Steel Men and Wooden Ladders

The Equipment

The La Grange Fire Department in 1909 with their ladder truck on display.

From Chapter IV: 1891

  Although the village board had authorized only two hose carts, the reports show that there were actually four hose carts and supporting equipment. Whether the additional carts were purchased by the village or through other means is unknown. These carts, one of which may still have belonged to the department in the 1950’s, carried around 300’ of 2½ inch fire hose, the standard for the time. The hose would be attached to the outlet of the closest fire hydrant and led out to the fire where it would be uncoupled and the nozzle attached. The signal would be given and the man stationed at the hydrant would open it to provide water, the water system providing the only pressure. When a fire was reported it was often necessary for the person in charge of the water works to increase the pressure in the water system to provide sufficient pressure for fighting the fire. Even when the pressure was increased at the pumping station, the pressure at the hydrant would not have exceeded 60 pounds per square inch, and allowing for the pressure loss from the water flowing through the hose (what is technically referred to as friction loss) the pressure at the firefighting nozzle would likely not have been more than 30 to 40 psi, far below current standards of 100+ psi. The carts were pulled by hand by the firefighters for several years, at least until some arrangements were made to provide horses for the task. The four carts were stored in various locations around the town and each had a “hose company” assigned to it. Hose Company #1was located in the business district in the alley behind Packer & Durland's Livery at 27 W. Calendar. This location seems to be the epicenter of the department as will be related in later events. Hose Company #2 was stationed in the Lord's Lumber Plant in the 400 block of West Hillgrove, and Hose Company #3 was kept in a barn on the Fred Ebert property at 440 S. Catherine.