Rescue Company No. 1 celebrates 90 years of service

11/7/202210 months ago

Rescue Company No. 1 was organized on March 25,1932. The Rescue was established as a result of the death of Fire Lieutenant William J. Atkinson of Engine 4. Lt. Atkinson died while attempting to rescue two men who had been overcome by gas in a grease-pit manhole in North Cambridge. The purpose of the rescue company was to provide a fire company for specialized rescue incidents and to provide a mechanism to "rescue the rescuers" when necessary.

Ninety years later, the 21st century Rescue 1 is an all-hazards rescue company. In addition to firefighting, life safety, and paramedic emergency medical care, the members (19 men and 1 woman) are highly trained and skilled in heavy rescue procedures and tools; extrication from vehicles and machinery; elevator rescue; subway, railroad, & LRV (light rail vehicle) emergencies; hazardous materials; confined space, trench, hi-angle, and structural collapse rescue; search for victims; surface water and ice rescue; underwater search for victims; homeland defense against terrorist attack, and more. Rescue 1 also regularly trains and works with other Metro-Boston UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) agencies.

The Rescue 1 apparatus is a large truck which carries a wide assortment of tools and equipment for emergency rescue operations. These include hand operated and power tools, rescue air bags, hydraulic jacks, air sampling meters, hazardous materials protection equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, underwater suits and breathing apparatus, ice and water rescue equipment, hi angle rescue equipment, and much more.

Since its inception, Rescue 1 has worked at numerous major emergencies in the city and in the metro area. In 1972, Rescue 1 assisted in the recovery of the 9 firefighters who died in the Vendome fire and collapse in Boston.

Anecdote: In 1932, as part of the initial training to place the Rescue in service, Captains Arthur Marshall and George Friel went to New York City to work with the Fire Department of New York City's Rescue 1, learning about heavy and special rescue procedures. While working with New York Rescue 1, Capt. Friel participated in the rescue of FDNY firefighters who had been trapped in a warehouse fire on the Hudson River waterfront. Capt. Friel of Cambridge Rescue 1 was the recipient of an FDNY medal for this rescue incident. This is believed to be the only time in history that an FDNY medal awarded to a non-FDNY member.

Rescue 1 90 years

Rescue 1 1944

Recue 1 1969 Mack

Rescue 1 2022 apparatus