Scope and Contents note
This series consists of chronological bound volumes of letters (letters were later replaced by standardized forms) written by the City of Boston Fire Commissioner to the Mayor requesting approval for myriad personnel and financial matters. Approval requests regarding personnel matters include those for new hires, retirements, salary/wage increases, reinstatements, pension enrollments for widows, and pension allotments for those who were injured on the job. Some requests for vacation time for the various Commissioners are also included. Approval requests regarding financial matters consist mainly of the purchase and/or sale of equipment, including horses, wagons and harnesses, cars, trucks and hoses. Contract bids for equipment purchases and construction projects, as well as requests for permission to waive the bidding process are included. The series dates from 1901-1994 with gaps. The volumes for 1915 and 1916 are missing.
- Creation: 1901-1994 with gaps
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.
18.0 Cubic feet
Language of Materials
- Guide to the Fire Department records 0500.012
- Gretchen Carney
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- With grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)