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Fire records

 Series
Identifier: 0500.007

Scope and Contents note

This series consists of oversized chronological log books of fire alarms received and responded to by the Boston Fire Department from 1880-1967. The location and existence of earlier volumes is unknown at this time. These log books may have been in use as early as 1852 when the fire alarm telegraph system was officially accepted by the City. It is believed that the department no longer recorded fire alarms in this format after 1967. The information recorded in the logs over time include the location of the fire, time alarm received, from whom alarm received, false alarms, description of the building, owner of building, occupant of building, type of building, causes and origin of fire, commander of force, companies responding, feet of hose used, number of district chiefs present, property destroyed, insurance, alarms, extent of fire or no fire, amount of damage to building, how extinguished and remarks. Much of the information recorded in these volumes is included in the annual reports of the Fire Department.

Dates

  • 1880 May-1967 December

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

13.0 Linear feet (54 volumes)

Language of Materials

English

  • Fire alarms Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Fires Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
Title
Guide to the Fire Department records 0500.007
Author
Kristen Swett
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)