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STAMFORD FIRE DEPARTMENT
Miscellaneous Logs, Reports, and Documents 1901 to 1982
Registration Sheet Revised May 16, 1996
RG-1: Stamford Fire Department
RG-1.02: Stamford Fire Department and Southend Fire Station, records pertaining particularly to the present Engine Company No. 2, 1969-1982
Introduction: History 1641-1920
Today, just past the 350th anniversary of Stamford and proud of the City's powerful chrome-trimmed fire engines, it's hard to think that Stamford fought fires with nothing but buckets for the first 200 years.
Fire was a terrible hazard. It was the second most common cause of death among Colonial women. It prompted the first building code for the Pilgrims. Early Stamford had many fire safety regulations, with Fire Wardens and fines to enforce them. Nevertheless, if a spark caught your barn, you were lucky to save your house. Everyone pitched in, the men passing laden buckets from the well head or water barrels to the fire, and the women and children passing the empties back. It was kept on a volunteer basis; this was reinforced in 1707 when Stamford voted specifically not to reimburse those who turned out. The spirit of helping neighbors transferred easily to the small hand-pumped fire engines of the early 1800's, but some organization was required...for financing, housing, training, recruiting, discipline. Fire companies, chartered under State laws, were formed.
The traditional date for Stamford's first fire company is 1844. However, on on July 4, 1829, Charles Hawley, sec'ry, recorded that the Select Men of the Town appointed 16 volunteers and that they "constituted The Stamford Fire Engine Company." The company was chartered by the State in a Resolve dated in May, with a proviso that "no member of said company shall be exempted from the performance of military duty until an engine shall be procured for their use."
A year later the populated center of Stamford became a Borough, with a charter that specified "the management of a fire engine and...the protection of buildings from fire." Why not? The Borough embraced 92 families. The Sentinel said: "This includes an area of about three fourths of a mile square, with 68 dwelling houses, four [churches], 11 stores, 28 mechanic shops, 2 public and 5 private schools, a town house, a printing office, a flour mill, an extensive tannery, 3 large stone buildings for rolling iron, and 663 inhabitants" out of 3,705 in the whole town." The Town House was brand new (April, 1830.) It sat in Atlantic Square, facing north on Main Street, with the southern part of its triangular plot left open.
In 1831, and for some years, meetings of the Selectmen of the Town of Stamford were held to appoint volunteer firemen in the Borough. We have the names. Sands Seely, who became a leader in fire protection in Stamford, joined April 26, 1831. Did these firemen man a small, hand-pumped fire engine? There is no record. On the other hand, the newspaper editor late in 1830 wanted to know what happened to an engine that had been here on trial, and tried to force some action.
In 1844 Stamford started to grow as the Northeast emerged from a recession. The telegraph was here, and the railroad was coming! Within months, new Methodist and Universalist churches were dedicated, the prominent Stage House was enlarged, and the lavish Union House was opened. Between 1840 and 1850 population of the whole town rose 42%, while the Borough increased 133%. This meant new housing, stores, livery stables, warehouses and factories...all needing fire protection. Central streets were jammed with frame buildings shoulder-to-shoulder. Yards and alleys were cluttered with tinderbox barns and sheds.
With a grand total of $24.71 in the treasury, the Burgesses moved to see what a fire engine would cost, and what amount of taxable property was in the Borough. Then, on August 11, 1844, at a meeting of the freemen it was "resolved, that the Borough will purchase two fire engines with hoes [sic], hooks, ladders, etc..." A tax of 10 mills on the dollar was levied to pay for them and Collector James B. Scofield was allowed $10.00 for collecting it. Only one engine was bought. It was a "gooseneck" model, hand-drawn, and cost $500.00. Could it have been second-hand? Not too much later a resolution providing for repair of an "old engine" appears in the Borough minutes. The Borough also acquired 197 ft. of hose for $118.20.
Arriving in December, 1844, the pumper was turned over to a newly organized fire company headed by Sands Seely. In 1845, on petition of Seely, Lorenzo Meeker and James H. Minor, they "and such other persons residing in the Borough of Stamford as shall associate with them, not exceeding 30 in the whole" were chartered under the name Rippowam Fire Company.
The new Rippowam company dedicated its engine with a parade in uniforms of blue with blue and white striped shirts, accompanied by the Stamford Brass Band and State Senator Charles Hawley. An engine house was erected in the open triangle back of the Town House. For 10 years it was Stamford's only fire station, and remained in Atlantic Square for 25 years. It was little more than a shed; the engine and hose carts were small, didn't need horses, and meetings were held only a step away in the Town House.
