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 > 1921-1940

History 1921-1940

1922
The Fire Department responded to 121 calls during the year; 48 box alarms and 73 still alarms and telephone calls.
An early summer tornado caused terrific winds and awful havoc. Fortunately there was no serious accidents. The only loss was some beautiful shade trees and the barn at the city home was blown down.

July 3: Chemical Co. No. 1 responded to a car fire (first car fire ever recorded) at Franklin's Garage on Charles Street. Firefighters used 40 gal. of Chemical to extinguish the fire.

August: Purchased new Stutz Hook & Ladder Truck at a cost of $8,300.

August 16: 11:35 a.m. Fire in basement at Merrill and Mayo Grist Mill on Toward Street. 3,300 feet of hose was used. Dismissed at 4: 15 p.m. Their was a re-kindle at 6:00 p.m.

December 3: 3 p.m.: A serious fire at Lamba Chi Alpha Fraternity House on Colby Campus took the lives of 4 male students. At 6 p.m. another call went out for a fire on the roof of the North Building on Colby Campus.

1923
The stalls and hay room were removed from Central Fire Station to make room for the motorized Hook & Ladder truck.

1924
A new Dodge Hose cart purchased (Hose 2) for $1,128. It featured a 55 gallon water supply on the back. It was nicknamed Pee Wee.
The City's fire insurance rating improved from Class C to Class B.

1926
Chief Berry celebrated 25 years with the Fire Department, 20 of those as its Chief.

1927
Photo of Chief Grover D. Lovejoy.
W. W. Berry retired after 26 years of service, 21 years as Chief. Chief Grover D. Lovejoy took over the reigns.
The department purchased 2,000 feet of fire hose for $2,058.
Walter E. Reid donated the Holway Chemical Number 2 to the Department at a cost of $8,000.00. He also donated $1,000.00 toward the purchase of a 750 gallon Mack Pumper.
Photos of the 1927 Mack Chain Drive Fire Pumper and the 1927 Holway Chemical Fire Truck.

1928
Waterville Fire Department was for the first time, completely motorized. The apparatus consisted of: one Stutz Motor Hook & Ladder Truck; one White Combination Chemical and Hose; one Pierce Arrow Combination Chemical and Hose; one Mack Combination 750 gallon Pump Engine; and one Dodge Hose Truck, one Steam Engine of no value, one 2-horse Hose Wagon, three one-horse Hose Wagons, two one-horse Pungs, one hose drawn Hook and Ladder.

1929
Chief Lovejoy recommended to the City that the floor at Central Fire Station be replaced.
A Buick Automobile was purchased to be used as a utility vehicle. Driver was Alex Loisel.
Picture of the Deluge gun demonstration on Main Street (Present site of Stern's Building)
Picture of a Buick Utility Vehicle with Driver Alex Loisel and son Reggie, the Department Mascot.

1930
A new toilet was installed and connected to the sewer system, there by doing away with the unsanitary one at Hose 4 station on Ticonic Street.
This was a record year for box alarms, the department responded to 328 alarms.

April 2: A fire at 175 Main Street. A four story brick building that housed stores, offices, and the telephone exchange. Hose 1, 2, 3 ,4, and Hook & Ladder fought the 3 hour blaze. 1,650 feet of Hose and 90 feet of ladders were used.

June 9: Box 211 sounded at 3:06 a.m. for a fire at Harris Baking Co., a second alarm sounded at 3:07 a.m. and a General Alarm at 6:55 a.m. 13 firefighters from Chemical Co. 1 used 3,900 feet of hose, it took 9 hours to put it out.

September 22: Captain Napoleon J. Marshall, Hose 4, was honored for long service of 28 years. He was promoted to Captain after only four years of service. At that time he was the youngest fire Captain in New England and was the youngest, both in age and service, member of the company to which he was elected Captain. The honor came as a reward for hard and untiring efforts in behalf of the company down through these many years. Captain Marshall has shown the same sterling qualities which gained for him his first recognition and honor.
Asked what he thought of the fire department as a whole, the genial leader remarked without a bit a hesitancy... "The Best!"

1931
January 2: Damage estimated at $10,000 was done to the Pray building and the Woman's Association building at the comer of Main and Temple Streets. Damage to the Association building was confined to smoke and water.
Box 123 brought the three trucks from Central Fire Station to the scene of the blaze. When the department arrived smoke was pouring from the entire block and there was some difficulty in locating the fire.
In the rear the flames worked their way from the first floor into the second and then into the roof following the partitions throughout its course. Five lines of hose were laid, two being placed in the rear and three in the front. When this proved unable to quell the flames the deluge was brought into play. From the top of the Harris building a stream of water was played upon the entire block with two lines in the rear and another in the front and this was sufficient to stop the blaze. Only for the efficient work of Chief Grover Lovejoy and his men was the entire wooden block saved from possible destruction.

