Photo from Chester and Vicinity © 1914 by Hy. V. Smith 5th & Crosby St.
April 2001 photo courtesy of "Joker" Jack Chambers, firstname.lastname@example.org Back to Chester Fire Department main page More pictures of Hanley Hose Fire Apparatus, courtesy of William H. Crystle, 3rd, MISERABILL@aol.com,
History | Known Members | Known Junior Members | Recollections
5th & Crosby St.
Instituted January 12,
1869; incorporated February 22, 1869
Hanley had two ponies which were kept at Hanna's Stable on Rose St.
There was also a "Hanley Juniors" organization. The "Juniors" had their own small steamer and a reel hose cart which they pulled by hand.
The Hanley dedicated their new firehouse at 5th & Crosby Sts. on Saturday February 19, 1949. The building was erected at a cost of $45,000.
The following history is from the Hanley Hose Company's 100th Anniversary Program book, February 22, 1969:
(Ed. Note: This article was based on information obtained and researched by the Anniversary History Committee, Chairman Richard Hamilton, Rev. Lewis Worrell and Jess L. Mason.)
During 100 years of community service Hanley Hose Co. No. 1 has had countless glorious moments as the volunteer members distinguished themselves to save lives and to protect property.
Frequently Hanley firemen suffered the pain of personal injury and in several instances gave their lives in order to meet the responsibility of keeping the pledge of the Hanley motto: "When Duty Calls 'Tis Ours to Obey."
Through the entire century of public service Hanley firemen had their greatest moment in history when they traveled to Baltimore, Md. in 1904 in an act of mercy. They were called upon to help relieve exhausted firemen who were fighting a 2-day battle against a fiery holocaust that threatened the very existence of that port city.
Hanley firemen departed Chester on Feb. 7, 1904 when Mayor Howard H. Houston urged city firemen to assist their beleaguered associates in Baltimore. He received an appeal from the Baltimore mayor for assistance. Wind and cold weather turned a routine fire into a raging inferno that burned for several days as it moved from the downtown business area to the wharves and docks.
Hanley and Felton responded to the emergency appeal. Their equipment was loaded upon flat cars and was transported to Baltimore by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. They got aboard the special train in Chester at about 1:15 A.M. Feb. 7 and were in action two hours later.
The initial duty placed them in pumping duty for five hours when the Baltimore Fire Chief ordered them to Jones Falls in the lumber district of the harbor area. The courageous Hanley firemen remained at this location for about 10 hours until Baltimore fire officials ordered them to withdraw.
If it had not been for the action of the Fire Boat Cataract the Hanley pumper and the lives of the firemen could have been lost. The Hanley firemen remained at their assigned post until their escape was almost impossible.
The fire erupted inside a 6-story building in the business district. The flames reached such intensity that it ignited several nearby buildings. Other structures burst into flames as the heat increased. The tremendous fury of the fire caused frame buildings to explode like fireballs.
Hanley was on the Dock Street Wharf when the firemen found they were trapped by flames from an 8-story structure. Baltimore officials ordered the Hanley firemen out of the area for their safety. The fireboat provided a covering spray of water to enable them to pass the flaming obstacle. Moments later the walls collapsed. Hanley lost a section of hose. Some of the men were near blinded by failing embers and hot ashes and others suffered burns of the flesh.
Hanley had 27 firemen go to Baltimore with the equipment and 13 others traveled under their own power to join the company. They worked with firemen from Philadelphia, Wilmington, New York City, and Washington, D. C.
Baxter Ladomus, Hanley's oldest living fireman in terms of membership, was among those brave men who risked their lives in Baltimore. He joined Hanley on July 30, 1902 and was issued Badge No. 151. He has 67 years of continuous membership.
Hanley's local shining hour in history occurred in the performance of duty during the infamous Jackson Explosion. The blast that occurred on the morning of Feb. 17, 1882 claimed 16 lives and still ranks as the city's worst fire disaster. It is interesting to note that both the Baltimore fire and the Jackson Explosion occurred in February, the month of Hanley's anniversary date.
Hanley and the other city fire companies spent most of the previous night fighting a fire that destroyed the main building of Pennsylvania Military College. The firemen had hardly reached their homes when an alarm sounded for a fire at the Porter Mansion at 2nd and Welsh Streets.
