Detroit Fire Department History - May 10, 1937
More than 5,000,000 gallons of water was pumped into a five-story brick building at 23 W. Jefferson before this 5-alarm fire was brought under control. The fire started around 4 am at the Advance Glove Manufacturing Company, on the building’s second floor. Fueled by the large bales of cotton the glove makers used, the fire quickly extended to the upper floors of the building.
More than 25 pieces of fire apparatus responded to the fire. By 9:30 am a section of the building’s roof had caved in.
While fighting this stubborn fire, Pipeman Ray C. DeRosia, Engine 30, was injured when he speared his leg with a piece of equipment used to help support hose lines. He was treated by the department doctor at Fire Department Headquarters. Several other firemen suffered minor cuts and bruises but remained on duty.
The first floor of the building housed the David J. Knopman Company a wholesale luggage dealer, General Tobacco and Grocery Company and the Harris Linen Company. The companies had considerable damage from the tons of water that poured in from overhead.
Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the adjoining Traymore Hotel, where over 100 guests were roused from their beds due to the fire. The Traymore did have minor damages due to smoke and water.
Detroit Fire Department History - March 1, 1958
The department discontinued wakeful night watches. A new system called the Silent Watch System went into effect. Use of running boards to track which companies were in or out of service was also discontinued.
Prior to the Silent Watch System a man stood wakeful night watch. From midnight to 6:30 am the man on watch listened for alarms punched out on the Gamewell system. The system punched out box numbers for every alarm that was dispatched throughout the city and the status of every fire company was kept up to date on the station's running board.
When an alarm came in the man on watch was responsible for determining if his company was due on the alarm. If their company was due he would activate the house bell to wake the other firefighters and turning on station lights.
With the Silent Watch System first alarms would only be received in firehouses that are due on the alarm. The dispatcher pushes an alert button that wakes the man on watch and tells him an alarm is coming in. All second alarms and higher were still sounded via the "big bells" in all stations.
Chief of Department Ed Blohm, who was scheduled to retire in June of 1958, did not like the new system, but went along with it. He said "It doesn't look right. Imagine a citizen dashing up to turn in an alarm and there is Julius, snoozing."
Dan Delegato, Detroit Firefighters' Association (union) President said "The most sought after working condition since the inception of this association has been the elimination of the wakeful night watch." (NOTE: The Detroit Firefighters' Association was chartered on May 8, 1933)
The Association hailed this step as removing one of the most tedious chores connected with the work of a Detroit firefighter.
Today in Detroit Fire history - January 1978
The department began a program to replace the traditional swing-out doors on Detroit fire stations' apparatus bays. New overhead roll up doors were put in place.
Engine 51's quarters with one traditional swing-out door (right) and one overhead roll-up door (left). Engine 51's quarters is located on Livernois at Curtis.
Engine 49's station on Grand River and Manor was one of the first stations to receive the new doors.
A majority of Detroit's fire stations were built when fire rigs were much smaller. As technology evolved fire apparatus got bigger. The doors were changed in order to provide more clearance for the larger modern day rigs. They also provided additional security to fire stations that had experienced several break in while firefighters were out of the station responding to emergencies.
At 9:16 pm Thursday, December 7, 1905 Engine 27 was called to respond to an alarm from Box 46.
Lt. Michael J. Sheahan leapt towards the firehouse pole at Engine 27’s quarters (located at Junction and Rogers) to slide from the 2nd
floor dormitory to the apparatus bay. Losing his grip Sheahan fell through the pole hole and plunged 15 feet to the floor below. He landed on his head fracturing his skull. Lt. Sheahan was taken to Red Cross Hospital in very serious condition.
At 6 am on the morning of December 8, 1905 Michael died from his injuries. His wife and son were by his side. Out of respect for Lt. Sheahan all the flags on Detroit’s firehouses were placed at half-staff.
Michael joined the fire department on October 1, 1889. He was promoted to Lieutenant November 11 1897. Lt. Sheahan had been transferred to Engine 27 just 2 months before his death.
