Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Ready to roll from Springfield Fire Headquarters on North Fountain Avenue

Tuesday, April 08, 2008



May 22, 1922 - Springfield Fire Chief Samuel Hunter (standing, far right) as member of advance committee for August 1922 meeting of International Association of Fire Engineers in San Francisco

Samuel F. Hunter was appointed fire chief of Springfield in 1904 - an era during which cities wrested control of municipal government from political parties to professional managers.

``The fire department was a political football kicked around by the whims and fancies of the city council,'' Fire Capt. Cal Roberds wrote in his 1978 history book ``From Buckets to Diesels.''

An outsider and former member of the Columbus Fire Division, Hunter instituted a series of reforms - including a clear chain of command - and oversaw the mechanization of the city's fleet of engines.

On April 1, 1904, he assumed command of about 40 firefighters, who were on continuous duty, with the exception of mealtime, and received one day off in ten, according to Roberds. There were also 27 horses.

Four of the city's six fire companies were equipped with horse-drawn, steam-powered pumpers - state-of-art apparatus at the start of the 20th Century. The roster also included an aerial ladder and a city service ladder truck.

Hunter replaced the much-maligned George Follrath, who served from 1895-1904 and was criticized for mismanagement in the aftermath of fires at the East Street Shops in 1902 and Black's Opera House and "The Levee" riots in 1904.

Follrath also faced problems of internal dissent as well as drunkenness and fighting among the firemen.

Hunter enjoyed a longer tenure - and retired in 1928.


ABOUT THE PHOTO: Full caption - ``Top Row, L. to R.: Chief Wm. Bywater of Salt Lake City, Chief Peter D. Carter of Camden N.J. - Chief Thos. R. Murphy of San Francisco - Chief August Gerstrung of Elizabeth, N.J. - Chief Ed. T. Murphy of Buffalo, N.Y. - Chief Samuel Boyde of Noxville [Knoxville], Tenn. - Chief Samuel H. (cq) Hunter of Springfield, Ohio. Front Row: Chief Jas. Mulcahey, Sect. of Yonkers, N.Y. - Chief Frank G. Reynold, Pres. of Augusta, Georgia - and Chief Chas. Ringer of Minneapolis, Minnesota.''

Collection of Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley.