WFD History

Waltham Fire Department Est. 1816

Our Proud Tradition

The profession of Fire Fighting is rich with tradition and history.  Our own Waltham Fire Department dates back to its official establishment in 1816 with Engine Company #1.


The first organized method of firefighting was in the form of a bucket brigade.  According to early records, the first fire occurred in August of 1770.  The fire, which was caused by a lighting strike, at the west precinct church at the intersection of Lyman and Beaver Streets, was put out by a gentleman who was milking his cow nearby and took the bucket of milk and climbed the belfry, and extinguished the fire.



The Waltham Fire Department evolved from a bucket brigade, where all able citizens were required to supply a bucket and participate in the fire fighting effort to a department that extinguished fires with hand pumpers, to horse drawn steamers, to modern motorized equipment.  Waltham’s first piece of fire apparatus a Hunneman small bucket hand engine was purchased by the Boston Manufacturing Company was delivered on November 16, 1816 The Waltham Fire Department was Incorporated by legislature signed by the Governor in 1844.  On April 6, 1844 Josiah Beard was appointed Waltham’s first Fire Chief.

On September 3, 1881, the Waltham Fire Department incorporated the Gamewell Fire Telegraph System.  The first alarm for this system was box #18 on October 6, 1881 for a small dwelling fire on Newton Street.  Waltham’s first motorized piece of equipment came on September 30, 1911, which was the Chief’s car and followed on December 13, 1912 when Hose Company #3 was delivered.  Motorization of the city’s Fire Department was completed in 1920 when 4 pieces of apparatus were purchased.


WFD Past Fire Chiefs

WFD Apparatus HistoryWFD Station HistoriesWFD Patches and BadgesWFD Retirees

Major U.S. Fires

Fire Fighter Memorials

Firefighter Prayers & Quotes

Maltese Cross

The Dalmation