U.S. Army / Fire Department
This Irishman served with the American army plus fire department during a long career. He received numerous Citations plus Awards. He was a Leader in the drive for the reduction of fire hazards in multiple dwellings also in the testing of much needed new equipment.
Seven days following the start of W. W. 2 Peter Loftus decided to enlist in the United States Army. He served with the 58th Field Artillery in France. He was decorated twice after battles in Chateau Thierry plus Meuse Arginne. [iii]
Following his tour of duty he decided to enter the U.S. Civil Service. So began an eventful yet interesting time with the Fire Department at the 14th Division of North Queen’s Fire Service. [iv]
His Promotions were gained as the result of competitive Civil Service Examinations. Peter Loftus became a Lieutenant in 1924 followed by Captain in 1929 then Battalion Chief during 1934. He secured the rank of Deputy Chief in 1938 followed by Chief of Department during 1948. [v]
Peter Loftus was accused during December 1948 of dereliction of duty by allowing a party at Engine 33 Quarters. He was later exonerated after a Department trial with suspension then returned to duty. Controversies also arose within the political regime as Commissioner Quayle opposed the appointment of Peter Loftus in 1948. On the same day that the order was placed with the Department, the ranks of both the Assistant Chief of the Fire Department plus the Deputy Chief were changed to Assistant Chief of Staff and Operations also to Deputy Chief of Staff and Operations with the result that no one reported to the Chief of Department! This situation continued until a new Mayor with a new Fire Commissioner came to Office. Commissioner George Monaghan on January 3rd 1951 eliminated the role of Chief of Staff and Operations. This act restored control to Chief Lofus, However again in 1954 his responsibilities were further disseminated when Commissioner Edward Cavanagh restructured the Department, he moved Administration and Personal responsibilities to a separate unit. [vi] of the Fire Department Staff and Operations were changed to Assistant Chief of Staff and Operations
Chief Loftus received many Citations within the Department including in May 1954 a Certificate of Merit as a reward for saving the life of a Fireman who had been buried in the collapse of a factory fire. Chief was the first recipient of the new award. Commissioner Cavanagh said that Chief Loftus’s “ acts and his leadership were over and beyond the call of duty and in the full glory of the traditions of the Department.” [vii]
Chief Peter remained with the Department for thirty – five years until his retirement on September 19th 1955, he lived at 33 – 11, 145th Street, in Flushing, Queens County. As firemen passed his home they saluted their former Chief with an extra “Hoot” of the horn! Peter Loftus died aged seventy years old in Flushing Hospital on December 28th 1964. His funeral service was held in St. Andrew’s Avellino Church, Flushing. He is interred in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Flushing. [viii]
During a rubbish removal of premises by Di Mola Brothers in Ridgewood, New York boots worn by Chief Loftus plus a framed Certificated were discovered. [ix]
The “Fire Department, City of New York” by Paul Hashagen; Turner Publishing Company, 2002. Chief Loftus is mentioned in books ie “Badges of the Brave, a pictorial history of New York Fire Departments,” by Gary Urbanouicz, Turner Publishing Company 2002. [x]
Also he is listed in Catalogue of Copyright Entries, 3rd Series by Library of Congress 1957. [xi]
[ii] Mayo Men’s Association Journal, Diamond Jubilee, 1954.
[iii] Mayo Men’s Association Journal, Diamond Jubilee, 1954.
[iv] New York Times, December 29th 1964 (Obituary)
[v] Mayo Men’s Association Journal, Diamond Jubilee, 1954.
[vi] New York Times, December 29th 1964 (Obituary)
[vii] New York Times, December 29th 1964 (Obituary)