Nine years later, in 1854, a second engine company was formed by a group of leading citizens and incorporated as Stamford Fire Engine Company No.2. Its membership was limited to 40. According to H. Easterbrook, a fire historian, the engine purchased for the No.2 company was a 5-1/2-inch Hunneman made in Boston, maker's No. 504, and was shipped May 16, 1854. "This may be the engine located [in 1911] at the Stamford Foundry, where tradition says an old engine is resting in innocuous desuetude," wrote Easterbrook. During its relatively short career here it was called "Stamford No.2" or just "The Stamford."
A house for the new engine was completed in 1855 on land rented from the Phoenix Carriage Co. on the west side of Gay Street between Main and Broad, now buried under the mall. Built by Ferris & Holly, it cost $569.00. The volunteers proceeded immediately to make the house comfortable. For $328.19 they bought 24 dining chairs, a 5-light gas chandelier, two black walnut tête-a-têtes and other furnishings. A committee was named to buy 12 spittoons. (They waited two years to buy a looking glass, a wash stand and...a towel.) In October they petitioned the Warden and Burgesses to pay for the new house out of town funds. The Burgesses apparently didn't budge, so on Nov. 21 the firemen authorized issuance of notes to pay Ferris & Holly's bill.
The early minutes of Engine Co. No.2 show high turnover in members and officers. Those who didn't live within Borough limits were dropped. Members were expelled for non-attendance. Stiff fines were handed out for profane language or improper conduct. A motion to impose fines for cards, dice, dominoes, etc. lost, while a motion to impose fines for liquor in the meeting room carried.
The Rippowam Fire Engine Co. was now preparing to buy a bigger engine. The legislature of 1855 enlarged their membership to 60. By the end of the year a new 10-in. pumper by Button & Blake was in place, and the old "Rippowam" retired.
[There is evidence that the old Rippowam gooseneck pumper went to a new fire company chartered in May, 1856 as "Cove Fire Engine Company No.1." shortly after a bad fire at the sprawling Cove Mills (Stamford Manufacturing Co.) It may have been kept in an engine house shown just inside the gates of the mills on an 1883 Barlow insurance map. As an antique, it later spent years in the 3rd floor relic room at the Central Fire Station, and was featured in parades.]
With their spanking new engine, the Rippowam Company entered several regional musters. Their first bout was at Springfield, Sept. 28, 1855 where they finished 14th out of 22 engines. The next year, in New Haven, the "Rippowam" won first prize of $500 with a perpendicular play of 153 ft. through 450 ft. of hose, beating many well known engines. But at a large Worcester muster in 1858, Rippowam unexplainably did no better than last.
These pumpers were operated by teams or "strings" of men shoulder-to-shoulder on each side of the engine, gripping a 25-ft. bar or "brake" which served as the pump handle. The men pumped see-saw fashion to develop high pressure at the nozzle. The more furiously they pumped, the farther and higher the stream. Every few minutes an exhausted man would jump out and a rested man would jump in, a hazardous maneuver requiring exquisite timing, or immediate medical attention.
In 1857, trying to improve cooperation and coordinate functions such as purchasing, the Borough brought the two volunteer companies under one umbrella, and the "Stamford Fire Department" became official. It was loosely organized with three officers. The first election was held May 11, 1857. Warden Sands Seely was elected chief, and Gilbert K. Riker and J.B. Toucey, his assistants.
Late in 1857, Engine Co. No.2 bargained to purchase a larger engine. The Jeffers company in Pawtucket, RI offered one for $1700 with a $200 trade-in of the old 5-1/2-in. engine. After much comparison, a 10-in. Button with folding brakes was decided on, an improved version of Rippowam's 10-in. Button. The new pumper was set for delivery in April, 1858. In anticipation, the volunteers planned a parade followed by a public dinner to receive the engine. All such extravagance was abandoned when the finance committee was asked to float a loan to pay the $350 still owed Button. On April 30, the company voted to turn out at 3:30 the following Monday for the reception. They voted to buy 12 bottles of wine, and then promptly voted against contributing $2.50 each for the party. On May 5th, their treasury totalled $9.07.
Notwithstanding, the men of No.2 quickly planned to enter a muster in Albany in September. Given the name Gulf Stream, the shiny new engine "won a record [second place] prize of $400 with a perpendicular play of 149 ft. through 400 ft. of hose." The prize was fortuitous: it had cost them $425 to charter the steamer "Massachusetts" to carry the engine, company and cheering squad around to Albany.
