Fire has always been an ongoing threat to the safety of citizens and the infrastructure. Hartland’s front line in this battle has long been a Volunteer Fire Department made up solely of brave citizens willing to put their lives on the line. We salute their valiant efforts.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Emblem from Warren Square Veteran Honor Roll
Early settlers probably had little organized fire fighting arrangements or dedicated equipment in place but did what they could to assist in the event of a local fire. The first known documentation of a structured Volunteer Fire Department is noted in the early 1840s. It is unlikely there was an actual dedicated fire house in these early decades, but by the 1870s some fire fighting equipment was housed at the new Linn Woolen Mill under lock & key.
An 1873 article noted the recent purchase of a new fire engine as well as new uniforms for an impressive 45 members.
Lewiston Sun Journal – July 22, 1873
A large fire at the Linn Woolen Mill on Main Street in 1875 caused extensive damage to the roof, but within a couple of weeks repairs had been made and the mill was back to full-time production. Archibald Linn was undoubtedly keenly aware of the danger which fire imposed on his wooden buildings and its volatile contents. Albeit in part to his own business interests, he supported fire fighting efforts in the Village including storage for equipment and later a fire hydrant system.
Portland Press Herald – April 1, 1875
In late December of 1878, fire completely destroyed the Fuller-Buck Store located at Warren Square. While other circumstances certainly contributed to the old wooden building’s total destruction, at least one factor in its fiery demise was caused due to the lack of immediate access of fire equipment reported to have been stored and locked up at the Linn Woolen Mill. The total loss of the high profile building wasn’t the only fire which had occurred, but it coincided directly with an examination of certain elements of the town’s fire protection system which needed improvement especially regarding a dedicated fire house to store equipment with around the clock access.
Fuller-Buck Store at Warren Square – c1877
Soon after the devastating fire at the Fuller-Buck Store, citizens began considering their needs for better fire protection in the Village forming committees to look into building their own dedicated fire house and other potential improvements. Ascertainment of a dedicated water delivery system to be taken up in committee would instead be implemented privately by the Linn Woolen Mill which installed fire hydrants and rented them back to the town.
Lewiston Sun Journal – July 5, 1882
The new fire house would be built on Water Street soon after where it housed the fire department until 1941. Research continues into the exact year it was built but it does not appear on the Hartland Village Map published in 1883 although it may have been under construction when the area was mapped out.
First Dedicated Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire House next to the Water Street Bridge
Although unconfirmed, the fire engine and uniforms mentioned in the article above are possibly those seen in this dated photo taken in front of the Hartland House on Elm Street in 1884.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department – 1884
In the early 1900s, the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department was reorganized but remained at their Water Street Fire House.
Sanborn Insurance Company Map – 1917
It certainly wasn’t a fully outfitted Fire Hall as we know today and was basically just a storage building for what equipment they had.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire House & Jail House on Water Street during 1923 Flood
Linwood Boutelle Perkins posing for a photo in front of the Fire House & Jail House across the street from his parents’ home.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire House & Jail House on Water Street – 1926
(Photo courtesy of Dana Perkins)
Fire fighting equipment included two-wheeled hose carts which were connected to the few local fire hydrants originally installed by the Linn Woolen Mill and rented to the town. When the mill whistle blew signaling a fire, the first firemen who arrived at the Water Street Fire House grabbed the hose carts and rushed to the fire.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Hose Cart following Hartland Academy Fire on December 7, 1923
In 1912, the Hartland Water Company opened and became owners of the town’s water and fire hydrant system formerly held by the Linn Woolen Mill. With its new 6 mile pipe feeding the Village’s water needs from Stafford Pond in North Hartland, additional hydrants were installed which they still rented to the town.
In 1923, a fire whistle was installed on the roof of the new Davis & Webber Block at Warren Square remaining there until it was relocated to the new fire hall on Hubbard Avenue in 1942.
