Hopkinton gains national attention on the Third Monday April each year. Since 1924 the Boston Athletic Association’s Marathon has started in Hopkinton. Thousands of runners from all over the world gather on Main Street to begin their 26 mile run to Boston.
The Hopkinton Fire Department organized under the control of a single chief, has been serving the community for over 132 years.
At this point, we have been unable to pinpoint exactly when the various departments were first organized. The department as we know it today, the Hopkinton Fire Department was created March 2, 1874. We do know that several independent companies existed prior to the formal organization of the department in March 1874.
We also know that fire protection was a concern of the community as far back as 1827. At the March 1827 Town Meeting, Article #4 address the purchase of a fire engine. Later that year at the May 7th meeting, the town voted to grant the amount of $200 for the purchase of a fire engine with the stipulation that at least $200 additional dollars must be raised by subscription from the residents.
In 1838 at the April 2nd meeting, another Article this #8 of the Town Meeting Warrant addressed purchasing a second fire engine.
In the beginning and prior to the organization of a central fire department the independent stations were named as follows: Quinsigamond No. 1, Edwards Hopkinton No. 2 (Woodville) and Quinobequin Engine No. 3. The department initially operated with buckets and eventually obtained several hand tubs. Even after the consolidation into a unified department, the stations continued to go by their independent names.
Two of the hand tubs the Quansigamog No. 1 and the Edward Hopkins No. 2 are still known to exist and are intact. Private collectors in Maine currently own both. A fire destroyed Quinobequin No. 3, in 1972. A private collector was also holding this tub at the time it was destroyed.
In December of 1844, “Union Engine #4 was organized to protect the area of Hopkinton referred to as “Unionville”. This company remained part of the Hopkinton Fire Department for less than two years. In 1846, the Town of Ashland was incorporated, and Unionville was annexed into Ashland, taking with it “Union Engine #4”.
This annexation was not well received by the town folks in Hopkinton who had mounted a charge to avoid the creation of Ashland. They were also upset over the loss of the engine, which they had just purchased. On August 13, 1846, a group of firefighters under orders from the Hopkinton Selectmen marched into Ashland to retrieve their engine.
They found the engine in a shed under lock and key. They broke into the shed and attached the engine to a team of horses driven by S.D. Davenport a boot manufacturer from Hopkinton who just happen to be in Ashland after unloading a load of boots at the Ashland train depot. The firefighters were so concerned that Ashland would make an attempt to reclaim the fire apparatus, that they disassembled the tub and spread the parts throughout the town rendering it useless. It was never returned to operating form and was eventually sold for scrap in the 1940’s.
The department in addition to operating at least three engines also had several ladder companies. The oldest Ladder Company was known as the General Grant Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. The earliest documented references of this company back to December 18, 1873. The reference indicated that several hook and ladder members we fined for not attending a fire the night before.
The second ladder company was known as the “Old Highland Hook and Ladder Company #1.” This was a horse drawn unit and our earliest records and photos of this company are circa 1911. What is unknown at this time is whether both the General Grant and the Old Highland Hook and Ladder companies co-existed or whether the Old Highland succeeded General Grant.
The earliest known motorized piece of equipment is 1915 Pope Hartford Chemical Wagon. This unit was located at station one and newly purchased when the town celebrated its 200 Anniversary in 1915.
At some point engine 3 was closed, but we have yet to uncover when this occurred or why.
- April 19, 1853 - The town accepts delivery of Three Hunneman Hand Tubs:
- Quansigamog No. 1 receives Hunneman Serial Number 475
- Edward Hopkins No. 2 receives Hunneman Serial Number 476
- Quinobequin No. 3 receives Hunneman Serial Number 474
- September 8-10, 1858 - Edwards Hopkins (Woodville Engine #2) wins the hand pumping competition at the Grand Firemen’s Muster held in Worcester, MA. Prize awarded was $400.00 cash.
- March 2, 1874- By a vote of the town meeting, the selectmen are ordered to create an organized fire department.
- April 6, 1874-Board of Selectmen appoint D.L. Bridges August Bridges, Frederick Whittemore, A Woolson, Granby Wood, George Hunt and F.S. Phipps to the newly created Board of Engineers.
- April 13, 1874-Board of Engineers hold first official meeting. D.L. Bridges is appointed as the First Chief Engineer. The existing volunteer companies are organized under one centralized leadership and the Hopkinton Fire Department is created.
- May 5, 1874-The first official set of operating rules for the fire department are voted on and approved
- March 21, 1876 – First of three major fires destroys a large boot factory, [employing 800] a post office, a hotel, a church, [unidentified, but not FCCH. It was destroyed in the 2nd fire.] numerous other buildings on the North side of Main Street.” The shoe factory rebuilt, as did the public buildings, but many of the smaller businesses never reopened.
- April 4, 1882 – A second major fire destroyed the largest shoe factory, which alone employed 800 people, wiped out most of Hopkinton’s business section including the Congregational Church, which was reduced to ashes in 20 minutes. In the aftermath of the Great Fire the church called for a day of fasting and prayer.
- Unlike the first fire, the second fire had a lasting effect on the town. The population gradually declined. The largest factory had been destroyed, was never rebuilt and people began to seek employment elsewhere. The businesses that were destroyed relocated elsewhere, and residents who had been employed by the businesses left.
- August 22, 1895 – Quinsigamond No. 1 establishes a New World record for height of a hand drawn pumper. The height obtained was 225 feet at the Firemen’s Muster – Waltham, Mass.
- March 15, 1900 – Third major fire which would end Hopkinton’s industrial age. In 1865 the population was 6,000, but by the end of 1900 it was down to 2,400, back to where it was in the late 1830s, before the industrial boom hit the town. On this date, the town hall and four business blocks were destroyed. This was approximately the same area that had been burned out in 1882.
- People went where the jobs were, and they were no longer in Hopkinton. The last of the shoe industry closed its doors in 1901. Many of the businesses and the people moved to Framingham.
- October 17, 1908 – Edwards Hopkins (Woodville Engine #2) again wins Fireman’s Muster with hand drawn pumper.
- 1915 – Pope Hartford Chemical Wagon is put in-service. Thought to be the first motorized fire apparatus in the Town of Hopkinton.
- November 1, 1947 – Future Chief, Arthur Stewart is appointed to the department by Chief Joseph Pyne.
- January 19, 1964 – Chief Joseph Pyne is injured in a fire at his home.
- March 1964 - Chief Pyne succumbs to his injuries.
- March 1964 - Arthur Stewart is appointed the first full-time Chief of Department
- February 1978 – Major blizzard blankets New England. Using snow mobiles, fire department personnel remove numerous motorized stranded in their vehicles on Interstate 495. Many motorists are housed at fire headquarters for several days.
- August 1, 1988 – Chief Stewart retires.
- August 1, 1988 - Chief Richard MacMillian is appointed to succeed Chief Stewart.
- October 27, 1997 – Chief Richard MacMillian retires.
- October 27, 1997 – Chief Gary T. Daugherty, Sr. is appointed to succeed Chief MacMillian. Chief Daugherty is the first chief hired from outside the department.
- December 15, 1997 – Second ambulance is placed in service to help handle increased demands for EMS service.
- December 3, 1999 – Hopkinton responds to Worcester Cold Storage fire to assist Worcester Fire Department who suffered the loss of six firefighters while fighting this fire.
- July 24, 2002 - House explosion kills two children. House is located two doors from fire headquarters.
- September 15, 2006 - Fire Department begins delivering Paramedic Level EMS service to the town.