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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

NOFD History


On Good Friday in 1788, March 21, at approximately 1pm, a great fire occurred in New Orleans. A candle on an alter in the home of Don Jose Nunez, the Colony Treasurerr, accidentally came in contact with lace curtains. Gale force winds blowing in the area fanned the flame, lighting Nunez' home on Chartres Street totally ablaze.

In those days, bells on the Church of Saint Louis called citizens to assembly during emergencies. Catholic tradition says, however, that bells never toll on Good Friday. As a result, no alert was sounded. Within a matter of five hours the fire burned itself out. A tally of damages showed that four-fifths of the Colony lay in heap of ashes. What had taken 70 years to accomplish, was gone in a mere five hours.

FIrst Steps Toward Organized Fire Prevention

In April 1829, a group of men joined to together to fight fires, the first serious step to organize a first class Volunteer Fire Department in New Orleans. These volunteers went under the name of the Firemen's Charitable Association (FCA), a title it kept for 62 years until the first paid fire-fighting force, the New Orleans Fire Department, came into existence on December 15, 1891.

Chief Engineer Thomas O'Connor, leader of the volunteers, remained to become the first Chief of the New Orleans Fire Department, bridging the transition, and continuing to lead it for the next twenty years.

Henri Buckman was selected as the foreman and first chartered member of the company. Buckman was also present when the New Orleans Fire Department went into service in 1891. Because of his 62 years of devoted, efficient service to the FCA, Henri Buckman was officially declared the father of the Fire Service in New Orleans.


The first fire fought by the paid New Orleans Fire Department occurred on February 17, 1892 at 9pm at the corner of Canal and Bourbon Streets. Kinked hose lines delayed the attack on the fire which extended to the next building. As at all major fires, a large crowd gathered, among them many volunteer firemen, who pitched in to help out their comrades-in-arms. Leaping over the restraining lines, they straightened the kinked hoses, enabling the fire at A.W. Schwartz' General Store to be extinguished. 


NOFD Superintendents
Timothy McConnell 2013- Present
Charles Parent 2002 - 2013
Warren E. McDaniels 1993 - 2002
William J. McCrossen 1973 - 1993
Louis J. SanSalvador 1970 - 1973
Arthur J. Heyd 1963 - 1970
Howard L. Dey 1946 - 1962
Frank P. Rivard 1945 - 1946
John M. Evans 1920 - 1945
Louis Pujol 1911 - 1919
Thomas O'Connor 1891 - 1911


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Last updated: 7/23/2013 4:12:21 PM

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