1950 - 1980

1951 saw the beginnings of concern for firefighter safety with the purchase of two Scott Self Contained Breathing Apparatus. These early models were primitive and not favored by most firemen. More Air Packs would be purchased and technology would advance over time to equip every fire unit with the required number of four air packs.

In 1953, a new Ford Forestry Fire Engine was placed in service at Station 1. This unit was the first vehicle to be equipped with a two way radio. Over time all fire department vehicles and firehouses would be equipped with radio communications. In 1954 the Fire Department was kept busy when the East Coast was hit by two hurricanes. Members remained on duty until power and phone lines were restored. This year also saw the first resuscitator placed in service. Rudimentary emergency medical care was now provided by the Fire Department.

One of the largest fires to occur in the history of Freetown occurred in December 1955 at the Crystal Springs Bleachery located on South Main Street in Assonet. Mutual Aid from several surrounding communities was needed to extinguish this massive blaze.

On November 26, 1956 a New Ford Pumper equipped with a 600 GPM pump was placed in service at Station 2In July of 1957 a spectacular blaze occurred at the Woolen Mill located on Chace Road. Firefighters were frustrated in putting out the fire due to lack of water in area. On November 13, 1957, a used tank trailer was received. After repairs were made to make the trailer serviceable for the fire department, this unit was placed in service in 1958. The water trailer eventually would be housed in the “old town barn” in 1959. Local businesses would provide a tractor and a driver to pull the water trailer to fires. In 1958 the East Freetown Firefighters Association raised money to purchase and equip an ambulance and presented it to the town. The ambulance, a Cadillac, was placed in service at Station 2. Ambulance service began in Freetown.

The 1960’s was a busy decade for the Fire Department. First, the addition of a New Rescue Truck placed in service at Station 1 on July 18, 1960.  In 1964 the ambulance at Station 2 was replaced with the 1958 Cadillac. In 1965 the Town of Freetown purchases Insta Alert Home Recievers for all Firefighters. These receivers, as the pagers and station tone alert system are today, were tested nightly at 1830 hrs. On August 2 that year the Communications Center was officially in operation at the Town Hall. On February 14, 1968 a New Ford Pumper equipped with a 750 GPM pump is placed in service at Station 1. The 1945 Buffalo was traded in as part of the purchase price.  Also in ’68 the East Freetown Firefighters Association requested the Board of Selectmen to place an article on the town warrant to have displayed numbers on houses, businesses, and building lots. By 1969 the need for a permanent place to house the Fire Department equipment in East Freetown led to Station 2 being purchased for a sum of $22,000.00. Also in ’69, the Board of Fire Engineers voted to drop the age for membership to the department from 21 years to 18 years old. Finally, in April 1969, the Board of Fire Engineers voted to purchase a 1950 Ford Fire Truck from the Farrar Company and turned the 1933 Chevrolet over to the selectmen to be disposed of.

In 1970 the Board of Fire Engineers purchased a new ambulance, an Oldsmobile, for $14,500.00. In 1972 Freetown Firefighters were trained in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation by the National Heart Association. The town purchased an Ice Rescue Sled Boat for the Fire Department. The East Freetown Firefighters Association bought a trailer and motor for the boat. The Old Hand Tub Engine was moved to the Historical Society Building. This year also saw the introduction of portable radios into the fire department.

1973 was a historic year with the appointment of the first three full time firefighters and the delivery of a new Pumper, a Ford L-9000 750 GPM, which was placed in service at Station 2. 1974 saw the acquisition of a 13 foot Boston Whaler Rescue Boat for Station 2. In 1975 the Board of Fire Engineers purchases new Poly-Carbonate fire helmets for all members replacing the old aluminum fire helmets. The first of many members complete Emergency Medical Technician Training.

By 1976 Emergency medical responses became the bulk of work for the fire department and all members received First Responder Training. Also in this year the Board of Fire Engineers voted to adopt a new work schedule for fulltime members. It consisted of six days on duty, followed with 3 days off duty. This schedule would become a mainstay in the fire department for next twenty four years. The Board at this time also established the requirements for the department work uniform. The uniform would consist of navy blue pants and light blue shirts for privates and officers were given the option of wearing a white or light blue shirt when reporting for duty.

In 1977 the Fire Department was saddened with the loss of Chief Adelino Souza due to illness. The Fire Department received its first Class 1 Modular Ambulance, a Chevrolet and dedicated it to Chief Souza.

In 1978 the Fire Department was kept busy with the arrival of the great blizzard. Members were recalled to man stations during the tenure of the storm. Fire department assisted the highway department to stop the Forge Pond Dam from overflowing and flooding Assonet Village. Also in May of this year, the Communications Center was moved from the Town Hall to the Police Station, where it resides today.

In 1979 The Fire and Police departments joined forces with the Lions Club to raise money to purchase the Jaws of Life. Also in 1979, March 17-26, the Fire Department spent eight days battling a major tire fire off of Braley Road in East Freetown. Many departments from Southeastern MA were called to assist. Other notable blazes of the 70’s were the Beech Bluff Lounge on Middleboro Rd, the Wood Shavings fire off of Chace Road and a gasoline tanker truck fire on Route 24.

In December of 1979 the first Full Time Fire Chief was appointed. The Board of Fire Engineers ceased to exist.

Page 3: 1980 - 1990