Excerpt from Chicago City Manual, 1915
The legislature, January 1831, passed an act authorizing the trustees of any town or village to organize fire companies, not exceeding thirty members, and exempting them from jury service, and military service except in time of war. Anticipating by a whole year the incorporation of Chicago town, the Washington Volunteers. Came into insubstantial being. There is now extant evidence that applications for membership were made, and that such were formally passed upon, but that was all. The company had not even nominal existence, for more than a. Few months. And there was less need of fire companies than of measures for fire prevention. Barely three months after the organization of the town, a fire prevention ordinance was passed. It forbade the passing of any stove-pipe through the roof, partition or side of any building, unless guarded by tin or sheet iron, six'inches from wood, under penalty of $5, and if the cause of complaint was not removed within forty-eight hours, the fine was to be repeated. Under this ordi nance a fire warden was appointed - Benjamin Jones, the father of Fernando Jones who down to his recent death was one of the most familiar figures on our streets. Upon the division of the town into four wards, each ward was given a. Fire warden. These were charged with the duty of enforcing the stove-pipe ordi nance. They were required each to make once a month a tour of their respective wards to see that there were no violations of the ordinance. Their one other duty was to direct the movements of citizens who responded to the alarm of fire. Only domestic pails were available for the passing of water from dips in the river, to where the fire might happen to be.
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