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STAMFORD FIRE DEPARTMENT AND SOUTHEND FIRE STATION
Records pertaining particularly to the present Engine Company No. 2, 1969-1982 Registration Sheet July, 1991
Revised May 16, 1996
RG-1: Stamford Fire Department
RG-1.01: Miscellaneous Logs, Reports and Documents – 1901 to 1982 with extended history of the department through 1920
In tracing the origin of Stamford's South End fire-fighters, it is tempting to go back to May, 1854, when "Stamford Fire Engine Co., No. 2" was chartered, operating a hand-drawn, hand-pumped engine housed on Gay St. approximately where Saks Fifth Avenue is now. Soon to be known as "Gulf Stream Engine Co. No. 2," it had an illustrious history for 30 years.
However, this original No. 2 firehouse stayed north of Main St., moving to the east end of Broad St. in 1866. It effectively went out of business when its famous engine was sold to New Canaan, CT. late in 1883, though its men continued to turn out to fires through 1884. In 1886 the Hook & Ladder and all hose carriages, etc. that still remained at Broad St. were folded into the Luther St. main station.
Meanwhile, a totally new fire company named "Pacific Hose Company No. 1" appeared down in the factory district, and it is here that we credit the origin of Stamford's sturdy South End company.
Started in 1882 or before, its first listing (in the 1883 City Directory) names C. H. Renaude as foreman, a varnisher by trade. Its only apparatus was a hand-drawn hose carriage housed on Market St. off Pacific St., equidistant from Yale & Towne and Collender & Co. It enrolled about 10 volunteers.
Whether this little hose company was set up by the Borough or had formed independently, perhaps much earlier with the help of nearby manufacturers, is not known. It's even possible that its hose carriage came down from Gulf Stream No. 2, but hose reels like this were inexpensive and commonplace.
It was the organization of local men that gave Pacific Hose its distinction.
It was born at the beginning of, and perhaps a planned part of, a hectic four-year reorganization of the Borough Fire Department. Stamford's first horse-drawn steam pumper arrived Feb. 3, 1883. Apparatus was shuffled between the Luther and Broad St. firehouses. In 1884 the Borough Charter was modified to give the Burgesses full control over the Fire Department. In 1885 gradual abolition of the volunteer system began with the appointment of full-time paid firemen in certain positions. In December 1886 a large addition to the Luther St. firehouse was opened and the Broad St. stations were closed.
The little South End outpost was untouched. Morris Curran became Foreman, and, as part of the grand plan, the position of Captain was superimposed ca. 1886 in the person of John Gounoude. In 1889 the name changed to "Pacific Hose No. 2," and in 1898 it was changed again to "Hose Company No. 2," but the firehouse stayed the same physically for 18 years.
Victor H. Veit, Chief of the department for 33 years, got his start here in 1896, just around the corner from his job at Yale & Towne. "It was a little old barn," recalled the Chief. George Walton was Captain, and nobody was on duty. The station had a "hose carriage which firemen pulled by hand, and 500 ft. of 2-1/2" hose. It listed about 10 men." Veit said the wooden building in Market St. was still standing, abandoned, in 1953.
"When I started, call men received the vast sum of $12.00 per year. If one of these men didn't show up for a blaze he was fined $1.00," said Chief Veit.
On Sept. 11, 1899, the City signed a contract with J.W. Studwell for a modern new brick firehouse at 670 Pacific St., on the southeast corner of Pacific & Henry Sts. It was to cost $6,376.00. The house was completed on March 1, 1900, and formally opened on the night of March 29.
South End residents must have heaved a big sigh of relief when the Borough's 1883 two-horse Button steam fire engine and a one-horse American hose wagon clattered down Pacific and backed into permanent residence. One wonders whether the old Market St. hose reel was also wheeled around the corner to the new abode.
The new building was the marvel of the department. It had upstairs sleeping
quarters for the paid members, doors for three major pieces of apparatus, poles to slide down on, and quarters for the many horses to be housed there. The men prepared and ate their meals in the basement until the upstairs card room was fitted out as a kitchen in 1929.
It had open space around it, and an "outhouse" it or storage shed. (We know because it was painted in 1912, and was listed as an asset until the 1920's.)
On February 4, 1904, the Town Hall went down in flames. Because the South End horses were not available (probably busy pulling other equipment to the fire), the Luther St. horses were run down to haul the Button Steamer to the fire, much delayed, according to the newspaper.
A new steam pumper arrived for the No. 2 Station on October 3, 1906. It was a strong Amoskeag. Drawn by three horses, it was destined to become Stamford's best known steam engine. The Button steamer, going on 24 years old, was put in reserve, to be traded in on a new engine in 1913.
In 1907 the Annual Report shortened the name to "Engine Company No. 2," and listed one steam pumper, two hose wagons, and a just-arrived Seagrave combination hook & ladder "city service" truck. The apparatus was manned by 9 permanent, paid men, including the Captain, Engineer of Steamer, drivers and hose men, plus four call men. Six or seven horses were in the stalls.
Late in 1913, the Department transferred a 2-horse combination chemical and hose wagon to the South End. To accommodate the horses, a stairway and some piping in the building were moved to add another stall.
The whole department was motorizing. All except the South End station, which instead was becoming a way-station for surplus horses. By 1915 both of the other Stamford firehouses were completely motorized, while No. 2's three bays were occupied by horse-drawn apparatus, all less than ten years old.
