Ghosts? Most people say that they are spirits of departed people left to walk the earth. My perspective differs from that. Maybe they don’t even exist, as, many people say. Whatever the truth actually is aside, we can all agree that some weird stuff, creepy stuff, goes on some places and firehouses aren’t immune.
FireRescue1 had a couple of articles on haunted firehouses and I just read them. In fact, each of the articles had 10 supposed haunted firehouses on them. I thought I’d share some abbreviated versions of the ones I found creepier and end this piece with some stories of my own.
DENVER FIRE STATION #1:
It is said that two ghosts haunt Denver’s Station #1, built in 1909. Tom was a man that cared for the horses in the early days. Caleb is reported to have been a young man that died close to the station. Caleb is supposedly buried under the supply space and the concrete will never cure over it.
A common theme runs with most, if not all, of these hauntings. Lights turn off and on, doors open or close, items get thrown off of counters and tables. These activities happened at Denver Station 1 as well but they also hear the voices of children and footsteps around the building.
CHICAGO FIRE STATION #107:
Frank Leavy was a “Pipeman” on Chicago Engine 107. He and other firefighters were doing windows on April 18, 1924 when he had a premonition. He turned to another firefighter cleaning windows and said to him “I think I’m going to die today.” Later that day they would respond to an office building fire where he, and seven other Chicago brothers, would die in, what I’m assuming, was a collapse.
Back at the station a handprint was noticed on the very window Firefighter Leavy was cleaning when he made his fateful statement. Many ways were tried to get the handprint off but it remained for 20 years. On April 18, 1944, twenty years to the day, a paperboy would accidentally break the pane.
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY FIRE STATION #4:
The station was built in 1904. On Christmas day 1945 Fireman Henry McDonald was found dead. He apparently passed in his sleep. Imagine that, a firefighter dying in their sleep. Lexington firefighters refer to him now as “The Captain”. They promoted him for being a good ghost it is said. Aside from the usual antics with the lights and furniture it is said that you can hear The Captain’s boots as he walks around the firehouse. A cool breeze once blew a stack of papers over. The creepiest things though are that, it is said his rocking chair can be heard in the attic and, when the station is empty, neighbors see him in the upstairs windows.
EL PASO FIRE STATION 9:
Cold spots in the station, toilets flushing at night, furniture being moved around when units are out, a water fountain that turned on itself…the knob was seen moving… are typical at El Paso 9.
In 1934 there was a warehouse fire across the street from Station #9. Captain Woodward Bloxom was killed at it. Aside from the activities listed above though it is believed that this ghost continues to try and help his fellow firefighters. Immediately before the tones drop bay doors will often open on their own and bay lights will come on.
FORT LAUDERDALE STATION #3:
In addition to the common disturbances like lights turning on and off and items being thrown off of the end tables firefighters at FLFD Station #3 there are reports of seeing a face in the windows and a reflection of a face in the TV screen.
Eventually somebody did some research and discovered that, in 1940, a probationary firefighter with just 11 days on the job was killed in the line of duty. He had responded to a fire but when he got off of the rig he stepped into a puddle energized by a downed electrical line and was electrocuted.
Creepy stuff, all of it. I’ve had a few instances that have made the hair in my neck stand up a little over the years as well. Nothing quite as dramatic as some of these things but definitely similar…and creepy.
HILLVIEW (FORESTDALE ALABAMA) STATION #1
My first paying job in public safety was working for AA Ambulance as an Intermediate EMT. Since we transported for the fire departments on the west side of Birmingham we stayed in the downstairs bunkroom at Hillview Station #1. Hillview Fire District changed names to Forestdale many moons ago.
Forestdale was suburban but it definitely interfaced with more rural areas. This was before the days of 911 and E911. Country folks are independent. They don’t call or look for help unless they really need it. The story was that, on more than a few occasions, residents would pull up at the station and come into the day room complaining of chest pains and arrest right there. Sometimes they didn’t make it that far and arrested on the ramp. Hillview (Forestdale) provided ALS service even as far back as the early 1980’s so many a code was worked right there in the station dayroom or on the ramp.
At any rate, it was told that many a night a call would come in and when the crew would get to the apparatus room the red lights on the engine and/or rescue would already be revolving. Some also claimed that the refrigerator or oven door might be left open. Don Melton, who later became the Chief and has now retired, told me personally that he was once watching television in the day room alone. A chilly breeze blew through the station and he saw a figure walk through an adjacent door.
I called Forestdale Station #1 to try and make sure I had my facts straight and see if there were any new developments since it had been years since I’d been there. I spoke with Ben Flowers, one of the firefighters on duty. He asked me if I’d seen the picture they got of their ghost.
“NO! You guys got a photo? You’ve got to send it to me for this piece!”
The photo was actually taken at Forestdale’s #2 station. Ghost or just a photographic anomaly? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
GUNTERSVILLE (ALABAMA) FIRE STATION #1
When I was at Guntersville Fire our Station 1 was in an old converted National Guard Armory which had been built in 1936. It is now the city museum which is what many old firehouses seem to become for some reason.
I don’t know a great deal about the history of, what we called “The Old Armory” but I do know it could be creepy in there. The thing was beautiful in it’s own way but it looked like Dracula’s castle sitting up on the hill it was built on.
Paul Stanford retired from Guntersville as a lieutenant. He swears that he has seen a woman in white strolling through the bay and once, in the dayroom, he glanced up to see her peering through the door at him.
Julie Patton, the museum curator, related to me that one of the present day firefighters, Anthony Berry was alone at the old station one night. Someone spoke very audibly to him “HELLO” but he was alone.
This is my personal experience at the Old Armory…
Our bunkroom was on the second floor. If you look at the picture of the station and note the three round windows on the second floor, my rack was under the middle window. One night, around 3am, I remember waking up. Nothing started me and I didn’t need to got to the bathroom. My eyes just…PING…I’m awake.
There was a two flight, old wooden staircase which led to French doors coming into the bunkroom. I was directly across from the doors. I heard footsteps coming up. I wasn’t frightened. I just assumed one of the guys was coming in after a fight with his wife or maybe a few too many at the bar. I listened as the steps ended at the French doors and waited to see who was coming in. The doors never opened.
The next morning, at shift change, I asked the guys over coffee who had come in during the night and I told them my little story. Nobody had come in but about three of the other firefighters had experienced the same thing I had that night.
So, what are ghosts? Disembodied spirits of the dead? Evil spirits acting like the deceased? The building settling? I don’t know but in the words of a former co-worker and friend;
“There’s something CRAZY going on around here!”
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