Now, with few fires to keep them busy, the Rippowam and Gulf Stream men began to compete lustily with their matched 10-in. engines, not just in racing to fires, but by taking stands on the two sides of the Congregational Church in Atlantic Sq. The rivals would try to hurl water over the church roof...probably the tallest in Stamford...into the faces of the men on the other side. Good clean sport.
On Sept. 17,1858, Chief Engineer Sands Seely bought a two-wheel hose carriage for $120.00 from Joseph Pyne. The next day, Stamford Fire Engine Co. No.2 decided to hire a person to "take care of their engine, hose cart, engine house and everything..." at cost not to exceed $75.00 per year.
A year later, it was Rippowam's turn to upgrade: they purchased second-hand the "Good Intent No.13" from Troy, NY. (Was it too a Button from Watertown just across the Hudson?) Rebuilt, modernized, and renamed "Rippowam," it took over from the out-of-date Button, which probably was traded or scrapped.
The year 1862 saw significant change. On July 2 a charter was issued to Gulf Stream Hose Company No.2. It had done duty in Stamford for two years, and now independent of Gulf Stream Engine Company 2. the latter having switched to this name in June, 1860. The Rippowam group changed its name to Rippowam Fire and Hose Company. On July 8, 1862, the Stamford Relief Hook and Ladder Company was organized; it had received its charter on June 13. A handsome hook & ladder truck arrived from Waterford (probably Button again) on October 9th and was ensconced with a ceremony in a building (location unknown) formerly occupied by tinsmith N. B. Bennet who had joined the Union Army. The Civil War was depleting the fire companies severely. On Sept. 26, 1862, the Advocate printed a letter from Chief Engineer Chas. M. Holly stating that 80 members of Rippowam and 67 members of Gulf Stream had gone off to war.
A special Town Meeting of Feb. 20, 1866 voted "...that the Town House (no longer suitable and in deplorable condition] be sold to the highest bidder and the ground (Atlantic Square) be opened for public use." The 36-year old Town House went at auction for $290.00 on Sept. 1, but it was not moved until April, 1867 whereupon the Advocate said: "...and we hope the [No.1] engine house will soon follow..." It didn't; the fire house stayed there for three more years.
A Borough meeting back on July 31, 1866 had named a committee to investigate new sites for the two hand pumpers. Within a week, the committee reported three, and was instructed to make purchases and "remove the houses thereon." The Burgesses voted a tax of 1-1/8 mills to pay for the sites. A lot offered by George A. Hoyt, 50 ft. front, 60 deep, at the northeast end of Broad St. and priced at $500, was chosen for Gulf Stream No.2. Broad St. ended here at the boundary of Hoyt's Greyrock estate. The Advocate reported on October 26: "Mr. Seth Miller is at work removing engine house No.2 from Gay Street to its new site near the schoolhouse." (The new brick Center School across Broad St. was then under construction.) A garage-sized building was leaned alongside the Gulf Stream house as new quarters for Relief Hook & Ladder. At the annual Borough meeting, 1867, Phoenix Carriage Co. presented a $200 bill, the final Gay St. ground rent for No.2 House. It was settled for half that sum.
Despite these moves, an apathy and indifference developed. The Advocate for May 3, 1867, wrote: "our means of resisting a fire is...deplorably neglected." At the last fire "there were 38 absentees out of 58 members on the roll of Rippowam Company alone. We hear of engines not cleaned or oiled for months, of hose put up wet to rot and mildew...We have the nucleus of a valuable and efficient fire department if it is but properly conducted and encouraged." Engine No.1 was reported to be in good order, with new hose using patent couplings which could be hooked up quickly in the dark. The No.1 Hose Carriage, purchased by private subscription for $450, was praised as a beautifully finished 4-wheeled machine carrying 400 ft. of hose. The article listed the officers of five companies: Rippowam Engine No.1, Rippowam Hose No.1, Gulf Stream Engine No.2, Gulf Stream Hose No.2, and Relief Hook & Ladder Co.
On May 17 a letter in response said, in part: "The deplorable state is well known to us who have endeavored to render the small nucleus...efficient... under all the discouragements we meet, not only by the authorities, but citizens also. We claim several reasons:
"One is our want of suitable accommodations. This none could deny if they inspect the building lately moved and the shed lately erected on Broad St. for the use of No.2 and the hook & ladder companies. In one is a room 12 x 18 ft. in which 40 men are expected to get. "On the occasion of every fire so many get in the way, and render assistance only by ordering and countermanding orders, interfering and not condescending to even if asked. Also we sent a large number of our membership to the war, and those that have returned are willing to take hold again...provided some of the property holders and tax payers will encourage."
