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Records of the City of Topeka, KS, Fire Department : 1870-c. 1973 [sic]

Creator: Topeka (Kan.). Fire Department

Date: 1870-2001 (bulk 1890-2001)

Level of Description: Series

Material Type: Government record

Call Number: MICROFILM: MF 7697-MF 7705

Unit ID: 59817

Restrictions: Access to Personnel record cards, 1870-1973 (roll 1, MF 7697), containing Social Security numbers: Restricted under K.S.A. 45-221(a)(1) & (4), 5 USC 552(a), 42 USC 408(a)(8), or other statute or regulation limiting disclosure of Social Security numbers of living individuals.

Abstract: Included are personnel records, Fire Dept. equipment & property inventories, individual station general & special orders, building inspection files that may include violations of fire & safety codes, records of purchases of supplies, and files of the Sanitary Dept. providing insights into fire prevention & health hazards. Also included are guest registers for fire station open houses; a vol. & scrapbook of clippings & personal accounts of the history of the Department; a ledger showing purchases and expenses of the Fireman's Band; and a minute book of the Board of Directors of Local #83 (Topeka), International Association of Fire Fighters.

Space Required/Quantity: 9 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.

Title (Main title): Records of the City of Topeka, KS, Fire Department : 1870-c. 1973 [sic]

Titles (Other):

  • Records of the City of Topeka, Kansas, Fire Department : 1870-c. 1973 [sic]

Language note: Text is in English.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

From 1854 until February 1870, Topeka, Kansas, had no organized Fire Department, or even a "bucket brigade," to fight fires. The realization that fire protection was crucial to the growth the city became important in 1869, when two large business buildings, the S.D. McDonald Building and the Ritchie Block, were destroyed by fire. The City Council then agreed to purchase a fire engine which arrived on 5 February 1870. For several months, however, there was no organized fire - fighting team to go with the engine. Finally, in October 1870, the first volunteer companies were organized. They were composed of 65 men, one of whom, the engineer, was paid a regular salary. The first home of the department was a converted blacksmith shop that stood in the 500 block of Quincy Street. This was the home of the Fire Department until 1874 when Fire Station Number One was established in north Topeka.

The Topeka Fire Department remained a department staffed by volunteers until 1876, when a large number of employees became salaried, ushering in a new era. A number of volunteers were kept on standby, however, and paid for each run. The department was headed by a city fire marshal, who oversaw administrative business. The title changed in later years and became known as the fire chief.

As Topeka expanded, the need for more fire stations became important in order to limit the response time to fire calls. The department received a large amount of space in the city building, built at the corner of Kansas Avenue and Seventh Street, in 1878 and placed a second fire company there. A third station was built in 1882 in the 300 block of Jefferson Street. In 1887 Fire Station Number Four was established in the 700 block of Clay Street to service the needs of the expanding western sections of the city. In 1890 Fire Station Number Five was built in east Topeka in the 600 block of Lake Street to furnish fire protection to homes and businesses in the Parkdale housing development.

Several more fire stations were constructed as Topeka continued grow. They included a new Station Number Five, 1715 Topeka Avenue; Station Number Six, 1419 Seward Avenue; Station Number Seven, 1215 Oakley Street; Station Number Eight, 2700 Southwest Fairlawn Road; Station Number Nine, 2447 Southeast Twenty-ninth Street; Station Number Eleven, 2000 Northwest Lower Silver Lake Road; and Station Number Twelve, 2101 Southwest Urish Road.

The Topeka Fire Department has remained active in city affairs and has shown a healthy growth in personnel and services. For a more comprehensive history of the department, researchers are urged to read Fire Service of Topeka: The Early Years published by the Shawnee County Historical Society (Kansas) as Bulletin number sixty-three, November 1986.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

The records of the Topeka, Kansas, Fire Department span virtually the entire time period of its existence, from 1870 through 2001. Most of the records on this microfilm, with a few exceptions, cover the years 1890 – 2001. The records on this microfilm were selected for their historical value by the Kansas State Historical Society's local records archivist in 2003.

Included are personnel records that can provide biographical data on individuals. Individual station general and special orders provide information about the daily operations of each neighborhood fire company. Records of station inventories give insights into the variety of equipment used in each facility. Files on inspections of buildings may include violations of fire and safety codes at a time when laws were first being passed providing a degree of safety in public and residential buildings. Several volumes of records of the Sanitary Department, presumably the predecessor of the Health Department, also provide insights into the involvement of the Fire Department into such services as cleaning ash and dung heaps, trash deposits, and other clutter that were threats to fire prevention as well as being health hazards. Records of quantities of supplies purchased include hay, grain, and coal bought for use of the department in its various locations.

