Wareham Fire Department


Organized January 28, 1907

Approved by Legislature

March 8, 1907

The Wareham Fire District, from the original boundaries basically being the immediate downtown or village to the complete geography of the Wareham Town Limits minus the Onset Fire District, have changed over the years. The information below is an attempt to demonstrate the need and reasoning for its existence and provide some interesting history.

We will be inserting a slide show of photos and documents which were prepared with the help from SEA Consultants of Cambridge (the District Engineers) and Ted Hatch for our Centennial Celebration in 2007. The information provided below is contained in one of these slides as a scanned image and refers to “Some Town History” as printed in the YOUR CHURCH SPEAKS bulletin, the following is a brief recap of that article which was printed in the Wareham Courier, Vol. IX – No. 8.

Wareham Flame Swept

Eight buildings in the Center of Town totally destroyed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Lack of facilities for fighting fire responsible for the heavy loss of $39,200.

It was Tuesday, December 11, 1906 during a reception and banquet held to celebrate the new church (First Congregational Church) and it was interrupted by the ringing of the church bell indicating the fire which had begun in the village. The time was approximately 10 pm when the first alarm was being rung after being discovered by Allen Griffin and Edward Murphy. The building of origin appeared to be that of the Boston Meat Supply and before any help had arrived the building was “wrapped in flames”. The flames soon communicated to the fine residence of A.D. Makepeace and a bucket brigade was formed.

Before the telephone exchange was lost which was on the second floor of the Waters Drug Store, an appeal for help was sent to New Bedford, Marion, and Onset. Onset was the first to respond, arriving on a trolley with hose, ladders and hooks. The apparatus was comparatively useless owing to the lack of a water supply. The hoses of the N.B. and O. was coupled onto the Onset hose when it arrived but this did not suffice. A hose was obtained from the Parker Mills Nail Work, but it was not until hose arrived from Marion when a stream was put onto the Thompson store, holding the fire in check. The fire engine from New Bedford arrived about 2 o’clock but was not unloaded from the rail car as the fire was under control.

The readiness of the Onset and Marion fire departments to come to the aid of their less than progressive neighbors with their facilities for fighting fire should be greatly appreciated. The bucket brigade did heroic service to the full extent of their abilities and the help of the neighboring fire departments were effective in checking the flames without further calamity. Many fire tactics were used to help control this conflagration including the use of dynamite and other explosives placed in buildings adjacent to the burning buildings and determined that they would not be able to save the next building they denoted the dynamite to make for a lesser target for the expansion of the fire.

The Property Loss was Listed as:

A.D. Makepeace residence $8,000; Store building owned by W.L. Chipman $2,500; George Emberson stock of meat market $2,000; W.L. Chipman residences $1,500; Drug store building owned by E.M. White $3,000; Benjamin Waters drug store inventory $4,500; House occupied by Dr. C.E. Morse and Lillian Washburn, $4,000; House owned by Sawyer Estate $4,000. The above listed coupled with personal belongings and various barns added up to the reported loss of $39,200.

Eighteen days after the fire, December 29, 1906 in an article published in the Wareham Times (as far as we can tell is the Wareham Courier, costs 3 cents) “For Fire Protection, Enthusiastic Citizens Meeting Held Wednesday Evening – Special Town Meeting Committee Appointed and Other Business Transacted.” The recent disaster has awakened the citizens of Wareham and and the Town is to have fire protection of some sort, and in the very near future… A proposition to take water from Five Mile pond was presented by Dr. Marsh who thought that its elevation of 70 feet would afford the necessary pressure. It was stated by Mr. Toby that the cost of piping for this purpose, even with an eight inch main, would not be less than $50,000. Mr. Toby favored an artesian well system and wanted it understood that he was in favor of water and in the past had gone further than the town securing water than the town was willing to follow. The Committee chosen that night to consider plans was: John C. Makepeace; William A. Leonard; Samuel N. Crocker; George P. Dole; James T. Hennessey; Dr. Charles S. Gleason; and Dr. Franklin Marsh. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes and all 6 articles passed unanimously.

The first Fire Chief was paid any annual salary of $40 and 20 cents per hour after that and the first Hook and Ladder Truck was purchased for $550. The first significant fire since the organization of the Fire Department was on June 26, 1907 in a building occupied by the Wareham Bakery and the payroll was $52.20.

The First Board of Engineers Established in 1907 Were:

Chief Engineer                                                     George S. Barnes

First Assistant Engineer                                     Elmer C. Briggs

Second Assistant Engineer                                William E. C. Warr

The Board of Engineers now are:

Chief Engineer                                                     Robert M. McDuffy

First Assistant Engineer                                    Patrick M. Haskell

Second Assistant Engineer                               John G. Kelley

This tab/pages will be a work in progress as is customary with all active websites and you are encouraged to return and look for updates as we move forward.