Biography of Roy Pitts

Roy Pitts is chief of the fire department at Independence. During his two years in that office he has developed the service to a high point of efficiency, partly by organization and partly by the introduction of modern apparatus, so that Independence today can boast of as perfect an equipment for fighting fire as any city of its size in Kansas.

When Mr. Pitts took charge of the department the apparatus consisted of a chief’s car and a horse-drawn hose wagon. Since then he has taken the lead in giving the city a better apparatus. The city now has three motor propelled cars, one pump and hose car and the other a hose car, and both of these engines were designed by Chief Pitts. The first was built by the South Bend Motor Car Works at South Bend, Indiana. It is in itself a complete engine for prompt and efficient fire fighting. It carries 1,200 feet of hose, besides ladders, deluge, searchlight and all necessary tools, and can pump 750 gallons a minute. The other hose car, also designed by Mr. Pitts, was built by himself and the other firemen of the city on a Buick chassis. It carries an equipment of 1,000 feet of hose, ladders, chemicals, pyreenes, searchlight, etc. The chief’s car, which was built by the Anderson Fire Coupling and Supply Company of Kansas City, Kansas, also carries a large amount of fire fighting equipment, including two forty-gallon chemicals, one hand chemical, two pyreenes, etc.

When he first took charge of the chief’s office Mr. Pitts was called upon with his horse-drawn equipment to fight two large fires. Since the introduction of modern apparatus Independence has not had a fire of any importance, every blaze being checked almost at its incipiency, though a delay of two or three minutes, which would have been inevitable with the earlier apparatus, would have meant the destruction of much property.

Mr. Pitts is a member of the Kansas State Firemen’s Association and the International Chiefs’ Association, and attended the National Firemen’s Convention of 1915 at Cincinnati and of 1916 at Providence, Rhode Island. He is also president and secretary of the Firemen’s Relief Fund of Independence.

Roy Pitts is a Kansas man, and a few years ago came off his father’s farm with all the rugged strength and vigor of such environment, and has proved himself the man for the place. He was born near Cherryvale, Kansas, May 16, 1888, and comes of a family of Irish descent but long a resident of the State of Indiana. His father, John W. Pitts, was born in Indiana in 1863, was reared there, and came to Montgomery County, Kansas, in 1884. Since then he has lived on his farm thirteen miles southwest of Independence. He is a successful diversified farmer and has a well improved and valuable place of 160 acres. He served three terms on the school board, and has been road supervisor in his district. He is independent in politics and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. John W. Pitts married Emma Yates, who was born in Illinois in 1866. Their children are: Pearl, wife of Fred Furnace, and they have a good farm of 120 acres situated 1½ miles from their father’s place; Roy; Olin, who for the past two years has been a member of the Independence Fire Department under his brother Roy; Lola, who died March 17, 1914, at the age of twenty-one; Maude, living at home; and Ernest, now in the eighth grade of the public schools.

Roy Pitts received his early education in Montgomery County public schools, and spent the first twenty-two years of his life on his father’s farm. On January 28, 1910, he became a member of the Independence fire department, and served under Chief Foster until March 26, 1914, when he was appointed chief by Mayor C. H. Kerr. His office and headquarters for himself and men are in the City Building, and he has five regular firemen under him, with Earl Adams as assistant chief.

Politically Mr. Pitts is independent. He is affiliated with the Woodmen of the World at Independence, and with Independence Camp No. 648, Loyal Order of Moose, and is insured in the Travelers Insurance Company. On April 21, 1914, at Independence, he married Miss Essie Babb, daughter of Mrs. Carrie Babb of Independence.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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