Archive for August 9th, 2010

Fort Sam Houston Fire Department

August 9, 2010

I have been trying to date this photo, which belonged to my grandfather, so I searched the newspaper archives and found a few articles that seem to be from the correct time period.  If anyone has any personal knowledge regarding the fire fighters at Fort Sam Houston during this time period, please leave me a comment. (Click the photo for a larger image.)


Blaze Fighters in Fort Sam Houston Vicinity Now One Unit.

The fire fighting organizations of all army stations located in the vicinity of Fort Sam Houston have been consolidated and Fire Chief Hogan of Camp Travis placed in control of training and operation, according to a general order issued by Maj. Gen. John L. Hines, commanding general of the Eighth Corps area, Friday. Fire departments affected by the order are Fort Sam Houston, Camp Travis, Eighth Corps Area Depot No. 2 and the remount depot.

The consolidation was made in the interests of economy and efficiency, and after October 15 the four units will operate as one fire department insofar as fire prevention and fire fighting is concerned.

None of the personnel or equipment of the various units is to be transferred without the approval of the corps area headquarters however, the order states.

The area which the newly consolidated fire department will have to cover is scattered, extending several miles from the central station at Camp Travis. Up to the present time the department has operated very efficiently, as no destructive fires have ever occurred, with the exception of one warehouse.

The fire department is manned exclusively with soldier firemen, with Chief Hogan, former city fireman, as chief. In addition to keeping a close watch in order to prevent fires, the department keeps the men constantly in training.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Oct 14, 1921

This photo goes with the one above. I haven’t been able to identify any of the men named here. Here is a list of the names, as best as I can make them out:




New Equipment Here For Camp Travis Fire Department.

Fire-fighting clothes have been received by the three stations comprising the Fire Department at Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston. they are of canvas lined with fleeced wool and interlined with material that is water proof. There are pants and coat and each fireman will have a suit handy to his cot on retiring at night. The pants are built sailor fashion, designed for speed in donning them rather than for style, and to keep the water off in rainy weather or should the fireman get mixed up with the stream from the hose.

There are three fire houses in the military reservation in charge of Fire Chief Hogan; No. 1 is equipped with an Ahrens Fox Pumper, No. 2 has a Brockway Hosewagon and No. 3 has a 10 valve White pumper.

Most of the buildings in Camp Travis are of frame but an automatic general fire alarm system that extends throughout the entire camp and through Fort Sam Houston coupled with the fact that the fire-fighting apparatus is of the most modern known, makes the risk an extremely light one.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Nov 8, 1922

This photo in the newspaper looks like it could have been taken about the same time, if not the same day, but none of the names listed on my photo above are listed in the article below, so I can’t be sure.  (Click for larger image.)

Headquarters of the Fort Sam Houston Fire Department, showing part of the officers and men of Wagon Company No. 4, who guard Uncle Sam's huge investment in the Staff Post and Cantonment Garrison. The department on paper is carried as a wagon company. It's chauffeurs rate as horse shoers and other ratings are similar to those in any wagon company. Lieut. Joseph L. Hogan, chief of the Fort Sam Houston Fire Department, a former member of the San Antonio city fire department. Chief Hogan is responsible for the department as far as actual fire fighting is concerned. Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal at Fort Sam Houston, including Camp Stanley. Lieutenant Weed, with Chief Hogan, drew the plan whereby Wagon Company No. 4 was changed bodily into the crack fire-fighting organization it has become. In addition to being fire marshal and responsible for maintenance of discipline in the department Lieutenant Weed is adjutant of the Second Division Trains and holds temporary command of one or two other organizations pending assignment of other officers to them.

PROBABLY the most unique fire fighting organization in the world and certainly in the United States Army is Wagon Company No. 4, which was converted bodily into a crack fire department, but still functions on the organization rolls of the Second Division as a wagon company.

“We must have a well organized fire company,” went out the word from division headquarters.

Lieut. T.J. Weed, Quartermaster Corps, adjutant of the Second Division trains, was given the problem to work out in conjunction with Joseph L. Hogan, then captain in the San Antonio city department, and later chief of the Camp Travis and later of the Fort Sam Houston consolidated departments.

Under the plan arranged by the two Wagon Company No. 4 was converted into the fire company and the former rank of the men involved still stood on organization rolls. But there really is this difference, the sergeant wagon masters really are station chiefs, the corporals, or assistant wagon masters now serve as company clerks, mess sergeants, etc. The chauffeurs of the fire trucks are carried on the company pay rolls as horseshoers.

The personnel of the wagon company today shows many changes from its original roster. The pick of the entire Second Division was given its commander and the result was the gathering of a splendid body of men. Capt. E.A. Fischer first was placed in command, later being succeeded by Capt. Wilbur Elliott, who in turn was succeeded as fire marshal and commander of the company by Lieutenant Weed, who now holds that position in addition to other duties.

