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Strand Theater Gutted by Flames

May 17, 1965 saw the city's newly purchased snorkel truck, the first such apparatus in New Hampshire, put into service. Truck 1 was purchased for $56,300. It soon received a fair trial when shortly after 3 A.M. on December 2, 1965; a two-alarm fire destroyed the roller skating rink at the once popular Pine Island Amusement Park in the Goffes Falls section of the city. Previous fires had destroyed the dance hall and the arcade area of the park.

On June 12, 1967 Hose 4 and Tanker 1 were placed into service. Tanker 1 housed at the Lake Avenue station carried 1000 gallons of water, 30 gal. of wet water, 30 gallons of liquid foam, as well as specialized tools such as acetylene torches, saws, generators, etc. Hose 4 was stationed at Engine 10's quarters carrying hose and a deck gun.

In 1969 Manchester purchased an 85-foot Sutphen tower, the first telescopic aerial tower in New Hampshire.

On October 28, 1969 box #3211 was pulled and a simultaneous telephone call alerted the fire department shortly after 6:30 A.M. of a fire at J. J. Moreau & Son Inc. located on Baldwin and Charles Streets and Brice Avenue. At first it was thought of as a possible chimney fire. Heavy, thick smoke rose above the building, followed by heavy fire breaking out from the rear. Intense radiant heat caused exposure problems several hundred yards away. The under control came 12 1/2 hours later at 7:02 P.M. Moreau’s, billed as the largest department hardware store North of Boston, suffered a "million plus" dollars damage. The building constructed in the 30's wasn't new to fires- two fires struck in 1953 and in 1946 the warehouse behind the Elm Street store suffered damage by fire, but this was worst in the company's history. In February 1971, the new Central Fire headquarters was opened at 100 Merrimack Street replacing the old Vine Street station.

In August of 1975 the fire department replaced the police department’s operation of emergency ambulance service in the city. Ambulance 1 was part of Engine 11 and responded from headquarters. Ambulance 2 originally operated from the Fire King Station and later became part of Engine and Ladder 2. Emergency ambulance service was transferred to a private service as of midnight June 4, 1985. Firefighters are trained as emergency medical technicians and engine companies respond to "life threatening" calls to provide basic life support.

On March 7, 1976 Deputy Chief John Lydon was appointed as Chief of the Department, a position he held until July 1, 1987, retiring after 35 1/2 years of service. Chief Lydon was instrumental in the passage the 1982 ordinance requiring a smoke detector in every dwelling unit.

A fire on June 3, 1976 heavily damaged the former five story Rice-Varick Hotel at 32 Merrimack Street, a century old Manchester landmark. A passerby pulled box #351 at Merrimack and Elm Streets at 8:21 P.M. Within 20 seconds the fire department was on the scene but the fire had a good start. The blaze started in the southwest corner of the top floor. Fifty people were evacuated from the building, which was being used as a rooming house.

On July 17, 1978 Engine Company #3 took delivery of a new Mack pumper. On the same day the once busy Lake Avenue Station was closed forever. Engine Company #3 then quartered at the Somerville Street station along with Engine and Ladder 7 until August 27, 1979 when the new Station 3 opened on Harvey Road.

On August 10, 1978, Granite State Packing Company located at 163 Hancock Street that had housed the canning facilities was destroyed by fire. The fire in the 4 story building broke out at 8:00 P.M. and continued to rage through the next day. The obstinacy of the blaze, resulted from the superior construction of the 100-year-old building that contained asphalt siding and reinforced 12 x 12 timbers. An extensive supply of grease and fat, utilized in the company's operations, also fueled the fire.

In September, 1978 frustration with the lack of progress in negotiating a labor agreement, Manchester Professional Firefighters Association - Local #856 voted to strike. Governor Thompson ordered National Guardsmen to augment the Manchester CETA, probationary members and deputy chiefs for two weeks. Finally a negotiated reduction of work hours and improvement in wages ended the strike. Firefighters contracted work hour reductions over the following years utilizing “O’Malley Days” in their work schedule. On January 1, 1984 a 42 hour week, 4-group, 2- platoon system was instituted for line firefighters. The platoon hours remained the same, 10-hour days and 14-hour nights.

On September 22, 1979 a three-alarm fire destroyed the Springs Poultry Farm building, a wooden 3-story structure on Brown Avenue. Heat from the fully involved structure was so intense that windshields cracked, strobe lights and taillights melted, and the paint blistered on some of the fire apparatus. The building, built in 1897, housed a poultry farm until it was condemned a year before by the Board of Health.

On the evening of December 2, 1980 a kitchen fire spread rapidly destroying “The Elms”, a resort hotel built in the 1930’s. Fire extended rapidly throughout the famed 3 story wooded structure, while firefighters strove to procure an adequate water supply.

On January 11, 1981 a 5 alarm fire destroyed the A. A. Mooney Furniture Company on Central Street. Fire gutted the 3-story brick building and destroyed more than $250,000 in merchandise. The total damage was a half million dollars. Temperatures hovered near zero and 15 m.p.h. winds hampered firefighters, several of them suffering frostbite. Six inches of ice encrusting the streets, hose lines, and fire trucks which marked this fire as one of the coldest battles ever fought in the city. The fire was reported at 2:51 A.M. and brought under control at 9:15 A.M. This was the first 5-alarm fire in the city's history.

In the fall of 1982 a new station for Engine 10 was opened on Mammoth Road near Bridge Street. Aerial tower 3 was also transferred to these quarters. In 1983 Engine 10 was the first company to use four-inch hose as a supply line. On October 2, 1993 this company was the first to use 5 inch diameter hose as large diameter hose was introduced to the department.

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