Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 58, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie


A convention of chief engineers and chief officers of the Fire Departments of the United States was held at Raine's Hall, Baltimore, Md., on October 20, 1873, and a permanent organization ws there formed. This organization has since become a large and powerful body. Its first president was Chief John S. Damrell, if Boston, Mass.; recording secretary, Chief Raymond, of Cambridge, Mass.; corresponding secretary, Chief Hills, of Rome, Ga.; assistant secretaries, Chiefs Hall, of Vicksburg, Miss., Saltzman, of St. Joseph, Mo., and Cozzens, of Newport, R. I.; treasurer, Chief Nevins, of Brooklyn, N. Y. Chief engineer Hill, of Cleveland O., proposed the following:

Whereas, Experience has shown that the Fire Department of the country should be provided with a universal or standard coupling for hose and fire hydrants, so that when a city or town calls for aid, in case of large fires or conflagrations from another city or town, that each department can act in unison with the other. Therefore, be it

Resolved, That a committee be appointed by this convention to take under consideration, and report back to this convention, the practicability of adopting a standard coupling of some kind, to be used by all Fire Departments throughout the United States.

From this it will be seen that the object of the organization was to benefit the various departments in the country. Interesting subjects bearing on fire matters were proposed for discussion at the annual convention, and proved to be productive of much good.

The second annual convention was held St. Louis, mo., on October 5, 6, 7, and 8, 1874 The members met in the Mercantile Library Hall, and Chief H. Clay Sexton, of St. Louis, was appointed president.

The third annual convention was held at Firemen's Hall, mercer Street, New York, on October 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, 1875. Chief Eli Bates, of the New York Fire Department, was unanimously elected president, but Mr. Bates declined the honor, owing to a pressure of business. Chief A. C. Hendrick, of New Haven, Conn., was then unanimously elected president.

The fourth annual convention was held in the City Armory Building, Philadelphia, Pa., on September 4, 5, 6, and 7. 1876. Chief William H. Johnson, of Philadelphia, was elected president.

The fifth annual convention was held in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol building of Nashville, Tenn., on September 4, 5, and 6, 1877. Chief William Stockwell, of Nashville, was elected president.

The sixth annual convention was held in the Council Chamber, Cleveland, O., on September 10, 11, and 12, 1878. Chief John A. Bennett, of Cleveland, was elected President.

The seventh annual convention was held in the Masonic Temple, in the City of Washington, D. C., on September 9, 10, 11, and 12, 1879. Chief Martin Cronin, of Washington, D. C., was elected president.

The eighth annual convention was held in Lancer's Hall, Boston, Mass., on September 14, 15, and 16, 1880. Chief William A. Green, of Boston, was elected president. Mayor Prince welcomed the members of the association to the hospitalities of Boston, and invited them to participate in the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the city. At this convention a committee that had been appointed at the previous meeting in Washington to prepare a constitution and by -laws for a national Relief Association, reported, and a committee of four, consisting of Chiefs Stockwell, of Nashville, Tenn.; Hills, of Rome, Ga.; Hendrick, of New Haven, Conn.; and McCool, of Pottsville, were designated to carry out the suggestions offered. These gentlemen reported that it was more advisable to establish a National Firemen's Life Association, but the report was paid on the tables, and subject dropped.

The ninth annual convention was held in the hall of the House of Delegates at the State Capital, of Richmond, Va., on September 13, 14, and 15, 1881. Chief G. Watt Taylor, of Richmond, was elected president. Mayor Carrington made an address of welcome.

The tenth annual convention was held in melodeon Hall, Cincinnati, O., on September 12, 13, 14, and 15, 1882. Chief Joseph Bunker, of Cincinnati, was elected president. Mayor Means addressed the convention. One of the features of the session was an interesting address made by Mr. S. F. Covington, president of the Globe Insurance Company, of Cincinnati, who said that the annual destruction of property by fire in the United States was one hundred million dollars, and to replace it would require the surplus production of one hundred thousand men at two dollars per day for twenty years, or that of two million men, which was one-fifth of the male adult population of the country, as shown by the census of 1880, at the same compensation, for one year.

The eleventh annual convention was held in the Washington Artillery Armory, New Orleans, La., on October 24, 25, 26, and 17, 1883. Chief Thomas O'Connor, of New Orleans, was elected president. Mayor Behan extended a hearty welcome to the members.

The twelfth annual convention was held in the Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago, Ill., on September 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13, 1884. Chief D. J. Swenie, of Chicago, was elected president, and in the unavoidable absence of Mayor Harrison, Comptroller T. J. Gurney made the address of welcome on behalf of the city.

The thirteenth annual convention was held at the Ocean Hotel, Long Branch, N. J., on September 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, 1885. Chief Thomas L. Worthley, of Long Branch, was elected president. An address of welcome was made by Mr. William H. Bennett, of Long Branch, and, on behalf of the New Jersey State Firemen's Association, Mr. Weeks delivered an address.

The fourteenth annual convention was held at the Masonic Hall, providence, R. I., on august 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1886. Chief George A. Steere, of Providence, was elected president. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Augustus Woodbury, and Mayor Gilbert F. Robbins delivered an address. Chief Leshure read an interesting paper on the "Flow of Water through Iron Pipes."

CAPTAIN HENRY A. HILLS, secretary of the National Association of Fire Engineers, was born on June 7, 1838, in Boston, Mass. His father was a Boston merchant, at one time a member of the State Legislature, and served in the Fire Department. Young Henry was a real chip of the old block, and began to run with the "machine" when he was only sixteen years old. When eighteen he became a full-fledged fireman, joining Niagara Engine Company No. 3, of Cambridge, when the Cambridge chief engineer organized a fire police, Mr. Hills was among the first selected. In 1860 he joined Washington Engine Company No. 9, an independent organization owned by Lowell Railroad Company. Within a year the young man was elected a clerk of the company. In 1863 Mr. Hills was offered an agency of the American Alarm Telegraph owned by John K. Kennard & Co., and represented the company first in Washington and later in Chicago. While in this position he supervised the building of fire alarm telegraphs in some of the most important cities in this country and Canada. It was in 1868, having left the American Company to go into business with his brother, at Rome, Ga., that Mr. Hills took it upon himself to organize the Citizens' Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and his public spiritedness in this respect was rewarded with the foremanship of the new company. He soon came to be recognized as one of the best firemen in Rome, and when the election for chief engineer drew near in 1872 his popularity brought his name forward as a candidate for that office. He was elected and held the office honorably for six years, with good results to the city, for, with the exception of a single fire, the fire loss during his terms of office did not exceed ten thousand dollars all told. He was also chosen superintendent of the city waterworks. Mr. Hills' reputation as a scientific fire engineer was made. In 1876, Atlanta, Ga., called on him to equip and start a Salvage Corps, as also did Nashville, Tenn. he also gave an estimate, at special request, for equipping a Fire Department for the city of Cairo, Egypt. Mr. Hills his position as superintendent of waterworks in Rome, until 1878. In 1878 Mr. Hills accepted the superintendency of the Dallas, Texas, waterworks, where he remained for some time. While in Dallas he became president of the East Dallas Steam Fire Engine Company No. 2. Mr. Hills' health did not agree with the Southern clime where duty has called him, and he was not slow in accepting, two years ago, a lucrative position as live stock agent of the d. d. D. and I Railway, at Cincinnati, where he still continues. Mr. Hills is still a firemen, however, taking a warm interest in fire matters, and, as secretary of the national Association, contributes his quota of effort in benefiting the fire cause.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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