Three Assistants on Job.

Fire Chief Hogan is assisted by three other civilians, all of whom are former San Antonio city fire department members and thoroughly conversant with the duties of a fireman and how men should be trained to make first-class firemen of them. They are First Assistant Chief Ed Hogan, a brother of the chief, Second Assistant Chief E. Kirsch, and Third Assistant Chief J.E. Dowdy.

In the enlisted force of the fire department there are three sergeants, three corporals and 84 enlisted men. In order that the men should be satisfied with their new duties and the possible hazards they might be called upon to take in the department, they have been given various specialist ratings which carry with them a slight increase in pay.

Wagon Company No. 4 is one organization which holds no drills, as a whole, and never assembles as a whole. While it maintains company headquarters and a mess, where the men eat, and draw their pay, these are the only two things which bring the men assigned to the various stations to company headquarters. At meal times one piece of apparatus drives up and its crew alights, with the exception of one man, who stands by the apparatus while the others eat hurriedly. After the last man had eaten the truck returns to the house, relieving the other piece which then carries its crew to the mess hall. In this way the firehouses never are left unguarded.

Fire drills of all sorts are given at regular intervals, including hose drills, catching plugs, ladder drills. Occasionally a salvaged building in isolated occasion will be set off, alarm turned in and the firemen will receive the actual practice of combatting flames.

Behind the highly organized fire company stands splendid equipment, including seven pieces of motor apparatus ranging from the Dodge car used by Chief Hogan to a large Ahrens-Fox pumper. These vehicles are supplemented by approximately 40 hand hose reels throughout the cantonment garrison and army post. Altogether the department has about 20,000 feet of standard hose.

Men Always in Watch Towers.

High towers are features of the fire fighting equipment at the  cantonment garrison and at no time is the vigilance of the watchers relaxed. Like the foresters who watch over the great Government preserves, these servants of the Government constantly scan the horizon for smoke or flames. Not along does the responsibility of guarding the cantonment with its millions of dollars worth of fixed property, but the knowledge that within the buildings are many additional millions worth of fine equipment and that much of the housing construction is of flimsy wooden type, adds gravity to the firemen’s duty.

The fire fighters do not confine their activities to Fort Sam Houston as included in the consolidation. Fires anywhere in the vicinity of the cantonment garrison also are considered as imposing duty upon the firemen. They have sent equipment to farm houses beyond the camp limits and successfully combatted flames. Frequently, when the alarm is near the post, they aid the city department with which a reciprocal understanding is maintained. Runs are made as far as Government Hill, at times.

Included in the department are three stations in the cantonment garrison, one at the staff post and one at Camp Stanley.

A modern telegraph fire alarm system is a feature of the equipment of the Fort Sam Houston department. There are direct alarm lines from the camp laundry and camp exchange, both of which are very large and valuable buildings with highly valuable contents. The big warehouses and the hospitals are equipped with automatic alarms which are set off in headquarters station when the temperature of the buildings reaches a certain degree of heat.

All fire alarms are answered by the military police, to patrol the grounds around the threatened building, and by a surgeon with an ambulance, equipped with first aid appliances.

Recreation Rooms Provided.

It would be dull indeed for the firemen were their daily life to consist altogether of duty. Lieutenant Weed therefore had arranged with the assistance of Chief Hogan, for the installation of recreation rooms at each of the fire stations. The equipment will included pool table, game boards, literature of various kinds. A recreation room also will be installed at company headquarters for the tower guards, fire alarm operators and others stationed there.

Both the military and civilian heads of the department are natives of San Antonio.

Lieutenant Weed is a San Antonian. With the exception of a few years during which he has been in the public service, in the army and other branches of the Government, he has spent practically all his life in this city. With the Government he served in construction work on the Panama Canal and in the consular service in Mexico.
Upon the entry of the United States into the World War, Lieutenant Weed was serving in the office of Gen. H.L. Rogers, then Colonel Rogers who later served as Quartermaster General of the Army, but who at that time was serving as Quartermaster of the Old Southern Department. When General Rogers was ordered overseas Lieutenant Weed accompanied him, remaining there for over two years, when he was ordered back to the United States for duty in the office of the Quartermaster General of the Army. He remained there for two years, until ordered to the Second Division.

While overseas Lieutenant Weed rose from the grade of sergeant to that of captain, serving in the latter grade as chief of the administrative division office of the Chief Quartermaster, A.E.F. In Washington he occupied a similar position, and was assigned the additional duty of preparing a history of Quartermaster Operations in Europe, which was completed prior to his transfer here.

Hogan Native of San Antonio.

Chief Hogan is a native of San Antonio, having been born and reared in this city. He spent a number of years in the fire department in San Antonio, where he was promoted successively until he became a station captain. When war was declared he immediately enlisted and later commissioned. Under the fire marshal, Chief Hogan is technically responsible for the efficient operation of the Fort Sam Houston department, while the fire marshal enforces military discipline.

