At one point in Dayton History, we did not have a paid fire department, but a “Bucket Brigade.” Volunteers essentially stood in line and passed buckets of water from one to another to put out a fire, and in later years, to fill the hand pumped engine that spurted water onto the fire – an early model of the present day fire truck. Early Dayton employed this technique, with a team of volunteer fire fighters and fire wardens.
On the morning of September 10, 1893, a fire alarm rang out and as normal, the entire town lined up to see. Charles Greene, one of the city’s fire wardens, had the duty of organizing the team to line up in order to fight the fire. In the midst of this madness, Greene noticed that one of the volunteers, Matthew Thompson, was not lined up properly, standing a distance away from the group. Greene yelled for Thompson to get in line. As Thompson refused, the two men began to argue, culminating in Greene first knocking Thompson’s hat off with a splinter of wood he had nearby, then after more words were exchanged, smacking him on the head with the piece of wood.