This chronology of the Barrington Fire Department has been gathered from old newspaper clippings, Fire Department records, the minutes from town meetings, and the memories of firefighters, both past and present, who recall the "good old days." It is far from complete, but never the less it is sufficient to give the reader a picture of the advancements made in fire protection and EMS over the years in the town. Anyone with any old photos of BFD and it's members or have a historical account to share, please email Captain Jason Fanion on the "Contact Us" page.
Thursday, April 15th 1880 Mr. Hiram Adams home, who lived on New Meadow Neck, caught fire when his son knocked over a kerosene lamp while pumping for water in their washroom. The residence was consumed by fire.
Monday, July 25 th 1881 The barn of Mr. John Short on, New meadow Neck, caught fire and burned to the ground. He lost all his furniture and straw that was being stored there. The property was insured by Merchants INS Co. of Providence.
Monday, August 11 th 1884 The home of Joseph Goulet, a Blacksmith on Maple Ave, caught fire from an incendiary. Neighbor Owen Kirby and other neighbors succeeded in putting out the fire with buckets.
Friday, April 24 th 1885 The summer residence of Ira Wilbur caught fire when a workman left a candle burning on the 2 nd floor when he left for the day. There was a meeting that evening at the Congregational Church near her residence. Worshipers noticed the fire and rushed into her house to save the furniture before being fully consumed. Across the street the residence of Mr. Benson Bean caught fire from the flying embers. Barrington not having a Fire Department, East Providence and Warren Fire Dept's were sent an alarm to help extinguish the flames. In all over 200 civilians and firefighters were on scene. The town begins to consider forming an organized Fire Department.
1909 Citizen Fredrick Ballou requested the Town Council send a monetary gift to the Warren Fire Department for their years of fire protection to the Town of Barrington. A resolution was passed for the gift and the following comments were made at the meeting, " Resolved, that the thanks of the citizens of Barrington be attended to the Warren FD, for the efficient service rendered by them at fires which threatened the destruction of the homes of a number of our people, during the past few years, that the Town Council be direct to forward them, as an expression of our appreciation, the sum of two-hundred dollars"
March 24, 1910 Citizens of Bay Spring form the "The Bay Spring Volunteer Fire Company"
1912 A resolution was presented to the Town Council by Matthew Lavin. It reads, " Whereas, the Bay Spring Volunteer Fire Co., a corporation of the state of RI, located in the town of Barrington, has entered into an agreement to purchase the premises now occupied by it as a fire station, and in said agreement has assumed all taxes and assessments that my be levied during the term of the agreement. And whereas, the members of the Bay Spring Vol. Fire Co. have during the past year protected the property of the citizens and have saved several thousand dollars worth of property from damage by fire, and it is their intention to continue to serve the citizens of Barrington in such respect. Therefore, it be further resolved that the sum of $300 be appropriated to the Bay Spring volunteer Fire Co.'s use, and that the town treasurer be directed to pay the same during the ensuing years"
1913 Senator Arthur L. Smith presented the following resolution. "Resolved the Town Council is authorized to investigate the merits of different Auto Chemical Fire Trucks, and it is authorized to purchase, house, equip, run and maintain an Auto Chemical Fire Truck. Resolved, that the sum of $5000.00 or so much thereof as may be necessary is hereby appropriated."
1915 The following is from the town council minutes; " At this juncture we learned that Capt. Daniel A. Nichols, a retiring member of the Providence Fire Dept', where he had a long and practical experience in fighting fires, was coming to reside in town, and that he was open to an arrangement looking toward service for our town, if his services were desired. We were fortunate to be able to make satisfactory terms with him to assume the care of our new fire truck and also to house the same for reasonable rent and salary. We have elected him as Chief of the department of our town and he has secured a number of capable volunteers to aid him in the work of fighting fires within our borders. At this time the council was earnestly solicited by the members of the Bay Spring Fire Co. to house the new truck in their station at Bay Spring, and allow their men to man and run it. We the council denied the request."
1916 Barrington FD is formed by Daniel Nichols. The department consists of all volunteers and one paid chief.
The following report was made at this council meeting by Senator Smith; " Before the Town purchased a fire truck, several trips were made for the purpose of inspecting apparatus in process of construction and in service. It was decided, after careful consideration, to ask for bids on White, Maxim, Federal, La France, Packard, Robinson & Sterling Trucks, and from Pugh Bros., Cadillac Auto Co. & bids were received, which were carefully considered by the committee, special consideration given to the service which might be expected in each case. They finally recommended the acceptance of the Maxim fire Truck Co's bid of $4000 for a motor-driven double tank fully equipped Chemical truck. At this time the town installed a telephone and made arrangements with the phone Co. to send postals to every taxpayer in Barrington to contact the "Central Office" when a fire is discovered, hoping that this will prevent fire from spreading quickly.
