The History of the Boston Fire Department and Boston Fire Alarm System 1859-1973 brought to you by the Boston Sparks Association.

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INTRODUCTION
Boston was incorporated as a town on September 7, 1630. lt received its first fire
engine in 1678, and this was not only the first engine in Boston, but in America as well.
Thomas Atkins, a carpenter, was placed in charge and empowered to select sufficient men
to operate the apparatus, so he may therefore be called "The First American Fireman". It
is pretty well established that this first engine was the forerunner of our present Engine
Company 7.
Boston remained a town until March 4, 1822, on which date the act of
incorporation as a city was accepted by the voters. The town system of fire wards and
loosely organized volunteer fire companies remained without change, and no effort was
made to supplement the meager water supply, most of which was obtained from wells
and, in a few instances, from the conduits of the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Company
which had been organized in 1795.
General dissatisfaction with the prevailing system of fire protection and the
occurrence of a destructive fire in 1825 led to the passage of a law abolishing the old
Board of Fire Wards and providing for the appointment of a Chief Engineer who was to
have complete charge of the department. ln 1826, Mr. Samuel D. Harris was appointed to
the newly created office, and he began an immediate reorganization of the department.
New houses were built for the hand apparatus then in use, reservoirs were provided
from which water for the engines could be obtained, and other improvements were made.
Another reorganization took place in 1837 as a result of the so-called "Broad Street
Riot”. The first annual report was published in 1838.
A great improvement in the water supply was brought about with the introduction
of water from Lake Cochituate, the first water arriving at the Frog Pond on Boston
Cormrion on October 25, 1848, amid a general celebration.
In 1854, a committee visited Cincinnati, Ohio, and there inspected the steam engine
built by Mr. A.B. Latta. This engine was in active service, and the committee, being
impressed with what they had seen, returned with a recommendation that Boston
purchase such an engine.
The engine was ordered and upon delivery was named the “Miles Greenwood". In
1855, it was in service three times, but was not considered satisfactory. lt was repaired in
1856, several changes being made, but being found unreliable, it was sold in 1857. lt is
generally believed that the failure of the engine was not so much due to the mechanical
defects ascribed to it, but that it was hastened by the antipathy toward steam engines
displayed by the firemen of that day. Two smaller steam engines were later purchased,
and they were delivered on December 16, 1858.
On December 31, 1858, there were ir1 service 14 hand engines, 3 hook and ladder
carriages, and 6 hydrant (hose) carriages.

 



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Information Regarding Location of Department Headquarters
Where headquarters was prior to the opening of the City Hall in 1865, l have not
ascertained sufficiently to include this information however after City Hall opened it
was located there until May ·6 1890 when it was moved to leased quarters 94 Tremont Street.
On July 1, 1895, it was moved to then new building at 60 Bristol Street where it
remained until August 6 1951 when the new head quarters building at 115 Southampton Street Was Occupied.


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STEAM AND HORSES _
The two steam engines which had been delivered on December 16, 1858, were
placed in service on January 1, 1859. Both were operated under contract with their
builders, neither engine having a regular company of men attached to it. One was placed
in the house of Hand Engine 6 at 30 Wall Street and was named “Eclipse". lt had been
built by Silsby, Mynderse and Company of Seneca Falls, New York. The other engine was
located at the quarters of Hand Engine 7 on Purchase Street near Hartford Street. It had
been built by Bean and Scott of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and was named "Lawrence".
The first regularly organized Steam Engine Company was No. 8, placed in service
on North Bennett Street on November 1, 1859. Other Steam Engine Companies
organized in 1859 were Engine 3 on Washington Street near Dover Street on December 1,
Engine 1 on Broadway near Dorchester Street on December 19, and Engine 9 on Paris
Street, East Boston, on December 26.
During 1860, the remaining companies of the hand department were disbanded and
replaced by horse-drawn steam fire engines and horse hose companies. Companies had
been known by both names and numbers, but on September 5, 1860, an order was issued
to remove from all of the apparatus the names heretofore used and that they were to be
known by their numbers only.
During 1860, the following Steam Fire Engine Companies were organized:
No. 6 at 30 Wall Street and No. 7 on Purchase Street on January l;No. 4 at Court
Square on May 7; No. 5 at Marion Street, East Boston, on September l;No. 2 on Fourth
Street, between K and L Streets on September 17.
ln the same year, the following Horse Hose Companies were placed in service:
No. 1, Salem Street, April 1; No. 2, Hudson Street near Oak Street, May l;No. 3,
Fruit Street, J wne 16; No. 8, Warren Street (the present Warrenton Street), near Tremont
Street, July 1; No. 7, Mt. Vernon and River Streets, August l;No. 5, Shawmut Avenue,
between W. Brookline and W. Canton Streets, August 17; No. 4, Northampton Street near
Harrison Avenue, August 18; No. 6 at 391 Chelsea Street, East Boston, September lgand
No. 9 at B and Athens Streets on November 1.
Three Hook and Ladder Companies were in service. No. 1 was on Friend Street at
Warren Square, having been organized August 4, 1820. No. 2 was at the house formerly
occupied by Hand Engine 10 on Meridian Street, East Boston, the company having been
organized on October 1, 1849. No. 3 was at Harrison Avenue and Brookline Street, and it
had been organized on September 1, 1850.
At the end of 1860, the following apparatus was in use:
Engine 1 had a steamer built by the Boston Locomotive Works; Engines 2, 3, 4, 5,
and 9 had steam engines built by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company; Engines 6 and
8 had Silsby Engines, while Engine 7 had the steamer built by Bean and Scott at the
Lawrence Machine Company. All hose companies except No. 6 had two-wheel carriages
built by Brigham, Mitchell and Bird, while Hose 6 had a four—wheel carriage built by
Hunneman. Ladder 1 had a truck built by Stevens and Pratt, but there is no information
regarding the trucks used by Hook and Ladder Companies 2 and 3.
During 1860, the department started using 2-1 / 2" hose for the first time, this size
 


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being supplied to the engine companies only. The hose companies continued to use the 2”
hose which had been the standard in the hand department, but the Chief Engineer
recommended that 2-1 /2" hose be made standard for both engine and hose companies.
Two members of the department were killed at a fire which occurred on February
18, 1860, in the building occupied by Manning and Glover at 42 Merchants Row. Charles
Carter of Ladder 1 and Captain Charles E. Dunton of Hose 1 died under the falling walls
V of the building.
On July 29, 1861, assignments for all companies to first, second, and third alarms
were approved and placed in effect.
Only one new company was organized during 1861. Hand Hose Company 10 was
placed in service on November 1 at Dorchester and Jenkins Streets, Washington Village,
South Boston, but this company was intended for the protection of the immediate
neighborhood only.
During 1861, 24 of the existing fire reservoirs at various locations were arranged to
have water supplied to them from the Cochituate Water System.
On July 4, 1861, the department was sorely tried by two simultaneous fires, both
of which had started as the result of the careless use of firecrackers. At 1:18 P.M., an
alarm had been given for a fire which destroyed 20 buildings on Albany, Hudson, and
Curve Streets, when at 2:17 P.M., another fire broke out at Nickerson’s Wharf, New
Street, East Boston. This fire extended to New Street, Maverick Street, Border Street,
Cross Street, Liverpool Street, Erin’s Alley, and to several wharves and vessels. Most of
the department being engaged at the Albany Street fire, it was necessary to summon help
from Chelsea, Roxbury, Malden, Cambridge, and Charlestown.
In 1862, Engine 4 moved from Court Square to Scollay’s Building (present
Government Center), and Ladder 3 moved from Harrison Avenue and Brookline Street to
a new house at Harrison Avenue and Wareham Street.
On February 24, 1862, a fire starting at North and Commercial Streets burned
everything in the area bounded by North, Fleet, and Clark Streets and the water,
including the wharves. Reuben Hanaford of Hose Company 5 was killed at this fire.
On June 1, 1862, Engine Company 10 was organized at the quarters of and
replacing Hose Company 7, at Mt. Vernon and River Streets.
George N. Abercrombie of Engine Company 7 was killed by falling walls on July
11, 1862, at a fire, 61-63 Sudbury Street.
The year 1863 is very bare of events as far as the Fire Department is concerned,
except for the fact that Hook and Ladder 3 was equipped with so-called "Sp1iced
Ladders" which could be raised to a total height of 65 feet.
ln 1864, Hook and Ladder 1 was also equipped with "Spliced Ladders”.
Engine Company 11 was organized on January 1, 1866, in a house on Sumner
Street, corner of Orleans Street, East Boston, and Ladder Company 2 was moved to this
location from the old house of Hand Engine 10 on Meridian Street.
The horses used by the department were getting lame from standing in their stalls
without sufficient exercise: therefore, they were ordered to be exercised daily in the
vicinity of their quarters.
On October 1, 1867, the regular horse-drawn steamer of Engine Company 5 being
out of service for repairs, this company was given a self-propelled steam engine for trial.
 


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This engine had been built by the Amoskeag Works at Manchester, New Hampshire, and
having been on exhibition at the fair in Nashua, New Hampshire, it was brought to
Boston. On October 11, 1867, in the presence of a committee representing the Board of
Fire Commissioners of the City of New York, the engine was run along the Milldam,
along Beacon Street, and up and down the Mt. Vernon Street hill, to the satisfaction of
all present. It was observed that it did not frighten passing horses any more than did the
horse-drawn steamers.
Engine Company 5 received a new horse-drawn steam fire engine on December 24,
1867, and in the absence of better information, it is assumed that the self-propelled
engine was not again used after that date.
On January 6, 1868, the City of Roxbury was annexed to Boston, and the
department was enlarged by the addition of three steam fire engine companies, one hose
company, and one ladder company. The new engine companies were No. 12 at Dudley
and Warren Streets, No. 13 at Cabot and Culvert (Whittier) Streets, and No. 14 on Centre
Street near Eliot Square. The new Hose Company, No. 7, was at 185 Cabot Street, and
Hook and Ladder 4 at 20 Eustis Street, next to the cemetery.
On March 1, 1868, Hand Hose Company 10, at Dorchester and Jenkins Streets, was
reorganized as a Horse Hose Company.
On May 11, 1868, George H. Golliff of Ladder Company 1 was killed when he was
run over by the truck while on the way to a fire.
By an order of the Board of Aldermen, effective March 16, 1868, the Assistant
Engineers were given definite assignments in each district for first and second alarms, the
districts being as follows:
1. East Boston
2. North section of the City, line from Leverett, Green, Court, and State Streets,
to the end of Long Wharf.
3. South of Leverett, Green, Court, and State Streets and north and west of
Boylston and Beach Streets.
4. South of Boylston and Beach Streets and north of Dover and Berkeley
Streets, to Boylston Street.
5. South of Dover and Berkeley Streets, to Boylston Street, and north of
Northampton Street to Swett Street (present Southampton Street).
6. South of Northampton Street
7. South Boston
In April, 1868, Engine Company 1 moved from Broadway near Dorchester Street,
to a new house on Dorchester Street at Fourth Street. During this year, Engine Company
8 moved from North Bennett Street and Hose Company 1 moved from their quarters on
Salem Street, both to a new house on Salem Street (133 Salem St,).
On June 2, 1868, names for all companies were again authorized, all of them being
named with the exception of Engine 11, Hose 9, and Hook and Ladder 4. The names
were as follows:
Engine Companies: Mazeppa No. 1; S.R. Spinney No, 2; Eagle No. 3; Barnicoat No.
4; Elisha Smith No. 5; Melville No. 6; Amory No. 7; Northern Liberty No. 8;
 



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Maverick No. 9; Cataract N0. 10; Warren No, 12; Tremont No. 13; and Dearborn
N0. 14.
Hose Companies: Washington No. 1; Union No. 2; Franklin No. 3; Chester No. 4;
Suffolk No. 5; William Woolley N0. 6; Elliott No. 7; Tremont No. 8; Bradlee No.
10.
Hook and Ladder Companies: Warren No. l;Washington No. 2; Franklin No. 3.
On December 31, 1868, the population of Boston was 250,750.
There was no haggling over mutual aid when the occasion required it. On March 8,
1869, a large fire was in progress at the D.N. Skillings & C0, Lumber Yard in East
Cambridge. Cambridge having asked for assistance, Box 6 at Leverett and Willard Streets
was transmitted, and the apparatus responding was sent to East Cambridge by the Chief ,
Engineer. Engines 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10, Hose 1 and 3, and Hook and Ladder 1 responded.
The year 1869 saw a number of changes and improvements. Two of the Hose
Companies occupied new houses, Hose 3 moving from Fruit Street to 16 North Grove
Street, and Hose 8 from Warren Street (present Warrenton Street) to 25 Church Street
near Fayette Street. Hose Company 3 moved about June 1, and Hose Company 8 about
April 1.
The department purchased its first hre extinguishers and also started using hose
bridges to allow the passage of horse cars over lines of hose. Circulating water heaters
were installed in the quarters of the various engine companies, allowing the water in the
engine boilers to be kept hot and ready for instant service. Previously the engines had
responded with cold water in their boilers, requiring a good deal of time for the
generation of sufficient steam pressure.
In the annual report for 1869, the Chief Engineer repeated an earlier warning
regarding the lack of sufficiently large water mains in some sections and the total lack of
water for fire purposes in other sections of the city.
Two new companies were organized in December of 1869, Walter E. Hawes Engine
Company 15 and Hancock Hook and Ladder Company 5, both of which were placed in a
new house on Fourth Street, west of Dorchester Street. Engine 15 was to be located there
only until a new house could be built for their use. As nearly as can be established,
Engine Company 15 was organized on December 22, 1869, but the correct date of
organization of Ladder Company 5 is unobtainable and possibly did not occur until
January 1, 1870.
Jacob Smith, the driver of Hose Company 2, was thrown from the carriage on
November 3, 1869, and he died from his injuries on November 5.
During 1869, the companies not previously named received names as follows: John
S. Damrell Engine 11 ; Lawrence Hose No. 9; Washington Hook and Ladder No, 4.
There were 112 fire alarm boxes in service, and the following instructions were in
force with reference to the Fire Alarm Telegraph System:
Alarms are sounded by striking the number of the box upon the alarm bells, upon
the gongs in the engine houses, and upon the small bells in the signal boxes. To announce
the existence of a fire near Box 41 (Old South Church), the bells will strike FOUR, make
a pause of a few seconds, and then strike ONE, thus: 4 — 1. This will be repeated at
 



 


 

 


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intervals of about one minute. For a fire near Box 145 (South Boston Point), the bells
will strike ONE, make a pause, then strike FOUR, another pause, and then strike FIVE,
thus: 1 4 4 4 5.
The only members permanently employed in engine companies were the engine-
man, fireman, and driver. Engine Companies 12, 13, and 14, however, had two drivers, as
their hose carriages were run separately and not attached to the steamer as in the other
engine companies. Hose companies had permanent drivers as had the hook and ladder
companies. All other members, including the foremen of companies, did duty only at
fires and were not permanently employed, responding only when alarms were sounded on
the public bells.
On January 3, 1870, the Town of Dorchester became part of the City of Boston.
This added to the department six steam fire engine companies and two hook and ladder
companies. The engine companies were S.H. Hebard No. 16 at Temple and River Streets,
Protector No. 17 at Meeting House Hill, Torrent No. 18 on Harvard Street, Alert No. 19
on Norfolk Street (now Babson Street), Mattapan, Independence No. 20 on Walnut
Street, Neponset, and J.H. Upham No. 21 on Boston Street (now Columbia Road). The
hook and ladder companies were General Grant No. 6 at Lower Mills, and Everett No. 7
at Meeting House Hill. The territory of the former Town of Dorchester was designated as
Fire District 8.
The reliability of the Fire Alarm Telegraph System depended largely upon good
fortune and good weather, failures being always likely to occur, as all the wires were
overhead and at the mercy of the elements. On Wednesday, February 9, 1870, an alarm
was received at 2:55 A.M. from Box 82 at Washington and Northampton Streets for a fire
which turned out to be at 872 Albany Street, a considerable distance from Box 82. The
fire was in a grocery store, which, together with the contents, was nearly destroyed. It
then developed that those discovering the fire had first attempted to give an alarm from
Box 212 at Albany and Hampden Streets and also from Box 213 at Norfolk Avenue and
Hampden Street. Neither box was working, as the circuits were open due to a severe
storm and communication with the companies in that area was also impossible for the
same reason.
On July 25, 1870, there were two large fires which followed each other closely. The
first fire was in East Boston, in the vicinity of London and Border Streets, causing aloss
of $145,000. For this fire, eight alarms were given, the first, second, third, and fourth
alarms being sent from Box 157 at Decatur and Liverpool Streets at 3:21, 3:28, 3:34, and
4:13 P.M., the fifth, sixth, and seventh alarms on Box 14, Commercial Street and Eastern
Avenue, at 4:21, 4:28, and 4:35 P.M., and the eighth alarm on Box 36 at Police Station
2, Court Square, at 4:50 P.M. This was followed by four alarms on Box 41, Washington
and Milk Streets, for a $25,000 fire at 110 (old number) Washington Street, at 6:29 P.M.,
at 6:35 P.M., 6:43 P.M., and 6:50 P.M. As all companies were supposed to be at the fire
after the fourth alarm, the unanswered question is, what apparatus responded to the 5th,
6th, 7th, and 8th alarms for the East Boston fire, and what companies were available to
respond on the four alarms for Box 41 so soon after the alarms for the East Boston fire.
During 1870, Engine Company 4 moved from Scollay’s Building (present
Government Center) to J.B. Smith’s stable on Bulfinch Street, and on September 25,
 



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Engine Company 7 moved from Purchase Street to a new house on East Street at the
corner of East Street Place.
In 1871, on a date not ascertained, a new house was completed at the corner of
Dorchester Avenue and Broadway, to which Engine Company 15 was moved, from the
temporary location with Ladder 5 on West Fourth Street near Dorchester Street. On May
1, a new type of apparatus, Extinguisher Wagon No. 1, was placed in service at 16 North
Grove Street. This wagon carried extinguishers, hose, lanterns, and other useful items.
During 1871, Hose Company 7 was moved from 185 Cabot Street to a new house
at 1046 Tremont Street.
The year 1872 was an eventful one. There were many large loss fires, including
Boston’s most costly conflagration, the "Great Boston Fire" of November 9 and 10.
During this year, Engine Company 4 and Extinguisher Wagon 1 occupied a new house at
5 Bulfinch Street near Howard Street. Additional extinguisher wagons were placed in
service, No. 2 at Ladder 3 on April 1 and No. 3 at Engine 9 on August 24. A new hose
company, No. 11, went into service at the quarters of Engine 9 on September 17, but
from that date on, no further record of this company can be found.
On November 5, 1872, at a fire in the furniture factory of George T. Comins, 154
North Street, Thomas Young of Engine Company 6 was killed when he fell through a
scuttle for a distance of four stories (two alarms, Box 13).
The "Great Boston Fire" of November 9 and 10, 1872, has received its full share of
publicity elsewhere. Suffice it to say that fire was discovered to be in full possession of
the building at 83-85 Summer Street, at the corner of Kingston Street, and that an alarm
was given on Box 52 at Bedford and Lincoln Streets at 7:24 P.M., November 9. This was
followed by additional alarms at 7:29, 7:34, 7:45, and 8:00 P.M., calling the entire
working force of the department, with further alarms on Box 123 at 8: 17 and 8:24 P.M.
and on Box 48 at 10:09 P.M. Distemper had disabled many of the horses, therefore, most
of the companies brought the apparatus to the fire by hand. Engine 7, the nearest
company, arrived in about 1-1/2 minutes, but Engine 19 spent 1-1/2 hours coming to the
fire from their quarters at Mattapan.
It having become evident that additional force was needed to subdue the
conflagration, telegraphic appeals for help brought aid from many places, as far away as
New Haven, Ct., and Manchester, N.H. The fire was not stopped until it had destroyed
776 buildings and caused property losses of about 75 million dollars.
The great fire took a comparatively small toll of lives. The only members of the
Boston Fire Department who lost their lives were William Farry, Foreman, and Daniel
Cochrane, Assistant Foreman, both of Hook and Ladder Company 4. The total number
of deaths resulting from this fire was thirteen.
At this time, the department consisted of 21 engine companies, 11 hose companies,
7 hook and ladder companies, and 3 extinguisher wagons. A self—propelled Amoskeag
steam fire engine had been sent to Boston by its builders during the fire. This was
purchased and assigned to Engine 21, which used it for some time, after which it was
converted to be drawn by horses. The information regarding this engine is very sketchy
and unreliable.
The “Great Fire" resulted in much criticism of the department and particularly of
the Chief Engineer.
 


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lnstructions for holders of Fire Alarm Box keys were as follows:
"If a fire is discovered, go to the nearest box. Pull the slide all the way down and let
go. lf possible, wait at the box so as to direct the firemen to the fire. lf you hear no
reply on the bells, pull again. If no reply after the third trial, go to the next nearest
box. The police, upon hearing the bells, will spring their rattles and call the number
of the box.
Cautions:
1. Be sure there is a fire before sounding the alarm.
2. Never sound the alarm for a tire seen at a distance.
3. Never open the box or touch the apparatus except in case of fire.
4. Be sure your box is locked before leaving it.
5. Never let the key out of your possession unless called for by the
Superintendent.
6. If you remove from your house or place of business, return the key to the
Fire Alarm Office. Do not leave it with the new tenant.”
At the end of the year, there were 164 fire alarm boxes in service.
On January 1, 1873, the first fire boat of the department was placed in service at
Central Wharf. It was named the "William M. Flanders" and had no company number.
z This boat had been built by the Atlantic Works and was equipped with four steam pumps
having a combined capacity of 2500 gallons per minute.
The first Chemical Engine was placed in service on February 9, 1873, when
Chemical Engine Company 1 was organized at the quarters of Engine Company 4 at 5
Bulfinch Street, replacing Extinguisher Wagon No. l.
On February 27, 1873, three members of the department were killed by falling
walls, at a fire in Sammett’s Mattress and Bedding Factory, Hanover and Blackstone
r Streets, Box 17. They were John Prince of Engine ll and Brown P. Stowell and James
Sturks, both of Engine 15.
On April 7, 1873, Engine Company 23 was organized on Northampton Street near
Harrison Avenue at the quarters of Hose Company 4, which was disbanded.
A conflagration known as the "Memorial Day Fire" started on May 30 in the
furniture factory of Haley, Morse and Company at 411 (present 613) Washington Street.
The fire spread from there to many other buildings, affecting 105 business firms and
causing a loss of over one million dollars. Four alarms on Box 53 at Washington and
Boylston Streets at 8:26, 8:29, 8:40, and 8:47 A.M. were followed by an alarm on Box
151 at the Old Ferry House, East Boston, at 10:05 A.M. to call the East Boston
companies to the fire. As a result of this fire, a new wave of criticism descended upon the
department, and demands were made for a complete reorganization.
Hose Company 12 was organized and placed in service on June 17, 1873, at Fourth
and O Streets, South Boston, and on October 1, two new companies, Engine Company 25
and Ladder Company 8, were organized at Washington Square, the present Fort Hill
Square. Hose Company 1, located on Salem Street, was disbanded on the same day.
Engine Company 22 was organized on October 14, 1873, at a temporary location
on Parker Street (now Hemenway Street). This house is believed to have been located

 


12
somewhere between the present Boylston Street and Westland Avenue, but could not be
located on any maps of that period.
On October 24, 1873, the order creating a Board of three Fire Commissioners was
passed, and on November 20, the Board organized and commenced its duties, taking
control of the department from the Chief Engineer. The immediate goal was the thorough
reorganization of the department, this being the result of the agitation for reform started
after the disastrous Memorial Day fire.
One of the first acts of the new Commissioners was to change Engine Companies 4
and 7 from call to permanent status. Engine Company 12 was moved from Dudley and
Warren Streets to a new house at Dudley and Winslow Streets, and Ladder Company 4
moved from 20 Eustis Street to a new house on Dudley Street near Blue Hill Avenue.
Engine Company 24 was organized and placed in service on December 10, 1873, in
new quarters at Warren and Quincy Streets, Roxbury.
THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS — A NEW ERA
The task which the Commissioners had undertaken was not made easier when on
January 5, 1874, the City of Charlestown and the Towns of West Roxbury and Brighton
were annexed to Boston. For the time being, the companies acquired by these
annexations were not renumbered, but they were known as Charlestown, West Roxbury,
and Brighton Division Companies. Later, however, they received new numbers, except the
Hose Companies in Charlestown and the Hand Engines in West Roxbury, as follows:
In Charlestown, Engine 27 at ll Elm Street, Hose 1 and Ladder 9 at 326 Main
Street, Hose 2 at 556 Main Street, Hose 3 at 34 Winthrop Street, and Hose 4 at Bunker
Hill and Tufts Streets. In West Roxbury, Engine 28, Ladder 10, and Hand Engine 2 on
Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, and Hand Engine 3 on Shawmut Avenue (present
Washington Street) at Poplar Street, Roslindale. In Brighton, there were Engine 29 and
Ladder 11 on Chestnut Hill Avenue near Washington Street.
Several new companies were organized during 1874, namely, Engine 26 at 18
Mason Street, on May 7; Chemical 2 which replaced Hose 8 on April 25, on Church Street
near Fayette Street; Chemical 3 on July 27 in a new house on Longwood Avenue at the
corner of Brookline Avenue, and Chemical 5 on November 21 at a temporary location at
Walnut Park, Roxbury.
Engine Companies 3, 6, 8, and 10, the Fire Boat Company, Ladder Companies 1
and 3, and Chemical Company 1 were changed from call to permanent status. —
The reorganization was nearing completion, the new rules and regulations taking
effect on April 7, 1874. The necessary information was published in General Order No. 1,
and as this was the first General Order ever issued, it is quoted here verbatim:
"General Order Number 1 — Boston, April 7,1874
I. The rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Fire Commissioners March
2nd, 1874, for the government of the officers and members of the Fire Department, will
go into effect April 7th, 1874, and will be enforced on and after that date. V
A printed copy of the rules and Regulations will be furnished to each
member.
 



 


 


15
The Board having in view only the greatest efficiency of the Fire Department,
for its proper work, expect a cheerful compliance on the part of the officers and
members, with these and all subsequent rules that may be adopted.
II, The term of office of the present Board of Engineers expires on the first
Monday of April, 1874; and after the new rules and regulations go into effect, the
number of Engineers authorized by the City Ordinance is limited to one Chief and
thirteen assistants.
III. The City has been divided into 10 tire districts, as follows:
District 1 4 Will comprise all that part of Boston known as East Boston.
District 2 — All that part of Boston formerly known as Charlestown.
District 3 — All that part east of a line beginning at the Charles River Drawbridge and
running through the center of Charlestown Street, Haymarket Square,
Washington Street to Summer Street and north of Summer Street and the
NY & NERR passenger depot to the water.
District4 — All that part west of District 3 and north of a line running through the
center of Winter and Park Streets, and west of Beacon to Otter and north of
Otter Street to the water.
District 5 A All that part south of Districts 3 and 4 to the center of Dover Street
Drawbridge and a line running through the center of Dover, Berkeley,
Boylston, Arlington, Beacon, and Otter Streets to the water.
District 6 — All that part of Boston known as South Boston.
District 7 — All that part of Boston, south of District 5, to the center of Albany Street
Drawbridge, then through the center of Albany and Northampton Streets,
Columbus Avenue and Chester Park to the Charles River.
District 8 — All that part south and west of District 7, to the boundary line of Ward 17
(formerly West Roxbury) and west of Shawmut Avenue (present Washing-
ton Street) to the Brookline boundary line and including all of Ward 19
(formerly Brighton).
District 9 — All that part south of Districts 6 and 7 to Ward 17, and a line running
through the center of Blue Hill Avenue, Columbia, Green, Bowdoin,
Church, and East Streets and east of District 8 to the water.
District 10 — All the southerly part of Boston, south of Districts 8 and 9, including Ward
17 (formerly West Roxbury).
IV. The following appointments have been made and are hereby announced for
the information of the department. Each appointment will date from April 7th and each
officer will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
Chief Engineer 4 William A. Green
Superintendent of Fire Alarms — John F. Kennard
Assistant Engineers
Joseph Dunbar — District 1
John Bartlett — District 2
William H. Cunningham — District 3
 



16
Samuel Abbott, Jr. — District 4
John W. Regan — District 5
George Brown ~ District 6
George C. Fernald — District 7
John Colligan — District 8
James Monroe — District 9
J . Foster Hewins — District 10
Brown S. Flanders — Inspector and Aide to the Chief
The Assistant Engineers in charge of Districts 8 and 10 will be aided by Call
Engineers in that part of their respective districts known as Brighton and West Roxbury.
The appointments of these Call Engineers will be made hereafter.
V. Other changes to complete the new organization of the department will be
from time to time announced, until which the existing companies will continue as at
present organized, but subject to the new rules and the authority of the newly appointed
officers.
By Order of the Board of Fire Commissioners
Alfred P. Rockwell, Chairman"
Street patrol by members of the permanent companies was put into effect, to be
performed day and night. Men patrolled the sub-districts of their companies, looking for
fires, checking the condition of hydrants and fire alarm boxes and noting any possible fire
hazards.
Two members lost their lives in 1874, both in accidents. William Hill of Engine 25
died in a collision of his company’s hose wagon with the steamer of Engine 7 on March
11, and Mark W. Hayes of Engine 26 died on July 31 when he was thrown from the seat
and run over by the engine.
Members were forbidden to ride on the apparatus when returning from fires; they
were ordered to march back to quarters in formation and within sight of their apparatus.
Beginning May 9, 1874, Company Commanders were to submit, on forms provided
for the purpose, reports of operations at each fire, and on July 15, the Commissioners, in
a lengthy order, established a uniform practice for the management of the apparatus and
the government of the force at fires.
Two fires, practically simultaneous, taxed the department to the utmost late on
December 14 and in the early morning hours of December 15, 1874. A fire on Plympton
Street caused a loss of $391,000, and another fire at Hittlinger’s Wharf, 35 Water Street,
Charlestown, destroyed property valued at $137,000. For the latter fire, help was called
from Cambridge and Somerville. At both locations, first fires had been extinguished when
second and more serious fires started in the same area.
On January 29, 1875, an order was issued authorizing Call Engineers to exercise
general supervision over the companies and the district under their command. It was also
ordered that in companies of the call force, where three or more permanent men were
employed, a continuous house patrol was to be maintained. Members of the call force
were ordered to report to their quarters whenever second alarms were given for boxes to

 


17
which their companies would respond on the third alarm, and to remain there for at least
20 minutes.
Chemical Engine Company 4 was organized on January 20, 1875, at Washington
and Poplar Streets, Roslindale. Hose 2 on Hudson Street was disbanded, and Hose 3 on
North Grove Street had its designation changed to Hose 8 to avoid conflict with Hose 3 in
the Charlestown District, both events taking place on May 17.
Several companies were moved to new locations. Engine 3 and Ladder 3 occupied a
new house at Harrison Avenue and Bristol Street on April 1. Another new house had been
completed on Dartmouth Street opposite Buckingham Street, and this was occupied by
Engine 22 in August, the old location on Parker Street being abandoned.
Engine 23 was changed from call to permanent status on February ll, 1875, and
Engine 22 was placed on a permanent basis on September 27, 1875.
The old house of Ladder 3 at Harrison Avenue and Wareham Street was made into a
repair shop, and a hose and harness shop was established in September at the quarters of
Ladder 8, Fort Hill Square.
A rule was in effect, that Engine Companies 4, 9, 25, and 26 were never to be sent
out of the city and that Engine 5 should never leave East Boston unless specially called
elsewhere.
On April 30, 1875, there were in service 29 steam engines, 5 chemical engines, 11
hose carriages (hose companies), 11 hook and ladder trucks, 15 coal wagons, and 34
pungs.
Due to the occurrence of several false alarms, the locks on all tire alarm boxes were
ordered changed, and greater care was taken thereafter in the distribution of the keys.
John H. Kelley of Ladder 4 was killed on June 16, 1875, when an explosion took
place during a fire at Marston’s Fireworks Factory on Kemble Street, Roxbury.
Effective October 5, 1875, eleven blows struck three times on the bells of the Fire
Alarm Telegraph would be the signal for the calling together of the entire police force.
On March 28, 1876, a Scott-Uda aerial ladder was placed in service at the quarters
of Ladder 8 at Fort Hill Square. It was designated as Aerial Ladder No. 1 and was placed
under the charge of Ladder Company 8. It had no company of men attached to it.
Two new chemical companies were organized in 1876, No. 6 at Harvard Avenue
near Cambridge Street, Allston, on May 1 and No. 7 on Mt. Vernon Street, near Centre
Street, West Roxbury, on September 21, the latter replacing the last hand engine still in
service in that district. Chemical 5 moved from Walnut Park to its new house at Egleston
Square on June 1.
E The following regulations became effective on May 10, 1876:
"CHELSEA ALARMS" — Box 198 and a gong have been placed in the City
. Marshal’s office of Chelsea, in order that aid may be promptly summoned when required,
either in Chelsea or this city.
"The call UPON CHELSEA will be given by striking upon the Charlestown and East
Boston circuits, the box number 198, four rounds."
"The call from Chelsea upon this department will be given by striking, upon all the
circuits of the city, the box number 198, three rounds, the same for lst, 2nd, and 3rd
a1arms."
 



18
The following were assigned:
On the FIRST CALL FROM CHELSEA, Engine 5, Engine 8 via ferry, Hose 4 via
Chelsea Bridge, and Asst. Engineer Dunbar, Hose 3 to cover Hose 4.
On the SECOND CALL FROM CHELSEA, Engine 11, Engine 10, and Ladder 8 via
ferry, Hose 1 via Chelsea Bridge; Asst. Engineer Cunningham to report to Chief Engineer
of Chelsea.
On the THIRD CALL FROM CHELSEA, Engines 7 and 26 via ferry, Engine 22 to
cover Engine 26.
There were no fire alarm boxes in the Brighton District, and the following order
took effect on October 16, 1876:
"In case of fire occurring in Brighton District or of a call for assistance from
Cambridge or Newton, the following signals will be sent from Engine House No. 29 to the
City Hall, over the fire alarm wire:
*For Brighton — 3 taps with the Morse key, struck three times with an interval
*For Cambridge — 5 taps 3 times
*For Newton — 7 taps 3 times
Note: Signals marked with * in effect since 1/12/1875
For Allston Station — Signal given from Chemical 6
First Alarm ~ 4 taps 3 times
Second Alarm — 10 taps 2 times
Third Alarm — l2 taps 2 times
Gen. Alarm — 12 taps 3 times"
The first alarm will not be struck upon the bells, but a message will be sent by Fire
Alarm, via dial line, to District Engineer Colligan (District 8).
The second alarm will be given by striking 55 on all the bells and gongs the usual
number of rounds. The following companies will respond: Engines 10, 22, and Hose 8,
Engine 23 to Engine 22.
The third alarm will be given by striking 12 blows twice, and the following
companies will respond: Engines 21, 23, and 26, Hose 7 and 9, Ladder 8, Engine 14 to
Engine 22, Engine 24 to Engine 23.
The General Alarm will be given by striking 12 blows 3 times, but not without
special orders from the Chief Engineer.
First alarms for boxes in the West Roxbury District will be struck on the bells of
that district only, but the Engineer of District 10 will be notified by dial telegraph, from
the Fire Alarm Office; second alarms to be struck on all the bells, 33 followed by the box
number, third and general alarms in the usual manner.
Arrangements were made to cover the response of Ladder 3 when that company
was out on 2nd or 3rd alarms, by having Ladder Companies 1, 4, 5, or 8 respond to their
first alarm assignments.
Following 2nd or 3rd alarms, when the fire was out, an ALL-OUT signal 22-22, not
followed by a box number, was to be struck on all tappers.
On April 23, 1877, it was ordered that thereafter, between May 1 and September 1,

 


19
members of call companies were to be drilled, under the supervision of the District
Engineer, once every 2 weeks, for one hour, and call companies were ordered to keep a
journal the same as is kept in the permanent companies.
Bangor extension ladders were furnished to all the ladder companies, and relief
valves were attached to all engines. The first shut—off nozzles were used this year.
On January 5, 1878, F.A.W. Gay of Ladder 3 was caught between the truck and the
door post when the company was leaving quarters in response to an alarm for a fire at 63
East Brookline Street. As a result of his injuries, Mr. Gay died the same day.
Districts 9 and 10 were changed on April 29, 1878, to include Engine 17 and
Ladder 7 in District 10 instead of District 9. It was announced on July 19, 1878, that
arrangements had been made to dispatch help from Boston to Cambridge, Somerville, and
Brookline, when required. lf such help was needed, upon presentation of a card signed by
the Chief Engineer of any of the three places, officers were instructed to send an alarm
from a Boston box nearest to the place where the apparatus was required.
On 12/27/78 Ladder 4 moved from Dudley Street near Blue Hill Avenue to the
house previously occupied by them at 20 Eustis Street.
In the event of a general alarm, all companies were to respond with the following
exceptions:
Engine 4 not to leave Districts 3, 4, 5, or 7
Engine 5 not to leave East Boston
Hose 1 and 4 not to leave Charlestown except to go to Chelsea.
Hose 12 to cover Engine 1
Engine 19 to respond south of Dover and Berkeley Streets, but in case of a general
alarm from a box north of that line, they were to cover at Ladder 4.
Chemical 7 to cover at Engine 28 when that company responded to Brighton,
Roxbury, or Dorchester.
V Engine 28 and Ladder 10 not to respond to any general alarm from boxes north of
1 Dover Street, but were to cover the Roxbury District.
Things were rather primitive in some sections of the city, and the following will
serve to illustrate that statement. On Wednesday, March 5, 1879, in response to an alarm
from Box 175, Engines 5, 9, and 11, Hook and Ladder 2, and Hose 6 found a fire in a
building at Orient Heights. The building was totally destroyed, as "there was no water
near enough to be of any service; consequently, the engines did not work". On
Wednesday, November 19, 1879, at 8:31 P.M., the same companies went to Box 178, for
fire in a lamp black factory at Orient Heights, the building being totally destroyed. The
official report stated that "the fire was discovered by those in the building about 6:30
P.M., but owing to a misunderstanding of orders between the District Engineer and the
parties holding keys to the box, no alarm was given until 8:31 P.M. Owing to the building
being a great distance from a hydrant, about 3000 feet, and the consequent scarcity of
water, there being none in the immediate vicinity, it is very doubtful if the building could
have been saved had the alarm been promptly sounded".
The so-called "Rice—Kendall Fire" started in the building at 91-93 Federal Street,
the first alarm being given from Box 45 at 10:58 P.M. on Sunday, December 28, 1879.
This was soon followed by a general alarm, the fire having spread to buildings at 69, 71,

 


20
 75, 105, and 107 Federal Street, 236, 238, 240, and 250 Devonshire Street and also to
the corner of Franklin and Devonshire Streets. The loss was $905 ,000, and at this fire the
first “siamese connection” was used by Engine 3 and engines from Cambridge and
Chelsea.
C Improvements made in 1880 included the installation of sliding poles, the first of
which was placed in the quarters of Engine 4 on Bulfinch Street, as well as swinging
harness allowing faster hitching of the horses. The ladder trucks in the city proper were
equipped with calcium lights for use at night fires.
Effective June 18, 1880, members of call companies not responding on lst, 2nd, or
3rd alarms were to report to their company quarters on the third alarm and await the
possible sounding of a general alarm, remaining at least one-half hour.
Ladder Company 12 was organized on July 31, 1880, at the house of Hose 7, at
1046 Tremont Street.
On September 30, 1880, Engine 12 moved from Dudley and Winslow Streets to the
house formerly occupied by Ladder 4 on Dudley Street near Blue Hill Avenue, and on
` October 30, Ladder 4 moved from 20 Eustis Street to Dudley and Winslow Streets.
When Aerial Ladder No. 1 was at Fort Hill Square, it had been necessary to send
_ back a man and horses if the truck was wanted at a fire. To bring it into more effective
territory and to make it immediately available, the truck was moved to the quarters at
one time occupied by Engine 3, on Washington Street near Dover Street. A permanent
driver was assigned and the truck was given regular assignments to alarms.
Effective March 28, 1881, every member was ordered to report on the main floor
V upon receipt of the first stroke of any signal. Companies were to leave quarters upon the
word "GO" from the officer in command, but if not obliged to respond to that alarm,
· but to the alarm next succeeding, the horses were to remain hitched for 20 minutes.
The commissioners found it necessary to remind the department that men
- performing street patrol were not to carry umbrellas. Fire Boat "Wi1liam M. Flanders"
was moved from Central Wharf to India Wharf.
. On April 15, 1881, Thomas J. Tobey of the Fire Boat was killed by being crushed
between the draw of the Meridian Street Bridge and the pilot house of the boat while
‘ responding to an alarm from Box 176.
The first Water Tower was placed in service on March 20, 1882, at the quarters of
Engine 25 and Ladder 8, Fort Hill Square. This was not numbered and was known as the
WATER TOWER. It had been built by Mr. A. Greenleaf and consisted of a portable
standpipe and extensions carried on a truck, and it could be used at elevations of 29, 36,
43, and 50 feet.
On April 30, 1882, there were 311 fire alarm boxes in service. `
St. Louis style pompier ladders were introduced and the first companies to be
equipped with them were Ladders 1, 3, and 8.
On May 10, Engine 2 and Hose 12 exchanged quarters, Engine 2 moving to Fourth
and O Streets, while Hose 12 moved to Fourth Street between K and L Streets.
Beginning August 7, 1882, the ALL—OUT signal 22-22 was to be struck following all
alarms instead of only after 2nd and 3rd alarms.
Hose wagons on which the hose was carried folded had almost entirely replaced the

 


21
reel type hose carriage once commonly in use. On April 30, 1883, there were 320 fire
alarm boxes and 46 department telephones in use.
On June 30, 1883, Ladder Company 13 was organized and placed in service with a
Hayes type cable-raised aerial truck, at the house then occupied by Aerial Ladder 1, on
Washington Street near Dover Street. On the same day, Aerial Ladder 1 was moved to the
house of Engine 25 and Ladder 8 at Fort Hill Square, where it was designated as Ladder
14. It was placed under the charge of the Foreman of Ladder Company 8, but had a
permanent driver assigned to it. To make room for Ladder 14, the Water Tower was
moved from Fort Hill Square to Engine 4 on Bulfinch Street, on the same day.
Engine Company 30 was organized on July 10, 1883, at the house occupied by
Chemical 7, on Mt. Vernon Street near Centre Street, West Roxbury, and Chemical 7 was
disbanded.
A “Permanent Substitute Corps” was established on July 21, 1883, and all
members appointed thereafter had to serve as permanent substitutes before being able to
join the permanent force. These men were assigned to permanent companies from which
they were to be detailed wherever needed. ·
On January 17, 1884, the Eireboat “William M. Flanders" was designated as Engine
Company 31. Engine Company 32 was organized and placed in service, on March 17,
1884, in a new house at 440 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown. Hose Company 2, located
at 556 Main Street, Charlestown, was disbanded the same day.
The "Scott-Uda" aerial ladder, having been found of little practical value, was
placed in reserve and replaced by a new Hayes Type aerial truck on April 25, 1884
(Ladder 14).
330 fire alarm boxes were in service on April 30, 1884.
On August 13, 1884, a fire occurred in the building known as the Old Beach St.
Market at 108-112 Beach Street. During the progress of the fire, the roof of the building
collapsed, throwing into the flames and burning to death Joseph Pierce and James
Quigley, both of Engine Company 4.
During September of 1884, Engine Companies 1, 9, 12, 13 and 27 were changed
from call to permanent companies and Call Captains were replaced by permanent
Captains in Engine Companies 2, 5, 11, 18 and 20 and in Ladder Companies 2, 4, 5, 9 and
12.
As of April 30, 1885, all Assistant (District) Engineers had a horse and wagon,
except in District 3. There were a total of 58 department telephones in service. During
1885, a new repair shop at Albany and Bristol Streets was occupied.
On October 20, 1885, Ladder 9 and Hose 1 moved from 326 Main Street to a new
house at 333 Main Street, Charlestown, and Hose 4 moved from Bunker Hill and Tufts
Streets to a new house at 44 Monument Street, Charlestown.
On January 12, 1886, 3 alarms were given on Box 15 for a fire in the Clinton
Block, 61-81 Clinton Street. The temperature was 15 degrees below zero and the fire
smoldered in the ice-encrusted ruins for a long time due to the presence of large
quantities of flour. The all-out signal for this fire was never transmitted;
On April 30, 1886, there were 60 department telephones in service and all Chief
Officers had now been furnished with a horse and wagon.
 



22
Six employees of the Metropolitan Railroad Company (horse cars) were killed on
June 21, 1886, in a fire which started from the boiling over of a glue pot at the old New
England Fair Building used as a repair shop by that company and located at Huntington
and Rogers Avenues (the latter now Forsyth Street), 3 alarms Box 248.
On September 27, 1886, a new Chemical Engine Company 7 was organized at
Saratoga and Byron Streets, East Boston.
On November 25, 1886, William H. Flavell of Ladder Company 8 was killed during
a fire at 232-234 Friend Street, Box 8.
The department was notified that effective July 15, 1887, all companies must
notify the fire alarm office by telephone, at once, when leaving quarters on still alarms
and when returning from still or bell alarms.
On August 30, 1887, new titles became effective for all officers of the department.
The Chief Engineer became Chief Of Department, Assistant Engineers became District
Chiefs, Foremen were designated as Captains and Assistant Foremen were hereafter
known as Lieutenants.
On October 27, 1887, Chemical Engine Company 8 was organized at the quarters
of Hose Company 9 on B Street at Athens Street and Hose Company 9 was disbanded.
Several new companies were organized in 1888. On February 20 Engine Company
33 and Ladder Company 15 were in service in a new house at Boylston and Hereford
Streets, Ladder 15 having a "Babcock Turntable Type" 92 ft aerial truck with the first
three-horse hitch to be used in Boston.
On July 17, Chemical 9, a new company, replaced Hose 1 which was disbanded, at
quarters of Ladder 9, 333 Main Street, Charlestown. Ladder Company 16 was placed in
service on October 12, at quarters of Chemical 4, Washington and Poplar Streets,
Roslindale and on November 3 the Brighton District got its second engine company when
Engine 34 went into service in the new house at 444 Western Avenue. On the same day,
Chemical 6 at 16 Harvard Avenue, Allston, was changed from call to permanent status,
The department was notified that beginning June 1, 1888, all members of the
permanent force, in uniform, would be permitted to ride free on the front platform of
cars of the West End Street Railway Company (horsecars).
_ On July 31, 1888, Engine Company 6 moved from 30 Wall Street to a new house at
26 Leverett Street.
In addition to a large number of hydrants, there were also 238 fire reservoirs in
various parts of the city and 400 fire alarm boxes were in service.
Hose Company 7 and Ladder Companies 4, 5 and 12 were changed from call to
permanent status on May 31, 1889, as were Hose Companies 10 and 12 on July 5.
Effective July 1, 1889, regular firemen were to be detailed to theatres and similar places
in place of the special firemen previously employed for this duty.
Chemical Engine Company 10 was placed in service n September 16, 1889, at the
quarters once occupied by Ladder 4 at 20 Eustis Street, between Washington Street and
Harrison Avenue.
The so-called "Thanksgiving Day Fire" occurred on November 28, 1889, starting in ‘
the building at 69-87 Bedford Street, corner of Kingston Street and spreading over a large
area, with a loss of $3,841,388. During the fire, the walls of the Ames Building at
 



 


 


25
Bedford and Kingston Streets collapsed, killing Michael Murnan and John Brooks Jr.,
both of Hose 7 and Frank P. Loker and Daniel J . Buckley, both of Ladder 3.
The steamer of Engine Company 26, the aerial truck of Ladder Company 13 and
the Water Tower were destroyed. Alarms were given on Box 52 at 8:13, 8:22 and 8:26
A.M., general alarm at 8:45 A.M. and signal 698 calling help from Chelsea at 9:32 A.M.
The all-out signal was not sent until 6:20 P.M. on December 6.
On December 1, 1889, the "Day off in 12" superseded the former system of "two
days off per month”.
During 1889 a department drill school was established in the yard of the repair
shop on Bristol Street and all new men had to attend this school for 30 days.
Changes in and additions to signals were made on April 11, 1890. Signal 699 was
established to be struck three rounds on the north division circuits to call aid from
Chelsea. Existing signal 698 now would be used only to dispatch aid from Boston to
Chelsea. Also the following signals were established for calling companies to the location
of a box as follows:
13 blows for an Engine Company
14 blows for a Chemical Company
15 blows for a Ladder Company
16 blows for a Water Tower
17 blows for a Hose Company
These signals to be followed by the number of the company wanted and by the
number of the box to which the company would respond.
A new water tower of improved design was placed in service on May 17, 1890, to
replace the one destroyed at the Thanksgiving Day Fire in 1889. After that fire, a large
amount of money had been appropriated to permit the organizing of additional
companies.
New companies organized in 1890 were Engine 35 on June 12 at the quarters and
as the second section of Engine 26 at 18 Mason Street; also on September 16, Engine 36
at quarters of and replacing Hose 4 at 44 Monument Street, Charlestown and Engine 37
at quarters of Chemical 3, Longwood and Brookline Avenues.
‘ On December 22, 1890, Chemical Engine Company 6 occupied a new house built at
the site of their former house at 16 Harvard Avenue, Allston.
At the end of 1890, there were 503 fire alarm boxes in service. I
Several changes and additions were made on May 18, 1891. Engine Company 38-39
was organized in a new house at Congress and Farnsworth Streets, Engine Company 40 at
quarters of Engine Company ll at Sumner and Orleans Streets, East Boston and Ladder
Company 17 with an aerial ladder truck at 157 Harrison Avenue.
On the same day, Engine 11 and Ladder 2, located at Sumner and Orleans Streets,
moved. Engine 11 went to quarters Chemical 7 at Saratoga and Byron Streets, Chemical 7
to quarters of Hose 6 at 391 Chelsea Street near Day Square, Hose 6 was disbanded and
Ladder 2 went to temporary location with Engine 5 at 64 Marion Street, East Boston.
k Chemical Engine 4, located with Ladder 16 at Washington and Poplar Streets,
 



26
Roslindale, was disbanded on March 10, 1892, and a new company, Combination 1,
equipped with a hosewagon having chemical tanks, located in this house.
A new house was occupied on October 27, 1892 at 3089 Washington Street,
Egleston Square, by Chemical Engine 5, adjoining the old house, which was abandoned.
Ladder 2 was moved from Engine 5 to the quarters of Engine 9 at 60 Paris Street, East
Boston.
On January 10, 1893, occurred the so-called “Hecht Building Fire" at 207-219
Federal Street (this location later 639-657 Atlantic Avenue). (This building was torn
down in 1956 during construction of the Dewey Square Expressway Tunnel.) Three
alarms were given on Box 48, the loss was $998,31009, one civilian was killed, and the
all-out signal was not given until January 23, thirteen days after the fire.
Two more companies were organized on February 10, 1893. They were Engine 41, s
which was located with Chemical 6 at 16 Haward Avenue, Allston, and Engine 42
which was placed in the quarters of Chemical 5 at Egleston Square.
On March 10, 1893, the "Lincoln Street Fire" took place. lt started at 63 Lincoln
Street and soon involved buildings in the block bounded by Lincoln, Essex, Tufts, and
Kingston Streets. Assuming conflagration proportions, it resulted in a loss of $2,832,000,
and the death of 6 persons as well as injuries to 18 civilians and 7 firemen. Four alarms
were given on Box 52 at 4:24, 4:28, 4:31, and 4:34 P.M., followed by additional alarms
on Box 54 at 4:39 P.M. and Box 56 at 4:51 P.M. and a call for aid to several outside
communities. A 17—year old boy admitted starting this fire which spread rapidly when it
involved a large gas meter.
Hose Company 12, located on East Fourth Street, between K and L Streets, was
disbanded on May 10, 1893, and Combination Wagon 2 was placed in service at the same
location.
J.M. Powers of Ladder Company 4 was killed on August 3, 1893, when he was
crushed between the truck and a telegraph pole while the company was responding to
Box 87.
Engine Company 43 was organized in a new house at 5 Boston Street, Andrew
Square, on November 13, 1893, and on the same day, Hose Company 10, located at
Dorchester and Jenkins Streets, was disbanded.
‘ Water Tower 2 was organized and placed in service on December 18, 1893, on
Bristol Street. The water tower at Bulfinch Street was designated as Water Tower 1.
The commissioners informed the department that all candidates for promotion had
to have a knowledge of telegraphy and that preference would be given to those who had
served in the more hazardous sections of the city. ’
The "Roxbury Conflagration" of May 15, 1894, started in the Walpole Street
Baseball Grounds (present Columbus Avenue) and spread southeasterly to Tremont Street
and Cabot Street, burning everything in its path. 110 buildings including the quarters of
Ladder 12 and Hose 7 at 1046 Tremont Street were destroyed, and 106 buildings were
damaged. Ladder 12 and Hose 7 were moved to a temporary location on Culvert Street,
the present Whittier Street.
On June 15, 1894, the number of Fire Districts was increased from 10 to 12 and
First and Second Assistant Chiefs were appointed. Brighton, which had been part of
 


27
District 8, became new District ll, and the territory of the former Town of West
Roxbury which was included in District 10, now became new District 12.
Beginning September 7, 1894, ALL-OUT signals were to be followed by the
number of the box for which the signal had been ordered.
Engine Company 45 was organized at the quarters of Ladder 16 and Combination
Wagon 1, at Washington and Poplar Streets, Roslindale, on September 17, 1894. This
resulted in the disbanding of Combination Company 1 which, however, was reorganized
and again placed in service, at Peabody Square, Ashmont, on October 5, 1894.
The Fire Alarm Office, located at City Hall on School Street, was moved to the new
Headquarters Building at 60 Bristol Street on May 20, 1895.
The Board of Fire Commissioners was abolished and a single commissioner was .
appointed on July 1, 1895, on which date the new Headquarters Building at 60 Bristol
Street was officially occupied. Mr. Henry S. Russell was the first single commissioner.



29
UNDER THE SINGLE COMMISSIONER
On Sept. 1, 1895, Engine Company 44 was organized and placed in service with a
new fire boat at India Wharf. The old fire boat and Engine Company 31 were deactivated. 4
Several changes occurred on December 20, 1895, when Chemical Engine Company
4 was organized at the quarters of Hose Company 5 at 398 Shawmut Avenue, between
West Canton and West Brookline Streets, Hose 5 being disbanded. Another Chemical
Engine Company, No. ll, was organized the same day at the quarters of and replacing
Hose Company 8 at 16 North Grove Street.
A total of 572 fire alarm boxes were in service.
On April 6, 1896, Hose Company 7, located on Culvert Street, the present Whittier
Street, was disbanded.
The "day off in twelve" was replaced by the “day off in eight” on May 1, 1896.
» W.H. Chapman of Engine Company 1 was killed on July 31, 1896, when he was
thrown from the seat and run over by the engine. Captain William G. Blanchard of Engine
Company 20 died on September 19 as the result of being struck by a falling wall.
Ladder Company 12, at temporary quarters on Culvert (Whittier) Street since the
Roxbury contlagration, occupied a new house at 1046 Tremont Street in September on
the site of the one destroyed by fire. On October 8, 1896, Chemical Engine 12 was
organized and placed in service at the quarters of Ladder 12.
On March 13, 1897, Joseph F. Collins of Engine Company 26-35 was thrown from
the engine while the company was responding to Box 54. He died of his injuries on April
10.
The horse-drawn steamer of Engine Company 38 was replaced in June, 1897, by a
self-propelled double extra first size steam engine, built by the Manchester Locomotive
Works of Manchester, N.H. The new engine had a rated capacity of 1350 gallons per
minute. r
A new type of apparatus was introduced on December 24, 1897, when
Combination Ladder Company 4, with a City Service Truck having chemical tanks, was
organized and placed in service at the quarters of Engine Company 11 at Saratoga and
Byron Streets, East Boston.
Another self-propelled engine, similar to the one already in use at Engine 38, was
procured and placed in service with Engine Company 35 in January, 1898, replacing that
company’s horse-drawn steamer.
Boundary line changes were made on January 21, 1898, affecting the line between
Districts 8 and 12, and on February 11, changes in the boundaries between Districts 9
and 10 were made.
Six members of the department lost their lives on February 5, 1898, during a tire at
G.W. Bent’s Bedding Factory, 116-126 Merrimac Street. Three alarms were given for this
fire at 3:59, 4:13-1/2, and 4:16 A.M. on Box 412 at Causeway and Lowell Streets. The
fire was nearly out and overhauling was in progress when the floors collapsed resulting in
the deaths of District Chief John F. Egan of District 3, Captain James H. Victory,
Lieutenant George J. Gottwald, Hosemen P.H. Disken, J .H. Mulhern, and William Welch,
all of Engine Company 38-39.

