History of the Three Rivers Fire Dept

The Three Rivers Fire Department was organized in 1912 through the efforts of the late Joseph Belanger, one of Three Rivers' prominent citizens. The village had experienced two large fires, one in 1900 and the other in 1906.

The first fire destroyed several tenements and business places owned by Mr. Belanger in the north side of Main Street near what was known as Twiss's stables. The second one started in what was known as the old "Bee Hive", situated just east of the present Belanger Avenue. This building was originally the old Methodist Church at Four Corners, which had been moved and made into an eight tenement dwelling. Besides destroying this building, four other houses were damaged. Two other fires took place after these, one being in 1912 which destroyed the old French Hall, situated on the site of the present hall. In 1912 the French Church burned. A new church was erected on the same site. This was the last big fire in the village.

Following the 1906 fire, Mr. Belanger felt that there was urgent need of a village fire department, as the only protection in the village was voluntary assistance from the Palmer mill, which had no equipment except hose. After considerable effort, a department was organized with 22 members. A two wheeled wagon, which had to be drawn by the firemen carried the equipment. The late Charles Ruggles was made the first fire chief. The prudential committee was composed of Joseph Belanger, Peter Senecal and Albert Barber. The first board of engineers was Joseph Palin, Homer, Chalifoux, and Thomas Pendergast. Fred Camerlin was the first clerk. Later the equipment was attached to a wagon in case of a fire and drawn by a horse. The first building to house the equipment was a tin shed on Main Street owned by Charles Ruggles on the site of the present Polish Hall.

In 1916, the department purchased an American LaFrance automobile truck, which was equipped with chemical tanks and ladders. Clinton Barber was the first driver. This truck was turned in last year for a new Mack and the department at the present time is well rated by underwriters. The old truck was kept in a building adjoining Pickering Hall, just west of the Central Vermont railroad station. Pickering Hall and the engine house were destroyed by fire several years ago, and in 1932 the present brick engine house was erected on the north side of Main Street, near the Central Vermont tracks. It is a two story modern building, with a firemen's room in the upper story and the truck stored on the street floor.

The building committee was as follows: P. Belanger, chairman; Louis Laviolette, Alfred Brown, and Daniel Fogarty.

Members of the original fire department, including two substitutes are as follows:

Charles Ruggles Clinton Barber Alcide Barber George Rogers
Wells Ruggles Louis Mayotte Philip Morriseau Frank Rogers
Thomas Holt Leo Leviellee Eugene Giboulear Henry Gibouleau
Edward Barton Adrian Paquette August Flammand Homer Chalifoux
Herman Lebeau George Palin William Fenton Robert Blair
Frank Horgan Adelard Lebeau Victor Fournier Emile Bengle

Of this number Holt, Paquette and Rogers are still members.

Homer Chalifoux was second fire chief, Robert Blair, third and George Rogers, the present one, is the fourth to serve. The second clerk was Puymirol Belanger, the third was Daniel Horgan and the fourth and present one is Frank Fleury. The prudential committee at the present time consists of Joseph Graveline, Ludwik Marhelewicz and Louis Leveillee.

The following article was taken from the September 2, 1934 edition of the Springfield Sunday Union and Republican.