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Dayton Fire Department, Dayton, Ohio

A brief history: 

     As early as 1846 Dayton had 3 volunteer fire companies. By the mid 1850s there were nearly a dozen companies. They all were self supporting, and competed with each other at skills tournaments held throughout the state, and too often when responding to fires. Until the purchases of suction engines starting in 1855, these fire companies were dependent upon leather buckets to transfer water, or engines filled with water by the leather buckets, for extinguishing fires. At the outbreak of the Civil War many of the firemen enlisted. All of the volunteer companies were broken up, and at the end of the war the volunteer companies were replaced by a paid department. Dayton got their first steam engine in the 1860s. For the first 15 years the fire department was managed by Council and its operations were heavily influenced by politics and inefficiently run. In 1880 an act was passed that established the Metropolitan Department and experienced firefighters were moved into positions of management. At that time there were 19 firemen for the city. By around 1900 there were 12 moderately equipped firehouses, and 76 firemen. The department was fully motorized by 1917.

Anthony Lorenz and his fireman's journal

     Anthony "Tony" Lorenz was born in Cincinnati in 1893, the son of Bohemian immigrants. He became a Dayton firefighter June 30, 1924. His career as a firefighter ended in 1943 after injuries he received at a fire left him with health problems.

     Fortunately he was a notorious pack rat. Instructional information, newspaper clippings and memorabilia, and a hand-written journal with records of the fire alarm responses Tony attended while working as a truckman assigned mainly to Engine Houses #4 and #14 paints an interesting look at the life of a fireman and of fire safety concerns during this time period.

     It has been suggested that some of this instructional information pertaining to department policies, fire fighting procedures, and safety training was officer's training material.

     The records of the fire calls he attended may have just been Tony's meticulous nature.

     Tony was active in the Benevolent Society during this period.  He kept a firefighter's hire and resignation log, but exactly what his responsibilities were that called for him to do so is not known at this time. 
     Tony left us an interesting peek at his experience as a firefighter....

A big thank you to all of you firefighters who protect us today!

A description of the journal and its contents

     The journal itself is simply a leather-bound 11 x 17 ledger used frequently for bookkeeping.

160 pages are hand written notes dedicated to fire fighting instruction and department policy, some for which Tony had documented the source.

Out of the rosters of firemen, the first part is titled "Men in the Department from June 30, 1924 to 1933", and appears to have been written around 1935. This list contains mostly the names of  men who were drawing a pension at the time it was written. It begins with the names of men hired in the late 1800s in order by date of hire, and has each fireman's rank, and in most cases the date the man left the department and why. In some cases a date of death has been noted. 

The next part is titled "Men in the Department from Jan. 1, 1934", and has information like the previous list, but includes names of men who joined the department up until 1942.

There are 36 pages of the section titled "Runs to Fire and Transfer from June 30, 1924". Though Tony was officially assigned to Engine Houses #4 and #14 throughout his career, this listing records temporary assignments to other Engine Houses, and the dates and addresses of the fire runs that truck company responded to. Written are details such as whether the call was from a still alarm or box alarm (with box numbers listed), in many cases the cause of the fire, the time in and out, and in most multi-alarm runs the time the separate alarms were sounded and which alarm Tony's company responded to. Also noted are the days Tony spent on watch.

Each year ends with the total number of truck and wagon calls responded to for that year. The listing concludes on the date of April 14, 1941 when Truck No. 14 from the Main and Forest station responded to a 3-alarm fire at Kuntz & Johnson Lumber Co. where Tony was one of several firemen injured.

Pictures are from Tony's journal and his family, and also from friends interested in Dayton Fire Department's history, with many thanks.

Runs to Fire and Transfer from June 30, 1924

     Here is a sampling of some of the the items listed in Anthony Lorenz's ledger. These are the large and unusual-sounding fire runs listed. The great majority of the alarms they answered appear to be for the types of fires the firefighters probably see today. 

1924 to 1935

     Anthony Lorenz was appointed to the Dayton Fire Department on June 30, 1924. Until September 30th, he was assigned to Truck Company  #2, and during that time also substituted often at Engine Companies #1, 11 and 15. He earned a regular position on Truck Company #4 located at the fire house at Main and Monument Streets on October 2, 1924.

     The truck, also called a ladder truck, carried the ladders and other special equipment. The men that rode with a truck were called truckmen, and the crew assigned to a truck was called a truck company. The duties of truckmen were to carry out the details of organization laid down by the Company commander, look for life and rescue, salvage, ventilation, maintenance of tools and appliances, and to assist any other companies responding to the alarm.

     During this early period Tony recorded in his journal the date and type of the fire call, whether it was a box alarm or still alarm, the address responded to and sometimes the name of the business at that address. In some instances the cause of the fire is written.

     In the late 1920s Dayton had nearly 450 fire alarm boxes - a handful located in private but publicly accessible locations and on buildings, over 100 on pedestals, and the remainder mostly on telephone or city-owned poles.