 


30
Three new Combination Ladder Companies were organized in 1898, No. 3 on
January 7 at the quarters of Engine 43, Andrew Square, No. 5 on February 11 at the
quarters of Engine 36 at 44 Monument Street, and No. 6 on November 8 in a new house
at 36 Washington Street, Grove Hall, Dorchester.
Combination Wagon Company 7 was organized on May 4, 1898, at the quarters of
Hose Company 3 at 34 Winthrop Street, Charlestown, the latter company being
disbanded.
Engine Company 30 moved from Mt. Vernon Street near Centre Street to a new
house at 1940 Centre Street near Bellevue Street, West Roxbury, on June 1, 1898.
On September 14, 1898, the Salt Water Hydrant System was completed and
officially placed in service. This was a system of dry pipes and dry hydrants, starting at
Central Wharf where connections had been provided through which the fire boats could
pump salt water into the system. The pipes extended from Central Wharf, through
Central Street, Post Office Square, and Congress Street, to Atlantic Avenue.
A telegraph circuit with morse jacks at the hydrants was provided for communica-
tion with the fire boats and the Fire Alarm Office. Fire Boat, Engine 31, was brought out
of retirement and placed at Central Wharf as a reserve boat.
On January 23, 1899, M.F. McDonald of Engine Company 13 was killed when he
was thrown from the engine while the company was responding to Box 218.
To make room for a railroad development, the quarters of Engine Company 22, on
Dartmouth Street, opposite Buckingham Street, were abandoned on May 9, 1899, and
the company moved to the fire station in the headquarters building at 60 Bristol Street.
While at this location, companies assigned to cover Engine 22 were ordered to do so in
the vicinity of the house of Protective Company 2, on Appleton Street near Tremont
Street. They were to remain in the street, with a low fire in the engine, receiving alarms
from Protective 2 house. Upon the return to quarters of Engine 22, the company covering
them was to be notified by telephone from the Fire Alarm Office, through Protective 2.
For boxes in Brighton, when assigned to respond to the fire on the third alarm, Engine 22
would cover at the quarters of Engine Company 33 on the second alarm.
On November 1, 1899, Combination Ladder Company 8 was organized at the
quarters of and replaced Chemical Engine Company 11 at 16 North Grove Street.
The first rubber tires to be used on fire apparatus in Boston were installed on the
steamer of Engine Company 4.
The system of street patrol, in effect since 1874, was abolished on December 9,
1899.
The year 1900 saw the advent of several improvements, a start being made toward
equipping the apparatus of the department with rubber tires. An electric signalling device
was introduced by the use of which the pipemen were able to signal the engineer when to
start or stop the water. This was accomplished by running wires in the lines of hose, the
device being installed on ten engines in the city proper. .
The department still had call men, therefore, in the districts where they were
employed, outside public alarm bells connected with the fire alarm telegraph system
remained a necessity, twenty such bells still being in service in East Boston, Charlestown,
Brighton, West Roxbury, and Dorchester.
P.J. McCarthy of Engine Company 8 was killed on March 11, 1900, when he was
 





33
struck by falling bricks while taking a line of hose over a ladder during a fire at 209-213
North Street, Box 15.
Effective April 3, 1900, the "Permanent Substitutes" were to be known as "Men on
Probation".
On April 23, 1900, Combination Ladder Company 9 was organized and placed in
service at the quarters of Engine Company 30, at 1940 Centre Street, West Roxbury.
On October 31, 1900, Herbert E. Pierce of Engine Company 42 was struck by a
falling chimney while at a fire on Louders Lane, Jamaica Plain, Box 553. He died of his
injuries on November 8.
The rule book issued under date of February 1, 1901, still had a section applying
exclusively to call men, 83 of them still being in service.
A new running card, issued February 22, 1901, stated that in the event of fourth or
fifth alarms, for which no response had been provided, the companies assigned to cover
on third or fourth alarm, which would respond to the next nearest box to the fire, in case
of an alarm, should immediately respond.
The same running card provided that in the event of a general alarm, all companies
would respond with the exception of the following, any of which could be specially
ordered to respond also:
Engine 4 not to go outside of Districts 3, 4, 5,and 7
Engine 5 to Engine 9
Engine 19 to Engine 12, ur1less the general alarm was from a box south of Dover
and Berkeley Streets, in which latter case they would respond to the fire.
1 Engine 28 to Engine 13 and to respond to all alarms from boxes south of Dover and
Berkeley Streets.
Engine 29, Ladders 7 and 11, Chemicals 6, 7, and 9, Combination Ladder 5 and
Combination Wagon 7 to remain in their own quarters.
Ladder 16 to Ladder 10
Engine 30 to Engine 28
Combination Wagon 1 to stay south of Dudley Street
Combination Wagon 2 to Engine 1
Combination Ladder 4 to Ladder 2
Combination Ladder 6 to Ladder 4
Combination Ladder 9 to Ladder 16
To replace the former fire station of Engine 22 on Dartmouth Street opposite
Buckingham Street, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad had built new
quarters at 70 Warren Avenue and these were occupied by Engine Company 22 on August
1, 1901, the company moving from the temporary location at 60 Bristol Street. Ladder
Company 13, located at 1171 Washington Street, near Dover Street, in a very small
house, was also moved to these new quarters on August 19, and the headquarters of the
Chief of District 7 were moved to this location from Engine 3.
During 1902, another new house had been completed in East Boston at Saratoga
and Prescott Streets, and this was occupied by Chemical 7, whose old quarters at 391
Chelsea Street were closed, the move actually taking place September 21, 1902.

 


34
Also in 1901, two more Combination Ladder Companies were organized, No. 10 at
the quarters of Engine 37 and Chemical 3 at Longwood and Brookline Avenues, on
October 4, as a result of which Chemical 3 was disbanded. No. 11 was placed in service on
November 15 at the quarters of Engine 20 at 32 Walnut Street, Neponset.
Lieutenant Solomon P. Russell of Chemical 1 died on April 1, 1902, after inhaling
nitric acid fumes from a broken carboy, at a still alarm, 86-92 Sudbury Street, and on
September 22, Daniel L. Shea, driver for District Chief 5, was killed when he fell from the 7
roof of 3 SiX-S’€0fy building during a fire in the Abbott & Downing Company warerooms
on Atlantic Avenue.
On November 7, 1902, Ladder Company 18, with an aerial truck, was organized
and placed in service in a new house at 9 Pittsburgh Street.
Water Tower 3 was organized and placed in service on November 2, 1903, at the
quarters of Ladder Company 18.
On July 5, 1904, occurred the first of the only two times that a first alarm was
followed directly by a fourth alarm, second and third alarms being skipped. In this case, a
first alarm was struck for Box 429 at 5:13-1/2 P.M., for a fire in the Boston & Maine
Railroad elevator at Mystic Wharf and a fourth alarm at 5:24-1 /2 P.M., the loss in this tire
being $406,000.
On April 21, 1905, the designation and character of several companies was changed
as follows:
Combination Wagon 2 changed to Ladder Company 19
Combination Ladder 3 changed to Ladder Company 20
Combination Ladder 4 changed to Ladder Company 21
Combination Ladder 5 changed to Ladder Company 22
Combination Ladder 6 changed to Ladder Company 23
Combination Wagon 7 changed to Combination Wagon 2
Combination Ladder 8 changed to Ladder Company 24
Combination Ladder 9 changed to Ladder Company 25 ·
Combination Ladder 10 changed to Ladder Company 26 .
Combination Ladder 11 changed to Ladder Company 27
On May 12, 1905, the boundary lines of Fire Districts 4, 5, 6, and 7 were changed,
and the headquarters of District 5 were moved from the quarters of Engine 26-35 at 18
Mason Street, to the house of Ladder Company 18 at 9 Pittsburgh Street.
On December 8, 1905, the "day off in five" replaced the "day off in eight".
On February 1, 1906, 68 call men were still in service, and it was strongly
recommended that all of them be replaced by permanent men as soon as possible.
Chief of Department William T. Cheswell, while at a fire (Box 15) on February 15,
1906, died of heart failure brought about by exposure and excitement.
The boundaries of Fire Districts 8 and 11 were changed on May 30, 1906, District 8
being extended westerly to Essex Street and Cottage Farm Bridge, the old boundary
having been Beacon and Deerfield Streets.
Effective August 10, 1906, the titles of the Assistant Chief and the Second
Assistant Chief were changed to First and Second Deputy Chief, respectively.
A motor driven chemical engine, lent to the department by the La France Fire

 


35
Engine Company, was used on a trial basis for some time with excellent results, but no
l funds were available for its purchase. The Chief of Department, in 1906, was furnished
V with the first automobile ever to be used by the department. This year, the aerial trucks
of Ladder Companies 14, 15, and 17 were equipped with quick-raising devices, the first to
be used in Boston.
Several changes and additions were made on January 10, 1907. On this data, a new
assignment book took effect, providing for the first time for fifth alarm assignments at
locations where there might be need for them. Company running cards had been made up
by each company from the assignment book, but now they were to be furnished from
Headquarters. On the same day, Engine Company 46 was organized at 1884 Dorchester
Avenue at the house occupied by Combination Wagon 1. Combination Wagon 1 was
designated as Chemical 11 and located in temporary quarters at Carlos Street, Dorchester,
while Combination Wagon 2, at 34 Winthrop Street, Charlestown, was designated as
Chemical 3.
Engine Company 44, Fire Boat, was moved from India Wharf to Central Wharf,
where temporary accommodations had been provided.
On June 17, 1907, Cornelius H. Tagen of Engine Company 14 was killed when he
was thrown from the engine while the company was responding to an alarm from Box
239.
On July 13, 1907, occurred the second of the only two instances that a first alarm
was followed immediately by a fourth alarm, Box 148, Congress and A Streets, first alarm
at 1:37-1/2 P.M. and fourth alarm at 1:42-1/2 P.M., for fire at 347 Congress Street.
Forty-one call men were still in service on February 1, 1908.
The Chelsea conflagration occurred on April 12, 1908, the fire buming over 492
l acres, sweeping the center of the city and covering a space one and one-half miles long
i and three-quarters of a mile wide. Practically all of the business section, most of the
1 municipal buildings, and 2822 other buildings were destroyed. 17,450 people were made
1 homeless, the insurance loss was almost nine million dollars, while the taxable value of
the property destroyed was estimated at $12,450,000. Personal property losses brought
the total loss to an estimated twenty million dollars.
To this fire, the Boston Fire Department dispatched 13 engine companies, 2 ladder
companies, and one Fire Boat, the companies responding to Chelsea on four alarms stmck
for Boston Box 698 at the Chelsea Police Station at 11:24 A.M., 11:41 A.M., 11:48
* A.M., and 12:00-1/2 P.M., with all-out at 12:27 A.M., April 13.
The fire extended across Chelsea Creek to the Standard Oil Company Works on
l Chelsea Street, East Boston, causing a loss of $100,000. Roof fires starting in the East
Boston District were put out by companies which had been sent to patrol this area.
On July 8, 1908, fire destroyed the property of the Cunard Wharf Company at
Clyde and Marginal Streets, East Boston, with a loss of $1,311,000.
Due to the steady increase in the number of elevator accidents, several ladder
companies were equipped with special tools to facilitate the rescue of persons involved.
On February 1, 1909, public alarm bells were still in service at the quarters of
Engines 16, 28, 29, 34, 41, 45, old Engine 30 quarters on Mt. Vernon Street, West
Roxbury, at Faneuil Hall, and at the Princeton Street School in East Boston.
Fire causing a loss of $600,000 destroyed the old New York, New Haven and
Hartford Railroad Station at Park Square, on January 17, 1909.
 



36
On June 9, 1909, the department was organized in two divisions, each in charge of
a Deputy Chief. Districts 1 to 6 were in Division 1, while Districts 7 to 12 made up
Division 2. Changes were made in the boundaries of Districts 3, 4, 5, and 7, the Senior
Deputy Chief moved from Engine 26-35 to Ladder 8, Junior Deputy Chief from Ladder
12 to Ladder 4 District Chief 5 from Ladder 18 to En 'ne 26-35, District Chief 3 from
7 -
Ladder 8 to Ladder 18, and District Chief9 from Ladder 4 to Engine 12.
During August, 1909, a new Fire Boat was placed in service in charge of newly
organized Engine Company 47, at the foot of Lewis Street, East Boston. Marine District
13 was established on October 14, 1909, with headquarters at Engine 47.
All remaining call men were replaced by permanent men during 1909.
The year 1909 was the last in which all the apparatus, with the exception of
steam-propelled Engines 35 and 38, was still horse-drawn. The story of the transition
from horses to motors begins in the following chapter.

 



 


 


39
MOTOR POWER VERSUS HORSE POWER
The placing in service of the first piece of motor apparatus marked the beginning of
a new era on July 29, 1910, when Chemical Engine 13 was organized in a new house at
Walk Hill and Wenham Streets, Forest Hills. This company was equipped with a Knox
Automobile Chemical Engine.
In 1910, one member of the department lost his life when Captain P.W. Lanegan of
Ladder Company 13 was killed on March 12 at a fire in the Boston Elevated Railway
property at 439 Albany Street. During the latter part of December 1910, Chemical Engine
Company ll was moved from the temporary house on Carlos Street, Dorchester, to new
quarters at Callender and Lyons (Lyford) Streets, Dorchester.
On August 9, 1910, occurred the so-called “Blacker & Shepard Lumber Yard Fire"
which started in the lumber yard on Albany Street and soon spread across the street to
the repair shop of the Fire Department at _A1bany and Bristol Streets. Both were
* destroyed; six alarms were given on Box 58 at Albany and Dover Streets, and Fire
Headquarters and the Fire Alarm Office were in grave danger. The sixth alarm then was
the General Alarm, and this was the last General Alarm ever given. Following the fire, a
temporary repair shop was opened at 252 Dover Street.
Alarms for this fire were on Box 58 at Dover and Albany Streets, first alarm at 6:17
P.M., second alarm at 6:23 P.M., third alarm at 6:24 P.M, fifth alarm at 6:28 P.M., and
sixth alarm at 6:30 P.M. Also, Box 56 at 6:20 P.M., Box 112 at 6:21 P.M., and Box 70 at
6:58 P.M. Boston apparatus responding to this fire consisted of 38 land engine
companies, 2 fire boats, 16 ladder companies, 5 chemical companies, and 3 water towers.
Apparatus was sent to Boston by seventeen outside cities and towns, which proved of
great value, because another fire was shortly discovered in a building at 55-59 High Street
and 237 Purchase Street which prior to being subdued, caused a loss of $55,566.00 and
made necessary the transmission of five alarms, at 7:51 P.M., 8:04 P.M., 8:43 P.M., 9:06
P.M., and 9:13 P.M. On account of the sixth alarm at Box 58, most of the apparatus
responding to the High Street fire was from outside of Boston.
Fire District 10 in Dorchester being too large, new District 14 was established on
September 5, 1910, reducing District 10 to smaller size and resulting in changes of the
boundary lines of Districts 9, 10, and 12.
The second piece of motor apparatus was purchased in 1911. This was a motor hose
wagon which replaced the horse—drawn hose wagon of Engine Company 11, Saratoga and
Byron Streets, East Boston. Placed in service on April 22, 1911.
On March 15, 1911, Engine Company 31 (Fire Boat) was reactivated after having
been in reserve status, being located adjacent to Engine 47 at the foot of Lewis Street,
East Boston, and ordered to commence active service on March 18.
During 1911, a new repair shop was completed at Albany and Bristol Streets on the
site formerly occupied by the one destroyed by fire in 1910.
On July 15, 1911, a new system of General Alarm Assignments and signals became
effective, including for the first time, planned response of and covering by companies
from communities adjacent to Boston. The city was divided into nine sections, each
section given special assignments and each numbered, using numbers 3221 to 3229. For a
 


40
general alarm, the signal was to be six blows followed by the box number, and the A
Metropolitan Aid Number, 3221 to 3229, depending on the section in which the fire was.
On August 5, 1911, Fire Boat, Engine 31, moved to new quarters at 531
Commercial Street, from the temporary location with Engine 47.
The area and population of Boston increased on January 1, 1912, when the Town
of Hyde Park was annexed and together with a section of the Dorchester District, was
designated as Fire District 15.
The Town of Hyde Park contributed to Boston four horse-drawn companies, two
permanent officers, six permanent privates, and a number of call men, the latter being
temporarily received into the Boston Fire Department until a sufficient number of
permanent men could be secured to replace them.
The new companies were Hose 48, Chemical 14, and Ladder 28 at the former Hyde
Park Central Fire Station at Harvard Avenue and Winthrop Street, and Hose 49 at
Sprague and West Milton Streets, Readville.
On February 2, 1912, Hose Company 48 was disbanded and horse-drawn Engine
Company 48 was organized in its place.
On August 1, 1912, the department consisted of two firefighting divisions, Districts
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and Marine District 13 comprised Division 1, while Districts 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 14, and 15 were in Division 2.
Engines 5, 9, 11, 40, Ladders 2, 21, and Chemical 7 were in District 1;Engines 27,
32, 36, Ladders 9, 22, and Chemicals 3 and 9 in District 2; Engines 25, 38, 39, Ladders 8,
14, 18, and Water Tower 3 in District 3; while in District 4 there were Engines 4, 6, 8,
Ladders 1 and 24, Chemical 1, and Water Tower 1.
Engines 7, 10, 26, 35, Ladder 17, and Chemical 2 were in District 5; Engines 1, 2,
15, 43, Ladders 5, 19, 20, and Chemical 8 in District 6, and the Fire Boats, Engines 31,
44, 47 in Marine District 13.
Engines 3, 22, 33, Ladders 3, 13, 15, Chemical 4, and Water Tower 2 were in
District 7; Engines 13, 14, 37, Ladders 12, 26, and Chemical 12 in District 8; Engines 12,
21, 23, 24, Ladder 4, and Chemical 10 in District 9; Engines 17, 18, Ladders 7, 23, and
Chemical 11 in District 10; Engines 29, 34, 41, Ladder 11, and Chemical 6 in District 11;
Engines 28, 30, 42, 45, Ladders 10, 16, 25, and Chemicals 5 and 13 in District 12;
Engines 16, 20, 46, Ladders 6 and 27 in District 14; Engines 19, 48, Hose 49, Ladder 28
and Chemical 14 in District 15.
The horse-drawn hose wagon of Engine Company 37 was replaced by a Motor Hose
Wagon on September 5, 1912, this company being selected on account of the steep grades
of Parker Hill where previously the installation of a Chemical Engine had been
considered. I
On October 29, 1912, Engine 44 (Fire Boat) moved from Central Wharf to a new
berth at the Northern Avenue Bridge. On the following day, a new Water Tower 1 was
installed, old Tower 1 being designated as Tower 4 which was placed in reserve.
Effective November 5, 1912, when responding to alarms, motor propelled hose and
chemical tenders would precede the engine, but when responding to cover, they would
follow the engine.
The first motor-driven Combination City Service Ladder and Chemical Truck was
placed in service at the quarters of Chemical 11 at Callender and Lyons Streets,
 



41
Dorchester. It was designated as Ladder 29, and in an order dated December 19, 1912;
this truck was given assignments to first, second, and third alarms, but no company had
actually been organized. However, on January 23, 1913, Ladder Company 29 was
organized.
Ladder Company 31, with another motor-driven City Service Ladder and Chemical
Truck, was organized in a new house at Oak Square, Brighton, on February 24, 1913, and
this was followed by the organization of Ladder Company 30, with similar truck, at the
quarters of Engine 42 and Chemical 5 at Egleston Square, on March 5, 1913, Chemical 5
being disbanded on that date.
On April 18, 1913, the horse-drawn Combination Wagon in service with Chemical
11, Callender Street, was replaced by a Motor Hose and Chemical Wagon.
Chemical Engine Company 5 was reestablished, on May 14, 1913, with Motor Hose
and Chemical Wagon, at the quarters of Ladder 23, 36 Washington Street, Grove Hall,
Dorchester.
A very important change became effective at 12 noon, September 10, 1913, when
new rules for- response and covering brought about a complete departure from the
existing system.
Under the existing system, District Chiefs and Company Commanders were
supposed to exercise their own judgement in cases where two boxes with the same or
similar assignments had been transmitted and in other cases where response by the
companies assigned could not be expected for some reason. The results were not always
satisfactory. Under the new system, the Fire Alarm Office was made responsible, on all
alarms, for the proper response and covering of companies not specifically assigned.
Companies were ordered to respond or cover on alarms only when specifically
assigned, unless otherwise directed by the Fire Alarm Office, or in the event of two boxes
being transmitted on which the assignments were the same, in which case the response to
the second box was as under a second alarm for that box including all covering.
Companies would also automatically respond, when covering another company, to the
assignments of that company and to their own multiple alarm assignments, and in the
event of a multiple alarm to which the running card assigned no companies, companies
covering in the stations of the first alarm assignment for that box would respond.
On November 14, 1913, the department was organized in three divisions in place of
the existing two divisions. Division 1 was located at Ladder 8, Fort Hill Square, and
consisted of Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and Marine District 13. Headquarters of Division 2
was at Engine 22, Warren Avenue, and this division consisted of Districts 6, 7, 8, and 11.
Division 3 was located at Ladder 23, Grove Hall, and consisted of Districts 9, 10, 12, 14,
and 15.
On December 3, 1913, fire was discovered in a five-story brick lodging house
known as the "Arcadia" at 1202-1206 Washington Street, corner of Laconia Street. An
alami was given on Box 771, Washington Street and Cottage Place, at 2:04 A.M., and
upon arrival of the first due companies, Engine 3 and Ladder 3, the building was found to
be fully involved in fire. Second and third alarms were transmitted at 2:09 and 2:11
A.M., but in spite of all efforts, twenty-eight occupants died from jumping, suffocation,
or burning. The building had been occupied by about 170 men at the time of the fire. '
 



42
Another Motor City Service Ladder and Chemical Truck was added on December
10, 1913, replacing the horse-drawn truck of Ladder 21, Saratoga and Byron Streets, East
Boston.
During 1913, Elevator Rescue Devices were installed on Ladder Companies 1, 3, 8,
and 17. The steel spur tires of the self-propelled steamers in service with Engine
Companies 35 and 38 and the iron tires on Water Towers 1, 2, and 3 were replaced with
rubber tires. All apparatus now had rubber tires.
The so-called "Bacon Fire" took place during extremely cold weather in the
building occupied by the W. & A. Bacon Company at 2175 Washington Street, corner of
Ruggles Street, on January 14, 1914. Four alarms on Box 218 at 12:00-1/2, 12204,
12:09, and 12:21 A.M. and an additional alarm on Box 231 at 12:38 A.M. were given for
this fire, during the progress of which Joseph A. Hackett, driver for Deputy Chief
McDonough of Division 2, was killed by the falling of the Ruggles Street Wall which also
wrecked the Motor Hose Wagon of Engine Company 37.
As of February 2, 1914, gasoline automobiles were being used by the Chief of
Department, the Deputy Chiefs of Divisions 1, 2, and 3 and by District Chiefs 1, 9, 10,
12, and 14.
Marine District 13 was abolished on February 6, 1914, and the Fire Boats were
assigned to Land Districts, Engine 31 going to District 4, Engine 44 to District 3, and
Engine 47 to District 1.
During 1914, construction was begun on the High Pressure Fire Service, 2.62 miles ·
of pipe and 78 hydrants being installed to be tied in with the old Salt Water Fire Boat
Line which had been in service since September 14, 1898.
The three-divisional set-up was abolished on March 14, 1914, on which date two
divisions were established. The southern part of existing District 12 was made a separate
district, No. 13, covering Roslindale-West Roxbury and leaving the Jamaica Plain section
in new District 12. New Division 1 had headquarters at Ladder 8, Fort Hill Square, and
consisted of Districts 1 thru 7, while new Division 2 was located at Ladder 4, Dudley and
Winslow Streets, the division consisting of Districts 8 thru 15. Changes were made in the l
boundary lines of Districts 8, 9, 10, and 12. New District 12, with headquarters at Engine
28, had Engines 28, 42, Ladders 10, 23, 30, and Chemical 5. New District 13, with y
headquarters at Engine 45, had Engines 30, 45, Ladders 16, 25, and Chemical 13. A
Lieutenant William Hughes of Engine Company 20, having been injured on January
14, 1914, at a fire in a building at 386 Ashmont Street, Box 945, died from his injuries
on February 24, 1914.
Eight persons lost their lives on April 14, 1914, during the early morning, in an
apartment house at 1315 Commonwealth Avenue, corner of Long Avenue, Brighton,
when fire starting in the basement extended to the top floor, cutting off their escape. A
delay resulted when a man intending to give the alarm at Box 820, Commonwealth
Avenue and Redford Street, open the box door but failed to pull the hook. The first
alarm was at 1:57-1/2, the third alarm at 2:03, and the fourth alarm at 2:29 A.M.
The conflagration at Salem, Massachusetts, occurred on June 25, 1914. Responding
to a call for aid, the motor truck of Ladder Company 21 went over the road, while
horse-drawn Engines 6, 8, 26, 27, and 39 were sent to Salem by railroad.
On July 3, 1914, the horse-drawn steam engine and the Motor Hose Wagon of
 



 


49
Engine Company 11 were replaced by the first Motor Triple Combination to be used by
the department. On the same day, the horse-drawn hose wagon of Engine Company 46
was replaced by a Motor Hose Wagon.
Orr August 4, 1914, the horse—drawn apparatus of Engine Company 45 was replaced
by a Motor Triple Combination.
The Hrst two-wheel. motor tractor to be used, an American—La France type, was
attached to the horse-drawn steamer of Engine Company 37 on August 10, 1914.
On August 24, 1914, the horse-drawn wagon of Engine 10 was replaced by a Motor
Hose Wagon, and on August 31, the horse-drawn steamer of that company was equipped
with an American-LaFrance Motor Tractor.
More motorization took place in 1914. On September 1, the horse-drawn steamer
of Engine Company 46 was equipped with a motor tractor, and on September 28, the
horse-drawn truck of Ladder Company 4 was replaced by an 85-foot motor aerial truck,
the first to be used in Boston. Horse-drawn Water Tower 2 was equipped with an
American-British gasoline-electric motor tractor on November 11, the horse-drawn truck
of Ladder Company 7 was replaced by a motor-driven City Service Truck on December 9,
and the horse-drawn apparatus of Engine Company 41 was replaced by a Motor Triple
Combination on December 14.
The total number of alarms in 1914 was 5534.
In 1915, the department purchased thirteen pieces of motor apparatus.
On February 20, 1915, District Chief Michael Walsh of District 9 died of injuries
received while responding to a still alarm on December 2, 1914, his automobile having
struck an Elevated Railway column.
During 1915, motor tractors were attached to the horse-drawn steamers of Engine
Companies 25 and 43, on May 15 and October 4, respectively. Motor Hose Wagons
replaced horse-drawn wagons at Engine 25 on September 28 and at Engine 43 on October
4, while horse—drawn ladder trucks were replaced by motor aerial trucks at Ladder 8 on
April 22 and at Ladder 12 on September 20.
Two-wheel motor tractors were attached to the horse-drawn City Service trucks of
Ladder 16 on July 28, Ladder 20 on October 27, and Ladder 10 on December 24, and
the same type of motor tractors were attached to the horse-drawn aerial trucks of
Ladders 14 and 15 on January 4, Ladder 18 on May 21, Ladder 13 on July 21, and
Ladder 17 on July 27.
Water Towers 3 and 1 were motorized by the attachment of American-British
tractors on February 1 and April 10, respectively.
On April 23, 1915, Chemical Engine Company 6, located at 16 Harvard Avenue,
Allston, and Ladder Company 14, located at Fort Hill Square, were disbanded.
Charles Willett and Dennis A. Walsh, both of Engine Company 10, were killed on
December 21, 1915, when the floors collapsed during a fire in the building at 347-357
Cambridge Street, three alarms, Box 1356.
The total number of alarms in 1915 was 5437.
Ten pieces of motor apparatus were purchased in 1916.
The horse-drawn apparatus of Engine Company 14 was replaced by a Motor Triple
Combination on February 3, 1916, and motor tractor steam engines were placed in
 


50
service at Engine 17 on January 7, Engine 21 on January 12, Engine 28 on August 22,
and Engine 33 on October 16, 1916.
On April 5, 1916, a new Ladder Company 14 was established and placed in service
at the quarters of Engine Company 41, at 16 Harvard Avenue, Allston, with an 85-ft.
motor aerial truck.
Horse-drawn Water Tower 4 (Reserve Tower) was equipped with an American-
British motor tractor on May 29, 1916.
Chemical 10 had been out of service from 1/17/1916 to 10/2/1916 while Ladder 4
occupied their quarters at 20 Eustis Street. Chemical 10 was equipped with a Motor Hose
and Chemical Wagon, returning to active service when both itself and Ladder 4 occupied
Ladder 4’s regular quarters at 198 Dudley Street (10/2/1916). Chemical 10’s former
house at 20 Eustis Street was closed.
On October 30, 1916, Engine Company 1 was moved to a temporary location at
the quarters of Ladder Company 5, on West Fourth Street, near Dorchester Street and on
the same day, Engine Company 8 moved temporarily to the North End Paving Yard,
Commercial Street, near North End Park, the men being housed at the quarters of Engine
31.
There were 4531 alarms in 1916.
During 1917, twenty-five pieces of motor apparatus were bought and the following
changes were made:
Horse-drawn steam engines were replaced by tractor steam engines at Engine 26 on
March 15, Engine 36 on March 27, Engine 39 on May 10, Engine 3 on June 16, and
Engine 22 on November 22.
Horse-drawn hose wagons were replaced by Motor Hose and Chemical Wagons at
Engine 33 on January 18, Engine 21 on February 16, Engine 17 on February 22, Engines
3, 26, 35 on July 19, Engine 22 on August 1, Engine 36 on August 13, Engine 39 on
September 27, and Engine 38 on October 4.
Horse-drawn ladder trucks were replaced by two-wheel motor tractor City Service
Trucks at Ladder 6 on March 2, Ladder 25 on April 24, and Ladder 22 on June 11, 1917.
Rescue Company 1 was organized and placed in service on June 15, 1917, at the
quarters of Engine 25 and Ladder 8 at Fort Hill Square. This company was equipped with
an American LaFrance motor-driven car, carrying six Draeger smoke and gas helmets, a
pulmotor, elevator rescue outfit, oxygen and acetylene cutting devices, a 60-gallon
chemical tank, hose, axes, extinguishers, life line, and other material. This company was
organized to do rescue work and to fight tires in inaccessible places, but it was also
intended for any other special work which might be assigned to it. The company was
given assignments to first, second, and third alarms, but could also be special-called
anywhere in the city.
On June 20, 1917, the quarters of Ladder Company 5, on West Fourth Street, near
Dorchester Street, were abandoned. Ladder 5, as well as Engine 1, which had temporarily
shared these quarters, were moved to the remodelled house of Engine 1, on Dorchester
Street, corner of West Fourth Street. The horse-drawn apparatus of both companies was
replaced, Engine Company 1 receiving a Motor Triple Combination, while Ladder 5 was
equipped with a 75-foot Motor Aerial truck.
Three Chemical Companies were disbanded in 1917. They were No. 8, located at B
 



51
and Athens Streets, disbanded on July 2, No. 4 at 398 Shawmut Avenue, on October 26,
and N0. 3 at 34 Winthrop Street, Charlestown, on November 30.
On July 2, 1917, Engine Company 15 was equipped with a Motor Triple
Combination which replaced the horse-drawn apparatus. On the same day, the company
was moved to a temporary location at the house just vacated by Chemical 8, on B Street,
while their own quarters at Dorchester Avenue and Broadway were being altered in
connection with the construction of the Dorchester Rapid Transit Tunnel.
On July 5, 1917, Engine Company 8 returned from the temporary location at the
North End Paving Yard, to their remodelled quarters at 133 Salem Street. The
horse-drawn apparatus was replaced by a Motor Tractor Steam Engine and a Motor Hose
Wagon.
Engine Company 5 moved from 64 Marion Street to temporary quarters with
Chemical 7 at Saratoga and Prescott Streets, on October 4, 1917.
On December 15, 1917, Engine Company 15 returned to their regular quarters at
Dorchester Avenue and Broadway, from the temporary location at old Chemical 8 house
on B Street.
At the end of 1917, there were 1117 fire alarm boxes in service, and during that
year, there had been 4778 alarms, a number of which had been tor fires ot more than
ordinary magnitude.
Due to conditions brought about by the war, no motor apparatus was purchased
during 1918.
The "day off in three" replaced the "day off in five" on February 1, 1918.
Several changes were made on July 26, 1918. Hose Company 49, located at Sprague
and West Milton Streets, Readville, was disbanded and Engine Company 49 organized in
its place. The latter company was placed in service in a new house at Milton and Hamilton
Streets (present Neponset Valley Parkway location), Readville, and was temporarily
equipped with a Motor Hose and Chemical Wagon, but no pumping engine. On the same
day, Engine Company 50 was organized and placed in service in the house built at the site
formerly occupied by Chemical 3 at 34 Winthrop Street, Charlestown. Engine Company
50 was equipped with a Motor Tractor Steam Engine and a Motor Hose and Chemical
Wagon. Chemical 9, located at the quarters of Ladder 9 at 333 Main Street, Charlestown,
was disbanded, and the headquarters of District 2 moved from Ladder 9 to Engine 50.
Chemical Engine 12, located with Ladder 12 hat 1046 Tremont Street, was
disbanded on August 30, 1918.
During 1918, the department responded to 5062 alarms.
The so-called "Molasses Tank Disaster" took place on January 15, 1919, when a
tank containing more than two million gallons of that sticky substance ruptured, spilling
its contents over Commercial Street and property in the vicinity of North End Park. The
tank was located at 529 Commercial Street, adjacent to the berth of Engine Company 31
(Fire Boat), whose house was wrecked. George Layhe of that company was killed, there
were nineteen deaths, forty persons were injured, and the loss of property was about one
million dollars. No fire resulted, but Box 1234 was transmitted at 12:40 P.M., with a
second alarm at 12:45 P.M., and an additional alarm was transmitted for Box 1211 at
12:53 P.M. Engine 31 was moved to a temporary location adjacent to Engine 47 at the
foot of Lewis Street, East Boston.
 


52
On February 1, 1919, there were 76 pieces of motor apparatus in service and
reserve, nineteen units being purchased during the year.
On July 5, 1919, the two existing fire fighting divisions were replaced by three
divisions. Division 1, under charge of the First Deputy Chief, was located at Ladder 8 and
consisted of Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The Third Deputy Chief was placed in charge of
Division 2 with headquarters at Engine 22, the division consisting of Districts 6, 7, 8, and
11. Division 3, under the Second Deputy Chief, was quartered at Ladder 4, Dudley and
Winslow Streets, with jurisdiction over Districts 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15.
On 10/23/1919 the Tractor Steam Engine of Engine Company 50 was replaced by
an American La France Motor Pumping Engine.
The automobile school was started on September 2, and a system of annual drills
and inspection was commenced on October 27, 1919. On September 27, 1919, Engine
Company 5 retumed from the temporary location with Chemical 7 to its own remodelled
quarters at 64 Marion Street, and the horse—drawn apparatus was replaced by a 1000 GPM
Motor Pumping Engine and a Motor Hose and Chemical Wagon. The horse—drawn truck of
Ladder Company 1 was replaced by a Motor Aerial Truck on November 8, and the
horse-drawn apparatus of Engine Company 19 gave way to a 800 GPM Motor Triple
Combination on November 16, 1919.
A general study on the subject of masks was made this year, a few smoke masks
being in use while Rescue Company 1 had oxygen masks.
The total number of alarms for 1919 was 5423.
As a result of the transition from horse—drawn to motor apparatus, there were in
service a great variety of vehicles and the roster of those in active service on January 31,
1920, follows:
Engine Companies (Hose Wagons not shown)
Motor Apparatus
Seagrave Triple Combination 1, 14, 19
American LaFrance Triple Combination 11, 15, 45
Robinson Triple Combination 41
Seagrave Hose and Cherrrical (no pumper) 49
American LaFrance Pumping Engine 5, 5 0
Steam Engines with Motor Tractors
Amer. Fire Eng. Co. — Christie Tractor 3
American LaFrance — Christie Tractor 8, 25
Silsby Mfg. Co. — Amer. LaFrance Tractor 10
Amoskeag Mfg. Co. — Christie Tractor 17, 21. 28, 43
Manchester Loco. Works — Christie Tractor 22, 39
Manchester Loco. Works — Amer. LaFrance
Tractor 37
International Power Co. — Christie Tractor 26, 33, 36, 46
 



53
Steam Propelled Steam Engines
Manchester Locomotive Works 35, 38
Horse-Drawn Steam Engines
Silsby Manufacturing Company 2, 9, 23, 27
International Power Company 4, 12, 32
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company 6, 16, 24, 34
American Fire Engine Company 7
Clapp and Jones Mfg. Co. 13
Manchester Locomotive Works 18, 20, 30, 42, 48
American British Company 29
American Locomotive Company 40
Chemical Engine Companies
American LaFrance ~ Horse Drawn 1
Babcock Mfg. Co. —— Horse Drawn 2, 7, 14
American LaFrance Motor Combination 5, 11 _
Seagrave Motor Combination 10
Knox Motor Combination 13
Water Towers — All with American British
Gas-Electric Tractors
American LaFrance Company 1
Kansas City Fire Department Supply Co. 2, 4
International Company 3
Ladder Companies
Motor Aerial Trucks
American LaFrance — 75 ft. 1
American LaFrance — 85 ft. 4
Seagrave — 75 ft. 5
Seagrave — 85 ft. 8
Aerial Trucks with Christie Tractors
American LaFrance — 75 ft. 12
American LaFrance — 85 ft. 14, 15
Seagrave — 75 ft. 17
Seagrave — 85 ft. 18
Fire Dept. Shop — 85 ft. with "Dahill"
Compressed Air Hoist 13
 


54
Motor City Service Trucks
Robinson 7
American LaFrance with Chemical Tanks 21, 29, 30, 31
Christie Tractor City Service Trucks
C.N. Perkins Company 6, 20
Fire Department Repair Shop 10, 16
Charles T. Holloway 22, 25
Horse-Drawn Box Type and City Service Trucks
Abbott and Downing 2, 3, 9
American LaFrance Company ll, 23, 26
Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Co. 19
Charles T. Holloway 24
Charles N. Perkins 27
Seagrave 28
On February 1, 1920, there were 97 motor units in service and reserve and during
this year, the department purchased 14 additional motor units. Among the latter were
three Motor High Pressure Hose Wagons, each with two guns and capable of carrying
2000 feet of three—inch hose.
1216 fire alarm boxes were in service, and the Fire Alarm Ofice was still located on
Bristol_Street, among the highly hazardous lumber yards, resulting in repeated demands
that the office be moved to a safe and isolated place.
In 1920, Motor Pumping Engines replaced the Tractor Steam Engines of Engine 10 l
on September 3, Engine 46 on October 5, and Engine 37 on October 18. Tractor Steam l
Engines and Motor Hose and Chemical Wagons were installed at Engine 48 on June 23
and at Engine 42 on September 17, replacing the horse-drawn units of both companies.
On April 3, 1920, the Motor Triple Combination in service with Engine Company
15 was replaced by a Christie Tractor Steam Engine and a Motor Hose and Chemical
Wagon. On April 13, the Tractor Steam Engine and the horse-drawn hose wagon of
Engine Company 28 were replaced by a Motor Pumping Engine and a Motor Hose and
Chemical Wagon. The horse-drawn apparatus of Engine Company 23 was replaced by a
Motor Pumper and a Motor Hose and Chemical Wagon on May 2, 1920.
Chemical Engine Company 14, quartered with Engine 48 and Ladder 28 at
Winthrop Street and Harvard Avenue, Hyde Park, was disbanded on June 23, 1920, and
Chemical Engine Company 2 at 25 Church Street went out of existence on July 2, 1920. l
On July 12, 1920, the horse-drawn truck of Ladder Company 11 was replaced by a 1
Christie Tractor City Service Truck and on the same day, Engine 51, a new company, was 1
placed in service with a Motor Triple Combination, at the quarters of Ladder Company
31 at Oak Square, Brighton. Ladder Company 31 was disbanded.
The Christie Tractor Truck of Ladder Company 10 was replaced by a Motor City
Service Truck on October 16, 1920, and on November 8, a Motor City Service Truck
replaced the horse-drawn City Service Truck of Ladder Company 28.
During 1920, there were 4485 alarms of fire.
 


55
In 1921, nine pieces of motor apparatus were purchased.
On January 5, 1921, Engine Company 26 returned to their regular quarters with
Engine 35 at 18 Mason Street, from their temporary location at old Chemical 2’s house at
25 Church Street. The Tractor Steam Engine was replaced by a Motor Pumping Engine
and the Motor Hose Wagon was equipped with pneumatic tires. The self-propelled steam
engine, in service since 1898 with Engine Company 35, was replaced by a Motor Pumping
Engine and one of the new Motor High Pressure Hose Wagons took the place of Engine
35’s Motor Hose Wagon. On January 19, Engine Company 26, with pumper and wagon,
responded over the road in response to a call for aid from the City of Worcester, reaching
that city in 2 hours and 10 minutes, a distance of 44 miles. This was the first such trip
over the road for an engine company.
Engine Company 41 was equipped with a Motor Hose Wagon on January 26, 1921,
making it a double unit company. The Christie Tractor Truck of Ladder Company 11 was
replaced by a Motor City Service Truck on January 27.
On February 1, 1921, there were in service and reserve a total of 111 motorized
and straight motor units and 30 pieces of horse-drawn apparatus remained to be replaced.
Chemical 7 was changed from horse-drawn to motor apparatus on April 30, 1921.
On September 16, 1921, Engine Company 6 received a Combination Motor Hose and
Chemical Wagon and Engine Company 4 a Motor High Pressure Hose Wagon, replacing
horse-drawn hose wagons. Chemical Engine Company 1, located at Engine Company 4 at
Bulfinch Street, was disbanded the same day.
A four-wheel motor tractor aerial ladder truck took the place of the motor aerial
truck of Ladder Company 1 on October 31, 1921. On December 5, Ladder Company 10
was temporarily relocated with Chemical Engine Company 13 at Walk Hill and Wenham
Streets.
On December 10, 1921, Engine Company 52 was organized and placed in service
with Motor Triple Combination at the quarters of Ladder 29 and Chemical ll at
Callender Street, Dorchester, Chemical 11 being disbanded. Engine Company 53 was
organized the same day, with Motor Triple Combination, at the quarters of Chemical 13
at Walk Hill and Wenham Streets, Forest Hills, resulting in Chemical 13 being disbanded.
Motor Triple Combinations took the place of the horse-drawn apparatus at the
following companies: Engine 30 on October 18, Engine 16 on October 19, Engine 18 on
October 28, Engine 20 on October 29, and Engine 2 on December 19, 1921. On the latter
day, Engine Companies 1 and 14 were made double-unit by the addition of motor hose
wagons.
On December 19, 1921, the High Pressure System was placed in service with 310
hydrants and 12 miles of pipe, pressure to be fumished by new High Pressure Station No.
2, located at the Boston Edison Station on Atlantic Avenue near Pearl Street. In
connection with this event, special high pressure telegraph circuits had been provided and
Engine Companies 4, 6, 7, 8, 15, 25, 26, 35, and 39 had been furnished with high
pressure gauges and play pipe holders for three-inch hose.
On the same day, new assignments became effective which reduced the covering on
multiple alarms to a minimum, thereby preventing the simultaneous movement of too
many companies and the resulting temporary stripping of fire protection from the areas
affected. The signal for seventh (general) alarms was changed and was now to be given as
 



56
seven blows followed by the number of the box and then by the number of the general
alarm section in which the box was located. Telephone signal 7 was changed to 333 (on
tappers), but if the Fire Alarm Office desired someone at a box to go to a telephone,
signal 444 would be used on the box circuit. If an all—out signal was ordered by anyone
other than a telegrapher, the signal to indicate "al1-out" was 55, followed by the box
number, to be sent by key from the box to the Fire Alarm Office.
1237 fire alarm boxes were in service, and the department responded to 5247
alarms of fire during 1921.
In 1922, ten pieces of motor apparatus were purchased, and all the units bought
during this year were equipped with windshields. Engine Companies 49, 51, and 53 were
each furnished one 15-foot roof ladder and one 25-foot extension ladder. The Chief of
Department recommended that Engine Company 26-35 be removed from Mason Street as
soon as possible as it was becoming increasingly difficult to respond to alarms from that
location due to the narrow streets and the increasing trafic congestion.
In 1922, there were in service 1268 fire alarm boxes and 313 high pressure
hydrants. On January 23, 1922, High Pressure Station No. 1 was placed in operation at
the Lincoln Power Station of the Boston Elevated Railway Company, at Commercial and
Battery Streets.
On April 8, 1922, Ladder Company 10 retumed from a temporary location at the
quarters of Engine 53, Walk Hill and Wenham Streets, to a regular location at the quarters
of Engine Company 28 at 659 Centre Street. On May 22, 1922, Engine Company 26,
after having again been temporarily located at old Chemical 2’s house, 25 Church Street,
returned to regular quarters with Engine 35 at 18 Mason Street.
Christie Tractor Aerial Trucks were replaced by Motor Aerial Trucks at Ladder
Companies 12, 14, and 15 on May 22 and at Ladder Company 13 on May 29. The trucks
of Ladder Companies 14 and 15 had four-wheel tractors, while the others were a so-called
Type 31, with a motor front drive as part of the entire unit.
On June 5, 1922, Rescue Company 1 moved from Fort Hill Square to the old
Chemical 2 quarters at 25 Church Street, and scheduled response to multiple alarms by
this company was discontinued, but it could be special called to any location in the city.
Arrangements were made on June 8, 1922, to place in each fire alarm box a small
assignment card in a special envelope to show the response on all alarms for each box.
On June 28, 1922, the horse-drawn steamer of Engine Company 4 was replaced by
a tractor steam engine and that of Engine Company 6 by a motor pumping engine on July
13, 1922.
Horse-drawn apparatus was replaced by motor pumping engines and motor hose
and chemical wagons at Engine 13 on August 1, at Engine 12 on July 19, and at Engine
24 on July 21,1922.
Chemical Engine Company 10, located with Ladder Company 4 at Dudley and
Winslow Streets, was disbanded on July 28. A motor fuel wagon was placed in service
during August, and the motor hose wagon of Engine Company 49 was replaced by a
motor triple combination on August 9, 1922, whereby Engine 49 finally became an
engine company in more than name only.
On August 10, the horse-drawn apparatus of Engine Company 7 was replaced by a
motor triple combination, and the company was moved to a temporary location at the
 



 


58
quarters of Engine 25 and Ladder 8, Fort Hill Square. On the same day, the horse-drawn
. truck of Ladder Company 26 was replaced by a Christie Tractor City Service Truck.
1 Engine Company 45 was made double-unit on August 25, as was Engine Company
18 on October 13, 1922, on which day Chemical Engine Company 5, located with Ladder
i 23 at 36 Washington Street, Grove Hall, was disbanded.
i On September 28, Captain William J. Swan of Ladder Company 15 died from
i injuries received after being run over by the truck of his own company.
The Deputy Chief of the Third Division moved from Ladder 4 to ladder 23
_ on 5/4/ l 922.
On October 11, 1922, it was ordered that after that date, no more signs over fire
| alarm boxes with reference to the "Keyless Doors" would be installed. When existing
» signs became unsightly or illegible, they were to be removed.
i The total number of alarms for 1922 was 6134.


59
FAREWELL TO THE HORSES
During 1923, the motorization of the department was completed, and to
accomplish this, 24 motor units were purchased.
Horse-drawn apparatus was replaced by motor pumping engines and motor hose
and chemical wagons at Engine 27 on July 17, at Engines 9 and 40 on July 24, at Engine
34 on August 6, at Engine 29 on September 19, and by a motor triple combination at
Engine 32 on July 17, Engine 29 having been the last engine company to use horse-drawn
apparatus.
Motor pumping engines took the place of Christie Tractor Steam Engines at Engine
43 on January 8, Engine 17 on August 14, Engine 22 on October 8, and Engine 48 on
December 18.
Four—whee1 motor tractor aerial trucks replaced the horse-drawn ladder trucks of
Ladder Companies 2 and 9 on October 15 and 17 respectively, while motor city service
trucks were installed in place of horse-drawn ladder trucks at Ladder 23 on August 20,
Ladder 27 on September 28, Ladder 19 on October 5, Ladder 3 (with Christie Tractor)
on October 8, and Ladder 24 on October 18.
The motorization of Ladder 24 eliminated the last horses and the department was
now 100 percent motorized, except that some Christie Tractor steam engines and
steam-propelled Engine 38 were still in service.
Changes and additions to fire alarm signals became effective on April 11, 1923, as
follows:
For response and covering on seventh (general) alarms, the city was divided into
nine sections, each section given special assignments and a special signal number. For such
alarms, the signal would be a preliminary of fifteen blows, followed by the section alarm
number and then by the box number, the entire signal to be struck two rounds on tappers
and gongs.
For the purpose of dispatching company units to a particular box, the following
signals would be struck two rounds on tappers only:
For Engine Companies 44 For Rescue Companies 66
For Ladder Companies 55 For Tower Companies 77
The company number and the box number would follow the apparatus designating
signal in each case.
The telephone signal 333 was changed to 444. T
Beginning June 2, 1923, definite plans were to be formulated relative to the routing
of apparatus when responding to alarms.
On June 27, 1923, Engine Company 7 moved from the temporary location with
Engine 25 and Ladder 8 at Fort Hill Square to the new house built at the site of the old
one at East Street and East Street Place, and the company was furnished a motor hose
wagon making it double-unit.
On September 14, 1923, Water Tower 1 was moved from Bulfinch Street (Engine
4) to Fort Hill Square (Engine 25 and Ladder 8). A motor city service truck took the
 



60
place of the Christie Tractor City Service truck of Ladder Company 16 on September 18,
1923.
Because of reconstruction, the East Boston ferry service was operating at only
one-half of its maximum capacity. As a result, beginning September 22, 1923, one-half of
the companies assigned to respond to East Boston from the city proper were ordered to
go by way of the ferries, while the other half were to respond by way of Charlestown and
Chelsea. Water Towers, in all cases, were ordered to respond by the latter route.
On October 3, Engine Company 40 moved from regular quarters at Sumner and
Orleans Streets to temporary location at the quarters of Chemical 7, Saratoga and
Prescott Streets.
On December 31, 1923, there were 1299 fire alarm boxes in service. Christie
Tractor Steam Engines were still being used by Engine Companies 3, 4, 8, 15, 21, 25, 33,
36, 39, and 42, and Engine Company 38 was still using the steam propelled engine built
by the Manchester Locomotive Works in 1897.
The department responded to 7241 alarms during 1923.
Six motor units were purchased during 1924, in which year Sewall Cushion Wheels
were installed on all apparatus which had been bought in 1922. Chemical tanks were
installed on the City Service trucks of Ladder Companies 10, 16, 19, 23, and 24 while
Lung Motors and Paul Gas Masks were furnished to the fire boats.
On January 31, 1924, the following were in active service:
36 American LaFrance Pumping Engines
3 Seagrave Pumping Engines
10 Christie Tractor Steam Engines
1 Steam Propelled Steam Engine
26 American LaFrance Hose and Chemical Cars
11 Seagrave Hose and Chemical Cars
1 Velie Hose and Chemical Car
1 Mack Hose Car
9 American LaFrance Aerial Ladder Trucks
1 Seagrave Aerial Ladder Truck
2 Christie Tractor Aerial Ladder Trucks
6 Christie Tractor City Service Trucks
12 American LaFrance City Service Trucks
3 Water Towers with American British Gas-Electric Tractors
1 Pierce-Arrow Rescue Car.
During 1924, Fire Boat Engine 31 moved to new quarters at 531 Commercial Street
from the temporary location at Engine 47, foot of Lewis Street, East Boston (May 7,
1924).
On February 1, 1924, the "two-platoon system" took the place of the "day off in
three".
A motor cycle tire patrol, to watch for grass and brush fires, was established in
District 13 on May 24, 1924.
More tractor steam engines were taken out of active service when motor pumping
engines took their place during 1924, at Engine 33 on May 1, Engine 42 on October 10,

 



61
Engine 39 on October 14, Engine 21 on October 16, and Engine 15 on October 22.
On August 15, 1924, Engine Company 12 moved from its regular quarters at 407
Dudley Street, near Blue Hill Avenue, to a temporary location with Ladder Company 4,
Dudley and Winslow Streets.
A motor City Service truck replaced the Christie Tractor City Service Truck of
Ladder Company 26 on October 14, 1924, and on November 8, Engine Company 40
returned from the temporary quarters with Chemical 7 at Saratoga and Prescott Streets,
to a new house built at the site of their old one, at Sumner and Orleans Streets.
Beginning October ll, 1924, the changeover of couplings was begun from Roxbury
7 thread to National Standard 7-1 /2 thread. In connection with the new Eire Alarm
Office to be constructed at 59 The Fenway, ground had been broken on April 1 and the
corner stone laid on July 24, 1924. During the year, the department had responded to
7993 alarms, and there were 430 High Pressure Hydrants and 1324 fire alarm boxes.
Eleven additional motor units were purchased during 1925, and various devices
were added, such as a Pulrnotor for Ladder 9, an lnhalator for Rescue 1, and Lung Motors
for Ladders 19 and 28.
On January 7, 1925, Engine Company 12 returned to its regular quarters at 407
Dudley Street from its temporary location with Ladder 4.
A special signal to denote "Apparatus out of service" was placed in effect on March
14, 1925. This was intended for use while responding to or returning from an alarm when
no telegrapher was present or no telephone service was available, the signal to be given
by morse key from a fire alarm box.
In engine companies having a mot or pumper and a hose wagon, when responding to
alarms, the pumper was to precede the wagon, effective April 18, 1925.
The Christie Tractor Aerial Truck of Ladder Company 17 was replaced by a
4-wheel motor tractor aerial truck on May 19, and Tractor Steam Engines were replaced
by Motor Pumpers at Engine Companies 36 and 8 on May 22 and 25, respectively. Ladder
Company 11 was equipped with a 4-wheel motor tractor aerial truck in place of the
Motor City Service Truck on May 23, and the Christie Tractor City Service Trucks of
Ladder Companies 6 and 22 were replaced by Motor City Service Trucks on June 4 and 9,
1925.
Owen T. Norton, driver for the Chief of District 10, died on May 22 as the result of
injuries received when the District Chief` s automobile was demolished in an accident.
The so-called "Pickwicl< Club Disaster" occurred during the early morning of July
4, 1925, when the building housing a dine and dance establishment, known as the
Pickwick Club and located at 12 Beach Street, collapsed, resulting in the death of
forty-four persons. No fire resulted, but apparatus was called to aid in removing the
debris and locating the injured and dead. Box 1471, Washington Street, opposite
Boylston Street, was transmitted at 3:00 A.M., with all-out at 9:00 A.M.
On July 11, 1925, the Motor City Service Truck of Ladder Company 26 was
{ replaced by a 4-wheel motor tractor aerial truck.
‘ On July 18, the quarters of Engine Company 21 at Columbia Road and Anabel
Street were closed for the purpose of building a new house at the same location. On that
date, the hose wagon of Engine 17 went to Ladder 23 at Grove Hall, the pumper of
Engine 21 was relocated at Engine 17, Meeting House Hill, and the hose wagon of Engine
 



62
21 went to Engine 43 at Andrew Square. These relocations were effective until the new
quarters of Engine 21 were completed.
The self-propelled steam engine of Engine Company 38, in use by that company
since 1897, was replaced by a Christie Tractor Steam Engine on September 1, 1925.
The fire station at 18 Mason Street was closed at 2 P.M. on October 9, 1925, the
building having been occupied by the Chief of Department, District Chief`5, and Engine
Company 26-35. Engine Company 26 with both the pumper and the wagon was relocated
at Engine 4’s quarters on Bulfinch Street, while the High Pressure Wagon of Engine 35
went to Rescue 1 at 25 Church Street. The pumper of Engine 35 was sent to Engine 4 on
Bulfinch Street where it operated in conjunction with Engine 4’s high pressure wagon in
place of the latter company’s Christie Tractor Steam Engine which was placed in reserve.
Engine Company 4, in addition to its own assignments, was ordered to respond on the
first alarm to all boxes assigned to Engine 35 north of Boylston and Essex Streets, while
Engine Company 26 would not respond to any boxes south of Boylston Street. The high
pressure wagon of Engine 35, located on Church Street, would respond to all boxes
assigned to Engine 26 south of Boylston Street in addition to Engine 35’s running card in
that district, and it would also follow all multiple alarm assignments of Engine 35 without
change. Headquarters for the Chief of District 5 were moved to the quarters of Engine
Company 7 on East Street.
On November 9, 1925, a Foamite Truck (Foamite No. 1) was placed in service at
the quarters of Water Tower 2 on Bristol Street, without regular assignments, but subject
to special call, and on November 23, a Lighting Truck went into service at the Fire Alarm
Shop. On December 21, 1925, the motor pumper of Engine 35, in service with Engine
Company 4 since October 9, was transferred to Engine Company 3, replacing that
company’s Christie Tractor Steam Engine. Engine Company 4 resumed the use of their
Christie Tractor Steam Engine.
The new Fire Alarm Office at 59 The Fenway was opened at 8:00 A.M. on
December 27, 1925, at which time the old office on Bristol Street was abandoned. There
were 1340 fire alarm boxes in service, and the total number of alarms for 1925 was 7702.
On December 31, 1925, aerial ladder trucks were in service at Ladder Companies 1,
2, 4, 5, 8,9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, and 26, while City Service trucks were being used
by ladder companies 3,6,7,10, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28,29, and 30.



