the place with credit to himself, the department and the city since that year.
During the fifteen years the department was managed by Council, it existed according to the caprice and schemes of the politicians, who either became councilmen, or who governed those who did. The consequence was progress and desired improvement was retarded, and to this fact more than any other is attributed the law creating the present Metropolitan and bi-partisan department.
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