"We lack water facilities."
With Rippowam Engine Company beset by criticism, the men of Hose Company No.1 obtained a separate charter under the new name "Atlantic Hose Company No.1."
During this troubled decade barn fires were rampant. "Totally destroyed" was common in the logs. False alarms were rare but arson became more frequent. The volunteers themselves were not without lapses. For instance:
On a bitter cold January night in 1862, both companies rolled out for a false alarm. Then "Bennett Lockwood's house was on fire and neither engine turned out."
On April 19, 1867 the engines got on stream late due to a long detour. They found the old Town House sitting on rollers right in the middle of Broad St.
In mid-1868 neither engine company showed up for a fire.
The hook & ladder and hose companies responded quickly to a January, 1869 fire but their men had to run back to get the engines sitting untended in their houses.
The first ship to enter Stamford's enlarged canal in 1870 was the $50,000 steamer "Shippan," on May 7. That evening most of the crew went off to the circus. About 9:00 pm fire broke out. In two hours the beautiful ship burned to the water line, taking a freight house with it. No one had sounded the fire alarm; the firemen were at the circus too. The No.2 engine arrived 2 hours late!
When St. Johns Church burned, poor maintenance hindered hook-up to a hydrant.
A group of young men reorganized the Gulf Stream engine company in mid-1869. The Advocate reported 70 members...meetings well attended... discipline excellent. But the editor wrote "the old Rippowam Company seems to have gone to the bad." The Borough finally decided in 1870 that it was time to move the Rippowam fire house from Atlantic Square. On June 1 a small lot on the west side of Canal Street was leased from The Stamford Foundry Co. for 10 years at $60.00 per year. The old building was moved here immediately.
In 1871 a Ball was given by the honorary members of No.2 Engine Company for its active members and was the social event of the season...one of the largest ever held in Seely Hall. The Historical Society has programs of many such lavish Firemen's banquets starting with Nov. 28, 1855. The early balls mixed grand marches, singers, and orchestral numbers with six or eight vaudeville acts, leaving time for 20 to 30 dance sets, each formed at the sound of a fire bell.
On July 4th, 1871 an event of great importance occurred. A ceremonial turning on of a fountain in Atlantic Square celebrated the arrival of "city water." The Stamford Water Co. had 8 miles of mains in the center of the village and down Atlantic to the depot. By the end of 1871, mains extended down Pacific and southeast to Meadow St. A number of fire hydrants had been installed. In the Fall of 1871, the Burgesses cautiously signed a contract to buy water for fire protection and other public uses at a cost no more than $1500 per year.
A hydrant was used for the first time March 8, 1872 when Devine's stables near the depot caught fire. The carriages and horses were saved, but not the building. That same year, Henry R. Towne, president of Yale & Towne, first proposed a steam fire engine, a concept in use for 20 years in other cities. Though supported by Stamford's business men, the town fathers did nothing for ten years.
Since pressure was good over most of the Borough, the firemen could often couple their hoses directly to a hydrant and by-pass the pumpers. To keep pressure up during fires, the Water Company sometimes shut off mains serving nearby areas. The hand pumpers gradually fell into disuse. The Rippowam No.1 engine ceded leadership to its offspring Atlantic Hose Company No.1. By and large, the hydrant was an improvement over hand pumpers for the next ten years, but even Stamford's growing network of hydrants had limitations.
The Warden and Burgesses now focussed on buildings and locations. The old Relief Hook & Ladder shed adjacent to Gulf Stream on Broad Street was replaced by a new building with a nicely furnished 2Ox44 ft. carpeted and heated meeting room upstairs. A housewarming party was held Nov. 22, 1875.
The Borough voted on April 29, 1875 to acquire land to accommodate three fire companies. Mr. Luther Scofield offered a lot known as the Rogers property, on the north end of Advocate Place at the end of Luther St. Plans were drawn up for the City's first brick firehouse. It opened with fanfare on December 20, 1877, and originally housed the Atlantic Hose Company, the old Rippowam engine, and miscellanies. The Gulf Stream engine and hose companies and the Relief Hook & Ladder Co. remained on Broad Street.
The proposal to buy a steam pumper suddenly came to life when the Presbyterian Church steeple was set afire by lightning on August 7, 1882. Atlantic Hose Co. quickly ran a hose to the belfry, but water pressure at that elevation was not sufficient. The Gulf Stream hand pumper was hooked in, too little, too late. The house next door caught fire. Stamford telegraphed an SOS to Norwalk. When Norwalk's new "Phoenix" dashed up, belching smoke and steam, it gave a most impressive performance. Stamford became "sold" on steam literally overnight.
