The Rockland Fire Department traces its routes back to Old Abington.
In 1833, a subscription paper was circulated in order to secure money to purchase a fire engine. 53 people signed up, each donating $200. An engine was purchased, but little is known of this unit. It was believed to have been a small Chemical Cart (soda acid) that was hand drawn.
Further along, in 1839, The Selectman of old Abington appointed 27 men as "engine men", to act at the "will and pleasure" of the selectman. They were organized as "Engine 1".
March 8, 1868, the town voted to establish 4 hook and ladder companies in Abington. These were known as Center, North Abington, East (Rockland) and South (Whitman). There was no mention of engines, so it is assumed that the old Chemical engine purchased by subscription was still used here in the "East District". While the old Chemical engine saw good service, it still was not adequate to protect the growing town.
Again, a movement to purchase an engine by subscription came forward and was successful. It was built by the Hunneman Co. of Boston MA. It was a squirrel tail hand tub, meaning its suction hose was carried up and over the back of the rig, much like a squirrel’s tail! This engine became know as the “King Philip.” It was originally hand drawn, but was quickly adapted to be horse drawn. Some time in the 1880's, a hose carriage was purchased and was trailered behind the engine to provide hose right to the pump for a faster response.
On the King Philip, you could put as many as 20 men on each pump handle or "brake". The pump itself was really two oversized farm well pumps, working in opposition to each other. There was a lever that would shift the operation from suction from pond or river, to filling from the tub...BY BUCKET BRIGADE!! Remember, this was in the days before there was a water works!
The Department consisted of a Board of Engineers (Chief Engineer, a 1st and 2nd assistant Chiefs and a Clerk). The Engine Company numbered around 35 with the ladder company running at a similar level.
The original members were true "volunteers", but at some point, probably coinciding with the incorporation of Rockland, the members would be "paid on call."
To Be Continued...