With century -old records
incomplete and providing little data as the organized firefighting in Somerville?s
early days, the story of the beginning of the department has been pieced
together with difficulty after considerable research. Therefore many
interesting bits of detail must be lacking in this compilation of what
few authenticated facts can be found today.
The earliest known fire company
of which there is any record, and on which the department?s centennial
anniversary date is based, was called Washington Fire Company No. 1.
Records show it was organized in 1835, though the month is not known, and
housed its ?goose neck? engine in a frame building which stood on what
is now the southeast corner of the Court House yard here. The apparatus
was a tub engine, so called because water had to be carried to it in buckets
while men on either side pumped long handles up and down to force water
under pressure through the hose line. A ?Captain Tunison? was the
foreman of the company.
About 1852 this first engine
was sold when it was decided to for two companies. Two smaller pieces
of apparatus were bought, pulled by hand, of course.
One of the new companies
was known as Union Fire Company No. 1, and this company stored it apparatus
in a building upon a lot on Doughty Avenue presented to it by Joshua Doughty,
Sr. This building was demolished before 1900, the West End Hose Company
acquiring the property and erecting its firehouse there. The late
Jesse Lindsley was foreman of the old Union Company for several years.
The other company was named
Jersey Blues No. 2, and housed its apparatus in a brick building erected
for the purpose on the old Hedges? property back of a grocery store at
Warren and Main Streets and about opposite the present quarters of Lincoln
Hose Company. P. W. Tunison, Sr. Was foreman of this outfit.
When first bought, the two
engines were tested in front of the Court House with water pumped from
a well at the old County Hotel. There was a keen and spirited rivalry
between the two companies in running with their apparatus to get to a fire
After the old Union engine
had served its purpose and had been taken out of service to make way for
more modern equipment, it was for years stored in a barn on Joshua Doughty,
Jr.?s property but later all trace of it was lost. The old Jersey
Blue engine is still treasured among the relics of the old days.
It was in 1873 that
the Somerville Board of Commissioners purchased a steam fire engine and
Somerville Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 was organized as was a unit
to be called Steamer Hose Company No. 1, the latter manning the hose carriage.
These units were disbanded after five years and the present Engine Company
No. 1, the first company of today?s department was organized in 1878.
Individual company histories
: Engine 1 - Engine 3
- Engine 4 - Truck 1