On this day. . .December 1st
- 1913-Harrisburg changed from the old and antiquated “bi-cameral” form of government to the “commission” form of government. Under the bi-cameral form, the city elected a Mayor, a Select and Common Councils.(terms ?) There were one Selectman and two Commoners elected from each of eleven wards. The system had become nearly unworkable. Under the new commission form, the Mayor is elected to a four year term and four Commissioners elected to two year terms. Each would head a “Department.” The five departments were (individuals first elected): Public Affairs to which the Mayor John K. Royal was in charge of; Accounts and Finance(William L. Gorgas); Public Safety(Harry F. Bowman); Streets and Public Improvements(William H. Lynch); and Parks and Public Property (M. Harvey Taylor). The original legislation known as the Clark Act was signed by Governor Tener on June 27th. There were originally twenty-one Third class cities affected. During the month from the election to this date of taking effect, several clarifications of the act were ironed out. One involved the Fire Department. It was argued that the Department of Parks and Public Property had control of ALL city property, which was all of the fire department except the personnel, and operations which should come under the Department of Public Safety. Eventually it was agreed that the entire Fire Department come under the direction of Parks and Public Property. This is also the birth date for the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire. A “Bureau” was an entity of a “Department.” But from then on both the names Harrisburg Bureau of Fire and Harrisburg Fire Department have been used interchangeably although “Bureau” is probably more correct. The Commissioner in charge of Parks and Public Property would be known unofficially as the Fire Commissioner, although some in later years took the title very seriously. Therefore Harrisburg ’s first Fire Commissioner was M. Harvey Taylor. Taylor ’s first business conducted for the Fire Bureau was authorizing an auction to sell nine older fire horses and purchase new ones on December 16th. Previously with the bi-cameral form of government, individual ordinances had to be passed several readings by both Councils to buy even one horse.
- 1903-Since the disastrous Boll Brothers fire of October 12, 1903 destroyed part of the Mulberry Street bridge, any alarm in the Hill district would have a substantial delay in response of the downtown companies having to walk their horses up Market Street hill. This situation languished long enough that it became the impetus to form the Allison Hook and Ladder Company. At 5:45 p.m. this day Box 34 at Sixteenth and Derry rang out on the firehouse bells. The fire was for an overheated stove that set fire to a kitchen partition at the home of August Sanders, 1516 Drummond Street . Due to construction work on Derry Street , the Mt. Pleasant Engine No. 8 was slow in arriving and had a fully involved kitchen when they rounded Derry onto S. Fifteenth and edged into narrow Drummond. Realizing the No. 8 firemen would have to go it alone for awhile, they went to work with gusto and held the fire to the kitchen that was gutted. The remainder of the house was damaged by smoke and water. Loss was in excess of $175. The Friendship Engine No. 1 steamer’s three horse team balked on Market Street hill and refused to go up until an additional team of horses were hitched up and the five horses than dragged the heavy steamer the rest of the way to Thirteenth Street . (Oh, if only there was such a thing as a time machine!)
- 1869- 2:30 p.m. Third and Market Streets. Attic burned out and roof badly damaged at the C.S. Roshon photographic establishment. The fire started in the dark room when a bottle of collodial exploded. The shop of Annie Scott, seamstress, was damaged by water. No loss was given. The overall condition of the leather hose of the department was very poor. One of the seven companies was literally inoperative because of this as well as hampering operations somewhat. (Department consisted of five engine companies all with steamers, one hose and one truck company, all hand pulled apparatus)