Object of the Month: October 2013 – Burrage Fire Truck

Each year during the month of October, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is commemorated by National Fire Prevention Week. Join us in taking a look into the history of Hanson’s firefighting past.

Below is an undated photograph of of the Hanson Hose No. 2 horse-drawn fire wagon taken by the South Hanson Fire Station on Main St. The two horses (named Fred and Dick) pulling the fire wagon were owned by John Ibbitson. The fireman in this photo from left to right are: Charles Burnell, Arthur Brown, Fred Brown, Sumner Josselyn, James Lowery (in the driver’s seat) and Norman MacKenzie (in the passenger seat).

Hanson Fire Hose No. 2 Fire Wagon.  From the photograph collection of the Hanson Historical Society.

Below is a photograph taken in 1910 of the first fire engine from Hose Company No. 3 in the South Hanson neighborhood of Burrage. It was one of the first fire trucks in the state of Massachusetts used to fight forest fires, which could be spotted from afar atop the fire observation tower on Bonney Hill. The firefighters from left to right were: Joseph Dowler, John Jewl, Charles Raby, John Thompson, and James Apply at the wheel.

The Hanson Fire Observation Tower, located on Bonney Hill off of High St. was built out of steel and was forty feet high with a room at the top measuring 10×10 feet, built out of wood and glass. The fire warden would sit in the room, equipped with a map of the area and a powerful set of binoculars, and make telephone calls to nearby fire stations if smoke was spotted in the nearby forest and countryside, which could be viewed for a radius of 15-20 miles. Hanson, Hanover, Marshfield, Pembroke, Duxbury, Plympton, Halifax and Whitman all contributed money for its construction. According to History of the Town of Hanson, in 1913, Cushing Thomas was in charge of the tower, and was on duty Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays which were deemed the most dangerous times for fires to occur. During WWII the tower was used to observe passing planes in addition to forest fires.

Hanson Observation Tower, 1913, From History of the Town of Hanson

Hanson Observation Tower, 1913, From History of the Town of Hanson

[Posted by Mary Blauss Edwards, Hanson Historical Society Curator]

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