Retired Westport Fire Apparatus
In the early 1920’s a hand drawn O. J. Child’s chemical wagon was housed at the Head of Westport and was hauled by citizen to the scene of a fire. The wagon known as Chemical No. 1 used 22 pounds of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) mix with 40 gallons of water in a large tank, when the water was needed 7 pounds of sulfuric acid was turned into the solution causing a chemical reaction and the creation of Carbon dioxide gas which propelled the water out of the nozzle. Chemical No.1 is still in the possession of the Westport Fire Department.
1890 Seagraves Hose Cart
This early Seagraves hose cart was likely never used to fight fires in Westport, however it is still a powerful reminder of the the amount of work early firefighters had to expend just to get equipment to the scene of an emergency. The cart would be pulled by as many as 20 firefighter to the scene of a fire, once there the hose would be unrolled off the large real, connected to the pump then finally to the fire. Nozzle was attached and water pumped onto the fire. The hose cart is housed in the Central Village Station along with Chemical No.1.
Westport Fire Department’s first motorized engine was constructed by members of the Westport Volunteer Fire Company in 1927 by converting an early (Circa 1920) Chevrolet Touring Car. Chemical fire extinguishers were mounted on the car and a small 35 gallon tank and pump provided water to the fire hose. In its latter years it was relegated to forestry service. The last entry for the “Chevy pump” appears in the department’s gas records of April 1941 suggesting that the engine was removed from service around that time.
There were apparently 2 more homemade fire apparatus built in a short time between 1928 and 1937 according to following excerpts from a history of the department written in the 10th anniversary Firefighters Ball Program.
“The firemen soon found that a lack of a water supply was a great handicap. Not to be beaten by this problem the volunteers salvaged and old truck and three big tanks. The tanks were mounted on the truck, connected together and filled with water…. This contraption worked well but in short order the truck broke down. Then another but better second hand truck was acquired and upon it was mounted a tank of 275 gallon capacity.”
No more definitive information survives and no pictures of these early home-made trucks have been found.
June 1928 Fall River Herald New
1928 Maxim Engine 2
This is the first commercially manufactured fire apparatus purchased for the Westport Fire Department. Built by Maxim Motors in Middleboro, MA and purchased by a vote of the Town Meeting for $9,200. The engine is a triple combination meaning it carries water, hose and a fire pump; in the early days of motorized fire apparatus most equipment typically served only one or two of these functions. The engine is quickly put to the test shortly after delivery and is considered a success after a fire at Charles Gifford’s Store at Westport Point.
In 1941 the original motor and rear end were replaced. A Buda Motor purchased from Maxim Motors for $775.30 and the rear end for $354.00. These were installed at Carlton Macomber’s Garage, Carlton being paid $9.95 for labor and Stanley Gifford being paid $37.00 for his work.
This Engine is can still be seen regularly at the Westport July 4th Parade and is currently housed at the Central Village Station.
Engine # 215185A Makers #659 GVW 12000
Engine 1 Circa 1935
Left to right Bill Smith, Joe Cieto, Harold Wordell, Stuart Smith, George Howland, Thomas Lees, Alston Potter (sitting), Steve Chase and Chief Hammond far right
1931 Mack Engine 1
One of the most significant engines ever operated by the Westport Fire Department, this engine was the brainchild of then Chief Erving Hammond and Deputy Stanley Gifford. The truck featured a 1000 gallon water tank which was considered an enormous amount of water in 1931, in fact there was a great deal of doubt that the truck would work. The only manufacturer who would undertake the production of such an engine was Mack and at that they desperately tried to convince Chief Hammond to reduce the tank size. In the end this engine became a prototype for many rural fire departments and served the town for 32 years.
This engine sat rusting in a Westport field for nearly 40 years until it was purchased for the department in 2006. A plan to refurbish the engine to her original glory met with the realization of how badly damaged the truck had become during her 4 decades of inactivity and it was decided to sell the engine after any salvageable equipment has removed.
