Thursday, December 18, 2014

Support Great History and Fire Safety Education

Support Great History & Fire Safety Education for Children!!!

Fire companies in service at Engine Co.45s
quarters - This firehouse is now home to the Cincinnati Fire Museum

     Greetings Greater Cincinnati Firefighters, fire buffs, and history lovers alike!  One of the primary sources for the material I use to conduct my research is the Cincinnati Fire Museum and its archive.  The museum has been in the business of preserving the history of the the fire service in the Cincinnati region for decades now.  More importantly the fire museum has reached thousands of children with its vital message of fire safety.  If you love this history please consider taking the time to support the museum in one of several of which it totally FREE.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum
Former Home of Engine Co.45

How can you support the mission of the Cincinnati Fire Museum:

#1 - Totally FREE - Sign up for Kroger Community Rewards:

Go to and click Create An Account. Follow
the prompts to register a new account. You are asked to enter an email address
and to create a password.

Once registered, go to, sign in, and click
Enroll Now.

When the "Find Your Organization Screen" go to Cincinnati Fire Museum with and organization number 80344 and click

It only takes a couple of minutes and it is a totally FREE way to support the 
Fire Museum

#2 - Join the Museum!!!

Follow the like to establish membership in this great organization:

#3 - Donate to the Museum

To make a simple donation to the museum click on the link below:

Members of Engine Co.45 & Water Tower Co.01

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Superstition or Premonition - A Dream of Death Becomes Reality

A Premonition of the Death of Henry Miller

     On February 1st 1904 the phone rang at Engine 29s quarters.  Substitute firefighter Moller was calling from the Winton Place firehouse.  He was concerned about a dream he'd had overnight and wanted to pass along a message to Pipeman Henry Miller.  Moller told Miller that he had seen him killed in his dream along with Captain Davies.  Moller was clearly concerned that his dream was more than just a tired delusion, he was fearful it might be a premonition of a disaster soon to take place.  The day passed without such a disaster.

     It was that night that an alarm from Box 46 called firefighters to the scene of a blaze at the Henry Nurre Picture Frame Manufacturing Factory at 1409 Plum Street.  A 10 Blow was quickly put in and soon most of the department was rushing to the scene.  Engine 29 was tearing toward the blaze with Miller and Davis on board.  As they sped to the fire the men joked about the dream Moller had warned them about earlier that day.

     Upon arrival the men found a 5 story brick factory situated along the canal.  Fire had been at work on the structure long enough to bring the roof down.  The tall masonry walls stood without bracing as the fire continued to rage within.  Engine 29 arrived on scene and the company took up a position on the south side of the factory.  Captain Davis, Lieutenant Bickel and Henry Miller were operating a stream from a "Y" shaped ledge of ground near a 15' hole at the foot of the factory.  It was extremely cold and the men were quickly suffering the effects of the spray of icy water from their hose.  Other lines were being operated from Plum Street.  Water access had been made easy by virtue of the proximity of the building to the canal.  Once holes were punched in the ice the water was easily drafted into the engines to supply the hose.

     Suddenly the warning of "collapse" was shouted across the fire ground.  Patrolman Shaeffer recognized the precarious position of the crew of Engine 29 and he yelled to them to run.  The men held fast.  They did not want to drop their hose without first having it shut down but they were undermanned.  A recent department directive required a man be taken from the companies and placed on watch in theaters during shows.   With only 3 men they did not have a fourth to send to the engineer to shut the line down.  The men called to a bystander to deliver the message but it was too late.  Shaeffer watched as the bricks crashed down around the men.  Once the shower of debris stopped men rushed in to find the crew.  Lieutenant Bickel was found along the gutter of the building.  Captain Davis and Henry Miller had been tossed into the hole under the ledge they had been working from.  The men were quickly pulled from the hole and delivered to the hospital.

Headline - 2/2/1904
Cincinnati Enquirer

     Fire, building collapse, ice, and cold were not the only hazards braved by the responders on scene at the Nurre Blaze.  In an effort to make the scene more secure an electrician with the power company moved to cut the power lines to the building.  A mass of lines fell to the street near patrolman Hubner.  The officer was shocked and tossed into the canal unconscious.  Fortunately for Hubner the ice held and he was dragged from the ice.  He was lucky to survive the incident.

     Captain James Conway and the Salvage Corps also had a close call.  They had been working in a 3 story tenement across the alley.  They were helping panicked residents to remove and protect their belongings when the call of collapse was heard.  The men rushed to exit the structure but stopped before stepping into the street just in time to avoid the shower of rubble from above.

Headline - 2/3/1904
Cincinnati Enquirer

     Things had developed quickly on the fire ground.  The collapse that caught Engine 29 occurred in the first 30 minutes of operating time at the scene.  Miller and Davis had been carried to the hospital.  Their families were notified as quickly as possible of the situation.  Mary Miller, Henry's wife, received word of the collapse and she frightfully rushed to the hospital.  As she arrived Henry died of his injuries.  He had sustained a skull fracture and had been crushed by the falling debris.  He died at 12:25am on February 2nd.

     Miller was 40 years old and in addition to his wife he left behind a 3 year old daughter.  The family resided at 1079 West Liberty Street.  A substitute detail was assigned to Engine 29s quarters so the regular members could participate in the funeral a couple of days later.  The men were decorating the hose wagon that would carry Millers body from his home to the services when smoke was seen coming from a residence at 1071 West Liberty.  The firemen prepared for the funeral procession were at the ready and they broke from their positions to extinguish what was found to be a burning box of waste.  The subs from Engine 29 arrived and took over.  Soon the procession was making its way past the Gifts house.  A bell from the Gifts tolled a final time in honor of Miller as he was carried to the German Protestant Cemetery on Vine Street.

University of Cincinnati Rare Books

     Superstitions of one kind or another are not uncommon among firefighters.  Indeed many people occasionally put stock in superstitious beliefs.  People sometimes experience dreams that seem to carry some meaning in our conscious lives.  Such was the reason for the concerns of Moller.  Perhaps is was simple coincidence that he called to tell Miller of his dream just hours before Miller was killed.  Fortunately for Captain Davis the premonition was only partly accurate.

     This tragic story of superstition, premonition, death, and sacrifice had been lost to history.  The following will be added to the Roll of Honor in recognition of the heavy price paid by Miller and his family in service to the CFD and the City of Cincinnati:

Henry G. Miller
Pipeman - Engine Co.29
Died 02 February 1904
Crushed in wall collapse at fire scene 

Henry G. Miller Headstone
Vine Street Hill Cemetery (German Protestant Cemetery)