63
BREAK WITH THE PAST -— END OF THE STEANIERS
In 1926, twenty pieces of motor apparatus were purchased, and this was the last
year of the Tractor Steamers and Chemical Engines, three of the former and one of the
latter still being in active service.
On February 2, 1926, the Christie Tractor Aerial Truck of Ladder Company 18 was
replaced by a 4-wheel motor tractor aerial truck. On February 17, Engine Company 21
occupied the new fire station built at the site of the old one, at Columbia Road and
Anabel Street.
The last Christie Tractor Steam Engines still in active service were replaced by
motor pumping engines at Engine 25 on April 30 and at Engines 4 and 38 on May 3,
1926.
On May 17, 1926, the Motor City Service Truck of Ladder Company 23 was
replaced by a 4-wheel motor tractor aerial truck. Engine Company 30 was made
double—unit on June 4 and Engine Company ll on June 14. On the latter date, Chemical
Engine Company 7, the last remaining in active service, was disbanded and in its place, a
new Ladder Company, No. 31, was organized at the same location, Saratoga and Prescott
Streets, with a 75-foot aerial truck.
Michael J. Travers of Engine Company 7 died on July 1 after receiving injuries at a
fire in the building at 20-26 Kingston Street, on June 30.
Christie Tractor City Service Trucks were replaced by Motor City Service Trucks at
Ladder Company 3 on August 3, Ladder Company 20 on August 5, and Ladder Company
25 on August 16.
On November 3, 1926, revised instructions for telegraphers were placed in effect,
more clearly defining their duties and placing particular emphasis on the necessity of their
reporting from the box without delay on both still and box alarms.
On November 12, 1926, the American-British motor tractor, attached to Water
Tower 4, was replaced by a 4-wheel motor tractor. This change also necessitated the
addition of tiller steering apparatus for the rear wheels.
On November 26, Foamite No. 1 was moved from the quarters of Water Tower 2 at
60 Bristol Street to Ladder Company 4 at Dudley and Winslow Streets, where it operated
with detailed men on the assignments of Engine Company 24.
Effective December 8, 1926, when responding to alarms, the hose wagon would
precede the pumper in all double unit engine companies.
Rescue Company 2 was organized and placed in service on December 10, 1926,
with the apparatus formerly used by Foamite Unit No. 1, at the quarters of Ladder
Company 4 at Dudley and Winslow Streets.
During 1926, the self-propelled steam engines formerly in use with Engine
Companies 35 and 38 were sold at public auction, as were twelve Christie Tractor Steam
Engines and four Christie Tractor City Service Trucks. Three steam engines and four
ladder trucks, all equipped with Christie Tractors, were retained for reserve service.
On December 31, 1926, there were 1372 fire alarm boxes in service, and Engine
Companies 2, 16, 19, 20, 32, 49, 51, 52, and 53 were still operating as single units. The
department, during the year, had responded to 7870 alarms.
 



64
Eleven motor units were purchased in 1927, and on January 18, the American-
British tractor of Water Tower 1 was replaced by a 4-wheel motor tractor, tiller steering
apparatus for the rear wheels being added at the same time.
During 1927, the City Service Trucks of Ladder Companies 3, 20, and 30 were
replaced by aerial ladder trucks, and the aerial truck of Ladder Company 31 was replaced
by a City Service truck. (L.3 4/28, L.20 11/19, L.30 11/22, L.31 4/28)
On September 16, 1927, the headquarters of District 1 were moved from the
quarters of Engine Company 9 to quarters of Engine Company 5 at 64 Marion Street.
Hose wagons were assigned to Engine 32 on October 14, to Engine 51 on October
20, to Engines 19, 20, and 49 on October 28, and to Engine 53 on November 22, 1927.
High Pressure Wagon No. 1, in service with Engine 35, was transferred to Engine 7 on
October 25, 1927. Foam mixing apparatus was installed on the three fire boats, as were
"pup” work boats which allowed access to places in shallow water not accessible to the
large fire boats. A large number of masks were furnished to various units, and "Wheat"
lights were first used.
There were 1412 fire alarm boxes in service in 1927, and the department responded
to 7332 alarms during the year.
On February 2, 1928, the City of Fall River requested help for fighting a fire of
conflagration proportions then raging in that city, as a result of which Boston apparatus
was dispatched, responding over the road for a distance of 50 miles in extremely cold
weather. (Engine Companies 12, 26 and 42)
During 1928, there were purchased and placed in service, 13 new pieces of
apparatus as well as additional "Wheat" lights and masks.
On February 15, 1928, Engine Company 17 and Ladder Company 7 occupied the
new fire station built at the site of two old ones on Parish Street, Meeting House Hill, and
at the same time, the headquarters of District 10 were moved to this location from the
quarters of Engine Company 18 at 30 Harvard Street, Dorchester.
The American-British tractors of Water Towers 3 and 2 were replaced by 4-wheel
motor tractors and tiller steering was added for the rear wheels, on January 5 and April
14, 1928, respectively. This ended the use of American-British gasoline-electric tractors.
The City Service truck of Ladder Company 24 was replaced by an aerial ladder truck on
November 22, 1928, and self-starters were installed on 50 pieces of apparatus.
The Back Bay Station of the New Haven Railroad, at Dartmouth and Buckingham
Streets was discovered on fire in the early morning of April 15, 1928. An alarm was given
on Box 1546 at 3:00 A.M. followed by second, third, and fourth alarms at 3:01, 3:04,
and 3:13 A.M., with additional alarm on Box 1547 at 3:41 A.M. While a large
complement of men and apparatus were fighting this fire, an alarm was given on Box 212
at 4:07 A.M. for fire in a three-story frame building at 1981-1991 Washington Street,
followed by second and third alarms at 4:10 and 4: 18 A.M.
On April 17, 1928, the new fire station at 194 Broadway was opened and occupied
by Engine Companies 26 and 35, Water Tower 2, Rescue Company 1, and Chief of
District 5. Engine 26 had been at Bulfinch Street, Engine 35 and Rescue 1 at 25 Church
Street, Water Tower 2 at Bristol Street, and District 5 at Engine 7.
On April 18, Water Tower 4 (Reserve Tower) was placed in the quarters and under
the charge of Ladder Company 31 at Saratoga and Prescott Streets.
 


65
A new Lighting Truck was placed in service on September 25, 1928, at 60 Bristol
\ Street, and this truck was assigned to respond to all multiple alarms, day or night, and
A was also subject to special call for first alarm fires or other emergencies.
The High Pressure System had 451 hydrants and 16.8 miles of pipe. There were
1460 fire alarm boxes, and during 1928, there had been 7696 alarms. A complete revision
of district boundary lines was undertaken and placed in effect on November 9, 1928.
The apparatus in active service on December 31, 1928, was as follows:
Engine Companies
Amer. La France 1000 GPM Pumpers 1,5,7,10,23,26
Amer. I.aFrance 750 GPM Pumpers 3,4,6,8,9, 11,12,
13, 14,15,17,18, 20,
21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28,
29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35,
8 36, 37,38,39,40, 41,
42, 43, 45, 46, 48, 49,
50, 51
Amer. La France 750 GPM Triple Comb. 16, 52
Seagrave 750 GPM Triple Comb. 2, 19, 53
Fire Boats 6000 GPM 44, 47
3000 GPM 31
Amer. La France Hose and Chemical Cars 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12,
13,14,17,18, 19, 20,
22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28,
29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35,
37, 40, 41, 43, 45, 46,
48, 49, 50, 51, 53
Amer. La France High Pressure Cars 4, 7, 25
Seagrave Hose and Chemical Cars 1, 11, 15, 21, 36, 39,
42
Mack Hose and Chemical Car 38
Ladder Companies
Amer. La France 85-ft. Aerial 1, 3, 4, 9, 11, 12,
. 13, 14,15,17, 20, 23,
26
Amer. La France 75-ft. Aerial 2, 24, 30
Amer. La France City Service 6, 7, 10, 16, 19, 21,
22, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31
Seagrave 85-ft. Aerial with Am. L.F. Tractor 8, 18
Seagrave 75-ft. Aerial 5
Rescue Companies
Piece Arrow 1
Amer. La France with Foamite Tanks 2
 



66
Water Towers (all have Amer. La France Tractors)
American La France 1
Kansas City Fire Dept. Supply Company 2
International Company 3
In 1929, twelve pieces of apparatus were purchased and additional "Wheat" lights,
masks, and inhalators were furnished to various units. Several pieces of apparatus were
equipped with pneumatic tires.
Effective February 15, 1929, the nearest box was to be transmitted at all times
upon receipt of a still alarm from a hospital or similar institution, and between 11 P.M.
and 7 A.M. for all still (in building), ADT, and automatic alarms.
The quarters of Engine Company 4 on Bulfinch Street were closed on February 25,
1929, and that company moved to a temporary location with Ladder Company 24 on
North Grove Street, while temporary headquarters for District 4 were established at
Engine 6 on Leverett Street.
A completely revised running card was adopted and placed in effect on April 15,
1929, providing for heavier responses on multiple alarms. Some boxes had assignments
for six alarms, others for five alarms, and yet others for only four alarms. All cards were
now uniformly provided with five alarms, the sixth alarm was abolished, but the seventh,
general alarm, was retained. Under the existing system, response to a second box, when
another box with similar assignments was already in, had been by second alarm
companies and included the entire second alarm covering. This was now superseded by
the "inverted Pyramid System" which provided for response by only those second alarm
companies under whose numbers an inverted pyramid appeared, and did no longer
include covering except as ordered by the Fire Alarm Office.
Definite routes were established on April 18, 1929, for units responding to or
covering on first and second alarms, officers and drivers being made accountable for p
failure to follow the prescribed routes. l
The seventh, general alarm, assignments were suspended on April 24, 1929, and on
April 30, new rules were made governing the response of companies to East Boston from 1
the City Proper and Charlestown. l
A new mobile Lighting Plant was placed in service at the Fire Alarm shop on
Wareham Street on May 4.
On May 31, 1929, Rescue Company 3 was organized and placed in service at a
temporary location in the quarters of Engine Company 50 at 34 Winthrop Street,
Charlestown.
The first hose wagons equipped with booster tanks and pumps were received and
they were assigned to Engine Companies 15, 38, and 39 on October 18, Engine Company
21 on October 19, Engine Company 36 on October 25, and Engine Company 42 on
October 26, 1929. During this year, the City Service trucks of Ladder Companies 7, 10, t
and 22 were replaced by aerial trucks. (L.7 10/30, L.10 3/15, L.22 11/13)
On December 20, 1929, Engine Company 29 and Ladder Company 11 moved to 1
the new fire station at 138 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton. The old house formerly
occupied by these companies, at 20 Chestnut Hill Avenue near Washington Street, was
closed.
 



 


 

69
At the end of 1929, there were 1500 fire alarm boxes in service and during that
i year, there had been 8452 alarms. Most of the ladder companies had aerial trucks with
{ the exception of Ladder Companies 6, 16, 19, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 31 which had City
Q Service trucks.
1 Fourteen pieces of apparatus were purchased in 1930, and smoke ejectors were
placed in service at the headquarters of Divisions 1, 2, and 3. Inhalators were furnished to
Ladder Companies ll , 21, 25, 26, and 27.
Engine 9 and Ladder 2, on August 14, 1930, were temporarily relocated, Engine 9
going to the quarters of Ladder 31, while Ladder 2 went to the quarters of Engine 40.
While this relocation was in effect, Ladder 2 and Ladder 31 exchanged trucks, Ladder 2
using the City Service and Ladder 31 the aerial truck. Engine 16 made double unit on
August 26, 1930.
On September 16, 1930, George J. Corcoran of Engine Company 13 was killed
during a fire at 100 Ruggles Street, two alarms, Box 2232.
The new Bowdoin Square fire station opened November 10, 1930, and it was
occupied by District 4, Engines 4 and 6, Ladder 24, Water Tower 1, and Rescue 3. The
old quarters of Engine 6 on Leverett Street and those of Ladder 24 on North Grove
Street were closed. (E.4 11/10, E.6 11/13, L.24 11/12, R.3 11/14,WT.1 11/14)
At the end of 1930, there were 1574 fire alarm boxes in service, and the apparatus
had responded to 8701 alarms during that year. There had been 112 multiple alarm fires,
87 with two alarms, 20 with three alarms, 3 with four alarms, one with five alarms, and
one with five alarms and an additional alarm from an adjacent box.
Beginning January 1, 1931, in accordance with an act of the 1930 legislature, all
apparatus and automobiles of the Fire and other municipal departments, not heretofore
registered as motor vehicles, now were to be so registered and have registration plates
attached to them.
Fourteen pieces of apparatus were purchased during 1931.
On January 21, 1931, Engine 9 and Ladder 2 returned to their regular quarters at
60 Paris Street after having been temporarily located at Ladder 31 and Engine 40,
respectively.
On April 8, 1931, the boundary line between Districts 8 and 11 was changed from
Ashby Street to the easterly side of Essex Street and Cottage Farm Bridge.
On April 9, 1931, because of the numerous grass and brush fires during the dry
spells, a system of "Reduced Assignments" on first alarms was placed in effect for boxes
above 6225 in District 1 and for all boxes in Districts 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Signal 66
struck two rounds on gongs indicated that reduced assignments were in effect and
r thereafter, in the districts affected, upon receipt of first alarms, the first two engine
} companies and the first ladder company of the first alarm assignment would respond,
including the District Chief only of the district in which the box was located. A full
i assignment would respond to boxes located on private property and to boxes auxiliarized
‘ to school house systems. Signal 77 struck two rounds on gongs indicated that reduced
’ assignments were terminated. `
ln 1931 , Ladder Companies 5, 6, and 14 were equipped with H & H lnhalators.
On October 12, 1931, work was started on moving High Pressure Station No. 1
from Battery and Commercial Streets to a new location at 165 Kneeland Street, at which
point it was placed in service on December 14.
 


 
70
The new fire boat, "Matthew J. Boyle", an oil-fired steam boat with a rated
capacity of 10,000 GPM, was placed in service with Engine Company 44 on December 8,
1931, replacing an old coa1—fired boat.
The number of high pressure hydrants was increased from 451 to 501, and the
number of miles of pipe in the high pressure system was increased from 16.8 to 18.45.
There were 1609 fire alarm boxes in service, and in 1931, apparatus had responded to
8694 alarms, including 74 multiple alarm rires, 56 with two alarms, 17 with three alarms
and one with four alarms.
In 1932, only three pieces of apparatus were purchased.
On May 2, 1932, a new tire station at 700 East 4th Street was occupied by Ladder
Company 19, moving from 715 East 4th Street, the latter station being closed. Ladder
Co. 19 continued to use their City Service Truck. On May 3, 1932, Engine Co. 2 moved
to this location also, having been located at East 4th and O Sts., the latter station also
being closed. Engine Co. 2 was made a double unit on May 7, 1932.
Assistant Chief of Department Henry J. Power died on August 18, 1932, after
returning from a tire at McKinney Brothers Stables, 421 Market Street, Brighton, 3
alarms Box 5271, during the evening of August 17, 1932.
On December 16, 1932, Engine Co. 52 was changed from single to double unit ,
operation.
At the end of 1932, there were 1633 fire alarm boxes in service and the apparatus
had responded to 9407 alarms during 1932. There had been 78 multiple alarm fires, 62
requiring 2 alarms, 13 with three alarms, 2 with four alarms and one with five alarms.
During 1933, there were no apparatus purchases.
On January 16, 1933, the City Service Truck of Ladder Co. 19 was replaced by an
85-ft. aerial truck.
A new fire station was opened on October 11, 1933 at 560 Huntington Avenue and
occupied by Engine Co. 37 and Ladder Co. 26, both companies moving from 352
Longwood Avenue, the latter station being closed. On the same day, District Chief 8
moved from Ladder 12 quarters at 1046 Tremont Street to 560 Huntington Avenue.
The house of Ladder Co. 1 on Friend Street at Warren Square was closed on
October 17, 1933 and the company moved to Bowdoin Square. On the same day, Water
Tower l moved from Bowdoin Square to Fort Hill Square.
Effective November 1, 1933, Lighting Plant 1 at 60 Bristol Street would no longer
respond to alarms between 8 A.M. and 6 P.M., but could be special called during these
hours, if required.
At the end of 1933, there were 1651 tire alarm boxes and the apparatus had
responded to 9103 alarms, including 67 multiple alarm fires, 53 with two alarms, 11 with
three alarms and 3 with four alarms.
In 1934, no new apparatus was purchased and no vacancies were filled, resulting in
a developing manpower shortage.
On June 30, 1934, at twelve noon, the Sumner Traffic Tunnel was opened, from
Cross Street, City Proper, to Porter Street, East Boston, under Boston Harbor. This
opened up an entirely new route for response of apparatus from the City Proper to East
Boston, all of which had been either by way of the ferries or via Chelsea Bridge and
Chelsea. All companies assigned to respond to East Boston from either the City Proper or
 



 


73
from Charlestown were now ordered to go by way of the new tunnel.
1670 fire alarm boxes were in service, and there had been 9968 alarms, including 75
multiple alarm fires, 56 of them with two alarms, 12 with three alarms, 6 with four
alarms, and one with five alarms.
The year 1935 saw an even greater shortage of men, and the policy of not
purchasing new apparatus was continued.
Albert F. Mitchell of Ladder Company 8 was injured and died on August 9, 1935,
at a fire in the Quincy Market Storage Building at 71 Eastern Avenue, four alarms, Box
1245.
In 1935, there were 9837 alarms of fire, 71 of which caused the transmission of
multiple alarms, 50 of them with two alarms, 17 with three alarms, and four with four
alarms. There were 1687 fire alarm boxes in service.
Again, no vacancies were filled in 1936, but four new pieces of apparatus were
purchased, three of them being 1000 GPM pumping engines, one a Mack for Engine 5, a
Seagrave for Engine 10, and an Ahrens-Fox for Engine 50. A new 85-ft. Seagrave aerial
ladder truck was assigned to Ladder Company 26, and this was the first aerial truck in the
department to have a booster tank, pump, and booster hose.
When 1936 came to a close, there had been 9493 alarms of fire, with 73 of them
requiring multiple alarms, 54 with two, 12 with three, four with four, and three with five
alarms. The total number of fire alarm boxes was 1698.
On January 8, 1937, new rules for response and covering were placed in effect, the
main feature being an order for the transmission of the nearest city box at all hours
following Automatic or ADT alarms.
Beginning March 5, 1937, when responding to alarms in East Boston, Engine
Companies 32 and 50 would no longer use the Sumner Tunnel, but were directed to go
by way of Chelsea.
During 1937, the quarters of Engine Company 7 on East Street were remodelled.
While this work was going on, Engine Company 7 was temporarily located at the quarters
of Engine 25 and Ladder 8 at Fort Hill Square. While Engine 7 was at Fort Hill Square,
Water Tower 1 was temporarily located at Bowdoin Square.
On December 8, 1937, the house occupied by Engine 3 and Ladder 3 at Harrison
Avenue and Bristol Street was abandoned. Both companies were moved to the hre station
at 60 Bristol Street, and to make room for them, Lighting Plant 1 and Fuel Wagon 1
moved from Bristol Street to the quarters of Engine 2 and Ladder 19 at 700 East Fourth
Street.
All chief officers’ cars had been equipped with one-way radio. 1708 fire alarm
boxes were in service, and during 1937, apparatus had responded to 9678 alarms,
including 78 multiple alarm fires. 54 of these required two alarms, 16 had three alarms, 5
had four alarms, and one fire required five alarms.
On February 10, 1938, Cornelius Noonan of Engine Company 33 died of injuries
received on January 30 at a fire in the building at 180-194 Massachusetts Avenue, three
alarms, Box 1591.
On April 21, 1938, the quarters of Engine Company 13 at 201 Cabot Street were
closed and the company moved to Ladder 12 at 1046 Tremont Street. The following day,
the house occupied by Engine Company 27 at 11 Elm Street, Charlestown, was closed,
 



74
and that company moved to Ladder 9 at 333 Main Street. On June 1, Ladder Company 6
moved from River and Temple Streets to the quarters of Engine Company 19 on Babson
Street near Fremont Street, Mattapan. Engine 19 was made a single unit, while also on
June 1, Ladder Company 27 moved from the quarters of Engine Company 20 at Walnut
Street, Neponset, to Engine Company 46 at 1884 Dorchester Avenue, Ashmont.
Simultaneous three—a1arm fires occurred on June 17, 1938, the first at 27-29
Hunneman Street, Box 2122, at 9:28, 9:34, and 9:40 P.M., and the second fire at 34-35
India Wharf, Box 1294, at 9:40, 9:45, and 9:50 P.M.
Additional relocations took place on September 21, 1938, when Engine Company 5
and District Chief 1 moved from 64 Marion Street to the quarters of Ladder Company 31
at Saratoga and Prescott Streets, Engine Company 12 and District Chief 9 from 407
Dudley Street, near Blue Hill Avenue, to the quarters of Ladder Company 4 at Dudley
and Winslow Streets, and Rescue Company 2 from the quarters of Ladder Company 4 to
Engine Company 14 at 27 Center Street.
September 21 turned out to be a memorable day, as a wind storm of hurricane
force caused much damage and seriously hindered the response of apparatus through
debris-strewn streets. The hurricane arrived here officially at 3:45 P.M. and reached its
height at 7:00 P.M. with an average wind velocity of 100 miles per hour and then tapered
off to 27 miles per hour by midnight. The Fire Alarm Office was swamped with box
alarms and telephone calls, and by 8:30 P.M., 47 out of 91 box circuits had opened,
putting about 900 boxes out of service. However, all striking circuits were intact as were
most of the telephone lines between the Fire Alarm Office and department stations.
Reduced assignments were extended to Districts 8, 9, and 10 on November 28,
1938, so that now, upon transmission of signal 66 on gongs, first alarm response would be
reduced in Districts 8, 9, 10, ll, 12, 13, 14, and 15 as well as for all boxes above 6225 in
District 1.
At the end of 1938, there were 1708 fire alarm boxes. There had been 9503 alanns
to which apparatus responded, including 55 fires requiring multiple alarms, 42 with two
alarms, 8 with three alarms, and 5 with four alarms.
On August 9, 1939, Water Tower 3 was deactivated and placed in reserve at the
quarters of Ladder Company 18. Engine Companies 25, 27, 35, and 51 were made single
units, District 3 was abolished, and changes were made in the boundaries of Districts 4, 5,
and 6. New District 4 now had Engines 4, 6, 8, 10, and 31, Ladders 1 and 24 and Rescue
3; Engines 7, 25, 26, 35, and 44, Ladders 8 and 17, Rescue 1, Water Towers l and 2 were
in District 5 which had its headquarters changed from Engine 26 to Engine 7; new
District 6 had Engines 1, 2, 15, 38, 39, and 43, and Ladders 5, 18, 19, and 20.
At the end of 1939 there were 1705 fire alarm boxes, 11,537 alarms had been
responded to, there had been 65 multiple alarm fires, 45 of which required two alarms,
16 required three alarms, 3 required four alarms, and one fire required five alarms.
No purchases having been made for some time, much of the apparatus was
becoming overage. The oldest in active service, purchased in 1919, were the pumpers of
Engine Companies 27, 41, and 51 while the newest units, bought in 1936, were the
pumpers of Engine Companies 5, 10, and 50 and the aerial truck of Ladder Company 26.
An extremely heavy snow fall on February 14, 1940, the so-called "St. Valentine’s
 


75
Day Blizzard", left many streets impassable and seriously hindered the Fire Department,
which was forced to use horse-drawn sleighs.
During 1940, Engine Companies 2, 5, and 37 were equipped with rescue boats
which were mounted on trailers equipped with towing gear, and additional portable
lighting equipment was furnished to various ladder companies. Thirty fog nozzles were in
use, and the two-way radio system was started.
A system of recall for use in emergencies was placed in effect on December 2, 1940,
in connection with which signals (10)-21, -22, -23, -24, -25, -26, and -27 were to be used.
In 1940, there were 9940 alarms, 73 of which required the transmission of multiple
alarms, 57 with two, 12 with three and four with four alarms. There were 1711 fire alarm
boxes in service.
On April 28, 1941, a new fire station was opened at 618 Harrison Avenue, corner
of Wareham Street, to which Engine Company 3 and Ladder Company 3 were moved
from the temporary location at 60 Bristol Street.
The so-called "Rutherford Avenue Conflagration" took place on September 18,
1941, when fire destroyed the freight sheds of the Boston and Maine Railroad. Engine 32,
Ladder 9, and District 2 responded to a still alarm at 5:59 P.M. Box 4156 at Rutherford
Avenue, Middlesex, and Essex Streets was transmitted at 6:02 P.M., followed by a third
alarm at 6:06 P.M., a fourth alarm at 6:07 P.M., and a fifth alarm at 6:12 P.M. Recall of
the off-platoon was ordered at 6:53 P.M., and outside assistance was asked for at 6:57
P.M. Many communities sent apparatus either to the fire or to cover vacated Boston fire
stations, such apparatus coming from Arlington, Wakefield, Watertown, Dedham, Milton,
Chelsea, Lowell, Revere, Lynn, Norwood, Quincy, Weymouth, Medford, Haverhill,
Waltham, Somerville, Reading, Brookline, Malden, Melrose, Newton, Needham, Everett,
Stoneham, Belmont, and Cambridge. The all—out signal for Box 4156 was transmitted at
12:47 P.M. on September 19.
At the end of 1941, there were 1714 fire alarm boxes in service, and special air raid
signals (10)-44 and (10)-45 had been established on December 16 following the outbreak
of war on December 7. Apparatus had responded to 12,438 alarms, and there had been
84 multiple alarm fires, 68 of them with two alarms, 12 with three alarms, and two each
with four and five alarms.
Beginning January 5, 1942, multiple alarms would be transmitted two instead of
one round on tappers and one round on gongs.
On January 19, 1942, additional and revised signals became effective as follows:
New Signals to be Given Two Rounds on Tappers
(10)-15 Display National Standard at half-staff
(10)-33 Engine Companies respond with wagon only to alarms in High Pressure area
(10)-34 Engine Companies respond with full units to alarms in High Pressure area
(10)-43 General radio broadcast
Revised Signals to be Given Two Rounds on Tappers
New Signal Old Signal
(10)-12 No public school for the day 1-1-1 (Gongs)
(10)-13 No drill school 2-2-2 (Gongs)
 



76
(10)-14 No tire college 2-2-2 (Gongs)
(10)-31 High pressure out of service 8-8 (Tappers)
(10)-32 High pressure in service 9-9 (Tappers)
(10)-41 Reduced assignments in effect 6-6 (Gongs)
(10)-42 Reduced assignments terminated 7-7 (Gongs)
On January 22, 1942, Air Raid Signals (10)-44, (10)-45, and (10)-46 became
effective, to be transmitted two rounds on all tappers. Effective December 3, 1942,
several adjacent communities would have their apparatus cover specified Boston engine
companies in the event of a fifth alarm. All remaining District Chiefs’ cars and the car of
the Fire Commissioner were equipped with two-way radio.
John J. Moriarty of Engine Company 6 was killed on April 19, 1942, during a fire
at 102-104 Central Street, four alarms, Box 1286.
Signals (10)-51 and (10)-52 to indicate "Radio Silence" in effect or terminated
were placed in effect on June 11.
Six members of the department lost their lives at a fire which occurred at 12-16
Maverick Square, East Boston, in the early morning of November 15, 1942. When the
building collapsed; Francis J. Degan and John F. Foley of Engine Company 3, Edward F.
Macomber of Engine Company 12, Daniel E. McGuire of Ladder Company 2, Peter F.
McMorrow of Engine Company 50, and Malachi F. Reddington of Engine Company 33
died in the ruins. Five alarms were transmitted for Box 6153 at 2:28, 3:05, 3:24, 4:21,
and 4:34 A.M.
Boston’s greatest disaster occurred on November 28, 1942, when fire starting in the
Cocoanut Grove, a night club located at 15-17 Piedmont Street, took the lives of 490
persons and left 166 injured. Box 1521 at Church and Winchester Streets was transmitted
at 10:20 P.M., followed by third, fourth, and fifth alarms at 10:23, 10:24, and 11:02
P.M.
There were 1778 fire alarm boxes in service, and during 1942, the department had
responded to 10,627 alarms, including 66 fires requiring multiple alarms, 46 of them with
two alarms, 10 with three alarms, 6 with four alarms, and 4 with five alarms.
The first substantial order for new apparatus was placed in 1943 when four
pumpers and two 100-ft. aerial ladder trucks were ordered. Several "Civilian Defense"
500 GPM skid pumps were mounted on apparatus.
Effective January 21, 1943, on telephone alarms for fire reported in buildings, the
Fire Alarm Office would dispatch the still alarm assignment of apparatus after which the
nearest box would be transmitted at all hours.
On December 16, 1943, Water Tower 1 was moved from Fort Hill Square to
Bowdoin Square. At the end of 1943, there were 1797 fire alarm boxes in service, and
during the year, apparatus had responded to 12,548 alarms. There had been 69 multiple
alarm fires, 53 with two alarms, 8 with three alarms, 6 with four alarms, and 2 with five
alarms.
Five more pumpers were ordered in 1944 as well as three new tractors which were
to be attached to old ladder trucks. The AM radio system of the department was changed
to FM. (5/20/1944)
On September 14, 1944, a hurricane caused much damage in this area.
 


 



79
1799 fire alarm boxes were in service, and in 1944, apparatus had responded to
12,358 alarms, including 55 fires requiring multiple alarms, of which 30 had two, 13 had
three, and 3 had live alarms.
Lieutenant John J. Murphy of Ladder Company 22 was injured on April 8 at a tire,
Box 4136. He died as the result of his injuries on April 17, 1945.
In 1945, two more pumping engines were ordered. There were 1793 fire alarm
boxes in service, and apparatus, in 1945, responded to 13,074 alarms. There had been 78
multiple alarm fires, 61 of them with two alarms, 12 with three alarms, and 5 with four
alarms.
The apparatus in service had deteriorated greatly due to its age, as very few
replacements had been made. Therefore, in 1946, a program of rehabilitation was begun.
16 pumpers, 8 hose wagons, 6 aerial ladder trucks, 3 rescue cars, and 3 mobile lighting
units were ordered. In addition, two Navy mine sweepers were purchased for conversion
to fire boats with which to replace the ancient boats in service with Engine Companies 31
and 47.
On January 7, 1946, the quarters of Ladder Company 17 at 157 Harrison Avenue
were closed and the company relocated at the quarters of Engine Company 26 at 194
Broadway. On January 14, 1946, a detail of men was assigned to the Long Island Hospital
to take over the tire protection duties there.
Harold F. Bishop of Ladder Company 2 was killed on January 19, 1946, at a fire,
Box 6179.
Water Tower 2 was moved from the quarters of Engine Company 26 at 194
Broadway to the fire station at the headquarters building, 60 Bristol Street, on January
23, 1946.
On January 25, 1946, Engine 25 again became a double unit company.
Captain Stephen F. Gunn and Hoseman Edward J. Barrett, both of Engine
Company 2, were killed on February 3, 1946, at a fire in the building at 384-388 West
Broadway, three alarms, Box 7221 .
The quarters of Engine Company 10 at River and Mt. Vernon Streets were closed
on February 14, 1946, and the company relocated at the quarters of Engine Company 26
at 194 Broadway. Their stay, however, was short because on the following day, Engine 10
moved to the quarters of Engine Company 4 at Bowdoin Square.
Ladder Company 32 was organized and placed in service with a City Service truck
on February 20, 1946, at the quarters of Engine Company 49, Neponset Valley Parkway
and Hamilton Street, Readville. Beginning March 4, 1946, members were to be allowed,
on an optional basis, to work 24 hours on and 24 hours off, in place of the regular
two-platoon system. On March 27, 1946, Water Tower 3 was placed back in active service
at the quarters of Ladder Company 18, 9 Pittsburgh Street.
During the month of March, there was a record total of 2606 alarms.
On April 10, 1946, two new companies were organized at the Long Island Hospital,
Long Island, Boston Harbor. They were Engine Company 54 with a 750 GPM Ward La
France pumper and a Chevrolet hose wagon and Ladder Company 33 with a City Service
truck.
On June 5, 1946, Fire District 3 was again established with headquarters at Ladder

 



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18. As a result, the boundaries of Districts 4, 5, and 6 were changed to conform to those
existing prior to August 9, 1939.
On October 16, 1946, the fire station formerly occupied by Engine Company 12 at
407 Dudley Street near Blue Hill Avenue was reopened. Engine Company 12 and District
Chief 9 were moved to this location from the quarters of Ladder Company 4 at Dudley
and Winslow Streets.
Warren Barnard of Rescue Company 1 and Patrick Cady of Engine Company 39
died at a fire in the basement of the building at 70 Chauncy Street, Box 1463, on
October 22, 1946.
On November 21, 1946, Lieutenant John J. McDonough of Engine Company 6 died
from injuries received at a fire in the building at 41 Bowker Street, two alarms, Box 1331.
On November 25, 1946, Engine Company 24 moved to a temporary location at the
quarters of Ladder Company 23, Grove Hall, and Ladder Company 27 was temporarily
relocated at the quarters of Engine Company 20 on Walnut Street, Neponset. Engine
Company 46 moved to a temporary location at the house formerly occupied by Ladder
Company 6 at River and Temple Streets, Dorchester Lower Mills, on December 5, 1946.
On December 12, 1946, a reduced assignment schedule for engine companies was
placed in effect during the hours of 8 A.M. and 6 P.M., when the first alarm response was
limited to the first and second due engine companies, where either three or four engine
companies were normally assigned to respond. This limitation did not apply to alarms
received from hospitals or similar occupancies, in which case the full complement of
engine companies would respond. Limitations were also placed on the response of Water
Towers and on the number of companies which would respond to Automatic, ADT, or
GAC alarms, the striking of the city box following such alarms being omitted.
The "Inverted Pyramid" system of response to a second box with assignments
similar to those of a first box already in, was discontinued on December 24, 1946, and
‘ signal 45 (to be followed by the box number) was placed in effect for ordering a full
assignment of apparatus after first alarms to which a full complement had not responded.
There were 1795 fire alarm boxes in service, and during 1946, apparatus had
responded to 17,084 alarms, including 82 multiple alarm tires, 54 with two, 24 with
three, and 4 with four alarms.
During 1947, a large amount of new apparatus was delivered and placed in service.
On February 4, 1947, the 48—hour work week replaced the two-platoon system and
on that day, the following changes were made:
Engine Companies 6, 35, 38, and Water Tower 3 were deactivated; District 3 and
Divisions 1, 2, and 3 were abolished. Hereafter, a single Deputy Chief was on duty, with
headquarters at Engine 22, 70 Warren Avenue. The boundaries of Districts 4, 5, and 6
were again changed to what they had been between August 9, 1939, and June 5, 1946.
Beginning February 6, 1947, whenever a "full assignment" of apparatus was
ordered following an incomplete first alarm response, the Fire Alarm Office would
dispatch the balance of the first alarm companies and the first and second due second
alarm engine companies as well as the designated Lighting Plant.
On March 24, 1947, at a fire in the building at 116-120 Brighton Avenue, three
alarms, Box 5123, Charles A. Buchanan of Rescue Company 2 lost his life.
Engine Company 24 returned to its own quarters at Warren and Quincy Streets
 





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from the temporary location at Ladder Company 23 on March 27. Engine Company 46
and Ladder Company 27 moved back to their regular quarters at 1884 Dorchester Avenue
on June 26, 1947.
A very dry summer resulted in many serious forest fires throughout the New
England states. Boston apparatus was sent to Biddeford (Maine), Fitchburg, Gloucester,
Lynn, Reading, and other places.
Two new Lighting Plants were placed in service on November 4, 1947, No. 2 at
Ladder 23, Grove Hall, and No. 3 at Bowdoin Square.
Joseph B. Sullivan of Ladder Company 19 was killed on December 3, 1947, when
the truck of his company overturned during a brake test.
A new Diesel fire boat was placed in service with Engine Company 31 on December
31, 1947. At the end of 1947, there were 1813 fire alarm boxes in service, and during
that year, the apparatus had responded to 15,189 alarms. There had been 71 multiple
alarm fires, 49 requiring two alarms, 15 with three alarms, and 7 with four alarms. `
ln 1948, Chemox masks were first used and eighteen 2000 GPM deluge guns were
installed on various hose wagons. Five new hose wagons with Cardox equipment were
received, and they were assigned to Engine Companies 4, 10, 12, 33, and 40.
On January 21, 1948, Lighting Plant 1 was placed in service at Bowdoin Square,
g Lighting Plant 2 was moved from Ladder 23 to the quarters of Engine 3 at 618 Harrison
i Avenue, and Lighting Plant 3 was moved from Bowdoin Square to Ladder 23 at Grove
Hall.
Engine Company 47 had been out of service since 1943. On March 10, 1948, this
company was placed back in service with a new Diesel fire boat which was located at the
foot of Battery Street. The former berth of Engine 47 at the foot of Lewis Street, East
Boston, was abandoned.
In the period beginning March 15 and ending June 25, 1948, all fire alarm boxes in
the 2400, 2500, 2600, and 2700 series were renumbered and new box numbers were
established in the 2800 and 2900 series in the West Roxbury district.
The quarters of Engine Company 23 at 84 Northampton Street were closed on
March 28, 1948, and the company moved to a temporary location with Engine Company
22 and Ladder Company 13 at 70 Warren Avenue. Engine Companies 27 and 51 were
restored to double unit status on July 6 and August 16, respectively. On September 15,
1948, the quarters of Engine Company 8 at 133 Salem Street were abandoned and that
company located in a new fire station at 392 Hanover Street, corner of Charter Street,
Ladder Company 1 was moved to this location on September 22, from Bowdoin Square.
Changes in the locations of two of the fire boats were made on October 22, 1948,
when Engine Company 31 was moved from its berth at 531 Commercial Street to a
location adjacent to Engine Company 47 at the foot of Battery Street. Engine Company
44 moved from the Northern Avenue Bridge, which location was abandoned, to the berth
formerly occupied by Engine Company 31 at 531 Commercial Street.
Before closing the short chapter on 1948, mention should be made of the fifteenth
of January which was a cold and very busy day. The temperature that day was about
Hfteen degrees above zero and there was snow on the ground. There was a total of 23 box
alarms, three of them for working first alarm fires. Two other fires required two alarms,
one required three alarms, and one required five alarms. The latter was the so-called
 



84
"Sleeper Street Fire" which started off with the transmission of automatic signal
222-4168 for fire at the Armour Leather Company at 23-27 Sleeper Street. The
automatic signal at 12:48 P.M. was followed by five alarms for Box 7115 at 12:49,
12:59, 1:08, 1:13, and 1:32 P.M. Recall signals were transmitted at 4:30 P.M., the
"Re1ease recall" signal being sent out at 1:30 A.M. on January 16 with the all-out signal
at 10:52 A.M. on January 16.
At the end of 1948, there were 1818 fire alarm boxes in service and during that
year, apparatus had responded to 13,918 alarms. There had been 85 multiple alarm fires,
65 with two alarms, 18 with three alarms, and one each with four and five alarms.
Beginning January 1, 1949, changes became effective relative to the response of
apparatus when a city box was transmitted following Automatic, ADT, and GAC alarms.
Hereafter, response to the city box would be by the second due engine company of the
first alarm assignment only.
The department had been operating with a single Deputy Chief on duty since
February 4, 1947. This was changed when two divisions were established on January 5,
1949, with a Deputy Chief on duty in each division. New Division 1 was quartered at
Engine Company 22, 70 Warren Avenue, and consisted of Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and
11, and new Division 2 was located at ladder Company 23, Grove Hall, and consisted of
Districts 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15. This new set-up had a very short life, because on
January 19, there was another change, three divisions being established. New Division 1
now was located at Ladder Company 8, Fort Hill Square, having charge of Districts 1, 2,
4, and 5. Division 2 headquarters was established at Engine 22, and this division consisted
of Districts 6, 7, 8, and 11. Division 3 consisted of Districts 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15, and
its headquarters were established at the quarters of Ladder Company 23 at 36 Washington
Street, Grove Hall.
As a new fire station had been completed at the site of their former one at River
and Mt. Vernon Streets, Engine Company 10 moved there on April 14, 1949, from the
temporary location at Bowdoin Square. Engine Company 6 was reactivated and placed
back in service at Bowdoin Square on April 27, while on May 16 there was another
change of location for Engine Company 23 which moved from the quarters of Engine
Company 22 to the quarters of Ladder Company 4 at Dudley and Winslow Streets.
On June 6, 1949, Engine Company 55 was organized and placed in service in a new
house at 5115 Washington Street, West Roxbury, with a 1000 GPM Ward La France
pumping engine and an American la France hose wagon.
The law requiring self-contained breathing apparatus to be carried on fire apparatus
in Massachusetts became effective on July 1, 1949.
District Chief Daniel J. Crowley of District 5 died on October 25, 1949, as the
result of smoke inhalation suffered at a fire, Box 1461, on that day.
Additional new apparatus had been placed in service during 1949, including the
first 65 -ft. Junior Aerial ladder Trucks to be used, which replaced the City Service trucks
of Ladder Companies 16, 21, 27, 28, 29, and 31. At the end of the year, there were 1831
fire alarm boxes in service, and during 1949, apparatus had responded to 16,339 alarms,
including 84 fires requiring multiple alarms, 64 of them with two alarms, 18 with three
alarms, and 2 with four alarms. (L.l6 4/11, L.21 7/23, L.27 3/1, L.28 5/2, L.29 8/21,
L.3l 4/18)
 



85
Effective January 25, 1950, all limitations on response of apparatus were rescinded,
including the reduced engine company assignments which had been in effect between 8
A.M. and 6 P.M. This did not affect, of course, the reduced assignments which would be
in effect upon the transmission of signal (10)-41. Hereafter, when Automatic, ADT, or
GAC signals were followed by the city box, the full first alarm response would again be in
effect.
Ladder Company 34, with an 85-ft. aerial truck, was organized on March 15, 1950,
at the quarters of Engine Company 51 at Oak Square, Brighton, the company
commencing active service on March 17.
On June 13, 1950, automatic response by companies to a second box, the so-called
"Inverted Pyramid System", became again effective. Water Tower 2, located at 60 Bristol
Street, was moved from that location, on June 26, 1950, to the quarters of Engine
Company 26 at 194 Broadway.
Lieutenant Roy E. Burrill and Ladderman William R. Benson, both of Ladder
Company 14, lost their lives on September 23, 1950, at a fire on Everett Street, Brighton,
Box 5235.
Fire Boat, Engine 31, was moved to the Castle Island Terminal on October 12,
1950, but stayed there only a short time, as the first big storm showed this to be a
dangerous location. The boat returned to its former berth at the foot of Battery Street on
November 29.
A new fire station had been built at 1 Ashley Street in the Orient Heights section of
East Boston, and this was intended for Engine Company 56, not yet organized. For the
time being, this was occupied by Engine Company 11 which moved there on November
15, 1950.
In 1950, Cardox-High Pressure Fog Wagons were placed in service at Engine
Companies 22, 36, and 40, and the City Service truck of Ladder Company 6 was replaced
by a 65-ft. Junior Aerial truck. At the end of the year, there were 1848 fire alarm boxes
in service and apparatus had responded, during the year, to 16,064 alarms. There had
been 61 multiple alarm fires, 54 with two alarms, 5 with three alarms, and 2 with five
alarms. (L.6 5/13)
The worst fire of 1950 was the so—called "Congress Street Fire" which occurred in
the building at 183-195 Congress Street and extended to the building in the rear at
110-118 Federal Street. Engine Company 25 and Ladder Company 8, arriving in response
to automatic signal 222-37-8 transmitted at 2:58 A.M. on March 9, found fire in full
possession of the premises. The automatic signal was followed by five alarms on Box
1421 at 2:58%, 3:00, 3:02, 3:07, and 3:09 A.M.
Engine Company 56, with 750 GPM Ward La France Triple Combination was
organized on May 2, 1951, at the fire station then occupied by Engine Company 11 at 1
Ashley Street, East Boston. Engine Company 11 returned to their own quarters with
Ladder Company 21 at Saratoga and Byron Streets, when Engine Company 56
commenced active service on May 9, 1951.
On July 23, 1951, the new bridge from Moon Island to Long Island was opened,
affording for the first time a land route for apparatus responding to Long Island. Regular
assignments for 5 alarms were made for Box 7611 at the island.
On August 6, 1951, the new headquarters building at 115 Southampton Street was
 



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On Tuesday, June 9, 1953, at 6:25 P.M., signal (10)-43 was transmitted, and this
was followed by a general broadcast advising the department to take precautions against a
tornado which had just struck Worcester and other communities. Fortunately, it did not
reach Boston. Rescue Company 2 and Lighting Plant 2 were sent to Holden,
Massachusetts, to aid in the rescue work. ·
On Friday, September 11, 1953, the new fire station at 123 Oliver Street, between
High and Purchase Streets, was opened and occupied by Division 1, District 5, Engine
Company 25, and Ladder Company 8. Division 1 had been at Engine 8, District 5 at
Engine 7, Engine 25 at Ladder 18, and Ladder 8 at Engine 39.
On Friday, October 16, 1953, two alarms were transmitted at 3:16 and 3:48 P.M.
for Box 7545, as the result of a fire and explosion aboard the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Leyte
which killed 37 and injured 40 persons, while the ship was in drydock at the U.S. Naval
Shipyard at South Boston.
Arthur E. Gately of Engine Company 30 died on October 19, 1953, after being
taken to a hospital from a dump fire off Gardner Street, West Roxbury.
The City Service truck of Ladder Company 32 was replaced by a 65-ft. Junior
Aerial truck on October 20, 1953.
The Dover Street Bridge across the tracks of the New Haven Railroad was
discovered on fire in the early morning of October 22, 1953, and four alarms were given
for Box 72, Dorchester Avenue and West Fourth Street, at 3:29, 3:38, 3:41, and 3:48
A.M. Two spans of the bridge collapsed, falling onto the tracks below and breaking fire
alarm, power, and telephone circuits.
An explosion and fire in the hold of the Norwegian freighter, “Black Falcon", on
November 2, 1953, killed 7 and injured 13 while the vessel was docked at the Army Base,
off Summer Street. Three alarms were transmitted for Box 7124 at 2:42, 2:45, and 2:49
P.M.
Thursday, November 5, 1953, was a cold and windy day and a busy one for the
department. Three multiple alarm fires occurred that day, with the first one in the
two-story building of the Boston Milling Company at 26 Ericsson Street, Dorchester,
three alarms, Box 3464, at 4:44, 4:49, and 5:03 A.M. In the late afternoon, fire starting
in property of the Boston Ice Company at 218 Albany Street, caused four alarms to be
given on Box 1625 at 5:34, 5:46, 5:53, and 6:10 P.M. At 9:45 P.M., Box 2233 was
struck for a fire in a four-story tenement at 135 Cabot Street which was found to be fully
involved upon arrival of the first due companies, resulting in the transmission of second
and third alarms at 9:46 and 9:47 P.M. and the loss of five lives.
Engine Company 7 left their quarters on East Street which were closed on
November 12, moving to the quarters of Engine Company 25 and Ladder Company 8 at
123 Oliver Street. On November 17, Ladder Company 18 moved from 9 Pittsburgh Street
to the quarters of Engine Company 39 at 344 Congress Street.
At the end of 1953, there were 1917 tire alarm boxes in service, and during the
year, apparatus had responded to 17,204 alarms, including 63 multiple alarm tires, 43
having two alarms, 13 with three alarms, 6 with four alarms, and one with five alarms.
A tabulation showing the locations of the various department units on December
31, 1953, follows:

 



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Locations of Boston Fire Department Units — December 31, 1953
Div. = Division Headquarters D = District Headquarters
E = Engine Company L = Ladder Company
R = Rescue Company WT = Water Tower
LP = Lighting Plant
119 Dorchester Street, S. Boston D6 E1 L5
700 East 4th Street, S. Boston E2 L19
618 Harrison Avenue E3 L3
Bowdoin Square D4 E4 ,6 L24 R3 WT1 LP1
360 Saratoga Street, E. Boston D1 E5 L31
123 Oliver Street Div. 1 D5 E7,25 L8
392 Hanover Street E8 L1
60 Paris Street, E. Boston E9 L2 {
60 River Street, oor. Mt. Vernon St. E10 \
761 Saratoga Street, E. Boston E11 L21
407 Dudley Street D9 E12
1046 Tremont St. E13 L12
27 Center Street, Roxbury E14 R2
109 Dorchester Avenue E15
2 Temple Street, Dorchester E16
Parish Street, Meeting House Hill D10 E17 L7
30 Harvard Street, Dorchester E18
128 Babson Street, Mattapan E19 L6
32 Walnut Street, Neponset E20
641 Columbia Road, Dorchester E21
70 Warren Avenue Div. 2 D7 E22 L13
900 Massachusetts Avenue E23 LP2
434 Warren Street, Roxbury E24
194 Broadway E26 L17 R1 WT2
333 Main Street, Charlestown E27 L9
659 Center Street, Jamaica Plain D12 E28 L10
138 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Bri. E29 L11
1940 Center Street, West Rox. E30 L25
Foot of Battery Street (Fire Boats) E31,47
440 Bunker Hill Street, Chasn. E32
941 Boylston Street E33 L15
444 Western Avenue, Brighton E34
44 Monument Street, Charlestown E36 L22
560 Huntington Avenue D8 E37 L26
344 Congress Street E39 L18
P 260 Sumner Street, E. Boston E40
16 Harvard Ave., Allston Dll E41 L14
1870 Columbus Avenue E42 L30
5 Boston Street, Andrew Square E43 L20

 


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4246 Washington Street, Roslindale D1 3 E45 L16
1884 Dorchester Avenue, Ashmont D14 E46 L27
30 Winthrop Street, Hyde Park D15 E48 L28
209 Neponset Valley Parkway,
Readville E49 L32
34 Winthrop Street, Charlestown D2 ESO
425 Faneuil Street, Brighton E5l L34
120 Callender Street, Dorchester E52 L29
16 Walk Hill Street, Forest Hills E53
Long Island Hospital, Long Island E54 L33
5115 Washington Street, West Rox. E55
l Ashley Street, East Boston E56
198 Dudley Street, cor. Winslow St. L4
36 Washington Street, Grove Hall Div. 3 L23 TPS

 



 


93
REORGANIZATION
On March 17, 1954, three Assistant Chiefs of Department were appointed, one in
charge of the Fire Fighting Force, one in charge of Personnel, Training, and Maintenance,
and one in charge of Fire Prevention, Public Relations, and Civil Defense. At the same
time, the Senior Deputy Chief in each Division was designated as the Division
Commander and the Senior District Chief in each district as the District Commander.
On March 24, 1954, all assignments for Fire Boat, Engine Company 44, were
cancelled, being divided between Engine Companies 31 and 47.
On March 31, 1954, Division 2, located at Engine Company 22, 7%;/arren Avenue,
was abolished; Division 3, located at Ladder Company 23, 36 Washingt Street, Grove
Hall, was renumbered as Division 2 and located at Engine Company 42, 1870 Columbus
Avenue. Division 1 retained its number and remained at Engine Company 25, 123 Oliver
Street. New Division 1 now consisted of Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11, and new
Division 2 of Districts 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15. The headquarters of District 5 were
moved from Engine Company 25 at 123 Oliver Street to Engine Company 26 at 194
Broadway.
On May 4, 1954, the number of fire districts was reduced from 14 to 11. New
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 now comprised Division 1, while new Districts 5, 7, 8, 9, 10,
and 11 comprised Division 2. The boundary lines of Districts 1, 2, and 11 remained
unchanged, and a Special Service Unit with a District Chief on duty at the quarters of
Engine 26 was established, subject to special call anywhere in the city. The headquarters
of districts and companies within districts were now as follows:
Division 1
District 1 — at Engine 5
Engines5,9, 11,40,56 Ladders 2,21,31
District 2 4 At Engine 50
Engines 27, 32, 36, 50 Ladders 9, 22
District 3 — at Engine 4
Engines 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 25, 31,47 Ladders 1,8, 24 Rescue 3
1 Water Tower 1 Lighting Plant 1
District 4 4 at Engine 22
Engines 3, 22, 26, 33 Ladders 3, 13, 15 17 Rescue 1
Water Tower 2
District 6 — at Engine 1
Engines 1, 2,15, 23, 39, 43 Ladders 5,18,19, 20
Lighting Plant 2
Division 2
District 5 — at Engine 37
Engines 12, 13, 14, 37 Ladders 4, 12, 26 Rescue 2
District 7 — at Engine 17
Engines 17, 21, 24 Ladders 7, 23
Lighting Plant 3

 


 
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District 8 — at Engine 46
Engines 16, 18, 19, 20, 46, Ladders 6, 27, 29, 33
52, 54
District 9 — at Engine 28
Engines 28, 42, 53 Ladders 10, 30
District 10 - at Engine 45 \
Engines 30, 45, 48, 49, 55 Ladders 16, 25, 28, 32 `
District 11 — at Engine 41
Engines 29, 34, 41, 51 Ladders 11, 14, 34
On May 12, 1954, automatic responses to a second box by engine and ladder
companies under the "lnverted Pyramid System" and by Chief Officers when first alarms
were transmitted for two boxes with the same assignments, were rescinded.
Effective May 19, 1954, District Chiefs no longer needed to respond to certain
alarms, and companies arriving first at the scene of an alarm, could order other units to
disregard the alarm when the services of these units would not be required.
Effective May 20, 1954, the transmission of signal (10)-41 placed in effect reduced
assignments in all districts except Districts 3 and 4, except that in the districts affected, a
full assignment would respond to certain specified locations.
Ladder Companies 5, 31, 32, and 34 were deactivated on May 25, 1954, and on the
same day, Ladder Company 10 moved from the quarters of Engine Company 28 at 659
Center Street to the quarters of Engine Company 53 at 16 Walk Hill Street. The fire boat,
"Matthew J. Boyle", formerly in service with defunct Engine Company 44, was sold at
public auction. Beginning June 4, companies were to conduct "In-Service lnspections" of
buildings in their sub-districts, during certain hours on each weekday.
More changes were made on July 13, when Engine Companies 6, 15,,and 23 were
deactivated. Engine Company 7 moved from Engine 25 to Engine 26 at 194 Broadway,
Water Tower 2 moved from Engine 26 to Engine 25 at 123 Oliver Street, and Lighting
Plant 2 moved from the quarters of deactivated Engine 23 at 900 Massachusetts Avenue
to Engine 3 at 618 Harrison Avenue.
Several engine companies were converted to single units, using pumpers which had
been changed for operation with 1 1/2-inch preconnected lines and special nozzles.
On Tuesday, August 31, 1954, Boston was visited by Hurricane "Carol" which
caused much damage. Maximum wind velocity at 11:28 A.M. was 86 miles per hour, with
maximum velocity of gusts at 101 miles per hour.
Another hurricane, named "Edna", passed about fifty miles east of Boston in the
early afternoon of Saturday, September ll, 1954, causing gale winds and heavy rains
here, the total rainfall being 5.64 inches. Flooding due to the rain and the gale force
northwesterly winds following the passing of the hurricane caused much damage.
On September 21, 1954, Rescue Company 2 at 27 Centre Street, Roxbury, was
deactivated, and Engine Companies 11, 14, 18, 34, and 53 were changed to Engine
Squads to perform combination engine and rescue company service, all of them being
equipped with one piece of apparatus. Multiple alarm response by Engine Squads outside
of their own districts was abolished, the assignments to be filled by some other Engine





97
Companies, and Rescue Companies 1 and 3 were ordered to respond to their first alarm
assignments, but to multiple alarms only as ordered by the Fire Alarm Office.
On November 9, 1954, the apparatus of Rescue Company 1, located at 194
Broadway, was deactivated, the equipment being transferred to the hose wagon of Engine
Company 7, and the latter company was ordered to respond to rescue assignments with
the wagon, while they would respond to their regular engine company assignments with
whatever apparatus would be available at the time.
On November 16, 1954, the numbers of Engine Companies 6, 15, 23, 35, 38, and
44, Ladder Companies 5, 31, 32, 34, and Rescue Companies 1 and 2 were permanently
removed from the assignment cards. In addition, the following changes were ordered to
take effect:
Where 4 engine companies were now assigned on first alarm, the response would be
by three engine companies only. Where three engine companies were now assigned on
first alarm, the response would be by two engine companies only. In both cases, the two
ladder companies now assigned would respond on the first alarm.
In all districts, except in District 10, four engine companies each would respond to
second, third, fourth, and fifth alarms, but in District 10, the response to each greater
alarm was to be by three engine companies only.
In Districts 3 and 4, two ladder companies would respond on the second alarm and
. one ladder company on the third alarm. In all other districts, only one ladder company
1 each would respond to second and third alarms. ln all districts, ladder company response
on fourth alarms was cancelled. Three ladder companies would respond on the first alarm
to hospital boxes as before.
Rescue Company 3 would no longer respond to its first alarm assignments except as
ordered, but would follow their multiple alarm assignments. No changes were made
relative to the response of fire boats, lighting plants and water towers.
All covering assignments were cancelled and hereafter, all relocations of companies
A were to be made by the Fire Alarm Office as required by conditions.
At the end of 1954, in addition to the single-unit Engine Squads, Engine Companies
16, 19, 21, 24, 45, 49, 51, 52, and 56 were operating as single units. During 1954, there
had been 66 multiple alarm fires, 46 of which had two alarms, 17 with three alarms, 2
with four alarms, and one with five alarms.
Rescue Company 1, whose apparatus had been deactivated on November 9, 1954,
and whose members had been detailed to other units, was now officially deactivated as a
company, and all personnel was transferred to other units on January 1, 1955. On this
day, Rescue Company 3 lost its number and was to be known hereafter merely as the
"Rescue Company”.
The month of January, 1955, produced seventeen multiple alarm fires, ten of which
occurred in the five-day period beginning Tuesday, January 25, and ending Saturday,
January 29, on which day there were four two-alarm fires. Not since January 15, 1948,
had four multiple alarm fires occurred on the same day.
Engine Company 27 was converted to single unit operation on February 3, and
Engine Company 2 became a single unit on March 2, but this company retained their hose
wagon and was ordered to respond with both units to certain boxes on first alarm and to
all multiple alarms to which they were assigned.