~ 1929 Town Report – Fire Chief’s Report of Hartland Volunteer Fire Department ~
3 – Hose carts, well equipped
1 – Hook & ladder wagon, well equipped
200 ft – New hose
900 ft – Serviceable hose
300 ft – Hose doubtful under pump pressure
5 – Pyrene fire extinguishers, 1% qt
21 – Forest Fire Tools, Spades and shovels
4 – Axes
1 – Grub hoes
Fires, Company called out ………………….. 0
Chimney fires, Chief called …………………. 6
Number of Hydrant Inspections …………. 4
Hydrants reported to Hartland Water Co.
leaking, frozen, and out of order ………… 7
A full membership in our Volunteer Fire Company
Birge H. Emery, Fire Chief
To see more digitized Hartland Town Reports dating back to the early 1900s, click the link below:
In December of 1940, the Directors of Hartland Mills, Inc. voted to deed the former Carding Mill building on Hubbard Avenue next to the Lower Dam to the town and in turn the town would give the building to the Fire Department for use as a Fire Hall. Known at the time as the Fairgrieve Block, it was first built as a Carding Mill by the Stinchfield Family in the mid-1800s. It became part of the real estate holdings of Hartland Mills, Inc. which was formed by citizens of the town in 1934 after the American Woolen Company Mill went bankrupt in 1932.
Carding Mill building on Hubbard Avenue seen during the Great Flood of 1923
At the March 1941 Hartland Town Meeting, it was voted to reorganize the Fire Department again. Soon after the town meeting, the Board of Selectmen met with all men interested in fire fighting to make plans for the volunteer organization and select officers with Carleton Deering elected as the new Fire Chief.
Having secured a new fire hall location, albeit it in need of major renovations, the most pressing issue for the newly re-organized department was the lack of any motorized fire fighting equipment. They began at once to raise money to finance their objective with various fund raising projects including The Fireman’s Ball. They were soon confident enough with the amount they had raised, and expected to raise, to initiate the purchase of a new fire truck.
On May 1, 1941, the H.V.F.D. ordered a new 1941 Chevrolet Pump Truck which was a combination pumper & hose truck capable of pumping 500 gallons per minute. Although they had quickly raised $1,800, their fund raising goal came up short of the full payment of $3,300 needed upon delivery of the new truck. At a special Town Meeting, the citizens of Hartland approved a $1,500 loan to be paid back at $500 over 3 years with no interest and Engine No. 1 was delivered on October 19, 1941.
Fire Chief Carleton Deering with the new 1941 H.V.F.D. “Engine No. 1” at the corner of Academy Street & Commercial Street
By the following year, the fire department had raised another $750 to pay against the loan from the town. In appreciation of their volunteer efforts, the townspeople of Hartland voted at the 1942 Town Meeting to forgive the remaining balance of the loan.
Fire Chief Carleton Deering brought the new 1941 “Engine No. 1” home to Hartland
Members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department with Engine No. 1 at Warren Square in 1942
(L-R) 1) Evan Russell 2) Ray Spaulding 3) Rae Randlett 4) Maurice Hanson 5) Lew Steeves? 6) Leon “Clancy” Burton w/drum
7) Elmer Stanhope 8) Cliff Sprague 9) Bert Lovely 10) Carleton Deering 11) Don Randlett 12) Earl Page?
The volunteer firemen worked hard to raise additional money for their organization over the years. One of their biggest fund raising events was the Annual Fireman’s Ball held at the Opera House. They sponsored entertainment and asked for public subscriptions. Through their efforts over the years they were able to begin equipping themselves with proper raincoats, helmets, boots and pumps to use in wells and streams.
Members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department with Engine No. 1 at Warren Square – 1942
In October of 1948, H.V.F.D. acquired a new 600 gallon Ford Pumper & Tank Truck for fighting rural structure fires and forest fires. They had raised $3,900 toward the cost of the new engine when a local citizen stepped forward with an offer to loan the department the necessary remaining amount for delivery. They also purchased more hose, pack pumps, axes, spades; all much needed equipment for fighting forest fires.