Michael James Sheahan was 49 years old. He left behind his wife of 14 years Alice, his 9 year old daughter Violet and 7 year old son Stephen.
On December 11, 1905 Lt. Michael J. Sheahan was buried by the department at Mt. Elliott Cemetery in Detroit.
Shortly before 3:00 am on Sunday, July 12, 1942 a fire was reported at Lewis Artist Supply Company, 6408 Woodward Avenue near Baltimore Street. The initial companies on scene found the fire difficult to fight due to the intense heat generated by the paint and other supplies within the store.
Detroit Firefighter Stanley Hausch. Killed in the line of duty, July 12, 1942.
Additional fire companies were called as the fire began spreading to other business along Woodward and Baltimore. It eventually went to a 4th
alarm with a total of 17 fire companies and the Chief of Department Alexander Thompson responding.
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Detroit Fire Department Captain Werner G. Blaess made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit on April 11, 1954. At the time of his death Werner was assigned to Engine 1.
Captain Blaess responded with Engine 1 to a fire at Twelfth Street and Michigan Avenue. After entering the burning building twice Werner collapsed and died from a heart attack.
At the time of his death Captain Blaess had been with the Detroit Fire Department for 30 years. He was 54 years old.
Werner left behind his wife, Laura, two daughters, Dorothy and Mary Jane, a son Robert W. and 12 grandchildren. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Detroit Fire Department Sergeant Fred Bergman made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit on April 4, 1947. At the time of his death Fred was assigned to Engine 32.
Initially it was thought that Bergman had become overcome by smoke while fighting a fire in a residence at 9343 E. Vernor. He was revived at the scene, but became ill while his company was returning to their quarters.
Sergeant Bergman was transported to Receiving Hospital. He passed away about 40 minutes after reaching the hospital. It was later found that he had suffered a heart attack.
At the time of his death Fred was 49 years old. He was a 23 year veteran of the department.
Fred left behind a wife and daughter.
Today in DFD history – April 4, 1956
In 1956, Detroit was still using a telegraph based fire alarm call box system. Boxes were located throughout the city, typically on street corners. Each box had an individual number that identified its location.
When there was an emergency a person would go to the nearest box and pull the hook. The box would send a series of electrical pulses through cables that would punch a tape and ring bells in fire stations. The number of rings and holes in the tape corresponded to the box number. Firefighters had run cards that identify the box number, location of the box and what companies responded to the alarm.
On the night of April 4, 1956 firefighters throughout the city were extremely busy when they received 300 alarms all at the same time.
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Funeral arrangements for two members of the Detroit Fire Department who passed away last week have been announced.
The two died in separate incidents just 2 days apart while on duty at two Detroit fire stations.
Related Story: Second Detroit Firefighter Death On Duty in 2 Days.
Last alarm information was issued by the Detroit Firemen’s Fund Association
Vincent H. Smith
ACTIVE Sergeant, Ladder 13
Lived: 02/06/1966 to 11/19/2015
Served: 08/10/1992 to 11/19/2015
Visitation: Friday, November 27, 2015
James H. Cole Home for Funerals – NW Chapel
16100 Schaefer Hwy., Detroit, MI 48235
Visitation is open from 9:00am to 9:00pm
(The Smith family will be at the funeral home
to receive guests from 4:00pm to 7:00pm)
Service: Saturday, November 28, 2015
Family Hour: 10:00am
Greater Life Apostolic Church
5276 Tireman, Detroit MI 48204
Interment: Detroit Memorial Park – East
4280 E. Thirteen Mile Rd., Warren, MI
Walter R. Szelag
ACTIVE Captain, Fireboat
Lived: 11/07/1950 to 11/20/2015
Served: 05/08/2002 to 11/20/2015
Memorial Visitation: Saturday, December 5, 2015 10:30 – 11:00am
St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
7685 Grandville, Detroit, MI, 48228
Service: Saturday, December 5, 2015 11:00am
St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
7685 Grandville, Detroit, MI, 48228