Men on duty with the fire department follow: First Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal; Joseph L. Hogan, fire chief; Ed. J. Hogan, assistant fire chief; J.E. Dowdy, third assistant fire chief.

Station No. 1: First Sgt. W.J. Bailey; P.F.C. Ernt Estes, 1st chauf; P.F.C. Gus J. Clay, 2nd chauf.; P.F.C. Otto E. Karth, 3rd chauf.; P.F.C. Sidney F. Pedigo, P.F.C. Frank D. West, P.F.C. Charles Smith, Pvt. Jesse Baggett, Pvt. Robert E. Hapkins, Pvt. James O. Hill, Pvt. Andrew Karpik, Pvt. Mark H. Earle, Pvt. John Lamont.

Station No. 2: Sergt. Robert Payne, P.F.C. Flint D. Bingham, P.F.C. Charles E. Youngblood, Pvt. George A. Brown, P.F.C. Mark W. Parker, Pvt. Orville G. May, Pvt. George White, Pvt. Herman G. Miller, Pvt. Arthur Fielding, Pvt. William F. Cumming.

Station No. 3: Sergt. Michael T. Mason, P.F.C. Arthur Foley, P.F.C. Luther Waddell, P.F.C. Leonard Deuctcon, Pvt. James J. Gotely, Pvt. Herbert C. Landrum, Pvt. Robert L. Sarran, Pvt. Courney Barker, Pvt. Marion Anderson.

Station No. 4: Tech. Sergt. Tony Huege (attached); Sergt. W.Z. Zapadnik (attached); P.F.C. Eddie Eddyhouse; P.F.C. Carl Hanmann, P.F.C. Carl L. Storey, Pvt. Robert E. Hunt, Pvt. Jack P. Stout, Pvt. Nicholas J. Sassano.

Fire inspector, Chester A. Carter.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Jan 28, 1923

This article pretty much repeats  a lot of what is in the above article in regards to fire equipment etc.


Joseph L. Hogan Prefers to Direct Army Firemen to Handling City’s Department.

Being chief of Fort Sam Houston’s fire department appeals more to Joseph L. Hogan than does heading the department of San Antonio.

Persistent rumors that Chief Hogan had been tendered the position of head of the city’s fire department, made vacant by the resignation Tuesday of Chief A.J. Goetz, was confirmed Wednesday afternoon, at least to the extent that Chief Hogan admitted that he had been approached tentatively on the subject and had refused to consider a change of positions.

“It would not be proper to say that I had been offered the position,” said Chief Hogan. “However, it is true that I have been approached not alone by one but by several persons to confer with me to ascertain whether, if it were offered me I would take the position of chief of the San Antonio department. It appeared plain to me that if I wanted the position I could get it, but I have refused even to consider leaving the Fort Sam Houston department.

“I may appear strange to some people that I take this attitude, but my reasons are easy to see. In the first place the position I now hold is based on merit alone. I feel fairly sure that so long as I am able to furnish an efficient fire-fighting organization at Fort Sam Houston I can hold it. There is not a great difference in salary, while free medical attention, and other services which I receive in the position as army chief practically make up the difference.

Political Angle Displeases.

“On the other hand, if I go into the city fire department there is first of all to be considered the fact that it is a political appointment and politics is capricious. I might hold that position just as long as I hold this at the fort, but the political angle spoils it from my point of view.”

Chief Hogan announced that he was a strong supporter of J.G. Sarran, now assistant chief and acting chief of the department for appointment.

Chief Hogan was connected with the San Antonio fire department for a period of nine years, joining about the same time as former Chief Goetz until working up from call man to truck captain. While in that position Hogan quit the fire department to become a lieutenant in the army during the war with Germany.

Hogan Has Five Stations.

When it was decided to have a real fire department at Fort Sam Houston, Hogan was chosen chief on his merit and was given charge of training the men of Wagon Company No. 4 was a department. He is responsible for the efficiency of the fire department, while Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal, oversees maintenance of ?_____.

Under the chief at Fort Sam Houston are four fire stations in the Fort Sam Houston area and one at Camp Stanley. In addition to a personnel of non-commissioned officers and privates chosen on a basis of personal merit from various organizations in the garrison, the chief brought with him to the fort’s department three other civilians, all former members of the San Antonio department and thoroughly conversant with how to best drill the men under them as fire-fighters. In addition to the four civilians there are three sergeants, three corporals and 84 enlisted men in the department. Equipment includes seven pieces of apparatus, all motorized, ranging from a Dodge car used by Chief Hogan to a large Fox-Ahrens pumper. Supplementing these are approximately 40 hand reels in all parts of the post and 20,000 feet of standard fire hose.

Under Chief Hogan the efficiency of the fire department is kept at top notch by constant watchfulness and drills.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Apr 26, 1923