See the apparatus page for photos of retired apparatus
Click Here for a history of the Webster Rescue Squad up to June 30, 2012
Click here for photos of some of Webster's original Firefighters
Fire Department History
Courtesy of Webster Historical Society and OldeWebster.com
From the Webster Times 100th Anniversary Edition 1859-1959
"Mechanization of the Webster Fire Department is believed to have been started
about 1908 with purchase of a Pope-Hartford engine. In 1910, a Reo was bought
followed in 1914 by the ladder truck. Meantime both membership and equipment
within the department increased as the town's growth continued.
Boxes were frequently added to the fire alarm system, and the water department
expanded its lines to cover all outlying parts of the town. Today there are
approximately 351 hydrants, and 80 alarm boxes, as well as a signal system of
"phantom" boxes to designate areas outside the box alarms.
The department remains a volunteer or "call" department despite the fact that it
serves the large area of Webster and Dudley. The department consists of 58
members, including the Chief and members of the Board of Engineers. The
engineers are appointed annually by the Selectmen, and they in turn elect the
The Webster Fire Department is considered one of the best equipped in the state
for a town of this size and has a unique standing because there are no permanent
men. The excellent record of the department keeps the fire insurance record low
for a community of this size with a call department. Cost of operating the
department last year was approximately $31,000 of which $6,000 was returned to
the town by Dudley. In addition, Webster saves the cost of water by maintaining
its own municipally operated system.
In comparison, for instance, Southbridge has several permanent firemen and as a
result their operational costs are in the neighborhood of $100,000 year, with an
additional cost of thousands of dollars for water used in fighting fires because
the water system in that community is privately owned.
Apparatus now owned by the Webster department includes the following
trucks:Maxim Ladder, purchased in 1953; Engine 3, bought about 1940; Hose 1,
also the Forest Fire Truck, a Ford, bought in 1940; Hose 2, a Ford, bought in
1941; Maxim Pumper, 1930; and Engine 1, bought in 1919. The first four trucks
listed, respond to all alarms.
Other equipment owned by the department at the present time includes 4000 watt
Army supply generator (bought since the flood danger of 1955); 500 gallon
trailer pump (much used after flood); Scott Air packs with tank, which firemen
carry on their backs, enabling them to enter smoke-filled buildings to locate
the source of fire; two resuscitators which not only revive but can inhalate and
aspirate in an effort to save life. These latter have been used many times in
the case of heart attacks, drowning, electric shock, gas and smoke inhalation.
Several members of the department are skilled in the use of this equipment,
particularly resuscitators, because the Fire Department today is frequently
called upon for emergencies other than fires.
Edward P. Poblocki is chief of the Fire Department at the present time; H.
Craigin Bartlett is clerk. Other members of the Board of Engineers are Vincent
Canty, George Wentworth, Gerard Morgan, Peter Wagher and Nobel Mason."
Souvenir of the Webster Fire Department
HISTORY OF WEBSTER FIRE DEPARTMENT
Contributed by Rep. Paul Kujawski, in honor of his father Leon Kujawski,Jr.
"Something like sixty-three years ago, the firm of Samuel Slater & Sons bought a
small "tub", without suction, fed with pails of water, known as "Tiger No. 1."
This was stationed at the South Village. Subsequently, the same firm purchased a
second machine, with suction, which was stationed at the East Village and
another, smaller one, which was used for the protection of North Village.
In 1845, Henry H. Stevens , well known in connection with the Stevens Linen
Works, realizing the necessity of some fire organization for the town, started a
movement among the citizens and headed a subscription for such organization. In
this he was assisted very materially by Solomon Shumway , who gave, not only of
his time but money to further the movement. These two men, more than any others,
deserve the credit of originating and establishing the Fire Department of the
town of Webster, which today is one of the best organized and equipped of any
similar department in the state.
One of the earliest record fires occurred on the site of the present Hotel
DeWitte in 1846. Pails of water were passed from hand to hand and thus the fire
was fought. This fire was brought to light the need for an organized indepenent
Fire Department. Chief John F. Hines was the first Fire Chief Webster had. The
work which had been begun by Mr. Stevens and Mr. Shumway was vigorously pushed,
public meetings were held, prominent citizens of the town subscribed liberally
to a fund and the town purchased its first fire machine.
The "General Taylor, No. 2" was the first machine operated by the "fire boys."
