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After the line-of-duty death of FDNY Deputy Chief Charles Washington Krueger on Feb. 14, 1908, a call for a fitting monument began. The idea expanded to include all firemen killed, not just the chief. Fundraising went on for years until the present memorial was constructed and dedicated in 1913. The monument even has a tablet recognizing the bravery and service of fire horses.
Photo credit: Photo from Paul Hashagen Collection
NEW YORK CITY: SEPT. 5, 1913 – Seven thousand firemen, including 1,500 from the FDNY, reinforced by delegations from Baltimore, MD, Portland, OR, and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA, and members of the Volunteer and Exempt Firemen’s Associations, marched in a grand parade from Fifth Avenue and 57th Street to Riverside Drive and 100th Street in Manhattan for the unveiling and dedication of the Firemen’s Memorial. Thousands of spectators lined the parade route, then descended on the memorial site. Jesse Isidor Straus, son of the late Isidor Straus (co-owner of Macy’s Department Store and friend of the FDNY, who died along with his wife, Ida, in the sinking of the Titanic) spoke on behalf of his father, a large contributor and driving force behind the monument.
The inscription on the monument reads:
TO THE MEN OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
WHO DIED AT THE CALL OF DUTY
SOLDIERS IN A WAR THAT NEVER ENDS
THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED
BY THE PEOPLE OF A GRATEFUL CITY
HOT SPRINGS, AR: SEPT. 5, 1913 – At nightfall, the entire city was in total darkness after a huge conflagration swept 55 blocks of the city, including the electric plant. More than 2,500 people were left homeless and had to sleep in the streets. The fire started on Church Street near the Army and Navy Hospital and burned southeast away from the hospital until the wind changed direction, driving the flames toward the business section and igniting the Ozark Sanitarium, high school and electric plant. The fire almost completely cut off the fire department’s water supplies and power needed to operate the pumping station was lost. Little Rock firefighters joined the Hot Springs department and despite their best efforts, numerous homes, at least 100 businesses, four hotels, a theater and a railroad facility were lost to the flames. The use of dynamite to create a fire-break and a drenching rain helped halt the spreading flames.
LYNN, MA: SEPT. 10, 1913 – A blaze in a Lake Shore Park house was extinguished by a local women’s fire brigade, preventing the flames from spreading over the entire resort. The brigade was organized years earlier under the command of Chief Sarah Warring and had its own fire station and chemical wagon.
COVERT, NY: SEPT. 11, 1913 – The coughing of their infant probably saved the lives of the Rev. M.H. Gibson and his wife when their parsonage of the Baptist Church was destroyed by fire. The baby’s coughing awakened the minister, who found that his home was in flames. He saved his wife and child, although with great difficulty.
BUFFALO, NY: SEPT. 13, 1913 – A series of explosions rocked the Clover Leaf Milling Co. plant on Babcock Street. Flames then ignited a grain elevator, flour mill and storehouses. The three explosions injured 20 workers, with six of them in serious condition in the hospital.
COBURG, GERMANY: SEPT. 14, 1913 – A gas explosion and fire caused the collapse of a tenement house occupied by six families. The blast occurred in a gas main in the middle of the street, lifting the structure off its foundation several feet before it crashed to the ground in flames. Inside the wrecked building, 15 people were killed by the blast and a large number were injured. Firemen and soldiers went to work battling the flames and searching the scorched wreckage.
GHENT, BELGIUM: SEPT. 18, 1913 – Three pavilions of the International Industrial Exposition were destroyed by an early-morning fire that started in a German restaurant. This was the fifth fire since the exposition opened in April. This World’s Fair featured the pavilions of 31 countries displaying people, their art and the latest inventions.
CHICAGO, IL: SEPT. 23, 1913 – A fire of “mysterious origin and great ferocity” threatened one of the most valuable blocks in the city: the “Loop” district. Flames attacked the ink, paper and pressrooms of the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper at Monroe and South Dearborn streets. The fire was discovered in bags of waste paper in a storage room. Soon after, an explosion occurred as flames reached stored cans of flammable ink. The blast and fire drove the reporters and editorial staff from the blazing building. Responding firemen contained the fire to the floor of origin in the huge fireproof building.