Fire Departments


   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. 

Fiire 1854.jpg (703376 bytes)


  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.

Fd Headquarters 1v.jpg (121259 bytes)        FD Headquarters 1h.jpg (132608 bytes)        Fire Dept. Headquarters 2.jpg (415238 bytes)        FD Headquarters 2h.jpg (96027 bytes)        FD Headquarters 2v.jpg (105260 bytes)

Not a Postcard
Ladder Company  1-1853-85' Long.jpg (126813 bytes)
85'  Ladder


   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.

FD Sycamore Station 1.jpg (107303 bytes)                     FD Sycamore Station 2.jpg (68300 bytes)                       FD Sycamore Station 3.jpg (113892 bytes)
      These 3 postcards show the fire station located on the North east corner of  7th and Sycamore.    


Fire Chief-1893-1912.jpg (152668 bytes)            Oil Refinery Fire.jpg (81663 bytes)            Fighting the flames.jpg (95505 bytes)            Gibson House Fire.jpg (107232 bytes)
 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.


C of C Fire.jpg (247236 bytes)            Chamber Fire 1911.jpg (146076 bytes)             Keller Fire card.jpg (132623 bytes)
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.

ccc fire.jpg (296212 bytes)    C of C Fire.jpg (145483 bytes)    Chamber Fire 3.jpg (287356 bytes)    Chamber Fire 4.jpg (280612 bytes)

   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.

Union Central Fire Protection 1.jpg (200197 bytes)        Union Central-Fire Protection.jpg (216010 bytes)


Fire Fighting in Cinti.jpg (86114 bytes)
Fire Fighting in Cincinnati


Shoe District Fire.jpg (75097 bytes)        Shoe District Fire-h1.jpg (75925 bytes)        -Shoefire-aa.jpg (310428 bytes)        Shoe Fire-4.jpg (482343 bytes)

   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 their jobs.
   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


Cumminsville fire 1.jpg (165949 bytes)          Cumminsville fire 2.jpg (171591 bytes)          Cumminsville fire 3.jpg (188779 bytes)          Cumminsville fire 4.jpg (136926 bytes)

  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.



   In October of 1957 City Hall caught on fire. This article and the one on the Salvage Corps page tells what happened.

City Hall Fire.jpg (758927 bytes)        City Hall Fire (2).jpg (1488428 bytes)        City Hall Fire (3).jpg (440299 bytes)        City Hall Fire (4).jpg (509063 bytes)


Wyoming-1907 Town Hall Fire.jpg (142313 bytes)

   The postcard above shows what the Wyoming Town Hall looked like before and after a fire on 5-28-1907 destroyed it.


Sts Peter & Paul, Reading.jpg (116293 bytes)

   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.jpg (150679 bytes)            Kroger 1907 Disaster.jpg (129858 bytes)
 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 FD.jpg (100600 bytes)            Saylor Park FD.jpg (64373 bytes)    Parkland 1 Engine House 50.jpg (179746 bytes)            Fire Dept. No.jpg (100313 bytes)
 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.jpg (288590 bytes)    Northside EH 20.jpg (160407 bytes)
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.


*Hyde Park Engine House, Erie and Michigan Avenues.jpg (49610 bytes)    Hyde Park FH 46.jpg (135267 bytes)                    Fire Co. No. 39, Evanston.jpg (115507 bytes)*  Evanston EH 39.jpg (256943 bytes)
 Engine House #46  2731 Erie Ave. Hyde Park.                    Evanston Fire Co. 39   3600 Montgomery  Rd.

   The 2nd & 4th images above are present day photos.


Lockland FD.jpg (79486 bytes)                Carthage Fire Station.jpg (114724 bytes)    7017 Vine Street FD  48.jpg (169153 bytes)
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.


Norwood FD 1.jpg (119662 bytes)    Norwood FD 2.jpg (117844 bytes)    Norwood FD 3.jpg (117488 bytes)    Norwood FD.jpg (114706 bytes)    Norwood FD-5 reprint.jpg (311339 bytes)
These 5 cards all show the same Engine House #1 on Main St. in Norwood.

Norwood FD 4639 Montgomery.jpg (189058 bytes)                                        Norwood Fire Dept. 4725 Montgomery.jpg (156459 bytes)

   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 FD.jpg (270953 bytes)            Greenhills Shopping Center.jpg (352590 bytes)            
 Cleves Fire Department              Greenhills Fire Department            


Madisonville Fire Dept.jpg (777393 bytes)        Madisonville Fire Dept..jpg (399254 bytes)        Madisonville EH 49.jpg (186716 bytes)
 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.


Westwood Engine Co. 33.jpg (308403 bytes)        Westwood EH 35.jpg (181035 bytes)
Engine Co. 33  3002 Junietta Ave.  Westwood

   The 2nd non-postcard image above is a present day view.


Price Hill Fire Co-24.jpg (118573 bytes)    Company 24-Ladder 10.jpg (440780 bytes)    Price Hill EH 24.jpg (131415 bytes)        Mt Healthy FD.jpg (213708 bytes)
  Price Hill Fire Co. #24       Ladder Co. #10  Warsaw & Considine Aves.                Mt. Healthy Fire Dept.
                                                                                                                                            no information.

   The 3rd view above is a present day photo.



  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.



Engine Co. 45.jpg (438047 bytes)        EH  45-Fire Museum.jpg (792951 bytes)
Fire Museum-315 W Court St.


1884 Ahrens Engine Aurora.jpg (436899 bytes)            1884 Ahrens Steam Fire Engine.jpg (356106 bytes)            1916 Ahrens Pumper.jpg (405542 bytes)
       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.




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