Department History


On February 28, 1828, the Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company was founded by several “men of means” who did so because it was believed that if you had fire insurance, you would not have a fire.  

The fire insurance company ran the fire department and would only put fires out on their insured property that was clearly mark with a “firemark”, a plaque mounted to the front of the building to indicate the building was indeed covered by the Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company.


In January 1829, the Friendly Fire Society of Andover, South Parish was founded by twenty-five local men that wrote by-laws and were accepted and signed by sixty-six men.  To be a member of the fire company you had to follow strict regulations for meeting attendance, equipment inspection, and firefighting procedures.

The fire company was formed as a result of the belief of these men that insurance was not the answer to stopping fires and the fact that the Town of Andover had refused to purchase fire engines.  The Friendly Fire Society promised to provide “prompt and efficient aid” in fighting member’s fires.  There were twenty-five members that responded to fire, held socials, and did community work.  The group held elections to elect a Chief and other officers of the Society.  The Society were all volunteers and accepted donations to fund their operations.

Each member of the Friendly Fire Society of Andover was required to keep either two (2) leather buckets in plain sight at either their homes, shop, or store.  The buckets were were painted red on the inside and dark green on the outside.  The bucket also had to contain the owner’s name, the Society initials and the date it was founded.  In addition, each member was required to have one bag (made) of strong material that was four (4) feet in length and four (4) feet in circumference with a string to draw it close.  It was to be used to place the contents of the building in once saved from the fire and returned to the owner within 24 hours.  Four members of the Fire Society were appointed to inspect each member buckets and bags to ensure they met the specific standards set forth by the Society.  If the items were not up to standard the member could be fined twenty-five cents for each infraction.

The Friendly Fire Society was in service until 1862 when it held its last meeting during the winter months.


In 1833 the Town of Andover appropriated $265.00 to build the South Parish Engine House on Essex Street and to buy hose, buckets, and an Engine.


In 1840 Captain Nathaniel Stevens of North Parish purchased the first piece of firefighting apparatus for Andover, North Parish.  The apparatus was a hand-drawn tub which was three (3) feet high.


In 1850, A  Hunneman’s 401ste engine with 6 inch cylinders and 16 stroke, which was the latest in engine design, was purchased for each Parish.  The Society members would normally be required to pump their hand engine at 60 strokes per minute for efficient water delivery through the fire hoses, but were known on one occasion to push the record at 170 strokes per minute.

Marland Mills and Phillip’s Academy also invested in fire engines due to the increased response times from the Fire Department.


In 1859, J.P. Bradley purchased a Hunneman hand tub for the Ballard Vale Mills which is on display at the Andover Historical Society.


In 1862, The Shawsheen Steam Fire Engine Company was founded after the renaming of the Friendly Fire Society and purchased horse drawn steam pumpers which was a huge step up from the water bucket and hand tubs utilized for fire extinguishment.


In 1864, In Ballardvale, a horse drawn steam engine and ladder company were purchased and utilized for fire extinguishment.


In 1867, three (3) town Warrant articles were introduced to determine what compensation the Town would pay firemen for their services, to see if the town would grant the same compensation to the fire companies in Ballardvale as in Shawsheen, and to see if the Town would pay for fire hose for the fire companies. 


On March 8, 1875 Town Meeting bylaws that were adopted included rules and regulations of the Fire Department which created a Board of Engineers who would oversee the department.  Several positions within the department would be established such as, Chief, First, Second and Third Assistant Chief, Clerk, Foreman, Assistant Fireman, Engineman, Assistant Engineman, Fireman, and Steward.  All positions had specific duties and functions they performed throughout their tenure.  Chief Engineer Joseph W. Poor gave the first ever Annual Report as required by Article IX of the Rules and Regulations of the Fire Department.


In 1882, Chief Engineer John L. Smith was the new Fire Chief and gave his first Annual Report at Town Meeting.


In 1883, a new Engine House was built on Park Street behind Town Hall for a total cost of $9,757.83


In 1885, the Town of Andover appropriated $500.00 for the purchase of a ladder truck.


In 1886, the Town of Andover appropriated $4000.00 for a steam engine which was pulled by two (2) horses named Sam and Jerry.  The “steamer” was called Ballardvale Steamer No. 2 and was driven by Jack Haggerty from 1887 to 1927.


In 1887, Chief Engineer George W. Chandler gave his Annual Report to those in attendance at Town Meeting.


In 1888, Chief Engineer John L. Smith Chandler gave his Annual Report to those in attendance at Town Meeting.


1889 – Up until this year there were only sixteen (16) fire hydrants in town. At Town Meeting in March, the body elected the first Board of Water Commissioners to construct a full water system for a cost of $142,000 that would draw water from Haggett’s Pond.  A reservoir located on the Holt Estate on Bancroft Road would hold enough water to maintain ten (10) water streams for ten (10) hours.  No one could open the fire hydrants or pipes unless they had a permit.


In 1891 Chief Engineer Lewis T. Hardy addressed the Town Meeting with his Annual Report.
In 1896, the Ballardvale Fire Company moved its engine house from one side of Andover Street to the corner of Andover Street and Clark Road on land owned by the Town of Andover.  The engine house had a 67 foot tower for drying hose.



In 1900, both engine houses had telephones installed. Firemen were paid $50.00 annually for their services.


In 1912, Town Meeting recommended the purchase of a Motor Combination Chemical Truck and appointing two permanent men to operate it as it was proven that the new truck would be much less expensive to run than to maintain the eight (8) horses.


