West End Hose Engine Co. #3 History

The West End Hose Company was organized in February 1888 in response to a citizen’s petition for better fire protection on the west side of town. The newly formed company was consolidated with the members, apparatus, building, and grounds of the old Union Engine Company No. 1 on Doughty Street. Ground was broken in June of that year to replace the one-story wooden building with a two-story brick building, which would house the new four-wheeled hose carriage that had to be hauled by hand.

In October 1899, the West Ends obtained a handsome rubber-tired hose wagon with a drop harness, which was pulled by Mackey, the first horse in the Somerville Fire Department. After eight years of faithful service, the large black horse was retired and his place was taken by a gray horse, Harry, who refused to allow anything to pass him on his way to a fire. Both horses were also used by the West Ends as opportunities arose to haul baggage, freight, and household goods to supplement the municipal funds they received.

The first motor apparatus in the Somerville Fire Department was purchased by the West Ends in 1916. The Mack Chemical and Hose Truck remained in service until 1930 when it was replaced by an American LaFrance pumper. In 1969, the West Ends obtained the department?s first diesel-powered engine, a 1250-gallon per minute Hahn pumper.

The arrival of the new Hahn pumper saw the West Ends moving from their Doughty Avenue headquarters to their present location on High Street. The Doughty Avenue station has since become the Fire Museum for the department, and is maintained by the Exempt Fireman’s Association.

The new firehouse on High Street was built of brick and plate glass in a contemporary design to blend into the existing surrounding residential community. The true function of the building, however, is obvious, revealed by the large bay doors and the visible fire apparatus and brass poles inside. The unique features of the station include an emergency generator system in case of a power failure, doors at the front and rear of the four-bay building, and the ability to convert the upstairs into temporary sleeping rooms during emergencies requiring the fire fighters to stay in quarters.

Today with their newest engine, a 2010 KME Predator Pumper, the members of the West End Hose Company continually strive to provide the same dedicated service practiced by the members of yesterday. The company is proud of its more than 100 years of community service to the Borough of Somerville.