Fire Chief Nichols reported to the council that the new fire Chemical Truck is housed at a station on the Wampanoag Trail. He stated that his department consists of:
1 Paid Chief
1 Call Captain
1 Call Lieutenant
10 Call men
The fire Chief stated that in its first year of service the new fire truck has had 2 structure fires and one truck fire.
1917 Chief Nichols addressed the council with the following, "I wish to call your attention of your body to the need of some kind of alarm system other than the telephone. If there is a plant in town who could generate enough steam year round we could furnish them with a whistle, which it would agree to sound at every fire, it would be very much better for all concerned. Or the bell in the White Church, which is very near the center of town, might be struck. There is also need of improvement on the call bell at our station, as at present time it is necessary for someone to be in the house at all times. The truck in my care is in 1 1st class condition, but the quantity of charges carried will be found inadequate for any very long fire. More soda could be carried in canvass bags and the acid would have to be secured in glass or lead. Our rubber coats and boots are being carried in the hose basket at present. This might be boxed in with light sheathing with a cover to keep out rain and snow."
The town meeting minutes report that the new fire truck has put on a total of 402 miles on it since placed into service. There have been no accidents. We have lost one broom at a fire in the back of the brick Yard and lost one pail at a drill. The fire department has responded to 20 alarms this year. Since the department has been organized, its efficiency of same has been strikingly proven at the fire that threatened the destruction of George Smith's residence on Nayatt Rd.
Chief Nichols reports that the department responded to a large fire at Barrington Steam Brick Co.. When members arrived the fire had gained significant headway and found it to be spreading. The fire was put out using "4 large tanks and 12 small ones" The fire was determined to be caused by a passing locomotive.
1918 Chief Nichols reports that the town needs to consider purchasing a fire truck with a water pump that can pump 1500 gallons in 5 minutes. This request was made after a large fire at St Andrew's school destroyed several building. Chief also stated that his Lieutenant, Ture Anderson, has substituted as the driver of the fire truck and should be paid for 8.5 days of service at $1 a day.
1919 Chief Nichols reports that at the present time the department consists of 17 men located in 4 different sections of town. The department operates on Maxim Combination Fire truck with an 80 water tank, 8 three gallon extinguishers, 500ft of 3/4in hose, 50ft of garden hose, six shovels, six brooms, 45 pails, 2 axes, 1 200ft bar, 12 fire helmets, 12 rubber coats, 12 pair of rubber boots, 1 plaster hook, one 28ft extension ladder and 1 16ft roof ladder. The department has answered 30 alarms in the year. 24 calls for brush fires, 2 chimney fires and 4 house fires. Nichols requested again that the town look into purchasing a truck with water pump after a large fire at John Swinsons' house on Hampden Meadow Rd.
1920 The following report was given to the council at the regular meeting from Chief Nichols. " We have lost 2 shovels and 2 brooms at a fire at the Barrington Brick Co. between Lincoln ave and the Railroad. There have been 19 fires this year. 5 house fires, 3 chimney fires, and 8 brush fires. The most destructive fire being that of H. B. Farnum in the morning of January 16 th at Nayatt Rd. This fir could have been extinguished in 10 minutes with a 500 GPM pump. This home was insured and the money loss incurred would have bought 6 machines of this type. At this time I recommend that the chemical engine be traded in for a triple combination pumper."
March 24th, 1930 There is no documented information on the fire department's activity from 1920-1930 to our knowledge. It is known, however, from locals and past members that the Bay Spring Fire Company was merged with the Barrington Fire Department under Chief Nichols leadership. The existing volunteer station is now assigned as Station 3 as part of the paid force.
December 1932 The department consists of 8 paid members working a 2 platoon system. Men work 4 ten-hour days, 4 fourteen-hour nights, and have one day off. Members are on call every day except on their 1 day off.
November 1937 At the request of the town council, Chief Nichols resigns.
April 1938 James McKenzie is appointed chief
February 1944 Wallace Sefsick, a Warren automobile dealer and Barrington resident, donated a vehicle from his business to transport sick and infirm patients without charge. Mr Sefsick decided to offer this service to the 2 towns after one of his employees was accidentally shot and bled profusely with no medical aid available. While visiting the employee in the hospital Mr Sefsick learned that the injury had been exacerbated due to the delay in emergency transport. At this time Mr Sefsick donated the first "Rescue" vehicle and named it after his late father, Stainislaw. The vehicle is now known as the "Stainislaw Sefsick Memorial Ambulance" The rescue service is overseen by the Barrington and Warren District Nursing Association. The association decided to place the ambulance at the BFD Headquarters on Rumstick Rd where is staffed by Barrington firefighters..
January 1945 Chief McKenzie dies of a heart attack. Currently the department employs 16 men full time.