The Borough freemen met on September 19 and called for purchase of a steam fire engine immediately. Some wanted to buy two engines. On Feb. 1, 1883, Stamford's first steam pumper arrived. It was Class III in size, from Button, makers of the worthy "Gulf Stream." It soon shook up the whole fire department. But first it had a shake-down cruise of its own. At 9 pm Valentine's day, a fire started on Pacific St. in the varnish room of the Collender Company, world-renowned for billiard tables. Bogged down by snow, the engine's two horses struggled 40 minutes to get there. In the meantime, according to a letter from Edward Hoyt, the first men to arrive were not allowed in by the watchman. The five-story factory was a total loss, $225,000, but the new steamer was instrumental in saving nearby buildings.
As recorded in the Stamford Directory for 1883-84, the steam pumper took over headquarters on Advocate Place as the "Stamford Steam Fire Engine Co. No.1", with 50 members. The displaced Atlantic Hose Co. moved into the Gulf Stream house on Broad St., with 30 members. Gulf Stream Engine Co. No.2 itself went out of business, though its members continued to report to fires for two more years. Its faithful old engine was sold to neighboring New Canaan in February, 1883. Relief Hook and Ladder kept its house on Broad St, with 40 members.
In the 1883 City Directory a new name shows up: "Pacific Hose Company No.l," housed on Market St., foreman C. H. Renaude. Whether it was founded by the Stamford F.D. at that time, or whether it was an older, unchartered group, perhaps under the aegis of Yale & Towne Company next door, is not known.
Late in 1884 the Borough charter was modified to give the Burgesses more control. Appointments were to be made only by the Board of Warden and Burgesses. A month later the Fire Department changed to a partially paid basis. The plan was to slowly phase out the volunteer "call men", reducing the rolls to 40 or 50 well trained, full-time paid members and officers. The plan called for a Chief Engineer, two Ass't Engineers, Enginemen and Drivers. A petition by the two engine companies, whereby the members sought the right to elect the officers, came to naught. The Burgesses appointed Richard Bolster as Chief Engineer.
In 1886 the size of the Luther St. building was doubled to 46 x 65 ft., with proper facilities for horses. The new house was celebrated with a party on December 23, 1886. All apparatus and horses were moved here, except for Pacific Hose Co. in the South End. The Broad St. houses were abandoned. In October, 1889, the Department added its first aerial ladder truck, a two-horse unit made by Hayes. A second steam pumper, a two-horse LaFrance model distinguished by its polished metal boiler arrived in September, 1892. Its weight was 7,225 lbs. and it was rated at 600 gallons per minute. In 1893 the Borough of Stamford, enlarged to include Glenbrook, became a City.
In the early '90's, church bells, usually at the Methodist Church, were the only alarm system, with a direct telephone wire between the houses of the Chief Engineer and the bell-ringer. This was slow, so in 1893 the Freemen voted to install a Gamewell Alarm System. This was improved in 1906, and beginning in 1911, the cables were moved underground.
In 1895 a young man at Yale & Towne Mfg. Co. joined the near-by Pacific Hose Company as a call man. He recalls the Market St. fire house as a "little old barn. Nobody was on duty. It had a hose carriage which firemen pulled by hand, and listed about 10 men. Call men received $12.00 per year. If one didn't show up for a blaze he was fined $1.00." The young man was Victor H. Veit, who later would serve as chief for 33 years.
Plans were made to replace this primitive Pacific Hose house. On Sept. 11, 1899 a contract was signed to build a fine brick building on the corner of Pacific and Henry Sts. for $6,376. The South End building was formally opened on March 29, 1900, and today is the oldest firehouse in Stamford. It was soon equipped with the two-horse Button steam pumper and a horse-drawn hose wagon or two.
In 1904, the City had not added any major equipment for 12 years...just bumping along waiting for something to happen. After dark on February 4, it did. The proud brick Town Hall was reduced to sooty walls in one of Stamford's most spectacular fires ever. Damage was $90,000. Spectators said that the water pressure was so low that in some instances water barely reached the nozzles. This could be aided by the steam pumpers, but there also was trouble with the central hydrant. The South End steamer was criticized for slow arrival due to lack of horses.* The Hayes aerial truck was brought up to douse sparks that had lodged in the wooden tower of the Congregational Church across Bank St. It was only the third major use of the ladder since its purchase in October, 1889.
