In both volumes of The Firemen's Record, J. Albert Cassedy aims to account for all of the fires occurring in Baltimore from the beginning of the city's history until 1891 in the first book, and up to 1911 in the second, updated book. The 1911 version includes information on response to The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, which raged for 30 hours from Sunday, February 7, to Monday, February 8, 1904, and destroyed 70 city blocks. Cassedy also discusses the history of the major fires of the rest of the world. He not only records the history of the fires, but also honors the fire fighters. In his words, "The work of the Fire Department is before the eyes of the public, and needs no comment; it is an unbroken record of entire devotion to the exacting demands of an arduous and thankless calling; of tireless labor; of heroic self-sacrifice; of brave deeds done in secret, and the spirit of the Master carried into action amid blazing rafters and blinding rushes of smoke, and crashing walls and the shrieks of panic-stricken women and children." The books contain photomechanical reproductions including halftones of fire fighters and actual fires, and line block images of historical fires.
Proceeds from the sale of the books benefitted the "Firemen's Relief Association," which was a system of cooperative insurance, including sick and injury benefits. Because of the danger of fighting fires, life insurance companies charged a very high premium to insure fire fighters. The Firemen's Relief Association provided benefits to fire fighters, helping them to get medical care or their families to pay for burial expenses, the costs of which were leveraged and paid by the entire membership.
The Special Collections also holds a copy of The Firemen's Record from 1925 in the Joseph L. Arnold Collection (Maryland History) . This copy has not been reproduced digitally and is only available in its original form. You may view all original versions at the Special Collections Reading Room.
Credits: We would like to thank Kevin Larmore and Nicole Smith for digitizing these books. Kevin's desires to share the history of the Baltimore Fire Department with his fellow fire fighters and to learn more about his great-great-grandfather's legacy were the impetus to make these volumes available online. Kevin volunteered many long hours to create the digital versions of these books. Special Collections Student Assistant Nicole Smith took the lead on the project, providing training to and collaborating with Kevin to scan the books, process the images, and use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to make the text searchable.
>> Browse the 1891 edition
>> Browse the 1911 edition