by: Joshua Shanley
Settled not long after the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth, Europeans were living in Northampton, Massachusetts, by 1653. Throughout the early years, fire was a constant threat. And not long after the first fires destroyed buildings constructed of thatched roofs and wooden chimneys, townspeople organized a fire department. Although not officially established until 1857 after a spate of arson fires throughout the 1840s, the earliest fire protection equipment was purchased in 1792, comprised of buckets and hooks and ladders that were grabbed by anyone in town available to assist within earshot of the dreaded cry of "fire." By 1870, the Northampton Fire Department was comprised of four companies located in downtown, Florence, Bay State, and Leeds, each with hose wagons and hand tubs pulled by men before they were replaced by horse-drawn steam-powered engines and then motorized apparatus. Today, Northampton Fire Rescue responds to more than 3,000 calls each year, providing a variety of emergency services to the people of Northampton.