 



98
A very spectacular fire broke out in the early morning hours of March 3 in a
building at the water end of India Wharf, resulting in five alarms being transmitted for
Box 1257 at 3:29, 3:31, 3:32, 3:39, and 3:41 A.M. Except for the wind blowing towards
the harbor, this fire could easily have spread to other properties. The "all-out" signal was
transmitted at 10:20 P.M., March 4, 42 hours and 51 minutes after the first alarm, at
which time a large force was still present, the last unit not returning until the morning of
March 6,
On March 31, Engine Company 28 was made a single unit. Ladder Companies 7, 14,
16, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, and 30 were equipped with demountable ladder pipes and
instructions were given for their use. On April 27, Ladder Company 10 returned from the
quarters of Engine Squad 53 at 16 Walkhill Street to its original location at the
quarters of Engine Company 28 at 659 Centre Street.
Changes in titles became effective on May 4. Assistant Chief of Department was
changed to Assistant Fire Chief, Deputy Chief to Deputy Fire Chief, District Chief to
District Fire Chief, Captain to Fire Captain, Lieutenant to Fire Lieutenant, and Hoseman
and Ladderman to Fire Fighter.
Effective June 14, the Rescue Company was ordered to respond to first alarms in
Fire District 3, and the district assignments of Engine Squads 14 and 18 were changed.
What turned out to be the year’s toughest fire occurred on July 1 at the Red Coach
Grill Restaurant, 43 Stanhope Street, where high humidity and terrific smoke conditions
knocked out a large number of fire fighters. Three alarms were transmitted for Box 1547,
at 7:41, 7:46, and 8:04 A.M.», followed by special calls for one ladder company, three
engine squads, and four engine companies.
On July 5, at a working fire in a house at 9 Thane Street, Dorchester, Box 3343,
high humidity and exertion caused the collapse and death of Fire Fighter Robert J. Quinn
of Engine Squad 18.
Another double unit went out of existence when Engine Company 55 was changed
to a single unit on July 26.
Twelve inches of rain in 33 hours on August 18 and 19 caused flooding and
much work for the department which was called upon to pump out many basements.
Flood conditions causing much damage and loss of life were general throughout southern
New England.
Changes were made in the responses to emergency calls, effective September 13, as
a large number of resuscitators were now in service so that in most cases it would no
longer be necessary to dispatch both a ladder company and a squad or rescue company to
locations where breathing service was required.
Effective October 18, changes were made in the mutual aid response to Boston by
engine companies from adjacent communities. Prior to the change, ten outside engine
companies covered certain Boston fire stations upon transmission of a fifth alarm in
Boston. Now one-half of these companies would cover on the fourth alarm with the other
half moving into Boston on the fifth alarm.
L Beginning October 19, there were five instead of three Assistant Fire Chiefs, one
each to command Divisions 1 and 2, while the other three retained their present
assignments in charge of Training, Fire Fighting, and Fire Prevention.
Engine Company 20 was changed to single unit operation on December 6.
 




101
Five alarms were given on Box 7137 at 8:28, 8:31, 8:35, 8:37, and 8:46 A.M. on
December 12, for fire in a frame building at 91-93 West Broadway. This building was
completely destroyed and other buildings in the vicinity damaged. A fire was started by
flying embers in a building at 138 Athens Street, for which Box 7151 was transmitted at
9:07 A.M.
On December 16, 500 GPM pumpers with 1-1/ 2" hose were placed in the quarters
of Engine Companies 30 and 49, to be used as second sections, with detailed men, on
grass and brush fire days.
Engine Company 37 became a single unit on December 29.
During December, there had been eighteen multiple alarm fires, while during the
entire year 1955 there had been 100 fires requiring the transmission of greater alarms, 71
of them with two alarms, five with four alarms, four with five alarms, and twenty with
three alarms.
During 1956, specially built apparatus combining engine and rescue company
features was provided for the engine squads, the first being placed in service with Squad
53 on January 12, subsequent units going to Squad 18 on February 3, Squad 14 on
February 24, Squad 34 on March 28, and Squad 11 on April 27.
At a fire in a building at 65-67 Trenton Street, East Boston, 4 alarms, Box 6172, on
Sunday, January 29, the roof collapsed, killing Fire Fighter Thomas Slattery of Engine
Company 40 and injuring Lieut. Michael A. Langone of the same company. Lieutenant
Langone died on February 3.
The month of March, 1956, produced much snow; there were blizzards on March
16, 19, and 24, resulting in a total snowfall of about 29 inches in 8 days, greatly
hindering department operations. On March 29, there were two 2-alarm fires and one
4-alarm fire, followed in the early morning of March 30 by a 3-alarm fire (2-4183,
2-2336, 4-1422, and 3-2255).
, On April 4, Engine Squad 53 moved from 16 Walkhill Street to 4246 Washington
Street and became Engine Squad 45. Engine Company 45 moved from 4246 Washington
Street to 16 Walkhill Street and became Engine Company 53.
On April 6, Engine Squad 34 moved from 444 Western Avenue to 138 Chestnut
Hill Avenue, becoming Engine Squad 29, while Engine Company 29 moved from 138
Chestnut Hill Avenue to 444 Western Avenue, becoming Engine Company 34. On the
same day, Engine Company 32 was changed to a single unit, but retained the hose wagon
for response with both units to selected boxes.
85-ft. aerial trucks were replaced by 100-ft. aerial trucks at Ladder Company 8 on
April 26 and Ladder Company 17 on April 30.
Effective May 1, 1956, Water Towers 1 and 2 and Lighting Plants 1, 2, and 3 were
placed in reserve and their assignments to alarms cancelled. On May 24, the City Service
truck of Ladder Company 25 was replaced by a 65-ft, Junior Aerial Truck.
New signals, (10)-16 and (10)-17, to indicate "No In-Service lnspections" and "No
Hydrant lnspections", respectively, were in effect beginning June 20.
The 65-ft. Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Company 7 was replaced by an 85-ft.
Aerial Truck on September 5. Engine Company 30 was changed to single-unit operation
on September 24.
On November 8, a fire believed to have started under a rear porch at 652 Saratoga

 



102
Street destroyed several frame tenements and damaged others on Saratoga, Curtis, and
Chaucer Streets. This was a 5—alarm fire, Box 6213, Saratoga and Swift Streets, at 1:04,
1:06,1:07, 1:09, and 1:15 P.M.
New assignment books for response and covering, Boxes 1211 through 2598,
became effective November 9, 1956.
Several engine companies were converted from double-unit to combination
single-double unit operation, Engine Company 3 on November 13, Engine Company 39
on November 26, and Engine Company 48 on December 6.
An explosion, believed to have been caused by illuminating gas, completely
destroyed a building at 37 Chelsea Street, Charlestown, with loss estimated at $100,000,
at 5:14 AM., December 4, 1956. Much damage was caused to other buildings in the
vicinity. There was no fire of any consequence except gas burning in the ruins, and six
persons were injured (Box 4125).
On December 28, a Cardox-Ansul unit was placed in service at the quarters of
Engine Company 40.
At the end of 1956, there were 1965 fire alarm boxes in service, and during that
year, apparatus responded to 17,462 alarms. There were 119 fires requiring the
transmission of multiple alarms, that number being the highest in the history of the
department, previous high number having been 112 in 1930. There were 76 fires with 2
alarms, 32 with 3 alarms, 9 with 4 alarms, and 2 with 5 alarms.
In 1957, several engine companies were changed to combination single-double unit
operation. They were Engine 26 on January 3, Engine 41 on January 25, Engine 43 on
May 27, Engine 50 on May 28, Engine 34 on May 29, Engine 42 on September 20, and
Engine 12 on December 10.
Tuesday, January 15, 1957, was the coldest January 15 with 12 degrees below zero
at 7 A.M. since the same day in 1943 when it was 14 degrees below zero. The high for the
day was 7 degrees above zero.
The second assignment book, showing response and covering for Boxes 2616
through 8225, went into effect on February 11, 1957.
In February, three 1250 GPM Mack pumpers were received, equipped for single
unit service, and they were placed in service at Engine 2 on March 29, Engine 9 on April
5, and Engine 32 on April 11. All three companies operated now as straight single units.
Effective at 12:00 noon, March 25, 1957, the 12 noon signal (Meridian Blow)
struck on gongs, was eliminated, having been in use since December 4, 1895.
On April 14, 1957, Lieutenant Frederick J . Ford of the Rescue Company died of
smoke inhalation while searching the building during a fire at 6 Milton Street, West End.
Simultaneous 4-alarm fires occurred in the afternoon of Wednesday, April 17, at
Boxes 2234 and 4138.
85-ft. aerial trucks were replaced by 100-ft. aerial trucks at Ladder Companies 15
on May 9, 26 on May 15, and 18 on August 1.
Engine Company 43 was changed to single unit on September 4, as were Engine
Companies 13 and 34 on November 5 and 8, respectively.
On Thursday, September 5, 1957, a conflagration type fire occurred off Revere
Beach Parkway at the Everett—Che1sea line, to which Boston sent Engines 9, 10, 26, 27,

 



103
32, 39, 50, and 56 and the Special Service Chief. Engine 8 and Ladder 18 covered in
Everett, and Engine 33 and Ladder 21 covered in Chelsea.
Ladder Company 33 at Long Island was renumbered as Ladder Company 31 on
October 14, 1957.
Simultaneous fires in the same area occurred on October 16: Box 211, Washington
and East Lenox Streets, at 12:02 A.M. for a working fire at Sanford Place, Box 2231, at
Shawmut Ave. and Sterling Street, lst alarm, 12:03 A.M., 2nd alarm, 12:10 A.M., for a
fire in a tenement at 726-728 Shawmut Avenue, where four occupants died, and Box
2232, Ruggles Street opposite Auburn Street, at 12:19 A.M. for a working fire in a
tenement at 6 Hubert Street.
On November 1, 1957, the hose wagon of Engine Company 54 was replaced by a
600-gallon tank wagon equipped with a pump and preconnected 1-1 / 2” lines, etc.
At the end of 1957, there were 1994 fire alarm boxes in service. Apparatus had
responded to 20,363 alarms, 101 fires had required the transmission of greater alarms,
there having been 65 fires with 2 alarms, 26 fires with 3 alarms, 8 fires with 4 alarms, and
2 fires with 5 alarms.
Effective January 3, 1958, Engine Companies 9 and 56 exchanged their response
and covering assignments on all multiple alarms except those in District 1. On January 6,
1958, the Cardox—Ansul unit at Engine 40 was moved to Engine 9.
A blizzard on February 16, 1958, left 20 inches of snow, and very cold weather
followed this storm.
Engine Company 46 was changed to single-double operation on February 25, as was
Engine Company 17 on May 8, 1958.
Ladder Company 13 received a 100-ft. aerial truck on May 2, 1958, replacing the
85-ft. aerial truck then in use.
On August 12, 1958, a new fire station was opened at 301 Neponset Avenue, being
occupied by Engine 20, moving from 32 Walnut Street, and Ladder 27, moving from
1 1884 Dorchester Avenue. Engine 20 was changed from single to single-double unit. At the
same time, Engine 46 at 1884 Dorchester Avenue was deactivated, and Engine 16 moved
to the quarters of Engine 46 from 2 Temple St., Dorchester.
Begirming December 9, 1958, Engine Company 7 would respond with both units to
all calls and alarms. Previously, they responded with the wagon only to emergency and
rescue assignments.
Another new fire station opened on December 31, 1958, at 9 Gallivan Boulevard,
to which were moved Engine 16 and District Chief 8 from 1884 Dorchester Avenue, and
Ladder 6 which moved from 128 Babson Street. At the same time, Engine 19 at 128
Babson Street was deactivated.
At the end of 1958, there were 2,061 fire alarm boxes in service. Apparatus had
responded to 17,459 alarms, there had been 73 multiple alarm fires, 47 of which required
the transmission of 2 alarms, 23 with 3 alarms, 1 with 4 alarms, and 2 with 5 alarms.
On January 5, 1959, Engine Company 25 was changed from double unit to
single-double unit operation. Engine Company 36 was changed from double to single unit
on January 31, as was Engine Company 33 on February 16, but the latter was made a
single-double unit company on February 28.

 



104
The Boston Protective Department which was organized in 1874, went out of
existence at 6:00 P.M. on April 30, 1959, its last run having been to Box 1262, at 2:51
P.M., April 30. The last quarters occupied by this salvage organization were at 4 Appleton
Street.
At 6:00 P.M., Monday, June 1, 1959, changes in response became effective by
which at all boxes ir1 the city (except 2800, 2900, 3700, and 3800 series) where two land
engine companies only were assigned on first alarm, the engine company first due on the
second alarm would also respond on the first alarm between 6 P.M. and 8 A.M.
Beginning June 2, where present assignments called for two ladder companies on
the first alarm, one ladder company on the second alarm, and one ladder company on the
third alarm, the Fire Alarm Office would dispatch a second ladder company on the
second alarm, and the ladder company now assigned on the third alarm would not
respond except as directed by the Fire Alarm Office.
On June 11, 1959, a new fire station was opened at 315 Cummins Highway, at the
corner of Canterbury Street, Roslindale, and this was occupied by the following:
District Chief 10, Engine Squad 45, and Ladder Company 16, all of them moving .
from 4246 Washington Street, and by Engine Company 53 which moved from 16
Walkhill Street. At the same time, a portion of District 8 was added to District 10.
On June 24, 1959, several units from Boston and from other communities
responded to a fire in the buildings occupied by the Tire Corporation of America on
Third Street, Chelsea. (Four alarms, Chelsea Box 242, and one alarm, Everett Box 125).
The headquarters of District 11 was relocated on July 7, 1959, from the quarters of
Engine 41 and Ladder 14 to the quarters of Engine Squad 29 and Ladder 11.
The first days of August, 1959, were marked by serious fires, 5 alarms, Box 7112,
for fire in New Haven Freight House #6 ir1 the evening of August 1, being followed by
two alarms on Box 3745 shortly after midnight on the morning of August 2, both fires
being interspersed with working fires at other locations. Shortly after noon on August 3,
there was a 4—alarm fire at Box 7123, and on August 7, just before midnight, fire started
in tenements at 2-12 Ottawa Street, Box 2162, for which 4 alarms were transmitted.
On August 5, two fire launches were placed in service, one each with Engine
Companies 31 and 47. These launches, provided with pumping equipment, were designed
for operation in shallow water, for inspection work and other operations.
. Fire Fighter Arthur P. Spacone of Engine Company 2 died on December 25, 1959,
as the result of injuries received on December 23 when he was thrown off the apparatus
while the company was responding to Box 7221 at 11:40 P.M. (False alarm).
Boston apparatus responded to the fire and also covered in Revere and Chelsea on
_the occasion of the burning of the Oceanview Ballroom, Eliot Circle, Revere, during the
early morning of December 22, 1959 (4 alarms · Box 49, Revere).
On December 31, 1959, there were 2,130 fire alarm boxes in service, and apparatus,
during 1959, had responded to 19,174 alarms. There had been 79 multiple alarm fires, 58
with 2, 14 with 3, 5 with 4, and 2 with 5 alarms.
At the end of 1959, the status of the various companies was as follows:
 



 


107
' Engine Companies
Double unit — 1, 4, 5, 7*, 8,10, 22, 40
Single-double — 3, 12, 17, 20, 25, 26, 33, 39, 41, 42, 48, 50
Single unit — 2, 9,13,16, 21, 24, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36,
37, 43, 49, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56 A
Pump and Tank
Wagon — 54
*Engine Co. 7 equipped for rescue and emergency service
Engine Squads (Engine and Rescue Service)
Single unit — 11, 14,18, 29, 45
Ladder Companies
100-ft. aerial — 8,11,13,15,17,18, 26
85-ft. aerial — 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9,10,12,14,19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 30
65-ft. aerial ~ 6, 16, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29
City Service
Truck — 31
On Sunday, January 10, 1960, Boston apparatus was dispatched to a serious fire in
the Administration Building of the Esso Refinery on Beacham Street, Everett (4 alarms —
Everett Box 365).
Fire Fighter James P. Walsh of Engine Company 42 died on January 13 after
collapsing at a fire in a building at 8 Lambert Street on January 12, 1960 (Box 2255 at
9:51 P.M.).
Reassignment of Assistant Fire Chiefs became effective at 8 A.M., February 3,
1960, one to be Chief of Staff, one to be in charge of Fire Fighting Force, Personnel and
Training, and one to be in charge of Fire Prevention.
_ Almost 20 inches of snow fell in a blizzard on March 4.
l On March 9, Engine Company 33 was changed from single-double to single unit
operation.
Boston companies again furnished assistance at a fire occurring at the Beachview
Ballroom, Ocean and Shirley Avenues, Revere (4 alarms — Revere Box 361), on March
14, 1960.
On April 27, "Conelrad" signals were established, and on April 28, the Recall
procedure and associated signals were revised.
On May 7, 1960, there were three 2—alarm fires at Boxes 2261, 3254, and 2443.
Effective 8 A.M., June 11, 1960, new assignment cards superseded the assignment
books then in use, and at the same time, the following changes were made:
Engine Company 22, Ladder Company 13, and District 4 occupied a new fire
station at 700 Tremont Street, corner West Concord Street, all of them moving from 70
Warren Avenue, the latter fire station being closed.

 



108
Engine Company 13 was changed from single to double unit operation and moved
from 1046 Tremont Street to the quarters of Ladder Company 23 at 36 Washington
Street, Dorchester.
Ladder Company 12, located at 1046 Tremont Street, was deactivated and the fire
station at this location was closed. ~
Engine Squad 18 moved from 30 Harvard Street, Dorchester, to the quarters
formerly occupied by Engine Company 46 and by Engine Company 16 at 1884
Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, the fire station at 30 Harvard Street being closed.
The Rescue Company was moved from Bowdoin Square (Engine 4 — Ladder 24) to
123 Oliver Street (Engine 25 4 Ladder 8).
Effective 8 A.M., August 8, Engine Company 13 would be dispatched to all
working fires in Division 2. r
On August 9, 1960, Signal 9-9-9 was established for testing tapper and gong
circuits.
In addition to other mutual aid units covering in Boston on 4th alarm, effective
September 1, Engine Company 56 would be covered by Winthrop Engine Company 2.
Hurricane “Donna” occurred on September 12, 1960, with winds up to 80 MPH.
at Logan Airport and up to 140 M.P.H. at the Blue Hills Observatory and a total rainfall
of 3.29 inches. Considerable property damage resulted.
On Tuesday, October 4, an Eastern Airlines plane crashed into Pleasant Point
Channel, Winthrop, after taking off from Logan Airport. Out of 72 persons aboard, 62
died (Box 612 at 5:40 P.M.). l
A serious and tmusual fire occurred on October 10 in the underground Dewey
sub-station of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Box 1412, Dewey Square, at 7:40
AM., resulting in many special calls for Cardox Units.
Dedication exercises were held on November 3, 1960, at the department’s new fire
training academy located at Moon Island.
The formation of an “Underwater Recovery Team" was announced on November
8, the team being composed of fire fighters who were qualified skin divers. Members of
this group had performed their initial service at the plane crash on October 4.
Winter came early with a blizzard on December 12, dropping 13 inches of snow
resulting in very poor response and working conditions for the department for several
days.
A gas explosion with resulting fire completely destroyed a one and a three story
building at 39-41 Chelsea Street, Charlestown, leaving four dead and several injured, Box
4124, at 8:24 A,M., 3rd alarm at 8:27 A.M. on December 24, 1960.
On December 31, 1960, there were 2,127 fire alarm boxes in service, and during the
year, apparatus had responded to 20,976 alarms. There were 74 multiple alarm fires, 44
with 2, 21 with 3, 8 with 4, and 1 with 5 alarms.
Locations of BPD units on December 31, 1960, were as follows:
119 Dorchester St., S.B. D6 E1
700 East 4th St., S.B. E2 L19
618 Harrison Ave. E3 L3
Bowdoin Square D3 E4 L24
 



109
360 Saratoga St., E.B. D1 E5
194 Broadway Spec. Serv.
Chief E7, 26 L17
392 Hanover St. E8 L1
60 Paris St., E.B. E9 L2
60 River St. E10
761 Saratoga St., E.B. ES11 L21
407 Dudley St., Rox. E12
36 Washington St., Dor. E13 L23
27 Centre St., Rox. ES14
9 Gallivan Blvd., Dor. D8 E16 L6
Parish St., Dor. D7 E 17 L7
1884 Dorchester Ave., Dor. ES18
301 Neponset Ave., Dor. E20 L27
641 Columbia Rd., Dor. E21
700 Tremont St. D4 E22 L13
434 Warren St., Rox. E24
123 Oliver St. Div. 1 E25 L8 Res.
333 Main St., Charlestown E27 L9
659 Centre St., Jamaica Plain D9 E28 L10
138 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton D11 ES29 L11
1940 Centre St., W.R. E30 L25
Foot of Battery St. (Fire Boats) E31, 47
440 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown ' . E32
941 Boylston St. E33 L15
444 Western Ave., Brighton E34
44 Monument St., Charlestown , E36 L22
560 Huntington Ave. D5 E37 L26
344 Congress St., S.B. E39 L18
260 Sumner St., E.B. E40
16 Harvard Ave., Brighton E41 L14
1870 Columbus Ave., Rox. Div. 2 E42 L30
5 Boston St., S.B. E43 L20
315 Cummins Highway, Roslindale D10 ES45, E53 L16
30 Winthrop St., Hyde Park E48 L28
209 Neponset Valley Parkway, Hyde Park E49
34 Winthrop St., Charlestown D2 E50
425 Faneuil St., Brighton E51
120 Callender St., Dorchester E52 L29
Long Island Hospital E54 L31
5115 Washington St., West Roxbury E55
1 Ashley St., East Boston E56
198 Dudley St., Roxbury L4
During the early morning of January 1, 1961, Brookline had a 3-alarm fire, Box

 



110
161, in the First Presbyterian Church at Harvard and Pierce Streets. Boston dispatched
the following apparatus to this fire: Engines 3, 10, 26, 37, CDl0, Ladder 26, Water
Tower 2, Fuel Wagon 2 and District Chief 12. In addition, Engine 42 covered Brookline
Engine 4 and Ladder 30 covered Brookline Ladder 1.
On January 20, 1961, at 2—alarm fire, Box 211, 1844 Washington Street, Fire
Fighter Arnold Reis of Engine Company 3 was killed and on January 23, 1961, Fire
Fighter Richard F. Concannon lost his life at a fire, Box 1537. Concannon was attached
to Ladder Company 15.
On February 1, 1961, revised radio procedure etc. was placed in effect.
Effective March 14, 1961, at all boxes where 2 land engine companies only are
assigned to respond on first alarm, the engine first due on the 2nd alarm shall respond on
first alarm between 6 P.M. and 8 A.M.
Effective at 8 AM., May 8, 1961, Engine Co. 13 shall respond to all 2nd alarms in
Division 2.
The following changes were in effect at 8 A.M., July 1, 1961:
Engine Co. 27 at 333 Main St., Charlestown, deactivated
Ladder Co. 9 moved from 333 Main St. to quarters of Engine C0. 32 at 440 Bunker
Hill St., Charlestown.
Fire Station at 333 Main St. closed.
Engine Squad 11 moved from 761 Saratoga St. to quarters of Engine Co. 5 at 360
Saratoga St., East Boston.
Ladder Co. 21 moved from 761 Saratoga St. to quarters of Engine Co. 56 at 1
Ashley St., East Boston.
Fire Station at 761 Saratoga St. was closed.
Engine Co. 43 and Ladder Co. 20 moved from 5 Boston St. to quarters formerly
occupied by Engine Co. 23 at 900 Massachusetts Avenue. Fire Station at 5
Boston St. was closed.
On November 10, 1961, Box 124 was established for the new Callahan Tunnel.
Effective November 21, 1961, the address of the quarters of Engine Squad 45, Engine Co.
53 and Ladder 16 was changed from 315 Cummins Highway to 945 Canterbury Street.
This was not a change of location.
On November 30, l961,lfire starting at Pier 17, Castle Island Terminal, required the
transmission of 4 alarms on Box 735 at 1.0lP, 1.04P, 1.08P and 1.12P and kept many
companies busy until December 3. The all-out signal for this tire was transmitted at 9:23
A.M., December 3, at which time Engine Co. 31 (Fire Boat) and the Department Skin
Divers were still being held.
During 1961, there were a total of 21,294 alarms (12963 Box and 8331 Still) to
which apparatus responded. 86 fires required the transmission of multiple alarms, there
being 65 two alarm fires, 13 three alarm fires and eight four alarm fires. On December 31,
1961, there were 2135 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
 



111
Large Loss Fires in 1961 ($30,000 and over)
Jan. 6 1960 Beacon St.
Restaurant and Apartments (2-5346) 75,000
Mar. 2 45-47 Union Ave.
Factory and Warehouse (3-254) 30,000
Mar. 8 700-702 Morton St.
Bowling Alley and Offices (2-3626) 50,000
Apr. 23 5 Winthrop Square
Newspaper Publ. Plant (2-1425) 50,000
Jun. 5 990,1000,1014, 1016, 1036, 1038,
and 1040 Harrison Ave. Misc. Bldgs. (4-2123) 100,000
Jun. 12 80 Batterymarch St.
Mercantile Building (3-1291) 80,000
July 20 138-142 Bowdoin Street
Restaurant and Apartments (4-1371) 250,000
Aug. 1 293-295 Medford St. Chas.
Lumber Storage, etc. (4-4164) 35,000
Aug. 3 59 Norfolk Avenue
Warehouse (3-1715) 30,000
Nov. 4 33, 35, 37, 39 and 41 Falcon St.
Frame tenements (4-6177) 55,000
Nov. 18 231-243 Medford St. Chas.
Sheds (4-4162) 35,000
Nov. 19 169-173 Eustis Street
Dwellings (2-2133) 30,000
Nov. 30 Castle Island Terminal
Wharf at Pier 17 (4-735) 750,000
On June 5, 1962, the address of the quarters of Engine Co. 43 and Ladder Co. 20
was changed from 900 to 920 Massachusetts Avenue. This did not involve a change of
location.
The following new apparatus was placed in service in 1962:
1250 GPM Ward La France pumpers to E. 26 on 7/6, E. 13 on 7/10, E. 25 on 7/11
and E. 39 on 7/12.
1000 GPM Ward La France pumpers to E. 20 on 7/5, E. 21 on 7/9, E. 24 on 7/19,
E. 3 on 7/25, E. 17 on 7/26 and E. 1 on 7/31.
100 ft. Seagrave Aerial Trucks to L. 14 on 7/6, L. 24 on 7/10, L. 1 on 7/11 and L.
3 on 7/ 13.
85 ft. Seagrave Aerial Trucks to L. 30 on 7/20 and L. 4 on 7/27.
On September 23, 1962 occurred the first 5-alarm fire in the Brighton District, Box
$246 at Lincoln St., opp. Franklin St., lst at 5.47P, 2nd 5.52P, 3rd 5.55P, 4th 5.57P and
 



112
5th at 6.09P. The fire started in the buildings formerly used by the New York Central
R.R. as a car shop on Lincoln St. and spread across the railroad tracks to buildings on
Braintree Street.
On October 30, 1962 there was a fire and explosion at the Linden Chemical Co.,
150 Arsenal St., Watertown, Box 232, to which Engines 34, 10, 26, CD10 and District
Chief 12 responded.
On November 12, 1962, Engine Companies 50, 10, 26, 39, 3, 5, Ladder Company 2
and District Chief 12 responded to a serious fire in a warehouse on Everett Avenue at the
Boston & Maine R.R. in Chelsea, Box 25.
There was much excitement in Brighton during the early morning of November 20,
1962 as the result of simultaneous multiple alarm fires. Box 5131, Cambridge St. and
Harvard Ave., lst 1.38A, Work.Fire 1.47A, 2nd 1.52A, extra trucks at 1.52A and extra
engine at 2.15A. Box 5364, Chestnut Hill Ave. and Academy Hill Road, lst at 2.47A,
Work.Fire 2.50A, 2nd 3.04A, 3rd and 2 extra trucks at 3.19A.
On December 7, 1962 Fire Fighter James H. Sexton of Ladder Company 4 was
killed when he was thrown from the truck at Albany and Dearborn Streets while
responding to Box 7276.
During 1962 there were 24,201 alarms (15054 Box and 9147 Still) to which
apparatus responded. There were 105 multiple alarm fires, 72 with 2 alarms, 20 with 3
alarms, 8 with 4 alarms and 5 with 5 alarms.
On December 31, 1962 there were 2158 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Large Loss Fires ir1 1962 ($30,000 and over)
Feb. 21 Rear 365 Dorchester Avenue
Metal Warehouse (3-7231) 100,000
Mar. 1 827 Washington St.
4 story brick bldg. (3-1482) 35,000
Mar. 1 214 Boylston St.
6 story brick bldg. (2-1531) 30,000
Mar. 7 Commercial Wharf
Buildings and Wharf (5-1246) 500 ,000
Apr. 25 58-64 Savin St., 53-55 Maywood St.
Frame Dwellings (5-1761) 70,000
May 10 Front St., Charlestown, etc.
Sheds, Frt., Cars & Dwellings (5-4132) no est.
May 23 1624-1630 Tremont St.
3 story frame tenement (3-2355) 35,000
May 23 276-280 Friend St.
5 story brick bldg. (3-1315) 30,000
May 30 50 Cambridge St. Chas.
Freight Car and Shed (24187) 65,000
July 4 2-4-6 Henshaw Terrace
2-1/2 story frame dwelling (2-2821) 30,000
July 13 480 Rutherford Ave.
Paper Warehouse (4-417) 500,000
 



113
Sept. 3 231 Medford St.
Sheds (4-4164) 30,000
Sept. 23 293 Lincoln St.-57-59 and 89 Braintree St.
Vacant building and warehouses (5-5 246) 170,000
Sept. 25 324-330 West Broadway
Stores (4-7221) 60,000
Oct. 15 Prospect and Edgeworth Sts.
Vacant 3 story brick school (5-4143) no est.
A serious hotel fire took place during the early morning of March 29, 1963, at the
Sherry-Biltmore Hotel at 146 Massachusetts Avenue. Four persons died, many were
injured and many were rescued by firefighters. Box 2321, 5 alarms, lst 4.00A, 2nd
4.04A, 3rd 4.05A, 4th 4.1lA and 5th 4.13A, followed by special calls for additional
apparatus, 23 Engines and 10 Trucks working at this fire. Considered the most extensive
and best laddering job in recent history.
Engine Companies 3, 10, 26, 34, 50, 56, CD10 and Water Towers 1 and 3
1 responded to a fire on the Cambridge-Somerville line in buildings formerly occupied as a
meat processing plant by John P. Squire Co., Cambridge Box 195 and Somerville Box 112
on April 14, 1963.
On April 18, 1963, a temporary single unit Engine Company 6 was placed at the
Fire Alarm Office, 59 The Fenway and Ladder Co. 18 started using a temporary location,
between 6 P.M. and 7 A.M,, at the quarters of Ladder Co. 13 at 700 Tremont Street.
These companies were to be used as extra units to compensate for the difficulties created
by the closing of several Back Bay-South End bridges during the construction of the
Massachusetts Turnpike Extension.
On June 22, 1963 there were three 3—a1arm fires at Boxes 4157, 1743 and 1721,
5 alarms in 5 minutes at the "South End Conf1agration" on October 12, 1963. Box
1611, Shawmut Ave. and Corning St., lst 11.37A, 3rd 11.39A, 4th 11.40A and 5th
11.42A, followed by many special calls for additional apparatus to fires, widely
scattered, resulting from the original fire on Corning Street.
Effective October 17, 1963, CONELRAD signals (10)-51 and (10)-52 are cancelled.
On October 25, 1963, the temporary night location of Ladder Co. 18 at Ladder Co.
13 is rescinded (see 4-18-63). On the same day, at Box 5276, Litchfield and Cygnet Sts.,
5 alarms, 2nd and 4th alarms were skipped. The fire was in a tank truck and in railroad
tank cars at 108 Holton Street, Brighton.
On October 28, 1963, Engine Co. 4 and Ladder Co. 24 moved from Bowdoin
Square to temporary location at 123 Oliver Street (E.25-L.8). Bowdoin Square Fire
Station was closed.
On October 29, 1963, Engine Companies 50, 56, 10, 26, 39, 8, 20, Ladder Co. 18
and District Chief 12 responded to a fire in various buildings on Spruce, 2nd, Maple and
Summer Sts. in Chelsea, Box 211.
On November 8, 1963, temporary Engine Co. 6 at Fire Alarm Office was
deactivated.
On December 27, 1963, Ladder Co. 18 moved to temporary location at Engine Co.
1 at 119 Dorchester St., returning to their regular quarters at 344 Congress St. on January
6. 1964.
 



114
In 1963, there were 27,843 alarms (17148 Box and 10695 Still) to which apparatus
responded. 145 fires required the transmission of multiple alarms, 91 with 2 alarms, 34
with 3 alarms, 10 with 4 and 10 with 5 alarms.
On December 31, 1963 there were 2203 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Large Loss Fires in 1963 ($30,000 and over)
Jan. 16 Off Nay Street, East Boston
Tug Boat C.M. Kenney (2-6178) 100,000
Jan 24 1496-1500 Dorchester Ave.
3 story furniture warehouse (4-319) 250,000
Jan. 29 550 Parker St.
School Building (3-2361) 50,000
Feb. 22 90 West Cedar Street
5 story brick apartments (3-1366) 35,000
Mar. 4 453-459 Washington St.
11 story stores-offices (5-1461) 100,000
Mar. 29 146 Massachusetts Ave.
8 story brick hotel (5-2321) 100,000
Apr. 8 113 Dorchester St.
Church (3-731) 40,000
Apr. 19 83 Hampden Street
1 story building (3-2115) 30,000
Apr. 29 986-998 Blue Hill Ave.
1 story stores (3-3618) 125,000
Jun. 23 26-36A Bunker Hill St. and 29-35 Ferrin St.
Frame Tent’s (5-4145) 50,000
July 29 175-181 M St. and 690 E. 8 St.
3 story frame tenements (4-7434) 30,000
July 6 426 East 1 St.
Trucks, Warehouse, Frt. Cars (2-7165) 500,000
July 12 214 Florence St.
Coal Sheds (3-2626) 30,000
July 16 83-105 Boston St.
Boiler Wks. — Buildings (5-7261) 300,000
Aug. 19 Rear 696 East 1 St. `
Wharf & Coal Handl. Equip. (4-7324) 500,000
Sept. 10 10-12 & 1-l—l4A Ashford St.
Apartments (4-5127) 50,000
Sept. ll 99-101 Commercial St.
5 story commercial bldg. (4-1251) 60,000
Oct. 1 70 Windsor St.
Sherwin School (5-2226) 500,000
Oct. 6 80 Whittier St. & 965-971 Columbus Ave.
Fuel Sheds — Dwellings (5-2335) 50,000
 




 


117
Oct. 12 Orig. 27-29 Corning St., spread to other
properties (5-1611) no est.
Oct. 12 650-658 Washington St. and 8 Brent St.
Stores and dwelling (3-3446) 40,000
Nov. 8 59 Norfolk Avenue
Cold Storage Plant (5-1715) no est.
On January 28, 1964, Chelsea had simultaneous multiple alarm fires, 3 alarms at
Box 283 and 2 alarms at Box 15. Engines 50, 56 and 4 responded to Chelsea Box 283,
while Engines 40, 39 and 47 (Fire Boat) responded to Chelsea Box 15. Other Boston
apparatus covered in Chelsea.
On May 12, 1964, the Rescue Company received a new Mack van, patterned after
the New York style.
On May 22, 1964 occurred the so-called "Be1ltlower Street Conflagration",
affecting 19 buildings on Bellflower St., Dorset st., Howell St., and Boston St., Box 7251,
lst 1.39P, 2nd 1.4OP, 3rd 1.43P, 4th 1.44P and 5th 1.46P plus special calls brought to
this fire 55 Engine Companies, 10 Ladder Companies and 2 Rescue Companies. There was
extensive response and covering by units from other communities.
On May 28, 1964 there were 2 5-alarm fires while the same Fire Alarm Watch (#1)
and the same firefighting groups (6 and 7) were working. The first fire was at Box 7165,
East 1 and West 1 Sts., lst 6.38P, 2nd 6.41P, 3rd 6.43P, 4th 6.45P and 5th alarm at `
6.50P, with all—out at 10.52P. The second fire was at Box 4183, Arlington Ave. and
Dorrance St., lst 10.53P, 2nd 10.56P, 3rd 10.57P, 4th 10.59P and 5th at 11.15P. All-out
at 3.29A 5/29.
For the first time, there had been 21 multiple alarm fires in a month — May 1964.
On July 1, 1964 Engine Company 33 was changed from single to double unit
operation. .
On October 1, 1964, at a fire in a building at 34 Trumbull St., the front wall
collapsed, killing the following:
Lieut. John J. McCorkle Eng. Co. 24
Lieut. Jolm J. Geswell Ladd. Co. 26 (det. to L. 4)
F .F. Francis L. Murphy Eng. Co. 24
F.F. James B. Sheedy Ladd. Co. 4
F.F. Robert J. Clougherty Eng. Co. 3
Other members of the department were injured. Box 1671, 5 alarms.
New apparatus was placed in service in 1964 as follows:
1250 GPM Ward La France pumpers to E. 12 12/1,E. 41 12/3, E. 43 12/7 and ES.
14 12/11.
In 1964 there had been 28,246 alarms (17754 Box and 10492 Still) to which
apparatus responded. A total of 136 multiple alarm fires occurred, 91 with 2 alarms, 29
with 3 alarms, 11 with 4 alarms and 5 with 5 alarms.

 


118
On December 31, 1964 there were 2220 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Large Loss Fires in 1964 ($30,000 and over)
Feb. 26 26-32 Talbot Ave.
2-1/2 story frame bldg. (2-3611) 30,000
Mar. 6 71-99 Norwell St.
l Woodworking Plant (4-3343) 40,000
Mar. ll 316 Beacon St.
4 story brick apartments (3-1576) 30,000
Mar. 27 384 Commonwealth Ave.
6 story brick apartments (4-1584) 50,000
May 28 378-380-386 West 1 St.
Warehouse, etc. (5-7165) 50,000
May 28 10-14 Dorrance St.- 16 Temple St.
Warehouses, etc. (5-4183) 85,000
June 28 115-119 Hemenway St.
5 story brick apartments (5-2323) 75,000
Nov. 17 241-247 Woodrow Ave.
3 story frame dwellings (4-3528) 30,000
Dec. 20 3 Sawyer Ave. - 85 Pleasant St.
3 story apartments (3-1872) 35,000
Dec. 30 24 Hammond St.
5 story brick tenement (4-2219) 30,000
On May 3, 1965, Engine Co. 4 and Ladder Co. 24 moved from temporary location
at 123 Oliver St. (E. 25 — L. 8) to a new fire station at 200 Cambridge Street. District
Chief 3 also moved to this location.
4 alarms in 4 minutes on June 4, 1965, for fire in 3-story frame dwellings at 32
Leston St. and 18-22 Woolson St., Box 3538, Morton and Wildwood Sts., lst 3.3lA, 2nd
3.33A, 3rd 3.34A and 4th at 3.35A.
As of June 17, 1965, Boston responds on lst alarm to line boxes:
4 in Milton 15 in Newton 26 in Brookline
10 in Dedham 15 in Somerville 1 in Everett
7 in Chelsea
First alarm response to Boston boxes by:
Cambridge 2 Brookline 41 Newton 13
Somerville 10 Chelsea 2 Winthrop 1
Quincy l
Busy afternoon on June 28, 1965, with 2 alarms at Box 2271, Working Fire at Box
228, 5 alarms at Box 2261 and 3 alarms at Box 7236.
An all-time record was set with 23 multiple alarm fires in June 1965.
On July 21, 1965, Ladder Co. 4 moved from 198 Dudley St. to temporary location
at Engine Co. 12, 407 Dudley St., returning to their own quarters on August 2, 1965.

 


119
Effective August 27, 1965, Signal (10)-18 is established to indicate “Riot
Conditions". To be struck on tappers with or without a box number depending on
conditions (see 6-3-67).
On September 1, 1965 there was a 4-alarm fire at Box 284, in a building at 1980
Centre St., West Roxbury and this was the first 4-alarm fire in West Roxbury since May
17, 1938 when the ice house at 262 Gardner St. was destroyed when there were 4 alarms
on Box 2797 (present 2884).
On October 30, 1965 there were four multiple alarm fires:
2 alarms 5134 lst 4.34A 2nd 4.38A
2 alarms 7227 lst 3.33P 2nd 3.36P
3 alarms 1892 lst 3.49P 2nd 3.59P 3rd 4.03P
2 alarms 5164 lst 4.59P 2nd 5.00P
At 5.21P, November 9, 1965 occurred the "Northeastern States Power Failure",
involving several northeastern states and part of Canada. Fire Alarm Office operated on
its own emergency power until return of normal power at 10:00 P.M. Two Fire Alarm
Watches and four groups of fire fighting personnel were on duty until 10:30 P.M.
From 5:24 P.M. till 12:00 Midnight:
received 40 box alarms - struck as box alarms
received 37 box alarms — treated as still alarms
received 30 still alarms — treated as still alarms
received 3 auto. alarms — treated as still alarms
In 1965 there were 30,406 alarms (19130 box and 11276 still) to which apparatus
responded. There were 103 two-alarm fires, 43 with 3 alarms, 11 with 4 alarms and 9
with 5 alarms, a total of 166 multiple alarm fires.
On December 31, 1965 there were 2256 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Large Loss Fires in 1965 ($30,000 and over)
Jan. 30 35 Brooks St., East Boston
Church (5-6166) 200,000
Feb. 27 995-999 Dorchester Ave.
3 story frame dwellings (3-1842) 30,000
Mar. ll 44 Batterymarch St.
5 story office building (4-1285) 50,000
Mar. 19 704-714 Washington St.
1 story stores (4-1481) 150,000
Mar. 29 28-34 Hawley St.
6 story brick comm. bldg. (4-1274) 100,000
Apr. 8 163 Old Colony Ave.
Warehouse (2-7218) 75 ,000
Apr. 10 117 Atkinson St.
Wool Proc. Plant (5-7273) 75,000
 



120
Apr. 19 82-88 Commercial St.
4 story brick comm. bldg. (3-1251) 30,000
Apr. 23 231-235 Hanover St.
4 story brick stores-tenements (5-1221) 35,000
Apr. 23 879 Beacon St.
5 story brick apartments (3-2314) 35,000
Apr. 24 232 Northampton St. ‘
Everett School (3-221 1) 30,000
May 4 34 Freeport St.
Lumber Storage (3-1896) 30,000
May 7 280-290 Devonshire St.
5 story restaurant (3-1431) 30,000
May 30 87 Hammond St.
Hyde School (3-2216) 40,000
June 6 200 D Street
Norcross School (5-7223) 50,000
June 23 80 Western Avenue
Freight Sheds, RR Cars, Trucks (5-5221) 1,000,000
July 21 Dover St. Bridge over New
Haven Railroad (3-1633) 50,000
Sept. 27 15-19 Lewis St.
3 story warehouse (3-6151) 30,000
Nov. 28 244-254 Magnolia St.
3 story frame dwellings (3-1796) 30,000
Dec. 8 620 Huntington Ave.
1-1/2 story restaurant (3-2363) 40,000
Dec. 9 Rear 1217 Washington St., 7-11 Medford
Court, 1-5 Briggs Place
Warehouse and tenements (5-1614) 200,000
On March 1, 1966, there were 4 multiple alarm fires:
2 alarms 2226 lst 2.29A 2nd 2.38A
2 alarms 1254 lst 8.35P 2nd 8.41P
3 alarms 7412 lst 10,43P 2nd 11.1 1P 3rd 11.37P
2 alarms 2135 lst 10.58P 2nd 11.03P
Between April 26 and May 10, 1966, number changes were made affecting 1500
and 2300 series box numbers. Generally, the 1500’s were extended into the area west of
Massachusetts Ave. (Dist. 5) and several 2300’s were changed to obtain numbers for
additional boxes.
July 1, 1966 — 92 hours and 49 minutes between lst alarm and all-out signal at
Box 4187, fire at 36 Roland Street, Charlestown, lst 1.37P, 2nd 1.37-1/2P, 3rd 1.40P,
4th 1.43P, 5th 1.44P, 4 extra engines 2.02P, all-out 10.26A, July 5.
On September 20, 1966, Channel 2 radio transmitter in service at 2.11 P.M., 153.89
LMC FM. Receiver had been in use previously.
 



121
On November 15, 1966, four multiple alarm fires:
2 alarms 2243 lst 2.24A 2nd 2.40A
2 alarms 1566 lst 3.44A 2nd 3.50A
2 alarms 7331 lst 11.00A 2nd 11.08A
3 alarms 1765 lst 6.03P 2nd 6.07P 3rd 6.08P
Effective at 8 A.M., November 29, 1966, at all boxes where two land engine
companies only are assigned to respond on the lst alarm, the engine first due on the 2nd
alarm shall respond on the lst alarm at ALL times.
At 8 A.M., December 8, 1966, the following is in effect:
The use of the term "Working Fire" is discontinued. lf needed, additional
companies will be ordered as required. Deputy Chiefs need not respond when
additional companies are ordered.
Engine Co. 13 shall respond to their regular assignments except to 2nd alarms at
boxes where they are the 5th due company.
Rescue Company shall respond to their regular assignments and to all 2nd alarms in
Division 1.
Engine Co. 7, whose Rescue service is discontinued, shall follow their regular
assignments and they will no longer respond, on lst alarm between 6 P.M.
and 8 A.M., to all boxes in District 4, except where they are specifically
assigned.
Effective 8 A.M., December 24, 1966, all-out signals will no longer be struck on
tappers, but "all—out" will be announced by radio only. (A11—out signals in their present
form had been struck on tappers since September 7, 1894).
Last all-out on tappers 6.58 A 12/24 for Box 6168
First all-out by radio 9.43 A 12/24 for 12-2948
In 1966 there were 32,610 alarms (21179 box and 11431 still) to which apparatus
responded, or an average of 89.09 alarms per day. There were 96 2-alarm fires, 27 with 3
alarms, 9 with 4 alarms and 7 with 5 alarms, for a total of 139 multiple alarm fires.
On December 31, 1966 there were 2292 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Large Loss Fires in 1966 ($30,000 and over)
Jan. 8 120-130 Tudor St., 157-159 W. 6 St.
122-134 W. 7 St. Warehouse and Dwellings (5-7216) uno est.
Jan. 28 15-19 Boylston St.
Plymouth Hotel, Explosion and fire, 10 killed,
57 injured (5-1471) no est.
Feb. 13 47 Gardner St.
3 story rooming house (4-5124) 30,000
Mar. 1 251-255 Dorchester St.
Stores (3-7412) 100,000
 



122
Mar. 29 3306-3314 Washington St. and
4-6 Woodside Ave.
Frame dwellings (4-2541) 65,000
May 29 39 Dalton St.
29 story hotel (2-1568) 75,000
June 5 231 Medford St.
Brick and metal bldgs. (4-4162) 40,000
July 1 36 Roland St. Charlestown
Warehouse, Trucks, Cars (5-4187) 1,500,000
July 3 169-173 Norfolk Ave.
1 and 3 story comm. bldgs. (2-1727) 30,000
July 21 280 Marginal St.
3-1/2 story loft bldg (Ship Yd) (3-61 13) 75,000
July 21 9-11 and 15-17 Dewey St.
3 story frame dwellings (4-1761) no est.
Aug. 22 30-34 Stanwood St. and 3 Stanwood Ter.
3 story frame dwellings (3-1792) 40,000
Sept. 29 183 Coleridge St.
1 story comm. laundry (4-6219) 50,000
Oct. 9 20 Wyola Place
Warehouse (2-3115) 40,000
Oct. 9 337 Adams St.
Warehouse (2-3182) 30,000
Oct. 14 235 Victory Road
1-1/2 story frame Yacht Club (2-3171) 40,000
Oct. 29 77-81 High St.
3 story commercial bldg. (3-1413) 100,000
Nov. 3 82 Gerard St., 13-15 Allerton St.
Commercial Bldgs. (5-7271) no est.
Dec. 30 26-30 Corinth St.
1 story stores (2-2791) 40,000
Effective 6 P.M., January 13, 1967 (see 12/8/66), the term "Working Fire" is
reinstated. Upon report of a working tire, a Deputy Chief shall respond and Fire Alarm
shall dispatch the next due or nearest Engine Company. In Division 1, the Rescue
Company shall also respond. When extra apparatus is ordered to a lst alarm fire or when
all companies at a lst alarm tire are reported working, this shall be considered a "Working
Fire”.
Response to multiple alarms shall be by the total number of companies assigned to
each alarm, regardless of the number of extra companies sent to the fire previously.
On February 18, 1967, 5 alarms in 6 minutes at the "Crawford-Hollidge" Fire, 141
Tremont St., Box 1441. lst 7.11A, 2nd 7.14A, 3rd 7.15A, 4th 7.16A and 5th 7.17A,
plus several special calls for additional companies with a total of 31 Engines, 6 Trucks, 1
Rescue and 1 Water Tower working at the tire.
 



