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Fire Commissioner records

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 groups by years. It was found that many of the files overlapped several years and several Commissioners so it was decided to arrange all of the files alphabetically in one group. There were also a small amount of files from previous Commissioners with the earliest being the files on Mutual Aid which date back to the 1940s. The historical files include reports and photographs on some of the major fires in Boston including the Hotel Vendome fire and collapse, Trumbull Street fire, Bellflower Street fire and others. The reports include some of the major reports on the Fire Department from the 1950s-1980s. The O'Toole Commission report from 2000 can be found in the subject files. Topics in the subject files include fire apparatus, Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project, employees and awards, Emergency Medical Services issues, Vendome memorial among many others. The photographs include several major fires in Boston including Trumbull Street fire, Bellflower Street fire, Hotel Vendome fire and collapse and Arlington Street fire.


  • circa 1940-2015
  • Majority of material found in , 1990-2006


Conditions Governing Access

Some files may be restricted. Please consult with Archivist.

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 change to a single Fire Commissioner took effect on July 1, 1895. The Chief Engineer serves as the Executive Officer of the Commissioner and directs the work of the members of the Department.


15.5 Cubic feet (15 record cartons and 3 photo boxes)

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Fire Commissioner proceedings #0500.013

Fire Commissioner's Office correspondence #0500.014

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Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

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