Erie Fire Company Circa 1903
Erie 4 was formed in the year 1854 for the purpose of protecting property from fire in the so-called Byfield District of Georgetown and Newbury, Massachusetts. The Company organized with four officers, about twenty men and no equipment. A used Hunneman Hand Tub was purchased by the men of the Company who reportedly used their mustering out pay for this purpose. The name Erie No. 3 was painted on the Hand Tub and it was decided to adopt the name Erie, and (as Erie was the fourth owner) to call both the Hand Tub and the Association the Erie No. 4.
In the year 1857, the Town of Georgetown recognized Erie No. 4 as part of the Georgetown Fire Department and voted an appropriation of $25.00 a year and donated 50 feet of hose. In 1859, a fund had accumulated sufficiently enough to warrant the putting up of a Fire and Meeting House. A two story building was erected on the site of present Engine House at 476 North Street. In 1860, the Town of Georgetown raised its appropriation to $50.00 a year. On June 28, 1884, Erie 4 received the "North Star No. 4" Hand Tub and in 1914 purchased the "Old Bill" a 10" Button Hand Tub from Pennington, New Jersey.
An alarm of fire was given at 4:30 A.M. on the morning of May 20, 1915 by Ira Newton who discovered smoke issuing from the Erie Engine House. By the time assistance arrived, the whole front of the lower part of the building was in flames and it was impossible to save either the "Erie 4" or "Old Bill" hand tubs. The company lost everything they owned, including all records and minutes of the Association meetings. The night of the fire, members of the Association met under the street light across from the ruins and voted to continue as a fire company and to rebuild. Six days later the company enforced this resolve by voting to incorporate.
The Current site was deeded to Erie 4 (for as long as there is a fire company or veterans association) by the heirs of George D. Tenney. Work was started on the foundation of the new building on June 14, 1915, the first meeting was held on December 14, 1915 in the new fire house. On July 14, 1916 the association purchased "The Ginger" hand engine of Jamaica Plain for $300, and renamed it "Erie 4", we still have this hand tub today. The "Ginger" was to be the last piece of horse-drawn equipment purchased for fire fighting purposes.
The second piece of motorized equipment in the Town of Georgetown, a Peerless Limousine purchased by Erie 4, was delivered in August, 1919. The town had received a Garford truck on October 10, 1918. From 1923 to 1997 the company owned and sold eight engines. In 1997 we purchased Combination 4".
Some of the larger fires that Erie has participated in were the Byfield Mills, Parker River Mills, Georgetown Town Hall, Memorial Hall, Perley Free School, Masonic Block Fire, Brick Block Corner North and West Main Streets, Curtis Ice Houses, Elliot's Ice Houses, South Byfield Church, the Great Forest Fire of 1947, and the East Main Street Apartment House Fire of 1994.
Until the Protection No. 1 Fire Company was formed in Byfield in 1922, that section of Newbury depended on Erie 4 for its fire protection and many calls were answered faithfully. Our fire fighting is now restricted to Georgetown, unless called upon for mutual aid.
The present 3,400 square foot engine house (built by the members) has been expanded twice since originally built in 1915. The most recent expansion, started in 1974 and completed in 1978, has resulted in a three bay engine house with a hose tower, an air-conditioned function hall, and a full kitchen.
Today and in the future, this Association hopes to live up to its motto of: "Warm Hearts - Willing Hands"