Skip to main content

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 citizens. Topics cover a wide range such as fire safety, compensation for damage of property by fire apparatus, the maintenance, purchase and sale of equipment, including horses, wagons, motor vehicles, hoses, hydrants and alarms, maintenance and construction of Fire Department buildings, and personnel matters. Some Mayor’s Approvals are included. The series date range is 1893-1911, 1940-1949 with gaps. The dates overlap in some of the volumes.

Dates

  • 1893-1911 with gaps

Creator

Historical note

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.

Extent

4.0 Cubic feet

Language of Materials

English

Title
Guide to the Fire Department records 0500.014
Author
Gretchen Carney
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

Contact:
201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1195
617-635-1194 (Fax)