Skip to main content

0500. Fire Department

 Record Group
Identifier: 0500
The origins of the Boston Fire Department date back to 1678 with the establishment of the first engine company and the receipt of the first hand fire engine in North America. The Board of Fire Wards was established on February 1, 1711. Prominent men were chosen as Fire Wards and were responsible for the operation and maintenance of the equipment assigned to their ward. Chapter 52 of the Acts of 1825, "An Act Establishing a Fire Department in the City of Boston and an Ordinance for the preventing and extinguishing of fires and establishing a fire department" went into full operation in April of 1826. With this legislation, the Board of Fire Wards was dissolved. All records and property belonging to the city were transferred to the Chief Engineer in May of 1826. By the reorganization in 1837, the Fire Department changed from a partially volunteer to a paid fire department. On June 16, 1851, the City Council passed an order to erect a system of telegraphic fire alarms and the first regular alarm on the new system was received on April 29, 1852. On January 1, 1859, two new steam engines were put in service replacing two hand engines. On October 24, 1873, the City Council passed an ordinance creating a Board of Fire Commissioners to oversee the department. Section 9 of Chapter 449 of the Acts of 1895, an act to amend the City Charter, abolished the Board of Fire Commissioners and placed the Department under the charge of one Fire Commissioner. The Chief Engineer serves as the Executive Officer of the Commissioner and directs the work of the members of the Department.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Fire Commissioner proceedings

 Series
Identifier: 0500.013
Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of chronological bound volumes of the proceedings of the mostly daily meetings of the Board of Fire Commissioners, as well as the proceedings of what later became a single Fire Commissioner. The Board of Fire Commissioners was abolished and replaced by a single Fire Commissioner on July 1, 1895. The minutes record the actions of the Board of Fire Commissioners and the single Fire Commissioner on issues involving personnel, supplies, equipment, etc.

Dates: 1873-1954 with gaps

Fire Commissioner records

 Series
Identifier: 0500.016
Scope and Contents This series includes subjects files of the Fire Commissioner with the bulk of the files from the 1990s and early 2000s. Fire Commissioners during this period include, Commissioner Martin Pierce, Commissioner Paul Christian, Acting Commissioner Dennis DiMarzio, and Commissioner Roderick Fraser. This series also includes historical files, reports, photographs, etc. kept in the Commissioner's Office for reference purposes. The subject files when transferred to the Archives were arranged in...
Dates: circa 1940-2015; Majority of material found in , 1990-2006

Fire Commissioner's office correspondence

 Series
Identifier: 0500.014
Scope and Contents note This series consists of chronological bound volumes of correspondence and loose letters documenting the day to day business and activities of the office of the Board of Fire Commissioners, and later the Office of the Fire Commissioner. The letters, signed by the Fire Commissioner and other staff including the Clerk and Secretary, are addressed to various organizations and businesses, attorney’s offices, city departments, city council members, members of the state legislature, and private...
Dates: 1893-1911 with gaps