From even the earliest of times, the Town of Hampstead has had many fires like most other towns and cities around. In the early days, the only means of combating these fires which destroyed several houses and old barns was the effort of neighbors helping other neighbors in the form of a “bucket brigade”. Older town reports show that fire ladders and extinguishers were kept in some homes and businesses throughout different locations within the town. The 1920 Town report lists ten locations were fire equipment was stored, and stated, “At each location there are two extension ladders and a hook. To be used strictly for fire purposes only.” There is no mention of any fire related equipment in years previous to 1920.
The year was 1938 and the Town of Hampstead had a growing population of about 900 people. The idea of having some sort of fire protection was very well accepted at the annual town meeting. In the spring of 1938, The Hampstead Voluntary Fire-Protective Association was established. The newly formed association elected Elmer Ingraham as their president and Levi Duston as Hampstead’s first Fire Chief. The association set forth these goals, “To form a more perfect organization, establish harmony of action and promote the best interests of the townspeople in the protection against fire.” That very same year, the Town of Hampstead bought their first fire engine, a 1938 Ford Pumper which carried two-hundred gallons of water. The cost for this new engine was $2,500. The Fire Department budget that year was $227.50. Also in 1938, the department consisted of 22 active members who responded to a total of 12 fire calls for the year.
From 1938-1941, the Hampstead Fire Department had no fire station. During the winter months, Engine 1 was stored in Elmer Ingraham’s barn at 316 Main Street. Voters at the 1941 Town Meeting approved $2500.00 for construction materials to build a fire station. The location of this new fire station would be at 16 Emerson Avenue, next to the Town Meeting House. All of the labor to construct this new fire station was done by volunteer members of the Fire Association.
As the town began to grow, so too did the fire department. In 1959, it was decided to build a second fire station. This station would be located near the center of East Hampstead at 226 East Main Street. To save the Town of Hampstead money, the fire association not only constructed the building but sold cement blocks for $1.00 each to help defray the cost of building materials. This station originally had two garage doors but due to larger fire apparatus, the mid 1970’s saw a conversion to one large garage door. In 1998, the East Hampstead Fire Station underwent a major renovation, including expanding the height of the building. This station currently houses Engine Three and Hampstead’s original Engine One.
In 1974, several members of the fire department decided to form an Emergency Rescue Squad which would provide immediate emergency medical care to the townspeople. These members were trained in first aid, CPR and auto extrication. The rescue squad consisted of fourteen members, three of whom were women. They operated under the direction of the Board of Fire Engineers but had their own association separate from the fire department. This was until 2002 when the fire department and rescue squad merged to form the Hampstead Fire & Rescue Department.
By the early 1980’s, the fire department had outgrown their central station. In 1983, Francena Little donated land off of Emerson Avenue for a new central fire station. The Town of Hampstead raised $375,000.00 for the completion of a new station. Once again, volunteer labor helped complete interior work. In 1985 the fire department moved out of the fire station on Emerson Ave and into their new central station on Little’s Lane. By 1988, a milestone had been reached as the Hampstead Fire Department celebrated their fiftieth anniversary.
As the Town of Hampstead entered the new century, the fire department once again made history by reaching yet another milestone. Voters at the 2001 town election approved the hiring of two full-time firefighters and a part-time chief, to work a Monday-Friday schedule. In July 2001 Hampstead’s first two full-time firefighters were hired. In 2005 Hampstead hired two more firefighters bringing the total to 4 full-time firefighters accompanied by several call firefighter/EMTs. Also in 2005, the Hampstead Fire Association purchased a 1979 Sutphen ladder truck from the East Derry, NH Fire Department. This piece of apparatus was solely purchased by the association and the Town of Hampstead generously accepted the donation at year end.
The Hampstead Fire Department has seen many changes and grown tremendously since its inception back in 1938. Such a progressive department can only continue to evolve. For all those who have volunteered their unending amount of time, those who are presently serving and those of generations to come; the Hampstead Fire Department would not have been what it is today if it were not for the moral and dedication that has continued to provide the best to all residents of the Town of Hampstead.
During and Before Fire at Shoe Factory at Shop Pond
Levi Dustin 1938-40
Newell Wormwood 1940
Elmer Ingraham 1941
Levi Dustin 1942-45
Roland True 1946-48
Frank Howard 1949-52
Kenneth Duston 1953-54
Alfred Brickett 1955-57
Gene Duston 1957-60
R. Arthur Johnston 1960-61
Russell Hall 1963-64
|Robert Letoile 1965-67|
Clifton Demeritt 1968-69
Paul Wentworth 1970-71
Robert Letoile 1972
Wesley Hodgeman 1973-74
Paul Wentworth 1974
Glenn Fitts 1974
Alfred Brickett 1974-76
Walter "Chip" Hastings 1977-91
Paul Wentworth 1992-93
Kerry Clark 1994-95
Walter "Chip" Hastings 1996-2009
|Michael Carrier 2009 - Present|