Waterville Fire-Rescue
    Fire Prevention, Suppression, Inspections, Hazardous Materials and Emergency Medical Services

    Founded 1809 - Protecting The Greater Waterville Area For Over 200 Years
9/11/2001 - We Will Remember!

Home > History > 1900-1920

History 1900-1920

1900
The Chief regretfully reported the death of the horses attached to Hose 1. They were on duty and were killed when they came in contact with a high voltage wire. The wire was crossed with the telephone wires when the High School students were playing football and kicked the ball into the wires.

April 20: Call for assistance from Lewiston.

1901
Fire Chief was George F. Davies. Chief Davis reported with deep sadness, the tragic death George H. Proctor, the true and faithful driver of Hose No. 1 whose life in the prime of manhood was crushed out by the runaway team of horses which he was in vain trying to hold. This sad event caused a gloom over the entire department. He was a favorite with officers and men alike. (This is the first recorded death in the line of duty in our Department.)
Four of the Fire Calls for this year were caused by boys playing with matches.

June 5: There was a false alarm on Main Street. The alarm was caused by someone attempting to mail a letter in the fire alarm box.

August 19: Fire in a building on Main Street. Contained stores, offices and tenement. $5,241.50 damage. Caused by children playing with matches and paper in the rear of the building.

1902
Past Fire Chief Dr. F. C. Thayer noted that people should let the things essential to the more great and glorious city should be supplied. The Fire Department which has had such an honorable past and has such present efficiency should have a suitable central station. Let us go forward to that larger future.
Frank Redington writes in The Centennial History of Waterville book of great increasing pride in our Fire Department and the local insurance men being much pleased with the efficiency of the Fire Department. An estimated $75,000 in insurance premiums were paid to insurance companies annually.
In the Centennial of the City of Waterville Parade, Chief Davies had a delegation consisting of his two aids and carriages transporting the Ex-Chiefs of the Department. The Bloomer (our first hand pumper, purchased in 1809) was also shown.

August 11: The Waterville Relief Association was formed. Its objective was to give financial aid to those who were injured in the discharge of their duties. Danger confronted the brave firemen with accidents, pain, and maybe death. This organization promises to be a valuable aid to the Department.

1903
Fire Chief was Calvin C. Dow. The Department responded to 67 alarms this year.
This year the Department purchased one pair of horses at a cost of $487.50.

In the month of April, the Department responded to a forest fire on Gilman Street.

August 29: 11:05 p.m., a fire on Silver Street destroyed the Sawyer's Stables, owned and occupied by A. E. Sawyer.

August 30: 02:15 a.m., the Harness and Carriage store on Silver Street, owned and occupied by C. H. Vigue, burned. It is believed that embers from the Sawyer fire started this fire.

August 31: Responded to Burnham with the Steamer and ten men. Stayed there for five hours.

1904
Picture of the 4th of July Parade, 1904
Fire Chief Calvin Dow reported that there were 81 alarms this year.

1905
Three Chiefs that year: Fire Chief Roscoe Hanson... 30 days. Fire Chief Elery Vose... 60 days. Fire Chief was Luke Ivers, Jr.
Chief Ivers recommended that a telephone be installed at Hose 4 Station, and that fire drills be conducted in the schools.

1906
Walter W. Berry was made Fire Chief. Chief Berry recommended building a Central Station at the Hanscom Place, the current site of Central Fire Station. He also recommended that more fire escapes be installed throughout the city. There were only three in existence and two of those were in real bad shape.

March 9: The new South Grammar School building was burned on this night. The cause of the fire was undetermined.

1907
Picture of Chief Walter Berry
Chief Walter Berry makes recommendation that the City's Hotels, Business blocks, and Society Halls place first class fire escapes on the buildings. He feared the large lost of life, if certain conditions arose. Because the Department only has one extension ladder.
In his report to the City, Chief Berry included the following: I do not know if it is of any use to offer any recommendations, for not a single one that I offered last year in my report has been complied with, but I will offer the following: the first thing is to purchase a lot on which to build a new Central Fire Station. Next, put the fire alarm system in first class condition. Buy some modem fire apparatus, and by this I mean a new steamer and combination chemical hose wagon, more hose, new ladders, a life net and other minor apparatus.
For the first time Waterville's firefighters positions were protected from political whim by legislation which provided that they be retained until retirement or discharged for cause, no longer by political appointment.

1908
Mayor Burke in his report to the City Council made recommendations for the Fire Department. Not only did he recommend the building of a Central Station, but also the hiring of a permanent (career) Fire Chief. (Note: this was not done until 1981, when Chief Fred Brown was appointed, 73 years later.)
The Department responded to 99 alarms this year.
The Chief requested that more businesses install outside fire escapes. Only two businesses now have outside fire escapes.
The Department responded to Skowhegan with 20 men and the Steamer, left Waterville at 12 0' clock and returned at 11 a.m.

