By Michael Perna Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Our photograph this week shows a group of what was the Shrewsbury Fire Department (all volunteers at the time) working one of the two “hand tubs” – either the Fountain or Quinsigamond engines, on the town common in September 1903.
We must remember that the only fire protection the town had, from the 1850s until the 1920s, consisted of these two “hand tubs”. Perhaps this practice was in response to the disastrous “Buck Fire” of 1902, where a number of houses burned, along with several casualties, in the area of what is now West Main Street.
The Shrewsbury hand tubs were not successful in fighting that particular blaze – assistance had to be requested from Worcester, as the Shrewsbury equipment wasn’t able to operate efficiently enough to fight the fire. Fortunately today, both the Fountain and Quinsigamond hand tubs have been not only preserved but restored and are on display at the Fire Department Headquarters in the center of town, relics of a time long ago, when fire fighting in the town was much different than it is today!