The Providence Fire Department

The Providence Fire Department

Providence, R. I., was settled by Roger Williams in 1636, and it was incorporated as a city in 1823. Its area is 18.29 square miles and the population, according to the state census of 1915 was 247,660. The fire department was a volunteer fire department until March 1, 1854, when it was changed to a paid department. First permanent men appointed in 1859. Department made wholly permanent February 1, 1899. Total force of department at this date, 332. Since February 27, 1895, the Fire Department has been under the control and management of a Board of three Fire Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected in Joint Convention by the City Council, the term of each Commissioner being for three years. The terms are so arranged that but one Commissioner is elected each year. The Fire Commissioners appoint all members of the department, including the Chief Engineer, and any member may, at any time, be removed by the Board. All purchases arc made by authority of the Board and all Rules and Regulations for the government of the force are established by said Board. The Board, is however, subject to the control of the City Council. The Board of Fire Commissioners consists of John R. Dennis, Chairman; Ralph S. Hamilton, Jr., and William H. Covell, Jr. John W. Morrow is clerk. The chief of department is Reuben D. Weekes, who was born in Providence, R. I., on March 5, 1859. He joined the fire department June 1, 1880, as Call Hoseman in Engine Company No. 5, and resigned March 5, 1881. He was reappointed November 27, 1882, as driver of Chemical Engine in Hose 6 and was transferred to the grade of Hoseman, same company, March 1, 1889, and promoted Lieutenant and transferred to Hose Company No. 4 on January 1, 1891. He became Captain, Hose 4, March 31, 1895, District Chief, December 1, 1906, and Chief of Department. July 1, 1909. The battalion chiefs are: William F. Smith, Abner G. Allen and Stephen C. Miller. The Fire Alarm Telegraph Superintendent is Gilbert S. Inman. The first assistant is Alexandcr J. McAdam and second assistant is Thomas Balfour.

The Fire Department Headquarters Building at Providence, R. I.

Companies and Company Officers.

Company officers are: Hose 1—Capt. James M. Curtis, Lieutenant Frank K. Wilkcy; Engine 2— Captain John A. Reed, Lieutenant James J. Casserly; Hose 3—Frederick C. Walden, Lieutenant Frank A. Eldred; Hose 4—-Captain Edwin G. Andrews, Lieutenant William E. Cameron. Engine 5—Captain John D. Murphy, Lieutenant Thomas H. Mullen; Hose 6—Captain Walter B. Leonard, Lieutenant Thomas H. Cotter; Engine 7—Captain Frank Charlesworth, Lieutenant Walter L. Medhurst; Engines—Captain R.J. Power, Lieutenant George R. Bigney; Hose 9—Captain Frank E. Taber, Lieutenant Charles F. Dyer; Engine 10—Captain Edward F. Curtis, Lieutenant Daniel R. Mtmroe; Engine 11—Captain William A. Millard, Lieutenant Walter H. Hildreth; Engine 12—Captain John H. Hall, Lieutenant Robert H. Waller; Engine 13—Captain Clarence C. Thomas, Lieutenant James E. O’Neil; Engine 14—Captain Harry R. Angcll, Lieutenant Peter Greene; Hose 15—Captain Robert G. Haskins, Lieutenant James C. Goff; Engine 16—Captain Thomas F. McNcal, Lieutenant John W. Thornton; Hose 17—Captain John H. Fischer, Lieutenant Jeremiah S. McDonald; Engine 18—Captain Charles O. Messinger, Lieutenant Bernard F. Sisson; Engine 19—Captain Fred A. Wallace, Lieutenant William Benford; Hose 20—Captain Thomas McCoid, Lieutenant David W. Capron; Engine 21—Captain Everett E. Potter, Lieutenant Edward J. Hall; Engine 22—Captain John Regan, Lieutenant Mahlon D. Brown; H. & L. 1—Captain Joseph F. McDonald, Lieutenant William J. Manton; H. & L. 2—Captain John E. Leonard, Lieutenant Robert H McDonald; H. & L. 3— Captain Ralph A. Wilbur, Lieutenant Owen McElroy; H. & L. 4—Captain Gabriel P. Landrigan, Lieutenant John E. Turbridy; H. & L. 5—Captain Edmund C. Godfrey, Lieutenant Walter S. Browne; H. & L. 6—Captain William E. Sullivan, Lieutenant Albert J. Holley; H. & L. 7— Captain Edward S. Doherty, Lieutenant Alexander M. MacKay; H. & L. 8—Captain Charles H. Carpenter, Lieutenant Elmer P. Hermann; H. & L. 9—Captain Joseph W. Carpenter, Lieutenant John E. Melody; H. & L. 10—Captain David A. Bigney, Lieutenant George T. Lawder.


The department apparatus is as follows: There are 17 engines: 1 first size American (3 horses), 2 first size Metropolitan (3 horses), 2 first size La France (8 horses), 5 second size Metropolitan, 1 second size La France (in reserve), 1 first size Atnoskeag, 1 third size Metropolitan, 1 third size Amoskeag, 1 third size LaFrance (in reserve), 1 third size Silshy, 1 third size Cole (in reserve). Hook & Ladder Trucks: 6 Aerial: 1 first size Seagrave, 85 feet (3 horses) ; 2 second size Seagrave, 75 feet (3 horses); 1 second size Combination Ladder Co., 75 feet (3 horses); 1 second size Hayes, 65 foot, (3 horses); 1 second size Hayes, 66 foot (in reserve). 6 city service trucks: 5 Scagrave, 1 Providence. 13 Motor Combination Wagons (Hose and Chemical): 6 Knox, 5 Pope-Hartford, 1 Americatt-LaFrance, 1 Autocar. 7 Horse-drawn Combination Wagons (Hose and Chemical); (all equipped with Holloway Tanks). 5 Horse-drawn Hose Wagons. (3 in service and 2 in reserve). 1 Horsedrawn “Champion” Water Tower (65 feet). Other apparatus: 1 Cadillac Touring Car for Chief of Department. 1 Buick Roadster for Battalion Chief, 2 Ford Roadsters for Battalion Chief, 1 Cadillac Touring Car (in reserve), 1 Ford Roadster for Superintendent of Fire Alarm, 2 Ford Construction Wagons for Fire Alarm Service, 1 Horse-drawn Construction Wagon for Fire Alarm Service.

