Passing The Torch


In order to know where we are going, we have to know where we have been


One of the things I have shared with our new hires is the history of the Marlborough Fire Department.

Our first fire companies were established in 1849 (the Torrent, the Okammakamesit and the Hydraulicon hand tubs) to protect the three main villages that made up the then Town of Marlborough. As in the old days, there was a lot of competition between the companies.   They would help each other at fires, and sometimes they would fight over who got first water on the flames while the structure burned. The three companies were officially organized as one organization in 1855 under the direction of the Reverend Samuel Bucklin. At that time, there were the three hand tubs, a collection of leather fire buckets in various states of repair, hose and the three Engine houses. A ladder company was placed into service in the 1880’s, and horsepower replaced the manpower in pulling the rigs to the scene.  A high pressure fire hydrant system was installed and the first brick and mortar firehouse was built in 1895, with the second built in 1910 as the combined Central Fire Station/Police Station and Courthouse. A third fire station was established in the 1970’s.

The first motorized apparatus came in 1918, with the department fully motorized in 1921. Many lamented the passing of the horse drawn era. Even then, tradition was hard to break.

EMS service began in the 1950’s when resuscitators were placed on the engine companies. The department transitioned from a volunteer fire department to a paid on call with paid drivers to the fully paid department we have today. We had call firefighters up until the mid-1980’s.

Through the diligence of one of our retirees, we have a lot of the old badges from various companies and log books from the 1800s and historical photos from the late 1800s/early 1900’s era as well as photos from the 1920’s through the present day.

We as firefighters have a duty to instill the pride and traditions of the job, and to honor those who got us where we are today and to pass the torch to the next generation. As one of those firefighters who are “seeing the light at the end of the career tunnel” and can retire at any time, we have to do it make sure the history and traditions get passed on.

When I retire, I plan to continue to share what I have learned and what I will still be learning about “the job”… what will you do?




Ron Ayotte Ron Ayotte is one of four Deputy Fire Chiefs with the Marlborough Fire Department, Marlborough, Massachusetts. Ron began his career with the MFD in November of 1981, was promoted to Lieutenant in November of 1988, Promoted to Captain in August of 2000 and was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2006. Ron’s responsibilities at the MFD include incident command, communications, plans review, inspections and training. Ron also works per diem in the Support Services division at the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services/Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, working support for various Academy programs, including Recruit training, Call/Volunteer training, Certification and LNG-LPG firefighting training. Ron’s writings and musings can be seen at Chief Concerns.

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