*Actually it was considered good practice in winter to borrow the steamer's horses to help speed the heavy hose carriage through nearly impassable roads to get hydrant water onto the fire fast. All horses would then rush back for the steamer which was firing up while waiting.
Later that same year, the Opera House on Atlantic St. fueled another spectacular fire. With two catastrophes back to back, the Borough again faced the reality of inadequate apparatus. In May, 1905, the city purchased its first chemical unit, a combination chemical and hose wagon requiring two horses. A third steamer was finally purchased on October 3, 1906. It was an Amoskeag, built in Manchester, NH. It became Stamford's best known engine, preserved and displayed in public functions for decades later. On October 29, 1907, a new two-horse Seagrave combination ladder truck came to the South End station, and a new buggy was bought for the chief. With all this equipment, the department now owned 12 horses.
Two new brick engine houses were opened in 1910. The West Side Station, No.3, opened on March I atop the hill at Fairfield and West Main Sts. It was temporarily given the 27-yr. old Button steamer which had been held in reserve. The fourth engine house was at Lockwood Ave. and Lillian St., but it was destined never to receive any Fire Department equipment despite many pleas. At times, however, it was used by the Auxiliary Fire Department and for storage of old equipment. It lived virtually in limbo until it was sold in 1988.
On May 9, 1910, when the department was feeding 17 horses, a new era started. Stamford's first motorized apparatus arrived: a Locomobile combination chemical and hose car. Motorization continued with determination. An American-LaFrance combination hose and pumper arrived Dec. 2, 1911. The old Button steamer was traded in on an American-LaFrance triple combination motor pumper, hose and chemical engine on Aug. 19, 1913, for the No.3 station.
After years of political bickering and planning, a splendid new Central Fire Station, a model of efficiency, opened July 13, 1915 on Main St. at St. Johns Park. For it, an American-LaFrance 75-ft. motor aerial ladder truck was acquired May 21, 1915. The Luther St. buildings, after 38 years of fire service, were turned over to another city department.
The organization chart was changing, too. In early 1915, a layer of Lieutenants was added. A few weeks later the title "assistant chief" was abolished and the salaried office of Permanent Deputy Chief was created, filled by Victor H. Veit, who quit Yale & Towne to go "full time" at Central Station. The roster now: chief, deputy chief, 4 captains, 4 lieutenants, 1 electrician, 3 engineers, 1 ass't. engineman and 20 firemen. Only 7 call men were left.
With the purchase of an American-LaFrance combination hose/pumper engine and a City Service truck (ladder and chemical) for the South End Station, the Stamford Fire Department in May, 1916 had six major motorized units for its three stations, and bought no more for six years. Except for sweeping away the relics of the glamorous steam and horse era, modernization was complete. It had taken 6 years.
While "tooling up", there had been considerable shuffling of older horse-drawn equipment and horses, ending in a clutter of obsolescence. On March 27, 1916, the Department sold its Hayes aerial ladder for $65.00, and moved to clear its yards, selling all the obsolete apparatus except for the fine 1906 Amoskeag steamer. This was moved to a garage behind South End and, late in 1951, sold to Rubino Brothers for $325.00. With the help of firemen, it was restored, used in parades, and was reported in 1993 to be a commercial attraction near Lincoln, New Hampshire.
As they became surplus, horses went to the South End or were given to the Parks Department. On June 15, 1916, all remaining horses, harness, etc. were auctioned. Except for the black team "Homer" and "Jim". These fine horses were bartered to the Park Department in exchange for landscaping the new Central Station.
The Fire Department switched to the two-platoon system on October 2, 1919. This greatly increased the size of the force as 16 men were added to the permanent ranks. The total force was 61 officers and men, including only two remaining call men. The change meant the men would not get any vacations until April 23, 1923, when four more men were hired in the budget.
The speed of motor equipment, improved roads and the telephone dramatically increased mutual assistance among neighboring towns after the War, reducing everyone's overhead costs. In a five-year period, Stamford rolled ten times to major fires in South Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Sound Beach and Greenwich. They included three hotels, the Wee Burn Country Club and the Crofut-Knapp hat factory. In 1923, the Stamford Fire Department responded to 307 alarms of fire; 97 were street box alarms and 210 were telephone or still alarms. Of this number there were 6 false alarms, and 17 outside the City limits.
In the 1920's, emphasis was placed on training and fire prevention. A modern drill tower was built back of Central Station in 1924. Inspections of buildings and yards were increased, especially in factory districts. For the balance of the decade, the firemen of Stamford rolled to the end of their first 100 years with a splendid record for diligence and technical awareness.
