A Brief History Chronology Of The BFD

1631

First fire prevention ordinance banned thatched roofs and wooden chimneys.

1653

Contract made with Joseph Jynks for fire engine to be brought to fire.

1678

Building laws required slate or "tyle" roofs and brick walls.

First paid (call) municipal fire department organized.

Thomas Atkins first fire chief.

Building provided to house fire engine.

1715

Boston had 6 engine companies.

1718

First mutual fire society for salvage of members' goods from fires.

1799

First leather fire hose imported from England.

1837

Present fire department organized.

1851

First municipal fire alarm telegraph system installed with alarm office in city hall tower.

1859

Steamers replace hand engines.

Permanent engineers, drivers, and firemen appointed.

1863

Adjustable fog nozzles placed in service.

1871

11-inch fire hose introduced and pronounced success by Chief Damrell.

1872

Famous Boston fire led to appointment of a board of fire commissioners.  Fire destroyed 776 buildings, 13 killed, and a $75,000,000 loss.

1873

Boston's first steam fireboat.

Self-propelled steam engine towing hose reel placed in service.

1874

Permanent District Chiefs appointed and a number of companies fully manned by permanent men.

1875

Locks changed on fire alarm boxes to reduce false alarms.

First fire department repair shop under a superintendent of apparatus and fire alarm.

Dial lines installed for communications between headquarters, alarm office, and District Chiefs.  Telephone not invented until 1876

1876

Aerial ladder placed in service.  Earlier "Skinner" ladder place in shop.

Relief values installed on all engines and shutoff nozzles issued to all engine and hose companies within a year.

Library books issued to all fire stations for study and recreation.

"All out" signal 2-2-2-2 established for use on multiple alarms and was not used for first alarm fires.  This apparently released call men required to standby.

1877

Signal 1-1-1-1 given on tower bells and gongs directed companies responding to disregard saving the horses for long runs.

Bangor extension ladders issued to ladder companies replaced spliced ladders.

1880

Legislation passed to permit underground electric wires.

New pension law and Fireman's Relief Fund organized.

Fire Department owned 260 spittoons and 30 manure forks.  Sale of manure credited to Fire Department.

1881

Sliding poles installed.

Bunkrooms placed on apparatus floor in several stations to speed response.

1882

Electric firehouse gongs installed.

Private fire alarm boxes installed in schools, theaters, stores, etc.

1883

First aid kits distributed to fire companies.

1885

Horatio Ely pensioned after 15 years service.  Pension $1.00 a day.

Life nets issued.

1889

Thanksgiving Day fire required 8 alarms and outside aid, 2 fireman killed, widows got $300 pensions.

1895

Board of commissioners replaced by single fire commissioner after Roxbury conflagration which destroyed 216 buildings including a fire station during previous year.

1901

Rubber tires installed on fire apparatus.

1904

Detailed mutual aid plans adopted with 8 adjoining departments.

1905

Fire Chief had electric automobile.

Thirty-two automobile fires in city during year.

1908

Annual pressure test of hose (200 psi) instituted.

1914

Civil Service exams instituted for all ranks below Chief of Department.

1921

High pressure pumping stations placed in service replacing old salt water fire main system supplied by fireboats.

1925

Last fire hoses retired.

Radio installed in fireboats, chiefs' cars, and rescue companies.