Willimantic Fire Department
by Pete Zizka


This photo shows the four companies of the Willimantic Fire Department. From left to right are the hose wagon of Hilltop Hose Company and the men wearing blouses with the distinctive “3” on them,  the ladder truck of Excelsior Hook and Ladder, the hose wagon of the Alert Hose Company and the hose wagon of the Montgomery Hose Company.  The 1894 souvenir edition of “The  Willimantic Journal” spoke glowingly about  the department  and remarked that ,”the superiority of the fire department is a feature of which the young city boasts and the people are loyal and generous in its support”.  At that time, the department consisted of two firehouses, the headquarters on Bank Street and one on Jackson Street, each with a hose tower. The department had four, four-wheel hose wagons and a hook and ladder truck. In 1903, the department added a third firehouse for the Hilltop Hose Company which had formed in 1897. The members of the companies were affectionately called the “fire laddies” or “the boys”, and were the talk of the town.  The companies, also known as “The Alerts”, “The Excelsiors” and “The Monties”,and the “Hilltops” sponsored dinners, dances, carnivals, parades, and even musicals at the Loomer Opera House and every company event was closely followed by citizens and  reporters alike. In 1926, all four companies were combined in the Bank St. building.  This was the beginning of a new era in Willimantic firefighting from the iconic “Bank St. Headquarters”. This structure stayed in service as the home of the Willimantic Fire Department until the late 1970s, when because of space, and old age, the fire department moved to its present quarters across the street, at the corner of Bank and Meadow Streets. From this new location, the men and women of the Willimantic Fire Department proudly carry on the nearly one hundred and fifty year traditions, pride and willingness to serve that have been the hallmarks of the department.


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