June 18, 2019

Central Volunteer Fire Association To Open New Museum

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The Central Volunteer Fire Association (CVFA) is opening a new museum, The Seekonk Fire Museum, later this year that will display antique equipment and many photos and memorabilia on the history of firefighting in the town of Seekonk. The museum is located at the former Station #3 headquarters at 211 Newman Avenue.

Bill George, President of the Fire Association, wants to get the word out that the museum will be opening soon. They are also seeking donations of memorabilia for the museum. “There are a lot of members in town that were members of the fire company and we are trying to reach out to them,” said George who has been a member since 1963. The group has already received some donations and some people have seen the sign outside and stopped by, asking if the museum is open yet, says George.

A 90 year-old man from North Providence who was a firefighter in town years ago recently visited and dropped off a number of old photographs. He joined the Fire Association in 1949. The museum recently acquired a rescue basket, an old version of today’s stretchers, dating back to 1952, that was found by the town.

The centerpiece of the new museum is a 1932 vintage American LaFrance fire truck. The truck has an interesting history. The Association bought it in 1975 from a junk yard in Warren. It originally belonged to the Warren Fire Department.  “We completely rebuilt the truck. It was our bicentennial project for the town and we drove it in the Memorial Day Parade in 1976,” said Paul “Mac” MacPherson, Vice President of the CVFA. The truck was donated to Hasbro Children’s Hospital about 1989 where it stayed for about 25 years. The engine was taken out of the truck and it was used for children to play on.

But the truck found its way back to Seekonk last September. “It was in Warwick. An antique group called us,” said George. “We used to go out in the truck every year to sell turkey raffles and to drive Santa around during the holidays,” said MacPherson.

The museum also has a small room filled with trophies from the time when fire companies would take part in musters, or local fire-fighting competitions. Some of the trophies date back to the 1920’s and there are trophies from all three Seekonk stations. “To keep active, they used to hold competitions. We held them in Seekonk,” George said.

Station #3 was built in 1929. The Central Volunteer Fire Association was formed on July 5 of that year. It was originally a volunteer/call fire company and they only had one fire truck.  In 1963 an addition was put on the building to house a ladder truck and brush truck.
Some of Station 3’s members also served in other area towns. Many went on to full-time careers as firefighters. “There’s members that have gone on to other departments and rose as high as Deputy Chief and Chief that got their start here,” MacPherson said.

“We have a long history,” George said. The Fire Association decided to share that history by putting together the new museum. “We had all this stuff and we wanted to share it with the town,” George said. It started in the spring of 2015 when they went before the zoning board to get approval for the museum. Since then they have been cleaning up and renovating the building. “It’s a work in progress,” George said.

The plan is for the museum to be open one Saturday a month for a few hours. They also hope to eventually offer tours for grade school students. Anyone who has any items to donate to the museum can contact Bill George at 508-951-1398.

The next meeting of the Central Volunteer Fire Association will be held on Sat, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. and former members are welcome.

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