10 Detroit Firemen Trapped on Top Floor of Building – March 3, 1909

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

 1911 postcard fighting the flames

Chief 4 Bauman Injured – March 3, 1958

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 .

irving elementary school

Irving Elementary School


Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death – Michael Johnson

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.

michael johnson

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Firemen’s
Fund Association history book.

On December 12, 1977 at 9:57 am Ladder 11 responded to an alarm of a fire at 3433 E. Warren. Ladder 11 proceeded out of quarters, turning left on Milwaukee. Firefighter Johnson was the tillerman of Ladder 11. Firefighter Johnson signaled the driver with 2 beeps of the buzzer that he was ready for the rig to move.

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A Question About DFD Car License Plates

I’m hoping you can help me with a question that one of our followers sent in.

At one point several firefighters had car license plate numbers that started with DFD. I know some still have the DFD plates.

The question is, were those plates reserved by the Secretary of State for Detroit Firefighters only? 

If so, was this practice discontinued? 

If you have any insights or stories related to the DFD plates I would love to share them. Please leave a comment below.

Detroit Firefighter injured as a wall collapsed at a fire in the old Fisher Body plant.

A Detroit Firefighter is in stable condition with a possible head injury after a wall collapsed at a fire.

Crews were fighting a fire in the old Fisher Body plant at Harper and Piquette this morning.  Two firefighters were in the bucket, approximately 40 feet in the air, when a wall of the building collapsed.

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Second Time Thieves Steal Saws from a Detroit Fire Truck!

For the second time in less than 2 years Detroit’s Ladder 22 has had a chainsaw and a large K-14 saw stolen from their fire truck. Firefighters use the chainsaw to breach the roofs of building to allow hot air and superheated gasses to escape during a fire. The larger saw is used to cut open metal doors often found on commercial buildings. To add injury to insult, the equipment was taken from the ladder truck while Ladder 22’s firefighters were fighting a fire.

After the first theft the replacement saws had been chained together with the chain attached to the inside of a truck’s compartment. At the time of the theft Ladder 22’s truck was out of service. They were given a Tac as a temporary replacement rig so the chain securing the saws was not attached to the rig.

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Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death – George Lloyd

Today in Detroit Fire Department history –
Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death
October 15, 1917

Detroit Fire Department Substitute Fireman George Nelson Lloyd made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit. At the time of his death George was assigned to Engine 6.


George died from injuries he sustained by falling through an engine house fire pole hole on October 1, 1917.  He was 28 years old.

George Lloyd was born November 9, 1888 to Mary (Kline) Lloyd and James Lloyd.  George never married.  His full time profession was carpentry.

He was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Detroit, MI on October 17, 1917.

Detroit Firefighters respond to a jackknifed fuel tanker and a broken natural gas line.

This morning Detroit Firefighters were called out to a fuel tanker that had jackknifed and slid into a church.  The accident caused a natural gas line to break and the tanker came to rest directly on top of it.

As one firefighter put it, this is “not really what I wanted to wake up to.”

Detroit Fire Department History 1931- Depression Soup Lines

Today in DFD history 1931 – October 

The first depression soup line began at Engine 1.  

1930s soup kitchen at the firehouse

It was soon extended to 30 other stations to feed hundreds of hungry citizens during the worst years of the depression.   

This article, During the Great Depression Action Was Taken has some interesting insight into Detroit’s attemp to aid those who were hardest hit by the depression.

Another interesting post is Detroit Thrift Gardens of 1931  – The Depression Years which talks about the “vacant lot gardening” program that helped to feed the hungry.

The hard times of the depression were also expressed in song.   Detroit Moan, by Victoria Spivey was recorded in 1936.  Ms. Spivey sings of the hardships of life in Detroit as the depression dragged on year after year.