Engine # BCE13-61F Makers # 6BC631019 GVW 11,700
Picture Coming Soon
The image from 1937 shows what appears to be an early model Desoto. No records have been found that clearly define the use of this vehicle, possible it was used on fire patrols which were common during that time period. The Desoto is last mentioned in the department record in 1941.
Studebaker Engine 3
Shown in this 1938 photo the 1920’s vintage Studebaker is housed in the North Westport Station.
Circa 1938 With Chief Lynwood Potter from a Herald News photo
1931 Brockway Engine 3
In April of 1938 the department bought a used truck chassis and converted the same into a fire engine. The used Brockway chassis was purchased from International Truck Motors for the sum of $60.00. The work converting the chassis was completed by Chief Potter and Deputy Stanley Gifford. The engine replaces the Studebaker in the North Westport Station. The engine was equipped with a 500 gallon tank, 200 gallon pump, 350 feet of 2 ½ “hose, 400 feet of 1 ½” hose, 2 Fomite and 2 Soda & Acid Extinguishers.
Buffalo Chassis circa 1942 1967 International Chassis circa 1999
1942 Buffalo Engine 3
Delivered during World War II all the chrome and brightwork on the engine came painted with flat paint so it would not reflect light and reveal any useful information to the enemy. It is told that the firemen immediately removed the flat paint on delivery and polished up the chrome risking the wrath of the Town’s Air Raid Warden. The purchase price in 1942 was $6,500. This engine served North Westport for many years until it was retrofit with a new International cab and chassis in 1967. It was finally retired from service in 2000 as the Department’s longest serving Engine to date.
Buffalo Chassis Engine # 133719 Makers # A2073 GVW 22,500
International Chassis Engine # 521652 Chassis # 416070H739134 GVW 24,000
1938 Autocar Engine 4
Purchased in 1946 for $1,500 this was another example of the members of the department converting an old truck, in this case an old oil truck, into a piece of firefighting equipment. This truck was stationed at the Head of Westport then transferred to the Westport Highway Department.
Engine # 587347 Makers # A15058 GVW 14,200
Circa 1975 Circa 1953
1951 Farrar/International Engine 1
A long time favorite of the men who operated this engine because of its pump could be engaged and pressure set before the operator left the cab. It was ideally suited for use by a single firefighter as was the practice at the time.
Engine # RD450-11050 Makers # 12924 GVW 26,000
1952 International/Farrar Engine 4
Similar in design and construction to the 1951 Engine 1, but with a 750 gallon per minute front mounted pump, this engine served the Head of Westport for many years. It was sent to the Fall River Fire Department for use as a forestry truck in the State Forest and returned to Westport in 1986 where it was used for a short time as a spare forestry piece. It was sold at public auction in the late 1980’s and is privately owned.
The bell form this engine was re-plated in nickel and mounted on a walnut stand. It can still be seen in the Foyer of the Central Village Station.
Engine # RD450-20179 Makers # 21521 GVW 36,000
1953 Maxim Engine 5
This engine was purchased shortly after a devastating fire that claimed the lives of 9 members of the Audette family. The first Westport Engine capable of pumping 1000 gallons per minute and the last of the open cab fire trucks in Westport it remained in service until 1986.
Engine #353092 Makers # 1897 GVW 32,000
1961 International/Farrar Engine 2
Equipped with a 750 gallon per minute front mounted pump and 1000 gallon water tank Engine 2 was the workhorse of the Central Village Station for nearly 30 years. The truck was nearly lost during a fire September 21, 1984, in Westport Harbor at the summer home of former U. S. Secretary of the Treasury G. William Miller. The Engine remained in service as a spare engine until it was sold at public auction some years later.
1962 International/Farrar Forestry 2
The durable International Model 1700 Chassis with All Wheel Drive was ideally suited for forestry work. The 800 gallon water tank and 500 Gallon per minute front mounted pump combined with the ability to “Pump and Roll” was a winning combination. The truck also has a heavy duty rear mounted winch capable of extracting the engine if it became stuck.
