Looking Backward to the Future

Often it is beneficial to look back upon our history to seek our future. Not simply so that we avoid repeating ourselves but rather to find our direction. In the cycles of history, we seem to spend as much time looking back on our past as we do headed toward it. The following is a collection of excerpts discovered in a pamphlet compiled by Rena Davis (New Boston’s long time librarian) titled, Under the Firehouse Roof: 144 Years of Firefighting History published around 1989. Our focus is on the information contained regarding New Boston’s fire houses.

Often it is beneficial to look back upon our history to seek our future. Not simply so that we avoid repeating ourselves but rather to find our direction. In the cycles of history, we seem to spend as much time looking back on our past as we do headed toward it. The following is a collection of excerpts discovered in a pamphlet compiled by Rena Davis (New Boston’s long time librarian) titled, Under the Firehouse Roof: 144 Years of Firefighting History published around 1989. Our focus is on the information contained regarding New Boston’s fire houses.

  • At the 1845 town meeting the New Boston Fire Insurance Company (NBFIC) sponsored an article which read, “to see if the town will vote a sum of money to purchase a fire engine and erect an engine house for the use of the town.” The article was defeated but at a special meeting on November 29th of the same year $25 was appropriated to fix up a room under the town house for safe keeping of the fire engine.
  • In 1872, the town records tell about building an engine and hearse house for $412.06 and it is believed this was in the lower village by the town house…For some reason the town was slow to finish building the engine house and the clerk’s rcords show that on April 5, 1875 the fire company appointed committee of three…to meet with the selectman in regards to finishing the house. It took another year of waiting, but they finally did get $105 at the 1876 town meeting for that purpose…This engine and hearse house burned in the 1887 village fire…
  • The fire engine was housed at different barns until a new fire house was built..[In 1889] The town appropriated $1200 and James Whipple donated another $300 so there was a total of $1500 toward rebuilding a new fire house. It took 26 days to complete the new building…This had two doors facing the street and these two bays served the department until more room was needed and a side addition was built with the doors facing the common.
  • The old fire house was just too small for three fire trucks and still have work space. The fire wards drew up plans…and presented these plans at the 1949 town meeting. It was turned down by the voters so a remodeling job was done…at a cost of $2000…This made extra room, but not nearly enough.
  • [In 1968] There was talk of converting the old high school building into a combination fire house and police station, but that didn’t prove feasible……At the 1972 town meeting it was voted 140 in favor and 44 against to build a fire house [at a total cost not to exceed $47,000] and the fire company was to contribute $7000 from its building fund. However a special town meeting was called for June 13 for the purpose to reconsider the location of the new firehouse which had been approved in March…but the voters upheld the vote in the affirmative…
  • Kennedy brothers were the lowest bidders…and contracts were signed in October 1972 to construct the new fire house on the site of the old high school. It was completed within a year. The old fire house was to be used to store historic relics.
  • At the March meeting in 1977, it was proposed that the old firehouse be converted into town office space and $15,000 to be spent for an addition to the new fire house to store the [historic relics] and provide more storage space for the firemen. The North Branch Builders built the addition onto the fire house.

This history of New Boston Fire Department is written with the sincere hope that it has given the citizens of New Boston a greater understanding and appreciation for those firemen who volunteer so much time and effort towards protecting the residents of New Boston.

On March 14, 2017, the voters of New Boston were faced with the decision to design and construct a new fire and EMS facility for $2,510,000. Keeping consistent with our past, this warrant article did not pass the first time it was asked. New Boston citizens have always been thrifty and required the information necessary to be convinced to of the absolute need of any request from any department. New Boston citizens have always been, for nearly 175 years it seems, to be reasonable and exercise good judgment when it comes to matters affecting the welfare of the community and its people.