1909
January 24: 04:30 a.m., Box 34: A reported fire at 25 Silver, Street, the home of the Waterville Elks Club. Cause of the fire was a cigar butt. Damage was $2,970.00 on the building and $1,390.00 on the contents.
Picture of Fire looking north from the old Sterns Building on Main Street

April 19: 7:10 PM., the department was called to a fire in Norridgewock at 8:10 p.m. One engine and hose cart and Twenty men responded by train, arriving in Norridgewock at 8:10 p.m. The Norridgewock Feed and Grain Store burned resulting in a $ 25,000 loss. It was later noted that there was not much for the firefighters to do, so they did very little. They had a good supper, limbered up a bit and came home. The most difficult part was cleaning the hose that had been laying in the mud.

May 12: Large fire at the Maine Central Railroad shop. Loss of building was $4,000.00 and the loss on the contents was $8000.00. Cause unknown.

December: The department was called to go to Skowhegan to assist at their fire.

1911
April 30: Chief Barry and 40 men took the steam engine and hose cart to Bangor and the crew worked through the night in the endeavor to check one of the worst fires in Maine's history. The crew was sent to Bangor to assist Bangor Fire Department with a blaze that destroyed most of downtown Bangor. Chief Barry said of the trip, the men are very tired, but the experience to witness such a fire comes only once in a lifetime, and well worth the trip. They did not return until May 2.
The act of sending a Steamer out of town, along with Firefighters of the City of Waterville was not uncommon. There were no mutual aid agreements, so the Chief was required to get permission from the Mayor. Then a special train from Maine Central Railroad took them to the scene.
Picture of Telegram sent by Bangor Fire Chief W.S. Mason for help

August 14: Augustus Carey & Company awarded the contract to build Central Fire Station at a cost of $12,037.00.

December 26: Wardwell Emery Company on Main Street fire caused $90,000 loss, Picture of Fire on East Side of Main Street, looking south from Silver Street

There has been one of the greatest changes in the houses in the history of the Fire Department. The old firehouse that was located at the present site of the Waterville Savings Bank on Main Street was torn down and the Central Station was opened on College Avenue on what was known as the Hanscom lot.
The old hose house known as Hose No. 1 and Hook and Ladder house had their apparatus moved to the new Central Fire Station as well as Hose House No. 2 that was located on Silver Street across from the present Sentinel building.
Picture of No. 4 Hose Company at Ticonic Street Building, 1911
Picture of No. 4 Hose Company in firefighting gear, 1911

1912
There were seven horses in the Department.

January 24: Amidst the waving of flags and the tooting of horns, Hose 1, Hose 2, and Hook & Ladder 1 moved into CENTRAL FIRE (our current home today) with an all day open house and banquet at night. The fire bell, which had previously been in the tower of St. Francis DeSales Church, Waterville's first Catholic Church, tolled from Central Station in welcome of the Department.
Picture of the Opening of Central Fire Station in January, 1912

1913
The Gamewell Fire Alarm system was updated at a cost of $7,800 (the system was believed to be one of the best in New England per Chief Berry).
The Fire Department horses were: Major & Colonel, Buster & Billy, and Horace & Dell.

1914
The town purchased its first motorized at a cost of $5,000, a 1914 White Chemical and Hose Cart.
Picture of the White Chemical & Hose Engine, 1914

1915 July 19: A restaurant, clothing store, grocery store, and drug store, located at 3, 5, and 7 Maple Street were destroyed by fire. The fire originated in the restaurant, cause unknown, of the long wooden complex.

1916
The Chief asked the City for funds to repair the leak in the roof at Central Station. The building was only five years old.
Harry, a dapple gray horse, was put into service to pull the Hook and Ladder. He would serve until 1922 when he was replaced by a motorized Stutz Hook and Ladder, he then served at Hose 4 for two more years.

1917
In his annual report, Chief W. W. Berry said that fire calls and loss of property are the smallest since his connection with the Department. He attributes this chiefly to the effect from inspections being made of business and residences. He encourages each citizen of the city, to use his/her best endeavors to reduce to best of his/her knowledge any Fire hazard.
Horses Henry & Dana replaced Major & Colonel.
The Department handled 112 calls during the year.
Changed the heating boiler by installing a larger one that was taken out of city hall. The one taken out of the Fire Station was loaned to Colby College.

1918
Fire Chief this year was Walter Berry, the First Assistant was Luke Ivers and the Second Assistant was James C. Rancourt.

1919
There were six horses in the department; Henry and Dana, Hose 2; Buster and Billy, Hook and Ladder No. 1; Belle, Hose 3; Horace, Hose 4.

1920
The department apparatus consisted of one steam fire engine, one two-horse hook & ladder truck, one auto combination and chemical, one two-horse hose and chemical wagon, one two horse wagon, three one-horse hose wagons, one hand reel, one 50 foot extension ladder, one deluge set, and other simple equipment.