On July 4th, 1846, the department, or "Fire Company," as it was then called,
held its first celebration, having for guests the fire company of Millbury. The
whole town turned out en masse and the occasion was one long to be remembered.
In 1873 Webster Hall was destroyed by fire , many valuable items and documents
of the department were lost, including the records from 1846 to 1859. Little can
be said, therefore, in relation to the history of the department during this
period. It is certain, however, that the department lost nothing of its old time
energy and life, and the spirit that was infused into it by the original
incorporators was in no ways abated.
In an old roster of 1859, we find the names of men who not only encouraged and
supported by their means and service the Fire Department, but were useful and
efficient servants of the people in many capacities. Amos Bartlett, George
Tracy, Horace I. Joslin , D. Wellington, Leonard Barnes , Samuel J. Leavins ,
Henry E. Bugbee, R. B. Eddy, Joel Goddard, C. E. Brown, Horace H. Cady, Francis
Bugbee, Lucius Mansfield, D.A. Brown and others are found on this "roll of
honor". Many of these men had been in the department years previous to this
time, some from the very beginning of the department.
Early records show April 4, 1859, were H. E. Bugbee, Foreman; Leonard Barnes,
2nd Foreman; D. A. Brown, 3rd Foreman; H. I. Joslin, Treasurer; S. A. Tingier,
Clerk. Mr. Bugbee was foreman for many years, holding the office until 1865,
when he was succeeded by Byron J. Shumway. The other members of this company
also served for many years, and through their earnest and efficient labors
helped to place the department in the front rank of fire fighters.
The first muster, in which the Webster firemen engaged, took place in Oxford,
Mass., with the DeWitt Hand Fire Engine Company of the latter place, Sept. 10,
1859. Records did not mention how they did in the muster
Webster's Muster took place later that September, Oxford fire attended.
Webster's General Taylor won, "both perpendicular and horizontal." A supper was
served that evening in the old Fenner Hall, which is now a part of the McQuaid
Block. Soloman Shumway was Marshall on that occasion, Capt. Amos Bartlett was
chosen orator, while Dr. Fred D. Brown acted as toast-master. This was a grand
affair for the department and the older "fire boys" living today who
participated, hold it among their most pleasant recollections.
Henry A. Stevens, Lyman Sheldon, H. M. Dresser, Nathan Joslin, Stearns Harris,
B. A. Corbin, Edward Robinson, Hiram Allen , Nathan Chamberlain, R. O. Storrs,
Josiah Perry, Soloman Shumway, Emory Sibley, Edward W. Mixer and Asahiel
Mansfield were the committee of citizens who co-operated with the firemen to
make the above affair a success. It will be seen that the most prominent men of
the town in that day were interested in the fire department. Such has been the
case throughout its history.
The old "General Taylor" had a long and honorable career. It was sold in 1873 to
a New Hampshire manufacturing company. Besides those mentioned who saw service
with this machine, it is only proper and fitting to mention others whose names
occur on the roster.
As has been stated, Byron J. Shumway succeeded H. E. Bugbee as foreman. Thomas
McQuaid was 2nd Foreman and L. E. Mansfield 3rd Foreman, associated with Mr.
Shumway. The latter was presented by his company with a handsome silver trumpet,
of which today he is properly proud.
In 1867, Horace I. Joslin was elected Foreman of the General Taylor, No. 2
Company and was afterwards re-elected to the same position. Among those who
served with Mr. Joslin may be mentioned the following: Eben S. Stevens, as 2nd
Foreman; Marcus Allard as 3rd Foreman; Francis Bugbee, as Clerk. Among the
honorary members of the department during this period, were, H. H. Stevens,
Cyrus Spaulding, George Tracy and O. F. Chase. Mr. Tracy had formerly been an
active member of the department.
During the time of the old "General Taylor" was in service, up to its sale in
1873, many men, prominent in town affairs, were associated with the various
companies which bore its name. Among these, mention of the following is
certainly of interest: E. P. Morton, Chester C. Corbin , who was foreman in
1872, Elmoine D. Clemens , H. H. Shumway, Charles F. Barnes, Erastis Alton, Nash
Spaulding, Jerome Marsh, Richard Thompson, George D. Bates, Patrick Brogan .
Proceeding the organization of the Board of Engineers, the management of the
department was in the hands of Fire Wardens appointed by Selectmen. The Board of
Engineers was first organized in 1870. Soloman Shumway was elected Chief and
James H. Marshall Clerk.
