Austin Fire Museum - Preserving The History And Traditions Of The Austin Fire Department.

A Day in the Life of an Austin Firefighter: 1953

In 1952, the Austin Fire Department hired the first paid, African American firefighters in the State of Texas (Willie Ray Davis, Nathanial Kindred, and Roy Greene).  The decision was made to assign all of them at Old Fire Station #5 at 1005 Lydia Street.  At that time, the Austin Fire Department had only two shifts, A and B, working 24hrs on and 24hrs off.  In 1953, the A-shift at Old Fire Station #5 comprised of Captain Victor Eugene Tiemann, Driver William Walsh, and Firefighter Willie Ray Davis and Marvin Douglas.  Capt. Tiemann was never far from his 8mm movie camera and decided to make his own short movie about his crew which would feature a day in the life of an Austin Firefighter.

The movie begins with checking out their 1943 Seagrave 750 GPM pumper at shift change.  Next, they train a little on raising a ladder to the station and street school on the front porch.  Of course, their day is interrupted by a fire and you see them respond down the streets of East Austin in the early 50′s.  When the truck backs into the station around the 4:44 mark, pay close attention to the left side of the engine.  You’ll see their firehouse dog, affectionately named “5′s”, run off the truck as it backs in to the station.  The stereotype is true, firehouse dogs used to ride on the trucks!  Next, you’ll see the crew head down to the Buford Fire Training tower for some training.  Back to the station they’ll go to register the neighborhood kids’ bikes with serial numbers as the kids play football on their front lawn.  The movie ends with a little horseplay as the firefighters trick the new rookie into serving them their food.  Watch until the end of the movie to see two additional short scenes not seen in the original of the guys doing some additional ladder training and playing ping pong.

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