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1910 Willimantic Fire Department
The Genesis of Fire Companies in Willimantic
The Willimantic Fire companies didn’t come about until around 1830 when the town of Windham passed a resolution that would allow a group of selectmen to meet in Willimantic to create a fire department tasked with protecting the town. This new fire department would be named the Willimantic Fire Engine Company. The first major fire this company would be tasked with extinguishing was in 1842. Several fires later and the company would be disbanded for not being able to fully meet the needs of the city.
During the time the city was without a fire department, a major fire in 1868 destroyed several buildings and renewed public interest in fire safety. As a result, a fire engine was purchased along with several chemical fire extinguishers and in 1872 two new fire companies were formed. These two new companies were named the Fountain Fire Companies No. 1 and No. 2. Fountain Fire Company No. 1 would soon be renamed the Alert Hose Company No. 1, while Fountain Fire Company No. 2 would be renamed the Montgomery Hose Company No. 2. Not long after two other fire companies, named the Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and the Hilltop Hose Company No. 3 were formed.
According to Ron Robillard in Images of America Firefighting in Willimantic, the fire department transitioned in 1917 from a volunteer to a paid department consisting of eight men. In 1926 all four companies were combined to create the Willimantic Fire Department in Bank Street. In 1977, for reasons of space and antiquity, the fire department moved its headquarters to the corner of Bank and Meadow Streets.
In 1910, the Willimantic fire department was in a transition period much like the rest of the world, particularly in the arena of transportation as automobiles were becoming more and more common. The Willimantic fire department had a Seagrave hook and ladder truck along with another ladder truck. Besides two ladder trucks, the fire department also had two horse drawn hose wagons as well. While automobiles were becoming more common among emergency services, the fire department still relied heavily on horses for transportation.
The Fire Department's expenditure was $4,038.71 for the fiscal year of 1909-1910. In 2023, this would be equivalent to $131,722.75.
Fire Station Locations
The map below shows the location of the fire companies in Willimantic in 1910. Two of the fire companies were located at the same location (on Bank Street). Details on each company follow.