Marking the passage of an era isn't typically done by making an entry in the local real estate listings, but that will be the case with the pending sale of the Salt Lake Fire Department's old Station No. 4.
A "for sale" sign is planted on the front lawn of the station, 222 I St., which was substantially remodeled in 1940. An entry soon to be placed in local real estate listings will post the building and an adjacent lot for sale.At a $94,000 appraised value, a buyer can come away with a two-level structure complete with fire-engine bay, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, office and a great deal of history from the days when every fire engine was painted red.
Leland Latham, who retired as a captain from the department after 30 years, comes from that era and speaks fondly of the years he spent fighting fires out of old Fire Station No. 4.
"I remember when I came up here in 1943 and we had a man here, Sam Atkinson was his name, he was an Englishman," Latham said, recalling that Atkinson was a firefighter back in the 1920s when the American Oil Co. caught fire.
"That fire started around noon on Saturday and burned all afternoon, Saturday night and it was Sunday afternoon before they got it out," Latham recounted.
Latham also remembers the fires which took the lives of some of his colleagues - the Victory Theatre and Newhouse Hotel blazes, both in 1943 - and another fireman found dead in the station's bathroom.
"He sat down on the stool and he just dropped dead," Latham said.
Latham wasn't at the station, however, in its earliest days when instead of gasoline-powered fire engines, the station's ladder and pumper engines were powered by teams of well-trained horses.
"Originally, this was built in the horse and carriage days," said Lt. Robert Roberts. The station, which now only has room for a single engine, then housed both the ladder and pumper engines.
Horses were kept in wooden stalls, which now serve as the firefighter's dormitory, and were well-fed, coddled and respected, Roberts said. The beasts pulled the wagons up and down the Avenues, an area well-known for long, steep hills.
The horses, of course, are gone, replaced by modern fire engines, which themselves have outgrown No. 4.
"This is one of the only fire engines that will fit into this station," Roberts said, pointing to an engine that barely squeezes through the station's entrance.
The engine's tight fit and the growth of the city have led the city to put the old station out to pasture. Station No. 4 crews will soon move into a new facility at 830 E. 11th Ave., under much-delayed construction.
The new station was supposed to be open in December, but city officials recently fired the building's contractor for failing to adhere to a strict "fast-track" schedule.
"Things have changed," Latham admitted, saying that although the station he entered in 1943 served its purpose for decades, it is now too small.
"The new one looks like it's going to be a good one when they finish it," he said.
Younger firefighters are glad to be moving out of Station No. 4.
"After being in this closet for six years, I can't wait," said firefighter Phil Curtin.