Until the The First Hose Company became fully mechanized in the early
1900's, they relied on manpower and horsepower to do their jobs. In the late 1800's they relied heavily on hand or horse pulled
apparatus. The equipment had to be pulled and or carried to each fire and only the strongest and sturdiest of horses were
used by any fire brigade. Such horses were expensive to maintain and were considered as important as the equipment. They were
treated well and were housed in the same building as the firefighters. Some horses became so accustomed to their jobs that
just the mere sound of the fire alarm bells would cause them to go directly to their harnesses and put their heads through.
Some horses could also find their way to a fire down a route they felt was easier or closer than the driver. Because horses
were so important great care had to be take to assure their safety and to prevent theft.
There was a need to protect the investment of the fire equipment and horses, so
dogs were brought into the firehouses serving as an alarm system. They not only kept the horses company, but also scared off
their threats. Eventually these dogs would follow the brigades to a fire, alerting people to give way. The need for such protection
is now gone with the advent of modern systems but the tradition of a fire dog is still held among many. The last dog at The
First Hose Company was a bulldog in the 1950's.
the years many additions and renovations have been made to the building on Potomac Street. It has been modernized and now
has a meeting room, game room and a Fox Garage which houses an antique 1946 Ahrens- Fox Pumper. At the present time the upper
floors are being used for commercial and residential purposes not related to the firehouse.
The First Hagerstown Hose Company or Engine One remains on Potomac Street to this day. The 3 story
building's architecture is typical of the Victorian age in which it was built. If you glance through the drywall, paint and
pipes, still show the charm and elegance that the building had written on it when it was brand new in 1881! Long gone are
the sounds of braying horses (or are they?), barking dogs, and dance music (or is it?) from opera house/ ballroom but the
modern fire alarm bells that erupt from the firehouse today alert the town of Hagerstown that the First Hose Company is still
on the job!
Engine One (The First Hagerstown Hose Company)
building on South Potomac Street was added to the Maryland Historical Registry in June, 1970.
~Engine One (The First Hagerstown Hose Company) was researched and prepared by Cathy
Gasch and Shannon Greene for the use by Antietam Paranormal Society.