Who Was Robert A Bogan?

Robert A. Bogan
December 18, 1890 - June 29, 1959


Few Firefighters in the country can match the record of Baton Rouge Chief Robert A. Bogan, whose career as a firefighter spanned a total of forty-nine years. “Bob” Bogan was born on December 18, 1890, the son of Robert Henry Bogan and was one of three children. His father operated a meat market and on of young Bogan’s first jobs was to deliver orders for his father. His high school years were spent at St. Vincent’s Academy and during this time he developed his intense interest in the fire department. Interest in firefighting came naturally to most young men in Baton Rouge for the volunteer movement had enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the city. Membership in a fire company was not easily attained and was a definite symbol of adult status eagerly desired by the young men of the community. The Bogan home was located on North Street only a few blocks from the engine house of Schloss Number 5 and Bob Bogan became a familiar face around the station. On graduation from high school he enrolled at the Draughn Business College to study bookkeeping, and continued to aid his father with he meat market. 


In 1910, at the age of twenty , Bogan was invited to join Schloss Company and became one of its most active members. Two years later, he was elected to represent the Company on a committee to study the use of motor driven fire engines. He was on of the first to recommend to that the city purchase a motor driven engine which they did in 1914few  later, Bogan was elected an assistant on the Fire Board and was chosen a member of a five man committee to study the needs of the growing fire department. 


In 1918, Bob Bogan was twenty-eight years old, an eight year veteran in the department and was serving as foreman of the Schloss Company. He himself was somewhat amazed when King Strenzke, chief of the fire board, and Mayor  Grouchy stopped him on the street in April to inform him that his name was being placed in nomination for Fire Chief. On April 30, Bogan was unanimously elected to be the first paid Fire Chief of the Baton Rouge Fire Department.


During his tenure as Chief, he accomplished many things and built what could only be called a model fire department. In 1925 he worked to get the city to establish a Firemen’s Pension Fund to give security to the city firefighters and their families. In the 1920’s he began a system of inspections to reduce fire hazards in the city with over twelve thousand inspection made in 1927 alone. In 1924 Bogan arranged for all city firefighters to receive professional training in first aid and equipped all engines with a first aid kit.


On the evening of February 22, 1929, Bogan was called to the Central Station by a committee of business men for a “friendly protest” on his arrival he was presented with a diamond studded badge in recognition of his work with reducing fire loss in the city that was obtained by the firefighters with the assistance of the local businesses at a cost of $500.00.


Chief Bogan also took an active interest in the Louisiana Firemen’s Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He was elected president of the State Association in 1927 and served for 9 years. In 1937 he was elected President if the International Association of Fire Chiefs.


In 1931, Chief Bogan initiated a move for the State Association to establish the Louisiana Fire College (precursor to the current Louisiana Fire and Emergency Training Academy) to give expert instruction to firefighters all over Louisiana. The College was established in Baton Rouge at the Central Fire Station and Bogan was named Secretary/Treasurer and later Superintendent.


During World War II, Bogan served as the State Coordinatior of Civil Defense for Firefighting and later served on President Harry Truman’s Fire Prevention Committee for the nation.


After WWII, Chief Bogan continued to build and expand the fire department as the city grew and the city declared March 18, 1952 as “Bob Bogan Day”.


Chief Robert A. Bogan continued to serve until his death on June 29, 1959.