It was one cold Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. on January 23, 1917 when the first
official meeting of the “Nichols Fire Department” came to order. A small group
of concerned neighbors gathered in a building on Center Road in the village of
Nichols, Connecticut. The purpose of this meeting was to establish a fire
protection organization and to select leaders for the new group. Lewis D.
Christie was named to be the Department’s first Fire Chief. The Assistant
Chief’s position was to be filled by E.P. Curtiss. George McClellan, Jr. and
Stanley Linley were named the first Captain and the Lieutenant, respectively.
The secretary and treasurer’s duties were to be performed by Clarence Cooper.
At the time, Woodrow Wilson was in the White House and folks were singing the
popular song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. In January, the famous “SOS” soap pad
was introduced. “A Tale of Two Cities” was number one at the box office and the
Chicago White Sox were victorious over the New York Yankees in the World Series.
Can you believe a loaf of bread cost nine cents and three bedroom homes sold for
thirty-two hundred dollars!
It was not until August 1917 that the Department received delivery of its first
piece of fire apparatus; a Ford Model "T" chemical truck. Minutes from the
December 1917 monthly meeting state the new truck’s first fire call was at
“Ransom’s House”. Member Lewis Shelton responded with the truck and extinguished
the fire, preventing any serious damage.
In 1919, Nichols Fire Department sought to establish boundaries for its fire
protection jurisdiction. On November 24 of that year, the Connecticut
Legislature recognized the "Nichols Fire District” and granted it the authority
to levy a fire tax.
In December 1920, the fire district secured a loan of five hundred dollars to
renovate and lease a former school, coincidentally named Nichols School, on
Shelton Road and convert it into a firehouse. In 1935, the town of Trumbull
deeded that property to the fire district for the amount of one dollar.
In 1937, plans were well underway to construct a new firehouse. Members wanted a
building more modern, larger and more up-to-date; the kind of building that
could house newer and more sophisticated fire trucks. Fire trucks that were
considered sophisticated in the 1930's were those that had their own water pump,
hoses, ladders and carried their own tank of water! In April 1938, ground was
broken directly in front of what once was the Nichols school. In 1938, at a cost
of twenty one thousand dollars, construction was complete. That sum included the
building itself, sidewalks, driveway, and landscaping. Upon moving into the new
firehouse, now deemed Station 1, the District’s first true pumping engine was
placed in service.
To keep pace with the demands of a growing community, in 1973, a second
firehouse, at the intersection of Booth Hill and MacDonald Roads, was built.
This station was named in honor of Past Fire Chief Arthur J. Kennedy, who
proudly served the Department from 1959 to 1969. This station, respectively
called "Station 2" is now the home of one quint, one engine and the fire
apparatus maintenance facility.
The last 91 years have brought many changes and challenges to the Nichols fire
Department including many more commercial buildings and homes, new apparatus,
more technologically advanced equipment, changing fire fighting tactics and the
need for increased leadership and administrative attention. During that period,
one thing has always remained the same; dedication and commitment to serve and
protect our community.
Nichols Station 1 is located at 100 Shelton Road. The current building,
constructed in 1938, houses three pieces of apparatus; Engine 301, Rescue 300
and Truck 304. Station 1 also has an alarm room, day room, meeting room, full
kitchen, and sleeping quarters for up to six firefighters.
Station 2 is located at 582 Booth Hill Road, at the corner of MacDonald Road and
Booth Hill Road. This station houses Quint 303 and Engine 302. Constructed in
1973, it provides fire protection to the districts’ north end, while also acting
as an apparatus maintenance facility.
Some special events that members participate in and coordinate are fire
prevention and awareness programs, Halloween hot dot safety program, Salvation
Army bell ring, Easter egg hunt, Memorial Day parade, Neighbors night, Clam
Bake, Nichols Improvement Association Jingle Bell Run, and our department
Christmas party, just to name a few.
Our membership consists of individuals with various occupations from college
students to corporate executives as well as career firefighters and police
officers. Like any other successful organization, we are constantly seeking new
members to fill our ranks who are looking for a new challenge and a rewarding
During the early days of World War II, it was decided that the firehouse was to be staffed each evening and night in order to enhance the fire department's readiness during such troubled times. This was the inception of what is now referred to as, “sleeping on” (sleeping at the firehouse). Personnel volunteered shifts and slept at the firehouse every night of the year. When an alarm hit, it was only a matter of seconds before the sound of apparatus sirens were heard throughout the community. Nearly sixty years later, a practice similar to this continues as our current firehouse still contains sleeping quarters which are utilized on a regular basis.
The night crew consists senior members who agree to “Sleep On” (as explained
above). With members at the station during overnight hours, it takes only a
minute, if that, to get apparatus rolling.
Each member of the night crew is assigned a bunk, a locker, and a riding
position on specific apparatus. In addition, Station 1 boasts a full kitchen and
shower facilities to provide night crew members amenities just as if at home.
The night crew often drills together which builds confidence adding to the
tightly woven group.
The Nichols Fire Department night crew is one of the longest running and unique
groups of volunteer firefighters anywhere in the nation. Their dedication allows
for fire protection during the communities most vulnerable hours.