The first fire handled by the new Board of Engineers was at the shoe shop of the
late Henry E. Bugbee, on the land now occupied by the Tracy Block. At that time
the department was obliged to wait for the water pipes to be filled from the
South Village and some delay was experienced before the necessary supply could
In 1868 and 1869 the town expended $10,143.54 for fire improvements, putting in
a system of water supply furnished by the Slater Woolen Company, including
hydrants and the laying of 5638 feet of pipe.
Since that time, however, many improvements have been made. An independent water
system had been adopted by the town, and the supply is ample, not only for
family and other uses, but furnished the department whenever necessary with a
quantity and force sufficient for all demands. There are now 110 hydrants and
the pressure is about 95 lbs. to the square inch.
In 1868, the Steamer "Webster No. 1" , was purchased for $3,700.00, Cole
Brothers, makers, Pawtucket, R. I. This steamer has done excellent work,
although for small conflagrations it is seldom called out as the water supply
and force from the hydrants is usually sufficient and the four hose companies
can meet almost any exigency. A force of men are held in reserve at the engine
house, and whenever needed, and the call is sounded, "Webster No. 1" is ready to
perform her part.
After the sale of the General Taylor, it was thought necessary to have another
hand fire machine and so, in 1874, the "Clipper" was purchased. Albert Childs
was the first foreman of the Clipper Company, organized in this year. Henry
Brandes , now Selectman, was made 2nd foreman.
The next year, 1875, Mr. Brandes was made foreman and James McGeary was made 2nd
foreman, with the usual efficient complement of men complement of men
constituting the company.
In 1868, the James H. Marshall Hose Carriage No. 1 was bought, at a cost of
$425.00. Later, the Franklin Hook and Ladder Truck was purchased, and the
department began to assume its present proportions and strength.
On January 1, 1884, the fire code of alarm was adopted and nine fire districts
were established as follows:
District No. 2 -- Depot Village.
District No. 3 -- Fenner Hall.
District No. 4 -- Lake Street and Vicinity.
District No. 5 -- South Village.
District No. 6 -- North Village.
District No. 7 -- East Village.
District No. 8 -- Chase Village, Dudley.
District No. 9 -- Merino Village, Dudley.
District No. 11 -- Jerico Village, Dudley
These alarms were rung in if the fire occurred during the day by some citizen,
if in the night by a night watchman, and were struck on the bells of the
Universalist and Methodist Churches. The districts were denoted as follows: ten
rapid strokes, then a pause; then slowly striking the number of the district
locating the fire, and repeat.
To-day a most complete electric system of alarm is in operation, represented by
some 20 boxes, rung from the Universalist Church bell, and a steam whistle on
the Stevens Linen Works.
This electric box alarm was adopted in 1893. In 1886 there were but 27 hydrants
-- to-day there are something like 110.
Additional pipe has been put in from year to year and many other improvements
made. The water supply is one of the best in the state, not only for fire
purposes, but for every use required by the citizens.
Since the Board of Engineers was organized in 1870, the department has been much
improved and perfected, until to-day it is the equal of any fire force to be
found in the larger towns of the state. To this Board of Engineers, is due
perhaps more than any other agency, the excellency and efficiency that has been
attained. The character and standing of the citizens who have been chosen
engineers have been a guarantee of this result.
Solomon Shumway was the first chief, elected in 1870. Horace I. Joslin succeeded
him in 1872. Associated with the latter on the board were, Edward S. Bradford ,
William S. Slater , Amos Bartlett and John F. Hines . In 1873, Hiram Allen was
chosen chief and in this year Leonard Barnes first became a member of the board.
Mr. Barnes was elected chief the following year, 1874, and was re-elected in
1875. Thomas K. Bates, Samuel J. Leavins and Patrick Brogan were the new men
elected to the board during this period.
In 1876, Horace I. Joslin was again made chief and was re-elected each year
until 1881, thus serving, with his former term of office, six years at the head
of the department. John Flint , Chester C. Corbin and Lyman R. Eddy were on the
board during Mr. Joslin's latter term.
