GUIDE TO THE COLLECTION

Collection Title: LAKE CHARLES FIRE DEPARTMENT COLLECTION

Accession Number: 128

Archives and Special Collections Department
Frazar Memorial Library
McNeese State University


Lake Charles Fire Department History

"Fire department keeps up with changing times," Lake Charles American Press, October 11, 1975

        Today people can reflect and even chuckle about those days of the hose wagon, the steam, engine, the hook-and-ladder trucks, and the old fire horses.

        Also gone are the days when fistfights often broke out due to the city thugs called the "pluglies", who were hired to guard fire hydrants and would run ahead of their fire companies and locate the best available hydrant, thus fighting off all comers until their fire engine arrived.

        Firefighting history also includes the days of the old "fire plug", where the water main was wooden and a hole was drilled in a pipe to fill fire engines. When the fire was extinguished, a plug was inserted in the pipe.

        Those days are gone, yet they paved the way to a new era.

        The Lake Charles Fire Department kept up with the changing times as it began to motorize in 1913, two years after the Savannah, Ga. Fire Department became the first completely motorized department.

        The history of the Lake Charles Fire Department is rich and very enlightening. It leaves a legacy of dedication and commitment which still exists today.

        Miss Maude Reid, a noted Lake Charles historian, gathered a collection of pictures, newspaper clippings, and stories about these early firefighters; that can be found in one of her scrapbooks at the (McNeese State University Archives).

        The little department which started with a paid chief and five members 91 years ago has grown into a large department of 125 personnel as follows: Fire Chief Emerson Peet, an administrative assistant, three assistant chiefs, six district chiefs, 33 captains, 33 drivers, 35 hosemen, six communications officers, two training officers, two fire prevention officers, two mechanics, and three secretaries.

        Ever since the first fire wagon was purchased 119 years ago, the LCFD has progressed in acquiring knowledge and developing the skills necessary to fight and control fire. The LCFD equipment fleet consists of two aerial trucks, 10 pumpers, two tankers, one snorkel, five Suburbans, two pickups, two Blazers, two vans, and five automobiles.

        Today, the legacy of the Lake Charles Fire Department lives on as history is being made every day.

        The following is a look at some of its history:

