The Fireman’s Charitable & Benevolent Association
It is impossible to separate the history of the fire department in New Orleans from that of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association. For thirty-seven years, the FCBA administered the city’s fire department as an independent civic body while maintaining its activities as a charitable fraternity.
Volunteer firemen courageously answered the call to protect New Orleans lives and property long after the Civil War. However, technological advances would eventually extinguish volunteer fire departments across America. Steam engines eliminated the need for men to pump the water and horse-drawn fire trucks replaced heavy pumps hauled by hand. In 1891, New Orleans joined major cities across America in organizing a professional fire department.
While volunteer firemen no longer protect the city, their dedication and sacrifice are not forgotten. The Firemen’s Charitable and Benevolent Association continues to preserve Cypress Grove and Greenwood cemeteries as a permanent memorial to the many brave volunteer firemen who gave their courage and, sometimes, their lives to protect their neighbors. Even though Cypress Grove and Greenwood are no longer burial grounds for volunteer firemen and their families, they will always be a resting place for heroes.
Volunteers no longer answer the fire alarm, but the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association still answers the call for volunteers. For 170 years, New Orleans most prominent citizens have volunteered to lead the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association. For generations, they have preserved Cypress Grove and Greenwood cemeteries as a living memorial to volunteer firemen and their families and as a cherished resting place for New Orleans’ families.
The FCBA preserves the memory of volunteers who protected the lives and property of New Orleans throughout its history. Every year, the FCBA observes March 4th as Volunteer Fireman’s Day with a wreath-laying ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery’s Firemen’s Monument. March 4th was a civic holiday observed by volunteer firemen parading through the streets of New Orleans, up until 1891 when a professional fire department was organized.
The Officers of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association:
The Honorable James F. McKay III – President
Robert S. Goertz -1st Vice President
Leonard E. Gately, Jr – 2nd Vice President
Robert G. Danner – 3rd Vice President
Donald E. McKay, Sr. – 4th Vice President
John C. Freese, Jr. – Secretary Treasurer
The Executive Committee of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association:
Michael J. Cain, Sr.
Donald McKay, Sr.
Pat J. McMahon
Bernard J. Rice
William E. Rice