Up until 1949, the 2 Fire Trucks and some of the firefighting equipment were kept in the basement of the Skateland Roller Skating Rink on Mill Street owned by Rae Randlett as the newly acquired Fairgrieve Building wasn’t able to support the weight of the trucks nor was it physically positioned to do so. The Firemen still held their meetings at Hubbard Avenue but their building literally needed to be rearranged for their use.
Former Skateland Building on Mill Street seen here later as The Blue Moon
In 1948, $2,500 was appropriated at the Town Meeting to swing the building a quarter turn from its original outward position extending toward the river as well as raise it to street level. Most of the money was expended for materials with some of the labor to move the building and build a new foundation performed by members of the fire department and volunteers from town. An additional $2,000 was appropriated by the town in 1949 to finish remodeling and make the building ready to house their 2 fire engines.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall just before it was turned in 1948
~ 1949 Town Report – Fire Chief’s Report of Hartland Volunteer Fire Department ~
1 1941 Chevrolet Combination Pumper & Hose Truck $ 3,300.00
1 1948 Ford Combination Pumper & Tank Truck $ 4,600.00
1 Forestry Pump $ 326.00
2000 Feet 2 ” Hose $ 2,000.00
600 Feet 1″ Hose $ 600.00
4 2 ” Nozzles $ 140.00
4 1″ Nozzles $ 100.00
7 Pack Pumps $ 70.00
6 Rubber Coats $ 60.00
12 Firemen’s Helmets $ 75.00
Axes, Adapters, Miscellaneous $ 250.00
“There are thirty active members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department. 19 town calls have been answered of which ten were silent alarms. 18 company calls and 12 silent calls have been made out of town. There have been three major fires in Hartland with a property loss of $40,000. These were the farms of Daniel E. Connelly, Lewis H. Barden and the plant of the Sell-Well Company.”
Carleton E. Deering, Fire Chief
The 1948 Sell-Well Company fire referred to above was located on Moore Street at the former A. J. Moor & Son Woodworking Mill.
SellWell Products Fire Article – 1948
“Hartland Firemen Work on Station”
Waterville Sentinel Article by Ken Norton – April 20, 1950
Proving that a combination of initiative and plenty of hard work will accomplish about anything, members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department this Spring are putting the finishing touches on their new fire station, the so-called Fairgrieves building owned years ago by the American Woolen Mill.
It’s been a long, hard road for the volunteers during the past nine years; a period that saw them build Hartland’s firefighting facilities from a hand drawn hose cart with a limited amount of hose to a modern department with equipment valued at $12,000 and a building valued at $6,000.
With two well equipped trucks, a forestry pump and plenty of hand tools for fighting woods fires, all housed in their new station with a second floor club room, the Hartland firemen now boast a department that will rival that of any Maine town of comparable size.
A history of the organization compiled by Chief Carleton Deering shows that the first step toward better fire protection for the town came at the annual town meeting in March of 1941 when it was voted that the selectmen should reorganize the fire department.
Soon after the town meeting, the board met with all men interested in firefighting to make plans for the volunteer organization. It was decided that the officers should include a Chief, Assistant Chief, Captain, First & Second Lieutenants, Secretary and a Treasurer.
These officers were to meet with the Selectmen to pick the remaining members of the department which was to consist of 25 men in addition to the chief. Carleton Deering was chosen as Fire Chief and has held that office for seven of the past nine years.
Number one problem of the new organization was to secure some motorized firefighting equipment, a project the men tackled with enthusiasm. Committees were appointed public subscription was started and entertainments were sponsored to raise fund for this purpose and on May 1st of the same year the first fire engine was ordered.
A month later the department found that it could not raise the full amount necessary to pay for the truck by the delivery date and requested the selectmen to call a special town meeting in order to hire money to make the cash payment. At the special session, townspeople voted to borrow the sum of $1,500 which was loaned to the department to be repaid at the rate of $500 a year for 3 years.
