Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 10, Part III
By Holice and Debbie
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANIES
First District.--All that part of the city lying north of Twenty-second Street, and east of the Sixth Avenue.
Second District.--All that part of the city lying north of Twenty-second Street, and west of the Sixth Avenue.
Third District.--Beginning at the foot of North Moore Street, North river, and extending easterly in a straight line to between Church Street and Broadway in Leonard Street, thence northerly in a straight line to the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-second Street, thence westerly along Twenty-second Street to the North river.
Fourth District.--Beginning in Leonard Street, between Church Street and Broadway, running thence northerly in a straight line to the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-second Street. Thence easterly along Twenty-second Street to Lexington Avenue, thence southerly in a straight line to between Broadway and elm Street, in Leonard Street, and thence westerly in a straight line to Leonard Street, between Church Street and Broadway.
Fifth District.--Commencing in Leonard Street, between Elm Street and Broadway, and running thence northerly in a straight line to the corner of Lexington Avenue and Twenty-second Street, thence easterly along Twenty-second Street to the East River, thence southerly and along the East river to Fourteenth Street, thence southwesterly in a straight line to the corner of Leonard and Orange (Baxter) Streets, thence westerly in a straight line to the place of beginning.
Sixth District.--Beginning at the corner of Leonard and Baxter Streets, and running thence easterly in a straight line to the foot of Market Street, East River, thence along East river to Fourteenth Street, thence southwesterly in a straight line to the place of beginning.
Seventh District.--Beginning at the foot of Market Street, East river, and running thence westerly in a straight line to Leonard Street, between Broadway and Elm Street, thence southerly along a straight line intersecting Wall Street at the junction of Nassau, Wall, and Broad Streets, and continuing through the Battery to North river.
Eighth District.--Beginning at the foot if North Moore Street, north River, and running thence easterly in a straight line to Leonard Street. Between Broadway and Elm Street, thence southerly along a straight line intersecting with Wall Street at junction of Nassau, Wall, and Broad Streets, and continue through the Battery to North river.
In case of fire, the signals from the alarm bells were as follows: First District, one stroke; Second District, two strokes; Third District, three strokes; Fourth District, four strokes; Fifth District, five strokes; Sixth district, six strokes; Seventh District, seven strokes; Eighth District, eight strokes.
For assistance, the signal consisted of the continual ringing of the City Hall and all district bells.
The state legislature enacted a law, March 29, 1855, by which fire commissioners were elected by the Fire Department, and to be known as "The Commissioners of the New York Fire Department." The commissioners so elected drew for the term of their respective offices, say, one for the term of five years; one for the term of three years; one for the term of two years; and one for the term of one year; "and, annually thereafter, there shall be elected one commissioner to hold his office for the term of five years."
No person was eligible as such commissioner unless, at the time of election, he was an exempt fireman, and had ceased to be a member of the Fire Department, for at least three years prior to said elections. Their duty consisted in inquiring into all applications for the organization of volunteer fire companies; no volunteer fire companies could be organized unless approved by said commissioners; unless--in case of disagreement by the commissioners--a three-fourth vote of all the members should overrule the decision of the commissioners.
The Corporation of the Fire Department, by act of the legislature, April 3, 1855, were permitted to hold real and personal estate, but not to exceed the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Members of the Fire Department (ordinance, June 14, 1855) were required, when on duty as firemen, to wear the leathern cap as previously in use, or a badge. The badge was made of Prince's metal, bearing the words, "New York Fire Department," each badge bearing a distinct number, in raised figures thereon, of white metal. The badge worn by exempt firemen was composed of white metal, with the figures thereon of Prince's metal, but in all other respects similar to the badge used by the active members of the Department. Said badges were struck from separate dies and numbered as the commissioners of the Fire Department night direct.
This ordinance made it the duty of the police, when a fire occurred, to form a line, at least two hundred feet distant from the said fire, on either side thereof; and under no circumstances should they permit any person to pass said line, unless said person should wear the uniform or badge of the Fire Department, the uniform of the insurance patrol, or be a member of the Common Council, a member of the Police Department, or an owner or resident of property within the prescribed lines.
The salary of the chief engineer was increased to the sum of three thousand dollars per annum.
The fire limits were extended to a line south of Forty-second Street, from the East to the Hudson River, on the fourteenth of April, 1856. This act required that buildings erected, or to be erected within the fire limits should have front and read walls, and side walls on both sides, whether such side walls be outside or party walls; and these outside and party walls of every such dwelling house, store, storehouse, or other building, should be constructed of stone, brick, or iron, and started and built upon foundations of stone or brick.
In August, 1856, the state of the Department had never been so encouraging or its working more perfect, and that too while laboring under many disadvantages. The Department consisted of fourteen engineers, one thousand six hundred and forty-four engine men, one thousand one hundred and twenty-eight hose men, three hundred and sixty-six hook and ladder men, and thirty-three hydrant men, amounting to a total of three thousand and eighty-five men, an increase of four hundred and fifty-four over the roll of 1855. These were divided into forty-six engine companies, fifty-eight hose companies, fourteen hook and ladder companies, and four hydrant companies. There were thirty-eight engines in good condition, five ordinary, and five building, and one rebuilding; forty-nine hose carriages in good condition, six ordinary, two building, and one rebuilding; twelve hook and ladder trucks in good condition, and two building. There was a total of sixty-eight thousand seven hundred and fifty feet of hose in use.
The loss by fire during the year ending July 31, 1856, was six hundred and thirty-two thousand and thirty dollars, being a decrease of five hundred and thirty-five thousand and eighty-nine dollars from 1855.
The rowdies had for along time remained quiet, and it was hoped that the Department would not again be molested by them. Bit of late three attacks had been made. In one case engine company No. 41 were proceeding at great speed to a fire, when they were set upon by these miscreants with clubs, slungshots, and stones. Several members of the Department were knocked down, one of whom was run over by the engine and was seriously wounded. Another, Hose Company No. 15, were attacked while attending to their duty, the men driven away, and the carriage upset in the street. The third was an attack in the engine house of Company No. 32 by a gang of rowdies. It was useless to look to the police justices for redress, for it was well known they dared not grant it, the political influences of the gangs being so great.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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