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.
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.
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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Once again central office has delivered a radio message no firefighter wants to hear. For the second time in 2 days the Detroit Fire Department grieves the lost another member who died while on duty. Walter Szelag, Captain of Fire Boat 1, passed away from what appears to be a heart attack. At approximately 4:15 pm, November 20, 2015 crew members radioed for an ambulance to be sent to the fire boat station. Captain Szelag was transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital where he was pronounced dead. At 5:47 pm department radios delivered the sad news. "“Central office regrets to inform you of the untimely death of Capt. Walter Szelag of Fire Boat 1.” One firefighter reported that this was Captain Szelag's last scheduled shift of the season before the Fire Boat is shut down for the winter.
Today in Detroit Fire Department History – March 4, 1957 Detroit firemen reported in style to a four-alarm blaze today. They used 116 taxicabs to reach a fire in a two-story building that caused damage estimated by Fire Chief Edward J. Blohm at $50,000. The fire was still burning when a new shift of firemen reported for duty at 8 a.m. Since all their trucks and other equipment were at the scene, the reporting firefighters hailed taxicabs to carry them to the blazing building. The firemen going off duty used the taxis to return to their stations. A tally on the city's taxicab cost was not immediately available. Source: The Escanaba Daily Press, March 4, 1957
March 3rd – Detroit Fire History
190910 Detroit Firemen Trapped on Top Floor of Building
1958Chief 4 Bauman Injured 36 Firemen All “Burned Up”
Today in Detroit Fire Department History, March 3, 1909 Ten men faced death on the top floor of a three-story power building Tuesday when they were cut off from escape by fire on the lower floors. Several of them tried to jump from the windows, but were restrained by their champions until the firemen rescued them with ladders. All suffered smoke and heat, but none with serious results. Source: The Huntington Herald, March 3, 1909
Today in Detroit Fire Department History, March 3, 1958 Fred Bauman, Chief of Detroit Fire Batallion 4, was injured seriously today when a fire-weakened second floor on which he was standing gave way, hurling him 16 fee to the ground floor. Bauman, 56, fell at Irving School after the building had been ransacked and set afire by vandals. He suffered multiple fractures of the left side and possible spinal injuries. Firemen estimated damage at $25,000. Source: Ironwood Daily Globe, March 3, 1958 Irving School was located at 94 W. Willis, between Woodward and Cass. This area is now the 1st Battalion. The building was originally built in 1882 and served for years as a K-6 elementary school .
Today in DFD history - December 12, 1977
Detroit Fire Department Firefighter Michael L. Johnson made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit. At the time of his death Michael was assigned to Ladder 11.
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