Spanning the history of a Great American Fire City from its beginnings in 1839 to 1971.


Here I will periodically post some interesting facts about the department:



There have been three companies that have used the name Massabesic, the most of any company name.  One was an engine, and two were hose companies.

Despite several publications, including Potter's History of Manchester, the Vine Street Firehouse was not the departments first headquarters.  The property was not acquired by the City until 1846.  The first station was built in 1840 for $90.



The department's original handtubs and steamers were equipped with trailers called "jumpers".  Do you know how those trailers, which were hose reels, got their name?
The name comes from their ability to easily transverse over curbing.  There ability to "jump" curbs got them the title of jumper.

For one year the department had two Engine 1's.  One was called  Amoskeag, the other Merrimack.  They were located on opposite sides of the river with one having a complement of 14 men, the other 40.

A typo on a 1873 set of by-laws of Truck Co. 1 set in motion a series of writings about the history of the company as being incorporated in 1844.  In fact the company was created in 1841.  This creation of the company is found in the original ledger of the board of fire wards. Truck Co. 1 is the only surviving company from the hand tub days.

After World War II the Massabesic Volunteer Hose Company was re-formed at the Massabesic traffic circle after a 20 year hiatus.  It ran as Engine 13 until 1958 and covered both Auburn and Manchester.  The company normally carried a complement of 25 men.  They were given an old out of service hose wagon built in 1914, which they used the entire time.  Only 1 member of the company survives today.

Truck Company 7 was formed June 14th 2009.  It was the first new fire company formed since Rescue Co.1 was formed in 1988.  Formally, Truck 7 was never its own company, having always been attached to Engine 7 since being added in 1911. 

Truck No. 7 was originally a 1911 American LaFrance horse drawn ladder truck.  It was pulled by two horses.  This was an odd purchase as the department had purchased its first motorized piece a year earlier.

Truck 7 was short lived as its own company, rejoining Engine 7 at the end of 2009. 


Chief Lane was almost killed when the rear axle of his car snapped.  Rather than procuring a car while his was being repaired, he pulled out is old wagon and white horse and continued his duty. 

In 1916 the department went to the aldermen asking for a pay increase.  Scandal hit when the aldermen asked about a salary line for the Assistant Superintendent of Fire Alarm, a position asking for $1600 per year.  The position didn't exist.

The first motorized piece was purchased for the newly formed hose company called Squad A in 1910.  This company is known as the Flying Squadron, a nickname commonly used by police and fire departments for their motorized vehicles.  Although the company has been commonly referred to as the Flying Squadron it is important to note that the company was officially Squad A and is referred to in all official documents as such.  The company wore a large A on their helmet fronts.



March 10th 1946 Chief Guevin made a bold decision.  Prior to this date the Gamewell Fire Alarm Boxes had been placed in the city number sequential as they were added.  You could have box 3 29 48 and 95 on the same street.  Chief Guevin adopted Gamewell's gridding system where the city would be broken into districts and the boxes would start with the grid number.  The large section would be further broken down into smaller sub districts.  The city was gridded as shown in the illustration.

This was tough for the firefighters who had memorized the location of the fire alarm boxes, but made it easier overall.  This system of gridding is still used today.



Important definitions:

Double Company--Typically an engine and a ladder with a Captain and LT's on the pump and all LT's on the Ladder together in the same firehouse. Manchester's Station 7 operates this way.

Two-Piece Company:  Typically an engine and ladder with officers on only one of the pieces. The pieces typically  travel together but not with all depts.  Manchester Stations 5 and 6 and 10 operate this way.

This is often misapplied but the distinguishment is important.



One of the most notable mutual aid fires to occur was the Great Fire in Boston Nov 9th-11th 1872.  Manchester  sent two steamers and a hose company to the fire.  Engine 1 and Hose 1 were sent along with 70 members of the fire department in uniform.  The other steamer was the self-propelled steamer that Amoskeag Corp had been marketing unsuccessfully.  The steamer performed so well that the City of Boston immediately purchased it.   Later while on display in New York City, the City father's of NYC convinced Boston to sell it to them.  Boston did and would go on later purchase more self-propelled Amoskeags.


Most of the City's firehouses were constructed with wooden floors.  As apparatus got larger and heavier, equipment was assigned to stations based on the ability of the floor to hold them.  This held true in 1970 when the Calef Rd Station became the quarters of Truck 1 and Truck 2.  It was the only station that would hold the weight of the ladder trucks.


Manchester had exploded  as a city with the expansion of the mills in the late 1800's.  This caused the Fire Department to grow very rapidly.  After the nineteen teens the city's population became steady.  This resulted in little expansion for a long time.  Before the Calef Rd firehouse was built in 1963 there hadn't been a firehouse constructed in 50 years!!!!!


The City's telegraph fire alarm system which is still in use today did not cover the millyard complex.  This complex has its own system that had boxes and its own numbering system.  In fact these fire alarm boxes did not run to the MFD dispatch office.  They ran to the security office in the millyard and they would dispatch their own fire dept to the alarm over a whistle.  The fire alarm boxes would eventually be tied into the city dispatch but not until the late 1920's!!!  And even then it was only advisory.  The MFD would only respond to the millyard if requested.