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Chief Engineers - Chiefs of Department:

Thomas R. Murphy
Thomas R. Murphy
Chief Engineer
1910-1929

  • Appointed to the Department, July 1, 1893
    • Assigned as a fireman to Truck Co. No. 2, 1893
  • Appointed Foreman, Engine Co. No. 6, 1897
  • Appointed Captain, January 31, 1900
  • Appointed Battalion Chief, March 31, 1905
  • Appointed Assistant Chief, March 1, 1909
  • Appointed Chief Engineer, February 8, 1910
  • Placed on Medical Leave, October, 1928
  • Died in Office, November 4, 1929

Highlights of his tenure as Chief Engineer:

  • Charged with the replacement of horse-drawn equipment with the newly developed motorized fire engine, 1912
  • Urged the formation of a Fire Prevention Bureau to inspect hazards and enforce statutes and ordinances relating to fire prevention, fire protection and fire-spread control
  • Finally, in June 1920, the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety was established by ordinance. Due to insufficient funds to provide permanent personnel, the operation was not as effective as the Chief desired. Initially, Eight years later sufficient budget appropriations could be realized to overcome this deficiency
  • Under Chief Murphy's vigorous leadership, the Department had evolved into an efficient and modern Department well regarded throughout the country

In 1928, Chief Murphy's health deteriorated and after a prolonged illness, he passed away on November 4, 1929

Thomas R. Murphy was only forty years old at the time he assumed command of the Department. He came at a time when the Department was facing another great challenge; the replacement of horse-drawn equipment with the newly developed motorized fire engine.

On July 11, 1912, a unique contest was conducted in the presence of Chief Murphy, the Fire Commissioners, the Fire Committee of the Board of Supervisors, and a large attending crowd. A newly designed motor drawn apparatus, the Nott Motor Engine, was to be pitted against the finest horse drawn rig in the Department. The object of the contest was to determine the swiftest and most efficient of the two.

For several years, Chief Murphy had urged the formation of a Fire Prevention Bureau to inspect hazards and enforce statutes and ordinances relating to fire prevention, fire protection and fire-spread control. Finally, in June 1920, the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety were established by ordinance. Due to insufficient funds to provide permanent personnel, the operation was not as effective as the Chief desired. Initially, operation was dependent on a continually changing inspection force of detailed members, and it was not until eight years later that sufficient budget appropriations could be realized to overcome this deficiency.

Under Chief Murphy's vigorous leadership, the Department had evolved into an efficient and modern Department well regarded throughout the country. However, in 1928, Chief Murphy's health deteriorated and after a prolonged illness, he passed away on November 4, 1929.

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