        1876 - First fire wagon purchased (horse drawn). Fire fighters were called "fire laddies."
        1879-1904 - Lake Charles Steam Fire Fighters (hand pump) delivered on first passenger train in Lake Charles.
                First volunteer outfit organized. First LC fire ordinance passed on March 3, 1879 which was similar to the
                first ordinance passed in 1648.
        1883 - Silsbee Fire Company No. 1 christened the "Katie Meyer", named after Mayor William Myer's daughter.
                Fire station built on Pujo Street, (the downstairs area housed the steam engine, and the big hall upstairs was
                used for meetings and drills); later in 1885, the old fire station was moved to the foot of Broad Street:
                It was torn down in 1902. First steamer engine purchased and it had 500 feet of hose; cost approximately $2,950.
                Delivered freight free by Southern Pacific Railroad from Seneca Falls, New York to Lake Charles.
        March 4, 1885 - Firemen's Day celebrated (first started in Chicago). Pelican-Babcock Hood & Ladder Fire Company
                formed
        1886 - Phoenix Hook & Ladder Company formed; was christened the "Clara Chavanne" who had elegantly
                embroidered a banner for the truck; an elaborate ball followed.
        1886 - Young Americans Fire Company formed (bucket brigade). It was composed of youth who manned bucket at fires.
        1890-1908 - R. J. "Dick" Gunn was first paid fire chief.
        1902 - Broad Street station that had been located on Pujo street years before was ordered torn down; its bell was
                sold to Central School.
        1904 - Became a paid department (chief and 5 firefighters).
        1905 - Fire Department located at Cole at Cole & Iris Streets on City Hall Square until destroyed in the 1910 fire.
        1906 - Until this time Chief Gunn raced to fires in a horse-driven rig.
        1907 - First Firemen's Ball.
        1908-1910 - Fire Chief L. J. Sudduth (for two years) fired after the big April 23, 1910 fire in Lake Charles which
                destroyed seven city blocks, including City Hall, the Courthouse, Fire Station No. 1.
        1910 - American-LaFrance horse drawn steam pumper (called the old "C. B. Richard" named after the then mayor),
                was purchased after the great fire of 1910, but it was never used to fight any fires.
        1910-1914 - R. J. "Dick" Gunn was fire chief. He died of heart attack at New Orleans Fire Convention.
        1913 - First motorized fire trucks were purchased.
        1914-1948 - Fred A. Baumgarten served as fire chief.
        1927 - New automatic fire alarm system installed. Old fire whistle which alerted the people of fire was dismantled
                and moved from old light house on North Ryan to LA State Rice Mill Co.
        1949 - New Aerial truck ($27,000) arrived from Kenosha, Wis.
        1948-1959 - Gus H. Stitzlein served as fire chief.
        1959-1968 - Richard Sarvaunt served as fire chief.
        1967 - Maintenance garage built on W. 18th Street.
        1968-1979 - Louis Mosca served as fire chief.
        1969 - Fire Prevention Bureau organized (Railroad Ave.); Jack Reynolds - First Chief of Bureau Inspector;
                Training Division organized (Railroad Ave.).
        1970 - Central Station dedicated in honor of Chief Gus H. Stitzlein (located Enterprise Blvd.).
        1979-1990 - Algie Breaux served as fire chief. Stitzlein Fire Training Center opened under his administration
                and was closed in the mid-1980s.
        1982 - Helen LeFevre becomes first female fire fighter(8/82-6/83). She resigned to further her education.
        1982 - Class 2 Fire Rating (City of Lake Charles is one of a group with a Class 2 rating due to quick response,
                sufficient equipment, and manpower. Baton Rouge has the only Class 1 rating department in Louisiana.
                Class 2 Fire rating helps to keep fire coverage low within city limits of Lake Charles).
        1985 - Chennault Fire Station opened for the protection of Boeing of Louisiana (closed after five years).
        1990-1994 - Four new fire trucks purchased, two under the administration of Mayor Jim Sudduth and two
                under the administration of Mayor Willie Mount.
        1991-present - Emerson Peet serves as fire chief.
        1995 - Charles Lee first member of LCFD to become chairman of the local Civil Service Board (8/25/95).
        August 31, 1998 Chief Peet retires.
        September 16, 1998 - February 15, 2003 Chief Ben Corman.
        February 16, 2003 - present  Chief David Manuel.
        February 1, 2005  Gerald Fontenot first African American Assistant Chief.
        David Bryant, first African American hired in 1970. Retired in 1992 never having missed a day of work.
        First fire wagon purchased 130 years ago. Presently (2006) have 5 ladder trucks, no snorkel, 10 pumpers, 2 tankers,
        numerous support vehicles.
        First paid firefighters 102 years ago. Presently (2006) have 190 personnel. Chief Manuel, an administrative assistant,
        3 assistant chiefs, 6 district chiefs, 45 captains, 45 drivers, 56 hosemen, 3 training officers, 4 fire prevention officers,
        3 mechanics, 6 communications officers, 7 secretaries.


Log books from the Lake Charles Fire Department companies from 1922 to 1998.

Entries include company responding, date, time, location and type of fire.

Container List

Box 1
File Folder (FF)
        FF 1     1922 - 1924
        FF 2     1925 - 1926
        FF 3     1-5-27 to 10-31-28
        FF 4     1930 - 1933
        FF 5     1927 - 1934
        FF 6     11-14-28 to 9-30-31
        FF 7     1935 - 1947
        FF 8     2-1-42 to 11-29-47


Box 2
        FF 1     11-2-53 to 12-19-55
        FF 2     12-31-52 to 1-31-56
        FF 3     12-31-52 to 1-31-56
        FF 4     12-31-52 to 2-1-56
        FF 5     5-7-56 to 8-2-56
        FF 6     3-24-57 to 5-15-57
        FF 7     3-24-57 to 5-21-57
        FF 8     7-16-56 to 7-20-57
        FF 9     5-22-57 to 7-23-57
        FF 10   7-25-57 to 9-7-57
        FF 11   7-21-57 to 9-29-57
        FF 12   9-8-57 to 10-8-57
        FF 13   10-1-57 to 11-19-57
        FF 14   10-9-57 to 12-11-57
        FF 15   11-20-57 to 1-17-58
        FF 16   10-16-54 to 5-27-59
        FF 17   2-1-56 to 4-23-59
        FF 18   2-1-56 to 6-24-59
        FF 19   2-1-56 to 7-14-59


Box 3
        FF 1     2-1-56 to 2-16-60
        FF 2     1-5-57 to 6-8-60
        FF 3     5-28-59 to 9-25-62
        FF 4     4-24-59 to 10-17-62
        FF 5     7-16-59 to 12-31-62
        FF 6     2-17-60 to 6-17-63


