The country’s oldest public firehouse will get major overhaul over the next five years with money that has been earmarked in the city budget.
The Engine 50 Firehouse at 34 Winthrop St. in Charlestown will receive a $3.5 million investment according to Mayor Martin Walsh.
“Engine 50 in Charlestown is the oldest public firehouse in the country,” said Mayor Walsh. “This $3.5 million investment means substantial upgrades to the facility and better working conditions for our City of Boston firefighters.”
The current building has been a fixture on Winthrop St. since 1918 but there has been a firehouse at the location since 1853. The site is not only the longest serving firehouse in the city but the oldest in the country.
Engine 50 responds to incidents in Charlestown, North End, North Station and Beacon Hill and responds to approximately 1,500 incidents per year.
BFD spokesman Steve McDonald said the work will be done over the course of the next five years.
“This is a five year plan,” he said. “What you will have is the first phase and that will involve getting some contractors in there to look at the issues with our facilities manager and then start bid process.”
McDonald said Engine 50 was identified as one of two historic firehouses in the city to receive a top to bottom renovation.
“This pretty much includes everything from plumbing, heating electrical and structural,” said McDonald. “All those things are going to be looked at.”
The single firehouse has four firefighters on duty at all times and the work there will be done as to not disrupt Engine 50’s operations.
“Charlestown only has two firehouses but we haven’t invested in our firehouses in a long time,” said McDonald. “But with the support of the Mayor we are doing just that and will build two new firehouses in the city and completely renovate two more and keep historic firehouses like Engine 50 in the neighborhoods.”
A building was first constructed on the site in 1853 to house the ladder truck, a hall for the military and a room on the first floor for a school.
Once Charlestown was annexed to Boston in 1874 the firehouse was the home of Hose Company 3. In 1898 In 1898 Hose Company 3 became Combination Wagon 7 and then Combination Wagon 2.
After disbandment of several other fire companies the building was closed in 1917 to allow for a major renovation so motorized fire trucks could be accommodated at the station.
Finally in 1918 the structure that still exists today was reopened as Engine Company 50.
In 1981 the firehouse faced closure but a huge protest broke out and Charlestown residents occupied the historic building for several days and dubbed Engine 50 “The People’s Firehouse”.
“This is a great historic building that was in need of major repairs,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “The building and the firefighters who serve there are a reminder of the rich history of the department.”