Charleston Fire Department History
 

This page is in the process of being updated. November 25, 2007

Contents


Other Engine Houses / Demolished Engine Houses
 

Address Cross Street Occupant
Archdale St. opposite Market St., west side CFD Engine 5, circa 1886-1887.
CFD Hook & Ladder No. 1, circa 1884.
Hope Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1869.
Hope Fire Engine Company (hand), circa 1867.
Anson St. between Laurens and Society Ward Engine #3 (colored), circa 1859
Beaufain St. east of Smith, south side Comet Steam Fire Engine Company (colored), circa 1881, 1875.
Cannon St. near King, south side CFD Engine 6, circa 1886. CFD Engine 7, circa 1887.
Marion Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1875, 1869.
Columbus St. corner of Aiken St. City Engine No. 9 (hand), circa 1869.
Columbus St. corner of Hampstead Mall Ashley Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875. Same as above?
Ward Engine #10 (colored), circa 1859
Cumberland St. east of Meeting, north side Phoenix Fire Company, circa 1881, 1875, 1869.
Elizabeth St. between Charlotte and Johns Ward Engine #9 (colored), circa 1859
George St.   Housed the Charleston Fire Company, later named Pioneer Fire Company.
George St. at College St., northwest corner Stonewall Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1875.
Stonewall Fire Engine Company (hand), circa 1869, 1867. Same as above?
George St. corner of College Ward Engine No. 6 (colored), circa 1859. Same as above?
John St. east of King, north side CFD truck companies 1882-1943
CFD Hook & Ladder 1, circa 1892.
CFD Engine 6, circa 1885-1888.
CFD Engine 5, circa 1884.
Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 3  (colored) circa 1881.
Two-story structure.
8 Liberty St.   Salvage Corps, circa 1886.
King St.   Union Star Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875.
King St. between Trade Street and Price's Alley Ward Engine #2 (colored), circa 1859. Same as above?
182 Market St. between Church and Meeting Pioneer Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1869.
Meeting St. between John and Ann, west side Eagle Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1875, 1869.
Eagle Fire Engine Company (hand), circa 1867.
Meeting St. near John St. CFD Hook & Ladder No. 2, circa 1884-1890. Two-story. Same as above?
Meeting St. southern end of Guard House Ward Engine #1 (colored), circa 1859
Morris St.   Marion Fire Company.
81-83 Queen St.

Numbers c.1933

between Meeting and King, south side CFD reserve engine house from 1887 to early 1930s.
CFD Station 2, CFD headquarters, CFD fire alarm system 1882-1887.
Aetna Fire Company before 1882.
Also Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 circa 1881, 1875, 1869.
Two-story.
Pitt St. between Wentworth and Montague Ward Engine No. 7 (colored), circa 1859
Rutledge St. corner Beaufain St., southwest corner City Engine No. 5 (colored), circa 1869.
Ward Engine No. 5 (colored), circa 1859
Sires St. above Spring City Engine No. 8 (colored), circa 1869.
Sires St.   Niagara Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875. Same as above?
Smith St. near Calhoun City Engine No. 7 (hand) (colored), circa 1869.
Smith St.   Prudence Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875. Same as above?
Society St. near Anson Young American Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1869.
45 Spring St.   Niagara Steam Fire Engine Company (colored), circa 1881.
Spring St corner of Sires Ward Engine #8 (colored), circa 1859. Same others as above?
Vanderhorst St. between St. Philip and King, north side Washington Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1881, 1875, 1869, 1867.
Washington St. corner of Inspection Ward Engine #4 (colored), circa 1859
Wentworth St. near King, north side Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 2, circa 1881, 1875
Charleston Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, circa 1869.
Charleston Fire Engine Company (hand), circa 1867.
Wentworth St.   Pioneer Steam Fire Engine Company, circa 1875. Same as above?
44 Wentworth St.   Phoenix Fire Engine Company (hand), burned 1861.
Unknown   Promptitude Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875.
Unknown   United Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored), circa 1875.

