Waterville Fire-Rescue

Fire Prevention, Suppression, Inspections, Hazardous Materials and Emergency Medical Services

Founded 1809 - Protecting The Greater Waterville Area For Over 200 Years

History 1809-1899

The Fire Department makes its first appearance, in the election of Elnathan Sherwin, James L. Wood, Moses Dalton, Asa Redington and Eleazer W. Ripley as fire wardens, who were duly sworn. From that time on, some of the foremost citizens of the town have served in the fire department. It has been to them a matter of Patriotism, an honor and a safeguard to the town. The first engine company included Captain Abijah Smith, Nehemiah Getchell, James Stackpole, Timothy Boutelle, Russell Blackwell and many others. An engine was purchased. It consisted of a central tub into which water was poured by pails to be pumped out by an ordinary pump through a short and leaky hose. Someone wrote the name Bloomer upon it and the Bloomer it was through the many years of its somewhat doubtful service.

A village corporation was formed which adopted an extensive and stringent code of By-Laws and appointed an inspector of police to put them into effect. It was forbidden on penalty of fine to carry a lighted pipe or cigar on the sidewalk or to allow even the chimney of one's house to bum out.

Despite the newspaper protest that the fire department wouldn't let a building burn long enough to be worth telling about, the town voted to purchase two fire engines, cost not to exceed $400.00 each.

The Ticonic Village Corporation was formed. Division of the town was always a live question. The needs of the village were many, and actual improvements that were really a necessity were strongly opposed by the outsiders. After several years of discussion and to avoid continued quarrels, a village corporation was proposed and the legislature was petitioned to authorize the formation of the Ticonic Village Corporation. The Legislature voted the necessary authority and the act was approved by Governor Dunlap, March 24, 1836. One of the very first acts of the corporation was to purchase the famous old hand fire engine, Ticonic No. 1, Hunneman Built Hand Tub.

The members of the company in 1839 included: Samuel Appleton, Joseph Hasty, Joseph 0. Pearson, William Getchell Jr., James Pearson, Geo Wentworth, John A. Rhodes, Isaac W. Wheeler, Jonathan Stanley, Liewellyn E. Crommett, and many more.

Ticonic Village Corp By-Laws passed. Article 17: No smoking in Engine House, penalty of 50 cents per offense.

The great fire of 1849 swept the business section of the town, about the wharves and mills. The Moors were the heaviest losers.

The fire engine, the ever victorious Waterville 3 arrived March 3rd, 1854, and on July 4th began her career of conquest by capturing a silver trumpet in a contest at Augusta. J. H. Drummond was foreman, W. A. Chaffrey, assistant; E. L. Getchell, clerk. This engine, a 10 Button and Blake, won trophies for many years and never failed to receive a prize.

The Fourth of July, 1855 was celebrated by a great procession and a banquet. Three fire engines, one of them the Bloomer with a company of seventy boys, were in line.
Picture of Engine 3 Company, 1855

The night of August 20,1859 was made memorable by a fire which destroyed over $12,000 worth of property in mills and machinery belonging to Daniel Moor, W. & W. Getchell and Furbush & Drummond.
The Waterville 3 was a participant in several musters and contests while in service at Waterville. It won several trumpets, and one money prize of $100 at Bangor in 1859 with 212 feet 9 inches, its best record while here.

Largest Maine Muster. The largest and most important of the old time musters was held at Waterville, July 4, 1860. The playing was horizontal through 200 feet of hose for three trumpet prizes. The result was as follows: Victor I, Kendalls Mill (now Fairfield), 213 feet; Excelsior I, Stillwater, 208 feet; Pacific, Augusta, 205 feet; Warren, Roxbury, Mass, 203 feet; Defiance, Rockland, 191 feet; Lewiston I, 187 feet. The exhibition play from Waterville was 186 feet.
Two of most famous muster engines after the war were the Waterville No.3 (a first class ten inch Button machine, made in 1854) and the Victor of Fairfield, a seven inch Hunneman made in 1856, both powerful machines and intense rivals. They met twice at Bangor musters in 1857. The Waterville making the best records both times, as it did in nearly all musters when they were both contestants.

