HOW A SMALL MASSACHUSETTS FIRE DEPARTMENT WAS ORGANIZED
Chief Hill, Formerly of Waltham, Took Hold and Brought It Up to High Efficiency—Present Excellent Condition—Fire Fighting Facilities
UNDER direction of Chief W. H. Hill, the fire department of Belmont, Mass., has been reorganized and brought up to a state of efficiency that has caused much favorable comment from the citizens and town officials. Three years ago Chief Hill resigned as aid to Chief George L. Johnson, of the Waltham, Mass, fire department, to take charge of the Belmont fire department. At that time the latter consisted of one pumping engine, a Knox combination, ladder truck, and small Ford truck, there being only six permanent firemen in the department.
At the present time the apparatus includes two American-LaFrance 750-gallon triple combination cars, a Maxim city service truck, a Seagrave combination chemical and hose car, and a Gardiner car for the chief.
There are now 18 permanent firemen and 12 call firemen. The officers are Chief Hill; Captain James J. Maguire, acting deputy chief; Captain Charles Elder, of Engine Company No. 3, and Captain Edward Quigley, of Engine Company No. 1. There are three fire stations, the two-story brick headquarters building on Leonard street, near Belmont centre; the house of Engine 1 in Waverly square, and the house of Engine 3 on Fairview avenue in the Harvard Lawn section of the town.
A new Gamewell automatic fire alarm system has just been installed in a brick addition built on the rear of the headquarters station. There is a machine shop on the ground floor and the fire alarm equipment on the tipper floor. There is an entrance through a fire door to the second floor of headquarters. In the fire alarm room the equipment consists of a 12-circuit charging and switchboard, a 12-circuit protector board, and an 8-circuit repeater. The storage batteries are on the lower floor adjoining the machine shop. The alarm system is connected with a compressed air siren horn. There are seventy-four street fire alarm boxes.
The department is operated on the two-platoon basis and has 6,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch cotton rubber lined hose. The town of Belmont covers about six square miles and has a population of 17,000. There is a system of mutual aid between the fire departments of Belmont, Watertown and Arlington. Belmont responds on telephone calls to Waltham in cases of emergency or multiple alarms.
There are 435 post hydrants available for fire department use. The high pressure service from the Arlington standpipe gives 130 pounds pressure and on the intermediate service from the Waban basin there is pressure of from 70 to 90 pounds. Last summer a new 60-inch main was laid connecting with the Metropolitan system and this gives 60 pounds pressure.
Under orders of Chief Hill automatic sprinklers have been installed in the basements of four school buildings, namely, the Moore Street School, the Roger Wellman School, the Payson Park School and the Daniel Butler School.
Before he assumed charge of the Belmont fire department Chief Hill served for ten years as a permanent fireman in Waltham and two years as a call man there. He is an able and progressive fire official and his work in strengthening and modernizing the Belmont department has won commendation.
Chief Hill is a member of the Fire Chiefs’ Club of Massachusetts, the New England Association of Fire Chiefs, and the International Association of Fire Engineers.