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General Fire Discussion => General Firefighting Discussion => Topic started by: FAO25 on February 01, 2013, 10:38:57 AM

Title: F.D.N.Y. Sappers & Miners
Post by: FAO25 on February 01, 2013, 10:38:57 AM
F.D.N.Y. Corps  Sappers and Miners
 Impetus for Sappers & Miners Corps was the Great fires of Chicago and Boston, particularly Boston due to failure of improper building demolition to halt and instead  accelerate the spread of the fire. After these fires a citizen committee formed by pressure from N.Y.C. Chamber of Commerce and lead by an  insurance industry executive in conference with FDNY Fire Chief decided to form the corps.
The Corps. of Sappers & Miners was established by General Order # 16 on Oct 23 1873 with  Ast. Chf. Chas. H. Shay Chief of Corps. The Lieutenants of the department were all assigned to the corps and a civil engineer was appointed as instructor
As part of the Corps, a chemical lab was established at fire headquarters and weekly instructions were given in various explosives, construction and testing of fuses, transmission of detonation  both land and water, simultaneous firing and use of multiple charges, and use of detonating apparatus. Field instruction was conducted on Ward's and Randall's Islands.
The equipment of the Corps included special dynamite charges and equipment.  These 5000 Lbs of  explosive materials and equipment  were placed on a Powder Boat to be towed by a fireboat to where it could be off loaded when needed and bell signal 5-5-5 was established.
The bell signal would be transmitted followed by the box number and a terminal number indicating which company was being called. For Example 5-5-5-453-1 would call the "A" company to box 453. If Terminal number 5 was transmitted it would call out all four companies of the Corps. Should they be needed when the force was  working at a fire the steamers would sound the code on their steam whistles.
The first recoded time they were called out was September 4th, 1877 for Box 453 a multiple alarm which destroyed a square block and jumped the street. They would also be called to demolish walls left standing after fires. The Corps was officially disbanded sometime in the late 1950's
Source W.N.Y.F. Magazine 3rd Issue 1958
Title: Re: F.D.N.Y. Sappers & Miners
Post by: bulldogboy on February 01, 2013, 10:18:07 PM

   FAO25:

     Thanks for refreshing my memory about Sappers and Miners. I knew that I had heard of them but forgot what they did.
     Were they normally assigned to regular companies and special called as needed much like the Super Pumper?
     Interesting history lesson that you posted on the Michigan thread.

                                                     bulldogboy
Title: Re: F.D.N.Y. Sappers & Miners
Post by: Box 2565 on February 02, 2013, 01:43:15 AM
Never heard of this!  Certainly an interesting "side job" to have within the department.
Title: Re: F.D.N.Y. Sappers & Miners
Post by: FAO25 on February 04, 2013, 08:42:10 AM

   FAO25:

     Thanks for refreshing my memory about Sappers and Miners. I knew that I had heard of them but forgot what they did.
     Were they normally assigned to regular companies and special called as needed much like the Super Pumper?
     Interesting history lesson that you posted on the Michigan thread.

                                                     bulldogboy
From what I can see in the article it was all Lieutenants. However, since they were on the continuous duty or single platoon system at the time, that's not as many as you would first think. Also remember that Brooklyn, Queens and Richmond were not part of New York City when this group was established.