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The City of Ocala, FL, Fire Department was established in 1885, when the city’s volunteer firefighters were organized into a career department. This photo taken in 1915 shows the department’s first motorized apparatus, a chief’s buggy. The following year, all apparatus were motorized and the fire horses were given to the Sanitation Department to pull garbage wagons.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Ocala Fire Rescue
HESHBON, PA: OCT. 1, 1911 – Roused from their sleep by the smell of smoke, Mr. and Mrs. Dias left their second-floor bedroom and went down to the first floor to investigate while their eight children remained sleeping upstairs. While the adults attempted to battle the flames, the blaze spread rapidly and soon swept upstairs, trapping the children ranging in age from 13 years to 3 months. Unable to reach the children, the parents stood horrified as fire enveloped the entire upper floor, taking the lives of all eight children.
LEICESTER, ENGLAND: OCT. 5, 1911 – It was Sunday evening and the town was celebrating its annual Harvest Festival Service inside Saint George’s Church. The church was filled and the service was underway when a fire broke out in the nearby R. Rowley and Co. factory. The huge building was soon in flames that communicated to other nearby buildings. The fire was so large it threatened the church. Canon Robertson abbreviated the service and quickly dismissed the congregation. A short while later, flames swirled inside the church, gutting the house of worship.
RICHMOND, VA: OCT. 7, 1911 – A fire of unknown origin broke out in a four-story building occupied by the International Harvester Co. After a loud explosion, the fire quickly spread throughout the brick building and required the resources of the entire fire department (except for a few suburban companies) to control. The fierce flames were driven by a strong south wind carrying sparks and embers up Tenth Avenue over the bank and catching in the corner of the Federal Building under construction at Tenth and Main streets. Quick action by firemen controlled the fire in this new location and their determined actions held the threatening blaze to the International Harvester building.
EDGINGTON, WV: OCT. 8, 1911 – A fire was discovered at about 2 A.M. in the chapel of the Catholic Home of the Good Shepherd. One of the girls housed in the facility smelled smoke and notified a nun. The sister woke the entire house and hastened their exit from the burning building, assembling them on a nearby hillside. Quick thinking and action saved the lives of all 250 girls and 40 nuns who lived there. The building was destroyed.
NEW YORK CITY: OCT. 8, 1911 – A woman woke at about 5:30 A.M. to the smell of smoldering wood. She told a patrolling policeman, who turned in the fire alarm for 127 Water St., a six-story stone building. Arriving Manhattan fire companies forced their way into the cellar and found a rapidly spreading fire in a carpentry shop. Despite their aggressive attack, they were driven from the cellar and went into defensive tactics. In all, three alarms were sent in and the fire was fought from the roofs of surrounding buildings and by using the water tower. The fire was held to the original building and brought under control in two hours.
WASHINGTON, DC: OCT. 14, 1911 – A fire discovered at 5 A.M. in the Washington Tobacco Co. building at 618 Pennsylvania Ave. NW was quickly spreading to other buildings as Box alarm 16 was transmitted. Firemen went to work quickly as additional alarms were sent in. On the roof of the fire building, men were at work when the roof suddenly collapsed beneath them. Killed were Captain Timothy Brown and Private Michael Downes of Engine Company 4. Captain O’Conner and Lieutenant Colter were also injured, but returned to duty.