Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
Fire Marshall's Monthly Reports, 1901-1961
Overview of the Collection
- Seattle (Wash.). City Clerk
- Fire Marshall's Monthly Reports
- 1901-1961 (inclusive)19011961
- 2.4 cubic ft., (6 boxes)
- Collection Number
- Monthly reports of the Seattle Fire Marshall, 1901-1961; reports include statistics on monetary losses, types of alarms, numbers and causes of fires, and inspection records.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
- Access Restrictions
Records are open to the public.
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
A Fire Department was established by City Charter in 1883. It provided for equipment purchases, but not for hiring of firefighters. Following the Great Fire of 1889, a professional fire department was created with five district fire stations and purchase of a fire boat. The first Fire Chief of the professional department was Gardner Kellogg, who served 1890-1892 and 1895-1901. A Board of Fire Commissioners was established by the 1890 City Charter to prescribe rules and regulations for the Department. The Board's responsibilities included enforcing rules violations and appointing the Fire Chief and all subordinate officers. The Board was abolished with passage of a new City Charter in 1896.
The Department's mission is to curtail loss of life and property by fire through inspection and certification of building safety systems, public education, regulation of hazardous material storage, and fire suppression.
The position of Fire Marshall was established in 1901 with responsibility for inspecting buildings to ensure they were in compliance with the ordinances related to building construction and fire protection. Other duties included investigating cases of attempted arson, determining the causes of fires, and investigating the type and value of property injured or destroyed in fires. The Fire Marshall was appointed by the mayor and was to keep records of investigations and make monthly reports to the City Council.
In 1932, the Fire Chief was given responsibility for the appointment of the Fire Marshall; the former duties of the Marshall were assigned to the Fire Chief to be delegated as necessary. The Fire Marshall became instructor of the Fire Prevention and Inspection Force. In March of 1938, the position of Fire Marshall was abolished, but was reinstated just two months later in an ordinance that stated in part: "experience has demonstrated that the position of Fire Marshal[l] is necessary for the proper functioning of the Fire Department." Duties of the position included the former fire prevention and inspection duties as well as the supervision of the Fire Prevention and Inspection Force. In 1944, the Fire Marshall was given the added reponsibility of enforcing "safety regulations" in Seattle Harbor.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The Fire Marshall's monthly reports, dating from 1901 to 1961, are statistical reports providing information on monetary loss due to fires, types of alarms, number and causes of fires, loss per cause per occupancy, and records of inspections and investigations of properties and incidents. Early reports describe location, cause, total insurance and losses, property owners, type of building, and values of buildings and property for each fire as well as statistics; starting in the 1910s, reports contain more statistical information, rather than lists of specific fires.
Special reports include a description of the 1918 fire at the Great Northern Railway Oil dock, which caused "a loss six or seven times that of the aggregate of all the other fires of the year"; a report on the investigation into the 1919 "fatal fire" on Weller Street; and the Fire Department Shop Foreman's report on centralized repairs of City vehicles.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
[Item and date], Fire Marshall's Monthly Reports, Record Series 1802-B3. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Records are arranged chronologically by year, and, within each year, are arranged chronologically by month.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
Fire Marshall's Monthly Reports, 1901-1961Return to Top
Monthly Reports (includes "Special Reports")
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Arson--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Fire prevention--Inspection--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Fire prevention--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Liability for fire damages--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Seattle (Wash.)--Politics and government
Form or Genre Terms
- Monthly reports
- Fire marshals--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Seattle (Wash.). Fire Marshall (creator)