The oldest fire company in Newtown had its beginning in 1803, when the town refused to grant a request for $100 for a fire engine. Elijah Nichols was subsequently appointed as “chimney viewer” or fire warden, an office that was provided for at the annual town meeting and for which no pay was given. Since the town would not appropriate the money for an engine, each member of the company was duty bound to provide buckets and ladders of their own. The company held many benefits to raise money and in 1883 a sum of $600 was appropriated for the purchase of a hand-drawn Hook & Ladder truck from the Holloway Company of Baltimore, In September of that year, a State Charter was granted to the “Newtown Hook & Ladder Company”, and the company has been in service ever since.
A hand-pumped fire engine and hose cart were purchased in 1901 to supplement the ladder cart. In later years a Model T Ford was used to tow the pumper hose and ladder carts. The Model T was also loaded with soda acid fire extinguishers that caused some concern when sudden stops and turns had to be made.
In 1931, a Maxim Fire Truck (500 gpm, 60 water) was purchased and was the pride of the company until it was replaced by a 1952 Maxim pumper (750 gpm, 300 water). That pumper was replaced in 1968 by a newer model Maxim pumper (1000 gpm, 600 water). Also purchased that year was a 65-foot aerial ladder truck built by American La France in 1944. This truck was replaced in 1976 with a Seagrave 100-foot aerial ladder truck. The year 1968 also saw the purchase of a 1963 Ford pickup truck to be used as a utility truck.
In 1978, the company saw the need to expand. A new mini-pumper (450 gpm, 250 water) was purchased from the Pierce Manufacturing Co. and the Seagrave Corporation delivered a pumper (1000 gpm,1000 water) to replace the headquarters engine in 1979. The newest piece of apparatus to be purchased was a rescue truck built by Pierce.
Our Service and Commitment
Over the years, Hook & Ladder has been a progressive fire fighting company. To meet the changing times in the fire service, the company adopted the plectron home alerting system in 1956. Hook and Ladder was one of the earliest companies in Connecticut to adopt this system. In 1974 the company purchased the Hurst Rescue Tool. In 1978, to meet the demand for better water supply during fire-fighting, 5″ large diameter hoses (LDH) were put into service. With the advancement in electronics and other technologies, Newtown Hook & Ladder purchased its first Thermal Imaging Camera in the spring of 1998, and we currently operate with three cameras.
These additions have helped the company to continue to provide fire protection to the Town of Newtown. No one knows exactly what future years will bring for Hook & Ladder Company, but one thing is certain; the tradition of over 100 years of dedicated service to the Town of Newtown will continue. Today’s volunteer members continue to give their time and energy in the same tradition begun by the company founders.