123
Busy Sunday morning, February 19, 1967:
3alarms 6241 lst 4.3lA W.F.4.48A 2nd 4.52A 3rd 5.22A
2 alarms 3365 lst 9.57A W.F.l0.03A 2nd 10.07A
2 alarms 1734 lst 10.46A W.F.l0.47A 2nd 10.49A
2 extra engines 11.05A, 1 extra truck 11.14A
1731 lst 11.00A, 2 extra engines and 1 extra truck 11.15A
Effective at 8 A.M., March 16, 1967, the transmission of all-out signals on tapper
circuits was restored, in place of voice announcement by radio (see 12/24/66). To be
sent, as prior to 8 A.M., 12-24-1966, as 22-22 — BOX, but to be struck by hand key
exclusively.
Last all-out by radio announcement 7.57A 3/16 Box 282
First all-out transmitted on tappers 9.29A 3/16 Box 284
Effective 8 A.M., March 24, 1967, District 6, instead of District 7, will respond to
boxes 181, 1811 thru 1817, but these boxes (Columbia Point area) remain in District 7
and Division 2.
Effective at 8 A.M., April 14, 1967, Fire Alarm shall dispatch only the nearest
Engine Company to grass and brush fires, not adjacent to buildings. lf required, the
engine company shall notify Fire Alarm of any additional apparatus needed.
In accordance with G.O.l7 of April 25, 1967, two Lighting Plants will again be in
active service daily between 6:30 P.M. and 8:00 A.M., when they shall respond to all
working fires and multiple alarm fires in their respective division, and to all special calls as
directed by the Fire Alarm Office.
Lighting Plant 2 in service at quarters of Engine Squad 14 at 27 Centre St.,
Roxbury, on April 26, 1967.
Lighting Plant 1 in service at quarters of Engine Co. 25 and Ladder Co. 8, 123
Oliver St., on May 3, 1967.
Gasoline motors were replaced with Diesel Engines on May 6, 1967 at Engine 2 and
Ladder 26, the first in service in Boston.
Effective June 3, 1967, Signal (10)-18 (see 8/27/65) redefined, to indicate "RIOT
CONDlTIONS" and special procedures established to be in effect within an area to be
defined. Effective June 6, 1967, Signal (10)-17 established to indicate "PERIOD OF
UNREST" before or after Riot Conditions, and establishing special procedures within an
area to be defined.
When Signal (10)-17 is in effect, (10)-18 may be transmitted if conditions worsen.
When (10)-18 is in effect and conditions improve, (10)-17 may be transmitted. To
1 announce the end of an emergency, Signal (10)-25 will be transmitted.
Signal (10)-18 struck for the first time at 10:34 P.M., June 3, 1967, in connection
with the Blue Hill Avenue-Grove Hall riots.
Signal (10)-17 struck for the first time at 7:00 P.M., June 6, 1967, during the
period of unrest following the above riots.
On June 7, 1967, four multiple alarm fires:

 


124
2 alarms 2126 lst 12.32A 2nd 12.35A
4 alarms 2212 lst 1.0lA 2nd 1.03A 3rd 1.04A 4th l.l5A
3 alarms 3616 lst 1.23A 2nd 1.26A 3rd 1.27A
2 alarms 1662 lst 11.16P 2nd 11.20P
Effective 6:00 P.M., June 12, 1967, Signal (10)-41 is modified to indicate "reduced
assignments" in all districts except 3 and 4, to be in effect normally from 8:00 A.M. to
11 :00 P.M.
When Fire Alarm receives an alarm from a street box in any district in which
reduced assignments are in effect, the alarm will not be transmitted on the alarm circuits,
but Fire Alarm will notify, by telephone, an Engine Company, a Ladder Company and a
District Chief and dispatch them to the location of the box.
For still alarms received for fires in buildings, Fire Alarm shall strike the nearest
box and a full assignment will respond. In the case of outside fires, automobile or similar
fires not exposing a building, Fire Alarm shall dispatch one Engine Company and a
District Chief.
First arriving unit shall report conditions and order additional companies if
required. District Chiefs shall be dispatched to adjacent districts as required.
Full first alarm assignment shall respond to boxes on private property, theatres,
hospitals, homes for the aged, rest homes, hotels, schools and to boxes auxiliarized to
schools and to Boxes 419 and 12-419.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., July 12, 1967, Engine Company 13 at 36 Washington St.,
Dorchester, is designated "RESCUE—PUMPER UNIT" and shall operate with single unit
pumper and a Rescue truck. To respond to all present assignments of Engine Co. 13 and
in addition to all working fires and multiple alarms in Division 2 and Fire Alarm shall
dispatch them wherever the services of a Rescue Company are needed. They shall respond
to all alarms and special calls with both units.
On July 12, 1967, a "False Alarm Squad", K-3, is in service, for night patrol, p
manned by an Arson Inspector and a Police Officer. 1
On October 7, 1967, Engine Co. 52 and Ladder Co. 29 moved from 120 Callender
St. to temporary locations at E.l6-L.6 and Eng. Sqd. 18 respectively. Both returned to
120 Callender St. on October 18, 1967.
On November 23, 1967, Lieut. Warren T. Lynch died from smoke inhalation at fire,
49 Hartford Street, Box 1777. He was assigned to Engine Squad 18, but was detailed to
Engine Company 21.
Effective 8:00 A.M., December 25, 1967, the Columbia Point area is included in
District 6, Division 1, instead of in District 7, Division 2 (see March 24, 196 7).
In 1967, apparatus responded to 32,311 alarms (15199 box and 17112 still). There
were 135 multiple alarm fires, 98 with 2 alarms, 23 with 3 alarms, 10 with 4 alarms and 4
with 5 alarms.
On December 31, 1967, there were 2303 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
 



125
Large Loss Fires in 1967 ($30,000 and over) 7
Jan. 9 718-722 Huntington Ave. and 1643-1647
Tremont St. 2 story stores-offices (2-236) 34,000
Feb. 8 265-277 Northampton St.
1 story brick auto repair shop (4-2212) 50,000
Feb. 18 140 and 141 Tremont St.
9 and 7 story stores etc. (5-1441) 1,500,000
Feb. 26 1937-1943 Beacon Street
1 story rest.—stores (2-5346) 95,000
Mar. 4 45 Forest St.-30 Vine St.
3-1/2 story frame tenement (3-2135) 30,000
Mar. 11 24-34 Cobden Street
2-1 /2 and 3 story frame dwellings (3-2297) 45,000
Mar. 12 364 Rutherford Avenue
Storage Shed-Truck Terminal (5-417) 100,000
Apr. 1 21-29 Eliot Street
4 story brick night club (4-1514) 75,000
Apr. 15 15-17 Cooper Street
4 story brick tenement (4-1224) 35,000
Apr. 16 280-296 Commercial St. -309-319 North St.
5 story brick commercial bldgs. (5-1241) 100,000
Apr. 30 1-7 St. Ar1n Street
4 story brick apartments (3-256) 45,000
Apr. 30 7 North Margin Street
5 story brick apartments (5-1212) no est.
1 Jun. 7 19-25 Watson Street
Apartments (4-2212) no est.
July 16 271 Northampton Street (4-2211) no est.
Nov. 1 10 Alford Street
MBTA Sullivan Sq. Terminal (4-4184) 260,000
Nov. ll 12-18 City Sq. — 6-10 Park St.
Commercial Bldg. (4-4124) no est.
Dec. 10 166-168, 170-172, 174-176 West 6 Street
(4-7226) no est.
The gasoline tractor of Ladder Co. 13 was replaced by a Diesel Tractor on January
2, 1968.
On January 8, 1968, a mobile communications unit was placed in service, to be
garaged at quarters of Engine Co. 37 and Ladder Co. 26 at 560 Huntington Avenue and
to be operated by members of the Fire Alarm Division, but it was actually garaged at the
Fire Alarm Garage at 115 Southampton Street. It was designated Command Post 4 and
 



126
was intended for response to multiple alarms and on special call. Its first response was to
a 4th alarm at Box 1243 on January 8. It was moved to the Fire Alarm Office on January
29, 1968.
The night of February 1 and the early morning of February 2, 1968 was a busy
period, the following occurring between 10:04 P.M. 2/1 and 6:22 A.M. 2/2:
2 still alarms (no box transmitted)
13 first alarm fires or incidents
3 first alarm fires reported as “Working Fire"
3 2-alarm fires
1 3-alarm fire
At 1:40 P.M., March 20, 1968, the fire alarm system at the Long Island Hospital
was connected to the Fire Alarm Office which will receive Long Island boxes (separate
numbering system) on this circuit and will transmit 7611 followed by the Long Island
box number and the transmission of the alarm is to be followed by announcing the
location of the box on the department radio.
On March 29, 1968, there were 5 alarms in 5 minutes at Box 1539, Berkeley and
Newbury Sts., lst 2:17 A.M., 2nd 2:20 A.M., 3rd 2:20-1/2 A.M., 4th 2:21 A.M. and 5th
2:22 A.M. plus special calls for 11 engines and 5 trucks, making a total of 30 engines and
10 trucks at the fire. This fire originated in a church at. 288 Berkeley St. and spread to
buildings at 66 Marlboro St., 29, 31, 33, 35, 37 and 39 Commonwealth Avenue.
April 9, 1968 was a warm and very windy day with many grass and brush fires.
There were 336 alarms including 4 multiple alarm fires (3-3244, 2-2581, 4-2283, 2-3343),
causing relocation of many companies in the busy areas and the use of many mutual aid
companies. In addition, Signal (10)-17, "Period of Unrest" was in effect.
Effective April 17, 1968, when a fire boat is assigned to a water front location on
lst alarm, the second boat shall respond to a greater alarm from that box only when it is
ascertained that there is a water front fire.
On May 8, 1968, the use of all Cardox Units was discontinued.
On May 14, 1968, fire starting under the bridge on Summer Street over the freight
yard of the New Haven Railroad destroyed part of the bridge, freight cars, trailer trucks,
sheds, freight houses etc., between Summer and Congress Streets.
5 alarms, Box 711, lst 10:58 P.M., W.F.11:01 P.M., 2nd 11:03 P.M., 3rd 11:05
P.M., 4th 11:06 P.M. and 5th 11:19 P.M., followed by special calls for 22 Engines and 3
Trucks for a total of 42 engines and 8 trucks at this fire. In accordance with previous
arrangements, in addition to the regular 4th and 5th alarm mutual aid covering, the
following sent apparatus:
Arlington Boston Navy Yard Framingham
Malden Holbrook Wellesley
Medford Revere Needham
Norwood Reading Weston
Wakefield Weymouth Braintree
Hanscom Air Force Base Peabody Lynn
Natick Watertown Saugus
Woburn
 




129
At 7:30 P.M., May 15, 18 engines, 3 trucks, 1 Rescue and 2 Lighting Plants were
still at the fire and mutual aid companies were still covering as follows:
Brookline E.7 at Eng. 42 Cambridge E.2 at Eng. 39
Navy Yard E.4 at Eng. 2 Malden E.6 at Eng. 25
Newton E.3 at Eng. 3 Needham E.7 at Eng. 43
Somerville E.9 at Eng. 1
The all-out signal for this tire was transmitted at 7:25 A.M. on May 16, 1968.
On May 17, 1968, the mobile communications unit (CP 4) was moved from Fire
Alarm Office to Fire Headquarters.
Effective May 17, 1968, new "Riot Operations Procedure" supersedes all previous
orders on this subject and provides for extended Mutual Aid covering in the event of riots
or other emergencies by engine companies from many communities.
On May 21, 1968, new diesel powered 100 ft. aerial trucks are in service at Ladder
Companies 4 and 23.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., June 5, 1968, a Chief Officer to be known as
"Communications Officer" shall be in command and administrative charge of all sections
of the Fire Alarm Division (rescinded by G.O.3 ~ 1/31/1969).
New 1250 GPM diesel—powered Ward La France pumpers with automatic
transmission were placed in service:
Rescue-Pumper Unit 6/27/ 1968
Engine 37 7/8/1968
Engines 21 and 24 7/12/1968
Engine 17 7/15/1968
1 Engines 12, 22 and 26 7/19/1968
- Engine Sqd 18 7/26/1968
Engines 42 and 52 7/26/ 1968
Engine Sqd 14 and Engine 43 8/1/ 1968
On July 12, 1968, Signal (10)-19 is established to indicate resumption of normal
operations after Signals (10)-17 or (10)-18 have been in effect. Signal (10)-25 will no
longer be used for this purpose (see 6/3/67).
On July 12, 1968, simultaneous multiple alarm fires:
2 alarms Box 2437 lst 12.01A 2nd 12.06A
_3 alarms Box 1421 lst 12.02A 2nd 12.10A 3rd 12.22A
2 alarms Box 2224 lst 12.15A 2nd 12.20A
Effective 8:00 A.M., July 13, 1968, Rescue Pumper Unit will no longer be
dispatched to working fires in District 11. For working fires in District 11, Fire Alarm
shall dispatch the next due or nearest Engine Company.
On July 19, 1968, a diesel powered tractor took the place of the gasoline tractor at
Ladder Co. 15.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., Mobile Communications Unit CP 4 shall be at the quarters
and under the charge of Engine Company 21 at 641 Columbia Road — July 22, 1968.
 



130
On September 9, 1968, diesel powered 100-ft. aerial trucks are in service at Ladder
Companies 7 and 20.
A busy evening on November 21, 1968: i
5 alarms at Box 1272 — Washington St. opp. Water St.
lst 8.02P, 2nd 8.24P, 3rd 8.27P, 4th 8.32P, 5th 8.38P
2 alarms at Box 1259 - New Congress and Union Sts.
lst 8.10P, W.F. 8.15P, 2nd 8.21P
2 alarms at Box 2415 — Centre and Mozart Sts.
lst 10.11P, W.F. 10.25P, 2nd 10.32P
Boxes 1272 and 1259 being only a short distance apart, responses were somewhat
unusual.
At Box 1272, there were E.25, 4, 39, 40, 2, 33, 56, 37,34, 22,42, 20, 32,18, 21
(to 1259 from this t`1re),5l,5,11, 43, 55, 53. L. 8, 24, 22, 15, 23 Rescue Co.
At Box 1259 there were E.50, 26, 9, 8, 3, 7,10, 21, 24 and L.18,17, 1,3, 20.
On November 25, 1968, the gasoline powered tractor of Ladder Company 8 was
replaced by a Diesel Tractor.
On December 26, 1968, four multiple alarm fires:
2 alarms 3544 lst 4.01A 2nd 4.10A
4 alarms 5124 lst 4.54A 2nd 5,14A 3rd 5.24A 4th 5.43A
2 alarms 528 lst 5.05P 2nd 5.18P
3 alarms 6163 lst ll.54P 2nd 11.59P 3rd 12.56A 12/27
During 1968, apparatus responded to 42,016 alarms, of which 14,3 79 were box and
27,642 were still alarms. There were 201 fires requiring the transmission of multiple
alarms, 138 with 2 alarms, 40 with 3 alarms, 13 with 4 alarms and 10 with 5 alarms.
On December 31, 1968 there were 2316 Fire Alarm Boxes in service.
Four and five alarm fires in 1968 (losses not shown)
Ian. 8 51 Tileston Street (4-1243)
Jan. 11 471-473 Tremont Street (5-1525)
Jan. 18 — 464 Huntington Avenue (4-2336)
Jan, 20 65 Shirley Street (4-1724)
Feb. 4 1147 Washington Street
(Roosevelt Hotel · 9 dead) (5-1632)
Feb. 7 300-304 West Broadway
(Blinstrub’s Night Club) (5-7222)
Feb. 14 41-43-45 East Springfield Street (4-1663)
Mar. 2 557-567 East Broadway (5-7311)
Mar. 27 6 and 8-13 Long Wharf and
206 Atlantic Avenue (5-1296)
Mar. 29 288 Berkeley St., 66 Marlboro St.,
29-39 Commonwealth Avenue (5-1539)
Apr. 6 262-274 East Eagle Street (5-6184)
 



131
Apr. 9 1 2751-2757 and 2761-2767 Washington St. (4-2283)
May 13 374-376-378 West Broadway (4-7221)
May 14 New Haven R.R. Freight Yard between
Summer and Congress Streets (5-711)
Aug. 15 56 Prince Street (4-1224)
Sept. 6 1148-1150 Bennington Street and
18-26 Gladstone Street (4-6243)
Sept. 28 268-270 Summer Street. (4-71)
Oct. 10 60 Fulda Street (4-2265)
Oct. 15 616-628 Massachusetts Avenue (4-1662)
- Oct. 17 11-23 Woodward Park Street and
12 Harlow Street (5-1757)
Nov. 21 262 Washington Street, 6 Water Street
and 85 Devonshire Street (5-1272)
Dec. 21 1030 Morrissey Boulevard (4-325)
_ Dec. 26 25 Chester Street (4-5124)
Location of Fire Department Units on December 31, 1968
E. Engine Co. (S) Engine Squad — Eng. and Rescue Serv.
(R) Engine Co. with pumper LP. Lighting Plant
and separate rescue truck Div. Deputy Chief
L. Ladder Co. D. District Chief
119 Dorchester St., S. Boston E.1 D.6
700 East 4 St., S. Boston E.2 L.l9
618 Harrison Ave., S. End E.3 L.3
200 Cambridge St., West End E.4 L.24 D.3
360 Saratoga St., E. Boston E.5,11(S) D.1
392 Hanover St., North End E.8 L.1
60 Paris St., E. Boston E.9 L.2
127 Mt. Vernon St., Beacon Hill E.10
407 Dudley St., Roxbury E.12
36 Washington St., Dorchester E.l3(R) L.23
27 Centre St., Roxbury E.l4(S) LP.2
y 9 Gallivan Boulevard, Dorchester E.l6 L.6 D.8
7 Parish St., Dorchester E.l7 L.7 D.7
1884 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester E.18(S)
301 Neponset Ave., Dorchester E.20 L.27
641 Columbia Rd., Dorchester E.21
700 Tremont St., South End E.22 L.13 D.4
424 Warren St., Roxbury E.24
123 Oliver St., Downtown E.25 L.8 Div. 1
Rescue Co. LP.1
194 Broadway, South End E.7,26 L.17 D.12(SSU)
659 Centre St., Jamaica Plain E.28 L.10 D.9 A
 



132
138 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton E.29(S) L.1l D.11
1940 Centre St., West Roxbury E.30 L.25
Foot of Battery St.—Fire Boats E.31,47
440 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown E.32 L.9
941 Boylston St., Back Bay E.33 L.15 i
444 Western Ave., Brighton E.34
44 Monument St., Charlestown E.36 L.22
560 Huntington Ave., Roxbury E.37 L.26 D.5
344 Congress St., S. Boston E.39 L.l8
260 Sumner St., E. Boston E.40
16 Harvard Ave., Allston E.41 L.14
1870 Columbus Ave., Roxbury E.42 L.30 Div. 2
920 Massachusetts Ave., Roxbury E.43 L.20
945 Canterbury St., Roslindale E.45(S) 53 L.16 D.l0
30 Winthrop St., Hyde Park E.48 L.28
209 Neponset Valley Pkwy., Hyde Pk. E.49
34 Winthrop St., Charlestown E.5O D.2
425 Faneuil St., Brighton E.51
120 Callender St., Dorchester E.52 L.29
Long Island Hospital, Long Island E.54 L.31
5115 Washington St., West Roxbury E.55
1 Ashley St., East Boston E.5 6 L.21
198 Dudley St., Roxbury L.4
115 Southampton St. Department Headquarters
Fire Alarm and Radio Shops
890 Massachusetts Ave. Maintenance Division
59 Fenway Fire Alarm Office
Moon Island Training Academy
Division 1
District 1 E.5 ,9,11,40,56 L.2 ,21
District 2 E.32,36,50 L.9 ,22
District 3 E.4,8,10,25,31 ,47 L.1,8,24 Resc. LP.1
District 4 E.3,7,22,26,33 L.3,l3,l5,17
District 6 E.1,2,39,43 L.18,19,20
Division 2
District 5 E.12,14,37 L.4,26 LP.2
District 7 E.13(RPU),17,21 L.7,23
District 8 E.16,18,20,52,54 L.6,27 ,29 ,31
District 9 E.24,28,42 L.10,30
District 10 E.30,45,48,49,53,55 L.16,25,28
District 11 E.29,34,41,51 L.11,14
 



133
On this page there is shown what apparatus responded to some prominent fires
referred to on previous pages:
Nov. 20, 1962 — 2-5131 and 3-5364
to Box 5131 E.41,34,29,13,37,55,33,10 L.14,1l,l5,26,3
to Box 5364 E.42,39,8 ,21 ,53,50,26,56,3 ,40,55,43 L.30,18,1,23,4,l3
March 29, 1963 » 5-2321
E.33,37,22,7,l0,3,26,14,13,8,39,53,43,25,34,56,41,32,42,24,50
L.15,26,13,17,30,3,18,20,23,1 Rescue Co. Water Tower 1
May 22, 1964 — 5-7251
E. 21, 43, 1,17,12, 7, 3, 24, 25, 37,10, 53, 56, 39, 50, 20, 34, 40,16, 42, 55, 32, 5,13,
45, 26, 9, 51, 33, Arlington 2, Hanscom Air Force Base 1 and 13, Belmont 2,
Cambridge 1 and 5, Everett 5, Holbrook 1, Lynn 4, Medford 1, Needham 3, Quincy 2
and 4, Revere 4, Waltham 2, Wellesley 3, Winchester 3, Woburn 4, Weymouth 2,
Winthrop 2, Chelsea 2, Milton 4, Somerville 3, and Eng’s. 2, 28, 52, 18 and 41.
L. 20, 7, 3, 4,13, 18, 29, Arlington 2, Holbrook 1, Watertown 1.
Rescue Co. Lawrence Rescue Co.
February 18, 1967 — 5-1441
E. 4, 26, 25,10, 39, 3, 50, 21, 37, 8, 24, 56, 42, 34, 32, 53, 43, 50, 51, 7, 33, 22, 2, 20,
5, 55, 16, 12, Cambridge 2, Chelsea 2, Newton 3.
L. 24, 17, 8, 3, 15, 18 Rescue Co.Water Tower 1
March 29, 1968 — 5-1539
E. 10, 7, 33, 26, 22, 3, 39, 25, 8, 24, 37, 40, 34, 42, 2, 51,43, 32, 50, 20, 5,21,16, 4,
12, 55, 9, 56, 53, 52
L. 17, 15, 13, 24, 3, 1,8, 26,18,23 Rescue Co.
May 14, 1968 4 5-711
E. 39, 25, 7, 2, 3, 43, 8, 21, 50, 24,10, 42, 40, 53, 34, 37, 32, 56, 20, 55,1,16,22,18,
47, 31, 26, 14, 5,17, 51, 4, 33, 41, CD10,12,11, 13, 36, 48, 49, 9, 28, Cambridge 2.
L.8,17,l9,3, 1,23, 4, 20 Rescue Co.
On January 20, 1969, the 65 ft Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Co. 27 was replaced
by an 85 ft Aerial Truck.
Busy early morning on January 31, 1969:
Box 4143 — 4 alarms — 2.12A, 2.19A, 2.31A and 2.49A and an extra truck at 2.55A-
fire in frame dwellings at 54-56 Tremont St., Charlestown » all-out at 5.26A.
Box 5422 — 3 alarms at 4.03A, 4.08A and 4.25A, plus two extra trucks at 4.41A and two
extra engines at 5.12A — fire in stores at 367-375 Washington St., Brighton — all-out at
10.49A.
 



134
Multiple alarm fires in January 1969.
1/4 2-5471 and 2-514,1/10 3-3182,1/112-1752,1/12 2-1514 and 2-1589, 1/13 2-7412
and 3-7218, 1/15 2-3343, 1/21 2-1262, 1/24 3-7165, 1/27 2-339, 3-1263, 2-4126 and
also 3-8222-16 for 4th alarm at Box 16 — Brookline, 1/29 4-2127, 1/31 4-4143 and
3-5422.
On February 6, 1969, at 9:51 PM. Box 1515 was transmitted and while Ladder Co.
13 was responding to this box, they discovered a fire at the Hotel Clarendon, 519-523
Tremont St., 5-story brick vacant except for Clarendon Gardens Cafe on first floor.
Box 1526 — lst 9.55P, Work.Fire 10.15P, 2nd 10.16P, 3rd 10.20P, 4th 10.25P,
Watertower 10.28P, Sth 10.36P, 3 Engines at 11.15P and one extra truck at 1.43A 2/7 —
all-out at 9.19A 2/7.
On February 7, 1969, the 65 ft Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Company 16 was
replaced by an 85 ft Aerial Truck.
On February 9, 1969, a very bad snowstorm, with both snow and rain and high
winds caused much damage. The storm continued until February 10, about 20 inches of i
snow.
Effective 8:00 A.M., February 19, 1969, "Special Unit 1" is in service at quarters
of Engine Co. 25 and it will respond to specified boxes and on special call. It is assigned
to Engine Co. 25 for administrative purposes (G.O.7).
It has the following equipment:
Two 300 lb tanks of dry chemical powder
Two reels · each with 100 ft of l" rubber lined hose
Four 20 lb dry chemical extinguishers
Two 15 lb CO2 extinguishers
Two pressurized water extinguishers
On February 24, 1969, another bad northeast storm with 24 inches of snow, with
additional snow on February 26, 27 and 28.
Multiple alarm fires in February 1969.
2/6 5-1526, 2/10 3-3123, 2/11 2-5285, 2/12 2-6153, 2/15 2-3358, 2/18 2-1781 and
2-2248, 2/20 2-1761, 2/212-3343, 2/25 3-1662 and 2-6112, 2/26 3-1283 and 2-3831. »
Multiple alarm fires in March 1969.
3/1 2-5454 and 2-6136, 3/3 2-2244, 3/5 2-7242 and 2-1754, 3/9 2-2224, 3/16 2-2231,
3/17 2-1795, 3/20 2-1221, 3/21 2-1563, 3/23 2-1566 and 2-7163, 3/24 2-1642 and
26161, 3/26 2-2115, 3/29 2-173 and 2-3325.
Multiple alarm fires in April 1969.
4/3 3-2213, 4/9 2-5351, 2-2255 and 2-1731, 4/10 2-2115, 4/14 4-2242, 4/21 2-3412,
2-3827, 3-1721, 2-2224 and Mutual Aid to Winthrop. 4/26 3-3343, 3-1721, 2-2171,
2-7324 and 8222-329 (Brookline) 4/27 2-2272, 4/28 2-1792 and 2-3396, 4/29 3-1734,
4/30 3-2125.
On May 7, 1969, Engine Co. 53 was changed from single to double unit operation.
 



135
Multiple alarm fires in May 1969.
5/1 3-3821, 5/3 2-1542, 2-1723, 2-2137 and 4-3745, 5/5 2-7276, 5/6 2-3113, 5/14
2-7322 and 2-4112, 5/15 2-2224, 5/16 2-3161, 5/17 2-1757, 5/18 3-1471 and
2-(12-1761), 5/22 2-1614, 2-2142 and 3-5147, 5/28 2-2417.
Multiple alarm fires in June 1969.
6/4 2-7137, 2-339 and 2-3356, 6/7 2-5127, 6/9 2-7137, 6/10 3-7122 and 3-1571, 6/14
2-3476 and 3-2271, 6/16 2-2212, 6/17 2-4138, 6/21 2-344, 6/26 5-1552, 6/27 2-3364.
Effective July 9, 1969 (G.O.29), High Pressure Station 2 at 560 Atlantic Avenue
was placed in active reserve status, fully operational, but without personnel on duty. Two
men to be at High Pressure Station 1, one of whom shall place H.P. Sta. 2 in service if
required. Both stations to be tested daily at 9 :00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M.
The following Engine Squads were changed to Engine Companies of the same
number on the dates shown and the rescue equipment was transferred to the Ladder
Companies shown (G.O.32).
11 on July 14, 1969 Equipment to Ladder 2
14 on June 13, 1969 Equipment to Ladder 26
18 on July 1, 1969 Equipment to Ladder 27
l 29 on July 31, 1969 Equipment to Ladder 11
1 45 A on July 31, 1969 Equipment to Ladder 16
l There are no more Engine Squads.
Multiple alarm fires in July 1969.
7/1 2-2115, 7/4 2-5262, 7/7 3-2366 and 24132, 7/10 2-6155 and 2-221, 7/21
2-(12-5131), 7/28 2-319, 7/30 2-1412, 7/312-2437.
On August 5, 1969 fire destroyed the Stop & Shop Warehouse at 100 Meadow
Road, Readville, 5 alarms on Boston Box 12-3859 and General alarm on Dedham Box
422.
At the fire:
Engine Co’s. 28 Boston 4 Dedham 1 Westwood 33 total
Ladder Co’s. 5 Boston 2 Dedham 7 total
Multiple alarm fires in August 1969.
8/1 2-7272, 8/3 3-1315, 8/4 2-3148, 8/5 5-(12-3859), 8/6 2-1441, 8/7 3-7121, 8/12
4-2213, 8/20 2-2394, 8/21 2-1765, 8/23 2-2122 and 2-3377, 8/24 2-1661 and 3-1461,
8/26 2-3528, 8/30 2-253, 2-21 15 , 2-6173 and 2-2125 , 8/312-5162 and 2-2854.
On September 12, 1969, Fireboats Engines 31 and 47 moved from Battery Wharf
to temporary location at Lincoln Wharf.
Multiple alarm fires in September 1969.
9/1 2-1862, 9/7 3-7529, 9/14 2-2223, 9/16 2-1412, 9/20 2-254, 9/23 2-173.
Multiple alarm fires in October 1969.
10/2 2-1872 and 2-1864,10/5 3-1385 and 2-2122,10/21 2-1551, 10/23 3-7334,10/28
3-1221,10/312-1753.
 



136
Multiple alarm fires in November 1969.
11/4 3-1652, 11/5 2-1554, 11/10 3-3648, 11/20 2-2413 and 3-731,11/22 2-1554 and
2-2157, 11/23 2-2318 and 2-212, 11/25 2-1245, 11/27 2-5397, 11/28 2-1767, 11/30
2-21 12.
On December 2, 1969, the gasoline powered tractor of Ladder 18 was replaced by a
Diesel Tractor.
Multiple alarm fires in December 1969.
12/3 2-314,12/14 2-2571,12/15 2-2553,12/27 2-1571,12/30 3-716.
ln 1969, apparatus responded to 39,241 alarms (13,603 box and 25,638 still).
There were 161 multiple alarm fires, 121 with 2 alarms, 31 with 3 alarms, 6 with 4 alarms
and 3 with 5 alarms. On December 31, 1969, there were 2318 fire alarm boxes in service.
On January 1, 1970, the 46 hour work week replaced the 48 hour work week.
Multiple alarm fires in January 1970.
1/2 2-4153, 1/4 2-2794, 1/8 3-731, 1/9 2-1221,1/11 3-7424, 1/21 3-238,1/22 2-2412,
1/23 2-4167 and 2-1431,1/24 2-1563,1/25 2-5343,1/27 3-1281,1/29 2-7527.
Multiple alarm fires in February 1970.
2/5 3-6218, 2/9 2-6113, 2/14 2-3743 and 2-5134, 2/15 2-1531, 2/24 2-71 and 2-1885,
2/26 2-31 13.
On March 3, 1970, Fire Lieutenant George J. Gottwald of the Rescue-Pumper Unit
died from injuries received at Box 2124, 3 alarms. His grandfather, Lieutenant George J.
Gottwald of Eng. Co. 38-39, together with 5 other members, was killed when the floors
collapsed at 116-126 Merrimac St., 3 alanns, Box 412, on February 5, 1898.
Effective 8:00 A.M., March 23, 1970, Aerial Tower 1 (75 ft) is in service at quarters
of Ladder Co. 3 and Engine Co. 3 at 618 Harrison Avenue (G.O.12). Ladder Co. 3
deactivated. Aerial Tower 1 was given assignments to lst and 2nd alarms and is also
subject to special call wherever needed.
On March 29, 1970, there was an unpredicted 8 inch snowfall, followed by another
5 inches of snow on March 31, equally unpredicted.
In accordance with General Order 14, effective at 8:00 A.M., March 30, 1970, there
are changes in the first and second alarm assignments of Engine Companies 3 and 7.
Multiple alarm fires in March 1970.
3/1 2-2232, 3/2 3-1712, 3/3 3-2124, 3/7 2-2252, 3/8 2-(13-1356) and 2-2252, 3/14
2-631, 3/18 2-1787, 3/24 3-2462, 3/25 2-1895 and 2-2141, 3/27 4-1726.
Multiple alarm fires in April 1970.
4/4 2-2262, 4/7 2-1258, 4/10 2-1566, 4/12 2-7334, 4/17 2-1661, 4/18 2-2521, 4/23
2-7227, 4/27 2-5183.
On May 21, 1970, a 1968 Ward La France 1250 GPM Diesel Pumper is in service at
Engine Co. 29.
Multiple alarm fires in May 1970.
‘ 5/2 2-3625, 5/6 2-3148, 5/7 2-2235 and 2-2231, 5/10 2-1526 and 2-2219, 5/112-3459
and 3-1744, 5/17 2-5167 and 3-1251, 5/24 2-7163 and 2-3722, 5/25 2-3328 and 2-1646,
5/28 2-1633, 5/30 2-4119.
 



137
Effective at 8:00 A.M., June 10, 1970, Engine Co. 11 assumed the out—of—district
multiple alarm responses and covering of Engine Co. 56, including Boxes 8215, 8216,
8217, 8218, 8219, 8221 and 8222, but excluding Boxes 8213 and 8214 (G.O.27).
On June 30, 1970, a new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pumper is in service at
A Engine Co. 21. .
Multiple alarm fires in June 1970.
6/7 5-4172, 6/112-173, 6/24 4-1754.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., July 1, 1970, there are some changes in the lst and 2nd
alarm assignments of Ladder Companies 6 and 16 (G.O.31).
Apparatus changes as follows:
July 1, 1970 Eng. Co. 42 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
July 9, 1970 Eng. Co. 3, 26 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
July 17, 1970 Eng. Co. 28 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Effective 8:00 A.M., July 23, 1970, RESCUE-PUMPER UNIT shall respond to
WORKING FIRES in District 11 (Brighton) in addition to the extra Engine Company
dispatched (S.O.56).
Multiple alarm fires in July 1970.
7/2 3-1765, 7/6 2-1726, 7/11 2-1643, 7/17 2-1451, 7/19 3-1541, 7/21 2-1516, 7/22
2-254 and 2-171, 7/23 2-1761, 7/24 4-2127, 7/28 2-7316.
Apparatus changes as follows:
Aug. 6, 1970 Eng. Co. 12 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Aug. 7, 1970 Eng. C0. 22 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Aug. 13, 1970 Eng. Co. 24 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Aug. 21, 1970 Eng. Co. 7 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Aug. 25, 1970 Eng. Co. 30 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Aug. 31, 1970 Eng. Co. 36 1964 WLF 1250 GPM Pumper
Multiple alarm fires in August 1970.
8/2 3-1861, 8/3 2-7276, 8/4 2-3623, 8/14 3-6194, 8/18 2-2113, 8/23 2-1742.
Apparatus changes as follows:
Sept. 1, 1970 Eng. Co. 37 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Sept. 3, 1970 Eng. Co. 16 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Sept. 9, 1970 Eng. Co. 17 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Sept. 15, 1970 Eng. Co. 1 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Sept. 17, 1970 Eng. Co. 52 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Effective 8:00 A.M., September 23, 1970, "Special Service 2" (Car 13) is
established with quarters at Engine Co. 14, 27 Centre Street. "Special Service Unit"
changed to "Specia1 Service 1" (Car 12). The assignments and duties of these District
Chiefs are fully explained in General Order 43.
Effective 8:00 A.M., September 30, 1970 (G.O.44), all mutual aid assignments of
 



138
Engine C0. 26 are revoked and will be assumed by Engine Companies 8 and 39 as
specified in G.O.44.
Multiple alarm fires in September 1970.
9/2 2-1781, 9/8 2-2234, 9/10 2-3171 and 2-339, 9/13 3-3618 and 4-21 13,9/20 2-3373.
On October 3, 1970, a new type hosewagon with articulated boom and nozzle
(SQURT) replaced the hosewagon at Engine Co. 26.
Apparatus changes as follows:
Oct. 6, 1970 Eng. Co. 32 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Oct. 9, 1970 Eng. Co. 14 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Oct. 13, 1970 Eng. Co. 43 new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Oct. 13, 1970 Ladd. Co. 30 new 1970 ALF 100 ft aerial-Diesel
(this replaced an 85 ft aerial)
On October 16, 1970, Engine Co. 32 and Ladder Co. 9 moved to new house at 525
Main Street, corner Medford Street, Charlestown. Old fire station at 440 Bunker Hill St.
was closed.
Fire Lieutenant Joseph J. Downing of Engine Co. 2 died on October 16, 1970 from
serious burns received on September 19, 1970 at still alarm opposite 18 Dorchester
Street (explosion of automobile gas tank).
Apparatus changes as follows:
Oct. 26, 1970 Ladder Co. 7 new 1970 ALF 100 ft aerial-Diesel
Oct. 27, 1970 Ladder Co. 10 1968 ALF 100 ft aerial-Diesel
(this replaced 85 ft aerial truck)
Oct. 28, 1970 RPU (E.13) - new 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Special Order 75 — October 29, 1970.
From April 1 to December 1, the following "Special Response" will be in effect in all
districts except Districts 3 and 4, normally between 8:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. Upon
receipt of an alarm from a street box, Fire Alarm shall not transmit the box, but shall
dispatch the first due or nearest available Engine Co., Ladder Co. and District Chief, by
telephone.
For outside fires, automobile fires or similar incidents, not involving a building, Fire
Alarm shall send an Engine Company, a Ladder Company and a District Chief. Companies
responding shall, if necessary, order the box transmitted or shall order additional units, as
required.
During period of "Special Response", full assignment shall respond to all box signals
transmitted. Fire Alarm shall transmit box signals for all still alarms for fires in buildings,
for alarms from boxes on private property, theatres, hospitals, homes for aged, rest
homes, hotels, schools and for Boxes 419 and 12-419.
When Signal (10)-41 "Reduced assignments" is transmitted, in the districts affected,
_ response shall be by 2 Engine Companies, 1 Ladder Company and one District Chief as
prior to Special Order 36 of June 12, 1967 which is cancelled.
 




 


 


141
On October 29, 1970, Rescue Pumper Unit moved to temporary location, the
pumper going to Engine 42 and the Rescue Truck to Engine 21. Both units returned to
regular quarters at 36 Washington St., Dorchester, on November 6.
Multiple alarm fires in October 1970.
10/3 2-6161, 10/7 2-2313, 10/9 2-3459, 10/10 2-2553, 10/14 2-1434, 10/18 2-2115,
10/19 2-1263 and 2-7221,10/28 4-177.
On November 3, 1970, there were simultaneous fires in the South End as follows:
Box 1551 — Tremont St. and Rutland Sq. — 5:34 P.M. all-out 6:19 P.M.
fire at 158 West Concord Street
Box 1545 — Dartmouth and Appleton Sts. — 5:47 P.M. all-out 6:38 P.M.
fire at 73 Dartmouth Street
Box 1554 — Columbus Ave. and Greenwich Pk. — 5:50 P.M. all-out 6:08 P.M.
fire at 8 Greenwich Park
On November 5, 1970, Engine Co. 33 and Ladder Co. 15 moved from their regular
quarters at 941 Boylston St. (to be remodelled) to temporary quarters in the rear of the
Fire Alarm Office at 59 Fenway, with the crews quartered in the basement of the Fire
Alarm Office (S.O.78).
Apparatus changes as follows:
Nov. 6, 1970 Eng. Co. 33 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Nov. 13, 1970 Eng.PCo. 11 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
ln accordance with Special Order 79, effective November 14, 1970, there is a
completely revised procedure in effect for ‘fBomb Scares" which have been determined to
be the prime responsibility of the Police Department.
On November 18, 1970, at 6:00 P.M., Aerial Tower 2 (85 ft) was placed in service
at quarters of Engine Co. 37 and Ladder Company 26, 560 Huntington Avenue. Ladder
Co. 26 deactivated. Rescue Equipment of Ladder 26 transferred to Aerial Tower 2. Aerial
Tower 2 assumes the first alarm assignments of Ladder Co. 26, response to multiple
alarms to be handled by the Fire Alarm Office until further orders (S.O.82).
On November 20, 1970, Engine Co. 41 received a 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel
Pumper and Ladder Co. 4 received a new 1970 ALF 100 ft Aerial truck-Diesel.
Effective 8:00 A.M., November 25, 1970, Engine Co. 56 assumed the multiple
alarm responses and covering of Engine Co. 5 for specified boxes outside of District 1
(G.O.56).
Multiple alarm fires in November 1970. P
11/4 3-1727, 11/12 2-1254, 11/14 2-2442 and 3-253, 11/22 2-3626, 11/23 2-2415,
11/27 3-3572. .
Abusy evening on December 7, 1970:
Box 7275 — Southampton St. and Newmarket Square
lst 4.56P, Work.Fire 5.00P, 2nd 5.01P, 3rd 5.09P, 4th 5.24P, 5th 5.39P and special calls
for 1 Aerial Tower and 6 Engines.

 


142
Box 5138 — Quint and Glenville Avenues
lst 5.03P, Work.Fire· 5 .08P
Box 2235 — Roxbury and Kent Sts.
lst 5.16P, Work.Fire 5.17P, 2nd 5.18P.
At 7275 25 Eng’s 3 Trucks 2 Aerial Towers 1 Rescue
5138 5 Eng’s` 2 Trucks
2235 8 Eng’s 5 Trucks
In accordance with General Order 58 — December 10, 1970 — completely revised
operating instructions are in effect for the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels.
Apparatus changes as follows:
Dec. 11, 1970 Eng. Co. 2 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Dec. 17, 1970 Eng. Co. 4 1957 Mack 1250 GPM Diesel'Pump
Dec. 18, 1970 Eng. Co. 9 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel Pump
Dec. 18,1970 Eng. C0. 10 1957 Mack 1250 GPM Pump
On December 30, 1970, Fire Fighter Edwin H. Foley of Engine Co. 30 was killed
when he fell off and was run over by the apparatus ~ false alarm Box 285.
The month of December 1970, from a viewpoint of weather, was very bad and was
acknowledged to have been the worst December since 1947. It snowed on December 6, 9,
12,13,14,16, 17, 22, 23, 24 and 26.
Multiple alarm fires in December 1970.
12/3 2-5483,12/4 2-7121, 12/7 5-7275 and 2-2235, 12/9 2-5153, 12/17 2-7415,12/21
2-344, 12/24 2-7322, 12/26 2-2634, 12/18 4-1423 and 2-1425, 12/29 2-3693, 12/30
2-1767,12/31 2-3572 and 2-1663.
In 1970, apparatus responded to 39,484 alarms (13,182 box and 26,302 still).
There were 116 multiple alarm fires, 89 with 2 alarms, 19 with 3 alarms, 6 with 4 alarms
and 2 with 5 alarms.
On December 31, 1970, there are 2330 fire alarm boxes in service.
Effective January 12, 1971, the Massachusetts Turnpike may be used by apparatus
responding to or returning from fires or when covering. Chief Officers may use the
Turnpike when responding to or returning from fires (S.O.3).
Effective at 8:00 A.M., January 14, 1971, the "Training Division" is changed to
"Training and Research Division" under the direction of a Deputy Fire Chief whose
duties and responsibilities are fully explained in General Order 2. g
Effective at 8:00 A.M., January 18, 1971, on requests for inhalator service, Fire
Alarm will dispatch the nearest Ladder or Rescue Company and notify the Boston City
Hospital Ambulance Station. When BCH ambulance has arrived and is ready for service,
they shall relieve the fire department unit at the scene. lf a BCH ambulance is not
available, Fire Alarm shall notify the Police Department (G.O.2).
On January 20, 1971, Engine Companies 12, 20 and 42 were changed to single-unit
l operation.
On January 20, 1971, during very cold weather, an early morning fire destroyed the
 



143
1800 Club Restaurant on Lewis Street, East Boston — 4 alarms Box 6136.
On January 22, 1971, Ladder Company 11 received a 1968 ALF 100 ft aerial truck
(Diesel) and Lighting Plant 2 was furnished with a new 1970 International truck.
On January 23, 1971, apparatus from Boston and other communities assisted at a
fire in the South Junior High School at Norwood.
On January 25, 1971, a 16-story building under construction at 2000 Common-
wealth Avenue, Brighton, partially collapsed. The Fire Department participated in initial
operations. The bodies of four missing workmen were recovered only after tons of
concrete and other material had been removed, the last of them not being found until
February 15, 1971.
Multiple alarm fires in January 1971.
1/2 2-2113, 1/3 3-2196, 1/6 2-3215, 1/12 2-3526, 1/14 2-7423, 1/20 4-6136, 1/23
3-3831,1/24 2-1245,1/25 3-7415,1/28 2-3412 and 2-7417,1/312-3658.
During the evening of February 1, 1971, a fast spreading fire took place in
tenements at Salem Street and Baldwin Place, a congested area of narrow streets (5 alarms
Box 1224).
At 8:00 A.M., February 3, 1971, first alarm assignments for Aerial Tower 2 were in
A effect, this unit having operated previously on the first alarm assignments of Ladder Co.
26. In addition there are revised operating instructions for engine companies (G.O.4).
On February 16, 1971, Ladder Company 17 received a new 1971 Maxim 100 ft
aerial truck (Diesel).
On February 26, 1971, Boston, Somerville and other mutual aid units assisted at a
major fire in St. Mary’s School, Harvard St., Cambridge.
Multiple alarm fires in February 1971.
2/1 3-6151 and 5-1224, 2/7 2-1221, 2/8 3-1334, 2/9 2-7441, 2/112-5334 2/12 26154,
2/16 2-3191, 2/18 2-7617, 2/20 3-1539, 2/212-2313, 2/25 2-136 and 2-7421.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., March 3, 1971, the Deputy Fire Chief in charge of the Fire
Prevention Division is designated as "Fire Marshal1" and the second in command as
“Assistant Fire Marshall” (G.O.l0).
Ladder Company 23 received a new 1971 Maxim 100 ft aerial truck (Diesel) on
March 5, 1971.
On March 8, 1971, a gasoline tank truck tipped over at the Kneeland Street exit of
the expressway, requiring the services of fire department units until March 9 (Box 1436).
On March 11, 1971, the Carter School in Chelsea (Box 432) was destroyed by fire,
requiring the response of units from Boston and other communities. ~
On March 25, 1971, Ladder Company 15 received a new 1971 Maxim 100 ft aerial
truck (Diesel).
In the early morning of March 31, 1971, fire in an apartment house at 50 Peterboro
Street required the transmission of five alarms for Box 2341, Many occupants were
rescued, however eight persons died in this fire.
lst at 12:33 A.M., Work.Fire at 12:35 A.M., 2nd at 12:35 A.M., 3rd at 12:40 A.M., two
extra trucks at 12:40 A.M., 4th at 12:49 A.M., 2 extra engines at 1:00 A.M., 5th at 1:03
A.M., 2 extra engines at 1:22 A.M.
 



144 A
Multiple alarm fires in March 1971.
3/2 3-1583, 3/5 3-6153, 3/6 3-3572, 3/7 2-3743, 3/10 2-171, 3/12 2-1877, 3/14 2-3134,
3/18 3-232, 3/21 2-3238, 3/26 2-3743, 3/28 3-342, 3/30 2-631 and 3-2881, 3/31 5-2341.
On April 12, 1971, the 65 ft Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Co. 6 was replaced by a
1962 Seagrave 100 ft aerial truck.
On April 20, 1971, the Clinton Market was destroyed by fire, five alarms on Box
1247, Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street.
On April 24, 1971, there were 4 multiple alarm fires, all of them with 2 alarms, at
Boxes 6187, 1245, 2133 and 3611. It was a very busy day, with many other alarms.
Multiple alarm fires in April 1971.
4/6 3-3397, 4/10 2-3648, 3-722 and 2-1757, 4/112-1712, 4/15 2-1544 and 2-6263, 4/19
2-2391, 4/20 5-1247, 4/24 2-6187, 2-1245, 2-2133 and 2-3611, 4/25 3-1583, 4/27
3-6136 and 2-1251, 4/29 2-5138.
On May 3, 1971, a very smoky fire in an MBTA 4-car subway train in the
underground Bowdoin Yard, west of Bowdoin Square MBTA Station (East Boston
Tunnel), in the early afternoon, required transmission of two alarms on Box 136.
At 6:00 P.M., May 10, 1971, Engine Companies 7 and 26 and Ladder Company 17
occupied a new fire station at 200 Columbus Avenue, their former quarters at 194
Broadway being ab_andoned. In addition, the headquarters of Fire District 4were moved
from the quarters of Engine 22 and Ladder 13 at 700 Tremont Street to the new fire 1
station at 200 Columbus Avenue. Special Service Chief 1 moved from 194 Broadway to (
quarters of Engine 22 and Ladder 13 ($.0.30). ,
Effective at 8:00 A.M., May 11, 1971, Lighting Plant 1 and Special Unit 1 are
combined in one vehicle to be known as "Lighting Plant 1" to perform the functions
formerly separatelyperformed by the two units. Lighting Plant 1 to be at the quarters
and under the administrative charge of Engine Company 25 at 123 Oliver Street. Lighting
Plants 1 and 2 were given first alarm assignments between 7:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. and
in addition, Lighting Plant 1 will be manned between 7 :00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M., by details
from Engine 25, Ladder 8 or Rescue Company, for response to special calls during these
hours. An emergency demolition unit, to be towed by Lighting Plant 1, when required, is
also in service.
Ladder Company 14 received a 1968 ALF 100 ft aerial truck (Diesel) on May 14,
1971.
Apparatus from Boston and other communities assisted at a major fire in the Christ
Methodist Church at Malden on May 16, 1971.
During the morning of May 28, 1971, there were three simultaneous fires in
Charlestown, at Boxes 4137, 4178 and 4173, the latter requiring 2 alarms.
Multiple alarm fires in May 1971.
5/3 2-136 and 2-3757, 5/4 2-3626, 5/7 3-5282, 5/12 2-722, 5/13 2-3536, 5/14 2-3528,
5/15 2-1361, 5/19 4-721, 5/212-7435 and 3-6174, 5/28 2-4173.
. A legislative act was approved on June 3, 1971, permitting persons who have
reached their 19th birthday on the date of an examination, to take such examination for
fire service.

 


145
June 24, 1971, the 65 ft Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Co. 25 was replaced by a
1957 Seagrave 100 ft aerial with 1968 Reo Diesel Tractor.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., June 29, 1971, a new fire district, No. 12, is established in
Division 2, with headquarters at Engine Co. 45. The boundaries and extent of Districts 7,
8, 9 and 10 were changed and headquarters of District 10 moved from Engine 45 to
Engine 55. Special Service Chief 1 will be known as "Special Service Chief", with
headquarters at Engine 12 and will normally respond to first alarms in a definite area
consisting of parts of Districts 5, 7 and 9 and shall also respond to other alarms as
outlined in General Order 27. Special Service Chief 2 abolished. District Chief 2 was given
definite additional assignments outside of his own district. At the same time, the 46-hour
work week was superseded by a new 4-group 42 hour schedule for the Fire Fighting
Force and for the Fire Alarm Division, with 10 hour day and 14 hour night tours. Group
1 worked the first day tour and Group 3 worked the first night tour under the new
schedule (G.O.27).
Multiple alarm fires in June 1971.
6/5 2-1433, 6/6 2-3393, 6/18 2-2215, 6/19 3-7222 and 2-6174, 6/22 2-3146 and 3-6174,
6/24 3-1254 and 2-2432, 6/25 2-1715, 6/28 3-1575.
1 On July 4, 1971, Fire Fighter Jeremiah Collins of Engine Company 45 was killed
when a building at Mt. Hope Cemetery partially collapsed during a fire (Box 2593).
A conflagration type fire starting in the late afternoon of July 7, 1971, in the
Prison Point area of Cambridge, resulted in the destruction of property including the
Prison Point Bridge, the latter located partly in Cambridge and in Boston. Many units
from Boston and other communities responded and worked at this fire (Cambridge Box
121).
The following received new 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM Diesel pumpers: Engines 28 and
33 on July 9, Engine 39 on July 15 and Engine 10 on July 16, 1971.
On July 21, 1971, Engine Co. 8 received a 1957 Mack 1250 GPM pumper.
Multiple alarm fires in July 1971.
7/3 2-6164, 7/4 2-1767, 7/5 2-3153, 7/9 2-2132, 7/10 3-1256, 7/11 2-3821, 7/13
2-2551, 7/14 2-3611, 7/18 2-5127, 7/28 2-6248, 7/29 2-4138.
Engine Company 52 received a new 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM Diesel Pumper on
August 5, 1971. On August 17, 1971, the 65 ft Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Company
28 was replaced by a 1962 Seagrave 85 ft Aerial Truck.
Fire Lieutenant Daniel T. Mclnnes of Engine Company 8 died at a fire at the
Boston Navy Yard, Box 4239, on August 17, 1971.
On August 28, 1971, Engine Company 40 received a 1968 WLF 1250 GPM Diesel
pumper.
On August 28, 1971, there were gale warnings and much wind damage resulted
from Hurricane Doria passing a considerable distance away from Boston.
Multiple alarm fires in August 1971.
8/8 3-1316, 8/13 2-7262, 8/14 2-1246, 8/16 2-3658, 8/17 2-1367 and 3-1422, 8/22
3-1583, 8/26 2-1436, 8/30 3-1754. ‘
At 12:01 A.M., September 1, 1971, "Military Time" (24 hour clock) is in effect

 


146
throughout the department as the first phase of a new data processing system for reports
etc. All alarms, box or still, special calls etc., without regard to type, will be assigned
consecutive incident numbers by the fire alarm office and companies and chief officers
will include these numbers in their fire reports. Fire Alarm Office started using a new
form for their alarm reports (S.O.50).
On September 7, 1971, at 1800 hours, Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company
15 moved from the temporary location at the rear of the Fire Alarm Office to their
completely remodelled quarters at 941 Boylston Street (S.O.55).
On September 9, 1971, Engine Company 18 received a 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM
Diesel pumper and on September 10, 1971, the 85 ft aerial truck of Ladder Company 22
was replaced by a 1962 Seagrave 100 ft aerial truck.
Multiple alarm fires in September 1971.
9/2 3-1247, 9/3 2-2791, 9/4 2-2391, 2-1752 and 2-1246, 9/5 3-1641, 9/8 3-1251, 9/9
3-2133, 9/12 2-2171, 9/13 3-2279, 9/17 2-1754,9/19 2-2445, 9/20 3-1361,9/213-229,
9/23 2-7163, 9/30 2-1765.
Effective at 0800 hours on October 1, 1971, a new procedure is in effect for
selecting and assigning companies to fire details.
On October 4, 1971, the 85 ft aerial truck of Ladder Company 2 was replaced by a
1956 Seagrave 100 ft aerial truck.
On October 28, 1971, Engine Company 5 was furnished with a 1968 WLF 1250
GPM Diesel pumper.
On October 20, 1971, companies from Boston and from other places operated at a
destructive fire in stores etc. at Davis Square, Somerville, affecting seven buildings.
(Somerville Box 427)
Multiple alarm fires in October 1971.
10/2 2-1757, 10/12 2-1251, 10/13 2-2284, 10/16 2-7261 and 2-1251, 10/24 2-332,
10/25 2-2235, 10/30 2-7138 and 2-1744.
On November 5, 1971, Fire Fighter James F. Doneghey of Ladder Company 30
died of injuries received during the evening of November 4 when he was thrown from the
truck at Jackson Square while Ladder 30 was responding to a false still alarm — Box
2388.
Beginning November 9, 1971, each weekday afternoon, two companies will visit the
Fire Alarm Office, with apparatus, for the purpose of becoming acquainted with fire
alarm operations and this is to continue until all groups of all companies have been there.
On November 19, 1971, Engine Company 33 was changed from double unit to
single unit operation, retaining the 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM pumper. Engine Company 37
was changed from single to double unit operation using their regular 1970 Hahn 1250
GPM pumper and a 1962 WLF 1250 GPM pumper as the wagon.
On November 22, 1971, Fire Fighter Patrick J. Kelly of Engine Company 26 was
killed at a fire in a commercial building on Lincoln Street, 5 alarms Box 1436 (November
21) 132-144 Lincoln Street.
On November 24, 1971, a department rule was added regulating the types of
mustache, sideburns, haircuts etc. permissible. This was the result of a study involving
hair and gas mask face seals (G.O.51).

 




149
Multiple alarm fires in November 1971.
11/4 2-3648, 11/9 2-1542, 11/12 3-1375,11/13 2-1752,11/14 2-1744,11/18 2-2149,
11/215-1436,11/30 2-2521.
On December 4, 1971, a very busy early morning with a fire at Box 2312, 2 alarms
Box 1364, 4 alarms Box 1735 and 3 alarms Box 7317, plus other incidents.
The fire at Box 1735 was at 677 Dudley Street, in a large old tenement—apartment
type structure, formerly known as the Gladstone Hotel. It was occupied by more than
400 persons about 125 of whom were rescued over ladders. Most of the occupants spoke
and understood only Spanish, but department personnel who had taken Spanish language
courses, were able to establish elementary communication. There was only one fatality.
Following are the times of alarms for the four important fires:
0140 Box 2312 536 Commonwealth Avenue
0149 Box 1364 44-44A Joy Street
0159 W.F.1364 .
0200 2nd 1364
0237 Box 1735 677 Dudley Street
0239 2nd 1735 plus 2 extra trucks
0301 3rd 1735
0324 4th 1735
0328 Box 7317 526-528-530 East 3 Street
0332 2nd 7317
0347 3rd 7317
On December 15, 1971, two new fire boats arrived in Boston after a water voyage
from Grafton, Illinois. One is the property of the Massachusetts Port Authority and the
other is owned by the City of Boston and this will replace the boat presently in service
with Engine Company 47, in the near future.
During the afternoon of December 22, 1971, fire damaged the former quarters of
Engine Company 16 at 2 Temple Street, corner River Street, Dorchester — 2 alarms Box
3572. The building had been last used by Engine 16 on August 12, 1958, it was later the
home of CD Engine 10 and was presently being used as a storage facility by Civil Defense.
In 1971, a new fire station is being constructed at Fairmount Avenue and Pierce
Street, Hyde Park, for Engine Company 48 and Ladder Company 28, presently located at
Harvard Avenue and Winthrop Street, in a house which was the headquarters of the Hyde
Park Fire Department until Hyde Park was annexed to Boston on January 1, 1912.
Multiple alarm fires in December 1971.
12/4 2-1364, 4-1735 and 3-7317,12/6 2-1263,12/14 3-182,12/22 2-3572,12/24 2-228,
12/29 3-1412 and 2-3364,12/30 2-1524.
With reference to the 3-alarm fire at Box 182 on December 14, this box had been
established on December 3, 1971 with location "University of Massachusetts at Columbia
Point", the fire taking place at that location.

 


150
Statistics for 1971
Total alarms to which apparatus responded 41,984
"Working" tires (not requiring multiple alarm) 163
Multiple alarm fires 144
with 2 alarms 99 '
with 3 alarms 38
with 4 alarms 3
with 5 alarms 4
Fire Alarm Boxes in service December 31, 1971 2,360
Apparatus in service — December 31, 1971
Engine Companies and Misc. Units
Description Gasoline Diesel
1971 Hahn 1500 GPM 10, 28, 33, 39, 52
1970 Hahn 1250 GPM 3,7,12, RPU, 14, 17,18,21
22, 24, 26, 37, 42, 43
2 1968 WLF 1250 GPM 1,2,5,9, 11,16, 29, 30, 32
40, 41, 53
1964 WLF 1250 GPM 34, 41, 45, 55
1962 WLF 1250 GPM 25, 39, 48, 51 37
1962 WLF 1000 GPM 3, 20, 53, 56 36
1957 Mack 1250 GPM 8,50 4
1950 GMC 750 GPM 17
1944 WLF 750 GPM 54
1942 Mack 750 GPM (USNavy) 49
1947 Fireboat 6000 GPM 31, 47
1970 Maxim-Ford SQURT 26
1957 GMC Rescue Van RPU
1964 Mack Rescue Van Rescue Co.
1950 Mack Hosewagon 40, 50
1948 Mack Hosewagon 4,,5, 10
1947 Mack Hosewagon 7, 8, 25
1949 Ford Tank Truck 54
1970 International Truck Light .Plant 2
1968 Ford Truck Light.P1ant 1
1956 GMC Van Command Post 4
Ladder and Aerial Tower Companies
1971 Maxim 100 ft metal 15,17,23
1970 ALF 100 ft metal 4, 7, 30
1970 Sutphen 75 ft metal Aerial Tower 1
1970 Sutphen 85 ft metal Aerial Tower 2

 


151
Ladder and Aerial Tower Companies (continued)
Description Gasoline Diesel
1968 ALF 100 ft metal 10, 11, 14, 20
1962 Seagrave 100 ft metal 1, 6, 22, 24
1962 Seagrave 85 ft metal 28 16
1958 Seagrave 100 ft metal
w/1968 Reo Tractor 8
1957 Seagrave 100 ft metal
w/1968 Reo Tractor 13, 25
1956 Seagrave 100 ft metal 2
1952 Mack 65 ft Jr.—metal 29
1949 Pirsch 85 ft wood 9, 19
1949 FWD 85 ft wood
w/1963 WLF tractor 27
1949 Maxim 65 ft Jr.—meta1 21
1944 ALF 100 ft metal
w/ 1968 Reo Tractor 18
1931 ALF City Service 31
Divisions, Districts and Unit Locations — December 31, 1971
DIVISION 1 — at Engine 25 — comprises Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
District 1 — at Engine 5 V
E. 5, 11 360 Saratoga St., E. Boston
E. 9 L. 2 60 Paris St., E. Boston
E. 40 260 Sumner St., E. Boston
E. 56 L. 21 1 Ashley St., E. Boston
District 2 — at Engine 50
E. 32 L. 9 525 Main St., Charlestown
E. 36 L. 22 44 Monument St., Charlestown
E. 50 34 Winthrop St., Charlestown
District 3 — at Engine 4
E. 4 L. 24 200 Cambridge St.
E. 8 L. 1 392 Hanover St.
E. 10 127 Mt. Vernon St.
E. 25 L. 8 Resc. LP. 1 123 Oliver St.
E. 31, 47 (Boats) Lincoln Wharf (temp.) Battery St.
District 4 4 at Engine 26
E. 3 Aerial Tower 1 618 Harrison Ave.
E. 7, 26 L. 17 200 Columbus Ave.
E. 22 L. 13 700 Tremont St.
E. 33 L. 15 941 Boylston St.

