A few months ago, my good friend Rett Blankenship approached me with an idea. When Rett was a Captain at DFD Station 11 on Cedar Springs he had worked with Byron Temple, a well known cut-up who kept his co-workers in stitches most of the time, but who also had an amazing 25 year run as a paramedic on 711, one of our busier ambulances. He suggested we meet Byron at the museum for a chat, along with another firefighter whose career had paralleled Byron’s in some ways, and who had been a professional athlete before joining the department – Creston Whitaker. So the four of us, along with my co-host Mike Otto, shared a little coffee and conversation one morning. You can hear their story by clicking play on the podcast below.
Captain Pat Murphy is a highly decorated veteran who served 40 years with the Dallas Fire Department. In this podcast he joins Chuck Hampton, Mike Otto, and Mike Hoskins around the kitchen table at the Dallas Firefighters Museum to talk about some of the highlights from his career.
You can listen to the show by clicking on the embedded player below. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts by searching for Firehouse Talk (two words with a space between) in your podcast app.
Fire Chief Steve Abraira cut his teeth in Miami, Florida where he rose through the ranks to be the Assistant Chief of Operations. He then served as Chief of the Department in three different cities including Dallas Texas, Palm Bay Florida and Boston Massachusetts. He holds an associate degree in fire science, a bachelors in public administration, and duel masters of arts in ‘human resource management’, and ‘management and leadership’. When he was Dallas, he was certified as both a State of Texas firefighter and Chief of Department. He was also a nationally Certified Chief Fire Officer through the Commission on Professional Credentialing, as well as an Accredited Fire Chief by the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission. Additionally, he served as a Fire Service Section Board Member for the NFPA.
You can listen to the show by clicking on the embedded player below. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts by searching for Firefighting Legends (two words with a space between) in the app.
- In the show I referenced Dan Carlin’s podcast episode in which he compares the Imperial German Army of World War I to the Nazi German Army of World War II. You can find that episode at this link: https://dchhaddendum.libsyn.com/imperial-germany-vs-nazi-germany
Many of us, including yours truly, have reported for duty at 1904 N. Garrett in old east Dallas, aka “8’s”, or “Fire Station #8”. Few however know the story of the remarkable man behind the street name, nor of the connection between him and the Dallas Fire Department. Local historian Steven Butler has a short bio of the man on WRR’s website that is well worth reading. You can access the story by clicking HERE.
The latest podcast can be described as brief history of the Dallas Chapter of the Knife and Gun Club. The story begins with historical incidents from when Dallas was a frontier town, but also relates more recent tales with a personal twist.
Sources for this story included the books: “Dallas, The Deciding Years, A Historical Portrait”, by A.C. Greene, and “The Lusty Texans of Dallas” by John William Rogers.
Click on the audio player below to listen.
You can also click on the title of this post, above, to be taken to the post page where the attached PDFs can be viewed.
If you ever wondered what Dallas looked like the year that the Dallas Fire Department was formed, you need not wonder, you can see it clearly thanks to an amazing map that was created by H. Brosius that same year – 1872.
When the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum reopens (which could be soon depending on the success of the vaccine rollout) you can come see this map in great detail hanging proudly on the wall. Until then, take a moment to see if you can find some of the landmarks referenced at the bottom of the map. You will want to go to the wikimedia site where the image is hosted and download it from there in order to see it as clearly as possible. Here’s the link:
The year is 1963. Bud Massie and Joe Jones are both Dallas firefighters and both they, and their wives Marsha and Betty, are close friends. On Monday, August 26, Bud and Joe are riding Truck 15 in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas while Marsha and Betty are spending the day together The regular Truck 15 is in the shop, so they are riding on a 27 year old reserve truck. The truck, pictured above when it was new, was known as the Centennial truck because it was purchased for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition and World’s Fair which was held at Fair Park in Dallas. This is a story of tragedy told, not from a firefighter perspective, but from a family member perspective, because a line of duty death does not occur in a vacuum; like a stone cast in a pond, the ripples expand outward.
You can hear the story by clicking the green arrow in the audio player below, or you can listen on your mobile device wherever you get your music and podcasts (Apple, Amazon, Spotify, etc); just search for “Firefighting Legends”.
