Derby History Quiz

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Hotchkiss Hose Company #1


First motorized fire engine in Derby

First motorized fire truck in Derby.

The Hotchkiss Hose Company is the oldest continuously operating fire company in Derby, but it was not the first. That honor belongs to the Derby Fire Engine Company which was chartered by the state in 1830 to serve the inhabitants of Derby Landing. Their first fire house was located at the corner of Gilbert and High Streets and had two levels. The first level was on Gilbert Street and the "fire engine" was located there while the second floor which opened onto High Street housed the city's public hearse! Eventually, this fire company was phased out as the population shifted to the other side of the Naugatuck River.

In 1837, entrepreneurs Sheldon Smith and Anson Phelps petitioned the state for a charter for a new fire company to serve the growing borough of Birmingham on the west side of the Naugatuck River. The state granted the charter for a company and a fire house was eventually built in 1844 in an area known as "Reservoir Hill" which is actually Caroline Street. Prior to that, they had been located at the corner of Third and Minerva Street.

In 1851, a group of businessmen in town formed the Strom Engine Company as a total abstinence fire company!

In 1872, the Birmingham Fire Company changed its name to the L. Hotchkiss Hose Company, but the L was dropped in later years. Hotchkiss had been one of the petitioners for the Birmingham Fire Company as well as a charter member and company foreman.

The fire house on Caroline Street was remodeled and expanded in 1878 and 1890 before razed to make way for a new fire house which today serves as the city's homeless shelter - Spooner House.

Being in a generous holiday spirit, we gave credit to those who named either the Derby Fire Engine Company or the Birmingham Fire Company. For a more detailed history of fire companies in Derby, read the full account written by Bertrand O. DeForest Historian, Hotchkiss Hose Co. No. 1 as written for the Evening Sentinel. Click here.

Correct answers from this quiz came from : Tom Chebro, Ozzie(Neustaedter) Ben Ezra, Kimberly Shelton, Bob Ahearn, Pat Dimon, Randy Ritter, Gary Greeme, Edward Baclawski, Robert Hyder, Dave Lenart, Marsha Pettengill, Ken Dupke, Joan Driscoll, Mayor Marc J. Garofalo, Mary Lou Boroski, C.F.Douglass, Ann Searles, Alexander C. Wailionis, and Henry Wajdowicz.

To see our other earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.