Friction Between Fire Companies
by Doug Welch,
Town of Manchester Fire Department Historian and Retired Firefighter

The following story entitled 'Friction Between Two Companies' was taken from the Hartford Courant dated Tuesday, December 15, 1914 and demonstrates the competitiveness which existed between the fire companies:

"In connection with yesterday morning's fire was a condition that the fire commissioners should take under consideration. No. 1 is the only company having a hook and ladder truck. It was called out by yesterday morning's alarm and was standing on Laurel Street. A ladder had been taken from the truck by No. 1's members to be used in getting to the top of the roof on the north side of the building. No. 2 and No. 3 were fighting the fire from the east and south sides of the building. Assistant Chief Howe, seeing that better work could be done if one of the lines were carried to the top of the building, went to No. 1's truck to get a ladder, but was refused the use of it by the ladder steward, who told him to see the ladder foreman. The ladder foreman was not near at the time and as there was nothing to be gained by an argument, Mr. Howe went to No. 4's pump, but the small extension ladder carried by that company, which allowed the men to get to a better place, but was not as long as was desired.

"After the recall had been sounded ‘The Courant' reporter, who had witnessed the refusal of the ladder, spoke to the deputy chief about the case and was informed that it was not an unusual occurrence. While it is true that No. 1 has bought its own apparatus, they hold membership in the South Manchester fire department and while it might not have been a mistake on the part of the steward to take the stand he did, it, nevertheless, caused an inconvenience. Had it been a larger fire the situation would have been the same and it seems that for the best interest of the residents of the South Manchester Fire District, who pay taxes for fire protection, that the district officers should take some action and see that a ladder is allowed to be taken when a person in authority, such as the deputy chief, asks for any of the apparatus."

December, 2009