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Ladder Company 1

Truck Company #1

Ladder Company #1


Ladder Company #1 was organized in 1846 in the quarters of Engine 2 on Main St, near Windsor. The Company, using a hand drawn ladder carriage, was named "Franklin Hook and Ladder 1." Engine 2, sharing the same quarters, at that time was known as "Union Engine Company 2." In 1864, Ladder 1 was modernized with the purchase of horses.

On October 1, 1874, the Company was relocated to the new city building at 5 Western Av., Central Square. Here, Hook & Ladder 1 shared quarters with the newly organized "Supply Hose Company #1." Ladder 1 moved to the new city building at 108 Mount Auburn St., Brattle Square, on July 1, 1880.

In 1890, the Company received a new Abbot and Downing ladder carriage. In 1918, a new American LaFrance motorized truck, with a 75’ aerial ladder, was placed in service.



On Feb. 25, 1934, Ladder 1 moved to its present quarters at 491 Broadway. On March 1, 1935, a new Pirsch tractor trailer with an 85’ aerial was placed in service. This aerial ladder truck was all hydraulically-mechanically operated, one of the first of its kind in North America. The Company ran with this piece of apparatus until 1946, when a new, 1946 tractor trailer with 100’ aerial was placed in service. In 1965, a new 1965 International/Cincinnati Cab tractor was placed under the 1946 trailer. Two years later, a new 1967 International/Cincinnati Cab tractor was placed under the 1946 trailer. (The 1965 tractor was mated with Ladder 2’s 1942 trailer and became spare Ladder 5).

Tragically, on Aug 27, 1968, while en route to a fire, Ladder 1 was involved in a traffic accident with a tractor trailer truck at the intersection Cambridge Street and Prospect Street. One member received fatal injuries and another was severely injured. The apparatus was destroyed. The 1965 tractor/1942 trailer was reassigned to the Company.

On Feb. 18, 1972, an 85’ Sutphen aerial tower was placed in service. The Company designation became "Aerial Tower 1." The Company ran with this apparatus for 14 years. On June 25, 1986, a new, 90’ Sutphen aerial tower was placed in service.

August 29, 1991, "Ladder Company 1" was back in service with a 1976 Seagrave 100’ tractor trailer, 4-door, fully enclosed cab. (This was the former apparatus of Boston Ladder 7). The Sutphen tower was reassigned to Ladder 2.



Ladder Company #1’s present apparatus was placed in service on November 10, 2009.  This piece is a Pierce Arrow XT 105’ rearmount, 4-door, fully enclosed cab. The Company shares quarters at 491 Broadway with Engine 1, Rescue 1, Rescue 2, the Hazardous Materials/Special Operations Command Unit, and the Air Supply Unit. The members of Ladder 1 are trained in and are part of the Cambridge Fire Department Hazardous Materials Task Force.

Currently, there are 20 members on the roster of Ladder Company #1. This includes the captain, 3 lieutenants, and 16 firefighters. X
         -- historical information was provided by Ed Morrissey

Ladder Company #1

photo gallery

Click on the photos below to enlarge

Ladder 1 - 1890 Abbot & Downing

Ladder 1 - 1890
Abbot and Downing ladder carriage
shown in front of quarters, Brattle Square
Note the members of the company, including horses and cat.
photo from the collection of Ed Morrissey

Ladder 1 - 1918 American LaFrance

Ladder 1 -1918
American LaFrance 75' aerial ladder
photo from the collection of Ed Morrissey

Ladder 1 - 1946 Pirsch

Ladder 1 - 1946
Pirsch 100' aerial ladder
shown in front of quarters - 491 Broadway
photo from the collection of Ed Morrissey

Aerial Tower 1 - 1971 Sutphen

Aerial Tower 1
1971 Sutphen 85' aerial tower
photo from the collection of Ed Morrissey

Firehouse - Main and Windsor - 1832

The original quarters of Ladder 1 - 789 Main Street
built 1832
now the Christian Mission Holiness Church
photo by Ed Fowler


Truck 1 Statistics

Fiscal Year Responses Building Fires EMS Mutual Aid
1990/1991 1537 135   3
1991/1992 1362 130   36
1992/1993 1419 212   33
1993/1994 1395 198   46
1994/1995 1382 181   35
1995/1996 1415 190   35
1996/1997 1407 232   33
1997/1998 1424 255   34
1998/1999 1491 194   37
1999/2000 1858 201   29
2000/2001 2103 187   24
2001/2002 2339 92*   24
2002/2003 2474 69   28
2003/2004 2406 76 101 31
2004/2005 2147 74 53 32
2005/2006 1976 73 83 4
2006/2007 2112 71 97 4
2007/2008 2163 66 99 12


Fireman William S. Frazier of Hook & Ladder Company 1 died in the line of duty on Nov. 9. 1872 at Cambridge Box 13 struck for mutual aid to the Great Boston Fire. His body was never recovered. Fireman Frazier was 1 of 2 Cambridge firefighters who died while fighting the Great Boston Fire of 1872.