Picture of an Invitation to a New Years Ball called a Levee, 1861

Purchase of new Ticonic, a Button & Blake Hand tub. The original Ticonic was later renamed Veteran Engine # 2. This hand powered pump replaced the older machine by the same name which had been purchased in 1836. These machines, required 10 men, working in unison to deliver a stream of water over 200 feet. Until the advent of the Steam Engine in 1884, these machines provided the punch to knock out Waterville's major fires. They could not, however, compete with the power and efficiency of a Steam driven machine, which required steam power instead of man power.
Picture of The New Ticonic, 1864

Picture of Chief Willard B. Arnold, 1874
Willard B. Arnold was born in Sidney in 1835. He was educated in the public schools of Waterville, the Waterville Liberal Institute and the Westbrook Seminary. For 53 years he maintained an active hardware business in Waterville. After apprenticing himself for three years, Mr. Arnold became a buyer for Dunn, Elden and Company, making several trips to Boston annually.
In 1863 Mr. Arnold became a partner in the business with Nathaniel Meader. This continued until 1875 when Mr. Arnold bought the interest of Mr. Meader. He then conducted the store for a time alone, selling out to G.A. Phillips. When Mr. Arnold sold out it was agreed that he would stay out of the hardware business in Waterville for five years. He spent this time in various pursuits, tried mining for a time in Colorado, and the grocery business in Waterville. After five years, Mr. Phillips re-sold the business to Mr. Arnold and the firm name became W. B. Arnold & Company.
He always took a great interest in the town and did much to make it the prosperous city that it now is. He served as selectman in Waterville in 1877 and for a number of years was chief of the fire department.

On July 4, following a fireman's dinner at the Town Hall, E.L. Getchell, Esq., (at that time, the oldest ex-official of the fire department) was called upon to present Chief Engineer W.B. Arnold, congratulating him upon the force of true and tried men in attendance and complimenting Waterville firemen, who has always been faithful to two principles...respect for superiors in office and obedience to orders. Chief Engineer Arnold was congratulated for his success in the faithful discharge of his duties and presented with a beautiful gold badge. The badge, (which is an elegant one of solid gold, procured through Alden Brothers at an expense of forty dollars, and last worn by W. B. Arnold III on July 4, 1976 as a testimonial to his grandfather) bears the following inscription: Chief Engineer (and has the Design of Button Engine), Waterville Fire Department. On the reverse side... Waterville Fire Department to W. B. Arnold, Chief Engineer, July 4, 1878.
Upon receiving the badge, he rose and when the tumultuous cheering had subsided, he said that under the circumstances he could think of only one phrase that adequately expressed his feelings, and that was hard up. His poverty of expression he could only liken to that of the New Hampshire prodigal who wrote home that if steamboats were going at ten cents apiece, he had money enough to buy a gangplank. He would say, however, that he was much gratified at the present effective condition of the fire department and the good condition of the firemen, and he hoped that union and harmony would always exist among the two companies, between whom he trusted there would never be any contention but only that noble and generous spirit of emulation that would prompt them to strive to see which could excel in deportment, conduct and faithful service.
Picture of the Badge Presented to Chief Willard B. Arnold, 1874

Fire Chief was F. C. Thayer. He had 192 officers and men! One new Company has been organized during the year. Veteran Engine Company No.2. They have as yet hardly had a chance to show the material of which they are made, but I have no doubt when the opportunity offers, they will be ready to go to the front, and perhaps the older companies may have to look out for their laurels. I am very happy to say that without a single exception the officers and men of all the Companies have been exceedingly prompt and ready to respond to all the fires and alarms that have occurred during the year.

Reservoirs: The following is a list of Reservoirs, giving the location, capacity and condition of each. For the sake of convenience, we have designated them by numbers:
(NOTE: Unit of measure hhds = hogshead, 1 hogshead = approximately 63 gallons.)

  • 1. Small one in front of common / 48 hhds in good condition.
  • 2. Large, in front of common / 770 hhds in good condition.
  • 3. In front of D. Shorey's shop / 65 hhds in good condition.
  • 4. Front of C.K. Matthews's house / 75 hhds in good condition.
  • 5. Front of C.H. Redington's house / 65 hhds in good condition.
  • 6. Front of John Ware's house / 125 hhds in good condition.
  • 7. Corner Mill and Temple Street / 150 hhds in good condition.
  • 8. Corner Elm and Spring Street / 200 hhds in good condition.
  • 9. Front Street Catholic Church / 500 hhds in fair condition.
  • 10. Corner Temple and Main Street / 15 hhds in good condition.

Picture of Drawings for some locations

A side from the reservoirs, we have the use of 3 hydrants belonging to the Lockwood Co.; one situated in front of I.S. Bang's Grist Mill, another on Front Street, nearly opposite the Dunn Block, and still another in the Town Hall yard. Each of these hydrants has two outlets. Giving us 6 streams, which very nicely protects the lower part of Main Street. The upper part of the street is insufficiently supplied with water. I have no doubt that arrangements can be made with the Lockwood Co. to extend their water main up Front Street to Temple, up Temple to Main, and at that point put in two hydrants.

