Moline Fire Department

According to the recollections of the “oldest inhabitant” the first fire department of Moline was organized in 1852. A hand engine, the “Metamora,” together with a hose cart, and about two thousand feet of hose, constituted the entire fire apparatus of the city. Charles H. Deere was fireman of the hose company, and Doctor Sweetland foreman of the ” Metamora.” L. B. Mapes, M. A. Gould, William Watt, H. E. Mapes, J. A. Holt and Frank Kerns were among the members. The “Metamora” was a mammoth concern, and a regular man-killer; but the boys claim that with twenty men on a side they could “Throw water higher And pump a well dryer ” than can be done with any modern invention. There were banquets, balls and tournaments in those days, and it is said that a finer appearing company than the “Molines” could not be found, and when on dress parade, won not only the admiration of the men, but captured the fair sex as well. L. B. Mapes and William Watt were two likely young bloods, and when in harness were known as the “team of sorrels.” With meager and cumbersome apparatus, this company rendered excellent service under extreme difficulties; and their deeds of daring are seldom equaled in the fires of today. Among the principal fires fought by the first firemen were those of the Howe, Childs and Mapes’ mills, in 1855; Sears’ mills, Shaw’s dry goods store, Dunn’s hardware store; fires that tried the courage and nerve of the firemen. From 1865 down to the organization of the present department there are many missing links. The old “Metamora” was kept until 1872, and then sold to Milan, a steam fire engine being purchased and named the “Mississippi,” which is still on hand, but not in service. Then was organized one of the most remarkable organizations in the history of the pioneer service: the A. O. T. (always on time) company. This company rendered strenuous and valuable service at the large and disastrous fire of the J. S. Keator saw mills, a loss of the entire plant with over ten million feet of lumber, making a total loss of $300,000. Fire help was called for, Rock Island responding with Rescue Steam Fire Engine No. 2, and Phoenix and Wide-Awake hose companies, and the Sash Factory hose company. Davenport sent over the Fire King Steamer and Fire King hose company. Colonel Flagler sent ” Uncle Sam” over from the Arsenal, Geneseo coming down with their engine and fire company. The Deere hose throwing first water, closely followed by the A. O. T. company and the Minnehahas. The old “Mississippi” did magnificent work. All the firemen were deserving of unusual and unstinted praise, and all equally deserving of worthy mention for their heroic work on that memorable night. The ladders of the first hook and ladder truck were constructed of two by fours, and very crude. The old Volunteer chiefs were: Isaac Anderson, Phil Williams, C. O. Nason, Morey, Flickinger, and Levi S. Cralle. A new organization was effected in June, 1884: B. B. Peregoy, chief; followed by J. M. Hartzell, Albert Abling, A. Williams, Nels Peterson, James J. Trevor, H. C. Reese, for 1894, 1895, 1896. The department at this time consisted of one hundred men, and was subdivided into four hose companies and one hook and ladder truck company, and one steam fire engine. The hose companies were the Union No. 1, Onward No. 2, Minnehaha No. 3, and Deane No. 4. In 1893 the Union hose company No. 1 disbanded and a new company formed called the Columbia No. 1. There were also four independent hose companies, representing the following manufactories: Deere and Company, Moline Plow Company, Barnard and Leas Manufacturing Company, and Deere and Mansur Company; each company being thoroughly equipped with all modern appliances. The present paid department was organized October 1, 1896, the chief being H. C. Reese, the old volunteer chief, and J. Q. Hawk, assistant chief. Shortly afterward John Q. Hawk was appointed chief, and through his efficiency has held the position to the present time; the assistant chief now being F. Oscar Youngren. The department stations are: Central Fire Station No. 1, 510-514 Fourteenth Street. Hose Company No. 2, 1317 Fourteenth Avenue; captain, Thomas Welch. Hose Company No. 3, captain, James J. Trevor. Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, being housed at Central Fire Hall. The full force of the department is twenty men. The apparatus consists of: Three two-horse wagons in service, one two-horse wagon in reserve, one hook and ladder truck, one chief’s buggy. The department has one of the finest fire alarm systems, being the Gamewell Fire Alarm System. To W. F. Channing of Boston, and M. G. Farmer of Salem, Massachusetts, is due the credit for the first successful employment of electricity for giving instantaneous, universal and indefinite alarms in case of fires. In 1855 Gamewell and Company became the owners of all patents of Channing and Farmer. The fire-alarm telegraph system of Moline consists of a central or battery station, located at the water works; the wire circuit, which connects the central station with the street signal boxes and the alarm apparatus, consisting of combined electro-mechanical gong -strikers and indicators, located in the hose houses, and residence of the chief of the fire department; the indicators showing in plain figures the number of the signal-box from which the alarm originates. A repeater is placed in the central telephone office, and each telephone has a “fire number” corresponding with that of the street signal-box.

 

City of Moline 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908