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The History of the Highland Hose House and Green Renovations

Historical Arlington examines the Highland Hose House, the history of the Arlington Fire Department and how Highland has stepped into the future by using green construction habits.

The  1007 Massachusetts Ave., was erected in 1928. The uniqueness of this fire station is due to innovative architect, George Ernest Robinson, who designed all three major fire stations in Arlington. Beginning with the in 1926, he used a revolutionary new design credited as the first octagonal fire station in the country—now a regular design for fire stations. The importance of the octagonal design stems from the fact that up to six engines can get in and out at the same time. The iconic tall tower that tops the Highland Hose House was constructed to dry fire hoses. The Highland Hose House was added to the national registry of historic places on April 18, 1985.

The original Highland Hose House was created shortly after 1855 when Arlington accepted legislation to create an official fire department. Here's a quick run down of how firefighting and the departments came to be in Arlington, according to the town's website.

  • 1818: First mention of fire matters in Arlington town records. At the annual meeting of the town, the Board of Selectmen was instructed "to purchase fire ladders, fire-ward staffs, fire hooks, and such other implements as are needed."
  • 1825: The town bought a fire engine "Friendship No. 1."
  • 1832: a new engine, named "Good Intent" was bought.
  • 1835: The "Olive Branch, No. 3," was purchased.
  • 1851: The "Eureka," a suction engine, was introduced.
  • 1855: The town accepted the legislative act creating fire departments.
  • 1889: A chemical engine was acquired. Introduction of the Gamewell System of Fire Alarm.
  • 1890: The department maintains three fire stations, well equipped with apparatus and men.
  • 1891: The Arlington Firemen's Relief Association was organized and chartered.
  • 1899: The Arlington Veteran's Firemen's Association was organized.

During this time last year, the Highland Hose House jumped into the future by going green. Highland is the town's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified fire station. The $3.9 million dollar renovations helped create more habitable living quarters and increased the garage so modern day firetrucks can fit better. These changes marked the first renovations to the fire station since opening its door 82 years ago.

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