Volunteer Fire Companies
 

Name Started Ended Apparatus (incomplete)
Aetna (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1829
Incorporated 1830
1882 1848 Hunneman hand engine (c.1859)
1859 Hunneman hand engine (#639)
Clapp & Jones steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Ashley Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Incorporated 1869 After 1875  
Charleston Axeman Fire Company Incorporated 1801
Changed name 1861 (?)
See Pioneer Fire Company.
  Roulain hand truck (c.1859)
Charleston Fire Company Incorporated 1820 ? 1857 Jeffers hand engine (c.1859)
Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 Instituted 1865
Incorporated 1865
1882 Leverich hand truck (c.1881)
Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 2 Instituted 1865 1882 Hartshorn hand truck (c.1881)
Charleston Hook & Ladder Company No. 3 Instituted 1870
Incorporated 1872
1882 Hand truck (c.1881)
Comet Steam Fire Engine Company (colored) Incorporated 1870 1882 Clapp & Jones steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Eagle (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1816
Incorporated 1818
1882 1857 Button & Blake hand engine (c.1859)
1860 Button hand engine (#548)
1869 Button steamer (#47), hand-pulled (c.1881)
German (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1839
Incorporated 1839
1882 1847 Agnew hand engine (c.1859)
1860 Agnew hand engine
1870 Amoskeag steamer (#329), horse-pulled (c.1881)
Hope (Steam) Fire Engine Company Incorporated 1843 1882 1843 Hunneman hand engine (#227)
1851 Simpson hand engine (c.1857)
Button & Blake hand engine (c.1859)
1860 Button hand engine (#547)
1870 Amoskeag steamer (#334), hand-pulled (c.1881)
Independent Fire Company Circa 1840 ? 1840 Hunneman hand engine (#187)
Marion (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1838
Incorporated 1839
1882 1839 Hunneman hand engine (c.1859)
1851 Hunneman hand engine (#434)
Clapp & Jones steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Niagara Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Instituted 1861
Incorporated 1869
1882 R. J. Gould steamer, hand pulled (c. 1881)
Old Charleston Hand Engine Incorporated 1829
Changed named 1865
See Charleston H&L No. 2
   
Palmetto (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1840
Incorporated 1841
1882 1842 Hunneman hand engine (#218) (c.1857)
Pyne & Hartshorn hand engine (c.1859)
1860 Hunneman hand engine (#651)
1867 Amoskeag steamer (#236), hand-pulled (c.1881)
Palmetto Axe Fire Company Incorporated 1849   1849 Mahoney hand truck (c.1857)
Phoenix (Steam) Fire Engine Company Incorporated 1826 1882 1839 Agnew hand engine (c.1857)
1858 Jeffers hand engine (c.1859)
Jeffers steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Pioneer Steam Fire Engine Company Instituted 1861 (?) 1882 Clapp & Jones steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Promptitude Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Incorporated 1870 After 1875  
Protection Fire Company Incorporated 1849   1850 Artman hand truck (c.1857)
Prudence Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Incorporated 1870 After 1875  
Stonewall Steam Fire Engine Company Instituted 1865
Incorporated 1866
1882 1870 Amoskeag steamer (#321), horse-pulled (c.1881)
Union Star Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Incorporated 1869 After 1875  
United Fire Engine Company (hand) (colored) Incorporated by 1875. After 1875 1874 Hunneman hand engine (#732)
Vigilant (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1819
Incorporated 1819
1882 1850 Jeffers hand engine (c.1859)
1871 Silsby steamer (#277), hand-pulled (c.1881)
Washington (Steam) Fire Engine Company Instituted 1849
Incorporated 1849
1882 1849 Hunneman hand engine (#372) (c.1859)
1860 Jeffers hand engine
Clapp & Jones steamer, hand-pulled (c.1881)
Young American Steam Fire Engine Company Instituted 1865
Incorporated 1866
1882 1871 Silsby steamer (#278), hand-pulled (c.1881)


Ward Engine Companies
 

Company Location (circa 1859) Apparatus (incomplete)
Ward Engine No. 1 Meeting Street, on southern end of Guard House 1846 Hunneman (#303), 1853 Hunneman (#469)
Ward Engine No. 2 King Street, between Trade Street and Price's Alley  
Ward Engine No. 3 Anson Street, between Laurens and Society streets 1848 Hunneman (#342)
Ward Engine No. 4 Washington Street, at corner of Inspection Street 1846 Hunneman (#304)
Ward Engine No. 5 Rutledge Street, corner of Beaufain Street 1850 Hunneman (#410)
Ward Engine No. 6 George Street, corner of College Street 1850 Hunneman (#411)
Ward Engine No. 7 Pitt Street, between Wentworth and Montague streets 1850 Hunneman (#412)
Ward Engine No. 8 Spring Street, corner of Sires Street 1850 Hunneman (#413)
Ward Engine No. 9 Elizabeth Street, between Charlotte and Johns streets 1850 Hunneman (#414)
Ward Engine No. 10 Hampstead Mall, corner of Columbus Street 1853 Hunneman (#496)

 