Also, if you are on the “Latest Posts” page, you will need to click on the post title “Sound of a Siren” or the post photo (the one of the truck at the top) to go to the “Sound of a Siren” page that shows all the newspaper articles.
In the early 1900’s, Bert and Boyd Burris move from Indiana to Texas and join the Dallas Fire Department. Another firefighter, E.O. Jones rises through the ranks to become an Assistant Chief. The men have a date with destiny awaiting them at the Texas Wheel and Body Fire in 1923. Listen to the podcast for the full story. Related photographs and a map are below the audio player.
Below: Photograph of Bert Burris, killed at the Texas Wheel & Body Fire on Commerce Street in Dallas in 1923.
Also killed at the same fire was Chief E.O. Jones, aka Charles Jones, Charlie Jones and Cap Jones.
Photograph of the station from which Bert Burris answered his last alarm. At that time it was called the “Fair Park Fire Station” and he responded on Engine 10. It later came to be called Station #5. The building still stands, but is now the home of the Dallas Firefighters Museum.
Little is known about this photograph from the Dallas Firefighter Museum Archives, but there are a few things we can deduce. 4th from right is Chief Magee who was the Chief of the Department in the early 1900’s until his retirement in 1919. The station is believed to be “old Central”. The man in suspenders to the right of the boxers is very likely to be Chief E.O. “Charlie” Jones.
Our guest for this episode: Chaplain Denny Burris, Retired DFD Chaplain, grandson of Boyd Burris and great-nephew of Bert Burris.
In the Firefighting Legends Podcast episode titled “Lieutenant Mike Otto Interview” I talk with the retired Dallas Fire Department Lieutenant and we discuss his career in the fire service, including his near death experience in a house fire in 2006. To hear the episode, listen wherever you get your podcasts. The first photo below shows the house fire in which he was burnt. The bedroom window on the left side of the photograph is the one he exited out of after Johnny Rudder broke the glass. The next three photos show his burnt firefighting helmet and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus). The final photograph shows him with his Dallas Fire Department Rookie Class in 1983 (middle row, far left).
This podcast episode, One Fireman’s Story, discusses the deadly Golden Pheasant Fire of 1964 and it recites the letter from the Terrie Pinkerton who donated to the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum the strap pictured above which is related to that fire.
One Fireman’s Story
Ronald J. Pinkerton served on the Dallas Fire Department for 35 years. He fought many fires, but there was one fire in particular that haunted him his entire life, the Golden Pheasant restaurant fire on February 16, 1964.
Four firemen lost their lives that day and ten children lost their fathers. Jerry Henderson was one of the firemen who perished, and he was the father of five children. Ronald Pinkerton was one of the firemen who helped to bring Henderson’s body out of the rubble that day. We only know of his version of the story as it was told to his oldest granddaughter about two months before he passed away, and he wept when he told it. Pinkerton told his family many fireman stories over the years, but he never told any of them the story about Henderson’s helmt strap. We think he felt a connection to Henderson because Pinkerton himself had four young children at the time of the fire.
The item you see is the helmet strap my father, Ronald Pinkerton cut from Jerry Henderson when they removed his body from the debris of the Golden Pheasant fire. He stated he does not know why he did it, but he kept it for the rest of his life. I am guessing that he told my daughter the story knowing we would find it someday, and I did.
At the request of the Henderson family, we are honored to leave the strap in the care of the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum. We express our deep gratitude to Elaine Maddox, Dallas Fire & Rescue Chaplain, for helping us to make this happen. Captain Pinkerton shared the story with Elaine in 1995 which she told us about while planning his funeral services. He passed away on November 16, 2014.
Jerry Henderson and Ronald Pinkerton did not even know each other.
By: Terrie Pinkerton, Captain Ronald Pinkerton’s oldest daughter
I would like to add that the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum has a new display dedicated to those lost in the Golden Pheasant Fire and that display includes this shadow box. Although the museum remains closed due to Covid-19 at the time of this post (December 2020), you are invited to come see it when the museum re-opens.
Below are photographs from the scene of the fatal fire.