Oct. 28, 1924   Box 126     Maxwell Motor Car Co. on Leo Street.
Jan. 8, 1925     Box 7          Rottsman Bldg., 3rd alarm
Apr 22, 1925   Still             Baltimore & Korruth Colony - horse in ditch
May 2, 1925     Box 334     Davis Sewing Mach Co., Bldg #46, 2nd alarm
June 11, 1925                      Dump Fire from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm
Sept. 1, 1925    Box 4          40-42 E. Fifth St. (Harvey), 2nd alarm
Sept. 9, 1925    Box 151     Madison St. (Delco), 2nd alarm
Sept. 29, 1925  Box 631    Cincinnati and Concord (Slavin Junk), 2nd alarm

     In 1925 Tony joined the "Benefit Society" in May, paying 50 cents a month. That year there were a total of 1448 alarms responded to, 361 Wagon runs and 259 Truck runs.

     On some of the multiple-alarm fires Tony started noting the time out and back to the firehouse.

     Tony married Maria Hafner on September 26, 1926.

Jan. 28, 1926   Box 55       334 Bruan St. (Marblethic), 2nd alarm 12:23 am-1:26 am
Jan. 30, 1926   Box 4         E. Fifth St. (Fair Clothing Co.), 3-alarm, 11:38 pm-9:44 am
Feb. 14, 1926   Box 7         E. Third St. (Homestore), 3-alarm, 11:51 pm-11:00 am
Feb. 16, 1926                      Went with Chief Carver to Box 79
Apr. 10, 1926   Box 5         E 5th St. (Kibler Clothng Co.), 2nd alarm, 2:40 am-3:48 pm
Aug. 11, 1926  Box 6         16- 18- 22- 24-28 E. Fourth St., 2nd alarm, 10:14 pm-11:24 pm
Dec. 13, 1926   Box 126     Leo St. (Chrysler Motor Co.)

     In 1926 there were 1606 alarms for the year - 449 Wagon runs and 254 Truck runs.

     Tony had 120 of Dayton's buildings and places of business listed as sprinkler risks - found to have inadequate sprinkling systems. Another half dozen businesses found to be sprinkler risks were covered by insurance.
     In 1927 Tony began recording the causes for nearly all fire calls. The majority of the causes were burning flues, smoking furnaces, roof fires, garage fires, house fires, awning fires, cellar fires and false alarms. Short-circuited radios, overheated irons, and overheated refrigerator motors sent the fire department out several times a year. Most Decembers and Januarys had at least one Christmas tree fire. 

     Trips to retrieve salvage tarpaulins left behind from previous fire responses are also logged. Tarpaulins were used to protect high-value items from water damage. Firemen knew the type and locations of a merchant's stock that could easily be ruined by water damage from notes taken when the business was inspected.

Jan. 28, 1927     Rear 332 S. Main St., 2nd alarm
Aug. 2, 1927      Box 237   1022 Valley St. (Slaughter House), 2nd alarm, 8:41 pm-10:22 pm
Mar. 1, 1928      Box 17     Monument and Keowee (Shartzer), 2nd alarm, 10:09 pm- 1:02 am
Apr. 5, 1928      Box 115    St. Joseph School, 2nd alarm, 3:52 am-5:20 am
Apr. 10, 1928    Box 7        38 E. Third St., 1st alarm of a 3-alarm fire, 10:08 pm-11:11 pm
Apr. 13, 1928    Box 57      S. Bayard St., 1st alarm of a 3-alarm fire, 12:50 pm-2:43 am
July 7, 1928      Box 6        S. W. 4th and Jefferson Sts. (Rauh Bldg.), 1st alarm of a 3-alarm fire, 10:04 pm-11:45 pm
July 29, 1928    Box 113    128 N. Canal St. (Stomps & Burkhart), 2nd alarm, 9:28 pm-4:26 am (with  Engine Co. #9)
Dec. 23, 1928    Box 7       34 W. Third St. (Wm H Young Bldg.), 1st alarm of 2-alarm fire, 3:55 am-5:03 am

     Tony began his first two-week vacation in May of 1928. Thereafter he took two weeks every year during the summer or early fall months. Tony worked in place of Ed Kautz on November 13th. There were a total of 1638 alarms answered in 1928.

Jan. 31, 1929    Box 12      36 & 38 St. Clair St., 1st alarm of a 2-alarm fire, 7:56 pm-9:11 pm
July 1, 1929     Still            Daniel St. S. of Leo St. - horse in ditch

     Tony cut his left hand on December 7 and was off for 5 weeks.

     In January of 1930 Tony states that the fire department started to put a new fire alarm system into service. The difference in the box alarm numbers reflect part of this change. On March 21, Truck #4 was transferred to Engine House #14 at Main and Forest Streets and renamed Truck #14. This must have caused some strain on the manpower or equipment at Engine House #4, because from there afterwards Tony's journal showed that  Truck Co. #14 periodically filled in at #4.
     In the early 1930s Tony joined the fire department band, and played the trumpet.