The Stamford Historical Society is grateful to the Stamford Fire Department for the preservation and donation of the records included in this collection. We are particularly grateful to Chester W. Buttery, Jr. for his efforts in assembling them, and for his research and documentation of events.
Robert D. Towne
Stamford Historical Society
Assoc. of Fire Depts. of Stamford. Souvenir Program of 82nd Annual State Firemen's Convention. Stamford, CT. 1965 Belltown Fire Department, Inc. 50 Years of Service to Our Community. Stamford- Belltown Fire Department.
Borough and City of Stamford Directories. 1879 through 1930.
Connecticut, State of. Private Laws and Special Acts. Hartford, CT: State of Connecticut. Indexes 1, II and 111. Volumes I, 11, III, IV.
Crosby, Everett V. and Fiske, Henry A. Hand Book of Fire Protection. Louisville, KY: The insurance Field Co. 4th Ed. 1909.
Cove Engine Company No.1. By-Laws. Stamford, CT. Cove Engine Co. No.1. 1856
Dunshee, Kenneth Holcomb. Enjine! Enjine! New York: Home Insurance Co. 1939
Easterbrook, H. Letter to H.W. Parker, Chief of Fire Dept: Research on old Fire Engines. Dated June 9, 1911. Publ. in Stamford Advocate June 14, 1911. Original letter is in Fire Department archives; copy at Stamford Historical Society.
Feinstein, Estelle. Stamford in the Gilded Age, 1868-1893. Stamford- Stamford Historical Society-1973
Feinstein, Estelle and Pendery, Joyce S. Stamford: An Illustrated History. Woodland Hills, CA, Windsor Publications, Inc. 1984.
Gillespie, Edward. Picturesque Stamford 1641-1892. Stamford: Gillespie Brothers. 1892. Pgs. 117, 203-4.
Gurley, Frank B. The Town Hall, Stamford, CT. Stamford: F.B.Gurley. 1904
Huntington, E. B. History of Stamford 1641-1868. Reprint Harrison, NY: Harbor Hill Books. Orig 1868; Reprint 1979.
Lobozza, Carl. The Changing Face of Stamford. Stamford: Stamford Hist. Soc. 1978
Lobozza, Carl. Stamford: Journey Through Time. Stamford: Stamford Weekly Mail. 1971.
Lobozza, Carl. Stamford, Conn.: Pictures From the Past. Stamford, CT: Stamford Historical Society. 1970.
Long Ridge Fire Co., Inc. 50th Anniversary Program. Stamford: 1978
McCosker, M. J. Early Fire Fighting Equipment: Historical Collection of the Insurance Co. of America. Philadelphia: Ins. Co. No. Amer. 1967
Nemchek, Edward, Jr. History of the Stamford Fire Department and How it Relates to Local Government: A Political Science Paper. Purchase, NY: Manhattanville College. 1985.
Pershing, George. Old Stamford Town. Columns from The Stamford Shopper 1958-1962.
Ridley, Joseph. Directory of the Town of Stamford for 1872. New Haven: J. C. Benham. 1872.
Sherwood, Herbert F. The Story of Stamford. New York: The States History Company. 1930. Pgs. 225-9, 257-8.
Stamford Advocate. To Prevent Fires. The City Department Must Have Better Facilities. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate, December 28, 1904.
Stamford Advocate. The Daily Advocate Triennial Industrial Edition. Stamford, CT: June 24, 1909.
Stamford Advocate. Tercentenary Edition: Town of Stamford, Connecticut. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate, June 7, 1941. Pgs. 34, 37-9.
Stamford Advocate. (The Advocate Magazine.) Fighting Fires: It all Started with one Horse. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate, September 6, 1975.
Stamford Advocate. The Advocate Remembers: A Special 150th Anniversary Edition. Stamford, CT: Stamford Advocate, April 7, 1979.
Stamford Advocate. Many articles and photos 1829-1972, including items in Intelligencer and other precursors to The Advocate.
Stamford, Borough and City of. Land Records 1830-1950.
Stamford, City of. Charter & Ordinances of the City of Stamford, 1893, 1898, 1915, 1917, 1927, 1947.
Stamford, City of. Rules & Regulations of the Stamford Fire Department. 1910
Stamford, City of. Stamford Fire Department Annual Reports, 1900-1950
Stamford Fire Department. Programs of the Grand Balls of the Stamford Fire Department. Stamford: 11/28/1855; 1/25/1889; 1/25/1906; 1/28/1914; 1/25/1918; and major program books of 1924, 1926, and 1929.
