History of the Salem Fire Department
Todays Fire Service is based on history and tradition. Those men and women who came before us passed on what they learned to make us the professionals of today.
On May 13, 1905, the Town of Salem organized the first fire department in town. It consisted of eighteen citizen volunteers who protected approximately 2100 residents. These members responded from their homes to the first fire stations in Town. These were known as; Hose House 1 - located at Main & Millville Street, and Hose House 2 - located at Main and Bridge Street. Hose House 2 still stands at the same spot today as a fire museum which is operated by the Salem Historical Society.
On July 19, 1954, Salem Firefighter Charles Lester Kimball made the supreme sacrifice when he was killed in the line of duty at a barn fire during a collapse.
One of the primary functions in today's fire service is emergency medical services. In 1962 the Salem Fire Department took over providing ambulance service from a local funeral home. This was the beginning of what would become one of most significant and life saving functions the Salem Fire Department provides.
While there have been many significant incidents and fires over the years in Salem, one of the largest was the Rockingham Race Track Grandstand. On July 29, 1980, at approximately 6:45 two security guards discovered the fire. But because the building was constructed in 1906 mostly of wood, the significant fire load caused the fire to take off and consume the building rapidly. It has been reported the fire was so large that smoke could be seen as far as Boston.
In the mid 1990s, the Salem Fire Department began to provide advanced life support services (Paramedics) to the community. This was significant in the fact that Salem was one of only a handful of fire departments in the region that provided paramedic service.
At the same time, the Town of Salem began to see significant development in retail and commerical buildings. This was to be the beginning of significant growth, which is still occuring today in 2019. This growth in the Town also created an increase in responses for the fire department. These changes resulted in the Salem Fire Department growing to provide 17 person staffing / 24 hrs a day/ 365 a year now in 2019. And as Salem is still growing, the fire department works diligently to handle every request for help that comes in to us.