History Of The Plainville Fire Department
The Plainville Fire Department is of comparatively modern development as our ancestors depended on the well and fire bucket, but as the center of the town grew to the business section it was seen that a better system must be used. After the East section was supplied with running water, on East Bacon Street, four hydrants were placed in position to cover the center at least, and a company was organized to use them in case of need, known as " The Wampum Hose Company Number 1". Several of whose family members still reside among us. This was about 1881. This company lasted for a number of years and was a leader in social affairs with balls, suppers, and other activities. Their only equipment was a four-wheeled hose reel and hose, and of course a silver-plated speaking trumpet for the foreman.
Their meeting placed was in the former Grange Hall altered over the town blacksmith shop. After their disbandment, for a number of years, no effort was made to replace them, the citizens depending on North Attleborough for help in case of need which was always cheerfully furnished.
In 1903 it was felt that better protection must be had and a meeting was called by Charles Brown of Wrentham, in the old Chapel Aid building, better known as the Shoestring factory. Mr. Brown was at that time Chairman of the Board of Engineers of Wrentham, which Town we were then part of. On his appeal the following citizens signed as prospective members: Frank T. Maintien, Frank Coggleshall, George A. Stark, Richard Barton, August Colliers, Charles Reed, Fritz Hartman, Charles Breen, Fred Northup, Clint Gay, Paul Wolf, Lewis Martin, H.Boeger Sr., Fred Fuller, James Brady, George Wheeler, J.Englebert, Frank Sandland, C.E.Cunningham, Oren Simpson, Edward A. Coombs, Joseph Brady, Edward Nelson, William Graham, George Maxcy, and Leon E Olney
A meeting to organize was held on July 14, 1903, with 17 members present as it had been decided to divide and form a Hook and Ladder Company. The following officers were elected: Fred W Northup, Captain, Frank T. Maintien, 1st Lieutenant, August Colliers, 2nd Lieutenant, and J.Engelbert, Clerk. Standing Committee Members: George Stark, Edward A. Coombs, Leon E Olney, and Joseph Brady, Steward. It was decided to name the company "The Matchinocket Engine Company Number 1".
Later, after the division of the Town, it was changed to "The Plainville Fire Company". The apparatus has developed from the primitive hand tub to the present outfit of the most modern fire fighting machines procurable, of a value of at least $25,000.
When the Town decided that a Fire House should be built H. Eugene Coombs and Fred W Northup were appointed to a building committee and allowed $1000. The present quarters without the later additions were erected at a cost of $700, one of the few cases in town affairs where an appropriation was too large. An earnest effort is afoot to build more modern quarters when the town park is in order and the town offices, the Public Library, and the Fire Department may be properly housed.
The first alarm was for a fire on East Bacon Street in the small shop on the premises of Charles Chase, one winter morning when the slush was knee-deep and no water available, so the fire laddies put out what was left with snowballs. This was the standing joke with the members of the Wrentham Department and we were reminded of it many times but retorted that we did not take our horse into the woods and burn him up as happened in a certain Wrentham forest fire. One incident of this fire is worth recording. A certain well-known member at the alarm rushed from the shop and reached the fire with shop slippers on his feet and his rubber boots in his hands, after running through deep slush for a quarter mile; but he got there. The Department has been fortunate in quenching many dangerous fires and seldom lost out when alarmed in time. Twice the Town Hall has burned, but on the first occasion, the pressure was so low that it was not possible to save it. Many of the members were in Virginia at Army maneuvers with the National Guard. This was on Labor Day 1904. The second time great work was done, and damage was held to a small loss. Another was the loss of the G.A.R. building with many valuable records and relics on December 26, 1905, arising from a burning fat kettle in the bakery on the first floor. The fire in the Land Co.'s. shop is well remembered, and the community was saved from a great loss by the efficient work of the Department in all night fight.
The members have been very successful in the athletic competition with other Departments and have a large number of trophy cups, pictures and etc.; also relics of the various fires.
The members who have passed away are remembered each Memorial Day with flags and flowers.
Few towns of our wealth and population have passed from hand-drawn and horse-drawn to all motorized apparatus in 25 years. This is because public sentiment and common sense have ever been behind the Department.