The first attempt to provide fire protection in Baltimore City came in 1747 through the colonial legislature in a law specifying fines for unsafe chimneys and houses not having ladders that reached to the tops of their roofs. The development of an organized fire department built on the earliest volunteer fire companies - the Mechanical (1763), Union (1782), Friendship (1785), and Deptford (1792). For more info in the history of the Mechanical company, see Ed Papenfuse's blog post: Baltimore's First Responders
Until the middle of the nineteenth century volunteer fire companies provided the chief form of fire protection. Supporting these companies were occasional state and city laws, such as a 1787 act in the Maryland Legislature requiring every householder to maintain two leather buckets near the front entrance and authorizing the Baltimore Town Commissioners to dig wells and erect pumps and a 1799 municipal ordinance prohibiting the erection of frame dwellings, and occasional municipal appropriations to the companies for equipment and supplies. By 1834 there were fifteen volunteer companies and by 1858 twenty-two.
Although these volunteer companies were the only method of fire protection, they hardly constituted a very effective system. These companies were as much political and social organizations and often engaged in fights with rival companies and, on several occasions, were the ringleaders of municipal riots. Moreover, few of the companies were adequately equipped or trained. In 1834 representatives of each of the companies formed the Baltimore United Fire Department to regulate fire protection but most of the major problems persisted. In 1858 the municipal government established a professional fire department which has remained in existence to the present, governed by a board of commissioners.
Service records of a selection of firefighters including name, residence, date of birth, former occupation, date of appointment, branch of the service, position, promotions, assignments, sick leave, injuries, charges, commendations, date left service and cause, and occasionally date of death. A number of the service records also have photographs of the individual; these photographs have been scanned and can be viewed by surname by clicking Details below.
The textual records are accessible only through microfilm, which has not yet been digitized; however, access to these records is restricted to those of firefighters who are deceased and/or who entered service more than seventy-five years ago.
Reports compiled for fires causing a fatality or injury that are of a suspicious or incendiary origin and on multiple alarms. Includes date, case number, name of owner and occupant, time of alarms, and statements from persons connected with the fire.
Westernaires operates all year-round, no matter what the weather may provide. As such, their covered indoor arenas are critical to the organization. We recently remembered the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic fire that burned down the old Red Arena in Fort Westernaire. The event, at that time, was nothing short of devastating to the Westernaires.
The Westernaires Red Arena's interior, post-fire, March 1986. This arena was absolutely essential to Westernaires' ability to practice during the winter months. Three beloved Westernaires rental horses perished in the fire.
Numerous Westernaire horses were inside the building at the time the fire broke out. Golden Animal Hospital veterinarian and close friend of the Westernaires, Dr. John Pallaoro (Doc John), along with other volunteers, arrived and began retrieving the horses from the structure. Doc John and the others repeatedly entered the inferno -- until the Fire Department stopped them and threatened their arrest if they entered the building again.
Three cherished and popular Westernaire rental string horses perished in the fire: Maria (pronounced \"Mariah\"), Big Red, and Hot Shot. Many more horses would have perished had it not been for the bravery of Doc John and the other volunteers who were on-site that day. 781b155fdc