Box 4
        FF 1     6-25-59 to 8-19-63
        FF 2     9-26-62 to 3-10-66
        FF 3     1-1-63 to 7-31-66
        FF 4     7-11-63 to 8-14-66
        FF 5     6-18-63 to 10-16-66
        FF 6     7-6-65 to 1-31-68


Box 5
        FF 1     10-17-62 to 2-6-68
        FF 2     3-11-66 to 10-17-68
        FF 3     2-11-66 to 12-16-68
        FF 4     8-14-66 to 3-30-69
        FF 5     10-17-66 to 7-25-69
        FF 6     8-1-66 to 7-28-69
        FF 7     2-1-68 to 10-29-69


Box 6
        FF 1     10-18-68 to 3-21-71
        FF 2     12-16-68 to 3-21-71
        FF 3     10-30-69 to 3-31-71
        FF 4     7-26-69 to 3-26-72
        FF 5     7-29-69 to 4-16-72
        FF 6     3-22-71 to 12-7-72
        FF 7     3-28-71 to 3-18-73
        FF 8     4-1-71 to 2-23-73


Box 7
        FF 1     10-19-71 to 4-10-74
        FF 2     6-10-70 to 4-30-74
        FF 3     3-27-72 to 5-22-74
        FF 4     6-10-70 to 7-2-74
        FF 5     12-7-72 to 8-29-74
        FF 6     3-19-73 to 9-20-74
        FF 7     4-17-72 to 10-16-74
        FF 8     2-23-73 to 3-17-75
        FF 9     2-4-74 to 5-2-75
        FF 10   3-17-75 to 9-5-75


Box 8
        FF 1     8-20-62 to 7-5-75
        FF 2     5-1-74 to 9-26-75
        FF 3     5-22-74 to 2-13-76
        FF 4     9-21-74 to 3-23-76
        FF 5     8-30-74 to 6-30-76
        FF 6     7-3-74 to 9-4-76
        FF 7     4-11-74 to 9-25-76
        FF 8     5-3-75 to 6-5-77
        FF 9     3-24-76 to 8-30-77
        FF 10   2-14-76 to 11-11-77
        FF 11   9-28-75 to 11-28-77


Box 9
        FF 1     10-17-74 to 3-29-77
        FF 2     7-7-76 to 1-1-78
        FF 3     3-11-76 to 4-20-78
        FF 4     9-26-76 to 7-19-78
        FF 5     7-1-76 to 9-5-78
        FF 6     9-7-76 to 10-12-78
        FF 7     3-30-77 to 4-3-79
        FF 8     1-1-78 to 5-20-79
        FF 9     9-1-77 to 10-5-79
        FF 10   11-12-77 to 10-19-79
        FF 11   6-6-77 to 10-25-79
        FF 12   10-11-77 to 12-25-79
        FF 13   11-29-77 to 12-31-79


Box 10
        FF 1     6-12-78 to 6-1-80
        FF 2     7-19-78 to 7-24-80
        FF 3     5-21-79 to 10-11-80
        FF 4     6-28-78 to 12-12-80
        FF 5     10-13-78 to 3-9-81
        FF 6     9-5-78 to 3-18-81
        FF 7     4-4-79 to 4-15-81
        FF 8     1-1-80 to 9-16-81
        FF 9     10-19-79 to 9-19-81
        FF 10   10-5-79 to 11-25-81
        FF 11   1-1-80 to 12-25-81
        FF 12   10-12-80 to 2-5-82


Box 11
        FF 1     10-25-79 to 2-24-82
        FF 2     6-2-80 to 3-22-82
        FF 3     7-25-80 to 7-29-82
        FF 4     12-13-80 to 2-25-83
        FF 5     3-10-81 to 3-25-83
        FF 6     4-16-81 to 4-4-83
        FF 7     2-2-82 to 6-5-83
        FF 8     3-19-81 to 7-5-83
        FF 9     9-17-81 to 7-5-83
        FF 10   9-20-81 to 10-31-83
        FF 11   12-26-81 to 12-10-83
        FF 12   11-25-81 to 12-20-83
        FF 13   2-25-82 to 5-4-84


