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August 20, 2019
Captain's Corner 2008 Volume 2
Updated On: Jan 31, 2009

Welcome to "Captain's Corner" which is a periodic production created by Captain Charlie Breen.  "Captain's Corner" will take a look back into the history of the Somerville Fire Department and spotlight the fires and the firefighters who fought them. 

The first picture for this issue is a group shot taken in 1938 in front of Engine Four's quarters which was located at the corner of Highland Avenue & Grove Street (now a municipal parking lot). From l-r: Lt. William Mahoney, S.Clayton Giles and Abijah "Bige" Blanchard.  William Mahoney was appointed in 1922 and promoted to Lt. in 1935. He would go on to the rank of Captain in 1947 and retired in 1959. William Mahoney passed away on July 5, 1973. S. Clayton Giles was appointed in 1937 and retired in 1968. He passed away on May 28, 1978. His son, Dick, followed in his foot steps as a Somerville firefighter. Abijah Blanchard was appointed in 1913 and retired in 1942. He passed away on July 23, 1943.  (Photo courtesy of Dick Giles)

Next we have a shot of Lt. Dick Durkin taken at the corner of College Avenue & Winter Street sometime in the early 1980's. Richard Durkin was appointed to the SFD in 1949 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1975. Dick retired on March 4, 1986. (Photo by Mike Sullivan)

The third picture for this issue is a shot of Fire Alarm Operator Dick Langille. Dick was appointed in 1968 and died while still active on November 23, 1999. Dick's son Michael followed in his dad's footsteps for a while in the Somerville FAO. Michael is now a firefighter with the Concord, NH F.D. Dick's voice can be heard on the live audio for the M.Scharf fire. (Photo by Jim Swanton) 

Photo #4 this month is a shot of Firefighter/Deputy Chief's Aide Joe Mammola while working a Second Alarm on February 9, 1984. The fire was at 105 Moreland Street and fully involved a single family home. Joe was appointed in 1969 and retired in 1988. Joe passed away on February 8, 2003. (Photo by Jim Swanton)

Photo #5 this issue is a shot of Firefighter Jack Beckwith waiting for water in the rear of 17-19 Mount Pleasant Street on April 14, 1989. A cellar fire spread throughout an occupied duplex requiring a Second Alarm. The box was struck at 2224 followed by the Second Alarm at 2228. One female occupant was treated for smoke inhalation. (Photo by Jim Powers)

The next one for this issue is a picture of a Second Alarm at 243 Elm Street on April 24, 1979. This was one of many arson fires to hit the city in that period. The fire fully involved Pasik's Furniture Store and spread through the ceiling into the adjacent Somerville Jewelers at #241 Elm Street. The box was struck at 2346 hrs followed by the Working Fire @2349 hrs and the Second Alarm @2351. An additional truck company was also requested above the second. (Photo courtesy of Dave Salvi)

The last one for this issue is a shot of Firefighter Jim Pontifex operating Engine Two wagon's deck gun during a Second Alarm in the Boynton Yards on February 21, 1975. The fire destroyed the Hyde Shoe warehouse located on the Cambridge line. Jim Pontifex was appointed in 1950 and retired in 1980. Jim passed away on February 24, 1995.  (Photo by Dave Salvi)

Anyone who has any old photos or newspaper clippings and would like to share them for a future posting of "Captain's Corner" can contact Capt. Charlie Breen at Engine 7's quarters or via email at


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