March 1945 Leon Nichols was appointed fire chief.
Early 1950’s The fire dispatcher was now required to leave his duties and respond to medical calls alone in the rescue truck, which at this time was not equipped to transport patients. If he determined transport was necessary, two men were called back to duty from home to transport the patient to the hospital.
February 1950 Chief Nichols dies of a heart attack and John Desisto appointed chief.
June 1950 Station 2 is built at the corner of Middle Hwy and County Rd, replacing the Wampanoag Trail station. A new Ward LaFrance pumper was placed into service at a cost of $21,000.
The department now consists of 23 men working a 72-hour work week.
April 1956 The current work schedule requires members to work 1 ten-hour day, 1 twenty-four-hour day, 1 fourteen-hour night, and one day off. The cycle then repeats. This is an 84-hour work week. Members are required to be on call 56 hours per week.
July 1957 4 men were added to the ranks bringing the total to 20. Also, a new 65-foot ariel ladder was delivered to the town replacing the 1930's ladder. The 1930 ladder truck was converted into a 20 ft ladder trailer and was towed behind apparatus when needed.
April 1958 Chief Desisto dies of a heart attack.
July 1958 Arthur Burgess was appointed Chief.
1963 A new Maxim pumper was placed into service.
July 1966 The department adds 2 new members to the ranks.
June 1967 Chief Burgess retires.
October 1967 John Cashman, Retired Lt. from FDNY Truck 5 Manhattan, is appointed chief.
May 1968 Barrington Firefighters unionize under the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and are designated Union Local 1774. At this time Station 3 closes in Bay Spring. The work schedule is now 56 hours a week and the department stands at 27 men.
Summer 1968 The department receives its first K-12 saw for vehicle extrication.
The fire department consists of 28 men working a 48-hour work week. Members are on call for major structure fires or other significant incidents.
January 1970 Manpower increased to 31 members.
Summer 1970 A "Heavy Rescue" is placed into service. It is manned by 2 EMT’s and consists of EMS equipment, and specialty tools for car accidents, collapse, and fires. Members traveled to Boston and New York City to receive extensive training not yet available in Rhode Island.
June 29, 1970 Fire alarm received a call at 1614 hrs for a reported structure fire at 108 Rumstick Rd. While making an offensive attack, Deputy Fire Chief Alfred Piccirelli collapsed and died in the line of duty at 1625 hrs.
1972 A new Ward LaFrance 1000 GPM pumper is placed in service. This was the first piece of fire apparatus in town equipped with a diesel engine and an enclosed cab. This truck was constructed in Elmira, NY.
June 1973 The work schedule is reduced to 42 hours per week. BFD is one of the first departments in the state to train all members as EMT’s at the Cardiac level, and begin providing Advanced Life Support.
March 1974 The department is increased to 35 men.
January 1977 The department rescue service is expanded. Rescue units now employ intravenous therapy, and administer advanced cardiac medication. The department is the second EMS provider in the state to receive the AMBU cardiac defibrillator on the rescue.
September 1977 Chief Cashman retires.
July 1978 Florent Desilets was appointed chief.
1979 Ladder 1 is no longer manned by a dedicated firefighter. It's now cross-manned by members of other apparatus or by recalled men from home when needed.
January 1982 The department expands EMS service and receives the first set of "Jaws of Life" in the East Bay area. The Town considers consolidating the Police/Fire Departments to create "Public Safety Officers, but the proposal was not implemented.
January 1983 A new Ford/Ranger 1000GPM pumper is placed into service at a cost of $92,000.
Summer 1983 Members rebuild the 1963 Maxim pumper, and donate it to the HMVFC. Manpower is reduced to 31 men.
August 1984 The department is returned to 35 men, and Chief Desilets retires.
September 1984 Charles Dumican was appointed chief.
September 1989 Chief Dumican retires.
August 1990 Edward Carey appointed chief. The department receives its first mobile phone from Bell Atlantic and is mounted in Rescue 1.
June 1991 The town hires the outside firm, Emergency Response Safety Education Enterprises (ERASE) to conduct an evaluation of the town’s fire/rescue services. The firm recommends various recommendations to improve service.
September 1992 The BFD adopts the RI Dept of Health protocols for EMS. The rescue members undergo extensive training with physicians from Harvard Medical School, Brown University Medical School, and Miriam Hospital. Private James Casale recognized by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and nominated firefighter of the year.
March 1993 The department's minimum manning is decreased from 6 to 4 men per shift due to financial constraints.
June 1993 Through attrition the town eliminates Master Mechanic and 9 other positions, bringing the roster down to 20 men. Station #2 on Middle Hwy is closed and sold. Station #2 is now a pre-school
November 1994 Plans are introduced to construct a new police/fire complex. A new Pierce 1500GPM pumper is placed into service at a cost of $235,000.
