1863: A Steam Fire Engine

Some time since the subject of a Steam Fire Engine was brought to the notice of our citizens. It received considerable attention, and we believe one would have been purchased before this but for war matters which have since engaged public attention to the exclusion of almost everything else. But the purchase of such a machine is of great importance now, especially on account of the crippled condition of our fire department. Should a fire break out some night in a central part of the city, the consequences would probably be most disastrous, for we have at present no adequate means for meeting such an emergency. Ought not such an engine to be purchased? We publish the following communication on the subject :

Editors of “The Constitution” :

Several months since, the large fire on the corner of College and Water streets demonstrated the inefficiency of our Hand Fire Engines, and the necessity of having a Steam Fire Engine, in Middletown. You, through the columns of your paper, called the attention of our citizens to this want, and endeavored to induce them to take some interest in this matter. I believe that some few did talk about it, and that some one commenced collecting statistics relative to Steam Fire Engines ; but since that we have heard nothing about it and as yet we have no machine of this kind. Is a matter of so much importance to be allowed to rest here? The past has proved to us that our city with its streets full of wooden buildings, is not sufficiently protected against fire ; and perhaps a few months more may prove it more fully. If we look back a short distance, we will see that for quite a number of years, not a winter has passed without our having a destructive fire in some part of the city. This winter we have had none, and we are not prepared for one. Many of our old firemen are off in the army, and what few are left would make a poor display, should a fire break out on Main street, or on any street where the buildings are near to each other. We need a Steam Fire Engine. I know that our expenses are great, but ought we not to endeavor to prevent their being greater by securing ourselves against loss by fire? Will not the proper authorities attend to this? We do wrong to neglect it longer.     H. W. F.

–From the Middletown Constitution, Jan. 14, 1863.

5 thoughts on “1863: A Steam Fire Engine

  1. Just read about this site in the Hartford Courant and logged right on; very interesting and a very good idea ! One suggestion I would have would be to include pictures if at all possible. The one with the two bridges is great!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. On the site where the National Paint & Wallpaper building now stands ( 32 Washington St) there once stood a house where both George Washington and Benedict Arnold slept during meetings being held in Middletown during the Revolutionary War . The Middletown Press reported this in an article they wrote when this house was set for demolishion when Cherry St was being transformed into present day Dekoven Dr. I think this article was around the late 1970’s. It would be great if you could reprint that article !


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