Several record series of special note include two guest registers for fire station open houses, listing individuals who visited the stations; a history volume and a scrapbook of clippings and personal accounts regarding the history of the Topeka Fire Department that can provide more historical information to researchers documenting particular aspects of the department's history; a ledger showing purchases and expenses of the Fireman's Band, a useful source for an individual doing research on early town musical groups; and a record of minutes of the Board of Directors of International Association of Fire Fighters Local Eighty-three in Topeka which lends some insight and history into this union chapter.

The Kansas State Historical Society has other records relating to the Topeka Fire Department in its records of the Topeka City Clerk's Office. The originals are in Kansas State Historical Society collections and were not microfilmed as part of this project. A listing includes:

  • Annual Reports of the Fire Marshal, fiscal years 1884-1886, 1894-1897, 1908-1911, 1918-32. 0.5 cubic ft. http://www.kshs.org/archives/191716

  • Subject Files, [ca. 1867-ca. 1972]. 36 cubic ft. (36 boxes). Includes building permit applications, 1885-1955, 17 folders; Fire Department correspondence, 1874-1956, 21 folders; improvements of fire station, 1890-1891, 1 folder; construction of Fire Station #4, 1892, 1 folder; contracts and papers for construction of Fire Stations #5, #6, #7, 1935-1936, 3 folders; Fire Department expenses, 1889-1890, 1 folder; invoices and property valuations, 1931-1933, 1 folder. http://www.kshs.org/archives/191506

  • Fire Department : Record of Building Permits, 1880-1968. 4 cubic ft. (1 partial box, 2 microfilm reels, 35 mm.; 13 v.) MICROFILM: MS 955-MS 956, available for inter-library loan. http://www.kshs.org/archives/190603

  • Fire Department : Street Indexes to Building Permits, 1880-1926. 0.6 cubic ft. (1 partial box), 1 microfilm reel, 35mm. MICROFILM: MS 954, available for inter-library loan. http://www.kshs.org/archives/190602

  • Fire Department : Orders Register, 1890-1914. 0.4 cubic ft. (2 oversize vol.) http://www.kshs.org/archives/191717

  • Fire Department : Warrants, 1890-1914. 0.1 cubic ft. (7 oversize vol.) http://www.kshs.org/archives/192714

Contents: Roll 1 (MF 7697). Personnel record cards, 1870-1973 -- roll 2 (MF 7698). Personnel record, 1955-2002 -- roll 3 (MF 7699). Fire marshal's report for year ending 3/31/1907 ; Fire Department journal (history 1870-1930) ; correspondence, 1892 Dec. 24 ; photos ; scrapbook, 1914-1973 ; record of hydrant lines ; Board of Firefighters Local #83 meeting minutes, 1935-1941 ; registration books, 1927-1964 ; address book, 1931 ; Better Business letters, 1929 -- roll 4 (MF 7700). General and special orders : Stations 1-5, 1890-1957 ; ordinances and laws, 1912 -- roll 5 (MF 7701). General and special orders : Stations 6-7 & unknown, 1900-1957 -- roll 6 (MF 7702). Violations of fire and building ordinances, 1886-1903 ; notices of fire escapes, 1909-14 ; record of permits of new buildings, 1900-1916 ; building inspections, 1892-1916 ; report of inspections of public buildings, 1909-1913 -- roll 7 (MF 7703). Building inspections, 1915-1919 ; inspection register, 1929-1932 ; Sanitation Dept. record : 1st & 2nd wards, 1894-1897 -- roll 8 (MF 7704). Sanitation Dept. record : 2nd, 4th, & 6th wards and Potwin, 1897-1914 ; Sanitation Dept. record of calls and trash ledger, 1915-1919 ; Fire Dept. property, 1893-1902 ; inventory books : Stations [1]-3, 1902-1928 -- roll 9 (MF 7705). Inventory books : Stations 3, 5, & 6, 1906-1915 ; quantities of supplies purchased, 1886-1908 ; hose ledger, 1884-1925 ; automobile ledger, 1914-1917 ; misc. apparatus record, 1870-1877 ; Fireman's Band ledger, [ca. 1900] ; Sanborn insurance maps, 1954-1968.

Specific Contents Identified:

Headings or descriptors assigned to subsections of the material, for example labels on a particular box or group of boxes.

