Protecting our community since 1836 with pride, professionalism and heart

Honor Flags

Woonsocket Fire Department would very much appreciate donations of United States flags to be flown in honor of your loved one at our 4 fire stations. Anyone wishing to donate a flag please contact Karen at 765-2500 ext. 6660.

Currently, flags are being flown in honor of Retired Lt. James Patrick Murray at Station 1, and for Retired Private Normand Trudel at Station 2.

Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Law

Realtor Informaiton regarding smoke and carbon monoxide detection laws.

More information regarding smoke detectors and carbon monoxide.

I.S.O. Rating

The Woonsocket Fire Department has a Class II I.S.O. rating, which is the highest in the state of RI.  What's an I.S.O. rating?  Read More ..

Department History

 

Researched, Written & Updated By:

Gerald Landry, Eugene Prochniak, Stanley Leja,Normand Bacon, Emile Faubert, Roger Martin,
Ralph St. Germain, Kenneth Roberts, Sherman Mann,Alfred Falcioni, Bernard Kogut, Charles O'Rourke, Russell Rielly, Normand Dextraze, Rose Zariczny


In 1835, the village of Woonsocket had the "Great Fire" at Canal Square. It swept away, unhampered, the post office and several mills, stirring the populace into serious thoughts of future fire protection. An organized Fire Department and Hook and Ladder company might have saved much property. Steps were taken to incorporate a fire department. At the June session of the General Assembly, an Act was passed to incorporate a fire department. A Charter was granted and on September 29, 1836 a meeting of the citizens was called at Whitcomb's Hotel. This meeting has since gone down in the annals of fire department history. The Charter was accepted, bylaws adopted and officers appointed. With Smith Arnold as chairman and Peter J. Cooke as secretary, the Charter was augmented and the following officers elected to protect the Village of Woonsocket against further conflagrations. Trustees of the organization were Lyman A. Cook and William Holden. Also named was Helvill Knapu, Fire Warden; Smith Arnold, First Warden; Willis Cook, Second Warden; and Justin D. Arnold, Third Warden. Assessors (whose duties were to levy the tax for fire protection) were George C. Ballou, Peter Cook and Edward Harris. Aaron White, Jr. was collector with Pardon Sayles as Guardian of the Gold". With this the Fire Corporation of the Village of Woonsocket was formed.

On November 9, 1839, a Hook and Ladder Company was organized with Captain William Shackleford, Vice Captain Whipple Metcalf, clerk Bethuel Slocomb and Treasurer William Metcalf. Application was made for a house and carriage for the use of the Hook and Ladder Company. It was voted to appoint a committee to erect a building and secure a carriage. Dexter Ballou, Jarvis Cook and Whipple Hetcalf were on the committee. On December 2, 1839, the Fire Corporation voted that the committee appointed in November had failed to provide the building and elected a new committee: Willis Cook and J.A. Oiney.

Prior to 1844, the Fire Corporation held its meetings at Whitcomb's Hotel and Richard's Hotel. Richard's Hotel was also called Central Hotel, owned by Lysander Elliot, and stood where the R.I. Hospital Trust Building is today.

The Village of Woonsocket was then divided into 5 districts with a mill in each district which used its own force pumps and stored fire hose within. The districts were 1) Woonsocket Furnace Company, 2) Justin Ballou Mill, 3) Clinton Mill, 4) Smith Arnold Mill, and 5) Woonsocket Manufacturing Company.

There must have been a great deal of discussion as to the best location to build an Engine House. The records mention High Street as a desirable place, but there is reason to believe that the Engine House was first built at or near the old No. I Fire Station (Eagle Manufacturing Company). For the first time, records of the Fire Corporation show that in February, 1844, the meeting was held at the Engine House, but do not state where it was located. On November 4, 1848, a committee was appointed to draw up a set of bylaws for the Hook and Ladder Company and adopt- ed November 14, 1848.

On December 14, 1856, it was voted to erect a Hose House at Mechanics corner. However, the first engine purchased by the Corporation was purchased by Lyman A. Cook in 1840 and was placed under the care of members of Pumper No. 1. It was called Hydraulion No. I and later changed to Rescue Hose No. 1.

In 1857, the new building at Mechanics corner used gas light- ing for the first time in Woonsocket. Up to 1867, the Hook and Ladder rendered its annual report to the Fire Corporation through Rescue Hose No. 1. They had fifty men in the company as of May 1869. The Charter granted in 1836 was amended around this time and the name of the Corporation was changed from the Fire Corporation of the Village of Woonsocket to the Woonsocket Fire Corp. The Village was also granted a Charter creating the Town of Woonsocket, separating it from the Town of Cumberland in 1867.

During this time, the mill corporations were very active and supplied apparatus of their own. This equipment was placed at the disposal of the Fire Corporation.

On June 29, 1872, the Corporation purchased its first Steam Fire Engine at a cost of $4,000.00. Built by Jeffers, they called it Jeffers Engine Company No. 1.This Company had previously been organized as the Eagle Hose Company. A few years later another Steam Engine manufactured by Cole Bros. of Pawtucket was purchased by the Social Mfg. Company and was manned by the Corporation as Steam Engine No. 2 or the Social Steamer.

There was also a Hose Company, a Hook and Ladder Company and a Company to man the force pumpers. in 1887, one year before Woonsocket became a city. The Evening Reporter published an article stating that the Corporation was to form a Permanent Fire Department, in the early days, there were two classes of firemen; Permanent and Call men.

In January 1889, the Fire Department moved into its quarters at the Town Hall and Armory on Bernon Street and called it Station No. 1. Woonsocket Hook and Ladder No. I and Monument Hose No. I were placed here. in 1889, George Batchelor was named First Marshal. In the early 1900's. Jay Niel was named First Permanent Chief. The Department now had fifty-eight men and four horses. This was known as a one platoon system.