 


152
DIVISION 1 — at Engine 25 — comprises Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 (continued)
District 6 — at Engine 1
E. 1 119 Dorchester St., S. Boston
E. 2 L. 19 700 East 4 St., S. Boston
E. 39 L. 18 344 Congress St., S. Boston
E. 43 L. 20 920 Massachusetts Ave., Roxbury
DIVISION 2 — at Engine 42 — comprises Districts 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
District 5 — at Engine 37
E. 12 SS Chief 407 Dudley St., Roxbury
E. 14 LP. 2 27 Centre St., Roxbury
E. 37 Aerial Tower 2 5 60 Huntington Ave., Roxbury
l L. 4 198 Dudley St., Roxbury
District 7 — at Engine 17
E. 17 L. 7 Parish St., Meet. Ho. Hill, Dorchester
E. 21 641 Columbia Road, Dorchester
RPU L. 23 36 Washington St., Dorchester
(Note — RPU is Rescue-Pumper Unit)
District 8 — at Engine 16
E. 16 L. 6 9 Gallivan Blvd., Dorchester
E. 18 1884 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester
E. 20 L. 27 301 Neponset Ave., Dorchester
E. 54 L. 31 Long Island Hospital
District 9 — at Engine 28
E. 24 434 Warren St., Roxbury
E. 28 L. 10 659 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
E. 42 L. 30 1870 Columbus Ave., Roxbury
District 10 — at Engine 55
E. 30 L. 25 1940 Centre St., West Roxbury
E. 49 209 Neponset Valley Pkwy., Hyde Park
E. 55 5115 Washington St., West Roxbury
District 11 — at Engine 29
E. 29 L. 11 138 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton
E. 34 444 Western Ave., Brighton
E. 41 L. 14 16 Harvard Ave., Brighton
E. 51 425 Faneuil St., Brighton
District 12 - at Engine 45
E. 45, 53 L. 16 945 Canterbury St., Roslindale
E. 48 L. 28 30 Winthrop St., Hyde Park
*E. 52 *L. 29 120 Callender St., Dorchester
*Engine 52 and Ladder 29 are physicalbz located in District 8, but are assigned to
District 12 for administrative purposes.

 


153
Department Headquarters, Fire Alarm and 115 Southampton St., Roxbury
Radio Shops {
Maintenance Division 890 Massachusetts Ave., Roxbury
Fire Alarm Office 59 The Fenway
Training Academy Moon Island
A Very Short History of Districts and Divisions in the
Boston Fire Department - December 31, 1971
Prior to April 7, 1874, the territory of the City of Boston, with the exceptions
shown in paragraph directly below, was divided into eight (8) tire districts.
January 5, 1874 » Charlestown, Brighton and West Roxbury were annexed, but
these areas were continued for the time being under the old systems existing there.
April 7, 1874 ~ The entire city was divided into ten (10) fire districts. The largest
were No.’s 8 and 10 where the regular Chief was assisted by a Call Chief.
District 8 was Roxbury west of Washington Street and the entire Brighton District.
District 10 was practically all of Dorchester and the entire territory of the former Town
of West Roxbury (south of Egleston Square).
April 29, 1878 — Boundaries between Districts 9 and 10 changed.
June 15, 1894 — Fire Districts increased from 10 to 12. Brighton,which had been
part of District 8, now became a separate district, No. 11. The territory of the former
Town of West Roxbury, up to now part of District 10, became separate District No. 12.
January 21, 1898 — Boundaries between Districts 8 and 12 changed.
February 11, 1898 — Boundaries changed between Districts 9 and 10.
May 12, 1905 — Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7 changed.
May 30, 1906 — Boundaries between Districts 8 and 11 changed.
June 9, 1909 — Two divisions established. Division 1 comprises Districts 1 to 6 and
Division 2 comprises Districts 7 to 12. The boundaries of Districts 3, 4, 5 and 7 were
changed.
October 14, 1909 — Marine District 13 established in Division 1.
September 5, 1910 — established new District 14 in Dorchester. Boundaries of
Districts 9, 10 and 12 changed.
January 1, 1912 ~ Hyde Park annexed — new District 15 established and Districts
10, 12 and 14 changed.
November 14, 1913 — 2 Divisions abolished, 3 Divisions established. Division 1 has
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 13 (Marine), Division 2 has 6, 7, 8 and 11, Division 3 has 9, 10,
12, 14 and 15.
February 6, 1914 ~ Marine District 13 abolished.
March 14, 1914 — District 12 divided into 2 districts, No.’s 12 and 13, the former
in the northern part, Jamaica Plain etc. and the latter in the southern part,
Roslindale-West Roxbury. The 3 divisions were abolished and 2 divisions were
established, with Districts 1 to 7 in Division 1 and Districts 8 to 15 in Division 2.
July 5, 1919 — returned to three division set-up, Districts 1 to 5 in Division 1,
Districts_6, 7, 8 and ll in Division 2 and Districts 9, 10, 12,13, 14 and 15 in Division 3.
November 9, 1928 - complete revision of district boundaries.
April 8, 1931 — Boundary line changed between Districts 8 and 11.

 


154
August 9, 1939 — District 3 abolished, Districts 4, 5 and 6 changed.
June 5, 1946 — District 3 re-established, Districts 4, 5, 6 changed.
February 4, 1947 — District 3 abolished, Districts 4, 5, 6 changed. The 3 divisions
were abolished and a single division placed in service.
January 5, 1949 — single division abolished and Divisions 1 and 2 re-established,
with Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 in Division 1 and Districts 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 in
Division 2.
January 19, 1949 - Divisions 1, 2 and 3 established. Division 1 has Districts 1,2, 4
and 5, Division 2 has 6, 7, 8 and 11, Division 3 has 9,10,12,13,14 and 15.
August 20, 1951 — Boundary between Districts 6 and 9 changed.
March 31, 1954 — 3 divisions abolished, 2 divisions established. Division 1 has
Districts 1,2, 4, 5, 6, 7,11 and Division 2 has 8,9,10,12,13,14 and 15.
May 4, 1954 — 14 Fire Districts reduced to 11 (numbered 1 thru 11) Special
Service Chief first established. Division 1 has Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, Division 2 has
Districts 5, 7, 8, 9,10 and 11.
June 11, 1959 —- Boundary change between Districts 8 and 10.
November 12, 1963 — Districts 5,7,8,9, 10 revised.
December 25, 1967 — Boundary changed between Districts 6 and 7.
June 29, 1971 — new District 12 established in Division 2. There were changes in
the boundaries of Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10.
The first box transmitted on January 1, 1972 was 2758. During the evening of
January 16, 1972, a fire at the Tudor Nursing Home at 81 South Huntington Avenue
caused the removal of 47 patients without injury, while the temperature was four degrees
above zero. Box 2382, lst alarm 2241 hrs, Working Fire at 2255 hrs and 2nd alarm at
2302 hrs.
On January 20, 1972, the 65 ft. Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Company 29 was
replaced by a 1972 Maxim 100 ft. aerial truck (Diesel).
On January 28, 1972, there were two multiple alarm tires in the West Roxbury
District, the first one at 92 Rockland Street, 2 alarms Box 2997 (0936 hrs) and the other
` at 1830 Centre Street, 3 alarms Box 282 (1549 hrs).
On February 1, 1972, in accordance with General Order 3, the following are in
effect:
At 0000 hrs, new type report forms for District and Company fire reports.
At 0800 hrs, a new private central station, Atlas Alarm Corporation, preliminary
signal 888 established.
On February 5, 1972, a 15 million dollar fire destroyed several buildings in an
industrial complex at Wakefield. Apparatus responded from many communities, including
Boston which sent Engine Companies 32, 21, Ladder Company 17 and District Chief 2.
The temperature was 14 degrees with high winds.
On February 7, 1972, Ladder Company 6 received a 1972 Maxim 100 ft. aerial
truck (Diesel).
On February 16, 1972, the last City Service Ladder Truck (1931 ALF with booster
equipment) in service with Ladder Co. 31 at Long Island was replaced by a reconditioned
1949 ALF 65 ft. Junior Aerial Truck.

 


155
On February 19, 1972, there occurred one of the worst storms in many years with
high winds, rain, sleet and wet snow, causing much coastal flooding and other damage.
There were difficulties in the response of apparatus and some fire alarm circuit troubles.
On February 28, 1972, at 0800 hours, in accordance with G.O. 9, new/
detailed instructions are in effect relative to "emergencies" on Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority territory.
General Order 10, March 3, 1972, lists the following:
Engine Companies — single units — 1,2,9,11,12,14,16,18, 20,
21, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33,
34, 36, 42, 43, 45, 48, 49, 51,
5 2, 55, 56
Engine Companies — Hosewagon and Pumper — 4, 5,7, 8, 10, 25, 26, 40, 50
Engine Companies — two Pumpers — 3, 17, 37, 39, 41, 53
Engine Company — Pumper and Tank Truck — 54
Engine Company — Pumper and Rescue Van - Rescue-Pumper Unit
On March 9, 1972, Engine Company 45 received a 1968 Ward La France 1250 GPM
Diesel Pumper (formerly at E.33), and on March 20, 1972, Ladder Company 20 received
a 1972 Maxim 100 ft. aerial truck (Diesel). On March 21, 1972, Engine Company 54
received a 1942 Mack (U.S. Navy) 750 GPM Pumper (formerly at E.49).
In accordance with General Order 14, March 24, 1972, a new Planning and
Logistics Division is established. (
Due to the closing to truck traffic of the Columbia Road Bridge over the Southeast
Expressway, effective at 0800 hours, March 30, 1972 (G.O.15), there are changes in
assignments to boxes in the Columbia Point area, Engine 21 being dropped and Engine 1
being added.
During the evening of April 19, 1972, there was a serious fire at the Hotel Essex,
695 Atlantic Avenue, where many rescues were made. Three alarms on Box 1434.
During the evening of April 23, 1972, a fire in an industrial area of Dedham, near
the Boston Line, spread into Boston, causing a Boston response of 7 Engines, 2 Trucks, 1
Lighting Plant, 1 District Chief and 1 Deputy Chief (see also April 30).
On April 27, 1972, Engine Company 49 received a 1964 Ward La France 1250
GPM Pumper (formerly at E.45) and the 65 ft. Junior Aerial Truck of Ladder Company
21 was replaced by a 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. aerial truck (formerly at L.6).
April 30, 1972 was a day of low humidity and many brush fires. In the evening
there were 4 alarms on Box 3861 and a General Alarm in Dedham for fire in the former
Readville Car Shops, located partly in Boston and in Dedham. There were other fires at
this time, including a 2-alarm fire at Box 1767 (34-38 Alexander Street). A busy day and
evening. ,
In accordance with Special Order 28, May 2, 1972, the Boston Gas Company has
made available to the Boston Fire Department their dry chemical apparatus stationed at
Commercial Point in Dorchester. This apparatus can be ordered to any location thru the
Fire Alarm Office.
On May 11, 1972, Fire Fighter John A. Hopkins of Engine Co. 34 died from
injuries received on March 30, 1972 while responding to Box 51 (false alarm).

 


156
At 1330 hours, June 7, 1972, a new Diesel Fire Boat is in service with Engine
Company 47. This boat has a capacity of 6000 GPM and has SQURT and other
equipment. On June 15, 1972, the 1947 6000 GPM Diesel Fire Boat formerly in service
with Engine Co. 47 replaced a similar boat at Engine Co. 31.
On June 17, 1972, at 1434 hours, Box 1571 was transmitted for fire in the 100
year old former Hotel Vendome, at 160 Commonwealth Avenue, corner of Dartmouth
Street. The building, 5 and 7 stories high, was mostly vacant and was being remodelled.
At 1444 hours, District Chief 4 reported Box 1571 a "working fire" with 2nd alarm
ordered at 1445 hours, 3rd alarm at 1502, 4th alarm at 1506, extra truck at 1520 and 2
extra engines at 1552 hours.
At 1720 hours, the fire was reported "knocked down", but at 1728 hours, without
any warning, an entire corner of the building on Dartmouth Street collapsed. The Rescue
Company had responded at 1444 hours and now Fire Alarm special called the
Rescue-Pumper Unit and the Cambridge Rescue Company and in addition notified Police,
Hospitals, etc.
Members who died in collapse Members Injured
Fire Lt. Thomas J , Carroll E.32 Fire Lt. David Shubert E.40
Fire Lt. John E. Hanbury L.13 Fire Lt. John Nicholas E.7
F.F. Charles E. Dolan L.l3 Fire Lt. James McCabe E.33
F.F. Joseph P. Saniuk L.l3 F.F. Henry Hudson E.21
F.F. John E. Jameson E.22 F.F. John Feeney E.22
F.F. Thomas W. Beckwith E.32 F.F. Frederick Howell L.1 3
F.F. Paul J. Murphy E.32 F.F. Francis O’Connor E.21
F.F. Richard B. Magee E.33 F.F. Robert MacKinnon E.3
F.F. Joseph F. Boucher, Jr. E.22 F.F. John Heaney E.7
The truck of Ladder Co. 15 was wrecked beyond repair and the truck of Ladder
Co. 17 was damaged.
On June 19, 1972, Fire Fighter Vincent Dimino of Ladder Co. 30 died from
injuries received on October 24, 1971, when he was thrown from the truck while
responding to a false alarm.
On June 22, 1972, funeral services at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross were held for
the nine members killed at the Hotel Vendome collapse, June 17, 1972, 4 alarms - Box
1571.
On July 6, 1972, the wrecked truck of Ladder Company 15 was removed from the
site of the collapse described above.
On July 13, 1972, Fire Boats E.31 and E.47 returned to Battery Wharf from
temporary location at Lincoln Wharf.
During the evening of July 16, 1972, serious civil disturbances started in Blackstone
Square, spreading thruout the South End and resulting in harassment of fire fighting
forces in the area. These conditions continued until July 18 when there were 3 alarms on
Box 1652, for a fire at 1513-1521 Washington Street, believed to have been incendiary.
On July 19, 1972, thunderstorms and heavy rain in the evening kept the
department very busy, especially so in Districts 7,8 , 9, 10, 11 and 12.

 




159
In accordance with Special Order 51, August 3, 1972, when the Massport Fire Boat
responds to a location where a Boston Chief Officer is in charge, the officer in charge of
the boat shall report his arrival at the scene via radio, to the Boston Fire Alarm Office,
before taking any action. FAO will notify the Chief Officer in charge and will then relay
his orders to the boat.
On August 4, 1972, Ladder Co. 13 received a 1968 American La France 100 ft.
aerial truck — Diesel (formerly at L.20), while Ladder Co. 15 received a 1957 Seagrave
100 ft. aerial truck with 1968 Reo Diesel Tractor (formerly at L.13).
On August 7, 1972, at an early morning fire in a dwelling at 6 Gayland Street,
Roxbury, nine occupants lost their lives (2 alarms Box 1754).
On September 3, 1972, a severe storm resulting from the absorption of Hurricane
Carrie into a low pressure area, affected coastal sections with very high winds,
thunderstorms and about 4 inches of rain.
Effective 0800 hours, September 4, 1972 ($.0.56), certain changes and clarifica-
tions were made in the radio procedure relative to the use of radio channels 1, 2, 3 and 4. ,
October 7, 1972 —the Fire Prevention Parade planned for this day had to be
cancelled due to heavy rain.
On October 11, 1972, at an early morning fire in dwellings at 38-40-4244 G Street,
South Boston, four children died (4 alarms Box 7432).
General Order 50, October 13, 1972, specifies a new work uniform to be worn by
members while on duty in fire stations. There will be a transition period ending January
3, 1973, on which day the wearing of dungarees and chambray shirts will end, except
when engaged in extremely dirty work.
On October 17, 1972, a 1971 Maxim-Ford SQURT Wagon with booster equipment
was placed in service with Engine Company 17.
On October 21, 1972, in the evening a working fire at Box 631, Deer Island House
of Correction. There were separate fires, probably incendiary. Another fire at Box 631,
on October 22, 1972, destroyed a shed in the rear of the l—lill Prison.
At 0800 hours, October 25, 1972 (G.O.51), the following changes took effect:
Rescue-Pumper Unit at 36 Washington Street, Dorchester, is deactivated.
Rescue Company 2 organized at same location with 1972 International Rescue
Van-Diesel.
Rescue Company at 123 Oliver Street designated as Rescue Company 1.
Special Order 69, November 1, 1972, informs the department that a 1962 White
Tank Truck has been placed in the quarters of Engine Company 45 (temporary location
until E.48 new house is completed).
This water carrier has a 3/4 full capacity of 2400 gallons, carries 1-1 /2", 2-1/2" and
3/4" booster hose with electric reel. May be called to any location in the city, wherever
needed, by special call.
Effective at 1200 hours, November 2, 1972, Engine Company 37 is foam equipped
in place of Engine Company 12. ,
November 9, 1972, marked the 100th anniversary of the e "Great Boston Fire" of

 


160
November 9-10, 1872. The Fire Alarm Office struck the following signals, same as struck
in 1872, on the tappers and the radio system:
1924 hrs 52 52 52 lst alarm
1929 hrs (10) 2nd alarm
1934 hrs (12)-(12) 3rd alarm
1945 hrs (12)-(12)-(12) 4th alarm
2000 hrs (12)-(12)-(12) 5th alarm
The Box 52 Association held a 100th anniversary dinner at the Museum of Science
during the evening of November 9.
The following changes became effective at 0800 hours on November 13, 1972
(o.o.s 6);
The fire station at 44 Monument Street, Charlestown, was closed and Engine 36
and Ladder 22 were relocated. Engine Company 36 was moved to the quarters of Engine
32-Ladder 9 at 525 Main Street, Charlestown, Ladder Company 22 was moved to the
quarters of Engine Company 51 at 425 Faneuil Street, Oak Square, Brighton.
November 30, 1972, turned out to be a very busy day and also one when, for the
first time in the history of the department, there were five (5) multiple alarm fires, all of
them within a period of less than twelve (12) hours. A total of 94 separate incidents were
‘ handled between 0000 and 2400 hours.
The multiple alarm fires were as follows:
Box 1363 — lst 0456, Work.Fire 0500, 2nd 0500, 3rd 0504, extra engine 0526.
Fire at 57 Myrtle Street.
Box 1735 — lst 0833, Work.Fire 0833, 2nd 0834. Fire at 676-680 Dudley Street.
Box 3427 — lst 1005, 2nd 1010. Fire at 18 Whitman Street.
Box 1735 — lst 1301, Work.Fire 1302, 2nd 1303, 3rd 1308, 4th 1328, 2 extra
trucks 1331. Fire at 637 Dudley Street.
Box 3459 — lst 1558, 2nd 1606. Fire at 1970-74 Dorchester Ave.
On December 14, 1972, at 0800 hours, in accordance with Special Order 77,
Engine Company 48 and Ladder Company 28 occupied the new fire station at 60
Fairmount Avenue, Hyde Park, between Davison and Pierce Streets. The fire station
formerly occupied by these companies, at 30 Winthrop Street, Hyde Park, was closed.
During the afternoon of December 30, 1972, Boston and other communities sent
apparatus to a 4-alarm fire in a warehouse at Quincy Box 4161, Adams and Stedman
Streets.
Boston transmitted lst, 2nd and 3rd alarms on Mutual Aid Signal 8225 (Quincy).
Boston Engines 20, 21, 8, Ladder 27 and the Special Service Chief responded to the fire,
while Engine 2 and Ladder 20 covered in Quincy.
Beginning 1Il the afternoon of December 30 and lasting well into December 31,
freezing rain caused extremely hazardous road conditions in this area.
Last box transmitted on December 31, 1972 was 361.
During 1972, there were 38316 incidents to which apparatus responded.
On December 31, 1972, there were 2383 fire alarm boxes in service.

 


161
Alarm Statistics for 1972
· Working fires shown below are only those which were not followed by amultiple alarm.
On report of a working fire, extra apparatus is dispatched.
Multiple Alarm Fires
Work. Alarms Total
Month Fires 2 3 4 5 Multiples

Jan. 13 10 3 - —— 13
Feb. 10 4 1 1 — 6
Mar. 16 10 5 — - 15
Apr. 1 1 4 3 1 - 8
May 11 4 2 -- — 6
June 14 3 1 — - 4
July 10 10 2 — -- - 12
Aug. 12 3 -- —- — 3
Sept. 8 12 3 -- —- 15
Oct. 20 3 -- 1 — 4
Nov. 12 6 2 1 - 9
Dec. 17 9 2 2 13

1972
Total 154 78 24 6 -— 108

Boston Fire Department — Apparatus in service — Dec. 31, 1972

D — Diesel G — Gasoline M — Metal W — Wood
ALF — American La France WLF — Ward LaFrance
FWD — Four Wheel Drive Co.
Engine Companies
1 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
2 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
3 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (G)
4 1957 Mack 1250 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
5 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
7 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
8 1957 Mack 1250 GPM (G) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
9 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
10 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
11 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
12 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
14 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
16 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
17 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1971 Maxim-Ford SQURT
(w/booster) (G)

 


162
18 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
20 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (G)
) 21 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
22 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
24 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
25 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (G) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
26 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1970 Maxim-Ford SQURT (G)
28 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
29 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
30 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
31 1947 Fire Boat 6000 GPM (D)
32 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
33 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
34 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
36 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (D)
37 1970 Hahn C 1250 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
39 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
40 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1950 Mack Hosewagon (G)
41 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (G)
42 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
43 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
45 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
47 C 1971 Fire Boat 6000 GPM (D) with SQURT, etc., etc.
48 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
49 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (G)
50 1957 Mack 1250 GPM (G) and 1950 Mack Hosewagon (G)
51 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
52 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
53 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (D)
54 1942 Mack 750 GPM-
U.S. Navy (G) and 1949 Ford Tank Truck 600
gals. (G)
55 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (G)
56 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (G)
Misc. Units
Rescue C0. 1 1964 Mack Rescue Van (G)
Rescue Co. 2 1972 International Rescue Van (D)
Light .Plant 1 1968 Ford (G) this is also a chemical unit
Light.Plant 2 1970 International (G)
Command
Post 4 1956 GMC Van (G) —
Tank Truck 1962 White Tanker (G) 3/4 full cap/2400 gals. water

 


163
Ladder Companies
1 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) (G)
2 1956 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) (G)
4 1970 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
6 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (M) (D) ‘
7 1970 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
8 1958 Seagravc 100 ft. (M) with 1968 Rco Tractor (D)
9 1949 Pirsch 85 ft. (W) (D)
10 1968 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
11 1968 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
13 1968 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
14 1968 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
15 1957 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
16 1962 Seagrave 85 ft. (M) (D)
17 1971 Maxim 100 ft. (M) (D)
‘ 18 1944 ALF 100 ft. (M) with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
19 1949 Pirsch 85 ft. (M) (D)
20 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (M) (D)
21 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) (G)
22 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) (G)
23 1971 Maxim 100 ft. (M) (D)
24 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) (G)
25 1957 Seagrave 100 ft. (M) with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
27 1949 FWD 85 ft. (W) with 1963 WLF Tractor (G)
28 1962 Seagrave 85 tt. (M) (G)
29 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (M) (D)
30 1970 ALF 100 ft. (M) (D)
31 1949 ALF 65 ft. (M) (G) Junior Aerial
Aerial
Tower 1 1970 Sutphen 75 ft. (M) (D)
Aerial
Tower 2 1970 Sutphen 85 ft. (M) (D)
Boston Fire Department
Divisions, Districts and Unit locations — December 31, 1972
Division 1 — at Engine 25
District 1 at Engine 5
E.5 11 360 Saratoga Street, E.B.
E.9 L.2 60 Paris Street, E.B.
E.40 260 Sumner Street, E.B.
E.56 L.21 1 Ashley Street, E.B.

 


164
District 2 at Engine 50
E.32 36 L.9 525 Main Street, Chas.
E.50 34 Winthrop Street, Chas.
District 3 at Engine 4
E.4 L.24 200 Cambridge Street
E.8 L.l 392 Hanover Street
E.10 127 Mt. Vernon Street
E.25 L.8
Resc. 1
LP.l 123 Oliver Street
E.31 47 (Fire Boats) foot of Battery Street
District 4 at Engine 26
E.3 AT.1 618 Harrison Avenue
E.7 26 L.17 200 Columbus Avenue
E.22 L.13 700 Tremont Street
E.33 L.15 _ 941 Boylston Street
District 6 at Engine 1
E.1 119 Dorchester Street, S.B.
E.2 L.19 700 East 4th Street, S.B.
E.39 L.18 344 Congress Street, S.B.
E.43 L.20 920 Massachusetts Avenue, Rox.
Division 2 — at Engine 42
District 5 at Engine 37
E.12 S.S. Chief 407 Dudley Street, Rox.
E.14 LP.2 27 Centre Street, Rox.
E.37 AT.2 5 60 Huntington Avenue
L.4 198 Dudley Street, Rox.
District 7 at Engine 17
E.17 L.7 Parish Street, Meet. House Hill
E.21 · 641 Columbia Road, Dor.
L.23
Resc. 2 36 Washington Street, Dor.
District 8 at Engine 16
E.16 L.6 9 Gallivan Blvd., Dor. `
E.18 1884 Dorchester Ave., Dor.
E.20 L.27 301 Neponset Avenue, Dor.
E.54 L.31 Long Island, Boston Harbor
District 9 at Engine 28
E.24 434 Warren Street, Rox.
E.28 L.10 659 Centre Street, J .P.
E.42 L.30 1870 Columbus Avenue, Rox.

 


165
District 10 at Engine 55
E.30 L.25 1940 Centre Street, W.R.
E.49 209 Neponset Valley Pkwy., H.P.
E.55 5115 Washington Street, W.R.
District 11 at Engine 29
E.29 L.1l 138 Chestnut Hill Ave., Bri.
E.34 444 Western Avenue, Bri.
E.41 L.14 16 Harvard Avenue, Bri.
E.51 L.22 425 Faneuil Street, Bri.
District 12 at Engine 45
E.45 53 L.16 945 Canterbury Street, Rosl.
E.48 L.28
Tank Trk. .60 Fairmount Avenue, H.P.
**E.52 L.29 120 Callender Street, Dor.
**Engine 52 and Ladder 29 are physically located in District 8,but are in District
12 for administrative purposes —— when their new quarters at Blue Hill Avenue and
Donald Road are completed, physical location will also be in District 12.
Department Headquarters and
Fire Alarm Shop 115 Southampton Street, Rox.
Maintenance Division 890 Massachusetts Avenue, Rox.
Fire Alarm Office _ 59 The Fenway
Training Academy Moon Island
On Thursday, January 4, 1973, fire on a Rapid Transit Train in the Dorchester
Tunnel, between Broadway and South Station, at about 0650 hours, resulted in the
transmission of 2 alarms on Box 1412. Due to the location of the train in the tunnel,
there were difficult operating conditions.
Effective January 9, 1973, mutual aid response from Boston to Signal 8217 will
start on second instead of third alarms in Somerville (G .0.2).
On January 10, 1973, units from Boston and other communities responded to
Cambridge which had a serious fire in a Plastics Factory at 32 Valentine Street. Some
Boston units remained in Cambridge until January 11, the last of them arriving at its own
quarters at 1944 hours on the llth.
On January 11, 1973, apparatus responded at 1937 hours to Box 711 for fire in an
8-story mercantile building at 332-340 Summer Street. Five alarms and several special
calls brought the following to the fire:
Engine Co’s. 39, 25, 3, 2, 43, 8, 26, 50,21, 24, 10,42, 40, 34, 53, 37, 32, 18, 17,
11,20, 51, 7, 12, 16, 55,9, 33,5,56.
ladder Co’s. 18, 8, 17, 19, 23, 22 Aerial Towers 1,2 Rescue Co.1
At 0800, January 12, 1973, the Boston Fire Department Band was disbanded.

 


166
Another 5-alarm fire occurred at 1143 hours on January 15, 1973, at 437 Boylston
Street in a building housing banking, consular and other offices (Box 1535).
Almost simultaneous 2-alarm fires during the early morning of January 20, 1973
kept thedepartment busy. The first fire at 525 Massachusetts Avenue at 0435 hours·(Box
1557) was soon followed by another at 0453 hours (Box 1568) at 34 Dalton Street, only
a short distance away from the first fire.
During the early morning of February 2, 1973, when streets were barely passable
due to an ice storm, the truck of Ladder Co. 20 jack-knifed on Southampton Street while
responding to Box 7311, resulting in the death of Fire Fighter Arthur L. Ceurvels.
On February 6, 1973, at 1624 hours, another fire on a Rapid Transit Train in the
Dorchester Tunnel near South Station resulted in the death of one person and the
removal of many to hospitals for smoke inhalation. Two alarms on Box 1412 with special
calls for additional ladder companies, ambulances, breathing equipment, air bottles and
other equipment.
On February 14, 1973, fire believed to have been started by workmen using torches
gutted an old church at 8 Smith Court on Beacon Hill, at 1246 hours. Three alarms on
Box 1364.
On February 23, 1973, fire was discovered at 1900 hours in an old synagogue at
Paris and Gove Streets, East Boston, resulting in the transmission of 5 alarms on Box
6155 and special calls for 4 additional engine companies. At 2154 hours, Box 1525 for
fire at 47 Warren Avenue, South End, two alarms being required at this location.
Reopening of the Columbia Road Bridge over the Southeast Expressway, closed to
trucks and fire apparatus since March 20, 1972, permitted the resumption, effective at
0800, March 7, 1973, of normal response to locations east of the expressway, by Engine
Co. 21.
On March 13, 1973, at 1903 hours, there was a “working f1re" at Box 12-1519, 9th
and 14th floors of the Statler-Hilton Hotel at 50 Providence Street.
General Order 15, on April 5, 1973, placed in effect a "Helicopter Emergency
Procedure", for use in case of unusual life hazards, at fires in high-rise buildings or at
other locations where the use of a helicopter would increase the efficiency of the
department. The order provides detailed operating instructions.
In accordance with General Order 23, effective at 0800 hours, May 7, 1973, Fire
District 11 (Brighton) was transferred from Division 2 to Division 1. Effective at the same
,time were changes in the response and covering assignments of District Fire Chiefs, on
"working" fires and multiple alarms.
On May 15, 1973, apparatus responding at 0348 hours to Box 5253, found fire in a
woodworking establishment at 20-24 Braintree Street, Allston. This fire required the
transmission of 5 alarms and this was only the fourth time that a 5-alarm fire had
occurred in the Brighton District since annexation to Boston on January 5, 1874. Prior
5 -alarm tires in that district were:
Box 5246 on September 23, 1962
Box 5276 on October 25, 1963
Box 5221 on June 23, 1965

 


167
A fire at the Wiggin Terminal, Mystic Docks, on May 19, 1973, required five alarms
on Box 4192, with first alarm at 1138 hours.
May 20, 1973, was a busy day, starting at 0510 hours with a working fire at Box
2135, followed at 0631 by 4 alarms on Box 2384, plus working fires at Box 3377 at
0654, Box 6134 at 2229 and at Box 3495 at 2244 hours, and many other incidents
throughout the day.
On May 28, 1973, fire destroyed a Congregational Church at Mt. Vernon and
Centre Streets, West Roxbury, first alarm at 0310 hours, 4 alarms Box 285.
Boston Fire Department Radio Channels 2 and 4 were moved from the Suffolk
County Court House to the Prudential Tower on June 6, 1973.
General Order 35 on June 8, 1973, announced that Private Central Station signal
numbers, their location and apparatus assignments will no longer be published in General
Orders. The Fire Alarm Office will dispatch companies and chiefs in the same manner as
to still alarms.
On June 16, 1973, the 1947 6000 GPM Diesel Fire Boat, formerly assigned to
Engine Company 31, was sold at public auction.
At 0800, June 20, 1973, the Fire Department Radio Shop was moved from 115
Southampton Street to the basement of the Fire Alarm Office at 59 The Fenway.
At 0800 hours, June 27, 1973, Engine Co. 52 and Ladder Co. 29 moved from 120
Callender Street to a new fire station at 975 Blue Hill Avenue, corner Donald Road. Both
companies had been in Fire District 12 for administrative purposes and the move placed
them in that district physically. ·
General Order 40, effective at 1200 hours, July 11, 1973, established additional
box locations for structural hazards at Logan International Airport and reserved existing
Box 612 (Control Tower) for extreme emergencies on or immediately adjacent to Airport
property, involving incoming or departing aircraft, as well as stand-by passenger-occupied
aircraft. Detailed instructions are part of this order.
Effective at 1200 hours, July 28, 1973, Engine Co. 47 (Fire Boat) replaced Engine
Co. 31 on first alarm response to Boxes 7611 thru 7618 (G.O.42).
At 1122 hours, July 31, 1973, Box 612 was transmitted for a plane crash at Logan
Airport. Of 89 persons aboard the DC—9 aircraft, only one survived. The survivor died on
December 11, 1973.
Effective at 0800 hours, August 15, 1973, changes were in effect on multiple alarm
assignments for 3500 series boxes, affecting Engine Companies 5, 7, 9, 10, 17, 26 and 51.
On August 16, 1973, Rescue Company 2 moved from quarters of Ladder Co. 23 at
36 Washington Street, Dorchester (District 7) to quarters of Engine Co. 52-Ladder Co. 29
at 975 Blue Hill Avenue (District 12).
On August 17, 1973, Engine Co. 24 moved from 434 Warren Street (District 9),
where it had_been since December 10, 1873, to the quarters of Ladder Co. 23 at 36
Washington Street, Dorchester (District 7).
At 0800 hours, August 22, 1973, response and covering assignments were in effect
(including special instructions) for Boxes 43 and 431 and their associated "prefix" boxes
on the Boston sections of Interstate Routes 93 and 695 .
Due to a serious accident at 0605 hours on September 10, 1973, which caused

 


168 '
structural damage to the Mystic-Tobin Bridge, connecting Boston and Chelsea, both levels
were closed for an indefinite period. Resulting traffic congestion on alternate routes
caused immediate adjustments in the out-of-district responses of the companies located in
the East Boston and Charlestown Districts.
Effective at 0800 hours, October 8, 1973, radio call signs for department cars were
changed to identify division assignments, as follows:
A — Mayor’s Office and misc. assignments
C — Administrative Officers — General Headquarters
G — Planning and Logistics Division
K — Fire Prevention Division
M -— Maintenance Division
S — Fire Alarm Division
W — Training and Research Division
(The assigned number of the unit follows the letter.)
Call signs for District Fire Chiefs and company units were not changed.
October 14, 1973, was a very busy day, with many alarms, including a
conflagration type fire in the neighboring City of Chelsea. Starting at 1602 hours, Boston
dispatched to that city Engine Companies 50, 11, 10, 8, 39, 21, 20, 34, 14, 48, Ladder
Companies 15, 11, 8 and 3 Chief Officers. In addition, many places in Eastern
Massachusetts sent apparatus to Chelsea. Some Boston companies were still in Chelsea at
0800 on October 15. To recall an historic event, the Chelsea Fire of April 12, 1908,
which destroyed a large part of the city, to which, starting at 1124 hours, Boston
dispatched Engine Companies 5, 36, ll, 27, 9, 6, 39, 10, 26, 33, 8, 15, Ladder
Companies 22, 21 and a fire boat. All land companies sent on that occasion were
horsedrawn.
On the same day, October 14, Fire Fighter John W. Carlson of Engine Co. 28 died
after being taken to a hospital from a fire at Box 2416.
On October 17, 1973, the last ladder truck with a wood aerial ladder was removed
from active service (see "Apparatus Changes").
In 1972 there had been 38316 incidents to which apparatus responded. Incident
No. 38316 in 1973 occurred at 2022 hours on October 24.
On November 1, 1973, there was much activity during the early morning hours
with "working" fires occurring at 0245 hours (Box 3375), 0312 hours (Box 3146) and
0332 hours (Box 2394).
November 9, 1973, was a busy day. In the early morning there were 5 alarms on
Box 6174 (0129), a “working" fire at Box 12-7215 (0208), 2 alarms at Box 3736 (0235)
and later in the day a "working" fire at Box 1775 (1742), followed by 3 alarms at Box
7312 (2209). Activity continued into the early morning of November 10, with 2 alarms
at Box 2378 (0159), "working" fire at Box 2386 (0239) and 5 alarms at Box 1368
(0439). The last fire was in an apartment house at 14 Hancock Street, Beacon Hill, where
several persons were injured.
A serious fire occurred at 1306 hours on November 16, 1973, in a building housing
a hardware company at 15-21 Union Street, near Dock Square, 4 alarms Box 1259.

 


169
On November 19, 1973, there were practically simultaneous multiple alarm fires in
Dorchester. At 0209 hours Box 3459 — 2 alarms and at 0229 hours Box 3426 — 4 alarms.
On November 20 there were two more multiple alarm fires in Dorchester. At 0154 hours
Box 3654 — 3 alarms and at 0315 hours Box 3624 — 2 alarms. The last two are only a
short distance apart.
Special Order 68, dated November 20, 1973, announced an "Energy Conservation
Program". Among other items, high pressure pumps (at HP. Stations), for the time being,
will be started only on orders of the Fire Alarm Office, depending on conditions reported
from the scene of an alarm in the H.P. Area.
With reference to the closing of the Mystic-Tobin Bridge on September 10, 1973,
for extensive structural repairs, the northbound (lower) level was reopened on November
21 and the southbound (upper) level on November 29. This acted to restore normal
apparatus response and covering assignments.
On November 23, 1973, there was a "working" fire in the building at 44 Monument
Street, Charlestown (Box 4161 at 1150 hours). This was a former fire station, originally
occupied by Hose Company 4 on October 20, 1885. This company was replaced by
newly organized Engine Company 36 on September 16, 1890. On February 11, 1898, an
additional company, Combination Ladder 5, was organized here. This company was
designated as Ladder Company 22 on April 21, 1905, after which both Engine Co. 36 and
Ladder Co. 22 remained here until November 13, 1972, when the building was vacated by
the fire department.
A change was made in the high pressure service effective at 0800 hours on
November 30, 1973, when H.P. Station 1 at 175 Kneeland Street was placed in active
reserve and H.P. Station 2 at 5 60 Atlantic Avenue became the active station. At the latter
there will be two men on duty at all times, one of whom shall activate H.P. Sta. 1 when
required, both stations to be tested twice daily (Special Order 71). See also G.O.29 in
effect July 9, 1969, for prior arrangements.
December 1973 was warmer than normal, with considerable rain, but without
measurable snow. The O1'1ly event worthy of note was the occurrence of simultaneous
multiple alarm fires during the early evening of December 12, when there were 2 alarms
at Box 212, Washington and Thorndike Sts., and 3 alarms at Box 7245, Dorchester Ave.
and Kemp St.
A new record was set in 1973 for the number of incidents to which apparatus
responded, there being 47933, or an average of 131.3 per day. Previously, the highest
number had been 42016 in 1968, an average of 114.8 per day. In 1973 there had been
130 multiple alarm fires or one multiple for every 368.71 incidents. In 1968 there had
been 201 or one for every 209 incidents.
Apparatus Changes in 1973 — (D) Diesel (G) Gasoline
New apparatus placed in service — 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM Pumps (D)
E.12 Aug. 15*, E.l4 Aug. 21*, E.21 Aug. 23*, E.42 Oct. 19, E.24 Oct 24
*indicates "single-stage" pump, the first used in Boston.
1973 Maxim 100 ft. Aerial Truck-Tractor-Trailer Type — (D)
L.l5 June 21, L.7 June 29, L.4 July 17

 


170
Apparatus reassigned, etc.
1970 Hahn 1250 GPM Pumps (D) — E.4 May 3 (ex.,E.13), E.16 Aug. 24
(ex E.21), E.8 Nov. 19 (ex E.42), E.55 Nov. 29 (ex E.12), E.50 Dec. 7
(ex E.14), E.25 Dec. 19 (ex E.24).
1957 Mack 1250 GPM Pump (D) ~ E.50 Aug. 6 (ex E.4) see 12/7 above.
1962 WLF 1000 GPM Pump changed from (G) to (D) —- E.56 Oct. 11
1957 Seagrave 100 ft. aerial truck with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
L.9 July 6 (ex L.15)
1970 ALF 100 ft. Aerial Truck (D)
L.l 6 Aug. 31 (ex L.7), *L.19 Oct. 17 (ex L.4)
1962 Seagrave 85 ft. aerial truck (D)
*L.27 Sept. 21 (ex L.16)
1962 Seagrave 100 ft. aerial truck chgd. from (G) to (D)
L.21 Oct. 2
*Prior to the changes noted above, Ladder Co. 27 had the last spring-raised 85 ft.
wood aerial and mdder Co. 19 had the last hydraulically-raised 85 ft. wood
V aerial.
{‘Working Fires and Multiple Alarm Fires in 1973

Fires with Total
"Work." 2 3 4 5 Mult. Alarm
Month Fires alarms Fires
( Jan. 17 8 1 0 2 1 1
Feb. 16 7 3 0 1 1 1
Mar. 12 7 2 1 0 10
Apr. 16 7 4 0 0 1 1
May 14 6 0 2 2 10
June 17 10 2 0 0 12
July 8 6 0 0 0 6
Aug. 14 5 0 0 0 5
Sept. 14 16 3 0 0 19
Oct. 24 4 4 1 0 9
Nov. 20 10 2 3 2 17
Dec. 14 7 2 0 0 9
Totals 186 93 23 7 7 130
- Note: A "working" fire, as listed here, is a first alarm fire reported as a "wor1<ing" fire
by the officer in charge at the scene and did not require a multiple alarm. When
Fire Alarm Office receives such a report, extra apparatus is dispatched.

 


171

Total number of incidents to which apparatus responded in 1973 was 47933.
The expression "Incident" refers to the entire action at the scene of an alarm, all action
at one location being grouped under one "Incident Number" for identification. Incident
numbers start with "1" at the beginning of each year.
Fire Alarm Boxes in service on 12-31-1973 ...... 2406 (This refers to boxes actually
installed and excludes boxes established but not yet installed and does not include
"phantom" box locations).
Boston Fire Department — Apparatus in service on Dec. 31, 1973
(D) — Diesel (G) — Gasoline ALF — American La France
WLF — Ward La France SS ~ Single-stage Pump
Engine Companies
1 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
2 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
3 1970 Hahn 1970 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (G)
4 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
5 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
7 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
8 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
9 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
10 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D) and 1948 Mack Hosewagon (G)
11 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
12 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM (D) SS
14 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM (D) SS
16 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
17 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1971 Maxim-Ford SQURT with
booster equipment (G)
18 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
20 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (G)
21 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM (D) SS
22 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
24 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM (D)
25 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1947 Mack Hosewagon (G)
26 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1970 Maxim-Ford SQURT (G)
28 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
29 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
30 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
31 1947 Boat 6000 GPM (D)
32 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
33 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
34 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (D)

 


172
36 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (D)
37 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
39 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
40 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1950 Mack Hosewagon (G)
41 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (G)
42 1973 Maxim 1500 GPM (D)
43 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
45 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
47 1971 Boat 6000 GPM (D) with SQURT, etc.
48 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
49 1964 WLF 1250 GPM (G)
50 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D) and 1950 Mack Hosewagon (G)
51 1962 WLF 1250 GPM (D)
52 1971 Hahn 1500 GPM (D)
53 1968 WLF 1250 GPM (D) and 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (D)
54 1942 Mack
(U.S. Navy) 750 GPM (G) and 1949 Ford Tank Truck 600 gal (G)
55 1970 Hahn 1250 GPM (D)
56 1962 WLF 1000 GPM (D)
Misc. Units ‘
Rescue C0. 1 1964 Mack Rescue Van (G) a
Rescue Co. 2 1972 International Rescue Van (D)
Light.P1ant 1 1968 Ford (G) Comb. Light.P1ant and Chem. Unit
Light.Plant 2 1970 International (G)
Command Post 4 1956 GMC Communications Van (G)
Tank Truck 1962 White Tanker (G) 3/4 full cap. 2400 gal. water
ladder Companies (all meta1—hydrau1ic, all tractor-trailer, exc. L.31)
1 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (G)
2 1956 Seagrave 100 ft. (G)
4 1973 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
6 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
7 1973 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
8 1958 Seagrave 100 ft. with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
9 1957 Seagrave 100 ft. with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
10 1968 ALF 100 ft. (D)
11 1968 ALF 100 ft. (D)
13 1968 ALF 100 ft. (D)
14 1968 ALF 100 ft. (D)
15 1973 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
16 1970 ALF 100 ft. (D)
17 1971 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
18 1944 ALF 100 ft. with 1969 Reo Tractor (D)

 


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19 1970 ALF 100 ft. (D)
20 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
21 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (D)
22 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (G)
23 1971 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
24 1962 Seagrave 100 ft. (G)
25 1957 Seagrave 100 ft. with 1968 Reo Tractor (D)
27 1962 Seagrave 85 ft. (D) G
28 1962 Seagrave 85 ft. (G)
29 1972 Maxim 100 ft. (D)
30 1970 ALF 100 ft. (D) D
31 1949 ALF 65 ft. (G) Junior Aerial
Aerial Towers (metal-hydrau1ic,NO tiller steering)
1 1970 Sutphen 75 ft. (D)
2 1970 Sutphen 85 ft. (D)

 



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177
INTRODUCTION
In the event of fire or other emergency requiring certain and fast response byfire
department units, citizens may summon such assistance either by pulling a fire alarm box
or by calling an emergency telephone number. After they have done either, they expect,
and rightly so, the arrival of help in a minimum of time.
The average citizen is neither interested in nor concerned with what takes place
between his call for help and the arrival of apparatus, except that he or she wants
assistance without delay.
The fire alarm office sets in motion the machinery which produces response of the
required units to the specified location. Fast and faultless action by this office
contributes materially to the subsequent success of fire fighting or emergency operations.
The fire alarm office is expected and prepared to function rapidly and correctly
under any and sometimes very adverse conditions and it is the only agency within the fire
department completely aware, at any given instant, of overall conditions in the entire
city.
A fire department could not function without proper communications and since
the fire alarm office represents "com1nunications", it is a very important and essential
part in the overall picture of fire fighting and emergency operations.
It is intended, in the following, to present a general story of the Boston Fire Alarm
System, not necessarily in complete and minute detail, but sufficient to explain its
development. It is hoped that it will be of interest to those familiar with its workings and
of some educational value and understandable to those lacking that knowledge.
A large part of the story which follows is the result of my own research into a
subject of great personal interest. But I also took the liberty of using some excerpts from
papers written by the late John Galway who was connected with the Boston Fire Alarm
System from May 16, 1895 to July 30, 1941 when he retired as Chief Operator. He was
an extraordinary researcher of its early affairs and history, who explained quite a few
mysteries to me.
Boston was fortunate to preserve all records of its fire alarm system from the first
day of operation on April 28, 1852 and this story is the consolidation of some of this
voluminous information.
Early Alarms of Fire
Before the advent of electric fire alarm telegraph systems in Boston and elsewhere,
alarms of fire were given by crying FIRE, the ringing of church bells or by any other
noisy means to make that fact known to the general population and to the members of
the fire department who, while organized in companies, pursued their normal civilian
activities until called for fire duty.
Communications, other than those of a slow nature by sight, sound or personal
message, were not available until the perfection of the electro-magnetic telegraph by
Samuel F.B. Morse in 1844.
 


178
The Beginnings
Boston and other municipalities owe the existence of their fire alarm systems to
two men whose knowledge, ability, imagination and perseverance caused them to
experiment with and advocate the introduction of something completely new and
untried.
They also owe a debt to the progressive city government of Boston, the members of
which, in 1851, were successfully persuaded to appropriate the funds necessary for the
construction of the first fire alarm system.
The following information was taken from a paper written in the early 1930’s by
John Galway, referred to on a previous page.
Dr. William F. Channing, inventor of the first practical fire alarm system, was born
in Boston on February 22, 1820 and died there on March 19, 1901. He graduated from
Harvard and also received an M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, but never
practiced medicine.
Professor Moses G. Farmer, co-worker of Dr. Channing in the early development of
the fire alarm telegraph, was born in Boscawen, N.H. on February 2, 1820 and died in
Chicago on May 25, 1893. He received a degree from Dartmouth College in 1853.
Mr. Farmer was a pioneer in electrical engineering and it was he who in 1851
developed the principle, still in use, of transmitting alarms from boxes to a central office.
He also designed and patented a bell-striking apparatus and both he and Dr. Channing,
jointly or singly, developed many devices for use with the original fire alarm system.
After the Boston system had been in successful use for two years, both applied in
1854 for a patent covering the first fire alarm system. Patent No. 17355 was issued on
May 19, 1857. ’
In 1871 they applied for an extension of the patent and after a lengthy hearing and
625 pages of testimony, the Patent Office granted the extension and made the following
determinations:
"That Dr. Channing first conceived the idea of using a telegraphic system of fire A
alarm in 1839 and that he communicated his plan to Dr. Jackson of Boston in 1842.
That on May 30, 1845 Dr. Channing published an article in the Boston Daily
Advertiser explaining how such a system could be built and made practicable, describing
an arrangement of signal and alarm stations and a central station. That in March 1851 he
submitted a memorial to the Mayor and the Common Council of Boston calling attention
to his plan for the ‘Application of the Electric Telegraph to Signalizing Alarms of Fire’."
The examiner concluded that when the original patent was applied for in 1854,
there was no other fire alarm system in existence which embraced the features found in
g that of the applicant.
This proves that Boston had the first fire alarm system having street boxes which,
when operated, gave an alarm at the central office where an operator caused the bells to
be struck electrically.
While the Boston system was being constructed in 1851, Dr. Channing, under date
of November 11, 1851, published a detailed description entitled “On the Municipal

 


179
Electric Telegraph, Especially in its Application to Fire Alarms", truly a historical
document. However when the system as described and built, was tested on March 1,
1852, it proved to be a failure in some respects.
Several of the alarm bell apparatus were wrecked and the boxes and the "open"
type of box circuits were found unreliable. Several changes were quickly made, notably in
the boxes where the hand cranks attached directly to the code wheels were changed to
actuate gearing which in turn drove the code wheel and the boxes and box circuits were
changed to "Closed" circuit operation.
The alarm circuits, operating on the "open" circuit principle, proved to be
satisfactory and alarms were struck from the office by "open" circuit for many years.
In March 1855 Dr. Channing lectured on the Boston Fire Alarm System before the
Smithsonian Institute. Present at this lecture was John N. Gamewell of Camden, South
Carolina, who soon came to Boston where he purchased the rights to construct fire alarm
systems in the southern and western states. In 1859, Gamewell and his associates
purchased all the patents and the Gamewell Company had been launched, a name which
eventually became synonymous with FIRE ALARM.
Publications of the Gamewell Company and its successors use the year 1855 as the
start of their enterprise.
John Gamewell came very close to losing his entire business, because being a
southerner, he had returned to his home in South Carolina during the Civil War, when the
federal government seized his patents and sold them at public auction.
John F. Kennard, connected with the Boston Fire Alarm System and subsequently
its Superintendent from 1867 to 1880, went to Washington prepared to pay as much as
$20,000.-, but got the patents for $80.-.
After the war, Kennard returned most of the patents to Gamewell.
Construction of the System
A Joint Special Committee was appointed by an order of the Boston City Council,
passed June 16, 1851, to carry out the installation of a system of telegraphic fire alarm.
The committee, after conferring with Dr. Channing, appointed Moses G. Farmer as
Superintendent of Construction and the latter immediately commenced experiments to
determine what was needed and together with Dr. Channing designed the various devices
required all of which were subsequently manufactured locally.
Since it was intended to use patents held by Samuel F.B. Morse in connection with
the telegraph developed by him and put in operation in 1844, the city obtained a license
from Mr. Morse for $800.-.
In 1851, the only overhead wires in Boston were those of two telegraph companies,
the Boston & New York Printing Telegraph Co. (House’s Telegraph) and the Bain
Company and the methods employed by them were the primary example of how the fire
alarm wires would be put up. I
Routes for the circuits had been selected as had been the locations of fire alarm
boxes and alarm bells and actual outside work was started on September 8, 1851.
The installation of outside wires progressed, #8 and #10 bare wire made of Swedish
iron being used in stretches of from 200 to 500 feet, wires being supported on glass
 


180
insulators which were attached to buildings. Where there were no buildings, poles were
used, a total of about 50 being required.
Insulated wires were used only at the point of entrance on the roof of the fire alarm
office, at the fire alarm boxes and at the single submarine crossing at the Dover Street
Bridge.
Existing church and other bells had been selected and it was necessary to design,
manufacture and install suitable machines, and supports for them, for electrically striking
these bells. Size of the striking machines etc. varied with the size and weights of the bells,
the individual requirements being determined by Mr. Farmer.
The fire alarm boxes were in all instances attached to the walls of buildings and the
wires entered and left them thru a vertical length of gas pipe which was sealed to exclude
moisture. These were cast iron boxes, 16 inches high, ll inches wide and 4 inches deep,
shaped much like today’s boxes. A door with a spring lock covered practically the entire
front of the box, while inside there was a false wooden back supporting a lightning
` arrester, a writing magnet and armature, a crank, a toothed (code) wheel and a spring key.
In the boxes finally used, the crank was attached to a gear which drove another gear
attached to the code wheel requiring two full turns of the crank to revolve the code wheel
once. The crank was weighted so it would always come to rest in a position which left the
circuit closed. The spring key allowed the circuit to be opened and closed for telegraphic
communication with the central office.
~ Since it was intended to have the boxes send signals to the central office indicating
"District and Station", one half of the periphery of the code wheel had on it the district
number in "dots" while the other half had the station (box) number in telegraphic
characters which included at least one "dash" (see Section J.).
The boxes were painted black and were to be kept locked, with at least one key to
be held by a person in the immediate vicinity of the box. All policemen and some
members of the fire department were to be furnished with box keys, the locks of all
boxes being alike.
Space for the fire alarm office was provided in Room 8 of the City Building at
Court Square and Williams Court. Here were installed a triple Morse register, a triple
receiving magnet and a triple alarm bell apparatus, all of which, with the necessary keys
and switches, were connected with the box circuits (called "signal circuits").
A "keyboard" (see Sect. G) for striking the district numbers on the alarm bells, a
triple alarm register and necessary switches were connected into the alarm circuits. A
so-called testing clock was connected with both box and alarm circuits and this would
indicate, once every hour, by means of a small bell, the condition of various circuits.
Electrical energy for the signal (box) circuits was provided by batteries located in
Room 13 of the same building and for the alarm circuits by a hand-assisted water-driven
generator (dynamo). All wires connecting the office and the battery room, including
wires entering and leaving the building by way of the roof, were installed in boxed
conduits.
Locations of the original fire alarm boxes and alarm bells are shown hereafter. In
the listing of the boxes, the number shown in the last column, is the number of the
present fire alarm box, all having been correctly traced thru all number and where
applicable, location changes.

 


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Fire Alarm Boxes
District 1 » Station 1 — Faneuil Hall 1254
Station 2 — Union and Hanover Sts. 1258
Station 3 — Robinson’s Lock Factory, Richmond St. 1221
Station 4 — Eastern Railroad Depot 1242
Station 5 — Constitution Wharf 1234
Station 6 — Charter St. and Phipps Place 1233
Station 7 - Cooper and Endicott Sts. 1212
Station 8 - Boston & Maine Freight House 1313
Station 9 — Lowell and Causeway Sts. 1342
Station 10 — Vernon and Leverett Sts. 1344
District 2 — Station 1 ~— Church on N. Russell St. 136
Station 2 — Cambridge and W. Cedar Sts. 1356
Station 3 — Dr. Sharp’s Church, Charles St. 1383
Station 4 — Phillips School 1362
Station 5 — Reservoir, Beacon Hill 1364
Station 6 ~ Cambridge and Bowdoin Sts. 1334
District 3 — Station 1 — Old South Church ——
Station 2 — India and Central Sts. 1286
Station 3 - Oliver and High Sts. 1283
Station 4 — 21 Purchase St. 1292
Station 5 — Summer and Lincoln Sts. 1431
Station 6 — Dr. Cabot’s, Winter St. 1441
Station 7 — City Building, Court Square 4-
District 4 — Station 1 — Old Colony Passenger Depot 1435
Station 2 — Hudson and Oak Sts. 1493
Station 3 — Harrison Ave. and Seneca St. 1625
Station 4 — Indiana Place Church 1622
Station 5 — Warren St. Church 1515
Station 6 —— Providence R.R. Station 1531
Station 7 — Boylston Market 1471
District 5 - Station 1 — Engine House nr. Franklin School 1621
Station 2 A Waltham St, and Shawmut Ave. 1642
Station 3 — Suffolk St. Engine House 1671
· Station 4 ~ Northampton and Washington Sts. 2112
District 6 — Station 1 — Mechanics Bank 7137
Station 2 — Hand Engine 16 House 722
Station 3 — Lyceum Hall 7221
Station 4 — Broadway and Dorchester St. 731
Station 5 » House of Industry ——
District 7 — Station 1 — near East Boston Ferry, Boston side ——
(District 7 was East Boston where there were no boxes until the installation of a
submarine cable in 1863.)
 


