AFD History

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History of Arlington Fire Department

1818: First mention of fire matters in Arlington town records. At the annual meeting of the town, the selectmen were instructed "to purchase fire ladders, fire-ward station firefighters, fire hooks, and such other implements
as are needed."

1825:  The town bought a fire engine, "Friendship #1"

1832:  A new engine, named "Good Intent" was bought.

1835:  The "Olive Branch, #3," was purchased.

1851:  The "Eureka," a suction engine, was introduced.

1855:  The town accepted the legislative act creating Fire departments.

1872:  Public water system introduced to Arlington (pumped from Great Meadow
in Lexington, to Arlington Heights Reservoir; gravity fed system).

1873:  There are now two hose houses in Arlington:
1. Highland Hose House #2 (old Eureka Engine # l & house moved to site of present Highland Fire Station).
2. William Penn Hose Company 3 at Broadway (then Charlestown St.) and Franklin.

1874:  Menotomy Hook & Ladder Company l originally at the William Penn Hose House Center.

1883:  New brick fire station built for Hose Company #2; on old station site; the
old Eureka House moved to Massachusetts Ave. & Academy St. (now Eureka Hall).

  Eagle Hose Company #4 originally with small shed on Henderson St., East Arlington.

1889:  A chemical engine was acquired. Introduction of the Gamewell System of Fire Alarm.

1890:  The department maintains 3 fire stations, well equipped with apparatus and men.

1891:  The Arlington Firemen's Relief Association was organized and chartered.

1899:  The Arlington Veteran's Firemen's Association was organized.

1900:  There are now (10) department horses .

1905:  East Arlington Hose Company 4 disbanded.

1910:  Recommendation of Fire Department Study Committee, carried out 1911.
a) Hose & Ladder #1 transferred from Center House to Highland House.
b) Chemical engine (now Chemical A) transferred from Highland House to Center House.

1911:  Knox Motor Combination A (pumper) placed in service at Highland Station.  Departments first motor apparatus.  Total cost $5,468 

1915:  Motor Ladder 1 originally at Highland House, horse drawn truck out of service.

1917:  First motor fire department truck (garaged at Center House).

1918:  Horse Hose Company 1 and Horse Chemical A, both disbanded. Last time Horses were used in AFD.

1919:  There are now (6) pieces of motor equipment at Central House

1924:  Combination E and company transferred to old Heights Hose House on Paul Revere Rd, temporarily while new Headquarters Station & new Park Circle Station under construction. (Back to Headquarters 1926).

1925:  Second motor ladder truck purchased for Headquarters Station. Ladder 1, the truck at Highland Station is now Ladder 2. New Headquarters Station at 1 Monument Park occupied Sept. 26th by Engine 1, Ladder 1, Chief Car, Fire Alarm truck, and Combination E.

1926:  In November, Fire Alarm Office moved from old Town Hall to first floor tower entrance of the new station, also Apparatus Repair Shop located in basement (the old Center House on Broadway torn down).

1926:  New Park Circle Station is open on February 10, 1926 for Engine 2 (using
the 1913 Knox pumper, Combination B. Engine 1). Located at 291 Park Ave.,
Wooden drill tower was erected at rear of Highland Fire Station.

1927:  New Seagrave pumper recd. for Engine 3 at Park Circle Station. The 1913
Knox pumper returned to Headquarters as now Hose 1, and Combination E disbanded.

1928:   Arlington Fire Department is now fully permanent, staffed by 40 men.  Highland Fire Station(built 1883) torn down to build new station also Combination D disbanded. The 1918 built Knox to Headquarters as maintenance truck.

1929:   New Highland Fire Station opened April 19th for Engine 2 and Ladder 2.  Combination A disbanded; the 1911 Knox placed in reserve.

1931:   Engine 4 originally at Headquarters Station; Hose Company 1 disbanded. Hose 1, 1913 Knox placed in reserve at Highland Station. 1931-l949. Department is now 48 men.

1934:  Arlington Fire department personnel placed under Civil Service via Town Meeting.

1937:   Arlington Fire Departments purchases first aerial ladder truck for Ladder 1.  1937 Seagrave 85' metal tiller aerial ladder truck  placed in service at Headquarters.