January 28: The nineteenth anniversary of the opening of Central Fire Station was being celebrated. Many changes had taken place since the opening. The old horse drawn apparatus had been replaced by modem trucks, and the old station engine was retired.

February 7: Fire Roared through the Downyfelt Mattress Shop to do $6,500 damage. The fire swept through the factory on Spring Street with the celerity of a lightning bolt. Had it not been for one of the finest saving acts ever put on by the members of the fire department, it would have destroyed the three story apartment house only a matter of inches away from the flaming walls.
The fire was simultaneously discovered by several persons.
An employee of the factory stated he had just started a fire in the stove at the rear of the building when flames burst into the main room. He concentrated his efforts in saving a truck used by the company by backing it out of the building.
Scarcely had the echo of the fire whistle dimmed that five lines of hose were being played on the two buildings. Under Chief Grover Lovejoy, the men worked in a fast and orderly manner and it was not fifteen minutes after the alarm was sounded that the blaze was fully under control.
The apartment house, located so close to the shop that flames were continually threatening the walls, was saved from heavy loss only through the actions of the Department members.

May 21: A general alarm was sounded for a fire of undetermined origin which swept the Kennebec Boat & Canoe Co. storehouse on High Street. One home was destroyed, another ruined, several shacks were razed and other homes threatened. One member of Hose Co. 4 was injured. The total destruction was estimated at $80,000.
To S. A. Dickinson, (Picture of S. A Dickinson) a local harness maker and bicycle repairer and dealer goes unquestionable remarkable record of 42 years as a business man in Waterville. This record is unique in the city but another record held by Mr. Dickinson is perhaps his fondest. For 40 years he had been a member of the local fire department and is the oldest fireman both in age and point of service. He was 72 years old.
He was the only man in Waterville to hold a star and three stripes on his uniform. The star for 25 years of service and the stripe for five each, making a total of 40 years service.
Mr. Dickinson also has been Tyler of the local lodge of Elks for 24 years, and was one of its first members.

1932
Walter R. McAlary, 1st Assistant Fire Chief died. (Picture of Walter R. McAlary) He was 56 years old. A victim of injuries on May 21, 1931, when he was crushed by fire apparatus while responding to a call. Chief McAlary joined the Fire Department as a member of Hose 4 in 1905.

January 11: Box 123: 164-166 Main Street: 3:10 a.m.: Second alarm 2 minutes later: Fire was involved in several business and tenements. 3 companies respond using 5100 feet of hose and 165 feet of ground ladders. Hose 1 responded back on Jan. 12 to clean up debris from the fire. On Jan. 13, Hose 1 responded for a small flare up fire at 166 Main Street in the Lunch Room.
Picture of fire on Main Street, 1932

April 2: Structure fire: 64 Main Street, second alarm was sounde. 3000 feet of hose was laid.

December 22: Major fire a 10 Common Street at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

1933
June 10: Fire at 7 Silver Street, the Redington Furniture Co. The 3rd floor was destroyed.

June 15: Box 215 fire at Colby College in a cellar, causing damage.

1934
There were 393 alarms during the year. The Chief recommended the Department purchase a foam generator as the Department had no way to fight an oil fire.

January 4: Fire at 205-207 Main Street, a two story brick building, home for Welch's Bookstore, and Conti's Fruit. The fire started with a kettle of fish in the cellar and progressed to a second alarm. Hose 1, 2, 3, 4, and Hook & Ladder responded.
Picture of the Kennebec Fruit Company fire at Post Office Square

January 5: 02:34 a.m.: Box 21: 02:50 a.m.: Box 25, 2nd alarm: 02:54 a.m. Box 14 & Box 6, General Alarm, for a Fire at 32 Main Street, the G. J. Giguere Building. 5,000 feet of hose used. Hose 1, 2, 3, 4, and Hook & Ladder responded.

March 22: 06:02 a.m. Box 221 for a fire on Merryfield Avenue, Romeo Liberty House. A second alarm Box 14 sounded at 6:18 to fight the four hour blaze. Engine 1, 2, 3 and Ladder responded.

1935
Remains of the Rancourt Block Fire, corner of Silver & Main Streets.
The Department responded to 439 alarms during the year. The Chief recommended that the city purchase a light generator to run the portable lights.

