October 12th, 2009
Silas Steen “Spider” Smith was born on January 27, 1913. Prior to becoming a firefighter Steen Smith was a carpenter and brakeman for the railroad in Brownwood, TX from 1942-44. Steen was appointed hoseman to the Austin Fire Department on 8/23/1944. He spent his first year between Hose Co. 1 and Engine Co. 2. In 1945 he was assigned to Engine Co. 5. Steen was promoted to Driver in 1952 and assigned to Engine Co. 12. In 1959 Steen attained the rank of Captain I and went to Truck Co. 2. In 1968, when the Captain I rank was re-classified as Lieutenant, Steen’s rank was modified to Lieutenant. He retired in 1974 after 29 years of service. In the 1940′s Steen, along with several other firefighters, led in the organization of the Austin Firefighter’s Association. Steen got the nickname “Spider” for his lanky 6’1″ 155lb frame. As of just a few years ago, well into his 90′s, Steen often stopped by fire stations to say hello and visit with us.
September 13th, 2009
On Sunday, September 20th, the Austin Fire Museum will be conducting its semi-annual open house for Austin Museum Day 2009. We’ll be open from about 1230PM to 5PM. This year we have a very special event planned. Several months ago friends and family of Shawnee, Kansas Fire Chief Verne McNatt approached the Austin Fire Museum wishing to honor his passing with a memorial in the Austin area. The Austin Fire Museum gratefully accepted donations to assist with the meticulous restoration of a unique treasure of Austin Fire Department history in memory of Chief McNatt’s dedicated commitment to his community and profession. Read the rest of this entry »
July 29th, 2009
Austin’s first permanent fire station was built in 1878, only to be burned down by an arsonist in 1879. The oldest standing building that used to be a fire station is the Washington fire hall from 1885. Since then, Austin has built many fire stations with very unique architecture. The older the fire station, arguably, the more character and better looking the structure. Is there any truth to the old saying that “they just don’t build ‘em like they used to?” The following are some pictures of Austin’s more visually impressive fire stations. Please feel free to leave any comments about why one in particular might be your favorite. Read the rest of this entry »
July 23rd, 2009
The AFD Museum recently purchased a little piece of history linked to the founding of the Austin Fire Department. John Bremond, Sr. (b. 1813) led the organization of Hook and Ladder 1, and thus the Austin Fire Department, in 1857. Bremond, Sr. moved his family out West from New York via Galveston in the 1840′s in pursuit of the American dream. His brother, Paul, had already moved to Houston and later became a major railroad man, eventually leading to a city, Bremond, TX, named in his honor. In 1847, John Bremond opened a dry goods store at the corner of 6th St. and Congress Ave. in Austin. In 1865, a year before his death, he brought on his two sons, John, Jr. and Eugene, and created John Bremond and Company. John Jr. and Eugene were major leaders in the Austin Fire Department during the volunteer years of the mid-late 1800′s. Read the rest of this entry »