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Alarm Bells
North Circuit- Brattle St. Church, Clark St. Church, Church at Endicott and
Cooper Sts., Church at Bowdoin Square, Leverett St. Engine
House, Dr. Sharp’s Church, Phillips School, Kings Chapel.
South Circuit — Church on Purchase St., Summer St. Church, Engine House on
East St., Engine House on Hudson St., Castle St. Church,
Franklin School, Engine House on Suffolk St., Church on
Church St., Church on Hollis St.
South Boston Circuit — Church at Broadway and A St., Hawes School.
The original system had 40 boxes on three signal circuits and 19 alarm bells on
three alarm circuits.
Completion of the system, hoped for in late 1851, was considerably delayed by
unforeseen difficulties and by changes necessary after the general test on March 1, 1852,
referred to earlier.
Mr. Moses G. Farmer who was then Superintendent of Construction, was appointed
Superintendent of Fire Alarm on January 1, 1852, even though the system was still
incomplete.
Superintendents of Fire Alarm - Boston
Year Appointed Names
1852 Moses G. Farmer
1853 Joseph B. Stearns
1867 John F. Kennard
1880 Brown S. Flanders
1910 George L. Fickett
1939 Albert L. O’Banion
1968 John M. Murphy
The System Completed
Prior to the completion of the system, regulations were made and instructions were
published for the benefit of the police and the public, explaining how alarms of fire were
to be given, as follows:
"Turn the crank 10 or 15 times slowly and wait. lf the signal is heard at the central
office, you will know it by the ticking of the district number in the box
immediately after. After the signal is thus acknowledged from the central office,
you will hear the bells strike the number of the district three times, followed by 30
or 40 consecutive blows and then the district number again, until a sufficient alarm
has been given."
(Ticking of the district number in the box was accomplished by the operator
tapping it on the box circuit on which the alarm had been received.)

 


{ 183
At each box, all of which were locked, there was a sign showing where the key was
kept, keys being distributed to trustworthy residents near the boxes and to the police and
it was further explained that only the district number would be struck on the alarm bells,
while the number of the station (box) would be tapped on the box sounders only.
At 12 noon, April 28, 1852 the system was officially in service and everybody
waited to see when there would be an alarm. The first alarm was received at 8:25 P.M.,
l April 29, 1852, from Station 7 of District 1, located at the Cooper Street Church, for fire
l in a house at Charlestown (present North Washington) and Causeway Streets. The
l operator at the central office wrote in the log ".I.H. Goodale turns the crank like lightning
i so it could not be read; brought the alarm to the office”.
r So, in spite of careful instructions, the first person to give a telegraphic alarm of fire
[ spoiled history by turning the box crank so fast that the office instruments could not
{ record the alarm.
' The instructions for giving alarms were changed to require 25 turns of the crank so
that the operator at the central office might have time to adjust his instruments to the
speed with which the crank was turned.
l
E Development of the Completed System
l To describe the development of the completed system, I had the choice of two
I methods, one by which I could have listed chronologically all events regardless of
. classification or another by which each subject would be treated separately. After
considerable thought and putting myself in the place of possible readers, Ihave chosen
j the latter method.
t Information regarding first and last box alarms sent out from the location of the different
fire alarm offices.
l Original office at Court Square and Williams Court 4 opened 12 noon, April 28,
l 1252.
First alarm at 8:25 P.M., April 29, 1852 4 District 1 4 Station 7, Cooper Street
1 Church.
Last "District and Station" alarm at 8:23 P.M., April 26, 1864 4 District 4 4
Station 5, Warren (Warrenton) St. near Tremont St.
First straight box alarm at 7:05 P.M. 4 April 28, 1864 4 Box 45 at Federal Street
opposite Channing Street.
Last alarm from the Court Square Office at 9:45 P.M., December 21, 1865 4 Box
41 at Washington and Milk Streets.
New office opened at City Hall, 45 School Street, on December 26, 1865.
First alarm from there at 10:08 P.M., December 30, 1865 4 Box 127 at Goddard
and E Streets.
Last alarm from the City Hall Office at 7:52 P.M., May 19, 1895 4 Box 628 at
Sumner and Paris Streets.
New Bristol Street Office opened May 20, 1895.
First alarm from there at 5:53 P.M., May 20, 1895 4 Box 263 at Centre and Day
Streets.

 


184
Last alarm from the Bristol Street Office at 6:35 A.M., December 27, 1925 » Box
3465 at Water and Taylor Streets.
New Fenway Office opened at 8:00 AM., December 27, 1925.
First alarm from there at 8:02 A.M., December 27, 1925 — Box 2328 — Westland
Avenue opposite No. 41.
To follow the method selected for describing the various subjects, it was decided to
do so in the following manner:
A. Fire Alarm Boxes
B. Numbering of Fire Alarm Boxes
C. Bells, Gongs and related matters l
D. Identification Lighting of Boxes l
E. Circuits and related subjects
F. Telegraph and telephone
G. Transmitters and Repeaters S
H. Radio System l
I. Private Central Stations
J. Miscellaneous Information l
l
In covering the various subjects listed above, it was at times necessary to duplicate
some information, a practice which was held to a minimum. Where necessary, reference
has been made to another subject shown elsewhere. You will also find some items
included in a particular section where you may not expect them to be shown, for reasons
found necessary after careful consideration.
A - Fire Alarm Boxes
We are already familiar with the description and functions of the crank type boxes
j (see "Construction of the System") and these boxes lasted well into the late l860’s.
We learned that the district number on the box code wheel was made up of dots,
but that the box number was represented by telegraphic characters, having a dash in their
composition. Since the cranks in these boxes were supposed to be turned clockwise to
produce the correct signal, counterclockwise turning resulted in reversed telegraphic
symbols which, in some cases, could indicate a box number other than the correct one
(see Sect. J).
After this happened a few times, ratchets were installed in all boxes where a
reversed Morse signal could result in the wrong box number. Since the speed with which
the box crank was turned was usually in direct relation to the excitement of the person
cranking, it can be seen that these boxes left much to be desired.
After the abandonment of the "District and Station" method of numbering in 1864
(see Sect. B), two "automatic" boxes were installed replacing two crank boxes. These
were weight—driven sector boxes in which the pulling of the hook set in motion a code
wheel, automatically transmitting the box number to the central station. These new
boxes had instructions on them to "pull the hook once and let go", but excited persons

 



185
either kept the hook pulled down without releasing it or pulled it again before the box
had a chance to complete even one round of its signal.
To overcome this defect, a non-interfering type of hook was devised and patented
in 1867 by Charles T. Chester of New York and this was further improved, in 1869, by
Crane and Rogers of Boston.
On December 11, 1868, the Mayor approved an order of the Board of Aldermen for
the purchase of 20 weight-driven sector boxes to replace 20 crank boxes and soon
thereafter all crank boxes were replaced by sector boxes.
After the "Great Boston Fire" of November 9 and 10, 1872, attention was called to
the need for more fire alarm boxes and that they should be made more accessible. The
latter refers to the fact that all boxes were locked and much time was sometimes wasted
in procuring the key and/or convincing the keyholder that there really was a fire.
The fact that box doors were locked and had to be opened by key not only caused
. delays in giving alarms, but vandals, on several occasions, had plugged the keyholes with
wood sticks and other materials, preventing the opening of the box door.
In spite of locked box doors, there had been false alarms as early as 1854. ln 1875,
due to false alarms, all locks on boxes were changed and greater discretion was used in the
distribution of box keys thereafter.
On April 16, 1881, the first "keyless" box door to be used in Boston replaced the
"key" door at Box 42, Tremont and Winter Streets. This was a door with a T-handle
invented by Robert N. Tooker of Chicago (Patent 164,406 — June 15, 1875). Additional
doors of this type were installed on other boxes, but all were ordered returned to the
manufacturer on September 20, 1881.
When the defects had been corrected, the use of keyless doors was resumed and
extended to additional boxes, Brown S. Flanders, the Boston Superintendent of Fire
Alarm, improved the keyless box door and received Patent 346,847 on August 3, 1886.
You were previously told that fire alarm boxes were painted black, so please note
that an order was issued that, beginning May 2, 1881, all boxes would be painted red.
On October 8, 1886, a test was ordered to be made, on one box circuit, of the
Gamewell system of non-interfering boxes. Results of the test are not known and I
believe that while these boxes were "non-interfering", they were not "succession" which
means that they could entirely prevent other boxes on the same circuit from signalling.
For the first time, an auxiliary attachment in a box was used on January 8, 1887.
This was Box 621 at City Hall where auxiliary stations on the different floors of the
building could be used to trip the master box. Permission to install an auxiliary in a street
box to connect an interior fire alarm system was given to the Parker House on March 30,
1887, the installation to be made in Box 35 at Tremont and School Streets.
Have you ever heard of a fire alarm box being damaged by a barrel of beer? The
police reported on March 28, 1891 that such a barrel had fallen on and damaged Box 4 at
Endicott and Charlestown Streets. Complete details of this gruesome disaster are missing,
Weight operated sector boxes were gradually replaced by spring driven sector boxes
1 and all boxes were of the plain interfering type. If two boxes on the same circuit were
1 pulled at the same time, their signals would clash.
 


186
Key doors on fire alarm boxes were gradually replaced by keyless doors, the last
box to be changed was 456 at the Charlestown Almshouse at 120 Alford Street on
October 29, 1907. This did not apply to private boxes many of which retained the key
doors.
No significant improvements had been made in fire alarms boxes, but as their
number increased, it became more difficult to place adjacent boxes on different circuits
(see Sect. E — lnterlacing), therefore in 1913 a new style of box was introduced, known
as the "succession non-interfering" type. If such a box was pulled together with another
on the same circuit, it would run idle until the other box was thru signalling, after which
it would take control of the circuit and transmit its own signal. These boxes required
q winding of the spring to store the energy needed for their correct functioning. The first of
these was installed on August 6, 1913 at East and South Streets (Box 59, later 1434)
i replacing an interfering sector box. During the remainder of 1913, 20 additional boxes of
this type were installed, 15 of them replacing sector boxes and 5 being new boxes at new
locations.
All keyless boxes had a mechanical bell inside the outer door. When the T-handle
was turned to open the box door, it wound the spring and tripped the bell, the idea being
1 to discourage false alarms. After a fatal fire on April 14, 1914 (4 alarms—Box 820) where
the person intending to give the alarm failed to pull the hook after hearing the bell ring,
the bells on 10 West and North End boxes were removed on April 25, 1914, only to be
reinstalled on March 3, 1916.
During the latter part of 1914 and early in 1915, 57 obsolete fire alarm boxes in
Hyde Park (annexed January 1, 1912) were replaced by modern boxes, the work being
completed January 11, 1915. Also in Hyde Park, the first succession box to be used in
that district was installed on November 25, 1914 at Central and Dell Avenues — Box
3734.
Beginning March 1, 1926, the keyless (T-handle) doors of 27 boxes in the West
Roxbury District were replaced by new "quick-action" shutters, for trial.
In 1928, all fire alarm boxes were speeded up to transmit their signals at 3 blows
per second, the work starting March 31.
Starting April 21, 1928, the mechanical warning bells on the doors of all keyless
boxes were removed. This was prompted by an occurrence on October 2, l927,when five
people died in a fire at Box 1493 » 2 alarms, due to a delayed alarm. A woman intending
to give the alarm heard the bell ring after she opened the box door and failed to pull the
hook in the box. Removal of the bells caused an immediate increase in malicious false
alarms.
On January 15, 1929, for experiment, a relay was installed at Box 1215 to operate
an electric bell and to flash the box light when the box is pulled. This was an attempt to
discourage false alarms, but had the feature of being activated only after the box had
actually been pulled and this device was installed on other boxes later with questionable
results as was the case with the so-called "Arrestolarm" devices used later on.
A more modern type of fire alarm box was introduced in 1931, the "three fold
succession type", the first three being installed on September 30. They were 242 at
Jamaicaway and Castleton Street, 2429 at South Huntington Avenue and Halifax Street

 


187
and 2431 at Jamaicaway and Pond Street. This became the standard box for new
installations and replacements.
Beginning in March 1967, 16 fire alarm boxes at locations with high false alarm
records had the quick-action shutters removed and a frame with a "break-glass" installed
instead. This was known as "New Break-Glass Q.A. Door", but did not stop the false
alarm nuisance. All frames were removed in 1969 and the regular Q.A. shutters were again
installed.
During September 1968, the Boston Police Department, with the approval of the
Fire Commissioner, commenced the installation of Police Telephone (ERS) Boxes on the
sides of the exterior shells of fire alarm boxes in the downtown area north of Broadway.
The first ERS box was in service on November 25, 1968 at Fire Alarm Box 1258 —
Hanover and Union Streets. Since that time, the same arrangement has been extended to
other police districts.
B — The Numbering of Fire Alarm Boxes
Boston has used three major methods of numbering fire alarm boxes, the third and
present one having had its inception nearly 60 years ago. Before giving a detailed
chronological account, let me explain the general features of all three.
The first one used, when the fire alarm system went into service in 1852, was the
so-called "District and Station" method, by which the city was divided into seven alarm
districts, in each of which the boxes were numbered starting with one (1) and progressing
numerically depending on the number of boxes in a district.
The next system utilized one, two and three digit numbers, with certain series
assigned to definite portions of the city. In this system, straight numerical sequence was
employed, for instance a box adjacent to Box 12 would be 13, then 14 and so on.
The present system is best described as the "4-digit series — group system" (for
want of better words) on the general principle shown in the following.
Each area of the city was allotted a certain number series, starting with the 1200
series. The area covered by the l200’s was divided into sub-areas to each of which a group
of numbers was assigned, the 1210, 1220, 1230, etc. groups, the same arrangement
applying to all other area series.
Thepfirst number in the 1210 group would be 12, followed by 121, 1211, 1212 and
so up to 1219. The 1220 group would start with 122, followed by 1221, 1222, etc. The
areas and sub-areas were determined by actual map layout within which existing and
proposed box locations were spotted and numbers assigned to them.
With the above in mind, we will now look into the actual chronological details.
The "District and Station" method of numbering was used from April 28, 1852
until noon of April 28, 1864 when a complete change was made. The new method of
numbering utilized single, two and three digit numbers and it was necessary to prepare a
transposition list for the operators showing the old "District and Station" designation
together with corresponding new box numbers which now would be struck on the bells
and gongs. The single and two digit numbers were assigned to the city proper, the low
100’s to South Boston and the high 100’s (151 and up) to East Boston.
' On January 6, 1868 the City of Roxbury was annexed and the existing boxes there

 


188 a
were assigned 200 series numbers, while the annexation of Dorchester on January 3, 1870
added new 300 series numbers. Charlestown, West Roxbury and Brighton were annexed
on January 5, 1874, but only Charlestown and West Roxbury had fire alarm boxes, the
numbers of which were not changed, with special regulations being made in regard to
them. There were no boxes in Brighton.
On May 17, 1875 the first number in the 600 series was established at the City
Hospital, Box 612. A new box established on October 21, 1875 at Hanover and Clark
Streets, had to be called 9-DUPLICATE, regular and then existing Box 9 being located at
this time at Constitution Wharf.
The use of this method was dictated by a lack of available numbers in this area and
had to be resorted to in several other instances later on. Since only the number 9 could be
struck for an alarm from either box, instructions, never located, must have been in effect
that part of the apparatus would respond to one box and another part to the other box.
This system was definitely also employed in New York, Chicago, Cambridge, and perhaps
other places.
The original Charlestown box numbers, unchanged since annexation, were replaced
by 400 series numbers (see Sect. E) at 6 P.M., March 16, 1876, and in the Brighton
District, where there had been no boxes, the first ones were established on June 1, 1877,
being numbered 561, 562, 563, 564, 567, 568 and 571.
The West Roxbury District still had the same box numbers which had existed at
time of annexation and they were changed to the low 500 series on March 15, 1878 (see
Sect. E).
On January 1, 1882, the first 700 series box number was introduced when Box 745
was established at the R.H. White Store, 518 Washington Street. Additionally, on January
18, 1882, Boxes 731, 732, 734, 735, 741,742, 743 were established with other boxes in
this series later. The 700’s were intended for use with "Special Building Boxes".
On September 27, 1883, Box 812, first in the 800 series was established at
Mechanics Building, Huntington Avenue and West Newton Street. Why this was
numbered in the 800 instead of the 700 series, is not known.
On May 16, 1887, Special Building Boxes 612, 613, 621, 623, 631, 643 and 812
were renumbered in the 700 series, but in the case of school boxes, some were numbered
in the 700 series, while others had numbers in the regular series of the area where they
were located.
Beginning June 9 and continuing until June 20, 1887, all box numbers in East
Boston were changed from the high 100 series to the 600 series, releasing the high 100’s
for use in South Boston, previously limited to the low 100’s only.
On July 10, 1888 the high 500 series in Brighton were renumbered in the 800 series
which was also extended easterly into the Back Bay west of Massachusetts Avenue. The
high 500’s were afterwards used in West Roxbury in addition to the low 500’s previously
in use.
On March 26, 1891, the first number in the 900 series was used in Dorchester, Box
969 being established that day at Convalescent Home, Dorchester Avenue near Richmond
Street. Additional 900 series numbers were then used in Dorchester in addition to the
300’s previously used. On April 2, 1892, there was a general rearrangement of box

 


189
numbers in Dorchester with some 300’s being changed to 900’s, while in addition some
300 and 900 numbers in North Dorchester were changed to the 100 series, already in use
in South Boston.
On December 21, 1893, some low 400 series numbers in Charlestown were changed
to high 400’s (480 and 490 groups) and the numbers thus released were used on
December 28, 1893 to eliminate the still existing single digit numbers (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and
8) in the North and West Ends. Box numbers 9 and 9-DUPLICATE were retained and 8
had to be reused on December 7, 1905 because there were no other numbers available.
You should be made aware here that some boxes the numbers of which had few
digits, sent in 8 instead of the usual 4 rounds of their signal, to the central office. This
was accomplished by having the number on the code wheel twice.
A ZERO was used for the first time in a box number on November 25, 1898 when
9—DUPLICATE was changed to 10, the zero being transmitted as ten consecutive blows.
On January 11, 1904, for the first time, a four digit number was used when Box
2787 was established at the Farragut School, 10 Fenwood Road.
At 10 A.M., January 10, 1907, a new system for numbering school house boxes
became effective, using 4 digit numbers starting with "2" followed by 3 digits conforming
generally to the numbering used in the immediate area. At the same time, Boxes 411,
412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417 and 418 in the North and West Ends were changed to
numbers in the 700 series, previously used for Special Building Boxes only. The last
Duplicate number, 757-D, at the Wells School on Blossom Street, was abolished and
changed to 2121. While Duplicate numbers were in use from October 21, 1875, to
January 10, 1907, at various times they were in existence for Boxes 4, 9, 38, 68, 69, 92,
128,131,137, 141,146, 213, 248, 261,417, 716 and 757.
On October 9, 1907, at 11:07 P.M., for the first time, an alarm was struck from the
office for a 4-digit box, 2316 at Dorchester High School, Codman Square.
On July 15, 1911, "Metropolitan Aid" signals 3221 thru 3229 were established in
connection with "General Alarms" to designate the section (1 thru 9) of the city in which
the fire was located which in turn governed assignments of apparatus and Metropolitan
(Mutual) Aid response and covering.
When Hyde Park was annexed to Boston on January 1, 1912, the then existing
Mutual Aid Signal 398 for dispatching aid to Hyde Park from Boston and which had been
established on April 22, 1909, was discontinued and Hyde Park boxes were assigned
Boston numbers in the 1400 series (see Section E.)
As of May 1, 1912, having been established at various times, the following signals
were in existence for dispatching apparatus to islands and adjacent communities:
399 Milton Center 699 Chelsea to Boston
400 Broadway, Somerville 700 Union Square,Somerville
689 Deer Island 780 Cambridgeport i
691 Long Island 790 East Cambridge
692 Rainsford Island 800 Newton Corner
696 Winthrop 898 Watertown
697 Revere 899 North Cambridge
698 Chelsea 998 East Milton

 


190
By 1912, in some areas, there were few numbers left which could be used for
additional boxes and in some cases, particularly in the 200 series in Roxbury, the correct
sequence of numbering adjacent boxes was practically non-existent. New boxes
established had to be given any available number and an attempt was made to bring things
into line by wholesale swapping of numbers. While this helped to some degree, a more
radical remedy was indicated and so it was decided to institute the previously referred to
“4-digit series-group system" of numbering, an undertaking requiring much detailed
preparation.
On November 30, 1912, the last existing single-digit box numbers were
discontinued. Box 8 at Commercial Street and Atlantic Avenue became 713 and Box 9 at
Commercial Street opposite Foster Street became 711.
1 On November 8, 1913, the first new boxes (in buildings) using the 4-digit
numbering system were established and they were 1325, 1326, 1327, 1457, 1458 and
1636. Since the 4-digit school house box numbers, starting with “2", would not fit into
the new scheme, it was necessary to change them back to 3-digit numbers fitting into the
numbering of the area where they were located, the first such changes being made in
i Charlestown on November 24, 1913.
On December 9, 1913, the first new street boxes established under the new
l numbering system were 1256, 1281, 1293, 1314, 1371, 1563, 2162, 2316,2514, 2524,
» 2562, 2633.
l On January 21, 1914, the first renumbering, from the old to the new system, of
t existing boxes was started, most of them 1300’s and a few 1200’s replacing old numbers.
I Boxes in the Hyde Park District, numbered in the 1400 series since annexation on
T January 1, 1912, were renumbered in the 3700 and 3800 series on April 2, 1914 to
release the 1400 series for use downtown (see Sect. E).
The progress of renumbering is shown here, but note that neither Charlestown or
East Boston were included at this time:
1914 ~ 1200 thru 1600, 2300, 3100 thru 3400, 3700, 3800 (Downtown, South End,
Back Bay, Dorchester and Hyde Park)
1915 — 1500, 1600, 2100, 2200, 2300, 7100 thru 7400 (Back Bay, South End, Roxbury
and South Boston)
1916 — 2100 thru 2700, 3100, 3400, 3500, 3600, 5100, 5200 (Roxbury, Jamaica Plain,
West Roxbury, Dorchester, Brighton)
1917 4 2100, 2200, 2300, 3100 thru 3600 (Roxbury, Back Bay and Dorchester)
At 12 noon, January 2, 1920, General Alarm signals 3221 thru 3229 were changed
to (15)-21 thru (15)-29, making these 3200 numbers available for boxes. Island and
Mutual Aid signals were changed from 3-digit numbers to (13)-41, etc., the terminal
number indicating the location. (13) and (15) were struck as 13 or 15 consecutive blows.
i The last changes were made from the 3-digit to the 4-digit system, resulting in some
l additional 2100 and 3200 box numbers. However, the 3-digit system was still being used
I in Charlestown and East Boston.
l ln the general layout for box locations and numbers, provisions had been made, in
, each box group, for a certain number of locations within the group area, including then
E existing special building boxes. As additional buildings were equipped with boxes, it


 

191
became increasingly difficult to find proper numbers for them, until the point was ·
reached where the carefully planned layout was made useless. Therefore a new system of
numbering "Special Building Boxes" was devised, in which Prefix 12-, 13-, 14- etc.
followed by the number of the nearest street box would be used, for example 12-1563,
13-2351 and so on.
The first prefix type numbers were established October 10, 1927, and this system,
as it progressed, released many numbers which could now be used for street boxes and it
greatly simplified the planning of additional box locations. When completed in 1929, it
materially reduced the number of assignment cards needed, because prefix boxes could be
listed on the same card with their parent box. _
As already mentioned, the 3-digit numbering system was still in use in Charlestown
and East Boston. Between November 10 and 14, 1928, all box numbers in East Boston .
were changed from 600 series to 6100 and 6200 series, while Charlestown box numbers
were changed from the 400 to the 4100 series on November 17 and 21, 1928, thus
completing the changes initially started on November 8, 1913. Also, on November 21,
1928, the last boxes with a ZERO were changed, 420 to 12-4146 and 450 to 13-4162.
While zeros were used in box numbers from November 25, 1898, until November
21, 1928, the following numbers were in existence at various times:
10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 120, 180, 230, 240, 250, 260, 280, 301 thru
308, 310, 320, 330, 340, 350, 360, 400, 410, 420, 430, 450, 501, 502, 503, 505,
506, 507, 508, 510, 520, 530, 560, 590, 610, 620, 630, 640, 700, 701 thru 709,
710, 720, 730, 740, 780, 790, 800, 801 thru 806, 810, 820, 830, 840, 850, 860,
870, 920 and 960.
On April 15, 1929, the last changes had been made in connection with prefix box
numbers and on the new assignment cards in effect that day, the prefix boxes were listed
on the same card with their associated street box, for the first time.
General Alarm signals (15)21 thru (15)-29 were discontinued on April 24, 1929.
They had never been used during their existence.
Two new box number series were established on June 18, 1942, the 4200’s at the
Boston Navy Yard (had used 4100’s up to now) and 7500’s at the South Boston Naval
Dry Dock.
On December 30, 1944, the use of signals (13)-45 thru (13)-73 for dispatching aid
to adjacent communities was discontinued. 8100 series signals were established for
requesting aid to Boston and 8200 series signals for dispatching aid from Boston, the last
two digits in these numbers indicating the city or town involved.
Signals (13)-31 thru (13)-38 used for dispatching apparatus to islands were
superseded by 631 and 7611 thru 7617 on December 1, 1947.
Between March 15 and June 25, 1948, box numbers in the 2400, 2500, 2600 and
2700 series were changed around and new 2800 and 2900 series were established in the
West Roxbury District.
Between March 31 and June 4, 1953, box numbers in the Brighton District were
changed, resulting in renumbering in the existing 5100 and 5200 series and the addition
of new 5300 and 5400 series. ·


192
Box numbers in the 3100 and 3200 series, located in Fire District 6, were changed
to ntunbers in the 7200 series on December 20, 27 and 29, 1955.
On February 16, 1956, general renumbering was started in Roxbury and
Dorchester, affecting existing 3100 thru 3600 series, with new 1700 and 1800 series
being added. All changes were completed on July 12, 1956.
Between June 3 and July 1, 1965, changes affecting existing 2100 series numbers
were made in the area roughly bounded by Washington Street, Columbus_Avenue, Seaver
Street, Blue Hill Avenue, Moreland, Warren, Dudley and Washington Streets.
Between April 26 and May 10, 1966, changes were made affecting the 1500 and
2300 series, with 1500’s being extended into part of the 2300 area west of Massachusetts
Avenue. Some 2300 numbers were changed to make numbers of that series available for
additional boxes.
Establishment of Box 21-365 on December 1, 1972, marked the first use of a prefix
above 19 since the inception of the prefix system on October 10, 1927.
A new 4300 series was first used for boxes on the Boston sections of Interstate
Routes 93 and 695, in Charlestown, on February 16, 1973. z
C — Bells, Gongs and related matters
In this section we shall concern ourselves with the devices by which alarms were
given to the companies of the fire department by transmission over the alarm circuits
from the fire alarm office. In this category we find the public alarm bells, whistles, gongs,
tappers, registers, etc., all to be discussed separately. To keep them in the proper
perspective by age, we start with the public alarm bells, the oldest method employed.
We already know, from a previous page, the locations of the first bells and that
there were 19 of them, 12 on churches, 4 on engine houses and 3 on schools. The bell
striking machines were connected into the alarm circuits and the hammer of the striking
machine was activated by electrical impulses upon an electro—magnet which liberated a
secondary apparatus to release the detent (holding device), energy to move the hammer
being furnished by a suitable weight attached to a chain.
At the 12 church locations there was a switch for manually shunting the current
away from the bell-striking machines when the bells were to be rung by hand for church
purposes.
The weight, train of wheels and the hammer of the striking machines were identical
in character with the corresponding parts of church clocks, with the important exception
that the machines would deliver only a single blow each time the detent was released.
It was necessary to pull the weights back to the top after a calculated number of
blows had been struck and for the purpose of determining when this had to be done.
there was an "Alarm Bell Register" at the office with a maximum indicating capacity of
999 by which the operators determined when men had to be sent out to pull up the
weights.
That the church bells were not ideal for giving alarms, is shown by an entry in the
office log which reads:
"December 15, 1854 ~ received an alarm from District 1, Station 7 at 7:42 P.M.
Church bells were then ringing, had to wait 10 minutes for them to stop and then struck
the alarm".

 


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The number of alarm bells increased and by 1861 there were bells on 13 churches,
2 engine houses, 6 schools and one public building.
On January 1, 1879, the use of church bells for giving alarms of fire was
discontinued and as of April 30, 1879, alarm bells were located on 21 schools, 3 public
buildings, 17 fire department buildings and one factory.
In 1880, the Fire Commissioners stated that better service could be given by
increased speed in giving alarms if there were no call companies for whose benefit the
slow-striking public alarm bells had to be kept in service.
Between August 23, 1886, and July 29, 1887, all bells in the city proper were
discontinued since all companies in this area had full complements of permanent men,
but other parts of the city retained their bells, because many companies, in addition to
the permanent men, still had some call men. The bell on F aneuil Hall was continued in
service.
The Faneuil Hall bell was temporarily discontinued on July 8, 1898.
In 1905, due to complaints by citizens about the many (?) alarms struck on the
outside bells, switches were installed in fire stations to permit the man on watch to
cut out the bell when receiving an alarm on the tapper to which his company did not
respond. If the company was assigned to respond on first or subsequent alarms from the
box being received, the bell was left cut in.
The Faneuil Hall bell was back in service on July 27, 1907, and remained in use
even after the very last bells in the city had been discontinued on October 15, 1909,
, when all call men had been dispensed with.
l However, when Hyde Park was annexed on January 1, 1912, 30 call men were
temporarily taken into the Boston Fire Department, making it necessary to retain the
public alarm devices (3 bells and one whistle) in that district until November 5, 1914.
The Faneuil Hall bell was once more discontinued on February 8, 1915, only to be
reactivated on June 3, 1920, when it was to be struck only for selected boxes, via special
circuit to be cut in by a switch at the gong transmitter. It is not known how long this
arrangement lasted, but it must have ended before or when the Bristol Street Office was
replaced by the present Fenway Office on December 27, 1925.
The bell striking machine, weights and chains were removed from Faneuil Hall on
May 25, 1929, thus ending the story of the public alarm bells.
Having reasonably covered the subject of bells, let us go on to something requiring
little space, namely whistles used for fire alarm purposes. In the long history of the
Boston Fire Alarm System, there have been only two, one in Brighton and one in Hyde
Park.
In 1878 it was decided to utilize the steam whistle at the Brighton Abattoir
(located south of the Charles River, west of Market Street and north of North Beacon
Street) to sound alarms of fire simultaneously with their transmission on the bell and
gong circuits. It was equipped for this purpose and connected into an alarm circuit on an
unknown date in 1878. According to an official notation, use of the whistle for fire alarm
purposes was discontinued on February 1, 1880, but there is some question about this
date. Anyway in 1892, the coding mechanism was removed and the whistle turned over
to the owners of the Abattoir and it was thereafter used only for emergencies and special
occasions and was locally always referred to as the "Brighton Bull". The whistle in Hyde

 


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Park was inherited upon annexation on January 1, 1912, being discontinued November 5,
1914, when all callmen in Hyde Park had been replaced by permanent men.
The "Brighton Bul1" could be clearly heard as far away as Commonwealth Avenue
and Washington Street, on the south side of Brighton, your writer recalling its mighty
sound as late as 1932 when it was used on a few special occasions. The "aroma" of the
Brighton `Abattoir carried almost as far as the sound of the whistle, depending on wind
conditions and direction. Memories of quieter and less confusing days.
We now come to the subject of gongs for striking alarms in fire stations and other
places. Gongs were not part of the original fire alarm service, the public alarm bells being
sufficient to call the firemen of the early days away from their civilian routines and to the
fire. The first horse-drawn steam engine company had beenorganized on November 1,
1859, followed by others until all of the hand drawn apparatus had been replaced. With
this came the first permanent fire department employees and now something was needed
to give alarms in the fire stations, in addition to striking them on the public bells. By
1861, gongs had been installed in 11 fire stations and 6 police stations and their use was
extended keeping pace with the growth of the tire department.
Originally, the slow striking gongs, limited to the speed with which the outside bells
could be struck, were the only devices in fire stations which gave notice of an alarm, but
quick-acting tappers were installed in the early 1890’s on which alarms were struck from
a transmitter operating at faster speed than the gong transmitter. Alarms then were
transmitted first on the tappers and followed by striking the bells and gongs. (For further
explanation see Section G — Pearce Transmitter and Box Gongs.)
I am unable to tell you more regarding gongs because there is little information
available.
Our next subject is "Registers" used for visually recording alarms and signals and
they were in existence in the original fire alarm office, both to record alarms received
from boxes as well as to record alarms and signals transmitted from the office.
Registers in fire stations were unknown until June 23, 1887, when such devices
were installed at the quarters of Engine 3 and Ladder 3. By April 30, 1890, there were 15
registers located in various hre stations and it was hoped that most houses would be
equipped with them by the end of 1890.
From an Underwriters’ Report of January, 1911, we learn that "punch registers on
tapper circuits have recently been installed at two fire stations” and from the language
employed it can be assumed that these two registers were the only ones used in fire
stations at that time. What happened to those in existence in 1890 is a continuing
mystery. In 1913 and in 1914, ten additional registers were installed in fire stations, but
progress was slow, the number in service at fire stations being or1ly 24 by January 31,
1917. Eventually, however, register service was extended to all fire stations.
While speaking of registers, it is worth mentioning that the present Fenway fire
alarm office, according to the Gamewell Co. publication issued in connection with its
opening on December 27, 1925, was the only one and the first one to employ "Shearing
J Type Registers" which cut all signals and Morse messages into the register tape for a
permanent record.

 


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D — Identification Lighting of Fire Alarm Boxes
Dr. William F. Channing, whose contributions we have already discussed, was aware
of the necessity of locating fire alarm boxes so that they could be easily found in the
dark, suggesting that they be placed near street lamps.
The first red lights to identify fire alarm boxes in Boston appeared in 1894 at box
locations where underground fire alarm circuits had been installed and the boxes had
been placed on special iron posts (“Lamp Post Boxes").
The first connection to underground fire alarm service had been made on October
1, 1893 (see Sect. E) and in 1894 the following boxes were equipped with gas lanterns
having transparent red glass:
43 Washington and West Sts. 61 Tremont St. nr. Warrenton St.
52 Summer and Lincoln Sts. 66 Compton and Emerald Sts. .
54 Beach and Oxford Sts. 71 Tremont and Berkeley Sts. A
59 East and South Sts. 72 Washington and Compton Sts.
By May 15, 1896, gas lanterns had been installed on 25 boxes, downtown and in
the South End, by 1898 there were 38 and on February 22, 1901, 112 boxes had been
equipped with gas lanterns.
The following tabulation shows the progress made:
Gas lanterns in Service
git 1-10-1905 1-10-1907
l City proper 91 97
I Roxbury 20 22
Dorchester 3 6
West Roxbury 7 7
South Boston 16 16
Charlestown 11 12
East Boston 3 13
Brighton 2 6
, Totals 153 179
l On February 1, 1910, there were 201 gas lights, at the end of 1910 there were 212,
j increasing to 219 on February 1, 1912, and to 243 on January 1, 1913.
On December 14, 1912, the first electric light with red globe was installed on newly
established Box 714 at North Square and Garden Court Street and on December 18,
1912, Box 71 at Tremont and Berkeley Streets was similarly equipped.
In 1913 there was much activity in connection with the installation of electric
lights, 119 boxes being so equipped between March 11 and December 27. Hyde Park,
annexed January 1, 1912, got its first "Lamp Post Box" complete with gas lantern, on
5 November 11, 1915, (Box 3743 at Cleary Square).
Gas, at times, caused trouble, freezing in the pipes above ground in the winter, leaks
causing explosions which damaged boxes and other assorted difficulties.
 


196
The gas lanterns had a metal frame, had tapered sides, with four flat pieces of red
glass having etched white lettering instructing how to give an alarm. A new style of
lantern, having a circular shape, with 4 segmental pieces of red glass and a red transparent
top, was installed for trial on Box 7137, West Broadway and A Street, on January 10,
1921. This had no lettering and soon became standard replacing the square type of
lantern.
Gas or electric lights were added on boxes from time to time. During World War II,
in accordance with military regulations, box lights were blacked out, showing only a very
small fringe of light, but after the war was over, all blackout provisions were removed, the
work being completed on May 17, 1946.
On December 31, 1949, there were 1831 fire alarm boxes in service, 1049 of them
equipped with lights, 859 electric and 190 with gas. In the l950’s a program was started
replacing gas lights with electric lights, the last box being changed on August 29, 1957
was 25 67 at Weld Hill and Wenham Streets. By December 31, 1964, all street boxes, with
a few exceptions, had electric lights, either over or adjacent to the box.
On May 24, 1967, an old style square gas lantern replaced the electric light on Box
1431, Summer and Lincoln Streets, the gas being lighted on June 2, 1967. Additional gas
lights replaced electric lights in the Beacon Hill and Bay Village historical areas, starting
with Box 1384 at Chestnut and Brimmer Streets on October 18, 1968.
Beginning November 25, 1968, combination red and blue globes were installed at
boxes to which Police ERS boxes had been attached.
Speaking of gas troubles previously referred to, here are a few selected occurrences:
April 4, 1906 — Box 628 — Sumner and Paris Streets
A man scratched a match on the box shell, a gas explosion followed.
August 17, 1917 — Box 2395 — Minden and Posen Streets V
Box operated by internal gas explosion, glass shattered and hinges bent.
February 13, 1918 » Box 5295 — Oak Square
Ladder 31 reports door blown off and fire showing in the box. (I hope that they
were able to hold this disaster to a first alarm.)
June 17, 1924 — Box 1224 ~ Salem and Prince Streets
Gas explosion damaged inside shell, broke box door and injured a man.
E — Circuits and related subjects.
It was difficult to find a correct caption to summarize the items to be discussed in
this section and I hope that the information shown will be a little more interesting than
the title suggests.
From "C0nstruction of the System" we know that fire alarm service started with 3
box and 3 alarm circuits, considered sufficient for the number of boxes and bells
connected in 1852.
T By December of 1858, there were additional boxes and bells which now required 5
box and 5 alarm circuits, their wires still attached to insulators fastened to buildings and
in a few cases carried on poles, the same as in 1852. The box circuits, as before, were of

 


197
l
the "normally closed" type with current supplied by batteries, but the alarm circuits
continued to be operated as "normally open" with current supplied at time of striking by
a dynamo (generator) operated by a combination of hand and water power. Batteries
were also available for use on the alarm circuits, but they were not reliable until the
advent of the "gravity" battery in 1871.
We already know that the original system did not extend to East Boston due to the
need for a submarine crossing of the harbor which was finally accomplished by
September 30, 1863 when East Boston was connected with the fire alarm office by a
submarine fire alarm cable.
In 1864, there are shown 6 box circuits, referred to by name as Northwest,
Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, East Boston and South Boston circuits. When the new
City Hall at 45 School Street was being built, provisions had been made for a new and
larger fire alarm office in the "attic" over the Common Council Chamber, with the
battery room in the dome above. Here, as had been the case at the Court Square Office,
all fire alarm circuits entered from the roof. This office was in service on December 26,
1865.
Annexation of Roxbury on January 6, 1868 and of Dorchester on January 3, 1870
brought the fire alarm plants of both places into the Boston system. However, try as 1
might, I have been totally unable to get information on the type of systems used or the
method of integration into the Boston system.
The first serious damage to the system occurred during the “Great Boston Fire" of
November 9 and 10, 1872, when 4 circuits were partially destroyed, leaving Dorchester
and part of Roxbury without fire alarm service until the evening of November 12, when
all repairs had been completed.
Annexation of Charlestown, West Roxbury and Brighton on January 5, 1874 added
two automatic repeater type systems of the first two, but Brighton had no fire alarm
system. So that the Boston fire alarm office would know what was going on in
Charlestown and West Roxbury, the repeaters in both places were connected with the
central office until more satisfactory arrangements could be made. A 3-wire cable to
Charlestown was in service on February 19, 1874, but the date of connecting West
Roxbury has not been found.
The Fire Commissioners were very economical gentlemen who did not want to
spend money too fast on expensive changes until they really had to.
On January 20, 1875, both stations of the Boston Protective Department
(Underwriters’ Salvage Corps) were connected with the fire alarm office by gong circuits.
Before this, they had to get alarms the best way they could by listening forthem on the
public alarm bells.
Box and alarm circuits were extended from the central office to Charlestown and at
6 P.M. on March 16, 1876, the Charlestown repeater was abandoned and thereafter all
fire alarm business in that district was handled by the central office at City Hall (see also
Section B).
The submarine cable to East Boston had become unreliable and instead of replacing
it with another, a land connection was established in March 1876 by running the East
Boston circuits thru Charlestown and Chelsea. In connection with this work, a Boston fire
 





198
alarm box and a Boston gong were installed at the Chelsea Police Station for mutual aid
purposes, regulations for which became effective on May 10, 1876.
In 1877, box and alarm circuits were constructed between the central office and
the Brighton District, the first boxes there being established June 1, 1877. There had
been no boxes and the only prior connection had been a telegraph line described in
Section F.
In 1878, the Fire Commissioners decided that the West Roxbury repeater type fire
alarm system should be changed to conform to the type of operation used in the rest of
the city. Therefore, box and alarm circuits were extended to that district and the repeater
discontinued on March 15, 1878, after which all West Roxbury business was handled
from the central office (see B).
During cold weather there were many complaints about humming or singing wires,
a common occurrence, caused by contraction and vibration, the sound generated being
carried into the buildings to which the wires were attached.
During August of 1883, a second box circuit was constructed in Charlestown and
the boxes in that district were alternated between the existing and the new circuit, a
process known as "interlacing". This became standard procedure throughout the city
whenever additional box circuits were built.
For “Box Gong Circuits" in 1884 see Section G.
On August 24, 1886, Newton Engine 1 at Newton Corner started receiving Boston
alarms via a circuit operated from a relay at the gong in the quarters of Engine 29 and
Ladder ll in Brighton.
ln 1887, the gong circuits were divided to permit selective striking of first alarms on
either the northern or southern gong circuits effective December 1, 1887. Control was by
a drum switch at the gong transmitter which had three positions, NORTH, ALL
CIRCUITS, SOUTH.
ln 1886, for the first time, No. 12 hard drawn copperwire was used in outside
construction in place of the usual No. 9 iron wire, on two new West End Circuits and on
part of the Brighton circuit. Where these circuits crossed Boston Common, a multi-wire
aerial cable was used for the first time.
On April 30, 1890, there were about 450 miles of working lines of fire alarm wire,
all the construction being overhead.
. Electricity for lighting and power made its advent in the 1880’s and the ever
increasing and larger wires were carried over buildings on immense roof structures and
also on poles erected on sidewalks. These wires, together with telephone, telegraph and
other lines were poorly put and grouped with little regard to potential carried and they
obstructed roofs and the windows in the upper floors of buildings. This made fire fighting
very difficult and hazardous and these wires acted as a very definite detriment to the fire
alarm wires.
Beginning in 1889, trolley wires and their overhead feeders added to this confusion,
resulting in strong agitation for the placing of all wires, except trolley wires, underground.
A bad ice storm on January 17, 1891 caused the breaking of many wires including
some of the fire alarm service, some of the trouble continuing until January 19.
In 1892, a circuit was made from a relay at Engine 32 gong to Engine 2 in
Somerville to permit the latter to receive Boston alarms.

 


' T 1
199
Some of the public utilities, anticipating the passage of a law requiring the placing
of their wires underground, decided to start some of this work early, building manholes
and ducts in 1892. Such work was done by the New England Telephone and Telegraph
Company, the Edison Electric Illuminating Company and the Western Union Telegraph
Company.
As we already know, current for the fire alarm service was supplied by batteries,
but in 1892 experiments were made with dynamotors (motor generators) on one circuit.
The results were so satisfactory that on October 26, 1892 Circuits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 were
taken off battery current and put on dynamo current.
A 61-conductor fire alarm cable was placed in underground ducts of the New
England Telephone & Telegraph Co., running from Waltham Street thru Harrison Avenue,
Beach, South, Summer, High and Pearl Streets, Post Office Square, Water, Washington
and School Streets to the City Hall. First connections to this cable were made on June
14, 1893 and the first fire alarm box was connected to this underground service on
October 1, 1893. This was Box 54 on Beach Street, opposite Oxford Street, the present
Box 1433.
During the investigation of the destructive "Hecht Building Fire" (located where
Dewey Square is now) of January 10, 1893, Superintendent Flanders was asked his _
opinion of using insulated wire for overhead fire alarm circuits. He said that there were
then about 30 to 35 miles of this wire in use at places where the need for insulation was
important, but that he generally preferred bare wire. He explained that insulated wire
weighed more and that its larger diameter was liable to greater ice and sleet adherence,
increasing the chance of breakage.
A law had been passed requiring all wires, except trolley wires, to be placed
underground and all overhead wires to be removed, starting in a designated district in
1894 and in other designated districts in the years to follow. To enforce the provisions of
this law, the Wire Department, under a Commissioner of Wires, was organized on August
4, 1894, by authority of Chapter 454, Acts of 1894.
The fire alarm office at City Hall had been correctly labeled as too small and as
seriously exposed to possible damage by fire, therefore provisions had been made to
locate a new fire alarm office in the department headquarters building being constructed
at 60 Bristol Street. ln this new office, all circuits would enter from underground
conduits, the old gravity battery system of current supply would be discontinued and all
current for fire alarm circuits would be supplied by dynamotors, some of which had been
in successful operation at the City Hall Office. Four separate sources of current would be
provided for the operation of the dynamotors. Provisions had been made for a maximum
capacity of 80 circuits plus the necessary local office circuits. This office replaced the
City Hall Office on May 20, 1895.
On January 31, 1898 there was a violent storm with wet snow, high winds and
dropping temperatures, causing tremendous damage to buildings, poles and wires all over
the city and very seriously affecting the fire alarm service except in areas where the fire
alarm wires were underground. All boxes downtown, except two, north of Dover and
Berkeley Streets, were at that time connected to underground service.
Chapter 249 of the Acts of 1898 gave mandatory powers to the Commissioner of
Wires to prescribe two miles of streets each year for 10 years in which overhead wires

 


200
must be removed and underground service substituted. This permitted orderly planning of
this and associated work.
Another storm on November 26, 1898 with wet snow accompanied by a northeast
gale again caused much damage to all overhead wires and this was the storm made famous
by the sinking, without trace, of the Steamship Portland and the loss of all aboard.
One of the phenomena of the time was the partial grounding of fire alarm circuits
during heavy rain or fog. When this occurred, additional dynamotors were placed on the
lines to reduce the number of circuits supplied by each machine.
On December 30, 1904, the Boston Elevated Railway opened its under-harbor
streetcar tunnel between the city proper and East Boston, ln the fall of 1905 the fire
alarm circuits to East Boston were placed in ducts of this tunnel, eliminating the former
routing thru Charlestown and Chelsea. However, the circuits to Chelsea only, from
Charlestown, were kept in service (see 1876).
In 1905 there were 36 box, 14 gong and 10 tapper circuits, with all circuits in the
city proper and about one-third of those in Charlestown, Roxbury and South Boston
installed underground, all others being overhead. During normal operation, about 3 to 6
circuits were supplied with current by one dynamotor, but in wet weather the number of
dynamotors on the lines was usually doubled.
ln 1906, fire alarm connections were installed between Engine 37 and Brookline
Engine 1 and also between Engine 29 and Newton Engine 1.
An important innovation was made on May 1, 1908 when the first test switches
were installed at the quarters of Engine 19 on circuits 30, 31, 58 and 72. They were
intended for testing for grounds and to locate "opens" on circuits and the first
opportunity to use them came on May 7, 1908 when Circuit 58 opened. The circuit was
closed by grounds between the office "left" and Engine 19 "right", the "open" being
located at Ladder 7 gong. The circuit was closed and operating normally in one hour and
18 minutes. Such switches were gradually installed in all fire stations and the few in
service in 1909 proved their value during a bad storm on December 26 of that year when
much damage was done to overhead wires and the switches permitted parts of bad circuits
to be kept in service.
By the end of 1910 there were about 914 miles of fire alarm circuits with
approximately 65% installed underground.
Local circuits in the fire alarm office were being supplied with current by the
dynamotors, the same as the outside circuits. Now storage batteries were installed and the
local circuits changed from dynamotor to battery current on March 15, 1911.
In 1910 and 1911, existing Boston gong service to Milton, Newton and Somerville
was replaced by tapper service, the latter also being extended to Brookline and
Cambridge. Tappers on circuits from other communities were installed in Boston, such as
Cambridge at Engine 41, Brookline at Engine 37, Somerville at Engine 32 and Milton at
Engines 16 and 19. In addition, a Boston tapper was installed at the Cambridge Fire
Alarm Office.
The annexation of the Town of Hyde Park to Boston was approved on November 7,
1911 to take effect at 12:01 A.M., January l, 1912. To tie in the existing Hyde Park fire
alarm system (automatic repeater), a 10-conductor cable was installed from Engine 16 at
River and Temple Streets, Dorchester, via River and Winthrop Streets to the Hyde Park

 


201
Central Fire Station on Winthrop Street, at Harvard Avenue, where the Hyde Park fire
alarm equipment was located. This cable was underground from Engine 16 to Central
Avenue, Dorchester, also at Mattapan Square where it crossed Blue Hill Avenue and again
on River Street from Huntington Avenue to and on Winthrop Street, the remainder being
carried overhead on messenger wires.
A Boston tapper, gong and telephone were installed at the Hyde Park Central Fire
Station (after annexation the quarters of Engine 48, Ladder 28 and Chemical 14) and a
register at the Boston fire alarm office to receive alarms from the Hyde Park repeater.
Hyde Park alarms were received by the companies in that district and by the Boston
fire alarm office, from the boxes thru the repeater, the existing Hyde Park box numbers
having been retained (see "B"). Fire Alarm transposed the Hyde Park number received to
a 1400 series number which was then transmitted throughout the system on tappers and
gongs. ’
On February 12, 1912, a Boston register was installed in Brookline and on March 7,
1912, a register for Cambridge alarms was installed at the Boston fire alarm office, on a
relay from the Cambridge circuit at Engine 41, at which location the Cambridge tapper
was removed.
Also in 1912, flashing lights were installed at all box circuit panels in the fire alarm
office to supplement the buzzers and sounders which indicated an incoming box alarm.
On July 15, 1913, a Newton tapper was in service at the quarters of Ladder 31 at
Oak Square and on January 7, 1914, a Boston tapper was installed at Chelsea Fire
Headquarters.
On February 8, 1915, selective striking of first alarms on either the north or south
gong circuits, in effect since December 1, 1887, was discontinued, all first alarms to be
struck on all gong circuits and the selector switch at the gong transmitter removed.
Manual switches were installed in fire stations to permit the man on watch to cut out the
gong when receiving an alarm on the tapper to which his company did not respond.
On January 24, 1916, all Hyde Park box circuits were disconnected from the
automatic repeater and connected to the Boston fire alarm office at which point all Hyde
Park alarms would now be received and transmitted, same as in the rest of the city.
"Interlacing" of boxes in Hyde Park was started on September 18, 1916.
By December of 1916, there were 61 box, 13 gong and 14 tapper circuits with a
total length of 1195 miles of which about 76% was installed underground. An average of
7 fire stations were on each tapper circuit and an average of 9 on each gong circuit.
On April 20, 1917, a start was made at installing a local fire alarm system, not
connected to the fire alarm office, at the Long lsland Hospital, the former Hyde Park
repeater being utilized. The system was completed and in service on February 14, 1919
with 22 boxes and 12 gongs and tappers.
By November 1920 there were 1433 miles of circuits with about 80% installed
underground and this included the department-owned telephone circuits. Average number
of boxes on each circuit was 20. At the fire alarm office, there was room left for only 5
more box circuits and 8 tapper or gong circuits.
On July 26, 1921, installation of three special "high pressure circuits" was
completed, including the placing of jacks for portable Morse telegraph sets in 63 fire
alarm box posts, The high pressure water system including the three circuits referred to
were officially in service on December 19, 1921.

 



202
In 1921, recommendations were made for a new fire alarm office because the
Bristol Street Office was seriously exposed to exterior fire hazards and there was no
further room for enlargement, making it impossible to comply with Underwriters’
recommendations.
On March 4, 1922, a Milton tapper was in service at Engine 49, remaining there
until October 9, 1938 when it was removed.
By 1925, there were 66 box, 13 gong, 14 tapper and 3 high pressure circuits, 86%
underground, and a new fire alarm office was under construction on park land, 250 feet
away from the nearest building, at 59 The Fenway. The new office was designed for an
initial capacity of 2000 boxes and with an ultimate capacity of 5000 boxes. Current
supply would be by 6500 cells of battery, with duplicate sets for each circuit and two
outside sources of current as well as an emergency generator. The new Fenway Office
replaced the Bristol Street Office on December 27, 1925 (see also Section
Boston tappers were in service at Brookline Engine 3 on January 8, 1927 and at
Brookline Engine 1 on January 11, 1927 and on January 12, 1927, a special circuit was in
service between the Boston and Brookline Fire Alarm Offices, the new Brookline fire
alarm office and system starting to function on January 13, 1927.
On June 12, 1928, Boston installed a 10-conductor fire alarm cable between the
fire station at Brookline Village and the Brookline fire alarm office at Washington and
Thayer Streets.
On April 9, 1930, a relay installed on the Newton circuit at the Brookline fire alarm
office permitted Boston Fire Alarm to receive Newton alarms. For many years there had
been in existence various wired connections between Boston and adjacent communities,
of limited extent, some only between fire stations and not terminating at fire alarm
offices. Beginning in 1930, mutual aid circuits were established between the fire alarm
offices of Boston and the communities shown on which each could receive the other’s
alarms.
Somerville April 14, 1930
Chelsea February 16, 1931
Brookline March 6, 1931
Newton March 24, 1931
Cambridge November 13, 1931
Milton February 10, 1932
Quincy February 18, 1932
Everett December 18, 1934
On May 6, 1931, installation of 130 rectifiers on fire alarm circuits at the Hre alarm
office was completed, with the first ten in service that day, supplied by motor generators.
On May 29, 1931, the new AC electric service started supplying the rectifiers and on June
4, 1931, installation of rectifiers on 126 circuits was completed with batteries floating on
the lines.
.-, On January 26, 1933, nine dynamotors (motor generators) had been installed at the
Hre alarm office, with nine more on June 2, 1933. Two circuits from each machine were
connected to boards in the operating room.