At some point the Department receives 2 government surplus DUKWs from Civil Defense. Colloquially and lovingly referred to as “ducks”, these amphibious vehicles were used for water rescue for a short time.
Dodge Civil Defense/Forestry
Acquired in 1977 a Military surplus meets 275 gallon oil tank to produce yet another Westport conversion for use as a forestry unit. this truck saw service through 1986.
1974 Ford/Farrar Engine 1
This Engine was originally painted bright yellow but was repainted to meet the requirements of the department. Serving the North End of town throughout its entire career it was eventually transferred to the Highway Department. She has once again been repainted and is now dark green. It was the last engine built by the Farrar Company of Woodville MA to serve the Westport Fire Department.
1982 Ford/4Guys Tanker 1
Holding 2100 gallons of water this Tanker was able to fill in 2 minutes and dump its entire load in just under 1 minute. First due at nearly all Westport fires while in front-line service, this tanker was regularly requested throughout Bristol County during large fire incidents. The last gasoline engine purchased for the Westport Fire Department the truck was retired from service in 2011.
1982 Mini pumper Engine 4
Used primarily as a forestry unit in the North End of Town, it was well suited for off road travel. The engine carried the department's second set of hydraulic rescue tools routinely responding to motor vehicle crashes. Converted to a utility truck with a snow plow in 2007 the truck ironically was destroyed by a fire in 2008.
Shown here the tank arrives at Diman
1979 Ford Tanker 2
The last “home-made” fire apparatus built by the Westport Fire Department with the assistance of the students of Diman Vocational High School, was a 2000 gallon oil tank mounted on a Ford Cabover chassis lovingly referred to as “The Red Tomato” the seriously underpowered chassis gave the tanker a top speed of 35 mph, downhill, with a good stiff wind behind her.
1982 Ford/FTI Engine 7
Originally seeing service at the Westover Air Base this engine came to Westport painted lime green. With the paint color corrected to the proper color and the tank size increased from 500 to 800 gallons the engine was a favorite of many of the members due to the ease of use and drivability.
1983 Ford/Allegheny Forestry 1
Originally built for Dartmouth District No. 1 this engine was purchased from Dartmouth District No. 2 in 2004 to fill a gap created when several Westport Engines broke down. This engine filled in as a reserve engine for several years and was then relegated to forestry service.
1978 Ford/Pierce 1250/500
Originally purchased for Dartmouth Fire District No. 1, it was in obtained 2009 as a replacement for several trucks that had broken down. Originally designated Engine 5 it was changed to Engine 4 in 2012. Engine 4 served as a reserve engine until a fatal breakdown in 2013.
1986 GMC/Ranger Engine 6
Operating as the first due engine for the South End of town, Engine 6 is the last of the front mounted pumps purchased by the department. I was removed from service in 2014 and transferred to the Westport Highway Department.
Emergency Medical Rescues
Ambulance service is first offered to the citizens of Westport by the police department beginning October 12, 1937. The police would continue to provide this service for the next 37 years until July 1, 1974 when the fire department officially assumed the responsibility of providing emergency care.
This is an example of a 1953 Cadillac Ambulance similar to the one once operated by the Westport Police Department.
A 1966 Oldsmobile like the one pictured here was the last ambulance operated by the police. Referred to as “the Red Bear” it served as a backup ambulance for the fire department for several years.
1974 GMC Rescue 1
The Department's first modular style ambulance on a 1974 GMC chassis saw service with the department through 1985. Donations to build and equip this ambulance came into the newly established Westport Ambulance Trust fund totaled $2,481.08
2000 Chevrolet/Wheeled Coach Medical Rescue 3
This reserve medical unit was the last of the custom build medical rescues specially built to fit into the former Central Village Fire Station.
Over the years the Westport Fire Department has had several Chevrolet Carryalls serving as the Chief’s command vehicle. The carry-alls were also used as an ambulance in the early days of EMS in the fire department.
1941 Ford Muster Truck
While never an official Westport engine this old truck served as a muster truck for the North Westport Firefighter’s Association.