History of the Springfield Fire Department

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During the 17th century, Springfield was burned to the ground by enemy action during the King Phillip's War. The settlers of that time became very conscious of the need for some sort of fire protection. However technology and finances limited efforts to the bucket - brigade approach until, by private subscription, the leading citizens of town purchased a tawny yellow, hand-drawn pump which they named "The Lion" in 1792. On January 17, 1794, these same citizens formed a "fire club" agreeing to preserve the lives and property of each other from destruction by fire, and thus the Springfield Fire department was born, making us one of the oldest established fire departments in the country.

This volunteer department, supplemented by mutual aid from the Federal Springfield Armory, served the community well until the 1800's when the introduction of horse drawn steamers and the growth of the town into a city in 1862 called for a different organization. In 1872, a paid department was established. This was a period of great advancement for the department including the establishment of a central telegraph alarm system and the establishment of a gravity-fed, reservoir supplied water system. This water system is still in use today. In 1913, the Springfield Fire Department became the first municipal department in the country to become completely motorized, using Knox fire engines manufactured right here in Springfield.

The 1970's proved to be the busiest decade recorded by the department with a period of intense fire activity coupled with the fire department being charged to run the City's ambulance service. In 1985, the Department formally organized a hazardous Materials Response Team in response to growing concerns about the environment and the number of businesses in the city with hazardous chemicals in their inventory. In the past few years fiscal challenges have changed the shape of our suppression, prevention and support divisions. Despite those challenges, the department continues to provide quality emergency response and fire prevention services to the citizens of Springfield.

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Page last updated:  Saturday, November 22, 2014 10:52 pm