Box 12
        FF 1     3-23-82 to 6-5-84
        FF 2     1-19-78 to 6-29-84
        FF 3     7-30-82 to 7-6-84
        FF 4     4-26-83 to 8-5-84
        FF 5     6-6-83 to 10-19-84
        FF 6     2-26-83 to 2-22-85
        FF 7     11-16-82 to 3-29-85
        FF 8     4-5-83 to 5-31-85
        FF 9     7-6-83 to 8-11-85
        FF 10   3-22-85 to 8-15-85
        FF 11   7-6-83 to 10-27-85
        FF 12   11-1-83 to 2-4-86
        FF 13   12-21-83 to 2-26-86
        FF 14   6-1-85 to 6-30-86


Box 13
        FF 1     7-6-84 to 7-8-86
        FF 2     10-20-84 to 9-22-86
        FF 3     3-30-85 to 10-17-86
        FF 4     8-12-85 to 12-22-86
        FF 5     8-6-84 to 1-18-87
        FF 6     2-5-86 to 5-6-87
        FF 7     10-28-85 to 5-17-87
        FF 8     12-23-86 to 7-13-87
        FF 9     11-12-83 to 9-28-87
        FF 10   12-28-86 to 10-31-87
        FF 11   12-28-86 to 10-31-87
        FF 12   12-28-86 to 11-1-87
        FF 13   7-1-86 to 1-28-88
        FF 14   2-2-86 to 1-31-88


Box 14
        FF 1     1-1-87 to 4-4-88
        FF 2     4-27-87 to 8-15-88
        FF 3     9-23-86 to 9-15-88
        FF 4     7-5-86 to 9-21-88
        FF 5     12-27-86 to 3-13-89
        FF 6     10-17-86 to 3-20-89
        FF 7     5-7-87 to 4-13-89
        FF 8     7-14-87 to 4-28-89
        FF 9     11-1-87 to 10-25-89
        FF 10   12-28-86 to 10-31-89


Box 15
        FF 1     1-31-88 to 2-2-90
        FF 2     5-18-87 to 2-16-90
        FF 3     1-29-88 to 4-15-90
        FF 4     3-7-88 to 7-23-90
        FF 5     9-16-88 to 8-5-90
        FF 6     4-21-88 to 8-24-90
        FF 7     11-1-87 to 2-5-91
        FF 8     3-7-88 to 2-17-91
        FF 9     9-22-88 to 4-5-91
        FF 10   4-29-89 to 5-8-91


Box 16
        FF 1     11-1-87 to 5-13-91
        FF 2     4-14-89 to 5-18-91
        FF 3     8-16-88 to 6-16-91
        FF 4     3-7-88 to 8-7-91
        FF 5     3-7-88 to 9-4-91
        FF 6     3-14-89 to 10-25-91
        FF 7     10-26-89 to 10-25-91
        FF 8     10-26-91 to 12-14-91
        FF 9     11-11-87 to 12-15-91
        FF 10   2-15-91 to 12-15-91
        FF 11   1-2-91 to 12-31-91
        FF 12   3-20-89 to 5-6-92
        FF 13   2-27-91 to 5-27-92


Box 17
        FF 1     2-3-90 to 6-14-92
        FF 2     4-16-90 to 10-13-92
        FF 3     5-19-92 to 2-20-93
        FF 4     8-5-90 to 4-1-93
        FF 5     7-24-90 to 5-17-93
        FF 6     8-24-90 to 6-1-93
        FF 7     2-16-90 to 7-12-93
        FF 8     4-7-91 to 11-25-93
        FF 9     5-9-91 to 6-19-94
        FF 10   6-17-91 to 7-5-94


Box 18
        FF 1     10-27-91 to 10-28-94
        FF 2     6-15-92 to 11-27-94
        FF 3     2-18-91 to 11-29-94
        FF 4     8-10-92 to 12-2-94
        FF 5     8-7-91 to 5-23-95
        FF 6     10-14-92 to 6-5-95
        FF 7     2-1-94 to 7-10-95
        FF 8     9-5-91 to 7-10-95
        FF 9     5-12-92 to 8-21-95
        FF 10   11-26-93 to 3-5-96
        FF 11   10-12-93 to 3-22-96


Box 19
        FF 1     6-1-93 to 5-12-96
        FF 2     7-6-94 to 7-1-96
        FF 3     7-13-93 to 10-13-96
        FF 4     10-29-94 to 10-13-96
        FF 5     4-1-93 to 12-30-96
        FF 6     5-30-93 to 12-31-96
        FF 7     7-11-95 to 2-24-97
        FF 8     12-16-94 to 3-20-97
        FF 9     11-30-94 to 4-14-97
        FF 10   6-6-95 to 4-16-97
        FF 11   8-22-95 to 9-14-97
        FF 12   5-24-95 to 11-18-97
        FF 13   5-13-96 to 3-11-98
        FF 14   7-11-95 to 3-24-98


