The St. Francis Hook and Ladder Society Needs New Members
By Paul Barry
It has often been said that much of the history of San Francisco can be found in the ashes of it’s many fires. During the Gold Rush Era, small volunteer fire companies were formed. One such company was the St. Francis Hook and Ladder Company #1. By 1866, the various volunteer companies were organized to form the SFFD. A century later, in 1965, the SFFD Pioneer Memorial Museum was established to house collections of vintage apparatus and appliances along with displays of artifacts from the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, old fire extinguishers, helmets, communication equipment, and patches from various fire departments around the country.

Almost ten years later, four firefighters formed the St. Francis Hook and Ladder Society, an organization dedicated to actively preserving and restoring the vintage fire equipment and artifacts, and maintaining the museum. Additionally, the St. Francis Hook and Ladder Society would participate in parades, civic events, and muster teams in keeping with the preservation of the traditions and techniques of firefighting. The last major event put on by the Society was the 125th.Anniversary of the SFFD in Golden Gate Park in 1992. Since that time, turmoil within the Society led to members and directors receiving disciplinary action and general membership interest diminished. The Society’s web site states that the organization “is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of fire related artifacts and the physical techniques and evolutions used by the Department, in days gone by”. The decline of the Society’s activities during the past ten years, along with the poor condition of the vintage apparatus, and the lack of active membership, indicate that the current Directors of the Society have been unable to make meaningful contributions towards historic preservation and maintenance of the treasured artifacts they were entrusted with.

In order to affect a positive change in the current administration of the Society, the membership of the SFFD, both active and retired, must play an active part. Retired Captain Jack McClosky, a Society founder, and Paul Barry of Engine 10 are heading a campaign to resuscitate this deteriorated organization. They are initiating a membership drive to gain new members and return former members. This is the first step in a long rebuilding process. In the future, muster teams will be organized to participate in events that include hose cart races, bucket brigades, hose wagon and motorized pumper competitions in addition to the 65ft. ladder raise in upcoming events.

The Hook and Ladder Society needs your support in the preservation of our occupation, our City, and our Department. Please join today, membership is open to all for $25.00 or $15.00 for seniors. Please forward your application to the address below.

Photos provided by Mrs. Barry


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