Chief Reuben D. Weekes, Providence,R. IFire House at Pond and Franklin Streets, Providence, R. I., the Most Recently Added Station. Erected Last Year.


Each Hose and Engine Company is provided with 1600 feet of 2 ½ inch Cotton Rubber Lined Hose, 800 feet being carried on each wagon and 800 feet in reserve. The department at this date has a supply of 38,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose.

Fire Alarm Telegraph.

The fire alarm telegraph has a Gamewell Central Office System. There are 530 signal boxes: 430 public, 99 private. All public boxes are equipped with keyless doors.

Fire Stations.

Occupied by 1 company, 22; occupied by 2 companies, 5. The oldest stations are: Hose 6, Benevolent street; Engine 7, Richmond street; Engine 8, Harrison street; Hose 17, North Main street and Doyle avenue, all built in 1867-68. All have been remodeled since that date. The last station built is Hose 3, Pond and Franklin streets, built in 1914-15.

Fire Alarms.

The alarms during year ending December 31, 1915, were: Bell alarms: first alarms, 896; second alarms, 9; third alarms, 1. Total, 906. Still alarms, 910. Total, 1816. Loss during 1915, $364,099.86. On buildings, $156,662.23; on contents. $207,437.63. Insurance, $7,335,703.19. On buildings, $4,013,251.02; on contents, $3,322,452.17. Amount paid by insurance companies in settlement of losses during 1915, $327,805.09. The fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30: Appropriation for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 1916, is: for salaries, $420,000.00; for water for fire hydrants and for use of water, $20,000.00; for pensions, $19,500.00; for repairs to fire stations, $15,000.00; for all other expenses, $65,601.34. Total, $540,101.34. City owns the water works and this charge is made against the Fire Department and is paid out of the Fire Department Appropriation.

Fire Hydrants.

The regular service has pressure ranging from 35 to 75 lbs.: 2266. The special service, pressure ranging front 80 to 125 lbs.: 167. All hydrants are of the Lowry pattern and are set flush with the sidewalk, a Portable Hydrant Head, or Chuck, being used in connection therewith. Each Hose and Engine Company is equipped with two of these Chucks, one having four ports, and the other six ports for connecting hose.

Chief Engineers of the Department.

The office of Chief Engineer of the Fire Department was created July 11, 1853. Those who have occupied it are: Joseph W. Taylor, July 11, 1853 to June, 1859; Thomas Aldrich, June, 1859, to June, 1862; Charles H. Dunham, June 1862, to July 10, 1865; Dexter Gorton, July 10, 1865 to June, 1869; Oliver F.. (ireene, June, 1869 to July 2, 1884; George A. Steere, July 2, 1884 to April 1, 1909; Holden O. Hill, April 1, 1909, to July 1, 1909; Reuben D. Weekes, July 1, 1909, now in office. The office of Deputy Chief Engineer of the Fire Department was created March 10, 1883, and abolished April 1, 1909. Those who held the position were: George A. Steere, March 12, 1883, to July 2, 1884; Holden O. Hill, March 19, 1885, to April 1, 1909. Providence was the first city in the country to adopt this title in connection with the Fire Department, and George A. Steere was the first Fire Department official thus designated.

The Point Street Station. One of the Newest and Largest Fire Houses in Providence. R. I.


Salaries as fixed by the Board of Fire Commissioners with the approval of the City Council are: Chief of Department (1) $50.00 per week; Battalion Chiefs (3), each $35.00 per week; Supt. of Fire Alarm (1) $38.50 per week; Captains (32) $3.85 per day; Lieutenants (14), $3.55 per day; Enginemen (14) $3.55 per day; Assistant Enginemen (14) $3.30 per day. Privates: 4th grade (1st 6 months of service) $2.20 per day; 3d grade (2d 6 months of service) $2.55 per day; 2d grade (3d 6 months of service) $2.95 per day; 1st grade (4th 6 months of service and thereafter) $3.30 per day. Includes hosemen, laddermen, drivers, chauffeurs and fire alarm linemen and operators. Time off: meals: breakfast, 1 hour; dinner, 1⅛ hours; supper, 1 1/4 hours. An extra hour is allowed each man with one of his meals on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Days-off: 1 in 5; vacation: 10 clays annually.


Pensions arc as follows: Disability: Half pay if above the rank of Lieutenant; $600.00 per annum for Lieutenant and all below that rank. Certificate from two physicians selected by the Board that the member is disabled, is required. Service Pensions: (a) Any member who has served 25 years and is 50 years or more of age may retire if he desires and receive one-half the compensation which he was receiving at the time of the completion of 25 years service; (b) The Board may retire, without examination, any member who is 65 years of age, and such member is entitled to half pay if above the rank of Lieutenant, and $600.00 per annum if Lieutenant or below that rank.

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