Windham Life and Times – September 24, 2021

Cobbett’s Pond Fire Department: 1954-1968

Does anybody know who the woman in the bathing suit standing in front of the Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Dept. truck could be? I am quite sure the truck is parked on Community Beach because I can see the lake behind the truck. The photo is double exposed but it gives you an idea of what this Volunteer Department on Cobbett’s Pond was all about. Dick Ford explained to me that Chief Harris had an alarm in front of his cottage. If there was a fire you knocked on his door and he would turn on the electricity to the alarm for you.

   So I was asked whether I had ever heard of the Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Department, and I actually had not even though there is quite a bit of information in Rural Oasis about it. Dennis Root was good enough to track down and copy a photograph he had of one of the trucks for me.  It’s a little double exposed but you get the idea. It looks as if it is parked on Community Beach in this photograph. Does anybody know the girl in the bathing suit posing in front of it?

     Rural Oasis says, “In 1954 a group of summer residents at Community Beach on Cobbett’s Pond started the “Cobbett’s Pond Volunteer Fire Department.” The leader, Richard (Dick) Harris, made a canvass of that area of the pond seeking funds to purchase a second hand fire truck. He visited every camp owner in his area and succeeded in Collecting the sum of $411.50. Of this money $200 was used to purchase a second hand 1923 American Lafrance fire truck which had belonged to Belmont, Massachusetts department. The rest of the cash was used to buy new hose and the necessary material for restoration. However, this truck did not prove too successful for its use was limited to a very short distance from the pond. In 1956 it was sold by James McKeon to a group on Beaver Lake.

     A new group of volunteers was then formed and a new truck was purchased. This was a 1946 Chrysler oil tank truck.  Many hours were spent converting it to a fire truck. Most important was the installation of a booster pump and new hose which could send water 175 feet. Much of this work was done by Doug Marshall, George Hughes, Fred Marquebreuck, Dick Harris, and Harry Pearse who was a member of the Malden, Massachusetts, Fire Department. Sirens were installed at various locations, these donated by James McKeon. A truck siren was donated by Ollie Lalumiere and a hose reel by the Wakefield, Massachusetts, Fire Department, with valves and piping installed by Dick Harris.

    A charter was drawn up and Dick Harris was named chief, Walter Lalmiere, assistant chief, William Benkoski, captain, and Gustaaf DeVits, first lieutenant. During the summer months there was always the danger of a serious fire and on more than one occasion small blazes were kept under control until the regular fire trucks arrived, no doubt preventing the loss of one or more summer homes. This group remained active until 1968 when it was disbanded and the truck was sold.     

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