October 22: Another company, known as Neptune Hose No.6, was created and quartered in the house of Ticonic 1.

Report of Chief Engineer H. G. Tozier. The force of the department consists of Chief Engineer, two assistants and four companies as follows: H. G. Tozier, Chief Engineer; I. D. Hayden, 1st Assistant; C. R. Shorey, 2nd Assistant.

TICONIC ENGINE Co. No. 1: William Proctor, Foreman; Wm. T. Keen, 1st Assistant; H. E. Spaulding, 2nd Assistant; I. H. Phillips, Hose Master; I. F. Stevens, Clerk; I. F. Partridge, Assistant Clerk; John Murry, 1st Pipeman; Frank Osgood, 2nd Pipeman; I. B. Wendall, Steward; N. P. Meader, Treasurer; and forty-one men.

VETERAN ENGINE Co. No.2: Joseph Matthews, Foreman; Paul Marshall, 1st Assistant; Fred Pooler, Clerk; Jos. Perry, Assistant Clerk; Levi Bushey, Hose Master; Jos. Pooler, Steward; and fifty-one men.

WATERVILLE ENGINE Co. No.3: W. B. Smiley, Foreman; M. Fardy, 1st Assistant; Thos. Smart, 2nd Assistant; J.B. Springfield, Hose Master; James Cauvanough, Clerk; C. H. Woodman, Assistant Clerk; E. G. Meader, Treasurer; and forty-nine men.

APPLETON HOOK & LADDER Co. No.2: F. N. Esty, Foreman; F. U. Lampson, 1st Assistant; S. P. Brann, Clerk; E. L. Meader, Treasurer; and sixteen men.
All the apparatus belonging to the Department and everything therewith connected are in first class working order.

Pictures of Hose 1 & Hook and Ladder Fire Stations located on Main Street in the present location of Peoples Heritage Bank.

Picture of Clerk's Badge Appleton Hook & Ladder Co. No. 2.

Fire Chief J. D. Hayden respectfully submitted the following: One word to a few of the citizens of Waterville...I will not say all...if you do not feel like assisting the firemen at a fire, you will at least give the firemen all the credit due them, and not stand back and make remarks at their failures; but place yourself in their position and see if you would do any better, and you will greatly encourage the fire department by so doing.

During 1882, the first steps were taken for protection against fire according to modern methods. Permission was secured to use the steam pump of the Lockwood Company in case of fire and pipes were laid and hose purchased for hydrants at the corner of Common, Temple, and Appleton Streets at their junction with Main Street.
Arrangements were made with the Lockwood Company and the Waterville Water Company for limited hydrant service.
Neptune Hose Company No.6 was formed with 11 men. This new company was housed at the Ticonic Co.'s house on Main Street. It's apparatus consisted of 1 four-wheeled carriage; 1,000 feet of new rubber-lined cotton hose; 4 lanterns; 18 Spanners; 12 Ladder straps; 2 discharge pipes; and 2 hydrant wrenches.

Fire Chief was C. R. Shorey. The Waterville Water Company, having organized under the provision of its charter granted by the Legislature March 16, 1881, should introduce into Waterville an adequate supply of pure water for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic, manufacturing and other purposes. In the meantime the citizens of Oakland were making strenuous objection to the water being taken from Snow Pond.

March 11: There was a fire at the L. E. Thayer store on Main Street. Loss, $5,300. Cause, putting ashes in a closet on the second floor.

Purchased Steam Engine. The name of the Veteran Company was changed to Engine Company No.3, because the Veteran was retired.
Picture of a Steamer with men working, 1884
A new Engine house built in the Plains, now known as the Water Street area.
1st Fire fatality on record. That of a prisoner in the town lock-up on Common Street, which burned on the night of April 2. It being alleged that the prisoner, Peter Vigue, himself set the fire. He was burned beyond recognition.

Fire Chief was J. D. Hayden. Had eight (8) fire calls this year with losses totaling $2,356. The largest being a barn fire with a loss of $2,000.
The Fire Department force consists of one Steam Fire Engine, with hose carriage; two Hand Engines, one Hook and Ladder Truck, and one Independent Hose Company. 1st Assistant was Herbert Kendall, and 2nd Assistant was Charles Bridges. Waterville Engine Co. No.3 was removed from No.3 engine house to make room for the new steamer, to the Plains, taking the place of the Veteran, now out of service. The old Veteran Co. is now known as Engine Co. No.3, Joseph Mathieu, Foreman.
Also, the purchase of the new house built this year by Mr. Bangs, for an engine house on the Plains. Chief Hayden recommended the purchase of a pair of horses to handle steamer.
1st Driver was hired, F. H. Reed, and was paid $42.00 per month.

