Was there ever a fire chief more vigilant than Santa Rosa’s Frank Muther? Sometimes it seemed that more was accomplished at the Fire Commissioners’ meeting than City Council. Just a few months after he ordered his men to keep a sharp lookout for lawn-watering scofflaws that could endanger the city, here he was, urging town fathers to finally take action on the “temporary structures” that quickly popped up following the 1906 earthquake. Now almost a year-and-a-half later, many “shacks” apparently remained.
Frank Muther died in 1927 and is buried in the old Odd Fellows’ Cemetery (lot 21), just on the other side of the fence from the Fulkerson crypt in the Rural Cemetery. But today his grave is completely unmarked, likely because he had a wooden tombstone that was destroyed by a mid-century burn at the Rural Cemetery to control weeds. Oh, irony.
Also below is a letter to the editor complaining of high fire risk conditions (in the fiscal year that ended the day before this letter appeared, there had been 23 fire alarms, 9 of them false). Between the ramshackle shacks and the weed-choked backyards, Frank needed to stay on his toes.
FIRE CHIEF AND THE OLD SHACKS
Important Recommendation Made at Last Night’s Meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners
At the meeting of the Fire Commissioners last night Fire Chief Frank Muther recommended that all temporary buildings that remain untenanted for thirty days should be torn down as a matter of precaution against fire.
The Fire Chief reported two fires during the month; that at the Yandle foundry, entailing a total loss of $3,572.20 upon which insurance was paid thereon to the amount of $1,272.20.
The Fire Chief at the conclusion of the reading of the report said that there area a lot of old shacks that were built temporarily that should be removed.
The Chief also reported that owing to the removal of Charles Connolly from the city he had appointed Chas. Bowman to fill the vacancy as a call member of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
The hook and ladder wagon of the department has been painted and returned spick and span to the fire station.
The Chief also presented some correspondence regarding the repairs of the old La France engine, providing of a new boiler, etc.– Press Democrat, September 18, 1907
I do not sign my name to this, but all the same I am a bona fide citizen of this hamlet, and what I say is the truth, and also, what I say will be understood.
I think this is a disorderly, untidy, and unkept town. Not only are the business thoroughfares in need of attention in the way of repairs, but the residence streets are also neglected. Notwithstanding the request of the street department that the sidewalks be cleaned, grass and weeds removed therefrom, hardly any attention was paid to that notice. In many places the back yards have gone to waste and the high, dry grass growing there has made the places fire traps. Day after tomorrow fire crackers and other explosives will be burning all over town, and how many dry grass lots will be ablaze? Cannot the powers that be in this city be awakened to some of the simple needs of the place? I am afraid to go out into the country for even a day for fear that I may return and find my home in ruins. With the water supply sometimes in the air, would it not be a practical thing to remove all cause of fire, especially during the next few days?Citizen.
– Santa Rosa Republican, July 2, 1907