 


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ln March 1934, there were 87 box, 16 gong, 20 tapper, 3 high pressure and 7
muutal aid circuits, total mileage about 1812, with about 89% underground.
On July 12, 1934, facilities for 40 additional circuits had been completed at the fire
alarm office and some special circuits were shifted to the new panels to make room for
additional box circuits.
While it is not part of the Boston fire alarm system, yet it should be of interest to
note that the new Cambridge fire alarm office was in service on August 8, 1934.
By the end of 1936, circuit mileage had increased to 1834 with about 96% installed
underground.
On January 21, 1938, a circuit from the repeater at the Boston City Hospital was
connected at the fire alarm office and the new fire alarm system at the hospital was
placed in service on March 26, 1938.
A severe hurricane on September 21, 1938 caused the loss of many lives and much
property damage along the New England Coast. Buildings, trees, wires etc. were destroyed
and part of the Hre alarm system was temporarily affected. Another hurricane on
September 14, 1944 also caused extensive property damage.
In May 1951, there were 94 box, 16 gong, 21 tapper, 2 high pressure, 8 mutual aid,
3 special and one hospital circuits, 96% of these being underground.
Hurricanes Carol on August 31, 1954 and Edna on September 11, 1954 again
caused damage in this area.
ln November of 1957 a mutual aid circuit was established between Boston and
Dedham.
Hurricane Donna occurred on September 12, 1960.
On December 31, 1964, there were 19 tapper, 15 gong, 94 box, 4 private central
station, 2 hospital, 2 high pressure and 9 mutual aid circuits, practically all underground.
During the "Northeastern States Power Failure" occurring during the evening of
November 9, 1965, the fire alarm office continued operating on its own emergency power
until return of normal conditions.
On March 20, 1968, the separate repeater type fire alarm system at the Long Island
Hospital was connected with the fire alarm office by special circuit.
In 1973, there are 94 box, 1 high pressure, 9 mutual aid, 3 hospital, 6 private
central station, 19 tapper and 15 gong circuits and the necessary local circuits in the fire
alarm office.
F — Telegraph and Telephone
The use of the word "Telegraph" in this section is intended to mean communi-
cation by telegraph using Morse code or simple signals and does not refer to "Fire Alarm
Telegraph" as used when speaking of the entire fire alarm system.
A The use of telegraph (Morse code) for communication between fire alarm boxes and
' the tire alarm office has been a feature of the Boston Fire Alarm System since its
inception on April 28, 1852 and is still in use, but on a more limited basis. It will
probably be best to just chronologically set down all known items regarding telegraph and
telephone in the following.
On October 21, 1872, Professor Joseph Winlock, Director of the Harvard College

 


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Observatory was commissioned to furnish correct time to the Boston Fire Alarm Office.
A telegraph circuit known as the "Cambridge Time Circuit" was placed in service on
November 5, 1872 and the city paid the good professor $500.00 per annum for his
services.
Communications, except those by Morse code between boxes and the central office
were non-existent until 1874, when Johnson & Whittemore Magneto-Telegraph instru-
ments were introduced. Known as the "dial telegraph", they did not require knowledge
of the Morse code and could be used by anyone after a few hours’ practice (according to
the Board of Fire Commissioners).
These machines had a large circular dial, arranged nearly horizontally, on which
there were the letters of the alphabet, numbers and some commonly used symbols. A
pointer could be rotated over the dial and this generally completed the outward
appearance.
To send a message, the person doing so, moved the pointer over the letter or
number desired and depressed it which caused the pointer at the receiving machine to
move to and stop over the same letter or number. Thus, messages were spelled out slowly.
Since there were only 15 of these machines, their use was limited to the fire alarm
office, department headquarters and the various district headquarters, with perhaps one
or two at some other undisclosed strategic location.
I have studied the patent drawings and complete description of the workings of
these machines, but frankly I did not understand the principle of operation. You may, if
you wish, see one of these machines formerly used in Boston, at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington, D.C.
We are already familiar with the fact that Brighton had no fire alarm system until
June 1, 1877, therefore a special telegraph line was in service from the central office at
City Hall to the quarters of Engine 29 — Ladder 11 at 20 Chestnut Hill Avenue in
Brighton. Special Order No. 80 was issued January 12, 1875 giving instructions regarding
signals to be sent from Engine 29, by Morse key, to the fire alarm office, indicating their
response to fires in Brighton, Newton or Cambridge (how about the last two?).
A telegraph line was also in service between the station of the fire boat and the fire
alarm office. When Chemical 6 was organized at 16 Harvard Avenue, Allston on May 1,
1876, their quarters were connected into the above mentioned Brighton telegraph line
and special signals were made for the use of this company. By this time, Engine 29 had
also been supplied with one of the dial telegraph machines.
Deer Island apparently had dial telegraph facilities, because an order dated
November 23, 1876 stated that the fire alarm office would receive alarms from there by
dial telegraph.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell had perfected his telephone invention. He
demonstrated a successful two-way conversation over a telegraph circuit, between Boston
and Salem on February 12, 1877. But some considerable time would elapse before the
Boston Fire Department would utilize Mr. Bell’s invention.
In 1877, the Boston Protective Department was connected by telegraph with
Engine Company 7 so that the latter might give still alarms to the Protective Department.
Permission was given to the Automatic Signal Telegraph Company to connect its

 


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office with the fire alarm office by telegraph, so that effective November 28, 1877 they
might telegraph alarms received over their own wires, to the fire alarm office.
The Protective Department was also connected with the fire alarm office by
telegraph, an order issued August 27, 1878, clearly indicating this, but there is no
information just when this connection was established.
Merchants and others had found the new telephone very handy, because in 1879
the Fire Commissioners said that "the recently installed telephone wires which are now to
be found all over the city, are seriously interfering with the fire alarm wires".
In 1879, telegraph connections were established between the Protective Depart-
ment and Engines 6, 25, 26 and Ladder 8. a
On April 30, 1880 there were 16 dial telegraph machines and 12 key and sounder
sets at various district headquarters, indicating that perhaps the latter were part of
telegraph circuits, but definite information is lacking.
On September 8, 1880, permission was given to the Telephone Dispatch Company
to install a private phone at Engine 10, with further permission on October 18, 1880 to
install them also at Engines 12, 25, 26 and 28. While this is not really clear, some of the
wording has led me to believe that people in the neighborhood of these companies paid
for these phones to enable them to call the companies in case of fire. This reasoning is
pure conjecture on my part.
Now came the great day when the fire department itself ordered the installation of
department phones and the necessary department owned circuits, orders to this effect
being issued on February 28 and March 22, 1882. According to the best information
available, the first phones were in service on March 3 at the Fire Alarm Office, Chief
Engineer’s Office, Engines 4 and 27 and Ladder 8. The rule book issued in October 1882
had a new rule 96 dealing exclusively with the use of department phones.
On April 17, 1885, Box 41 was struck from the office without having been pulled
after receipt of an alarm by telephone, a most unusual occurrence at this time.
On April 30, 1886, the department had 60 telephone instruments in service. On
March 1, 1887, all private telephone lines in fire stations were ordered discontinued and
on July 15, 1887, all companies were ordered to report by telephone to the fire alarm
office when leaving quarters on still alarms and when back in quarters from still or box
alarms.
When Mr. John W. Smith, General Inspector for the National Board of
Underwriters, reported on the Boston Fire Alarm System under date of October 2, 1890,
he said that Superintendent Flanders had taken him to a street box where he sent
telegraphic signals to the fire alarm office after which he attached a portable phone in the
box when Mr. Smith talkedeby telephone with the operator at the office.
According to official information, on February 17, 1895, telephones were placed in
underground connected boxes
56 Kneeland and South Streets
57 Oak and Hudson Streets
61 Tremont Street near Warrenton Street
67 Washington and Hollis Streets
72 Washington and Compton Streets.

 



206
I do not want to disbelieve the foregoing but wonder where there was room in the
boxes to install phones. It is possible that phone jacks were provided for the plugging in
of portable phones, but lhave no further information.
When the new Bristol Street fire alarm office opened on May 20, 1895, it had been
equipped with a telephone switchboard leased from the New England Telephone
Company. The board had a capacity of 90 circuits and had three banks of connecting
plugs as well as three sets of transmitters and telephones, a real modern job. Of course, in
keeping with the technology of that period, it had "drops" to indicate incoming calls,
cords with heavy weights on pullies, local battery and magneto ringing. The common
battery system had not yet been heard of. All phones throughout the department were of
the magneto—ringing, local battery type, with many party lines, on each of which several
fire stations were grouped. There was a fine distinction between department and outside
phones, calls on the latter being referred to as "having received a call by central phone".
On September 14, 1898, in connection with the new salt water system which
extended from Central Wharf thru Central Street, Post Office Square and Congress Street
to Atlantic Avenue, a telegraph circuit was in service, withjacks for portable Morse sets at
Central Wharf and at each of the eleven special hydrants, to be used for communication
with the boat at the Central Wharf pump connection and with the fire alarm office. The
wires of this circuit were in the same trench as the water pipes.
On January 4, 1911, outside lines connected to the F.A. Switchboard were
TREMONT 880 thru 886 and a line to Police Headquarters. On January 5, a trunk line to
the Oxford exchange was added.
Effective May 27, 1911, the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company took
over the maintenance of the department telephone system with the exception of the
outside circuits. There were 38 department owned telephone circuits.
On July 17, 1916, two fire alarm wires were connected into a Western Union time
circuit, from Dover and Washington Streets to the fire alarm office on Bristol Street.
On January 31, 1917 there were 45 telephone circuits owned by the tire
department, as well as 7 circuits to the BEACH exchange, 1 circuit to the BACK BAY
exchange, 1 circuit to Police Headquarters and one circuit each to American District
Telegraph Company, Boston Automatic Fire Alarm Company and Boston Protective
Department.
From 7:00 A.M., April 15 to 3:00 P.M., April 21, 1919, all operators of the New
England Telephone & Telegraph Company were on strike, completely stopping all public
telephone service. Department lines to fire stations and to Police Headquarters were not
affected, but there was no service between the fire alarm switchboard and the public
exchanges. On June ll, 1919, a direct telephone line was established between the fire
alarm office and the Boston Edison Company.
In 1919 experiments were made in the use of telephones between fire alarm boxes
and the fire alarm office. Some circuits were satisfactory, but others were not due to the
hum created by the motor generators supplying current for the box circuits. No serious
consideration was given to this, because unlike telegraph messages, no automatic records
could be made of telephone messages.
ln 1921 a strong recommendation was made to replace the antiquated magneto
type telephone system with amodern one. .

 


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On October 24, 1923, all telephone lines to the BEACH exchange, Police
Headquarters and Boston Edison Company were out of service from 1:30 A.M. to 10:50
A.M. due to cable trouble, with only one outside line to the BACK BAY exchange
remaining in service. Interdepartment phone service was not affected.
While it does not entirely fit into the subject matter of this section, nevertheless it
is worthy of note that on June 19, 1924 experiments were conducted with teletype from
the fire alarm office on the top floor at 60 Bristol Street to the quarters of Water Tower 2
on the street floor, at which point the receiver was located. Nothing is known about
results and since teletype has never been used it is fair to assume that the experiment was
no more than the word implies.
In 1925 the present Fenway fire alarm office was being constructed. On May 19,
the telephone company brought two cables into the new building and the new telephone
system there and throughout the department would be a modern common battery
installation in contrast to the antiquated magneto system in use. In the new system, the
telephone company would maintain all components including all outside circuits. The
new ofnce opened at 8:00 A.M., December 27, 1925 at which time all new telephone
arrangements took effect.
Prior to the existence of the Sumner Traffic Tunnel under the harbor, between the
city proper and East Boston (tunnel opened June 30, 1934), all responses and covering
movements to or from East Boston were either via Charlestown and Chelsea or by way of
the ferries. It was necessary to notify the bridge tenders on the Charlestown-Chelsea-East
Boston route or the ferry attendants to warn them of the impending passage or arrival of
apparatus.
For this purpose, there were direct signal connections from the fire alarm office to
the drawt enders’ houses on the South and North Draws of the Chelsea Bridge and on the
Meridian Street Bridge in East Boston. Another signal connection existed from the tire
alarm office to the Boston side of the North Ferry, as well as one from Engine 9 to the
East Boston side of the same ferry.
On December 31, 1929, there were 67 telephone lines to department stations, 10
trunk lines to the Kenmore Exchange, 2 trunk lines to the Garrison Exchange, one special
telephone line each to Boston Protective Department, Boston Automatic Fire Alarm
Company and American District Telegraph Company. Also, there were tie lines to the
Wire Division, Police Headquarters and Boston Edison Company. There were 153
department and 23 rented public phones.
To improve the quality of telephone communication on box circuits, a VOLTEX
amplifier was placed in service at the Hre alarm office on May 28, 1937. District Chiefs 13
(West Roxbury-Roslindale) and 15 (Hyde Park) were furnished with portable amplifiers.
The results obtained were very good,
On April 15, 1938, water in a telephone cable at Commonwealth and Massachusetts
Avenues caused a serious disturbance of telephone service for about 15 hours, affecting
75% of the department phone system. Emergency service was maintained thru Police
Headquarters and radio facilities.
On March 19, 1940, a loudspeaker for telephone alarms was installed at the fire
alarm office.
On July 29, 1967, the inter-department dial telephone system was in service.

 


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The "9ll" Emergency Reporting System became effective on November 22, 1972
in both Boston and Brookline. Additional telephone facilities were placed in service
between the Boston fire alarm office and the Boston Police Department and also to the
Brookline fire alarm office. Telephone exchange districts not coinciding with political
boundaries required the special facilities between Boston and Brookline.
In 1973, the two position fire alarm switchboard has lines to public exchanges, with
certain lines reserved for fire calls, to all department stations and buildings, Boston and ,
Metropolitan District Police, Private Central Stations, Hospitals, Gas and Edison l
Companies, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and others.
G — Transmitters and Repeaters
In this section we shall discuss alarm transmitters and repeaters used in the Boston
fire alarm service. Dr. Channing, when describing the Boston system under construction
in 1851, said that "the transmitting apparatus, connected with the alarm circuit, consists
of a common alarm key, and of the district key board. The purpose of these instruments
is to complete, at suitable times, the circuit by which the machinery at the alarm stations
is thrown into action. To obviate the difficulty of completing the circuit by the alarm
key, with the absolute regularity necessary to strike the district signals upon the bells, the
district key board is introduced".
Remember when reading this, that the alarm circuits were operated on the "open
‘circuit" principle and did not have current flowing in them until the circuit was closed to
strike the bells.
Having in mind Dr. Channing’s desire for accuracy in striking alarms, we find that
Boston never transmitted alarms by hand key except when all other facilities had failed
temporarily. So let us now get to the subject at hand and look at the transmitters used
here during the 122 years of operation.
A transmitter is a device which permits the manual setting up of a number or
numbers representing the designation of fire alarm boxes and/ or signals after which the
machine, when started, will send its numerical message over the alarm circuits at
predetermined spacing and speed as many times as the design of the machine permits, the
number of times of striking being under the manual control of the operator.
The original fire alarm office was equipped with a "key board" for striking the
district numbers on the public alarm bells and this instrument, in its original more simple
form, had been used in telegraph work. It is best described as a wooden case which, in
Boston, had eleven keys marked 1-2, F, 1-3, 2-3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, the keys being
located at the top of the case.
1-2 was for "all—out" (used first on February 5, 1853), F was for continuous
striking, 1-3 and 2-3 were spares, while 1 thru 7 represented the district numbers. In the
case itself, under the keys, there was a horizontal cylinder which could be rotated by
clock work at a predetermined speed. The cylinder was of wood with a metallic core and
on the periphery of the cylinder, under the keys, there were metallic strips, corresponding
in arrangement and spacing to the numbers to be struck. To operate the key board, let us
say to transmit 4 blows on the bells, the operator pressed the key marked 4 which started
the cylinder rotating and brought metallic fingers in contact with four separate metal

 


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strips on the cylinder, each such contact completing the circuit and causing the bells t0
strike one blow. The operator held the key down until a sufficient number of rounds had
been struck, when upon releasing the key, the cylinder would stop where it would leave
the circuit open. Remember that this was "norma1ly open" type of operation. The
contact fingers, thru the metal strips and the metallic core of the cylinder, completed the
circuit at properly spaced intervals.
For "1mproved Fire Alarm Key Board" see Patent No. 23217, dated March 8,
1859, issued to Moses G. Farmer of Salem and William F. Channing of Boston.
How long the key board was in service has not been determined, but under date of
December 18, 1858, we Hnd a description of an entirely different transmitter being used,
called a "Striking Clock".
The striking clock had two faces or dials, on one of which there were a long and a
short hand, similar to the hands of a clock, the hands having knobs by which they could
be moved manually. This face or dial, on its outer periphery, had 100 divisions for the
long hand and the inner circle, for the short hand, had 12 positions, numbered 1 thru 12.
To strike the alarm bells, the short hand was set for the district number and the clock
started by a lever. The large hand moved one division with each blow struck, showing the
total number of blows transmitted, of which a record was kept so that it could be
determined when to pull up the weights at the striking machines.
The other face had one hand and 20 dots, the hand being set to indicate the box
number. When started with a lever, the signal was struck on the box sounders only via the
circuit on which the box received was located. This was "normally-closed" operation.
It should be mentioned here that the firemen, hearing the district number struck on
the bells, had to go to a box to listen for the tapping of the box number or send a signal
from the box to the office upon receipt of which the operator would tap the box number
on that circuit.
When gongs had come into use (see Section C), the district number, in addition to
being struck on the bells, was also struck on the alarm gongs and the box number was
struck on so-called signal gongs, all of these gongs being located in fire and police stations.
When the change was made in the method of transmitting alarms on the bells and
gongs at 12 noon, April 28, 1864 (see Sect. B), it became necessary to transmit single,
two and three digit box numbers over the alarm circuits in place of the district number. It
certainly appears that a different type of transmitter was required, but there is absolutely
no information available. A
On September 15, 1873 the Superintendent of Fire Alarm was authorized to
procure a new transmitter for the fire alarm office, the one in use being unreliable, but
again there is no mention of the type then in use. A new one was ordered from Mr. Crane _
and it was placed in service on April 6, 1874.
The annual report for the year ending April 30, 1875 states that "two repeating
3-dial clocks for striking signals are in use”. These transmitters had three separate clock
type dials, so that for a 3-digit number it was necessary to use all three, setting up the
separate digits on separate dials. These machines lasted until the City Hall Office was
replaced by the Bristol Street Office on May 20, 1895.
On January 24, 1893, a new 4-dial Pearce transmitter was placed in service at City
Hall and it was first used that day at 12:42 P.M. to strike Box 96 on the "box gongs".

 


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Further on in this section you will find an explanation of “box gongs" and "box gong
circuits", the new transmitter having been connected to the latter.
In the specifications for the new Bristol Street fire alarm office, the contractor,
among many other things, was made responsible for the furnishing of a new transmitter
to have 4 combination dials and for the moving and possible reconditioning of the
existing 4-dial transmitter then at the City Hall Office and referred to above. So we can
safely assume that the new Bristol Street Office was initially equipped with two 4-dial
transmitters, one new and the other a little over two years old.
Pearce 4-dial transmitters were now standard equipment and we find in the
Underwriters’ report of November 1905 that there were then still only two of them, one
for striking alarms on the tapper (former "Box Gong") circuits and the other for striking
on the gong circuits, with emergency provisions for striking by hand and the same was
still true when the Underwriters reported on the system again in January 1911.
On January 2, 1911, a new manual tapper transmitter belonging to the City of
Springfield was received for temporary use and it was installed on March 13, 1911 to
replace the existing tapper transmitter which was removed for complete overhaul. The
temporary transmitter was taken out on May 31, 1911 and sent to Springfield.
On June 23, 1915 a plug board was installed at the tapper transmitter to permit the
cutting out of individual circuits at either the machine or the hand key.
The Underwriters reported in November 1920 that there had been no significant
changes in alarm transmission, tappers being operated at 2 blows per second and gongs at
one blow every 2 seconds.
While the new Fenway fire alarm offioe was under construction, the Gamewell
Company, on June 9, 1925, removed the gong transmitter from Bristol Street for
complete rebuilding and installed a small temporary transmitter in its place. The new
Fenway Office opened on December 27, 1925 with provisions for one tapper transmitter
to be moved from Bristol Street, one new 4dial Pearce tapper transmitter and one
existing rebuilt gong transmitter. On December 29, 1925, the Bristol Street tapper
transmitter was sent to the factory for complete rebuilding. The gong transmitter which
had been away for rebuilding since June 9, 1925, was placed in service at the Fenway
Office on January 16, 1926.
On March 26, 1926, the tapper transmitter, away for rebuilding since December 29,
1925, was returned with 10 circuits added for a total capacity of 30 circuits, and placed
in service on April 10, 1926.
On April 30, 1926 both tapper transmitters were adjusted to send 40 blows in 15
seconds. On March 31, 1928, they were again adjusted to transmit three blows per
second.
In 1973, the three Pearce transmitters are still at the fire alarm office and the best
detailed descriptions of these ingenious machines can be found in Patent No. 526,356
issued on September 18, 1894 to Frederick Pearce and Joseph Broich.
This completes the discussion of transmitters used in the Boston Fire Alarm System
and we shall now turn our attention to automatic repeaters which were also in use at
various times.

 


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Automatic repeaters are normally used in fire alarm systems operating under Class
B conditions where it is not necessary to retransmit alarms received at the office on
separate circuits manually. The repeater will automatically transfer an incoming box
alarm to the alarm circuits. We have already noted that automatic repeaters in the Boston
system were once used in the Charlestown, West Roxbury and Hyde Park Districts prior
to the full integration of their fire alarm systems and that they are still in use for separate
hospital systems. This requires no further discussion, but I want to describe in the
following an arrangement once in use called the "Box Gong System".
When alarms were struck simultaneously on the public alarm bells and gongs, the
speed of striking was governed by the time required to set in motion the bell striking
apparatus and the return of the hammer to a position where the next blow could be
struck. So we find that the speed of striking the bells and gongs was very slow, being one
blow every 3 3/4 seconds. In an effort to shorten the time between the receipt of at least
one round of a box signal and the actual striking of the box number on these slow
devices, it was decided to install means by which the companies could receive alarms
directly from the boxes.
On July 26, 1884, the "Box Gong System" was introduced in fire stations of the
city proper and part of the Roxbury District and it was soon extended throughout the
entire city.
In the fire stations nine inch diameter gongs (called Box Gongs) had been installed
and these were connected with the fire alarm office by separate circuits, called the "Box
Gong Circuits".
When an alarm was being received on a box circuit, the operator at the office let
one round come in, then he actuated a manual switch at the box circuit panel, which thru
a relay and a local circuit, transferred remaining rounds of the box signal, thru a repeater
(called the Box Gong Repeater) into the box gong circuits and the box gongs. It was soon
discovered that this system had one serious fault, because when it was in operation,
another alarm starting on the same box circuit would result in jumbled, unreadable signals
being received in fire stations. As a result it was used only for a short time.
When the quick-acting tappers were introduced in the early 1890’s they were placed
on the box gong circuits and the first Pearce transmitter in service on January 24, 1893
was used to strike the box gongs and tappers, the old transmitter being used to strike the
bells and gongs. A new box gong repeater had been installed at the City Hall Office on
March 18, 1892.
When the new Bristol Street office was being equipped, all box circuit panels were
provided with the manual switches and other necessary items to continue the system of
transferring alarms from boxes directly into the tapper circuits in the event of an
emergency. When the Bristol Street Office opened on May 20, 1895, it was completely
equipped for this service which, according to the best information available, was never
used. The former box gong circuits were now known as the tapper circuits.
This exhausts my knowledge of transmitters and repeaters used in Boston.
I would like to mention that the first practical "automatic repeater" was patented
by Edwin Rogers of Boston in 1870. Mr. Rogers was one of the early Boston fire alarm
operators, joining the system in 1853.

 


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H — Radio System
The Boston Fire Department had the first two-way fire radio installation in the
United States, but before showing the beginnings and development of the radio system,
let us look at one of the reasons why this type of communication was considered a
necessity at such an early date.
Boston had three fire boats, Engines 31, 44 and 47 with which communication was
possible only while the boats were tied up at their piers. When at their piers, alarms by
tapper and gong or telephone could be received at their land quarters and on the boat
itself, the boat being connected to the alarm and telephone circuits by a cable plug. When
the boat left its pier, the cable plug was disconnected and there was no further
communication.
At fires to which boats responded, it was impossible for the Chief Officer in charge
to advise them prior to arrival of the position or action to be taken or if a boat was not
needed, it could not be ordered back until it came within hailing distance. As a result,
drawbridges were needlessly opened and sometimes a boat needed at another, more
serious fire, could not be diverted from responding to perhaps an inconsequential fire or a
false alarm.
Much thought was given to this problem and something which looked like a good
idea, was installed on January 27, 1911. On that day a red light was placed in the tower
of fire headquarters, over the fire alarm office, at 60 Bristol Street, the light to be used to
flash "all-out" signals for boxes to which a boat was responding. The arrangement was
operated from the tapper transmitter and was controlled by a switch to be cut in for
"a11-out" signals on selected boxes. This arrangement was in service February 4, 1911 .
It was better than the previous "nothing—at-all", but it did not always accomplish its
purpose due to visibility problems.
In 1921, a strong recommendation was made to provide wireless communication
between the fire alarm office and the three boats, as the only means of solving this
problem once and for all.
In October 1923, two-way radio communication was established between the fire
alarm office and the fire boats and this was the first system of this type in the United
States. Radio service for fire departments was then permitted only if they had a marine
division, otherwise Boston would have had to wait many more years for this
improvement.
On June 26, 1928, the fire alarm office started the transmission of all box alarms
by radio "beep" signals, simultaneous with their transmission over the tapper circuits.
On March 29, 1929, a new 100 Watt radio set was received for use at the fire alarm
office and the frequency was changed from 115 to 187.3 metres on May 23, 1929.
Another change from 1596 KC to 1558 KC was made on November 9, 1931.
Hourly radio test and time signals were started on October 25, 1932 and on March
1, 1933, automatic crystal control was installed at the radio transmitter.
Another change of frequency, from 1558 to 1630 KC, occurred on January 17,
1934. Quite early a few cars, among them those of the Fire Commissioner and the Chief

 


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of Department, had been equipped with radio receivers. In the period between December
1, 1936 and March 25, 1937, the cars of all Deputy and District Chiefs were equipped
with receivers.
Between June 20, 1941 and October 23, 1942, all Deputy and District Chiefs’ cars,
the car of the Superintendent of Fire Alarm and of the Chief of Department were
equipped with two-way radio and radio receivers were installed in tire stations, all of the
latter having been so equipped by October 15, 1942.
An automatic recording device on the radio system was placed in service at the tire
alarm office on March 3, 1943.
In 1944, A.M. operation was superseded by F.M. operation, the change-over being
accomplished between March 17, 1944 and May 20, 1944 on which latter date the change
from 1630 KC A.M. to 37.74 MC F.M. was completed.
On January 15, 1946, a two-way radio was installed on the apparatus of Rescue
Company 2. On December 1, 1947, Chiefs’ drivers were permitted to report by radio
from the scene of alarms instead of by telegraph from the box.
At 9:23 A.M., June 27, 1948, the radio frequency was changed from 37.74 MC
F.M. to 33.74 MC F.M.
On January 17, 1949, it was made compulsory for District Chiefs’ drivers to report
to the fire alarm office, by radio, immediately upon arrival at the scene of an alarm and
to maintain radio contact at all times while out of quarters.
At 12 midnight, November 30, 1949, call letters WEY of the Boston Fire
Department Radio System were changed to KCA-591.
Installation of 2-way radios on all apparatus and other vehicles not yet equipped
started on December 17, 1951 and it was completed on June 7, 1954. On November 26,
1952, District 11 had the first portable radio on a frequency of 153.89 MC. Effective
January 28, 1957, the transmission of all alarms to be preceded by a warning "beep" on
the radio system.
On September 8, 1965, the Metropolitan Fire District 13 radio system was in
service, for communication between 23 municipalities in the Boston Metropolitan Area,
with control point at the Newton Fire Alarm Office, on a frequency of 154.22 MHZ. On
September 20, 1966, at 2:11 P.M., a transmitter on a frequency of 153.89 MHZ was in
service, supplementing a receiver previously in use. This was designated as Channel 2,
while the 33.74 MHZ frequency is known as Channel 1. A mobile communications unit,
CP-4, started service on January 8, 1968. An additional frequency, Channel 4, was in
service in January 1971, using 154.265 MHZ. .
Since all fire stations have radio receivers, companies can be dispatched from
quarters by radio, an acknowledgement method has been provided. Individual "tone
alert" is also used to notify officials and others, away from all other contact, that they
are wanted and this is being extended to fire stations to alert companies that they are
about to be dispatched by radio.
All Chief Officers, other selected personnel and some company units have
multi-frequency portable 2-way radio sets.

 


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I — Private Central Stations
Private Central Stations are not part of the fire alarm service but they perform an
important function by installing and maintaining private fire alarm systems in the
premises of their subscribers. When they receive alarms of fire from these premises at
their central station, an operator transmits the proper signal(s) to the fire alarm office
which then is responsible for dispatching apparatus to the location indicated.
At the present time, the following, listed in order of age, are engaged in providing
these and related services to their subscribers in Boston:
AFA Protective Systems Inc. (formerly Boston Automatic Fire Alarm Division)
American District Telegraph Company — ADT
3M Alarm Service (formerly Call’s Central Station Alarms)
General Alarm Company (formerly Hyde Park Alarm System)
Instant Signal and Alarm Company
Atlas Alarm Corporation
Let us see when Private Central Station alarm service started and how it progressed
thereafter. Before beginning this discussion, Iwant to tell you that this is not my best
subject, but I believe that I have enough information to say something worthwhile about
it.
The year 1877 was the start of private central station fire alarm service in Boston
and while Ihave no definite date, I can tell you that, on November 28, 1877, the Watkins
Automatic Signal Telegraph Company was permitted to connect its central office with
the fire alarm ofhce by a telegraph circuit. This company may well be called the
grandparent of the present AFA so that almost 100 years have passed since the start of
this service. ,
In case you do not know, this company did NOT transmit alarms received from
their subscribers to the fire alarm office, but sent them directly to fire stations via their
own gong circuits, a special running card, approved by the fire department, being in use.
After September 6, 1880 they also telegraphed to fire alarm if companies assigned
to respond to their signals were not available, so that fire alarm might substitute other
companies in their place. Later on, the telephone replaced the telegraph in their
communications with the fire alarm office. This method of transmitting alarms from their
central office to fire department stations lasted until 12 noon, August 11, 1930 and for
all intermediate and later details you are referred to the following.
At various times a few other companies did business for short periods, but little is
known about them. However one, the American District Telegraph started central station
fire alarm service in the early 1900’s, transmitting its alarms to fire department stations in
a manner similar to that used by the Automatic Fire Alarm Company (Watkins).
On October 31, 1909, an American District Telegraph register had been installed at
the fire alarm office and effective November 1, ADT would no longer transmit alarms
directly to fire department stations, but would send them by special circuit to the fire
alarm office which then dispatched the companies assigned by telephone. On June 27,

 


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1912 a Boston Automatic Fire Alarm register was installed at the fire alarm office; but
that company continued to strike alarms on their own gongs in department stations.
Effective July 17, 1914, Fire Alarm no longer dispatched companies to ADT alarms
by telephone, but would now strike ADT alarms on department tappers, preliminary (11)
followed by the ADT box number. On August 26, 1914, Boston Automatic started
striking two instead of three rounds of their signals on their gongs in fire stations.
Effective February 15, 1929, between 11:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M., all Boston
Automatic and ADT alarms were to be followed by the transmission of the nearest city
box.
Effective at 12 noon, August 11, 1930, Boston Automatic Fire Alarm would no
longer transmit their alarms over their own circuits to fire stations, but would instead
transmit them to the fire alarm office which then sent them out on all tapper circuits by
striking 222 followed by the Automatic box number and floor number, if any. At the
same time, preliminary signal (11) for ADT alarms was changed to 333, otherwise there
were no changes in the striking of ADT alarms.
Beginning January 8, 1937, the nearest city box shall be transmitted at ALL
HOURS, following all BAFA and ADT alarms.
At 12 noon, August 11, 1939, General Alarm Corporation (GAC) started providing
fire alarm service to subscribers, with preliminary signal 555 assigned to this company.
Beginning December 12, 1946, between 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., the nearest city
box will not be transmitted following BAFA, ADT or GAC alarms. On and after January
1, 1949, when the city box is transmitted following BAFA, ADT or GAC alarms, only the
second due engine of the first alarm assignment for that box shall respond.
On January 25, 1950, all limitations in effect December 12, 1946 and January 1,
1949, applying to BAFA, ADT and GAC alarms were rescinded.
At 8:00 A.M., September 30, 1955, GAC was absorbed by ADT and preliminary
signal 555 was discontinued. GAC signal numbers 12 thru 99 became 3512 thru 3599 and
112 thru 475 became 3112 thru 3475, the new numbers to be struck preceded by ADT
preliminary 333.
At 12 noon, January 28, 1957, private central station alarms to be transmitted by
the fire alarm office by striking one round only of the company preliminary followed by
two rounds of the company box number, in place of the previous method where each
round of the location signal was preceded by the company preliminary. At the same time,
Cal1’s Police Signal Corporation was in service with preliminary 111 assigned, the latter
being changed to 555 at 12 noon, August 15, 1960.
Another private central station, Hyde Park Alarm System, was in service at 12
noon, April 1, 1964, with preliminary signal 666 and at 8:00 A.M., January 11, 1967
Instant Signal and Alarm Company started business with preliminary signal 777.
Effective at 8:00 A.M., September 22, 1969, Fire Alarm will no longer transmit
private central station signals on tappers, but will instead dispatch companies assigned by
telephone or radio, the same as for still alarms, the nearest city box to be transmitted
under specified conditions.
On October 21, 1969, Boston Automatic Fire Alarm Division became AFA

 


216 —
Protective Systems Inc. and on May 1, 1970, the name of Hyde Park Alarm System was
changed to General Alarm Company.
An additional private central station went in service at 0800, February 1, 1972.
This was Atlas Alarm Corporation, preliminary signal 888. On October 27, 1972, Call’s
Central Station Alarms became the 3M Alarm Service.
J - Miscellaneous Information
In the following there are shown, chronologically, some items of interest, not
readily classifiable among other specific subjects.
On July 16, 1855, at 11:42 P.M., an alarm was received from District 3 ~ Station 7
after which there were no further alarms for 23 days, until August 9, 1855 when District
1 — Station 1 was received at 1:12 P.M.
Here are the symbols which were received from the crank type fire alarm boxes:
District Symbols
1.2..3...4 .... 5 ..... 6 ...... 7....
Station Symbols
1- 2 .~ 3 4.. 4 .». 5 ..— 6 —... 7 .—.. 8 ..—. 9 ...— 10 —.— 11~.—. 12 —..— 13 ——..
14 ..-— 15 ‘.——. 16 .,—~..
Numbering changes in effect at 12 noon, April 28, 1864
Dist.
Sta. New Iocation
1-1 16 East End of Faneuil Hall
1-2 17 Hanover and Marshall Sts.
1-3 13 Hanover and Richmond Sts.
1-4 14 Commercial St. and Eastern Avenue
1-5 9 Constitution Wharf
16 2 Charter St. and Phipps Place
1-7 12 Cooper and Endicott Sts.
1-8 4 Causeway St., Boston & Maine RR Freight Depot
1-9 5 Causeway and Lowell Sts.
1-10 6 Leverett and Vernon Sts.
1-11 21 Sudbury and Hawkins Sts.
1-12 3 Hull and Snowhill Sts.
1-13 8 Merrimac House, Merrimac and Friend Sts.
1-14 15 Commercial and Richmond Sts.
1-15 18 Brattle St. Church
1-16 19 Haymarket Square, Boston & Maine RR Depot
2-1 24 North Russell St. Church
2-2 26 Cambridge and West Cedar Sts.

 


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Dist.
Sta. New Location
2-3 27 Engine 10, River and Mt. Vernon Sts.
2-4 32 Pinckney and Anderson Sts.
2-5 34 Hancock and Myrtle Sts.
2-6 23 Cambridge St. opp. Bowdoin St.
2-7 35 Beacon and Somerset Sts.
2-8 7 Poplar and Spring Sts.
2-9 31 Beacon and Beaver Sts.
2-10 25 Fruit St., Hose Co. 3
2-11 28 Beacon and Spruce Sts.
2-12 29 Beacon and Clarendon Sts.
3-1 41 Washington and Milk Sts.
3-2 37 India St. and Central Wharf
3-3 46 Milk and Oliver Sts.
3-4 51 Purchase St. near Hartford St., Eng. 7
3-5 52 Summer and Lincoln Sts.
3-6 42 Winter St. and Central Place
3-7 36 Court Square, Police Sta. 2 (Phantom)
3-8 47 Broad St. opp. Rowe’s Wharf
3-9 45 Federal St. opp. Channing St.
3-10 43 Washington and Bedford Sts.
4-1 56 Kneeland and South Sts., Old Colony Depot
4-2 57 Hudson St. near Oak St., Hose Co. 2
4-3 65 Harrison Ave. and Seneca St.
4-4 64 Indiana Place Church
4-5 61 Warren(ton) St. near Tremont St., Hose Co. 8
4-6 62 Pleasant St., Providence Depot
4-7 53 Washington and Boylston Sts.
4-8 71 Tremont and Berkeley Sts.
4-9 54 Beach and Hudson Sts.
4-10 63 Berkeley St. near Commonwealth Ave.
4-11 67 Washington and Common Sts.
5-1 72 Washington St. south of Dover St., Eng. 3
5-2 73 Shawmut Ave. and Waltham St-
5-3 75 Shawmut Ave. nr. W. Brookline St., Hose Co. 5
54 82 Washington and Northampton Sts.
5-5 74 Police Sta. 5, East Dedham and Mystic Sts.
5-6 83 Tremont and Camden Sts.
5-7 76 Tremont St. and Rutland Sq.
5-8 68 Harrison Ave. and Wareham St. A
6-1 123 Broadway and Dorchester Ave.
6-2 124 West Broadway near C St., Police Sta. 6

 


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Dist.
Sta; New Location
6-3 126 West 2nd and E Sts.
64 132 West Broadway near Dorchester St.
6-5 137 East 4th betw. K and L Sts., Eng. 2
6-6 128 Dorchester and Jenkins Sts., Hose Co. 10
6-7 134 East 5th and I Sts.
6-8 127 Goddard and E Sts.
6-9 135 East 8th and K Sts.
6-10 136 East lst and K Sts.
6-11 145 East 4th and P Sts.
6-12 121 West 1st and A Sts.
6-13 125 Norway Iron Works, Federal St. (now 383 Dorch. Ave.)
6-14 131 East 8th and G Sts.
6-15 138 House of Correction Gate, East 1st near N St.
6-16 129 West 6th and B Sts.
7-1 152 Sumner and lamson Sts.
7-2 154 Maverick and Meridian Sts.
7-3 165 Marion and Trenton Sts.
74 175 Chelsea and Saratoga Sts.
7-5 153 Webster and Orleans Sts.
7-6 156 Sumner and Border Sts.
7-7 162 Bennington St. at Central Square
7-8 174 Brooks and Saratoga Sts.
7-9 157 Border and Maverick Sts.
7-10 163 Chelsea and Marion Sts.
84 84 no location
Fire Alarm, from the first day of operation on April 28, 1852, had been a separate
department under control of a committee of the City Council. On October 24, 1873, in
connection with the reorganization of the Fire Department, an order was passed which
created the first Board of Fire Commissioners. At the same time, Fire Alarm became a
branch of the Fire Department with the Superintendent being directly responsible to the
Fire Commissioners.
Effective May 20, 1878, the duty of winding and keeping in correct time the public
clocks was transferred from the fire alarm office to designated members of various fire
companies. The Superintendent of Fire Alarm was ordered to instruct such members.
Under date of October 14, 1883, the following order was given to the
Superintendent of Fire Alarm:
"The new time having been adopted by Harvard College and the Railroad Time
Convention and the day having been set upon for the change being noon of
November 18 next, you are hereby ordered to cause the noon blow on and after
that date to be struck in conformity with the new arrangement and to adjust the
public clocks to the time adopted, viz. 15 minutes 44-5/ 10 seconds later than
present ”

 


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This was the beginning of standard time, Eastern Standard Time being governed by
the 75th meridian, Central Time by the 90th, Mountain Time by the 105th and Pacific
Time by the 120th meridian.
On January 7, 1884, the first electric light (arc type) was installed at the City Hall
Fire Alarm Office and this was replaced by electric incandescent lighting on November
ll, 1886.
A Department for the Inspection of Wires was created to control the very many
electric and other wires put up overhead and Mr. Flanders, Superintendent of Fire Alarm,
was appointed Inspector of Wires on November 28, 1890. Fire Alarm was placed under
this new department, Mr, Flanders remaining in charge in addition to his duties as
Inspector of Wires.
When the Wire Department was organized on August 4, 1894 under a Commissioner
of Wires, Mr. Flanders again was designated Superintendent of Fire Alarm on August 8,
1894 and Fire Alarm again was a division or branch of the fire department.
On May 20, 1907, all public clocks under charge of the fire department were
transferred to the Public Buildings Department, but on November 13, 1908 the fire
department got the clocks back.
On February 21, 1910, assignment books were discontinued and assignment cards,
filed in steel cabinets, were used for the first time.
Effective at 12 noon, September 10, 1913, the fire alarm office was made solely
responsible for proper response and covering on all alarms. Previously this had been the
responsibility of company officers and chief officers, with some unhappy results at times.
On February 5, 1918, connections were installed on Water Tower 4 (gasoline-
electric tractor) to furnish emergency current for the fire alarm office. On February 7,
1918, Water Tower 4 was run with the full fire alarm load, 45 amperes, for about 30
minutes. During the test, voltage varied only about 3 volts.
After October 11, 1922, no more signs were to be placed at fire alarm boxes with
reference to keyless doors and existing signs, when becoming unsightly or illegible, were
to be removed.
These signs read as follows:
KEYLESS BOX
· OPENING THE DOOR
DOES NOT GIVE AN ALARM
THE HOOK INSIDE MUST BE PULLED
On April 3, 1932, at 10:50 P.M., Fire Alarm received an order by radio, from
Engine 44 (Fire Boat) to send the "a1l-out" on Box 7127, by orders of the Acting Deputy
Chief. Fire Alarm requested the telegrapher at 7127 to confirm this by telegraph. This
was perhaps the first time that an "all-out" was ordered by radio.
Having discussed at some length the development of the fire alarm system and its
components, I felt that it would be interesting to preserve, for the future, the methods
and signals used for multiple alarms. A
The present "Regulations Concerning Signals" in use by the Boston Fire Depart-
ment contain, among other things, the following:

 


220
MULTIPLE ALARMS
Alarms are designated as lst, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and Sth. All alarms following a first
alarm from the same box are called multiple alarms. An order for a multiple alarm shall
be given by the officer commanding at the fire.
One or more multiple alarms may be omitted and the next in order given, in which
case the response and covering to the multiple received will include the assignments of the
alarms omitted.
A multiple alarm can be ordered even though a first alarm has not been transmitted.
In such a case, the fire alarm office shall transmit the first alarm, followed by the multiple
so ordered.
For multiple alarms a preliminary signal designating the specific alarm, i.e., two (2)
blows for a 2nd alarm, three (3) blows for a 3rd alarm, four (4) blows for a 4th alarm and
five (5) blows for a 5th alarm, followed by the box number, will be transmitted two (2)
rounds on tappers and one (1) round on gongs.
I intend to show not only how multiple alarms were transmitted, but also how the
request for them was communicated to the fire alarm office from the scene of the fire
and other related matters.
We already know that telegraph communication, by Morse code, between the office
and the fire alarm boxes, was used from the very beginning of the system in 1852,
requiring knowledge of the code by the fire alarm operators and all others using this
means of communication. Telegraph signatures have always been assigned to all persons
capable of sending and receiving telegraph messages for purposes of identification. These
signatures consist of Morse letters, numbers or combinations of both and they do not,
necessarily, have any relation to the initials of the person to whom they are assigned.
Use of the Morse code for communication over box circuits remained the standard
means until the 1940’s when there was a gradual change to communication by two-way
radio (see Section
Chiefs’ drivers, when responding to alarms, left their Chief at the scene of the fire,
after which they were required to report by telegraph to the fire alarm office from the
box which had been transmitted and remained at the box until relieved or until the
"all-out” signal had been ordered. They maintained communications, ordered additional
alarms if required and transmitted or received any other information.
When companies responded to still alarms, it was customary to drop off a man at
the nearest box to report arrival to the fire alarm office by telegraph and to pull the box
if a first alarm assignment was required at the location. Portable telephones were used on
box circuits for extended conversations because lengthy use of the telegraph could result
in the loss of alarms from succession boxes on the same circuit.
From 1852 till 1868, reference is made in alarm journals and fire reports to
"repeated alarm" which in later language would have been referred to as "multiple
alarm”.
The word "repeated alarm" appeared for the last time in connection with a fire on
February 7, 1868 at Box 128, while the words 2nd and 3rd alarm were used for the first
time on February 9, 1868, for a fire at Box 15. From the beginning, until October 24,
1870, multiple alarms were struck without preliminary signals, by merely striking the

 


221
same box number again. A new procedure was used for the first time on October 31,
1870 when the first alarm was transmitted by sending out three rounds of the box
number, as before, but a second alarm would be struck by sending 10 blows, a third alarm
twelve blows twice and a general alarm twelve blows three times, but these signals were
NOT followed by a box number.
Apparently, after a first alarm, if the box was pulled again, the office would strike a
2nd alarm and so forth.
Effective February 26, 1878, for the first time, the 2nd alarm signal of 10 blows
would be followed by the box number, but 3rd and general alarms would continue to be
struck without a box number. On March 23, 1880, it was ordered that, until further
orders, the officer in charge at a fire, shall give his orders for multiple alarms to the
Superintendent of Fire Alarm or to a Fire Alarm Lineman, if present, and they shall order
the alarms as instructed.
Effective March 1, 1880, the signal for a 3rd alarm was changed to be
(l0)·(10)-(10) instead of (12)-(12).
Effective December 20, 1882, signals for 2nd, 3rd and general alarms shall be sent
by order of the officer commanding at the fire and such order may be given to a Fire
Alarm employee or to a member of the Fire or Police Departments, for 2nd or 3rd
alarms.
A general alarm to be ordered by a Chief Officer or a Fire Alarm employee only, by
giving twelve taps twice on the box key, followed by pulling the box. Fire Alarm shall not
strike a general alarm unless the above signals are received from the box.
On January 20, 1885, a new system for transmitting multiple alarms was in effect,
when all signals now would be followed by box number, thus:
2nd alarm (10) — Box number
3rd alarm (10)-(10) ~ Box number
Gen. alarm (12)-(12) — Box number
On September 7, 1894, new signals became effective, as follows:
4th alarm (11) — Box number
Gen. alarm (11)-(1 1) — Box number
Effective November 21, 1895, signals for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and general alarms shall be
sent in by order of the officer commanding at the fire, but there is never any mention,
except for the general alarm, as to the method of sending such signals and it is believed
that the box was pulled again for the next alarm. The signal for a "general" alarm shall be
eleven blows given twice on the box key.
On May 27, 1896, new signals for multiple alarms became effective, as follows:
2nd alarm 2 blows
3rd alarm 3 blows
4th alarm 4 blows
5th alarm 5 blows
Gen. alarm 6 blows
All the above to be followed by the box number.

 


222
An order issued on February 1, 1901 specified that after the "al1-out" signal has
been sent and the telegrapher is obliged to remain at the box for any reason, he shall
notify fire alarm that he is "waiting", also that he is "going" when relieved from further
duty there.
Effective February 22, 1901, when a 4th or Sth alarm is sent out, for which no
response is provided in the running card, the companies assigned to cover, on 3rd and 4th
alarms, which would respond to the box nearest to the fire, in case of an alarm, shall
immediately respond to the fire.
On July 5, 1904, there was the first of only two instances when a 4th alarm was
ordered and struck immediately following a first alarm, for Box 429, Chelsea Bridge near
Grain Elevator.
On November 3, 1905, the following additional rules for telegraphers took effect:
They shall report at the box immediately and after reporting by telegraph, they
shall give their signature. If more than one alarm has been sent out, the operator at the
fire alarm office shall notify the telegrapher of the number of alarms struck.
When FAO receives a second pulling of a box, it will not necessarily be struck,
unless the telegrapher has previously reported from that box. All sub sequent alarms, after
the telegrapher has reported, will be sent out. When a telegrapher is relieved at the box by
another, the relieving telegrapher shall be informed of all alarms and all other important
matters.
Telegraphers shall report location and nature of fires as soon as possible. If fire
alarm notifies a telegrapher that another box has been struck, the telegrapher will repeat
the message and get OK from fire alarm before informing the officer in charge at the fire.
Say OK to all messages clearly understood and REPEAT if the meaning is not clear. Make
all telegraph messages as short as possible. _ i
On July 13, 1907 was the second known time when a lst alarm was immediately
followed by a 4th alarm, at Box 148, Congress and A Streets.
On August 9, 1910, at Box 58, Dover and Albany Streets, the last GENERAL
ALARM in the history of the department was given at 6:30 P.M. for fire in the Blacker &
Shepard Lumber Yard, on Albany Street, south of Dover Street.
Effective July 15, 1911, the signal for a 6th (General) alarm, now struck as 6 blows
followed by the box number, to be struck as before, but with the "Metropolitan Aid
Number", 3221 thru 3229 to follow the box number. For each of the nine "General
Alarm Sections" into which the city had been divided, there were special assignments for
response and covering on the 6th alarm and they included, for the first time, planned
response and covering by companies from outside the city.
On August l, 1917, there were some changes as follows: A 6th alarm to be struck
as 6 blows followed by the number of the section in which the box is located. A 7th
alarm to be struck as 7 blows followed by the number of the section in which the box is
located.
Also, on the same date, it was ordered, that in case a multiple alarm should include
one or more alarms not provided with assignments, the companies covering or assigned to
cover in stations of the first alarm assignment for the box shall respond to the fire.
Cornrnencing at 9:00 A.M., November 10, 1919, in the absence of telegraphers, the
following system of emergency code signals will be in effect:

 


223
To order a multiple alarm, give a series of about 12 taps on the box key, followed
by distinct blows to denote the multiple desired (2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, 4 for 4th and 5 for
5th alarm), then wait for reply from fire alarm office. lf FAO understands the signal,
operator will tap 23 (OK), but if not understood and FAO wants signal repeated,
operator will tap 12-12 (Repeat). After receiving 23 from FAO, pull hook in box
following an order for a multiple alarm.
(All officers had been given keys to the inner doors of fire alarm boxes. The
emergency code was used for the first time on February 21, 1921, to order 2nd alarm at
3-alarm fire, Box 3471, Neponset Avenue and Walnut Street, fire at the Neponset
Carhouse of the Boston Elevated Railway.)
Effective December 19, 1921, the 7th alarm is the GENERAL ALARM, to be
struck as 7 blows followed by the box number and by the number of the General Alarm
Section in which the box is located.
Effective April ll, 1923, 7th (General) alarms to be struck as 15 consecutive blows,
followed by the section alarm number and the box number.
General Order 76 of November 3, 1926 placed in effect completely new
instructions for telegraphers, which were not only more complete than previous ones, but
were also designed to shorten messages and for greater efficiency in telegraph
communications.
On February 1, 1929, additional instructions were issued, as follows:
To order a multiple alarm by telegraph, STRIKE .... , write number of multiple
and tap box number. A multiple alarm may be ordered even though a lst alarm has not
been struck. Office will strike the lst alarm and follow it immediately by the multiple
ordered.
Under unusual conditions, a multiple alarm may also be ordered by pulling the box,
if the telegrapher has already reported to the fire alarm office by telegraph from that box.
The order to strike an adjacent box shall be given by telegraph.
On April 24, 1929, the 7th (General) alarm signals were discontinued after they had
never been used since having been first established.
Effective January 5, 1942, signals for multiple alarms shall be transmitted two
(instead of one) rounds on tappers and one round on gongs. Beginning December 3, 1942,
ten engine companies from out side the city would cover specified Boston fire stations, on
all 5th alarms.
In accordance with "Instructions to Telegraphers" of December 1, 1947, reporting
by radio will usually be accepted in place of reporting from the box by telegraph.
On October 18, 1955, the covering by outside engine companies on 5th alarms in
Boston was divided into covering starting on all 4th alarms with additional covering on
Sth alarms.
The first 5-alarm fire in the Brighton District, since annexation in 1874, occurred
on September 23, 1962, Box 5246, Lincoln Street opposite Franklin Street, lst at 5:47
P.M., 2nd at 5:52 P.M., 3rd at 5:55 P.M., 4th at 5:57 P.M., and 5th at 6:09 P.M. The fire
was in the old Boston & Albany Railroad Shop Buildings on Lincoln Street and spread
across the tracks to buildings on Braintree Street.

 


224
The Hyde Park District had its first 5-alarm fire, since annexation in 1912, on
August 5, 1969, Box l2—3859, Stop & Shop Warehouse, 100 Meadow Road. Since the
building is located partly in Dedham, this also resulted in a general alarm on Dedham Box
422.
Following this epistle, we will discuss briefly assigmnents of apparatus and how
they were published plus some other facts in connection with these matters.
The word "Assignments" as used here refers to the pre-planned scheduling of fire
department units to respond to and cover on alarms of fire in accordance with printed
assignment cards, one of which exists for every tire alarm box location ir1 the city, with
the exception of "pref1x" box locations as noted in Section B of this story.
Each card shows the number and location of a specific box and indicates, on
separate lines, the various fire department units which are assigned to respond and cover
on lst, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th alarms, plus special instructions where required. While
covering normally does not start until the 2nd alarm, there are some boxes where it is
provided on the lst alarm, due to special conditions. An entire set of cards for all boxes
in the city and for mutual aid responses is filed in a steel cabinet and an important
adjunct to these is a set of instruction cards filed in the same cabinet. The instruction
cards govern transmission of alarms, signals, rules for response and covering plus other
necessary and important matters.
Companies and Chief Officers respond and cover exactly as assigned while any
other necessary moves are ordered by the fire alarm office which dispatches the required
units by telephone or radio.
The fire alarm office is entirely responsible for the proper responses to all alarms
and for the special relocation of units, when required, so that no portion of the city
remains without fire protection. As I already pointed out in the "Introduction", this
office is the only agency which knows. at any given instant, the overall conditions
throughout the city.
Let us examine how all this started in the dim and distant past.
When the Boston Fire Alarm System started operation on April 28, 1852, the fire
department was composed of volunteers or call firemen who used hand-drawn,
hand-operated apparatus and I have no information how responses to alarms of fire were
regulated.
In 1859 and 1860 the department was changed from one using hand engines to
horse-drawn steam engines and other horse-drawn supporting units, but I have failed to
discover anything which would shed light on the subject of responses.
The first planned assignments were published in 1861, taking effect on July 29 of
that year, all boxes having been provided with three alarms with every company in the
city being committed on the third alarm. Covering was unknown and what provisions had
been made for subsequent response to another fire after the third alarm is a mystery.
With the advent of the first multiple alarm signals on October 31, 1870, provisions
had been made for lst, 2nd, 3rd and general alarms, but again there were no provisions
for covering of any kind. From statements made in 1873 by Chief Engineer Damrell, we
know that if another fire started in an area where another was already in progress, it was
necessary to give an alarm greater than the first to secure the response of the more distant
units to the second fire.

 


225
. On October 24, 1873, an order was passed creating a Board of Fire Commissioners
and they took office on November 20, 1873, taking over control of the department from
the Chief Engineer. They instituted many improvements, including some in responses of
apparatus and the first covering arrangements on multiple alarms were made in 1875.
Box locations and assignments of apparatus for response and covering were printed
on a large card, suitable for display on a wall, and in addition company commanders were
ordered to make up special running cards showing exclusively the assignments of their
own company so that, in case of an alarm, it would not be necessary to refer to the
universal running card. .
This system continued, but as boxes became more numerous, the large card was no
longer large enough for all the required information, so a change was made by publishing
assignment books. The oldest of these which Ihave been able to locate is one which took
effect on October 1, 1886, but I am unable to prove that it was the first, although I
believe that it probably was.
The first time that there is any mention of a 4th alarm was on September 7, 1894,
but 4th alarm assignments were made only for selected boxes, so that now we have
assignments for lst, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and general alarms.
When the new (present style) multiple alarm signals became effective on May 27,
1896, there appears for the first time a signal for a·5th alarm, but no box in the city had
been provided with such assignments.
Assignment books continued to be used and the last one issued was that which took
effect on January 10, 1907 in which selected boxes had been provided with Sth alarm
assignments for the first time. This book was quite large and heavy and difficult to make
corrections in due to the small type used. This resulted in the abandonment of assignment
books and the change to the present style of assignment cards which were used for the
first time on February 21, 1910.
Assignments of companies had always been shown in numerical order, but when a
new set of cards took effect on December 19, 1921, response assignments were shown,
for the first time, in the order in which companies were expected to arrive at the box
location. On these cards, too, covering had been drastically reduced to eliminate the
formerly large amount of companies changing quarters simultaneously.
At this time, there were cards with assignments for only three alarms, others with 4,
5 or 6 alarms and this continued until completely revised assignments became effective on
April 15, 1929 when the 6th alarm was abolished and all box locations were uniformly
provided with 5 alarms.
Assignment books, in place of cards, were used once more, for Boxes 1211 thru
2598, beginning November 9, 1956 and for Boxes 2616 thru 8225 beginning February
11, 1957 until they were superseded by assignment cards on June 11, 1960.
Fire Alarm Boxes in Service — Selected Dates
12-31-1852 40 12-31-1920 1216
12-31-1860 51 12-31-1925 1340
12-31-1864 87 12-31-1930 1574
12-31-1870 144 12-31-1935 1687
4-30-1875 224 12-31-1940 1711

 


226
4-30-1880 277 12-31-1945 1793
4-30-1885 347 12-31-1950 1848
12-31-1890 503 12-31-1955 1955
12-31-1895 572 12-31-1960 2127
1-31-1900 624 12-31-1965 2256
1-31-1905 667 12-31-1970 2330
1-31-1910 728 12-31-1972 2383
8- 6-1914 1000 12-31-1973 2406
Other Cities Which Installed Fire Alarm Systems
Philadelphia 185 6 Washington 1864
St. Louis 1858 Chicago 1865
Baltimore 1859 Louisville 1865
New Orleans 1860 Cincinnati 1866
Charleston 1861 Portland, Me. 1867
Montreal 1863 Quebec City 1867
New York 1871
In conclusion, I want to say that it must be obvious that the material presented in
the foregoing is of "Public Record" character and definitely not of "proprietary" nature,
therefore I can not make any claims for exclusive use.
It also goes without saying that information of this sort could not have been
collected without the assistance and cooperation of the persons enumerated at the
beginning of this story and I wish to acknowledge my thanks and appreciation to them
and to anyone else who has assisted me in any way at all.
I hope that I have succeeded in presenting something useful to those interested in
the Boston Fire Alarm System. For possible errors or omissions I apologize, but please
remember that it is difficult at times to correctly interpret some happenings of long ago
which were very clear to people familiar with them in their own time.
Your author.

 





230
The publishers gratefully acknowledge the following individuals and organizations
for use of the many photographs presented throughout this book:
Richard N. Bangs
Charles E. Beckwith
. James H. Blomley
Vincent A. Bolger, Jr.
Benjamin M. Ellis
Gustaf A. Johnson
Richard T. Kelleher
Michael F. King, Jr.
Joseph S. Kolb
Patrick J. MacAuley
William F. Noonan
James P. Teed
John P. Vahey
Harold S. Walker
Edward Woodbridge
Boston Fire Department
‘ Boston Sparks Association, Inc.
Tapper Club of Boston, Inc.