Antique Fdny Ledger Handwritten Book/vintage Firefighting/nyc Fire Dept. 1800s For Sale
FANTASTIC, ORIGINAL 19TH CENTURY NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT LEDGER. This amazing volume was compiled by Engine Company 42 which at the time operated from Fulton Avenue in the Bronx section of New York City, where it was organized in 1874. Entries run from October 13th, 1899 through March 6th, 1900, and cover day-to-day activities of the firehouse in fascinating detail.
Massive folio contains some 500 numbered pages, each chock full of handwritten entries including fire calls and alarms, ambulance calls, roll calls, company drills, meal breaks, caring and exercising of the horses, trips to the blacksmith shop, equipment maintenance, supply purchases, etc. This is one of those vintage gems which should be seen to be fully appreciated. A truly remarkable time capsule from a bygone era of NYC firefighting, compiled over 100 years ago.
The New York City Fire Department traces its origins back to 1648 when the first fire ordinance was adopted in what then was the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Hooks, ladders and buckets were financed through the collection of fines for dirty chimneys and a fire watch was established consisting of eight wardens which were drawn from the male population. An organization known as the "prowlers" but given the nickname "the rattle watch" patrolled the streets with buckets, ladders and hooks from nine in the evening until dawn looking for fires. Leather shoe buckets, 250 in all, were manufactured by local Dutch shoemakers in 1658, and these "bucket brigades" are regarded as the beginning of the New York Fire Department.
In 1664 New Amsterdam became a British settlement and was renamed New York. The first New York fire brigade entered service in 1731 equipped with two hand-drawn pumpers which had been transported from London, England. These two pumpers formed Engine Company 1 and Engine Company 2. These were the first fire engines to be used in the American colonies, and all able-bodied citizens were required to respond to a fire alarm and to participate in the extinguishing under the supervision of the Aldermen.
The city's first firehouse was built in 1736 in front of City Hall on Broad Street. A year later, on December 16th, 1737, the colony's General Assembly created the Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York, appointing 30 men who would remain on call in exchange for exemption from jury and militia duty. The city's first official firemen were required to be "able, discreet, and sober men who shall be known as Firemen of the City of New York, to be ready for service by night and by day and be diligent, industrious and vigilant." Although the 1737 Act created the basis of the fire department, the actual legal entity was incorporated in the State of New York on March 20th, 1798 under the name of "Fire Department, City of New York."
In 1865 the volunteer fire department was abolished by a state act which was passed to create the "Metropolitan Fire District" and the "Metropolitan Fire Department" [MFD]. This effectively gave control of the fire departments in the cities of New York and Brooklyn to the Governor who appointed its Board of Commissioners. There was never any effective incorporation of the fire departments of the two cities during this period. It wasn't until the Greater City of New York was consolidated in 1898 that the two were combined under one structure and leadership.
The change met with a mixed reaction from the citizens, and some of the eliminated volunteers became bitter and resentful which resulted in both political battles and street fights. But the insurance companies in the city finally got their way by having the volunteers replaced with paid "professionals." The members of the paid fire department were mostly selected from the prior volunteers. All of the volunteer's apparatus, including their fire houses, were seized by the state who made use of them to form the new organization and form the basis of the FDNY as we know it today. The MFD lasted until 1870 when the Tweed Charter ended state control in the city. As a result, a new Board of Fire Commissioners was created and the original name of the "Fire Department City of New York" [FDNY] was re-instated.
Initially, the paid fire service only covered New York City [present day Manhattan], until the act of 1865 which united Brooklyn with New York to form the Metropolitan District. The same year the fire department consisted of 13 Chief Officers and 552 Company Officers and firemen. The officers and firemen worked a continuous tour of duty, with 3 hours a day off for meals and one day off a month, and were paid salaries according to their rank or grade. 1865 also saw the first adoption of regulations, although they were fairly strict and straitlaced.
Following several large fires in 1866 which resulted in excessive fire losses and a rise in the cost of insurance, the fire department was reorganized under the command of General Alexander Shaler, and with military discipline the paid department reached its full potential which resulted in a general reduction in fire losses. In 1870 the merit system of promotion in the Fire Department was established.
Southwestern Westchester County [which would later become the western Bronx] was annexed by New York in 1874 and the volunteers there were phased out and replaced by the paid department. This pattern was repeated as City services expanded elsewhere. There are ten volunteer fire companies left in New York City that respond to calls in their neighborhood in addition to a normal assignment of FDNY units. They are typically in more isolated neighborhoods of the city.
On January 1st, 1898 the different areas of New York were consolidated, which ushered the Fire Department into a new era. All the fire forces in the various sections were brought under the unified command of the first Commissioner in the history of the Fire Department. This same year Richmond [now Staten Island] became a part of the City of New York, but the volunteer units there remained in place until they were gradually replaced by paid units in 1915, 1928, 1932 and 1937 when only two volunteer units remained.
The unification of the Fire Department, which took place in 1898, would pave the way for many changes. In 1909 the Fire Department received its first piece of motorized fire apparatus. On March 25th, 1911 a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company killed 146 workers, most of whom where young female immigrants. Later the same year the fire college was formed to train new fire fighters, and in 1912 the Bureau of Fire Prevention was created.
In 1919 the Uniformed Firefighters Association was formed. Tower ladders and the Superpumper System were introduced in 1965. Major apparatus of the Superpumper System was phased out in 1982, in favor of the Maxi-Water Unit. But the 5 Satellite Units of the system, together with the Maxi-Water Unit [known as Satellite 6 since 1999] are still actively used as of 2007 for multiple alarm fires and certain other incidents. These are now called the Satellite Water System. Other technical advances included the introduction of high pressure water systems, the creation of a Marine fleet, adoption of vastly improved working conditions and the utilization of improved radio communications.
On November 23rd, 1965, incoming Mayor Lindsay announced the appointment of Robert O. Lowery as Fire Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department. His was the first commissioner level appointment announced by the Mayor-elect. Lowery, who was the first African American to serve as a Fire Commissioner of a major U.S. city, served in that position for more than 7 years until his resignation on September 29th, 1973 in order to campaign for then-Controller Abraham D. Beame, the Democratic candidate for Mayor. In 1982 the first female firefighters joined the ranks of the Fire Department.
Today the FDNY is the largest municipal fire department in the United States and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department. It has about 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. It faces an extraordinarily varied challenge. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are the many bridges and tunnels, large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires, and one of the largest subway systems in the world. These challenges add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the creation of the motto for FDNY firefighters of "New York’s Bravest".
Condition: Rare book remains in good overallcondition [see images]. Folio bound in spine tooled three-quarter leather, cover worn with fragilespinewell chipped and flaking, marbled endpapers, occasional ink smudge, etc., generally sound and clean internally. Volume contains 500 numbered pages of handwritten entries in red and black ink penned in various hands, neat and legible throughout. Folio measures approx 14" tall x 9" wide x 1.5" thick. Quite a find and a very worthy acquisition indeed.
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On Feb-14-13 at 18:48:37 PST, seller added the following information:
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Antique Fdny Ledger Handwritten Book/vintage Firefighting/nyc Fire Dept. 1800s: $153