History
  • 1784 - The first documented reference to organized fire protection is the Hand in Hand Fire Company, organized by that year.
  • 1801 - The first hand engine company was formed and named the Charleston Fire Company of Axeman.
  • 1818-1849 - Other fire companies followed and organized in the decades before the Civil War. The engine companies included Eagle (1818), Vigilant (1819), Phoenix (1826), Charleston (1826), Aetna (1829), Marion (1839), German (1839), Palmetto (1841), Hope (1842), and Washington (1849). The ladder companies included Palmetto Axe (1849) and Protection (1849).
  • 1839 - Two magazines of blasting powder were maintained for the purpose of destroying burning buildings to create fire breaks.
  • 1860s, prior - Before the Civil War, hand engines were purchased in large numbers. The volunteer fire companies purchased many, and the city purchased "ward engines" to be manned by slaves. The city engines were plain and with no adornments, such as bells, buckets, or lanterns, and with only one playpipe.
  • 1861 - The first steam engine appeared after the Great Fire in 1861. The Charleston Fire Company of Axeman purchased the first steamer, and changed their name to the Pioneer Fire Company.
  • 1865 - The Charleston Hook & Ladder Company formed.
  • 1866 - Two other steam engine companies had formed by 1866.
  • 1870 - There were 1,600 volunteer firefighters and over a dozen companies on the roster by 1870.
  • 1877 - A Gamewell electric-telegraph fire alarm system was installed in the spring of that year.
  • 1881 - There were nearly 1,110 volunteers and 17 fire companies in 1881.
  • 1882 - On January 1, 1882, the volunteer fire department was replaced by a paid fire department. The Charleston Fire Department was placed in service with six engine companies (steamer and hose carriage/reel), two truck companies, 101 men, and 29 horses. Two steamers and a ladder truck were in reserve. At least one of the truck companies was all-black.
  • 1886 - The earthquake of 1886 damaged most of the engine houses beyond repair. The Board of Firemasters recommended selling several of the old station sites, and building new stations that were better located. Three stations were constructed under the same contract. Daniel G. Wayne was the architect, Colin McK. Grant was the contract. They cost an approximate total of $28,000. The stations were located at 116 Meeting Street, 262 Meeting Street, and 5 Cannon Street.
  • 1900 - Drill tower built alongside the quarters of Engine No. 2 (Central Station). The 70-foot structure is built mostly by firefighters at Central Station. Also that year, the lot on Wentworth Street adjoining Central Station is purchased.
  • 1902 - The Cannon Street station is expanded with an additional room with a cement floor, for housing another steamer. Also that year, Firefighter E. Parsons of Engine 2 died in the line of duty on September 9, 1902. Also Engineer W. Nelson of Engine 6 died in the line of duty on November 27, 1902.
  • 1903 - New second-size Metropolitan steamer received in September and placed in service with Engine No. 5.
  • 1905 - First motor vehicle placed in service, Chief O. G. Marjenhoff's car. Also that year, the annual report lists quickest time for full companies of 12 men each , answering calls at fires or alarms, from first stroke of gongs. Fastest during day are Engine 3 on December 30, box 454, 8:43 a.m., 7 minutes and Engine 7 on January 29, box 623, at 10:10 a.m., 7 minutes. Fastest at night includes Engine 3 on January 25, box 532, 8:48 p.m., 6 minutes.
  • 1906 - Chief O. G. Marjenhoff dies on duty, collapsing at a fire at 97 East Bay Street on December 27, 1906.
  • 1907 - New second-size Metropolitan steamer placed in service with Engine 1. Also that year, the aerial truck is equipped with a ladder pipe, allowing use as a water tower.
  • 1908 - All fire department buildings, except the Queen Street reserve station, are painted inside and outside by department members.
  • 1910 - Station 8 on Huger Street on April 15, 1960. Also that year, the first apparatus is placed in service, a Webb hose wagon replacing Steam Engine 2 on October 1, 1912. It was equipped with seven men, and carried 1,000 feet of hose and other equipment.
  • 1910 - At the end of 1910, the department had 103 men, 11 steamers, 1 motor engine, 1 chemical engine, 2 fuel wagons, 7 hose wagons, 1 combination hose wagon, 3 hose carriages, 1 aerial ladder truck, 1 service ladder truck, 1 automobile, 1 buggy, 31 horses, and 118 alarm boxes.
  • 1910 - Firefighter A. L. Knickmeyer of Engine 6 died in the line of duty on October 6, 1910.
  • 1912 - Seagrave motor hose wagon, chemical engine, and tractor placed in service as Combination Company No. 3.
  • 1913 - Marine Division placed in service, utilizing the private tugs Waban, Cecelia, and Victoria. Each is equipped with pumps, and connections for hoses. Also that year, the annual report features a comparison of the expenses of motor versus horse-drawn apparatus. The new Seagrave hose wagon, chemical engine, and tractor cost $106.39 to operate. The horse-drawn apparatus displaced by the motor truck cost $899.31 to operate.
  • 1914 - Drill school not in operation due to poor condition of drill tower.
  • 1915 - Drill tower demolished. Also that year, the first pumper is placed in service, a Seagrave triple combination, 1000 GPM, as Engine 2. Old Engine 2 is transferred to Engine 6.
  • 1916 - New drill tower erected in the rear of Central Station, built by members of the department.
  • 1916 - Engineer M. L. Prince of Engine 3 died in the line of duty on May 27, 1916.
  • 1917 - Reserve corps of fifty citizens organized, to provide service in the event of a general alarm of fire.
  • 1920 - New pair of American LaFrance pumpers, 750 GPM, placed in service as Engine 1 and Engine 7. Also that year, a two-platoon system is inaugurated.
  • 1923 - New American LaFrance motor aerial ladder, 75-foot, placed in service. Also, two Indian motorcycles placed in service, for responding to still alarms.
  • 1926 - New pair of Ahrens-Fox pumpers, 750 GPM, placed in service. The department is fully motorized, except for a fuel wagon and reserve apparatus.
  • 1930 - New Seagrave pumper, 750 GPM, placed in service. Also that year, one-story brick machine shop constructed in the rear of Station 1 at 114 Meeting Street.
  • 1932-35 - Reserve fire station at 81-83 Queen Street sold. The proceeds were used to repair, paint, and screen all fire station dormitories. Also during that period, the chemical tanks and body from the 1912 Seagrave installed on a Ford one-ton chassis. Second Ford with one-ton chassis placed in service with new hose body and reconditioned chemical tank.
  • 1933 - Station 9 on King Street opened after June 1, 1933.
  • 1934 - New Foamite wagon placed in service. Used for oil fires.
  • 1935 - Drill tower closed due to deteriorating condition of structure.
  • 1938 - New shop-built pumper, 500 GPM, placed in service as Engine 7.
  • 1939 - New shop-built pumper, 500 GPM, placed in service as Engine 4. Also that year, the Assistant Chief's cars are equipped with police radio receivers.
  • 1940 - New shop-built pumper, 600 GPM, placed in service as Engine 9. Also that year, a Mack Motor City service truck is placed in service.
  • 1942 - A "portable industrial first aid kit" is purchased.
  • 1943 - Truck company station on Coming Street opened. Also that year, the last reserve horse is retired.
  • 1944 - A "crash truck" is placed in service.
  • 1945 - New Mack pumper, 750 GPM, placed in service.
  • 1946 - New Mack pumper, 750 GPM, placed in service.
  • 1947 - New Mack pumper, 1000 GPM, placed in service. Also that year, Chevrolet tractor placed in service to pull 1923 American LaFrance aerial ladder. Also that year, new helmets purchased for personnel.
  • 1948 - Airport station, with car and pumper in service by that year.
  • 1950 - Two pumpers, 500 GPM, placed in service.
  • 1951 - Five pumpers, 500 GPM, placed in service. They are reconditioned and turned over to Civil Defense. Also that year, uniforms and badges are purchased for Civil Defense firemen. Also that year, new winter and summer uniforms are purchased for department personnel. Also that year, short-wave radios installed in Chief's car and apparatus.

