This story was featured in the South End Neighborhood Association’s newsletter “South End News,” Volume 1, Issue 3, April/May 2016.
Waterville’s fire house on College Avenue is hard to miss, but what many people don’t know is that the City’s fire department was once housed in a central station and three sub-stations across the City. “The Plains,” today’s South End Neighborhood, was home to one of these firehouses, Station 3. This firehouse most commonly remembered and written about was located on Water Street. However, prior to the Water Street location, different houses in the neighborhood were used as firehouses. While Station 3 remained the consistent name of the firehouse, it was also referred to by the equipment being used by the fire department.
The Water Street firehouse was built in 1900 and housed the old Hand Tub Waterville 3. The Hand Tub was a cart with a large bucket of water. Fire fighters would put a hose into the bucket and hand pump the water using long bars on each side of the cart. After the placement of hydrants in the area, the old Hand Tub gave way to a hose cart pulled by horses, Hose 3. This type of engine used a suction hose that could be dropped into a river or connected to the hydrant. Finally, in the 1920’s, Waterville purchased a motorized fire engine, Engine 3.
Theresa Rodrigue, a long time South End resident, remembers an old fire whistle that blew a number that was assigned to a street so people would know where the fire call was coming from. She would go to station 3 to get a paper of all the numbers and streets. She remembers that 22 was the highest number on the list. When the whistle blew the number, she would look it up on the paper and would know fire fighters were going. She would also go to the station to visit her cousin, Bob Rodrigue. Bob was a Fire Captain and served at Station 3 for many years.
Station 3 was used until 1980 when it and the other two sub-stations in Waterville were closed as a cost saving measure. The house sat empty for about a year before it was purchased to be used as a single family residence. It still stands today and is privately owned. — By LT. Scott Holst and Theresa Rodrigue