The firehouse at 5 Bulfinch Street, Downtown, was opened on December 18, 1872 when Barnicoat Engine Company 4 and Extinguisher Wagon 1 moved in from their former quarters at Smith’s Stable, elsewhere on Bulfinch Street. Newspaper story
As of June 2, 1868, all fire companies were authorized to have a Name and Number, a practice that had been used in years past. Engine 4 became Barnicoat No. 4. The name and number concept stayed in effect until 1873, when Barnicoat No. 4 reverted back to Engine 4.
Engine 4 had earlier been organized on May 7, 1860 at a firehouse in Court Square, Downtown, and had moved in 1862 to the Scollay Building, in what is now Government Center. In 1870 Engine 4 moved to Smith’s Stable on Bulfinch Street and then to 5 Bulfinch Street.
Bulfinch Street ran parallel to the present-day Bowdoin Street, and intersected with Cambridge Street in Bowdoin Square. The site is now covered by a state office building.
The first Chemical Engine Company in the city, Chemical 1, was organized here on February 9, 1873, replacing Extinguisher Wagon 1. Chemical 1 remained in service here until the company was disbanded on September 16, 1921.
In 1880 the first firehouse sliding pole in the city was installed here, allowing personnel quickly descend from upper floors to the apparatus floor.
On June 30, 1883 the Water Tower Company moved in from their previous quarters at Fort Hill Square. On December 18, 1893 it was designated Water Tower 1, when a second Water Tower was placed in service at 60 Bristol Street. Water Tower 1 remained here until September 14, 1923 when it returned to Fort Hill Square.
On October 9, 1925, Engine Company 26 moved in from their former quarters at 18 Mason Street, upon the closing of that firehouse. Engine 26 stayed until April 17, 1928 when the new Broadway firehouse at 194 Broadway opened.
The firehouse at 5 Bulfinch Street closed on February 25, 1929 and Engine Company 4 took up temporary quarters with Ladder Company 24 at 16 North Grove Street. Engine 4 later moved in to the new Bowdoin Square firehouse on November 10, 1930. The building no longer extant.