Apr. 21, 1930    Box 7235   Corpus Christi Church, red lights on altar
Dec. 7, 1930      Box 1247    E. Third St. (Elder & Child), 2nd alarm
Dec. 25, 1930   Still              Hart & Notre Dame (Holy Rosary Church), candle too close to tree, 3:52am-5:38 am
Mar. 12, 1931   Box 1217     First and Patterson Blvd., 2nd alarm, 9:29 pm-10:40 pm
May 30, 1931   Box 2359     1022 Valley St., 2nd alarm, 1:44 am-3:16 am
Aug. 8, 1931    Box 1242     First and Patterson Blvd., 3-alarm fire, 3:39 am-6:50 am
Oct. 14, 1931   Box 1245     S. W. Third & Jefferson, 2nd alarm, 9:04 pm-9:54 pm

     There were a total of 2104 alarms for in 1930 - 229 Wagon responses and 239 Truck responses. Out of a total of 1727 alarms for the year 1931 Truck #14 responded to a total of 206 calls.

Mar. 12, 1932   Box 7343   1931 N. Main St. (Gallagher), 2nd alarm, 8:48 am-11:54 am
Apr. 18, 1932   Box 2381    rear of 229-25-41 Deeds & 16 Edmond, 3 garages, 1 brick transformer & 1 foundry bldg.
July 12, 1932   Still             55 E. Mumma, - cause of fire: fumigating
Aug. 24, 1932   Box 3358    2nd alarm, while filling in at #4

    In 1932 during the month of August they responded to 5 grass fires, and a still alarm at the Railroad Signal House at Herman and Keowee Streets. Lorenz family lore has it that Tony was a firehouse cook, and in the journal's loose papers, on a schedule to prepare the midday meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year from 1932 through 1939 Tony's name appears several times. Other names that appear often are Hollahan, Ireland, Keller, Kemp, Capt Kouns, Looker, Capt Millhoff, Capt Neir, Lt Pickett, Rabbeloth, Szolozi, and Lt Tesno. 

     There were a total of 1601 alarms answered in 1932 - 207 Wagon runs and 240 Truck runs.

     Tony wrote that on February 1, 1933, he was 7 minutes late to work for the first time.

Mar. 12, 1933    Box 1214   116-20 N. Jefferson St., 2nd alarm, 5:45 am-7:08 am
May 6, 1933       Box 1614 & 1617 Main & Fourth (Ader & Johnson Whse), 2-alarm fire, 9:01 pm-12:45 am
Jul. 31, 1933     Box 1641    137 S. Main St, 2nd alarm of a 3-alarm fire, 10:20 am-12:52 pm
Oct. 11, 1933     Box 1214    114 N. Jefferson St., 2nd alarm , 7:07 pm to 7:37 pm

     Half of the alarms responded to turned out to be false alarms during the fall of 1933. On December 26th Tony noted that it was 1 degree above zero at 6AM when they responded to an alarm for an auto fire at Leo and Keowee Streets.
     Out of a total of 1643 alarms for 1933, there were 260 Wagon runs and 260 Truck runs.

    The magazine International Fire Fighter reported that in January, 1934, Dayton had a population of 200,900, and had 240 members in the fire department, and in salaries was ranked 35th in the United States and Canada. The Fire Chief's annual salary was $4,000, the Battalion Chief $3,000, Captain $2,280, Lieutenant $2,100, 3rd-year fireman $1,920, 2nd-year fireman $1,860, 1st-year fireman $1,800, master mechanic $2,400, engineer $2,200, chauffer $1,920, electrician $2,400, fire alarm operators $2,040 and the secretary to the chief $2280.
     On March 9, 1934, Tony worked 1 hour overtime at Linwood and Riverview responding to a still "over radio at home". During the summer of 1934 Tony filled his journal with notes from the Ohio Inspection Bureau. Detailed notes on Life Line Work (rescue work), the many uses of an all-purpose hook called the Rogers Rope Hose Tool, the kinds of and uses for ladders, and detailed notes about hoses, hose nozzles, carrying hoses, winding hoses… Tony's  notes on Dayton's Water Works System covers from it's establishment in 1869 to it's current (1934) management and staffing, and the number of wells, booster stations, standpipes, cisterns, and the "2,780 public and 148 private hydrants in service" and what determined their locations.

Mar. 18, 1934    Still           Troy & Leo - trolly wire down
June 7, 1934      Still           Chapel and B & O RR, 2nd alarm, 3:37 am-5:35 am
Nov. 3, 1934       Box 2372  R642 Troy St. - thief stealing gas and set garage on fire

     In March they stopped a waterspout at Corpus Christi School. For the June 6 and June 14 entries Tony has "Truck to Tower" written. He left for  the World's Fair in Chicago for vacation on the last week in June. On July 29th he worked for fireman B. Armstrong from 10:20 pm until 7:00.
     A newspaper clipping dated December 31, 1934 said Fire Chief Frank B. Ramby, a "veteran official", retired. Ramby had served as fire chief for 27 years. William W. McFadden was named new chief of the department, only the 3rd man to hold the position of chief in 58 years. McFadden, a native of Iowa, had began his career with the Dayton Fire Department in 1901.
     In 1934 there were a total of 2664 alarms - 314 Wagon runs and 329 Truck runs.