A Brief History of the Weymouth Fire Department
Prior to the first formal establishment of the Weymouth Fire Department by the Town Meeting in April of 1877 there were numerous private Engine Companies throughout the various Wards of the Town. There is no official reason given as to why this step was made at that time, although, a very serious fire in November of 1875 destroyed much of the Weymouth Landing Business district. Upon a recommendation of that April 1877 Town Meeting three engines and two hook and ladders were purchased to supplement the various pieces of apparatus already in existence. The town also purchased them from the private companies that were providing protection before that date. Seven Engine houses were in existence at that time. Engine One was located on Athens Street at the present site of Station one. Engine Two was on Broad Street, which is now the home of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall just up the street from the present Headquarters. Engine Three was housed on the corner of Stetson and Broad Streets. This house was condemned and replaced by a new house built by Mr. Charles Simmons in Lincoln Square. Station three burned down some years later and was replaced by the Weymouth Seam-Faced Granite Structure in Lincoln Square, which was closed in July of 1990. Engine Four was housed near Nashes Corner on Front Street, (that building is the present home of the Fore River Grange Hall). This station was closed in 1922. Mr. Charles Simmons also built station Five on the corner of Pleasant Street and Chauncy Street in Columbian Square. It was replaced by the brick structure presently there in 1937. The new Station Five on Park Avenue replaced that in November of 2000. Station Six was located near Lovell’s Corner on Washington Street and was disbanded in 1919. Station Seven was located in what is now the Weymouth Heights Club House on North Street and was closed in 1922.
In 1877 with the establishment of a permanent department the Selectmen appointed a Board of Engineers. This type of department served the town until 1924 when the department was reorganized under a single permanent chief. The man appointed to fill this position was Chief John Quincy Hunt.
In 1913 the town was presented with its first motorized fire engine by the efforts of the citizens of Ward three. This was built on a truck owned by former Chief Engineer Wallace Bicknell and was nicknamed “The Baby Carriage”. In that same year East Weymouth was visited by a disastrous fire, which destroyed the Town Hall, a garage and a factory. The results of this fire caused the residents to vote in 1914 to purchase two motor pumping engines and a combination truck for the cost of $24,000.
The Department has grown over the years and we now have Five Fire Stations as follows. Engine one is located in Station one, which was built in 1937 and modernized in 1977. This station is located at 195 North Street near Bridge Street in North Weymouth. A heavy-duty rescue is also housed in this station, which was purchased by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority for a joint Tunnel Rescue Team from Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy Fire Departments. Station Two is located at 636 Broad Street in East Weymouth. Engine two and Ladder One respond from this Station. It also houses the Headquarters, Mechanics, Fire Alarm, Fire Prevention and Training Divisions. Station Three is a new structure, which was built in 2000-2001 and is located at 138 Winter Street behind the Police Station near the center of town. It house’s Engine three. Station four is the former Naval Air Station Fire House and houses Engine four. Station Five is also a new structure and is located at 246 Park Avenue in South Weymouth. It is the home of Engine Five and Ladder Five.
Chief John Q. Hunt died in 1929 in the line of duty. He was followed by Chief J. Ralph Bacon, Chief Timothy McCarthy, who also died in the line of duty, Chief Walter R. Murray, Chief James 0. Stevens, Chief James F. Connor, Chief David M. Madden (the present Mayor of Weymouth) and now Chief Charles W. Deacon.
Our Fire Department grew from it’s unsure beginning to an organization of over 120 men and women, many of which stay abreast of the most modern techniques of fire fighting and the ever changing emergency medical services to which they are all dedicated. The latest reorganization and construction of new facilities is part of the Town’s ongoing effort to deal with the same hazards today that plagued Weymouth in it’s earliest years. Weymouth’s first engine Company, the Aquarius, described its purpose and motivation, in part, in the preamble to its constitution, as follows:
“Whereas great and distressing calamities are frequently the consequences of outrageous fire, and whereas it has in many instances not only depopulated the most popular and flourishing towns, brought the affluent to want, and reduced the competent to the most distressing circumstances, but it has driven the aged, the sick and the lame into the streets…. deprived many unexpectedly of their most dear and affectionate friends and blasted all their prospects of future enjoyment; and, in fine, it hath operated on all ranks of men, and has perhaps been as destructive to their property and happiness as any misfortune that has visited the human race. We, a number of young men, bearing in mind the above mentioned calamities, taking warning by the misfortunes of others, impelled by the desire to protect our own and our neighbor’s lives and property…. have voluntarily stepped forward and formed ourselves into a society for that purpose.”
These same impulses guided the development of Weymouth’s Fire Department and remain the cause to which today’s members are dedicated.
Firefighter David B. Wight
with assistance from:
1. History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, Volume 1, published by the Weymouth Historical Society, 1923
2. Weymouth, Massachusetts, A New England Town, C.B. Kevitt, 1981