Around this time, something else began to form in this City. The newly chartered Town of Woonsocket purchased -the Woonsocket Water Works Company for $298,612.62 in April of 1885. The Town of Woonsocket was incorporated as a City in 1888.

In 1886, the Fire Department installed its first electric fire alarm system. A fire tower was also built at Church and Boyden Streets and provided with a large bell. In 1889, the Fire Alarm consisted of fifteen miles of wire, three electric bells, one 15" gong, one indicator, three electromechanical tappers, three direct action tappers, twenty-three public and four private pull boxes. George Worall was the first Fire Alarm Superintendent.

The purchase and extension of the water works made it possible to extend lines for the Fire Department, thus insuring greater fire protection for the citizens of Woonsocket. in 1889, $12,000.00 was provided for maintenance and improvement of water service. There were 349 hydrants throughout Woonsocket that year.

In 1901, Augustine Cote joined the Fire Department. Arriving from Canada, he replaced one of the members of Engine No. 2. His interest and insight proved invaluable. He became Call Chief on January 6, 1908 and permanent Chief in 1913.

In the year 1903, Fire Station No. 4 was constructed on South Main Street. One Engine was placed in this station.

Station No. 5 was built on Social Street in 1912.

In 1913, Chief Cote had to motorize his equipment. The Department purchased a Knox gas Engine for $1700.00. This piece was kept in service for twenty-three years. In 1914, a complete machine shop was added to Station NO. 5. in 1920, another Engine was added a White Pumper.

The year 1926 showed a reorganization of the Fire Department as a result of the City's growth. Station No. 2 was built on Cumberland Hill Road and became Fire Alarm Headquarters. Station No. 3 on North Main Street was also completed this year. In 1922, the Department went to an 84 hour week/2 platoon system. In 1927, a new innovation was added to the area. Chief Cote, knowing that training was important, had a drill tower constructed at Station No. 5 to teach the firemen climbing skills as well as hose handling, in 1928, Station No. 6 was built on Fairmount Street. As this station was completed, the age of gas driven Engines became a reality. The phasing out of all hand pumps and horse drawn vehicles was completed.

In 1932, the Chief felt that a new type of protection for the citizens of Woonsocket was needed, so the men built a new type of truck. It was to be called Rescue No. I and created interest all over the East. Departments from afar came to see this piece of equipment, the first of its kind in the area.

By 1934, all equipment was improved. Some trucks were purchased and were rebuilt in the shop by the men on duty.

In the years of 1936 and 1938, disaster came to the City in the form of flood and hurricane, in 1945, the Department again went to shorter hours, 70 hour week/2 platoon system. At this time, there were six Engines, three Ladder Companies, one Rescue and one Fire Alarm truck.

In 1951, the Department went to a 56 hour week/3 platoon system with 129 men. Shortly thereafter. Chief Cote retired and was succeeded by Chief Roy on April 10, 1954.

During this time, a new Rescue was purchased to replace the original one built in 1932. in 1955, the "Great Flood" of Woonsocket hit and the Department worked long hours helping the needy.

In 1956 and 1957, new equipment was purchased to replace old trucks. A 750 gpm and 1000 gpm Ward LaFrance and an 85' hydraulic ladder (American LaFrance) were purchased.

Chief Roy retired November 1, 1959 and Chief Mongeon took this position on March 20, 1960.

In 1961, the stations built in 1845 and 1903 were replaced and relocated to Station No. I on Providence Street and Station No. 4 on Mendon Road. Also, two Ladder trucks and a Pumper were bought in a total bond program. The next new piece was purchased in 1965 (another Ward 1000 gpm) and then a 1969 Maxim Foam Pumper.

In 1970, the Department went to a 50 hour week with a Kelly day off. in 1971, to a 46 hour Kelly. The total complement was 131 men, six Engines, two Ladder trucks (with one spare), one Rescue, one Fire Alarm Truck, one Fire Prevention car, one Training Director's car, one mechanic's truck, one Deputy Chief's car and one Chief's car.

In 1972, the Department went to a 42 hour week/4 platoon system consisting of two 10 hour days and two 14 hour nights, in 1974, Chief Mongeon was overcome at a fire on Mill Street and subsequently retired on February 27, 1974. Gerald P. Landry was named Chief on April 24, 1974.

In 1975, the City Purchased a new Hahn 1250 gpm pumper replacing a 1945 Seagrave V12. Another pumper was added in 1976, a 1250 gpm, replacing the 1956 Ward LaFrance 750 gpm pumper. in 1977 a Hahn 1250 gpm was added, replacing the 1957 Ward LaFrance 1000 gpm. In 1980, a cost saving program affecting the City made it necessary to decommission Engine No. 5, thus reducing the Department to five Engines, two Ladders, one Rescue and one Deputy.

In 1983, Station No. 5 on Social Street was sold to Woonsocket Housing Authority and Station No. 2 underwent extensive renovations. Ladder No. 2, Rescue I and headquarters were then transferred from No. 5 to No. 2 Station.

In 1984, amid much controversy, a second Rescue was added to the Department and stationed at Station No. 3. The Rescue Division now included privates serving as one Rescue Captain, eight Rescue Lieutenants (EMT-C qualified) and eight Rescue Drivers (EMT qualified). One Rescue Lt. served as Rescue Training Officer to maintain the skills obtained through R.I. State training and licensure. Added to the Department to augment Rescue 2, were two Roving Firefighters who could be assigned at the Deputy's discre- tion to cut overtime costs. The Chief's Aide position was de- classified to Fire Clerk and the first female was accepted into the Department. This brought total personnel to 137.