On October 29, 1941, the new engine was delivered; a Chevrolet combination pumper and hose cart. With the $1,500 loaned by the town, the funds raised by the firemen were sufficient to meet the $3,300 cost of the truck. During the next year the department was able to repay $750 of the amount borrowed and at the next town meeting the citizens voted to cancel the remaining $750 debt.
Acquisition of the new engine proved to be just the beginning for the ambitious young department. During the next few years the men raised funds to purchase a forestry pump, hose and a supply of small tools for firefighting. And they were able to put some money aside for future needs,
The Hartland firemen were lucky during the 1947 dry season that saw disastrous woods fires raging in other parts of Maine as they had not a single major fire, though they spent night after night on fire patrol. But the drought drove home to them their need for a tank truck and the men began to shop around for a tanker to provide an additional supply of water for rural and forest fires.
About What They Wanted
They found a 600 gallon truck which had been fitted out in Brunswick and which, with a few alterations, was about what they wanted. A quick check of the department’s finances showed that they lacked $400 of the $4,300 purchase price of the truck. By that time, however, the services of the volunteer firemen were well recognized in town and a citizen stepped forward with an offer to loan the department the necessary amount.
The new 600 gallon Ford truck equipped with a 500 gallon pumper was purchased and delivered in October of 1948 just 7 years after Engine No. 1 was acquired. To supplement their two trucks, the volunteers have added 2,000 feet of 2-1/2 inch hose, 600 feet of 1 inch hose, nine pack pumps, axes, spades and other equipment to combat woods fires.
Until the past year, Hartland’s firefighting equipment was kept in the basement of the building now Skateland Roller Skating Rink while meetings of the firemen’s association were held in the Fairgrieves building located on the bank of the Sebasticook River in the center of town.
The Fairgrieves building had been a part of the American Woolen Mill property and was bought by the Hartland Mills Corporation when the mill was purchased several years ago. Subsequently it was given to the town to be used as a fire station.
At the 1948 town meeting, the fire department asked for an appropriation of $2,500 with which it proposed to swing the building a quarter turn (it had previously extended outward toward the river) and raise it to street level. The money was raised and was used to construct a foundation and move the 30 by 40 foot structure into place. Much of the work of closing the building in and finishing it was done by members of the fire department.
An additional $2,000 was appropriated in 1949 to finish remodeling and make the building ready for fire engines. Again most of the money was expended for materials while a large share of the labor was contributed by the firemen and townspeople alike.
Stalls for Truck
The finished building provides stalls for both trucks with sliding overhead doors for each on the ground floor. The second floor has been fitted up as a recreation room and meeting hall for the firemen and contains a kitchenette, tables and chairs, a pool table, piano and radio. The entire building is heated with a modern forced hot air system.
“We of the fire department are very proud of our building and of our equipment”, Chief Deering commented. “We feel that we have had full cooperation from both town officials and citizens in this project.” He added that the building will be opened at any time for public inspection. “Our job is service to the people of Hartland and the surrounding towns”, he declared. “We’re on call at any time.”
The roster of the volunteer department has been increased to 30 members, none of whom receives any compensation for his services. As an organization, the firemen have taken an active interest in civic affairs particularly in the line of youth work. They have sponsored Junior League Baseball teams for several years and have given their full support to the town’s summer recreation program for children.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Station on Hubbard Avenue
Some of the members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department pose for a photo for the April 20, 1950 Waterville Sentinel Article.
Seated (L-R): 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Sawyer | 1st Lieutenant Maynard Moore | Captain James Seekins | Chief Carleton Deering
Assistant Chief Clifton Sprague | Treasurer Frederick Wright | Secretary Maurice Hanson
Standing: Warren Davis | Wilfred Nadeau | Clayton Harrington | Richard Webber | Edward Croto
Bernard Tucker | Alver Cully | Earl Buker, Jr | Edward Laughton
In 1955, the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary was formed with Kay Tucker serving as the first President, Gertrude Bizeau as Treasurer and Lucille Libby as Secretary. The group’s original primary purpose was to assist the firemen during fires by providing them with food & drinks but they soon expanded their efforts to organize fund raising dinners and help furnish the fire hall.
