Detroit Fire Department Steam Fire Engine Company No. 17 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 7 Established
June 1st, 1893 Detroit Fire Department established Steam Fire Engine Company No. 17 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 7. They went in service at a new fire station located at the corner of Cass Avenue and Amsterdam Street. At the time this was the far northern section of Detroit. The area had been annexed by Detroit in 1891.
In the 1890’s this area was rapidly expanding due to the building of a major railroad infrastructure known as the Milwaukee Junction. Several industrial plants quickly sprung up in the area to take advantage of rail transportation for incoming materials and outgoing products. Many of these plants were related to Detroit’s growing automotive industry.
Rapid Growth of Detroit Requires Expanded Fire Protection
The rapid growth of this district perpetuated the need for fire protection to be expanded as well. The lot for the new fire station was purchased in 1892 from Detroit Motor Company for $7,000. Fire alarm box number 574 was also placed at this location.
The New Fire Station
The building was designed by architect John Scott & Company in the Victorian Gothic style. General contractor for the building was John Finn. The building was 100’ wide along the front and 160’ deep. Total cost for building was $20,983.00.
Steam Fire Engine Company No. 17’s First Fire Apparatus
The first apparatus designated as Steam Fire Engine Company No. 17 was a fourth size Silsby Engine. It had been in service with the Detroit Fire Department since 1887. The engine had a capacity of pumping 500 gallons of water per minute. It was pulled by a team of 2 fire horses. The engine was accompanied by a four-wheeled hose carriage that carried 1,000 ft. of hose and one hand fire extinguisher. The hose carriage was also drawn by 2 fire horses.
Detroit Fire Department Steam Fire Engine Company No. 17’s original crew consisted of 11 men.
|Rank||Name||Age in 1893||Badge Number||Occupation|
|Engineer||William H. Chapman||44||172||Engineer|
|Assistant Engineer||Peter Mclott||35||173||Engineer|
|Pipeman||Joseph L. Clements||26||174||Blacksmith|
|Pipeman||Willliam J. Harcourt||24||175||Laborer|
|Pipeman||John U. Hager||23||176||Molder|
|Pipeman||Arthur E. Wood||23||177||Boilermaker|
|Engine Driver||Cornelius Sheehan||31||178||Driver|
|Hose Carriage Driver||William Clark||29||179||Driver|
At this time Detroit Firefighters’ badge numbers changed as their positions or apparatus assignments changed.
Hook & Ladder Company No. 7’s First Apparatus
The first apparatus designated as Hook & Ladder Company No. 7 was a turn-table aerial truck built by the Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois. It had been in service with the Detroit Fire Department since 1888. The weighed 6,300 lbs. when ready for service. The truck was pulled by a team of 3 fire horses. The apparatus carried the following equipment.
- 1 – 60’ extension ladder
- 1 – 35’ ladder
- 1 – 30’ ladder
- 1 – 25’ ladder
- 1 – 20’ ladder
- 1 – 14’ ladder
- 2 – 12’ ladders
- 1 – 12’ extension ladder
- 1 -9’ ladder
- 1 – Pompier ladder outfit
- 4 – Babcock hand fire extinguishers
- 2 – ladder forks
- 6 – hooks with poles
- 125’ of rope for fire line
- 4 – leather buckets
- 4 – hook axes
- 2 – hay forks
- 1 – pair electrical wire cutters
- 1 – crowbar and door opener
- 1 – jackscrew
- 1 – shovel
- 1 – hand saw
- Rag hooks
Detroit Fire Department Hook and Ladder Company No. 7’s original crew consisted of 11 men.
|Rank||Name||Age in 1893||Badge Number||Occupation|
|Captain||Henry T. Moiles||35||270||Driver|
|Steersman||Edward J. Murphy||31||272||Driver|
|Ladderman||Oliver Watrous Jr.||27||275||Blacksmith|
|Ladderman||Geroge M. Crane||23||276||Nurse|
|House Watchman||Charles Spriggs||60||W||Watchman|
Engine 17 & Ladder 7 Move To a New Station
In 1921 the fire station was sold for $65,000. In November of 1922 Engine 17 and Ladder 7 moved to a new station at 6100 Second Blvd. at Burroughs. The companies have been in continual service at this location since the move.
The fire station on Cass & Amsterdam was demolished in 1931. At the time it was common practice to place information inside a copper box and place it behind the cornerstone of new buildings as they were being erected. During the demolition of the Cass & Amsterdam fire station the box placed in the cornerstone was discovered. It revealed the scandalous discovery that during the volunteer fire company days firefighters had been operating an illicit brewery.
The area that the Cass & Amsterdam fire station was located in is now recognized as part of the New Amsterdam Historic District. The district was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2001.
The district has had some recent redevelopment with some of the iconic buildings being transformed into upscale residential lofts and others transformed for technical research facilities.
Engine 17 and Ladder 7 continue to serve the citizens of the City of Detroit out of the 1922 fire station located at 6100 Second Blvd. between Burroughs and Amsterdam.
Members of Engine 17 killed in the line of duty:
- Firefighter Stanley Hausch, buried by an explosion, July 12th, 1942
- Fire Engine Operator Joseph Torkos, killed in a car vs. rig accident while responding to a fire, February 7th, 2007
(Listen to a Detroit Firefighter story related to the death of FEO Torkos’)
Member of Engine 17 killed while serving his country:
- Pipeman William Sammon, killed in action WWI, November 1st 1918
Member of Ladder 7 killed in the line of duty:
- Lieutenant Russell Kelly, died from a heart attack at a fire, October 24th, 1937
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