January 31: $250,000 FIRE IN BUSINESS SECTION: S. A. Dickinson, a 44 year veteran of the Fire Department, received a bad cut on the hand while fighting the blaze. Assistant Chief Luke Ivers, overcome by smoke, was taken to his home after battling the fire for nearly three hours.
The fire, of undetermined origin, started in the basement of the brick block, but no one could ascertain in what section of the structure it was, so quickly did smoke pour from all sides of the building.
Several occupants became aware, almost simultaneously, that there was a fire in the basement, as smoke began to seep through the floors. But before any of them could act, the flames broke out from all parts of the building and every person in the block had to hurry to escape. In less than 5 minutes, the building appeared doomed, flames were shooting from between partitions and the smoke was so dense that a man had to be carried down a ladder from the second story by the first group of firemen at the scene.
Three alarms and calls for assistance from Fairfield and Winslow went out.
The combined efforts of the three departments proved no match for the fire and it became the objective to prevent the flames from spreading.
Unable even to face the smoke in the various doorways of the building, the firemen, faced with the most serious conflagration in years, had to battle the flames in sub-zero weather and in the early stages, while a stiff wind was fanning the fire.
While smoke was pouring from all sides of the building, it was believed the blaze had broken out in the boiler room, under the Squire's and United Apparel Stores.
Eighteen lines of hose were laid, pouring 20 tons of water a minute into the flaming building. Fire Chief Grover D. Lovejoy ordered deluge guns used in an attempt to contain the fire.
For over five hours firefighters waged a losing battle. Two explosions, believed caused by oil tanks, occurred during this period. A third, believed to have been caused by dust igniting, preceeded the crumbling of two walls of the brick structure.
Silver Street was converted into a river as tons of water flowed over into the street.
Rubber coats and hats worn by firemen were frozen and covered with ice, yet the laddies went about their duties.
Three firemen on the roof of the Rancourt block abandoned their posts seconds before the building collapsed. A spectator on the Redington block warned them in the nick of time.
The fire broke out at 3:30 p.m. and the all-out signal came in at 11 p.m. sharp.

October 18: 15 Silver Street, stores & offices (5 businesses) burned, this fire went to second alarm.

1936
Responded to 469 alarms during the year. The Chief recommended the city equip all city schools with a Fire Alarm System connected to master fire alarm boxes.
18 Silver Street, Farrar Brown Store and club room burned. This one went into 3 alarms.

1937
Picture of the new 1937 Seagrave Fire Engine
Seagrave Pumper purchased, 1,250 gallons per minute. It boasted a V-12 Engine and served as Engine 1.
The Department answered 469 calls. The roof on Central Fire Station was replaced.

January 21: Penny Hill Farm Fire.
Picture of the Penny Hill Farm Fire on Oakland Road (Presently Kennedy Memorial Drive)

1938
Purchased a foam generator, and 1/2 ton of foam for fighting oil and gasoline fires.
Chief Lovejoy recommended that Central Fire Station be sprinkled.

December 29: 05:40 p.m.: Box 141: for a two hour blaze at a barn fire on the Marston Road. One man was found dead, it is believed the fire was of arson origin to cover up a murder.

1939
The Department had 492 calls. 42,950 feet of hose was used. 7,706 feet of ladder was used.
Chief Lovejoy again recommended that Central Fire Station be sprinkled.

January 1: 03:21 a.m.: Box 212: 03:31 a.m. 2nd alarm for a fire at fraternity Delta Capa Epsilon at Colby College. 2,000 ft. of hose used. Engine 1, 2, 3, 4 and Ladder responded.

April:
Picture of the Sisters Hospital Fire

October 30: 8:20 a.m. box 121: 08:21 a.m. box 151: 08:30 a.m. box 151: for a fire at the Methodist Church on Pleasant St. 2,000 ft. of hose; 37 feet of ladders; and 3 gallons of chemicals were used to battle the blaze caused by defective wiring. Dismissal was sounded at 10:45 a.m.
The Department returned two hours later to pump out the cellar with the Steamer.

1940
February 10: Box 15, 12:30 a.m.: second alarm 12:41 a.m.: Hose 1, Hose 2, and Hook & Ladder battled a blaze at 9 College Avenue (right next door to Central Fire, and present site of Goodhue's Service Station). 4,700 feet of hose and 184 feet of ladders were used in the battle. Dismissal was at 07:00 a.m.
Pictures of the Goodhue Service Station fire.
1st picture
2nd picture

July 2: Box 315, 9:29 a.m.: 3 houses and a barn located at 1 Lafayette St., 3 Lafayette St., 2 Riverview St., and 9 Riverview St. were burned. The blaze started from a firecracker. 2,500 feet of hose, 97 feet of ladder, and 38 gallons of chemical were used. Dismissal was at 1:09 p.m.