It all cleared up in 1916. The city traded in its horse-drawn gear as down payments to provide the South End with a new American-LaFrance Combination Truck and a Combination Hose and Pumping Engine. Horses were all given to the Parks Department or auctioned. South End's 1906 Amoskeag steamer, however, was kept. It stayed in a garage behind the station house. In 1952 it was sold to Rubino Bros., who refurbished it and showed it around town for many years.
Life now settled to routine in the South End. Industrial development hit its peak during these years, the buildings pressing in on the firehouse from all sides. The number of two-family and tenement homes increased dramatically. In the 1920's the firemen concentrated on safety inspections and counseling.
On May 9,1930 a new City Service Single Bank Truck arrived for Station No. 2, and on May 26 a Tape Register was put in. Seven years later a new 600-gal. triple combination engine Model L-926 was commissioned.
In September, 1938 there occurred two of the most strenuous weeks in the 109-year history of the South End firefighters. Station No. 2 was pummeled for four days by the Great Hurricane. Rains were so heavy the firemen were called out before midnight Sunday, Sept. 18, to pump out the Stamford Yacht Club cellar.
Schools were closed and all firemen went on emergency duty. Henry St. was completely flooded and blocked from the firehouse to Canal St. for several hours at every high tide from noon Monday through midnight Wednesday, Sept. 21. During the storm's crescendo Wednesday night the power went off for three crucial hours. At 8:30, water around the South End station was so high the engine and ladder truck were moved to Atlantic St. near Henry St. for three hours, receiving calls from Chief Veit's house. Many families needed evacuation. The firemen spent many back-breaking days pumping out homes and businesses.
The big front doors on the firehouse made news many times. They had to be taken off and repaired in 1929. On August 12, 1938, a disappointment occurred. A new 1000-gal. Ahrens-Fox pumper arrived for No. 2 Station. It was too wide for the station house doors so Central Station got it instead. In January, 1940, new overhead doors were installed. In the summer of 1954 the face of the station house was altered radically when two wide, flat-top doors replaced the three narrower arched doorways. It was the same problem as in 1938: A new 85-ft. Maxim aerial ladder truck was too wide for the original arches.
As the years passed, engines and trucks were replaced several times with newer models. Bigger, heavier, more efficient models that were kinder to firemen. But after 60 years of this progress, the sheer weight took its toll. It became necessary to shore up the badly sagging apparatus floor.
The old brick building at the corner of Pacific and Henry Streets is the oldest firehouse in Stamford. Born out of a little wooden barn, it is the home of dedicated men who have guarded the engineer, the dreams, the people of Stamford's "Gilded Age"...men who have watched their neighborhoods rise and fall through waves of immigration, wars, turmoil, depression and tragedy...men who now must meet the challenge of changes nowhere so evident as in the South End.
The logs and journals in this Registration Group No. 1.02 join two similar collections of Stamford Fire Department records now at The Stamford Historical Society, numbered RG-1 and RG-1.01. This group covers activities of the South End Fire Station for recent years from 1969-1982. Records for earlier years are to be found in RG-1. We wish to thank Mr. Chester W. Buttery, Jr. for his diligence in collecting and donating this material.
Robert D. Towne
Stamford Historical Society
July 20, 1991
Rev. May 16, 1996
A complete bibliography is included in Registration Group RG-1.01. The writer of this Registration also referred extensively to the Land Records of the Town and City of Stamford, and to the personal files of Chet Buttery.
List of Records
Seven books recording all activity at No. 2 Station as kept by the Captain on duty. Standard 500-pg. bound
||Oct. 17, 1969 - May 29, 1971
May 30, 1971 - May 9, 1973
||May 10, 1973 - Mar. 25, 1975
Mar. 25, 1975 - Feb. 24, 1977
||Feb. 25, 1977 - Nov. 28, 1978
Nov. 29, 1978 - July 4, 1980
||July 5, 1980 - Dec. 31, 1981
Watch Desk Log Books
Eight books recording all No. 2 Station activity,
as kept by fireman on duty at the Watch Desk.
500-pg. bound journals, 14-1/2" x 8-3/4".
||July 26, 1971 - Dec. 28, 1972
Dec. 29, 1972 - May 31, 1974
||June 1, 1974 - Nov. 4, 1975
Nov. 5, 1975 - Jan. 26, 1977
||Jan. 27, 1977 - July 3, 1978
July 3, 1978 - Nov. 7, 1979
||Nov. 8, 1979 - Feb. 2, 1981
Feb. 2, 1981 - April 3, 1982
Vehicle Maintenance Records:
Two books recording mileage, gas, oil, times, box numbers and equipment used.
Each 9-1/2"x 5-1/2", not paginated.
||No. 2 Engine. Jan. 2, 1974 - Oct. 19, 1977. 193 pgs.
No. 2 Truck. Aug. 2, 1977 - Sept. 1, 1981. 171 pgs.
Alarm Log Books
Five oversized books separately wrapped.
Standard red/black journal binding, each 15-1/4" x 13-1/4", not paginated.
1: Sept.26, 1969 - June 30, 1971. 140 pgs.
2: July 1, 1971 - June 30, 1973. 151 pgs.
3: July 1, 1973 - Nov. 28, 1975. 144 pgs.
4: Nov. 28, 1975 - Feb. 28, 1978. 143 pgs.
5: Feb. 28, 1978 - June 30, 1981. 115 pgs.
Stamford Fire & Rescue