Ladderman John W. Downing of Franklin Hook & Ladder Company 1 died on April 28, 1873 from a kick of a horse in his charge. Ladderman Downing was killed instantly from the blow.


Fire Captain James E. Crowley of Ladder Company 1 died on April 30, 1951 at Cambridge Box 124 while operating at the Statler Tissue Warehouse fire in Somerville. Captain Crowley was Acting Deputy Fire Chief at the time of his death.


Firefighter Charles A. Jones of Ladder Company 1 died on Aug. 27, 1968 as a result of injuries sustained in the collision between the apparatus and a tractor trailer truck as the Company was responding to a fire at Box 211. Fire Lieutenant William J. Friel was also severely injured in this accident and never returned to duty. X

Life in the year 1846:

In 1846, the population of the City of Cambridge was 13,000. In that year, the fire department budget was $2,752 out of a total city budget of $40,725. (The police department budget was $2018). The fire department was made up of 6 engine companies and 1 hook & ladder company housed in 6 fire stations. Samuel Sanders was the Chief Engineer.

In 1846, few streets in the city were paved. There was no city street cleaning or rubbish removal. Construction of the first sewer system section was begun in 1845. The public water system, via wooden water mains from a reservoir on Spring Hill, Somerville, was limited.

The mayor of Cambridge in 1846 was 48 year old James Green. James Knox Polk was president of the United States, the country’s eleventh president. AT this time the country’s population was about 20 million. In 1846, the United States and Mexico were at war. As a result of the U.S. victory in this conflict, Texas, California, and the Southwestern states were ceded by Mexico to the United States. Also, in this year, the Wilmot Proviso was enacted by congress, prohibiting slavery in territories acquired from Mexico. In an agreement with Great Britain, the northwest border of the United States was established at the 49th parallel.

In Cambridge, as in the rest of the country, the Industrial Revolution was in its beginning stages. Cambridge, even in 1846, was well on the way to industrial development with 94 manufacturing establishments in business this year. Manufacturing in Cambridge at this early date included ice-making, hardware and tools, bricks, glass, candles, chemicals, leather goods, cordage, twine, hats, caps, clothing, raw cloth, wool, cotton, and silk products, upholstery, railroad cars and coaches, wagons, carriages, and other vehicles, dyes, drugs, spices, furniture, chairs, cabinetware, mahogany products, tinware, metal products, machinery, brushes, cardboard products, cardboard boxes, barrels, confectionery products, bakery products, musical instruments, starch, tallow and soap. It is estimated that the value of goods manufactured in Cambridge in 1845 was $50 million. (This estimate is in 1845 dollars).

As today, education was important in Cambridge. Harvard University was a well established institution long before 1846. There were 13 school houses in the city. Corporal punishment was the norm in the public school of 1846.

Most of the United States was agricultural. Mechanization of agricultural machines had not yet taken place. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1846. The steam engine was in use but was still in early development. Margaret Fuller was writing in the New York Tribune, Herman Melville was writing about life on the islands and on the sea, and Nathaniel Hawthorne was writing from Salem. Napoleon Bonaparte was coming into power in France. George Westinghouse was born in 1846, as was Buffalo Bill Cody.

The American Indian wars and full oppression of the American Indian had not yet begun. It was not until 30 years later that the Blackfoot and Oglala Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Minneconjous, the Brules, and Sans Arcs would defeat George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn, Dakota Territory. The Civil War was still 15 years in the future.

The telephone had not yet been invented. Telegraph was the state of the art in communication. In 1846, Richard Howe invented the rotary printing press which revolutionized the publishing and newspaper industry. The construction and expansion of railroads was in beginning stages and was only regional. In the City of Cambridge, railroad development was intense in passenger service but especially in freight service in support of the industrial economy. There was no transcontinental railroad. The chief mode of urban transportation in 1846 was by foot or horse or horsecar. The electric trolley was in its infancy. The elevator had not yet been invented. The refrigerator had not been invented. Overseas travel and trade was carried on via sail by clipper ships. X

- jjg

for additional information on Truck Company #1 contact the Captain
Captain David J. House
e-mail address: dhouse@cambridgefire.org

Engine 1

Ladder 1

Rescue Company #1