In spite of the major 1948 renovation efforts to reuse the original carding mill building, its old main support columns and weakened floor were unable to accommodate the additional weight of the fire trucks and other equipment. The issue was brought forth to the voters for their consideration of a long term plan to house the fire department and its trucks & equipment as noted in the 1956 Hartland Town Report, “Article 44: To see if the town will vote to establish a capital reserve fund to be known as the Hartland Fire Department Building Fund, and to raise and appropriate the sum of $2,000.00 to be deposited in this fund.”
It was eventually decided to build a brand new fire hall upon a new foundation and later that year the original building on the Hubbard Avenue lot was demolished and construction began. Harold Hubbard & Aubrey Whittemore laid in a cement foundation and floor before the new building was constructed. Appropriated town funding, a H.V.F.D. contribution from fund raising and the sale of lumber and other salvaged materials from the old building accounted for a good portion of the expense however the final project still went over budget. Further funding was noted as, “15,500 board feet of lumber was used in construction of this building. Over 40,000 board feet of logs are cut and yarded to offset the overdraft in this account.”
One other Fire Department related warrant from the 1956 Town Report was Article 47, “To see if the town will vote to authorize the selectmen to lease the old fire hall, so called, on Water Street to W. H. Moore & Son for a period of 5 years at a rental of $60.00 per year.”
Built in 1956, Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall seen here in 1970
Also noted in the 1957 Hartland Town Report, “Your Municipal Officers wish to thank H. C. Baxter & Brothers Canning Co., Rae Randlett, Keith Tapley, Hartland Tanning Company, Robert Knowles, Al Carlson, Everett Holt, Everett Holt Jr, Howard Davis, Linwood Humphrey, Alfred Butler, Eugene Marchand, Robert Hodgkins, Harry Bell, Robert Fisher, L. W. Green, Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Members, Leon Hart, Gary Hanson, Lyman Buzzell, Edwin Littlefield, Phillip Hubbard, Phillip Davenport, Harold Hubbard, Claude Fisher, Ned Cunningham, Gardner Salisbury, Oliver Babinaw, Walter Nutter, Carl Withee, Paul Boulanger, Fernand Boulanger, Tom Steeves, Donald Pelkie, Aubery Whittemore, Paul Falconer, Dean Nadeau and any others who contributed labor or use of equipment, that our new fire hall might be constructed at such a low figure.”
~ 1958 Town Report Proclamation ~
“Whereas, fifty years ago a small group of citizens of Hartland banded themselves together for the purpose of protection of public and private property from fire; And Whereas, this band of men has worked throughout the years without compensation, to build one of the finest fire departments in our State; Be it known, that we, the Inhabitants of the Town of Hartland are deeply grateful for the sacrifices made by these men over the years. During wars, drownings, floods and fires they were the first to be called and the last to leave the scene of disaster. They have indeed been a comfort in our time of need.”
One of Hartland Volunteer Fire Department’s Original Hose Carts takes one last ride during a July 4, 1960 Parade.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Original Hose Cart – 1960
Service in the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department has been a long standing and proud tradition for many of Hartland’s citizens over the decades. It is a long and continuing list of brave men and women who selflessly volunteer their time and efforts to keep Hartland safe.
3 of H.V.F.D.’s many long serving members at their retirement (L-R): Alver Cully, Cliff Sprague & Wesley Ham
Further renovations were done to the Hubbard Avenue Fire Hall including the addition of a dedicated stairwell.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall Renovations
Renovations including the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Sign
The town recognized the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department with its dedication of the 1970 Sesquicentennial Book.