1939:  Two-way radio installed in Chief's Car, by 1954 all apparatus was Radio equipped.

1942: 100+ man Auxiliary Fire force established due to WWII (2 trailer pumps).

1948:   48 hour work week initiated.  Force is now 91 men total.

1949:   Ladder 3 placed in service at Park Circle Station. It is a new Seagrave Quintuple Combination 65' aerial ladder truck with 750 gpm pump. There are now 3 ladder trucks in town.

1952:   Auxiliary Fire Department is now using a reserve pumper and a reserve city service ladder truck (garaged in the basement Shop at Headquarters).

1961:   The Auxiliary Fire Department is now using a combination Hose Truck/Lighting Plant built on the 1944 Mack chassis (X Special Service Truck 1945-58), housed at Highland Station.

1969:   Arlington Fire Department personnel are now working a 42 hour work week with 4 groups; total of 121 uniformed firefighters, 2 clerk/typists, a master mechanic, and 2 signal maintainers.

1971:   The new Fire Department Rescue Truck is now equipped for transportation of the sick and injured, with transport usually to Symmes Arlington Hospital. Note: Emergency Ambulance service was either the Police paddy wagon or a private ambulance.

1975: The Arlington Police and Fire department are both now under a single Public Safety Director-Robert Blomquist (former Fire Chief). Incident Command of a Fire department is now the senior Deputy Chief. Also there are now civilian dispatchers for both the Arlington Fire department and the Arlington Police Department. Note: The Fire Alarm Office was moved to the 2nd floor at Headquarters in 1962.

1977: Due to new EMS regulations imposed by the State of Massachusetts, the Fire department Rescue Truck could no longer be used for emergency transportation. Thus the Arlington Fire Department placed in service at Highland Station the 1st Fire Department Ambulance (Rescue 1).
Also placed in use by the Arlington Auxiliary Fire Department:
a) CD Rescue 2 (the former Rescue 1, 1971-77)
b) CD Lighting Plant

1981:   Due to constraints of Prop 2 1/2 Tax Reform the following:
a) The office of Public Safety Director deleted. Arlington Fire Department is now in command by the Director of Fire Service. (later back to being "Fire Chief")
b) Engine Company 1 (at Headquarters) and Ladder Company 2 (at Highland Station) are in service only when there is sufficient manning.

1983:   On May 1st, the new Community Safety Complex opened at 112 Mystic St.
a) Elderly housing
b) Police Headquarters (formerly at Central St)
c) Office of the Fire Service Director and secretaries
d) Combined Fire/Police Emergency Dispatch Center
e) Combined Fire/Police Repair Shop
f) Signal Division

1997:   Fulltime personnel on Arlington Fire Department now down to 87.  Engine Company 4 disbanded. Engine 4 is now in Reserve.

2002:  Enhanced 9-1-1 Telephone Emergency Dispatch system instituted.

2003:   Office of Fire Chief reinstituted. Also, the fire alarm system work is now being outsourced.

2007:   New Park Circle Fire Station dedicated (built on site of the former Station, opened 1926 and torn down 2006) at 291 Park Ave, still quarters of Engine Company 3.

2009:   A second Fire Department Ambulance, Rescue 2, is placed in service at Highland Station. It Is cross manned with crew from Ladder 2, when there is a full shift of 17.

2010:   Ladder Company 2 disbanded. Also Highland Station closed for total renovations. Engine 2 temporarily relocated to Department of Public Works on Grove St.  Rescue 1 to Headquarters. Rescue 2 to first Grove St. then Headquarters.

2011:   Highland Fire Station rededicated on Sept. 11th (now quarters of Engine 2, Rescue 1, Reserve Rescue 2, and reserve Engine 5.

2014:   Headquarters begins yearlong renovation process. Engine 1 stays on site with personal living on property in a trailer. Ladder 1 and C2 relocated to Highland Station.

2015:  Headquarters Fire Station reopens after major renovations.  Home to Engine 1, Ladder 1, C2 and Reserve Engine 4. Fire Administration (Fire Chiefs Office as well as Operations Division) is now located at Headquarters, 411 Mass Ave.