John F. Hines was elected chief in 1881 and held the position for seven years,
being re-elected each year until 1888. Elmoine D. Clemens was first appointed to
the board in the former year and was made clerk, which position he has held
continuously ever since. Lyman R. Eddy, Samuel J. Leavins and Patrick Brogan
constituted the remainder of the board during Mr. Hines' long term of service as
In 1888, the present chief, Louis E. Pattison was elected. The other members of
the board were, Patrick Brogan, E. D. Clemens , Joseph C. Spaulding and Joseph
P. Love . The personnel of the board remained practically he same until 1893,
with the exception of Mr. Spaulding, who died after two terms of service. In
1893, August Warnke came on the board. Mr. Brogan withdrew in 1896, having given
many years of his life to honorable and efficient service to the department. In
1896, James Newman and Etienne Fournier were appointed to the board. The latter
served two years and was succeeded in 1898 by Thomas L. Gray . The board to-day
stands as follows: L. E. Pattison, Chief, E. D. Clemens, Clerk, August Warnke,
James Newman , Thomas L. Gray.
The engineers, present and past of the Fire Department of the town of Webster,
have been among her foremost citizens, many of them having served the town in
public positions and others having been chosen to represent the town in the
higher legislative bodies of the State. One, the Hon. Edward S. Bradford,
formerly a resident of the town but now of Springfield, Mass., has been Mayor of
the latter city, and State Senator. The Hon. C. C. Corbin has also been in the
Massachusetts Senate. Many other former members of the board have been in the
State House of Representatives. Mr. Joseph P. Love, is the present
representative from this district in the lower house.
Not only has the Board of Engineers been represented largely in Town and State
legislative affairs, but various foreman and members of the different companies
have held important official positions. Henry Brandes who served as foreman of
the Clipper Company, has been the Representative from this district. The Hon.
Charles Haggerty, one of the "leading hose men", in 1875, of the Clipper
Company, has been in the Massachusetts Senate.
Under the able leadership of the present chief, L. E. Pattison, who has held the
position since 1888 the Fire Department of Webster has made rapid progress. The
force is better organized. Perfect discipline prevails and every modern
improvement for fire fighting has been adopted. Each man knows his duty and it
is done with promptness and efficiency.
The oldest man in point of service in the department today is Elmoine D.
Clemens, who joined the department, August 12, 1859. Since 1881, Mr. Clemens has
been on the Board of Engineers, and Clerk of the Department. The records of the
department have been in good hands, as Mr. Clemens has been most particular and
painstaking. The date and history of this sketch have been compiled from his
books, and the accuracy of the same cannot be questioned. Thomas L. Gray,
engineer, joined the department in 1871 and has been a most valuable member.
Martin O'Donnell became a member on 1876 and has been a hard and conscientious
worker. So also has Jacob Hayman done good service, having joined the department
in 1879. Honorable mention might to be made of many other members of the
department who have helped to make history and added to the success of the
organization but our limited space will not permit extended mention. Altogether
the Town of Webster has fire department of which she can be, and is, justly
Fenner's factory, burned June 11, 1855.
High School Building, East Main Street, December 10, 1869.
Masonic Hall, Spaulding's Block, July 6, 1873.
Webster Hall, School Street, August 4, 1873, site of present engine house and
headquarters of the department.
H. H. Bixby's house and barn and Erastus Alton's barn, April 9, 1875.
Webster Box Shop April 19, 1875.
Mechanic's Block, September 30, 1876.
Green Mill, East Village, February 12, 1878 (the biggest fire ever handled by
the department, loss $60,000).
Power shop, foundry and grist mill, June 24, 1879.
Kingsbury's Slaughter House, February 4, 1884.
Merchants Block, March 3, 1886.
Grist Mill, Joel Goddard & Co., Aug. 2, 1887.
Joslin House barn, March 14, 1888.
Dudley Hill conflagration, June 3, 1890.
Sash and Blind Factory, Joel Goddard & Co., February 25, 1892.
Carriage repository, Lyman R. Eddy, March 16, 1892.
H. N. Slater Woolen Co. works, Drying Department, March 1, 1893.
Bank Block, July 4, 1893.
St. Jean Baptiste Hall, December 11, 1896.
Dwelling House and barn occupied by Edward Wentworth and family and owned by
James Boyd, New York, at East Webster, April 1, 1899, loss estimated at
The Below Photos are Courtesty Olde Webster
and the Webster Historical Society
American LaFrance Type 75 Triple Combination Fire Engine c. 1920
Central Fire Station located on School St. from 1874-1979. The corner stone from this station was preserved and is now part of the Landscape at the School St. Substation.