Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum SFFD HomeBack to GuardiansofTheCity.org Home Page

Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Reports of Fire Officers
San Francisco Fire Department
1906 Great Earthquake & Fire
Captain John Fay
Engine Co. No. 22, 1348 Tenth Avenue
Apparatus: 1893 LaFrance, registration #270, 4th size, steam engine, 500 GPM

Just after the earthquake of April 18th, the Fire Alarm and Telephone system being out of order I received verbalent [sic] instructions from Battalion Chief Conlan to report immediately at the quarters of Engine #30 (1757 Waller St.). After arriving there we received a still alarm of a fire on Oak St., near Stanyan St. caused by the lighting of a fire in a defective chimney which had previously been broken by the quake. We also received orders from Chief Dolan to patrol this district and inform the residents that under no circumstances should they attempt to light a fire as practically all brick chimneys in their houses were in such a condition after the quake that it would be dangerous, and in case a fire started it would be impossible for us to extinguish same as no water could be obtained from the hydrants.

Shortly after this I proceeded with my company to the scene of conflagration and was ordered by Chief Dolan to place my Engine at the hydrant in front of Jefferson Square on Eddy St., near Octavia St. We secured a very small supply of water. Afterwards I changed my location to the North-west corner of Franklin & Ellis Sts., and worked my stream half-way between Geary and Post Sts., in company with Engine #23, until it was brought under control and checked. I was then ordered by Chief Shaughnessy to take up my hose and proceed to Sacramento and Franklin Sts. and couple my hose on the end of a double up line leading down Sacramento St. to Van Ness Ave. After working in this vicinity for sometime I was again ordered to disconnect as they were going to dynamite a building on the North-east corner of California and Franklin Sts. During this time I had occasion to try a hydrant situated on the corner of Hyde and Ellis Sts., and endeavored to obtain water but could not do so in this vicinity; owing to the impossibility to secure any water from the hydrants. The fire got beyond our control. It was then I reported to Chief Dougherty who ordered me back to quarters. I arrived at my station at 4 A. M. April 20th 1906, being continuously on duty for forty-five hours.

(Signed.) John Fay, Captain Engine Co. 22.

Thos. I. Kelly Lieutenant Eng. No. 22.
F. S. Hall, Engineer.
M. J. O'Connor Driver.
Stoker.
Hoseman.
J. C. Mahoney Hoseman.
Jos. Bailey, Hoseman.

From the files of Battalion Chief Fred J. Bowlen, S. F. F. D.