Box 20
        FF 1     7-2-33 to 11-30-35
        FF 2     12-2-35 to 12-14-37
        FF 3     1-1-38 to 1-31-42
        FF 4     1-1-53 to 12-31-59
        FF 5     1960 - 1961
        FF 6     1962 - 1963
        FF 7     1964 - 1965
        FF 8     1965 - 1966
        FF 9     1967
        FF 10   1968
        FF 11   1969
        FF 12   1970
        FF 13   1971

Box 21 Log Books
Co. 1
3/12/98-11/20/00
11/20/00-4/7/02
4/8/02-12/13/03

Co. 2
3/4/00-4/29/00
3/8/03-11/15/04

Co. 3
3/6/96-3/27/99
3/28/99-10/9/00
10/9/00-2/13/02

Co. 3 (labeled Station 3)
2/14/02-8/9/03
8/10/03-6/1/04

Co. 4
2/25/97-12/18/99

Box 22 Log Books
Co. 4 (continued)
12/19/99-7/11/01
7/12/01-1/30/03
1/31/03-8/28/04

Co. 5
3/22/96-1/29/99
1/30/99-9/13/00
9/14/00-4/9/02
4/10/02-8/27/03
8/28/03-5/20/04

Co. 6
1/1/97-7/12/99
1/17/97-5/6/99
5/7/99-12/25/00
10/26/00-2/11/03
2/12/03-7/30/04

Box 23 Log Books
Co. 7
4/15/97-7/11/99
9/15/97-10/5/99
10/6/99-6/21/01
6/22/01-1/28/03

1/29/03-10/2/04
7/16/04-10/26/04

Tanker 1
3/25/98-9/22/00
9/22/00-5/17/02
5/17/02-10/31/04

Tanker 2
7/21/00-8/12/02
8/13/02-10/11/04

Aerial 1
10/13/96-2/25/00
2/26/00-10/24/01


Box 24 Log Books and Annual Reports
Aerial 1 (continued)
10/25/01-5/27/03

Aerial 2
3/21/97-10/20/00
10/22/00-9/17/03

Aerial 3
4/29/00-11/7/01
11/8/01-6/17/03

Annual Reports 1970-2000, 2006

Box 25 Misc. Record Books
Inspection/Reinspection Log
2/6/80-12/28/81

D/C South Log
5/5/84-12/27/86
10/30/01-12/9/03

D.C. Log
6/6/84-4/27/87

Central Log
12/30/96-7/9/99

Administration Log Book
1/7/03-4/8/04

Log (location?)
6/20/94-1/26/98
12/13/01-1/16/05

Salvage Covers and Hose
2/23/62-2/28/98

Box 26 Misc. Files
FF 1 Master Equipment Inventory List (Pumper, Aerial, and Snorkel)
6/26/81-8/26/83
FF 2 Apparatus and Equipment Master Inventory 9/1/83
FF 3 Accident Prevention Guide - District Chief=s Office
FF 4 Crown Casino Emergency Response Drill After Action Report 10/2/96
FF 5 Southwest Louisiana Mutual Aid Association Handbook, 1969
FF 6 AIA (American Insurance Association) Special Interest Bulletins 1984, Pt. 1
FF 7 AIA (American Insurance Association) Special Interest Bulletins 1984, Pt. 2
FF 8 Photographs, patch
VHS labeled LCFD Fires 7th Street, Mill Street and Kingsley

Box 27 Record of Alarms
1/1/72-12/31/72
1/1/73-12/31/73
1/1/74-12/24/74
1/4/75-12/28/75

Box 28
1/1/76-12/31/76
1/1/77-12/31/77
1/1/78-12/31/78
1/1/79-12/31/79

Box 29
1/1/80-12/31/80
1/1/81-12/31/81
1/1/82-12/31/82
1/1/83-12/31/83

Box 30
1/1/84-12/31/84
1/1/85-12/31/85
1/1/86-12/31/87

Box 31
1/1/88-12/31/89
1/1/90-12/31/91

Box 32
1/1/92-12/31/92
1/1/93-12/31/94
1/1/95-12/23/95

Box 33
12/23/95-12/1/96
12/2/96-10/14/97
10/14/97-8/13/99

Box 34
8/13/99-6/7/00
6/1/00-2/28/01
FF 1 Photographs (oversize)

Box 35
Photographs
 

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