Stamford Historical Society and the Firefighters of Stamford. Fire! Fire!: A History of Stamford Firefighting Paid and Volunteer. Program of Exhibit held June 8 to August 10, 1991. Stamford. Stamford Historical Society. 1991.
Stamford Mutual Insurance Company. Constitution. Stamford: February 20, 1797.
Stamford Review. Stamford's Fire Department: Nearly 80 Years Old This Month. Stamford: Stamford Review, Aug. 5, 1923
Stamford, Town of. Minutes of Select Men. July 4, 1829 and later.
Stamford Water Co. Celebrating, a 75th Birthday. Stamford: n.p. 1946
Stamford Water Co. 1868-1968: Stamford Water Co. Stamford., n.p. 1968
Updegraff, Marie. It Happened Here. Nov 5, 1966 - June 10, 1967. Stamford: Stamford Advocate
Winget, Bill. Springdale Fire Company Looks Back on 50 Years. (Article) Stamford: Stamford Advocate. June 25, 1973.
Atlases and Maps
Barlow's Insurance Surveys. Map No.1181 of Stamford Mfg. Co. Oct. 1883.
Beers, F.W. Atlas of New York and Vicinity. New York, F.W.Beers. 1867
Hopkins, C.M. Atlas of Stamford. Philadelphia: C.M.Hopkins. 1879
Price & Lee Co. New Map(s) of Stamford. As appearing in City Directories.
Buttery, Chester W. Jr. Personal Collection of Fire Department historical data, Incl. list of important events Aug. 7, 1882 - July 7, 1979. No. 2 Engine Company Association. Minutes and other papers in the collections designated RG-1, RG-1.01 and RG-1.02 at the Stamford Historical Society.
Stamford Fire Department. Data Base on its history compiled and maintained at the Fire Department by the late Capt. Thomas Morgan.
WPA Papers: Notes, papers and writings on the history of the Stamford fire department assembled by the Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration 1935-1944. Filed in archives of Connecticut State Library, Hartford, as RG-33. Waterford, NY Historical Society, and Town Historian Dennis Rivage; Correspondence re Button Fire Engine works. 1991.
List of Records
||Stamford Fire Department Annual Reports to the Mayor.
For the years: 1901, 1902, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929
These reports include the following topics: Fire losses; Calls; Insurance on losses; Building Classifications; Alarms by companies; Alarm breakdowns; Causes; Manual Force; Apparatus; Rosters; Company Breakdowns; Widows and Pension Fund; Fire Prevention; Hydrants; Hose; Alarm System; Buildings; Drill School; Property Inventory; Recommendations; Location of Fire Boxes and Signals; Expenditures/Committee Members; Officials. Requests for updating of equipment and buildings portray growth of a modern fire department. Contents are photocopies of book "Annual Reports - Chief of Fire Department 1901-1920" loaned by Scott Gill of the Stamford Fire Department. Each report 3 to 20 pages, B-1/2 x 14".
Stamford Fire Department Miscellaneous Papers.
1. Request for Regular Appropriations for 1915. Inventories, Roster, Salaries, Expenditures for 1914. (Does not record Fire Calls.) 15 pages, 8-1/2 x 14 in. Photocopied from originals in possession of Scott Gill. ca. Jan. 2,1915.
2. Roll of Officers and Members of the Stamford, CT. Fire Department, 1882-1962. Through about 1930, histories are quite complete: promotions, departures and causes, and deaths where known. 29 pgs, B-1/2 x 14 In.
3. Specifications for material and labor for erecting Central Fire Station. N.E. Emmens, Arch. 36 pgs., 8-1/2 x 14 In. ca. 1914.
4. Specifications for Central Fire Station . Carpenters spec., Pgs. 3 to 5. Painting Spec., Pg. 6; Plumbing Spec., Pg.7; Heating, Electric and Vault spec., Pg. 8. All photocopies, 8-1/2 x 14". ca. 1914.
||Stamford Fire Department Annual Reports to the Mayor.
1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946
Book 2: 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956
20 to 35 pgs. ea., 8-1/2 x 14" paper in 10 x 14-1/4" binders.
||Stamford Fire Department Annual Reports to the Mayor.
Book 3: July 1,1956 to July 1, 1957. 48 pgs. Bound in 10 x 14-1/2" black. Book 4: 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962.
48 to 60 pgs. ea., 8-1/2 x 14" paper in 10 x 14-1/4" binders.
||Stamford Fire Department Annual Reports to the Mayor.
1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1981.
8-1/2 x 11" pages, Red or white paper covers, comb binding. 1981 no cover.
Stamford Fire & Rescue