Memories of Firefighting in Cotuit

By Marina Davalos | Above: The present-day fire station at 64 High St. Photo courtesy of Britton Crosby,; Below: Photos courtesy of the Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit

The Cotuit Fire District can be traced back to the 1800s, with records cataloging firefighting in 1886. In 1916, the first motorized fire engine on Cape Cod was brought to Cotuit—a 1916 Ford Model T American LaFrance fire engine. The engine had a motorized chemical pumper by which firefighters would pump in water from nearby ponds (the chemicals in the tanks helped pressurize the water). Benny Dottridge, the great grandson of Alexander Seabury Childs (Cotuit’s first elected fire chief in 1912), recalls hearing stories of the old days. “They used to roll that thing all the time,” he laughs, talking about the 1916 engine. “They’d just get right back on.” In 1920, a permanent engine house was constructed at the corner of Main and School streets. In 1929, the lot on High Street, where the station is currently located, was purchased and construction started in 1937. In 1990, the building was completely renovated, adding additional office space, a training room, overnight facilities and a gym. Newly elected fire chief Paul Rhude, a Cotuit native, says the district welcomes the public, including kids, to visit and tour the building. “We’re always looking to increase our presence in the community,” he says.

Fourth of July celebration, 1916, in front of the old fire station on Main Street

The 1916 Ford Model T American LaFrance fire engine—the first motorized fire engine on Cape Cod.

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