WALLACE, GEORGE ALEXANDER LEROY (22 Feb. 1848-3 Aug. 1940), CLEVELAND FIRE DEPT. member 62 years, and chief from 1901-31, was born in Erie, Pa. to Geo. A. and Margaret Hendrickson Wallace, came to Cleveland with his family in 1854, and at 14 left school to work as a railroad brakeman.
Wallace joined the Cleveland Fire Dept. as a 2d-class fireman in June 1869, acquired a reputation as a fine hoseman and troubleshooter, rising through the ranks to hoseman, then hosecart driver, then captain of Hook & Ladder Co. No. 4 in 1873. In 1883, Wallace was appointed 5th assistant chief, and in 1901, after rising to 4th, then 3d assistant, he was appointed chief by Mayor JOHN FARLEY, commanding 1,040 officers and men at 63 engine houses and stations.
Throughout his tenure, Wallace fought to keep out politics and make the department's operations a matter of fitness and faithfulness. He displayed executive and leadership ability, maintaining discipline and inspiring respect. At the scene of a fire, Wallace was the boss, demanding strict obedience from his men and any crowds standing by. Many times he risked his life entering burning buildings to save victims, family pets, or heirlooms. Among the memorable fires at which Wallace directed firefighting efforts were the COLLINWOOD SCHOOL FIRE of 1908 and the CLEVELAND CLINIC FIRE of 1929. Wallace married Emma Stanhope in 1874 and had 2 sons, George and Stanhope.