1924 maxim pumper
Many years ago, a building fire that gained any headway at all before being discovered, could not be brought under control. Many a house or barn would burn to a total loss. Water would have to be brought in by wagons. Bucket brigades were formed to combat the blaze. In times past, the town hall bell was rung to alert citizens that an emergency existed. The townspeople had to vote to have the bell ring for a fire.
In 1889, Littleton acquired a small amount of firefighting equipment. Littleton Depot suffered several fires that damaged or destroyed many buildings. Almost one hundred men were paid to watch for fires in and around the areas.
In 1902, a committee was appointed to look into buying a hand pumper for the town. It was decided then not to buy the equipment. The voting continued to be negative in 1903. It was not until 1905 that the town purchased its first modest supply of firefighting equipment. In 1905, the town paid ten dollars for pails, ladders and other hand tools. These purchases continued over the next few years and by 1909 the town had twelve portable hand pumps, hose, a hose and ladder wagon, fire hooks and tools.
On March 25th 1912, after the Ayer Fire Department extinguished a fire that partially destroyed a large house, the town voted to authorize the Selectmen to appoint a volunteer fire department. In 1912 three hose carts, which would be stored in various locations around town, 1500 feet of hose and coats and boots were purchase for the sum of $1105.64. Albert E. Hopkins was appointed the first Fire Chief of Littleton's first fire department.
Shortly before 1920, an Oldsmobile pickup truck was modified for the fire department, construction on the town's water system had begun and the first fire hydrants were being placed in town. In 1922, the fire alarm system was established. This system consisted of a whistle atop the Conant building in the town Common and a Gamewell Fire Alarm transmitter in the telephone company building. A used Oldsmobile truck was purchased and outfitted with soda-acid tanks, hose and nozzles. The ladder wagon was sold and members of the volunteer fire department earned fifty cents an hour. Littleton now had its first piece of motorized fire apparatus.
In 1925 the town purchased a new Maxim triple combination pumper built by Maxim Motor Company in Middleboro, Massachusetts. The truck had a 400 gallon per minute pump, carried 200 gallons of water, hose, nozzles and ladder. This truck would serve the town for 24 years. In 1936 the town purchased a new Diamond T fire truck, outfitted similar to the Maxim. This truck served the town for 26 years. Later, in 1940, Chief Hopkins retired after many years of service and was replaced by Chief Blood who was later replaced in 1943 by Chief Flint Furbush.
In 1946 a war surplus Ford truck was purchased from the U.S. Army. This truck's pumping capacity boosted the town's total to 1100 gallons a minute. In 1948, the sum of $11,000 was approved to replace the current Maxim with a new Maxim. The current Fire Alarm system was also upgraded. The fire alarm system as well as firefighting equipment and radio communications were also improved and enhanced over the next 12 years.
In 1961 a new Maxim pumper was purchased to replace the Diamond T. This truck served the town until 1994 when it was sold to a local quarry operation for dust control purposes. Chief Furbush retired around this time and was replaced by Chief Clarence Hunt. In 1964, a Ford walk-through step van was purchased. This rescue truck carried many varied rescue tools and equipment along with self contained breathing apparatus and was a safe haven from the elements during prolonged operations. The rescue truck remained in service until 1988 when it was traded along with an old ladder truck for a new ladder truck. It was around this time that Engine 2, a Dodge Power Wagon, all wheel drive pumper was purchased. This aggressive piece of apparatus could cross streams and knock over small trees. It served the town until 1992.
In 1967 John McGovern was appointed Chief. He served well in his position until his death in 1976. He was succeeded by Chief James Ogilvie who served until 1981 when he was replaced by Robert (Robbie) Maynard who served as Acting Chief until Lt. Gary McCarraher was promoted to Fire Chief.
In 1972 a new Maxim S-Model triple combination pumper was purchased. The new pumper was fitted with 500 gallons of water, could pump 1000 gallons a minute and included a built-in foam tank for fighting petroleum fires. This piece of apparatus served the town until 1996.
In 1978 the town purchased a Chevrolet ambulance which served the town until being replaced in 1985 by a Ford ambulance. The 1985 Ford ambulance was in turn replaced by a 1994 Ford/Horton ambulance. The retired 1985 Ford ambulance remained within the department as the Special Operations Unit (or "the SOU" as it was more affectionately called). The SOU served the department for a number of years as a rehabilitation, communications and special operations unit until it was replaced in 2002 by a Ford/EVM rescue vehicle.
In 1984, another Maxim pumper with 1000 gallons of water and a 1000 gallon per minute pump was purchased. This truck was rebuilt once in 1998 and was finally removed from service in December 2005 after failing its annual state road inspection.
