1921 - May 12 - "Most Suspicious Blaze in Youngstown's History!" "Never before in my experience have I encountered a blaze so significant of incendiarism as this one." - Third Assistant Chief William Bennett.
Fire destroyed the Parish Brothers Lumber Yard, the old Mahoning Valley power house, 10 homes, a garage and damaged the Smith Brewery Company. It was originally thought that gasoline or oil had been sprinkled over the lumber and lit with a match due to the excessive fire and quickness of the blaze. The investigating fire marshalls would later reported that accelerants were not found at the fire scene. Oil cans from the Creasey Corporation were continually exploding and plate glass windows in all the buildings across the street from the Federal Street fire were broken due to the heat. The fire was turned in via one of the city's fire boxes. Every firefighter and piece of equipment in the city responded. "This was the first time since the two platoon system was adopted that it was necessary to call out the day men to help fight a conflagration." The "Fire made spectacle which awed fire fighters and on-lookers." "Never before in the history of the city have the firemen had such an extensive fire to fight and never have they done a pluckier or more efficient work."
Mayor Fred J Warnock and Safety Director Scott were on scene soon after the fire started.
"Choking smoke arose from the ruins in which the steel parts of auto frames were still like glowworms on a June night." ... See MoreSee Less
1952 - March 6 - Fire destroys the H. H. Treudley Company Office Supply Store at 123-125 E Commerce Street downtown. The fire did $100,000 damage. Three firefighters were hospitalized including Captain John Belcher, Captain Dan Eberhart, Fireman Thomas Blair when they inhaled sulphur fumes from the burning cardboard in the structure. The first alarm was received at 6:42pm sending four companies and a ladder truck. The second alarm brought three more companies and a second ladder truck to the scene at 6:43pm. A third alarm was struck at 6:47pm bringing three more companies to the fire. A fourth alarm was requested at 6:51pm and received two more companies. "Two fire companies, one in the North Side and one in the South side remained at their stations for the evening." "The fire was the third in the downtown district this week but it was the first to bring out almost the city's entire firefighting forces." ... See MoreSee Less
Road construction was as much a problem back then as it is today. Many downtown streets were being repaired in 1916 causing some headaches for the fire companies at the central fire station. ... See MoreSee Less
A major conflagration on September 19, 1916 showed just how much room for improvement there was in the fire department at that time. Fire tore through the Himrod Avenue Baptist Church at the corner of Himrod and Garland Ave on the city's East side shortly after 5 o'clock AM. The fire was thought to have been smoldering long before that but had gone unnoticed throughout the night The Church was just completing construction of their new building after a previous fire in 1914. In a classic case of 'what could go wrong will', there were many pieces of the system that failed due to lack of preparation, lack of maintenance and lack of money. Neighbors tried in vain to reach the switchboard at City Hall. According to newspaper reports at the time, it took neighbors 35 minutes to reach the City Hall operator to report the fire. 10 minutes later the first city fire truck would arrive on scene. The fire, now through the roof of the three story church building, had grown stronger with each passing minute. Engine 2, located a quarter mile from the fire, was first on scene with their Christie motorized steamer. Firefighters did not have sufficient water pressure to play a stream up to the roof of the building. Water pressure was reportedly so poor that firefighters could not even break the churches stained glass windows with the hose streams and firefighters on scene had to resort to throwing bricks through them. Mayor Thornton and Safety Director Nutt arrived on scene to see first hand the lack of water pressure and the dismal state of the City's Fire Department. Firefighters, however, were said to have worked 'heroically' with the equipment they had at hand.
During the conflagration, numerous issues with the Fire Department's equipment were reported. One witness claims that one of the department's steamer trucks arrived at the fire without enough fuel. Water sprayed though many sections of the hose lines used on the fire because of failed hose and hose couplings. Firefighters were quick to criticize the city stating that the fire department equipment is in terrible shape. They said that at least three of the fire stations had non-functioning alarm systems. One station's indicator would not properly display the box number for the call. At Fire Station No. 8, there was no tape in their alarm system to record the location of the call and upon responding, left a firefighter at the station sound asleep. A third station did not properly receive the call and had to telephone in to learn the location of the call. Firefighters also said the tucks were out of repair.
Church members and neighbors also exchanged sharp words with Harry Parrock, the city's Services Director over water pressure issues in the area. ... See MoreSee Less
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