Department History

 The forerunners of our fire department must have been those chosen in the early years "to take care of fire and to burn the woods." The first men appointed in 1742 were Nathan Heywood and William Jones. In the beginning, firefighting in this town was by a bucket brigade manned by volunteers, and the fire losses must have been quite high. The first record of purchase of fire equipment is in 1869 when F. Mclntyre was paid $106 for the purchase of two fire extinguishers. Stillman Stone and sons were paid $4.00 for labor in suppressing a forest fire at the foot of Turner (Townsend) Hill in 1887.

In 1889, the town paid the Fitchburg Fire Department $50.00 for services at the Carter Brothers and Billings fire and also paid C.A. Goodrich $3.00 for services in reporting and acting as fire warden for three fires. Voters approved $100.00 to be paid for future services of the Fitchburg Fire Department in 1894. Fifteen deputy fire wardens were appointed in 1899. In 1908, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law requiring towns the size of Lunenburg to have forest fire wardens. In May of that year, the Board of Selectmen asked Clayton E. Stone to be fire warden. Six, sixteen quart soda- acid hand fire extinguishers were bought and kept at the town hall. Later more equipment was kept at the houses of various men, named as deputy wardens.

The Town Report of 1908 contains the first report written by Mr. Stone and he comments, "In no previous year has there been so much damage to forest land as this season." Mr. Stone, on hearing of a fire, would telephone the man nearest to it who had an extinguisher. This man would attend to the fire alone, or with several other men if available. If all the extinguishers were needed, the town bell was rung. If general aid was needed, a second ringing signaled the town to come and help. Loren Brown provided a horse and surrey for himself and Mr. Stone to ride to the fire. With his light, fast horse arriving in 20 minutes after the alarm was good time. Brown and Stone were the main fire department for two years. The expense of covering fires in 1910 was $159.16. Rate of pay was 35 cents an hour for Mr. Stone, 30 cents an hour for the helpers and Mr. Brown received more, for providing the horse.

In 1914, Mr. Stone retired as fire warden after several years of service, as a result of a controversy following a fire in "The Clearing" in Whalom. The timber had been cut leaving slash that was dry and in danger of burning. A fire did start and to save nearby cottages, Mr. Stone ordered his men to start a backfire at the rear. This saved the houses, but the owner of the property claimed that the backfire was started without his permission, and tried to summon Mr. Stone to court to collect damages for the timber lost. While this course of action was not successful, he continued to agitate the selectmen, who finally dismissed Mr. Stone. Stone had recommended that the town purchase a fire wagon, which could carry twelve to fifteen extinguishers, hose, shovels, etc. but the town felt this would be too expensive. After Stone retired though, the town did purchase a wagon, which proved to be too heavy to be drawn by one horse. Therefore the shafts were removed and replaced with a pole.

Unfortunately, no one could be found willing to let his team draw the wagon, so it was little used. The Whalom section, on its own account, bought a hand-drawn chemical apparatus, with a 50-60 gallon tank, containing only a simple soda-acid solution. This two wheeled vehicle was kept in a fire station located near the site of the first roller coaster. The first fire station was the #2 school house which had been moved from the corner of Goodrich St. and Lancaster Ave. to School Street in the Town's center.

Read More...