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

Friday, January 20, 2012


On Feb. 1, 1900, Dayton firefighters put out a call for mutual aid from Springfield, Columbus and Cincinnati for a warehouse fire - the worst in about 30 years.

A falling wall seriously injured Dayton fireman George Coy but no lives were lost in Dayton's largest blaze since the Turner Opera House in 1869. [Top photo]

According to an Illustrated History of the Dayton Fire Department by J. E. Brelsford, copyright 1900:

"This date will remain a memorable one to Dayton firemen. It was a bitter cold morning with a high wind blowing, when they were called to J. P. Wolf & Sons tobacco warehouse, on the corner of First and Foundry Streets.

"The flames spread rapidly, and for a time it looked as if the department was unequal to the task of extinguishing them. Aid from Cincinnati, Columbus and Springfield was asked for, but before either Columbus or Cincinnati reached here the fire was under control.

"The men fought the flames heroically for hours, always at a great disadvantage, due to inadequate water pressure, the intense cold and high wind. The establishments of Wolf & Son, Benedict & Co., Dayton Paper Novelty Co. and E. Bimm & Sons' were destroyed, while other firms sustained minor losses."


From New York Herald, May 17, 1869


LOSS BETWEEN $600,000 AND $800,000


Dayton, May 16, 1869.

At one o'clock this morning Turner's Opera House, in this city took fire and was entirely destroyed. The building was occupied by McKEE, WOODWARD & WEEKLY, wholesale grocers; BLACK & FOX, wholesale china and queensware; GROVER & BAKER'S Machine Company, a large restaurant and billiard rooms. Nothing was saved but a few sewing machines.

The fine residences east of the Opera House, on First street, of J. SCHWAB, JOEL ESTABROOK and A. KUHERS, were also destroyed. The fire also communicated to the buildings south, on Main street, owned by M. OHMER, which were entirely destroyed, including the large furniture establishment of MR. OHMER and the grocery store of SARDMIER & BROTHER.

HERMAN SARDMIER, of the latter firm, was endeavoring to save some of his goods, when a portion of the wall fell, crushing him to the floor. His brother and several others endeavored to extricate him, but it was impossible. He lived in this condition for a while, when another crash came, burying him in the ruins. His wife and family were present, but no human power could save him.

The scene was heartrending. The loss is estimated at between $600,000 and $800,000, and the insurance about $100,000. It is supposed to be the work of an incendiary. The Opera House was one of the finest in the West, and was owned by J. M. and W. M. TURNER, whose whole loss will be about $250,000 over and above an insurance of $48,000.