The Branford Fire Department is an organization, which is currently comprised of twenty-eight Career Professional Firefighters and over one hundred Volunteer Firefighters. Its origin may be traced to the early 1800’s. At that time, loosely organized bucket brigades protected the town. A primitive system of church bells was used to alert citizens when a fire was discovered. Any able-bodied man or woman would be recruited to man the brigade. Water was usually drawn from a near-by well.
In 1898 Branford Lockworks established a private fire brigade in their industrial complex on Main Street. Later it became an independent fire company under the direction of lockworks foreman Martin Burke the first Captain of the company. By 1900 the Martin Burke Hook & Ladder Company 1 had seventy-four members.
In 1899 as the town grew larger, more organized fire companies evolved. The Louis A. Fisk Hose Company 1 was the town’s first fire company. It was named after town selectman Louis A. Fisk. The Fisk Company operated until 1917 and was later absorbed into what would be known as Headquarters Company 8. In 1901 the town purchased land on Hillside Avenue to erect a fire station. The station was erected for two thousand one hundred dollars. This building would house the Martin Burke Company 1 and the Louis Fisk Hose Company 1.
Marcus 5 & Dime November 1960The M.P. Rice Hose Company 2 and the Stony Creek Rescue Company 5 were later organized on or about the turn of the century.
The Short Beach Hose Hook & Ladder Company was organized in 1911. At that time, the Town of Branford supplied several lengths of fire hose and a nozzle, which were kept in Edward Knowles grocery store. A chapel bell would be rung to alert the volunteers when there was a fire. In 1912 F.G. Hart donated land to the fire company for the purpose of erecting a firehouse.
By 1934, Indian Neck Fire Company 9 was granted permission to organize. By 1936 Headquarters Company 8 volunteers split into two separate companies and Hook & Ladder Company 1 was organized. At about the same time, the Pine Orchard Fire Company 6 was established.
In April 1962, a proposal was presented to the Board of Finance for the need of a modern central Fire Headquarters facility. On September 12, 1962 the RTM approved one hundred ninety thousand dollars for a new facility to be built on North Main and Cherry Hill Road. Bids were opened on February 6, 1963, the low bid of one hundred sixty-five thousand dollars going to the Branford Tile and Building Company. The new fire station was completed in October 1963 for one hundred eighty six thousand dollars. The new building would be staffed with career personnel. Jack Tweed was hired as full-time Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal, along with six new firefighters, Wayne Babcock, Charles Sampson, Louis Yanac, Hal Prisley, Phillip Burns, and Bruno Ceccolini. All the men had been members of the Branford Volunteer Fire Department.
Town Apparatus 1954Gradually, older equipment was replaced with newer more high-powered and technically advanced apparatus. Training became much more comprehensive and the merger of the Branford Ambulance Department in November of 1992 became an integral component of the department.
Today as always, the Branford Fire Department remains committed to the service and protection of the community and to the men and women of the department who serve with distinction.
Dorrance Johnson, Department Historian