Historical Timeline

Timeline Of The Cincinnati Fire Department

  • 1778: An ordinance providing for a government of the Northwestern Territory, as it was then called, was passed. This led to a settlement that Fire Bucketlater became Cincinnati.
  • 1778: Losantiville was founded. This was later known as Cincinnati and received its name from General St. Clair, who, while in command of Ft. Washington, changed the name to Cincinnati in honor of the Society of Cincinnati, of which he was a member.
  • 1800: Citizens became alarmed at the frequency of fires. The settlement, at that time, had fewer than 800 inhabitants, and the buildings consisted of log, frame and brick.
  • 1801: A purchase of a hand pump was considered; a meeting was called, but as there were no municipal authorities to give the movement legal weight, the assembly was dissolved.
  • 1802: Cincinnati received its village charter, and on July 7, 1802, the select Council passed an ordinance establishing a fire organization. Each inhabitant, who was a freeholder or householder, was required to provide a leather bucket of a certain size to contain 2½ gallons of water, and to be hung in a convenient and conspicuous part of his or her dwelling house. Any person violating this ordinance was liable to a fine of $6.
  • 1808: A "Union Fire Company" was formed. This organization did not prove to be too effective, and later in this year, the Cincinnati Fire Bucket Company was organized. The fire apparatus consisted of a large willow basket placed upon a four-wheeled truck, and containing leather fire buckets. An ordinance was then passed requiring every householder to keep not less than two fire buckets in a prominent place on his premises. A large drum, 5 feet high, with a circumference of 16 feet, 5 inches, was provided to serve as a fire alarm, and it was used until 1824, when bells were substituted in its place.
  • 1810: Washington Fire Company 1 was  organized.

    The historical Washington Fire Company No. 1

  • 1813: Council purchased a hand pump engine.
  • 18l9: A new fire ordinance was passed, and Cincinnati became an incorporated city.
  • 1826: There were four engines, each having a company of 25 members, and they had 1,800 feet of hose and one ladder company.
  • 1829: There were nine organized fire companies.
  • 1830: Regulations were made, providing for the settling of disputes that arose between volunteer companies.
  • 1834: The Department consisted of seven brigades, each possessing two engines, one hose reel, buckets and 150 members.
  • 1840: The Volunteer Department reached a high state of efficiency, and its fame spread throughout the country. There were one company of Fire Guards, one Protection Company, 14 Hand Pump Companies, and one Hook and Ladder Company.
  • 1842: Mr. Miles Greenwood was chosen to be President.
  • 1845: Citizens erected a Watch Tower at Sixth and Vine Streets.
  • 1851: The volunteer force consisted of eighteen companies.
  • 1853: A steam fire engine was invented and built by Mr. A.B. Latta in 1852, and placed in service Jan. 1, 1853. On April 1, 1853, the Fire Department became a paid department, the first full-time paid department in the United States, and the first in the world to use steam fire engines.
  • 1854: Three additional steam fire engines were purchased.
  • 1852: Four more steam fire engines were purchased.
  • 1860: The year that a Fire Alarm Telegraph System was introduced. The Department consisted of 64 horses, 11 steam fire engines, two hook and ladder companies, and 150 members.
  • 1866: A Fire Alarm Signal System was installed.

In the succeeding years, more companies were formed, additional men employed, and the Fire Department was modernized and skilled in the techniques of controlling and extinguishing fires.

  • 1914: Work was started on the High Pressure Fire System, which has been improved and maintained, and is still in use. The Fire Prevention Bureau was organized this same year.
  • 1922: The Fire Department became completely motorized, and from that year on up until the present time, the Cincinnati Fire Department has been a leader in its field. It has a Class 2 Fire Insurance Rating from the American Insurance Association, and a Class 1 Ohio State Rating. These high ratings are awarded because of demonstrated efficiency, and are reflected in lower fire insurance premium rates to citizens of Cincinnati.

Today, the Cincinnati Division of Fire is one of the outstanding fire departments in the Nation. It has kept abreast of all new techniques in fire fighting, fire control and fire prevention. It operates a complete Training Center, a Fire Prevention Bureau and an Arson Squad. It is, as stated previously, the nation's oldest professional fire department.