In 1913, the Motor Chemical and Hose Car were purchased and placed in service with two permanent firemen.  Fire horses Sam and Jerry were retired to the MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen.  As a result of placing the motor car in service, the two permanent men and the high/low pressure water systems in place, the Town of Andover was able to reduce its insurance rates by 10%.  Andover was the very first community to receive this reduction since the advent of chemical engines in Fire Departments.


1914 – Fire Alarm boxes were being installed in areas throughout Andover to be able to transmit alarms of fire by an overhead wire system.  One pair of horses was sold and another pair and their harnesses were given to the Andover Board of Public Works.  The number of horses left within the department was reduced to five (5). Firemen were paid $50.00 annually for their services.


In 1915, Chief Engineer Charles S. Buchan his Annual Report that indicated he had three (3) Engineers, five (5) permanent men and twenty-six (26) call men, for a total of thirty four on the department.


In 1919, Chief Engineer Charles L. Hill reported at the Annual Town Meeting that he had 31 total personnel on the department.  Firemen were paid $150.00 annually for their services.


In 1921, Chief Engineer Charles F. Emerson provided his Annual Report and Town Meeting voted that the pay of a call fireman at Central Fire Station would be set at $150.00 and those at Ballardvale Station would be paid $75.00.


In 1922, an article at Town Meeting was proposed to see if the Town would accept the provisions of Section 42, 43, and 44 of Chapter 48 of the General Laws to establish a fire department under the control of an officer to be known as the Chief of Department.  This article was withdrawn before a vote could be taken.


In 1923, Town Meeting voted to appropriate the sum of $10,000 to purchase a Motor Ladder Truck for the Fire Department.  They also approved $700.00 to purchase a combination truck and ambulance for use by the Police Department.


In 1925, an article at Town Meeting was proposed to see if the Town would accept the provisions of Section 42, 43, and 44 of Chapter 48 of the General Laws to establish a fire department under the control of an officer to be known as the Chief of Department.  The article passed and Charles F. Emerson was the first appointed Fire Chief of the Andover Fire Department with a salary of $1438.00.


In 1941 Fire Chief Charles F. Emerson retires and Fire Chief C. Edward Buchan is appointed Chief of Department. 


In 1953 the hose tower was removed from the Ballardvale Fire Station.


In 1956, Fire Chief C. Edward Buchan died while still an active Chief.  During his tenure Chief Buchan purchased the first motorized ladder truck, transported patients to the hospital in ambulances, instituted inspections of buildings by fire personnel, appointed the first two (2) Deputy Fire Chiefs, and instituted a three (3) platoon system of operation that allowed for fire protection round the clock.

Fire Chief Henry L. Hilton was appointed Fire Chief.


1959 - Firefighter appointments and promotions are by Civil Service examination only.  The position of Fire Chief is not part of Civil Service.  Firefighters work a 56 hour workweek.  Department promotes another Deputy Chief for three (3) platoon configuration.


In 1967 the West Fire Station was built on the corner of Greenwood Road and Chandler Road.


In 1968 a new Public Safety Center was built to house the Andover Fire and Andover Police Departments.


In 1970, the Andover Fire Department and Andover Police Department move in to a new Public Safety Center on North Main Street.  The old Central Fire Station was demolished to make room for a new parking lot (on Park St.) behind Town Hall.


In 1974, the department reduced the work week of its firefighting force from a 56 hour work week to 42 hours.  As a result the department went from a three (3) platoon system to a four (4) platoon system requiring the promotion of the fourth Deputy Fire Chief. 


In 1976 Fire Chief Henry L. Hilton retires and Deputy Chief William T. Downs was appointed Acting Fire Chief.


In 1977 Acting Chief Downs was appointed to Fire Chief and under his leadership the organization was able to maintain a “reserve” ambulance and fire engine to keep the number of “front line” units the same if one of them were to be taken out of service for preventative maintenance or service.  Chief Downs also began the Firefighter/EMT status within the organization that allows for cross trained – dual rolled personnel to work as Emergency Medical Technicians and Firefighters.  The first full-time day Deputy Chief/ Fire Prevention Officer was appointed under Chief Down’s leadership as was the very first book of rules and regulations for all personnel to abide by.


In 1986 Fire Chief William T. Downs retires.

Fire Chief Harold F. Hayes was appointed as the new leader of the Andover Fire Department. Chief Hayes required all newly appointed firefighters to attend and complete recruit training at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.  He also required all new hires to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians and maintain the certification as a condition of employment.  The Fire Prevention Division was bolstered by the addition of a new Lieutenant position that would assist the Deputy Chief with building code review, inspections, fire prevention activities and permitting.

The two tiered pre-hospital care system in collaboration with Lawrence General Hospital was developed; as well as, the development of departmental Standard Operating Guidelines.  Records became computerized.  The first female Firefighter was appointed under Chief Hayes and Central Dispatch became the responsibility of both the Andover Fire and Police Departments.


In 1996 Fire Chief Harold F. Hayes retires.  
Fire Chief Harold Wright is appointed as the sixth Chief of Department.


In 2000 Fire Chief Harold Wright retires.
Fire Chief Charles Murnane is appointed as the seventh Chief of the Department.


In 2007 Fire Chief Charles Murnane retires.
Fire Chief Michael B. Mansfield is appointed the eighth Chief of Department.