This 1854 lithograph for the Aetna Insurance of Hartford shows Cincinnati's newly paid fire department in action. The department had just been formed in 1853, at this time they were still using hand pumpers.
All five of these postcards show the Fire Department Headquarters located on the south side of 6th St. between Vine and Race. The building to the left was the Ohio Mechanics Institute and the one to the right was the Ohio Medical College. Started in 1853, Engine Co. #3 was one of the first fire companies to operate a steam engine. Because the first steam engine was so successful, insurance companies and the citizens of Cincinnati raised enough money to build a second steam fire engine. In the early days fire engines were given special names and this one was called "Citizen's Gift." Over time this firehouse became known by this name which later was shortened to "Gifts." The Phoenix Hook And Ladder joined with engine Co. #3 in 1857. The Ladder was 85' long. The center card shows more than the 2nd card.
Not a Postcard
In 1916 the Company moved out of the Gift's Engine House and moved into the building below. In 1917 this firehouse and others became motorized. Joining Engine Company #3 were Engine Company #44, Ladder Company 1, and Water Tower 2.
These 3 postcards show the fire station located on the North east corner of 7th and Sycamore.
Chief Archibald Oil Refinery Fighting the flames Gibson Hotel
The Gibson Hotel fire started on December 11, 1912 consuming nearly a city block. The hotel, constructed in 1835, was being remodeled, and a portable stove the workmen were using for heat was not properly extinguished, igniting construction materials and tar paper nearby. The upper floors of the next door Union Savings Bank also caught fire. Property damage exceeded $1 million. 237 firemen fought the blaze.
Chamber of Commerce Fire January 10, 1911. 6 people died.
The Chamber of Commerce building was dedicated in January of 1889 at the s. w. corner of Fourth and Vine, replacing the post office which had moved to 5th St. Designed by one of the great architects of that era, Henry Hobson Richardson (who died in 1886 at 47 before construction began). The windows on the second floor of this 5 story building were much larger than the others. This is because this floor, used by the Merchants' Exchange, was a completely open area, 140' x 68' with a 48' ceiling. On January 10, 1911 a disastrous fire, that started as a grease fire in a clubroom kitchen on the top floor quickly got out of control during a banquet. The flames quickly expanded to the timber framing of the massive roof. The construction of the floors above the second floors extremely high ceiling became the buildings undoing. The floors were suspended on steel trusses that, because of the high heat from the flames, gave way plunging all the floors to the basement. The only thing left standing was the masonry exterior walls. Six people died including an Enquirer reporter who had just entered the building when the floors collapsed. The four card set below was published by the James K. Stewart Co.
The Union Central Life Insurance Company purchased this site, after the fire that destroyed the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce building. They then constructed, at that time, the 5th tallest building in the world which was later known as the Central Trust Tower. The fire caused many changes in the municipal fire code. Elevators and stairs had to be enclosed, fire hoses routinely checked, and iron/steel girders were no longer allowed to be exposed. They also added a system of pumps and sprinklers on the outside of the building. The system is explained in the article below.
Fire Fighting in Cincinnati
On December 21, 1910 one of Cincinnati's Largest
fires began, burning two city blocks. The area extended from Eighth to Ninth
Streets and from Sycamore to Broadway Streets. The fire lasted for nine days,
killing four (including three firemen), and twelve were injured. Total cost was
$2 million. The fire started about 2:00 a.m. in the Krippendorf O'Neil (K&O)
Shoe Company's factory at the southeast corner of Ninth & Sycamore Streets
and, fanned by the wind, spread rapidly. Because of the local meatpacking plant
this area had many leather tanneries and a large shoe manufacturing industry.
This is why this fire is known as the Shoe District Fire. 1500 workers lost
The weather was so cold that ice formed on everything, thus making it that much more difficult for the firemen to control the blaze. The three firemen died when a wall collapsed. The ice forming on wires caused a telephone pole to break causing the death of a bystander.
The City of Cincinnati was glad to be rid of an area it considered an eyesore and health hazard. The land was bought by the city and became the entrance of the Gilbert Avenue viaduct
All four of these cards are views of the huge fire caused by gas storage tanks overturning and catching fire during the 1937 flood. Called The Black Sunday Fire it took more than 12 hours to put out and burned over three and a half square miles causing $1.5 million in damages.