1970 Sesquicentennial Book Dedication by Wayne Libby
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Members – 1970
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Members – 1970
Sitting (L-R): Alver Cully | Phil Libby |Coral Hewins
Standing: Steve McNichol | Leroy Rollins | Maynard Moore | Fred Harding
A new addition to the Fire Engine force was this 750 gallon per minute pumper with a 600 gallon tank set on a 1972 Ford chassis.
1972 Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Engine
Members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department with the 1972 Fire Truck – c1980
1st Row (L-R): Doug Dewey | Robert Perkins
2nd Row: Mike Snowman | Steve Estes | Tom Ackerman | Joe Glidden | Cliff Sprague | Charlie Gould
Brian Neal | Elmer Littlefield | Alver Culley | Rusty Dickey | Linwood Humphrey
3rd Row: Charlie Gallerani | Joe Madigan | Scott Preble | Lester Goforth
The Hubbard Street Fire Hall location faithfully served the Fire Department but it was on a course for inevitable replacement with the addition of larger, heavier fire trucks, additional equipment along with the general wear and tear on the building itself. The infamous “April Fool’s Day Flood” in 1987 didn’t help perpetuate its life when massive flood waters engulfed its foundation.
Fire Hall seen to the right from Hubbard Avenue engulfed by flood waters in 1987
(Photo courtesy of Joe & Christine Lewis)
Fire Hall & Main Street Bridge during 1987 Flood
(Photo courtesy of Joe & Christine Lewis)
A huge Sink Hole formed next to the Fire Hall during the 1987 Flood
(Photo courtesy of Joe & Christine Lewis)
Plans for a new building formally began in 1998 with a Hartland Fire Department Building Committee consisting of Dale Hubbard (Chairman), Dana Cooper, Lester Goforth, Steve Estes, Bill Ball & Bob Jones. A Fire Truck Committee had also been established by this time with an escrow account set up to eventually purchase a new fire truck.
In 1999, construction began on the new Fire Hall building on the Canaan Road with initial plans of opening in June of 2000.
New Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall – 1999
Although not completely finished, the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department moved into their new Fire Hall on the Canaan Road in February of 2000 and continued working on the final construction projects remaining. A new Fire Truck was also purchased the same year.
Hartland Volunteer Fire Department – New Engine No. 1
The new Fire Hall is located approximately where the old Fair Grounds parking area was located next to the railroad tracks.
East Somerset Agricultural Society Fairgrounds Parking Area – Canaan Road – 1923
As noted by Grant Coordinator Don Benson, “In 2001 the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department received a matching grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency of $82,488 (90% FEMA-10% Hartland) which enabled the department to purchase all new breathing apparatus and turn out gear which is all the equipment the firefighters wear from boots to helmets. The following year, H.V.F.D. received another $40,872 matching grant from FEMA to be used to purchase new radios, hoses, ladders, a foam system and a truck mounted deck gun. These grants enable the department to get equipment that it would not otherwise be able to afford. Coupled with the new Firehouse and Pumper truck has enabled the department to make great strides toward getting everything that it will ultimately need.”
At the time of his passing in 2017, Linwood Humphrey was the longest running member of the H.V.F.D. having served for 55+ years.
Thanks to numerous donations on behalf of Lindy Humphrey and Gerald Martin, H.V.F.D. was able to purchase a Rescue Boat.
New Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Boat – 2017
In 2017, a grant from the Tabitha & Stephen King Foundation enabled H.V.F.D. to purchase 12 new sets of modern turnout gear.
New Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Turn Out Gear
(Photo courtesy of H.V.F.D.)
New Hartland Volunteer Fire Department Turn Out Gear
(Photo courtesy of H.V.F.D.)
Today’s Hartland Volunteer Fire Department may look quite different from its predecessors on the outside but while the names, equipment and technology have evolved, their commitment, compassion and mission remain the same.
On the Wall of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department
(Photo courtesy of H.V.F.D.)