The fire was discovered at about 7:30 A.M. in the former mansion that had been used in the manufacture of fireworks. The company was in the process of moving out and firemen were mistakenly informed that the supply of explosive powder had been removed. Actually some had been removed but a quantity remained.
Chester firemen were caught flat by several explosions. The first was minor but the second one demolished the building. Two Hanley firemen, Anthony E. Barber and John Pollock, died. John Vandergrift, a driver of the steamer, died of injuries later. Jefferson Pedrick was disabled for life and Ellwood Long was horribly disfigured.
Admiral Porter commanded the U. S. Frigate Essex in the War of 1812. He visited Chester in 1882 to present the cornerstone of the historic building to Hanley. The cornerstone remains in Hanley's possession today and is imbedded in the East wall of the Social Room as a permanent monument to those who died and were injured in the Jackson Explosion.
The Porter Mansion was built in 1721 by David Lloyd and was named Green Bank. Lloyd was the first chief justice of William Penn's Colony in the Chester area. The original cornerstone is one of the oldest in Pennsylvania.
The fire company was formed on Feb. 22, 1869 and was incorporated on May 24 that year. It was formed at a meeting of citizens in a cigar store operated by John Hanley at Market Square. Blinded, Mr. Hanley was a former member of the Northern Liberties Fire Co., of Philadelphia. He became one of the main contributors to the company during its period of organization. The firemen named the company in his honor as a tribute to the blind benefactor.
A carriage shop at 5th and Welsh Streets was secured as the first fire house in November 1869. The present site was acquired in 1871 when Hanley paid John 0. Deshong $1,000 for the ground.
The first building at 5th and Crosby Streets was constructed in 1876 and was occupied on Christmas Day that year. The second building was constructed in 1898 on the same site. The present building was erected on the same spot in 1949. Extensive renovations were completed this year to mark the company's 100th anniversary.
Hanley received its first hose carriage on Feb. 22, 1869. It and another purchased by Franklin arrived on the same boat from Philadelphia. Firemen from both companies tried to get their equipment unloaded first. Franklin won the boat captain's favor and their carriage rolled off first.
Franklin won the cheers of the crowd at the wharf but both companies shared the cheers as they conducted a downtown parade. Hanley's carriage was placed in a shed at the livery stable of historic Washington House at 5th and Market Streets.
Hanley's first fire alarm on March 22, 1869 was a false alarm but it gave the carriage a chance to roll. The second alarm occurred on April 6, 1869. Carriages from Hanley and Franklin collided while trying to get to a fire on 14th Street near Upland Borough. The next fire was at Stacy's Stable, at 4th Street and Edgmont Avenue. It ended in a water fight between the two fire companies.
The competition continued through the years and hit a high mark in 1890 when Hanley stole Franklin's thunder during the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Convention in Chester. Franklin made elaborate plans for the convention parade but Hanley captured the spotlight.
Hanley negotiated to hire the 7th Regiment Band, the nation's most outstanding military band at the time. It cost Hanley $2,000 on the barrel head to bring the distinguished musicians to Chester. They paraded and provided a concert and captured the front page of one local newspaper and prominent news stories in Philadelphia newspapers.
The Hanley firemen had to mortgage the firehouse in order to pay the band. Apparently they felt it was worth the price to top Franklin.
The spirit of competition, which often flared out of control and resulted in skinned knuckles, blackened eyes, bloodied noses and swollen lips years ago, has been tempered into cooperation.
Today the five fire companies in the city are united in the Chester Fire Department for the sole purpose of providing the best possible fire protection.
"Hanleys On The Run"
|Recollections:||A recollection from Browneyes122053@aol.com:
"Also as I recall my great aunt Mamie use to do the laundry
for the Hanley Hose fire department her name was Mamie Mills. She lived on 5th
street across from the orphanage.
Joe M. DiPlacido, email@example.com reminds me:
"... Bill Halley and the Comets had their studio across the street from the firehouse."
Many thanks to the following for contributing information for this page:
1 - Terry (Redden) Peters, granddaughter
2 - Rich Fraim, son of John Fraim, The1Richness@aol.com
3 - Lee Bennington, RLBennie@netscape.net
4 - Mike Majeski, son, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of this fire company, please forward it to email@example.com
© 2001, 2002 John A. Bullock III.
This page last updated 10/18/05