Fire Chief was Appleton Plaisted. A hose wagon was purchased at a cost of $450.00.
At the annual town meeting held March 14, it was voted that a committee of five be appointed to which was referred the question as to whether the town would make a contract with the Waterville Water Company to supply the town with water.
Several meetings were held, a new Charter was granted the Water Company providing that they should take the water from Messalonskee Stream instead of Snow Pond. On May 5, at a special meeting called for the purpose, the town voted to contract with the Waterville Water Company for a term of ten years to supply fifty hydrants at forty dollars a year, and all above fifty at thirty dollars per year.

Fire Chief was Horace G. Tozier. The city form of government was adopted. The Charter ordained that each year there should be elected a Chief Engineer and two Assistants for the Fire Department, and that all members of the department should be chosen.
Had a house fire that was caused by children playing with matches.

January 1: 50 hydrants were installed in the city. The Fire Department Budget was $4500.00.

January 5: A three year old Schoolhouse burns at Crommett's Mills, $1,800 loss (now the Oakland Street area). Chief Plaisted asked for Fire Alarm for city, stating that they could have saved the building if there had been one. Caused by sparks falling on the floor from a fireplace.

January 10: Engine 3 formerly on Water Street was disbanded, and Hose Co. of 12 men substituted due to System of Water Works that was introduced.

April 2: The Chief Engineer of the fire department was authorized to sell the two famous fire engines, Waterville 3 and Ticonic No.1.

September 4: Sold Ticonic Engine 1, a Button & Blake to Ellsworth for $700.00.

At a public meeting held April 1st, by a vote of three hundred and fifty-five in favor to ten opposed, the city voted to approve water of China Lake into its homes via the Kennebec Water District.

June 7: Sold old Veteran Engine 2 for $75.00 to parties in Bath, Maine.
Picture containing a Map of the location of the Silver Street Station

Chief H. G. Tozier recommended that the City Government install a fire alarm system, with a bell on top of City Hall.
A new four-wheeled hose wagon was purchased for the Neptune house on Silver Street at a cost of $250.00.
The department responded to North Anson to assist at a fire.

Fire Chief was Warren F. Brown. Sold old Waterville #3 to Newton, Mass. and it was renamed the Nonantum, it was used as a Muster Pump and won many trophies.
The new firehouse on Ticonic Street was completed. Chief Brown recommended that water be put into the Water Street station so that the firemen could wash the hose after a fire.

Fire Chief was Appleton Plaisted. The Gamewell Fire Alarm System was installed in September. 13 boxes at a cost of $2,300. The Department consisted of a Chief and two Assistants Engineers, one driver for the Steam Fire Engine Number One, and seventy-one call men.

October 6: Units responded to Burnham for assistance call.

Fire Chief was Appleton H. Plaisted. The Fire Department drops to 57 men from 71 men. A uniform rate of pay changed from $15 to $12, plus 40 cents per call.
Built additional bunks at Hose 1 Station to allow four men on duty at all times, also a slide pole was added to Fire Station bedrooms.
The Department purchased an Eastman Deluge Gun for $125.00 (still in use today!).
Chief Plaisted requested that the city fathers construct a building to house all Waterville firefighting apparatus.
The Department purchased (2) three gallon chemical extinguishers to be carried on Hose #1 at a cost of $54.00.

New Engine Co. No. 3 founded. The Department had 57 Firemen.
Picture of Engine 3 and Old Dick the horse

December 28: Fire on Front Street in a house. Cause was coals from a peanut roaster.

Picture of Hose Co. 2 with Hose Cart. Building was located on Silver Street
The largest muster in Maine since the Civil War was that of the New England Veteran Firemen's League held in Portland, ME on Aug. 18 with 28 contestants. The Nonantum (former Waterville 3) was awarded a ribbon for sixth place in 28, distance was 208 feet four and one half inches.
Picture of the Annual Muster Award, 1898

June 3: There was a house fire at the Head of Falls. Loss was nominal. It was caused by leaving a lighted pipe in a coat pocket.

September 28: Responded to Clinton with Steamer 1 and Hose 1 for mutual aid. Stayed there for six hours.

Thomas Landry Jr. was named Fire Alarm Superintendent. Electric Fire Alarms were installed in all homes of members of Engine Co. 1, Hose Co. 2, and Ladder 1, all were connected to this system.