After many years of service the steel aerial on the old ladder truck bent and failed inspection, causing the truck to be retired and sold. In 1988 the town took delivery of a new Seagrave ladder truck with a rear-mount 110-foot aerial. This particular ladder truck was reportedly only the 7th unit of a new design built by Seagrave. This apparatus served the town for about 12 years before it was returned to Seagrave for rebuilding. The town was without a ladder truck for over a year, during which time the Devens Fire Department supplied a ladder truck and crew on a mutual-aid basis.
In 1991 the town decided to purchase its next fire engine based on a standard commercial chassis instead of a custom chassis. The new Engine 2 turned out to be under-powered and undersized: three firefighters could barely sit side-by-side in the cramped back seats. The truck almost immediately began to experience brake, engine, and transmission problems and was sold after 7 years.
Chief Gary McCarraher resigned from the Littleton Fire Department in 1992 to accept another fire service position in New Hampshire. Deputy Chief Bruce Larsen was appointed interim Chief of the department while the town searched for its next fire chief. They didn't have to search far, appointing Harvard Fire Chief Alex McCurdy to the position in 1993.
The oldest truck in the department's fleet at this time was the 1961 maxim pumper that was used as a brush truck. Over 30 years old, it was becoming more difficult to keep this truck in service. Just finding parts for it was becoming a challenge! The truck was finally sold to a local quarry and replaced with a new Fire Resources lightweight brush truck on a 1994 Ford F-550 4WD chassis. The new brush truck was designated as Engine 3.
During the next several years, two new trucks were purchased to replace aging or just plain worn out apparatus. Engine 1 was replaced with a 1996 Spartan/3D pumper/rescue that featured a 1250 GPM pump and a 1000-gallon water tank. This truck was equipped with two sets of hydraulic rescue tools and was first due to all motor vehicle fires or accidents. In 1998 the town was doing somewhat better financially and recognized it would be cheaper in the long run to replace the existing Engine 2 than to keep pouring money into fixing it. The new Engine 2 was a 1998 Ferrara custom chassis with a 1250 GPM pump and a 1000-gallon water tank.
In 2001 the town's 1994 Ford/Horton ambulance was replaced with a new ambulance featuring a Road Rescue body on a Ford chassis. Two years later, town meeting voted to add a second ambulance to the fire department's fleet in recognition of the increasing number of calls that came in while the single existing ambulance was tied up or otherwise not available. The department was also experiencing a rapid increase in the number of calls (mostly motor vehicle accidents) that required more than one ambulance. Like Medical 1, Medical 2 was a Ford/Road Rescue ambulance. The two ambulances were designed to be similar in layout to make switching between them as effortless as possible. A fourth full time firefighter was added to the department.
Changes were not limited to the apparatus during these years. Deputy Chief Bruce Larsen retired in 2001 having served with great distinction for over 30 years on the Littleton Fire Department. Chief McCurdy served the town and the department well until he likewise retired in 2004. Shortly after he retired, residents voted at town meeting to change the fire chief's position from a "weak chief" to a "strong chief", meaning the next fire chief would have the authority to manage (i.e., hire and fire) department members without having to rely on the Board of Selectmen to make the appointments.
The Board of Selectmen asked Bruce Larsen to return from retirement to serve as interim Fire Chief while they searched for a new permanent fire chief. This was a familiar role for Chief Larsen as he fulfilled the same role back in 1993 after the resignation of Chief McCarraher and prior to the appointment of Chief McCurdy. Assisting Chief Larsen this time around was Police Chief John Kelly, who managed the administrative side of the fire department while Chief Larsen (assisted by the remaining fire officers) handled the operational side. This arrangement lasted until the fall of 2005, at which time the Selectmen appointed Stephen Carter as the next fire chief. Chief Carter came to Littleton from Emerson Hospital in Concord, where he was well known by area fire departments and widely respected as the hospital's chief paramedic and emergency services department manager.
2007 has brought change to the department, Engine 4 has been replaced with a 2007 Smeal pumper featuring a 1500 GPM pump and 1000 gallon water tank. Medical 1 was replaced with a 2006 Ford E450 Lifeline Ambulance (Littleton's first red ambulance). Car 9 was reassigned as Car 11 and replaced with a 2007 Ford Expedition. Two new full time Firefighters where hired thanks to a federal safety grant bringing the total to 6 fulltime Firefighters and a fulltime Chief.
2008 brings further change with the promotion of Littleton's second full time Captain Steele McCurdy.
December 2011 Chief Carter resigned to accept the Chiefs position for the town of Lincoln. Captain Steele McCurdy was appointed as Interm Chief.