CITY HALL FIRE
In October of 1957 City Hall caught on fire. This article and the one on the Salvage Corps page tells what happened.
The postcard above shows what the Wyoming Town Hall looked like before and after a fire on 5-28-1907 destroyed it.
The postcard above shows the fire damage that occurred when a lightning bolt struck the 175' bell tower of the St. Peter & Paul Church in Reading on May 7, 1914.
Hunt Street Fire Kroger Building
Thanks to visitor David Jones I can now explain the two cards above. On August 22, 1907 a fire started in the stables of the E. Roberts Company, a lumber merchant located in the rear of the Eagle White Lead Works that was located at 1030 Broadway. Businesses that were destroyed included the Eagle White Lead Co., the Morrison & Snodgrass Co., and a large warehouse and offices of The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company at 521 Reading Road, a total of 26 buildings were destroyed with a total loss of between $531,907 & $533.363. I don't know why the 1st card uses the name Hunt Street because at the time of the fire the name had already been changed to Reading Road, this would place the fire where the new Horseshoe Casino is located.
Loveland Fire Department Engine House #50 6546 Parkland, Sayler Park Fire Department # 18
Eastern and Delta Aves.
The 3rd photographic image above shows the empty lot where the station used to stand. The building on the left is the Parkland Theater (go to Entertainment Section.)
Northside Engine House #20 1636 Chase
Engine Co. #20 was built in 1890 and lasted until 1982 when it was vacated to a new station at 1668 Blue Rock St. The 2nd photo is a present day view.
Engine House #46 2731 Erie Ave. Hyde Park. Evanston Fire Co. 39 3600 Montgomery Rd.
The 2nd & 4th images above are present day photos.
Fire Dept./Town Hall Fire Dept. #48 7017 Vine St. Carthage
The last image above is a present day photograph. Don't know its use.
These 5 cards all show the same Engine House #1 on Main St. in Norwood.
The 1st photograph above shows where Engine House #1 used to stand, it is now a small city park at 4639 Montgomery Road. (was Main St.) The 2nd photograph shows the new Fire Station one block away at 4725 Montgomery Road.
Cleves Fire Department Greenhills Fire Department
Dedication 1-1-10 Fire Co. #49 5917 Prentice, Madisonville
The last image above is not a postcard. It is how the building looks today.
Engine Co. 35 3002 Junietta Ave. Westwood
The 2nd non-postcard image above is a present day view.
Price Hill Fire Co. #24 Ladder Co. #10 Warsaw & Considine Aves. Mt. Healthy Fire Dept.
The 3rd view above is a present day photo.
CINCINNATI FIRE DEPARTMENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Cincinnati Fire Department officially began operations on April 1, 1853. During the first 6 months 444 men were hired as part-time firemen, it was not until 1873 that firemen were hired on a full-time basis and were required to remain on duty in the engine houses. They already had what many consider the first operational steam fire engine. Called the "Uncle Joe Ross" after Joseph Ross who was mainly responsible for talking the City Council into appropriating the $5,000 needed for its construction (it ended up costing $10,000). Miles Greenwood, the first chief of the salaried fire department, summed up the benefits of the new steam engine in these words: "It never gets drunk. It never throws brickbats, (a piece of a brick which were used as missiles when ever fights broke out among the different fire houses), and the only drawback connected with it is that it can't vote". Alexander Latta who built the steam engine constructed a second one, called it "citizen's Gift" and presented it to the city on condition that another one would be built using his plans. This was done.
1808-First organized volunteers
1808-First engine house
1820-First fire cistern
1845-First Hook & Ladder
1853-First paid Fire Department
1853-First paid chief
1873-First swing out harness
1873-First sliding pole
1896-First woman member
1912-First motorized pumper
1914-First Fire Prevention Bureau
1921-First motorized ladder truck
CINCINNATI FIRE MUSEUM POSTCARDS
Fire Museum-315 W Court St.
1884 "Aurora" 1884 Steam Fire Engine 1916 Ahrens-Fox Pumper
The Cincinnati Fire Museum is housed in what was originally Engine Company 45 that was organized in 1906. In 1913 Engine Co. 52 was added, and in 1917 Ladder Co. 7 joined. In 1962 these units moved to a new house at 430 Central Avenue. This building was unique because there were doors in the front and in the back.