Binghamton NY Station Number 5 Firefighter and WWI Vet John J. Slavin My Mothers Father, My Grandfather.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
My grandfather, firefighter Lieutenant John J. Slavin served with the Binghamton NY Fire Department for over 25 years from 1912 to at least 1937, he was stationed at the Southside Fire Station Number 5 and at Engine Co #1. Southside Fire Station Number 5 began with its inception back in 1897 when the current building was completed. For 75 years the Engine Company Number 5 served the South Side of Binghamton. In the early years the rear portion of the building was expanded upon to house the horses used in pulling the fire wagons. With the new onslaught of fire station construction in the early 70′s, Engine House Number 5 became surplus property and was auctioned off.
SMOKE EATERS: Keep in mind firefighters’ experiences in the early days continued to change as Binghamton grew taller and more dangerous from the increased use of synthetic building materials. The street scape rose twelve stories to incorporate the visually dominant 1904 Press Building on Chenango St. For instance, during the 1920s and 1930s, when firefighter Lieutenant John J. Slavin was on the job, firefighters began to use primitive breathing apparatus to penetrate the dense toxic smoke generated by these new types of fires, see photo above from Chicago Fire Dept. It would not be until 1982, however, that use of such equipment became mandatory for all firefighters. Firefighter Lieutenant John J. Slavin joined the US Army in 1918 and became a sergeant with the 53rd Infantry 6th Division in France.
During WWI Sgt John J. Slavin served with the HQ CO 53rd Infantry 6th Division which fought during the Meuse-Argonne offensive from November 1 to November 11, 1918. The Meuse-Argonne was “probably the bloodiest single battle in U.S. history,” in the sense that it had the largest number of U.S. dead in a single battle, the battle is largely forgotten in the United States. During WWI the Sixth Division which was organized in November of 1917 as a square division consisting of the 51st, 52nd 53rd and the 54th Infantry Regiments, the 16th, 17th and 18th Machine-Gun Battalions and the 3rd, 11th and 78th Field Artillery Regiments. The units of the division gathered in New York and left for France in July of 1918. After marching and training all over western France, the Sixth was assigned on August 31st to the Vosges sector.
There, a chain of lofty wooded peaks had stalemated both the French and German armies. The 53rd Infantry 6th Division’s mission was the defense of a 21-mile. The Division engaged in active patrolled in No Man’s Land and behind the Boche lines. Daily German artillery concentrations of high explosives and gas shells kept the 6th supporting artillery busy with counter-battery fire.
In addition infantry platoon strong points the 53rd Infantry 6th Division defended against German raiding parties which launched their attacks using liquid fire and grenades. The 6th Division saw combat in the Geradmer sector, Vosgee, France, September 3-October 18, 1918, and during the Meuse-Argonne offensive from November 1 to November 11, 1918. The division returned to U.S.: June 1919.
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