Indianapolis Fire Department / Bowen-Merrill Fire
Location: North side of street, 2 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis. (Marion County, Indiana)
Erected 1999 Indiana Historical Bureau and Indianapolis Firefighters Local 416
ID# : 49.1999.1
Volunteer force founded 1826; established as Indianapolis Fire Department with paid force 1859. Bowen-Merrill disaster 1890 led to reorganization and city Board of Public Safety. Indiana General Assembly enabled Fireman's Pension Funds 1891. Improvements in training, equipment, and water access came by early 1900s.
On March 17, 1890 the Bowen-Merrill Company stationery and book store at 16-18 West Washington Street caught fire. Eighty-six firemen fought the blaze. The woodframed roof and floors collapsed, dropping many men into the fire. Thirteen deaths resulted, the deadliest fire for firefighters in Indianapolis history.
Government Institutions, Nature and Natural Disasters