Department History

Years 1901 - 1984
Fire Department Logo

In 1901, Augustine Cote joined the Fire Department. Arriving from Canada, he replaced one of the members of Engine No. 2. His interest and insight proved invaluable. He became Call Chief on January 6, 1908 and permanent Chief in 1913.

In the year 1903, Fire Station No. 4 was constructed on South Main Street. One Engine was placed in this station.

Station No. 5 was built on Social Street in 1912.

In 1913, Chief Cote had to motorize his equipment. The Department purchased a Knox gas Engine for $1700.00. This piece was kept in service for twenty-three years. In 1914, a complete machine shop was added to Station NO. 5. In 1920, another Engine was added a White Pumper.

The year 1926 showed a reorganization of the Fire Department as a result of the City's growth. Station No. 2 was built on Cumberland Hill Road and became Fire Alarm Headquarters. Station No. 3 on North Main Street was also completed this year. In 1922, the Department went to an 84 hour week/2 platoon system. In 1927, a new innovation was added to the area. Chief Cote, knowing that training was important, had a drill tower constructed at Station No. 5 to teach the firemen climbing skills as well as hose handling, in 1928, Station No. 6 was built on Fairmount Street. As this station was completed, the age of gas driven Engines became a reality. The phasing out of all hand pumps and horse drawn vehicles was completed.

In 1932, the Chief felt that a new type of protection for the citizens of Woonsocket was needed, so the men built a new type of truck. It was to be called Rescue No. I and created interest all over the East. Departments from afar came to see this piece of equipment, the first of its kind in the area.

By 1934, all equipment was improved. Some trucks were purchased and were rebuilt in the shop by the men on duty.

In the years of 1936 and 1938, disaster came to the City in the form of flood and hurricane, in 1945, the Department again went to shorter hours, 70 hour week/2 platoon system. At this time, there were six Engines, three Ladder Companies, one Rescue and one Fire Alarm truck.

In 1951, the Department went to a 56 hour week/3 platoon system with 129 men. Shortly thereafter. Chief Cote retired and was succeeded by Chief Roy on April 10, 1954.

During this time, a new Rescue was purchased to replace the original one built in 1932. in 1955, the "Great Flood" of Woonsocket hit and the Department worked long hours helping the needy.

In 1956 and 1957, new equipment was purchased to replace old trucks. A 750 gpm and 1000 gpm Ward LaFrance and an 85' hydraulic ladder (American LaFrance) were purchased.

Chief Roy retired November 1, 1959 and Chief Mongeon took this position on March 20, 1960.

In 1961, the stations built in 1845 and 1903 were replaced and relocated to Station No. I on Providence Street and Station No. 4 on Mendon Road. Also, two Ladder trucks and a Pumper were bought in a total bond program. The next new piece was purchased in 1965 (another Ward 1000 gpm) and then a 1969 Maxim Foam Pumper.

In 1970, the Department went to a 50 hour week with a Kelly day off. in 1971, to a 46 hour Kelly. The total complement was 131 men, six Engines, two Ladder trucks (with one spare), one Rescue, one Fire Alarm Truck, one Fire Prevention car, one Training Director's car, one mechanic's truck, one Deputy Chief's car and one Chief's car.

In 1972, the Department went to a 42 hour week/4 platoon system consisting of two 10 hour days and two 14 hour nights, in 1974, Chief Mongeon was overcome at a fire on Mill Street and subsequently retired on February 27, 1974. Gerald P. Landry was named Chief on April 24, 1974.

In 1975, the City Purchased a new Hahn 1250 gpm pumper replacing a 1945 Seagrave V12. Another pumper was added in 1976, a 1250 gpm, replacing the 1956 Ward LaFrance 750 gpm pumper. in 1977 a Hahn 1250 gpm was added, replacing the 1957 Ward LaFrance 1000 gpm. In 1980, a cost saving program affecting the City made it necessary to decommission Engine No. 5, thus reducing the Department to five Engines, two Ladders, one Rescue and one Deputy.

In 1983, Station No. 5 on Social Street was sold to Woonsocket Housing Authority and Station No. 2 underwent extensive renovations. Ladder No. 2, Rescue I and headquarters were then transferred from No. 5 to No. 2 Station.

In 1984, amid much controversy, a second Rescue was added to the Department and stationed at Station No. 3. The Rescue Division now included privates serving as one Rescue Captain, eight Rescue Lieutenants (EMT-C qualified) and eight Rescue Drivers (EMT qualified). One Rescue Lt. served as Rescue Training Officer to maintain the skills obtained through R.I. State training and licensure. Added to the Department to augment Rescue 2, were two Roving Firefighters who could be assigned at the Deputy's discretion to cut overtime costs. The Chief's Aide position was de-classified to Fire Clerk and the first female was accepted into the Department. This brought total personnel to 137.

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