Sources

  • The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City's Architecture by Jonathan H. Poston for Historic Charleston Foundation, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 1997
  • Charleston city directories, including 1852 (fires), 1869-1870, 1875, 1880-1884
  • Charleston city yearbooks, 1880 through 1849-51.
  • Charleston Public Library Main Branch vertical files, including a web page printed on 28AUG01 titled History of Firefighting in Charleston, SC; Charleston Fire Department report 1867 as compiled by W.P.A. Writers; City Council proceedings June 23, 1857
  • Courier & Post articles including 10AUG70 (Watch Towers), 27DEC74 (Station 1), 04MAY76 (Old Station 1)
  • Evening Post articles including 09DEC37 (Cannon Street), 15AUG38 (Alarm System), 22SEP38 (Station 8), 13JAN54 (Aux FFs), 11AUG56 (Apparatus), 02FEB57 (Gamewell), 13OCT60 (Station 8), 31MAR70 (General History), 23JAN76 (Old Station 1)
    ibid, 13OCT60 (Station 8), 23JAN76 (Station 1)
  • Grant Mishoe, Curator of North Charleston and American LaFrance FIre Museum
  • Guidebook, Charleston County Public Library (CCPL)
  • Lesco Restorations, Inc, Newsletter, March 2003 (Huger Street)
  • News & Courier articles including 27DEC32 (First Auto), 29AUG32 (General History), 02MAY33 (Station 9), 11OCT36 (Horses), 11APR49 (Station 4), 13FEB50 (Engine House), 22FEB65 (Central Station), 07SEP81 (Engine Houses), 27OCT88 (Engine Houses)
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1884, 1888
  • South Carolina Historical Society vertical files, including hand engine and steam engine research in 1994 by Edward R. Tufts; essay titled Early Days of Fire Fighting in Charleston, S.C. by Harold S. Walker

Last updated: 25NOV07

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Copyright 2013 by Michael J. Legeros