Rindge Fire Department traces roots to ‘Great Fire’

  • The town’s second fire truck – purchased in 1936 – is currently housed at the Rindge Historical Society Museum. The town started its fire department in 1925 after a great fire burned down several buildings in the town center. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, August 07, 2018 10:46AM

“The Great Fire of 1925” in Rindge caused a great deal of destruction and led town leaders to create the town’s fire department.

Prior to 1925, the town of Rindge was without an organized fire department and had little, if any, equipment to fight fires in town outside of volunteer bucket brigades, according to the book “Town on the Border: Rindge, New Hampshire, 1874 - 1988.”

There were three fire wards in town, with each village having a small amount of equipment – things like portable pumps, hoses, back pack tanks and extinguishers – to be used in case of a fire, Craig Hoyt wrote in an article titled “The Great Fire of 1925” which appeared the The Rindge Connection in March 2009.

Prior to the establishment of the fire department, the fire ward would sound an alarm – typically a church bell – and take the equipment to the scene of the fire. In that time, any able-bodied man in the vicinity of the fire could be summoned to become a firefighter.

All of this changed after “The Great Fire of 1925.”

On April 8, 1925, a fire broke out in a barn of E.A. Fuller’s Store on the common. The fire would destroy several buildings, including the aforementioned barn, Fuller’s house and store – which contained the post office at the time, and two residential properties. Many nearby roofs and a field about a half mile away also caught fire. The fires were put out before any major damage occurred.

“The fire proved too much for the limited amount of equipment mentioned above, and bucket brigades were formed,” Hoyt wrote. “By this time the flames had gained too much headway to save any of the properties that were eventually lost.”

Help was called in from a number of nearby towns – including Winchendon and Baldwinville, Massachusetts, Peterborough, Fitzwilliam and Jaffrey – but the amount of obtainable water nearby proved inadequate. As many as 300 people are reported to have helped.

After noting the devastation of the fire, the town finally decided enough was enough and founded the fire department in August of 1925.

A fire truck was purchased that year and kept in the basement of Harris Rice, a former selectman who lived next to the Ingalls Memorial Library. It was housed there, along with its replacement in 1936, until the current station was built in 1955 on land given to the town by Rice.