In the mid to late 1800's the Villages of Winthrop and East Winthrop suffered some significant losses from fires that ravaged homes and businesses. As different areas across New England suffered through the same types of devastation Fire Protection became an issue that could not be overlooked. According to the Illustrated History of Kennebec County the Village of Winthrop raised $1,000 by subscription and voted to spend $3,000 to install 10 fire hydrants, 3,000' of pipe for the water supply and a large volume pump in the basement of a mill over the millstream.
On August 19, 1883 The Payson Tucker Hose Company #1 was formed in an effort to support the town's new hydrant system. The Hose Company was named after Payson Tucker who at the time was a Superintendent for the Maine Central Railroad in Portland, Maine.
It is not known why the department named their company after Payson Tucker. It is theorized that Mr. Tucker donated some or all of the equipment to get the fire department started. In addition to his position with the railroad Payson Tucker was involved in banking. Charles A. Wing, who was a founding member of the department and the Second member to serve as Chief of the Department, was President of a bank in Winthrop and it is suspected that he may have solicited money from Mr. Tucker to get the Company started.
Payson Tucker Hose Company started with 25 able-bodied men. There were no significant fires during the first 10 years of their existence. According to fire reports in 1893 a fire started in the basement in a business located on Main Street near the mill. The Hose Company was on the scene and had 4 powerful streams of water on the fire within 10 minutes of the alarm. The fire had spread to the business of Charles Wing the Chief Engineer at the time. The minutes state that this was the first real test of the Company and they proved to do an excellent job.
Today the Winthrop Fire Department maintains their commitment to the founding members of this Hose Company. Their Pride in the Community still drives the 27 members that serve the current roster. Today the Fire Department is led by Chief Dan Brooks, only the 13th person to serve as Chief.
It is important for all of us to have close ties to our history. The members of the Winthrop Fire Department maintain the pride that has made us who we are and the history of this fine organization. A picture of Payson Tucker still hangs in our meeting hall today. Noted in the minutes of a meeting in 1886 by Chief Charles Wing "The picture is a good likeness to Mr. Tucker". Today our modern fleet of fire apparatus still bears his name and the highly trained individuals who make up this fine company can be seen sporting Payson Tucker Hose Company shirts all over town. Fire is a horrible thing and has changed the face of our community many times. We remain ever ready to defend the lives and property of the community we are sworn to protect.
Thanks to: Robert Pelletier Captain/Retired and Department Historian