  • Personnel record cards, 1870-1973 (roll 1, MF 7697): Access restricted, not available for interlibrary loan
  • Rolls 2-9 (MF 7698-MF 7705) in Reference Room microfilm cabinets

Related Records or Collections

Related materials:

  • Annual Reports of the Fire Marshal, fiscal years 1884-1886, 1894-1897, 1908-1911, 1918-32. 0.5 cubic ft. http://www.kshs.org/archives/191716

  • Subject Files, [ca. 1867-ca. 1972]. 36 cubic ft. (36 boxes). Includes building permit applications, 1885-1955, 17 folders; Fire Department correspondence, 1874-1956, 21 folders; improvements of fire station, 1890-1891, 1 folder; construction of Fire Station #4, 1892, 1 folder; contracts and papers for construction of Fire Stations #5, #6, #7, 1935-1936, 3 folders; Fire Department expenses, 1889-1890, 1 folder; invoices and property valuations, 1931-1933, 1 folder. http://www.kshs.org/archives/191506

  • Fire Department : Record of Building Permits, 1880-1968. 4 cubic ft. (1 partial box, 2 microfilm reels, 35 mm.; 13 v.) MICROFILM: MS 955-MS 956, available for inter-library loan. http://www.kshs.org/archives/190603

  • Fire Department : Street Indexes to Building Permits, 1880-1926. 0.6 cubic ft. (1 partial box), 1 microfilm reel, 35mm. MICROFILM: MS 954, available for inter-library loan. http://www.kshs.org/archives/190602

  • Fire Department : Orders Register, 1890-1914. 0.4 cubic ft. (2 oversize vol.) http://www.kshs.org/archives/191717

  • Fire Department : Warrants, 1890-1914. 0.1 cubic ft. (7 oversize vol.) http://www.kshs.org/archives/192714

Bibliography

Finding Aid Bibliography: "Topeka Fire Department," The City of Topeka, Kansas website: http://www.topeka.org/TFD/ (viewed 20 Feb. 2014).

Index Terms

Subjects

    Topeka (Kan.). Fire Department
    Topeka (Kan.). Fire Department -- History
    Topeka (Kan.). Fire Department -- Records and correspondence
    Topeka (Kan.). Sanitary Dept.
    Fireman's Band
    International Association of Fire Fighters. Local 83 (Topeka, Kan.). Board of Directors
    Topeka (Kan.)
    Fire departments -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Building inspection -- Kansas -- Topeka -- Records and correspondence
    Fire departments -- Kansas -- Topeka -- Equipment and supplies
    Fire fighters -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Fire prevention -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Fire stations -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Personnel records -- Kansas -- Topeka

Creators and Contributors


Agency Classification:

    Local Government Agencies. Shawnee County. Cities. Topeka. Fire Department.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: Access to Personnel record cards, 1870-1973 (roll 1, MF 7697), containing Social Security numbers: Restricted under K.S.A. 45-221(a)(1) & (4), 5 USC 552(a), 42 USC 408(a)(8), or other statute or regulation limiting disclosure of Social Security numbers of living individuals.

Use and reproduction:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state privacy laws and regulations, including exceptions to the Kansas Open Records Act, as amended (K.S.A. 45-221(a)); provisions of the U.S. Government Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 USC 552(a)); and laws protecting Social Security numbers (42 USC 408(a)(8)). The disclosure of sensitive or confidential information that may appear in these records about living individuals without their permission may give those individuals cause for legal action against the person(s) disclosing the information. While the Kansas Historical Society attempts to redact known sensitive or confidential information before records are given to researchers, it cannot guarantee that all such information has been purged from the records that it furnishes for researcher use, and it assumes no responsibility for the disclosure of such information. Researchers are advised to be mindful of individuals' privacy rights in their use of archival collections.

Sanborn fire insurance maps: © Sanborn Map Co. Requests for reproductions should be made to EDR (Shelton, Conn.) or ProQuest (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Reproduction: Microfilm. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, 2003; microfilm rolls MF 7697-7705, lab no. 53464-65, 53468-74; rolls 2-9, MF 7698-MF 7705, available thru inter-library loan.

Cite as: Topeka, Kan., Fire Dept. Records of the City of Topeka, KS, Fire Department, 1870-2001 (bulk 1890-2001), Kansas Historical Society microfilm rolls MF 7697-MF 7705.

Action note: Agency history prepared by Daniel Fitzgerald, 1986. Other descriptions and selection & preparation of the records for microfilming was done by Justin Dragosani - Brantingham, 2003. Finding aid compiled and updated by Robert L. Knecht, 2014.

Holder of originals: City of Topeka, Kan., Fire Dept.

Holder of duplicates: Kansas Historical Society (Topeka)

Notes

General Note: Microfilm title.