November 1995 Department receives a new Road Rescue unit at a cost of $89,000, replacing an older Ford unit from the 1980’s.
1996 Chief Cary resigns. Roger Henson is appointed chief.
January 1998 An arsonist is responsible for dozens of house and mill fires in the town. Local law Enforcement and ATF agents interview several suspects however, no one was ever charged.
Fall 1998 The department changes its uniform shirts from a traditional navy blue Class-B garment to a light blue Class-B
Winter 1998 The department receives their first Thermal Imaging Camera, "a Cairns Iris" from a local citizen at a cost of $25,000. Construction begins on the new public safety building on Federal Road.
1999-2000 Fire Department Headquarters, located on County Road and Rumstick, is closed. The new Public Safety Complex is completed at 100 Federal Road.
February 2000 A fatal house fire in West Barrington prompts a comprehensive manpower study.
March 2000 Study group formed by the Town Council.
January 2001 Manpower study committee highlights various areas of the service to be improved.
November 14 2001 The department takes delivery of a 75-foot ladder truck that is equipped with a water pump and tank. This style of apparatus is commonly referred to as a "Quint". This becomes the first staffed aerial apparatus in the department since 1979. This vehicle was constructed by Smeal Fire Apparatus located in Snyder Nebraska.
July 2003 Chief Henson resigns.
November 2003 Gerald Bessette appointed chief.
Winter 2004 The department constructs an ice rescue unit with specialized equipment. Members designed a new department patch for the station uniforms.
Winter 2005 The department takes delivery of 2 new Zoll 12 lead EKG monitoring machines. Department wide training on cardiac diagnostic interpretation is conducted over several months.
May 2005 The department organizes an honor guard and marching unit.
June 2005 The department conducts Firefighter Level 2 training for all members. Department members work 2 ten hour days followed by 2 fourteen hour nights. Staffing consists of 5 men per shift on a 4 platoon system. Total number of men is 20, plus a chief and administrative assistant.
May 2006 The Town Council recommends creating 4 additional positions for the Fire Department to staff Rescue-2. Voters overwhelmingly supported the additions at the May meeting.
July 17, 2006 The 4 new firefighters began their training. The department consists of 24 firefighter/EMT-C's, and the Chief
October 2006 A truck committee comprised of department members performed extensive research for the development of a new primary pumper for the town. The BFD took delivery of the this custom piece of apparatus after it was constructed by KME Fire Apparatus of Nesquehoning, PA . The truck is equipped with a 1500 GPM pump and a 750 gallon water tank.
October 27th 2006 The Pierce, was taken OOS for repairs and will be placed at HMVFC. The KME is the new Engine 1.
Spring of 2007 The BFD took delivery of a new International ALS Rescue.
Fall of 2007 BFD took delivery of a new Boston Whaler 21' Justice for marine fire/rescue.
Summer 2009 BFD took delivery of a new Ford F-350 with a plow to replace the old Ford F-150. The new truck is assigned as Utility 1. This units primary responsibility is towing Marine 1 to water emergencies. The old Ford was taken by the Barrington DPW
March 2010 The BFD took delivery of a KME/International pumper with a 1250 pump. The 1983 Ford/Ranger was sold to the Chappell Hill Fire Department in Tennessee. The new International is running as reserve Engine 2.
October 2011 Delivery of a new 2011 International/Horton Rescue was taken. The 1997 Ford/Road Rescue was retired
June 2012 The BFD's Marine units have been integrated into the newly formed Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force.
July 2013 The department is awarded $154K through an AFG Grant to upgrade all communications equipment to the RISCON Digital System
July 2014 The Hampden Meadows Volunteer Fire Company (Engine 4) closes it's doors for good ending a long tradition of volunteer service to the town.
September 2014 The towns ISO rating was increased from a 5 to a 3. The dedicated efforts of our members to improve the service over the years is finally recognized. The result in the improved rating means lower insurance premiums to our taxpayers.
April 2016 The Hampden Meadows Volunteer Fire station is purchased by a local developer and demolished.
July 2016 The BFD is restructured to include the rank of Captain. The rank of Captain was eliminated due to financial constraints in the early 80's. Over the next 2 years (2016-2018) through competitive testing, each platoon will consist of 4 firefighters, a Lieutenant, and Captain
July 2017 The department is awarded 524K via a Federal Staffing Grant, (SAFER) to add 1 additional firefighter/EMT-C to each shift bringing the manpower to 7 firefighters per shift.
September 2020 The department takes delivery of a new 100' ladder truck from E-One at a cost of just over 1 million dollars
July 2022 The department changes its uniform scheme from a traditional light blue Class-B garment to a more modern tactical polo style shirt in Navy Blue.