While all of our past Fire and Police Commissioners (Joseph Boyle, John B Edgar and Clifford Davis) went out of their way to hold the fire department back in all of their actions, Claude Armour did NOT. Here is his story.
Claude Albert Armour grew up as the son of a very well respected Memphis Fire Captain. His dad served more than 28 years on the department, spending most of his time in south Memphis. Claude Armour had been going to fires with his dad and during that time he learned what all Chief Officers are supposed to know. Being able to “read the building” to know when to pull the men out as well as how to read the smoke and know what to do, in what order.
Claude Armour, entered the Memphis Police Department, and worked his way to the top position, which he served in for one year before being elected as Fire and Police Commissioner. He was the only person to serve in the position who had actually been a Command Law Enforcement Officer and who understood the inner workings of the Fire Department. During his time as commissioner he was Fire Chief John Klinck and Edward A Hamilton’s boss.
Commissioner Armour lived at 4317 Haverhill and would keep his car and driver at Fire Station 30 at Rhodes and Getwell. He would respond to all 2nd or greater alarms and wherever you saw the Chief of the Fire Department, the Commissioner he would be there in full white Turnout gear. Fire and Police Commissioners John B Edgar, Clifford Davis and Joseph Boyle would respond to the scene but would stand across the street with the rest of the spectators. Commissioner Armour was right up, close and personal with the men. He was no nonsense, all business and highly respected commander and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was in charge.
The position of Fire and Police Commissioner was responsible for the following: Security at the City Courts, Humane Shelter, Police and Fire, The Traffic Advisory Board, Vehicle Inspection Station, the Bureau of Weights and Measures and served as Vice Mayor in the Mayors absence. I knew him and I’m glad I had the good fortune to have met and chatted with him as a young man.
Pictures below courtesy of the Memphis Fire Museum