Fire Apparats Preservation Award

North Kingstown Fire Department

for the restoration of their



Button & Sons


Hand Pumper

North Kingstown Fire Department – North Kingstown, Rhode Island

History of the Washington# 1 The Washington # 1 was built by Button & Sons in Waterford New York in 1874. It was built for the Town of Milford Massachusetts. While in Milford it attended 14 musters winning 2 first prizes and 1 third prize. Its best stream was 211'-5 ½" played at South Weymouth Massachusetts on September 24, 1879. Its total prize winnings were $425.00 The Wickford Fire District purchased the Washington # 1 in 1885 for $ 650.00. The Town of North Kingstown took over the Washington in 1912 and it remained in service until 1917 when the Town acquired its first motorized apparatus. It has been told that the Washington responded to a fire in Narragansett Pier when one of the casino's burned. The Narragansett Fire Company used the Washington # 1 at Fireman's Musters throughout New England, and they were very competitive with the machine. The Washington eventually ended up at the South County Museum on Scrabbletown Rd in North Kingstown. There is a story that the Washington was hidden at this museum so that it would not be scrapped for its metal, which happened to many handtubs across the country. This was due to a metal shortage during World War II. In the 1960's a group of men decided to restore the Washington back to its original condition. This group of men consisted of firefighters, local merchants, plumbers, bankers, and other tradesman. The machine was brought to Station# 1 and was totally disassembled. Every single part was taken of the machine, including every nut, bolt etc. The wooden box was brought to the Weindel Brothers cabinet shop in Frenchtown and totally repaired. The brass was all polished, the wheels repaired and painted. All the metal bars were wire brushed and re-painted. The brass dome was sent out to be pressure tested and repaired. The tube on the top of the machine was repainted and gold. leafed with" Fearless Faithful" all redone. They then decided to join the New England Veterans Firemen's Association league and start going to musters, which took place all around New England. This was a two-part competition; the first part was in the morning of the muster, there was a parade. Each hand tub had to be on its on wheels and pulled through the town where the muster was. A group of judges counted the number of people marching with each hand tub, were they dressed all in the same uniform, tee shirts etc, did they have a band. The Washington was always in the competition for this prize. Then in the afternoon each hand tub had fifteen minutes to see who could pump the farthest stream. The Washington was also always in the competition for the pumping prize. The won the Class A Championship in 1963 and 1965. This generation started passing the torch on to the next group of people to maintain the Washington and go to competitions. Slowly in the 1970's there was not as much participation as there had been before. By the end of the 1970's the Washington was no longer on the muster circuit. The Washington attended 130 musters since coming to North Kingstown. It won 21 first prizes, 29 second prizes, and 13 third prizes. Its best steam was 244"-10 ½ "played at Cranston RI Jn September 4, 1929. It's total prize winnings amount to $10, 313.93. In 1911, the machine was loaned to East Greenwich attending five musters that season. The Washington won the New England League Championship three times (1921-1963-1965). In the early 1980's a lean-to barn was built at Station 2, then the Washington was moved to Station 3 to start restoring the hand tub again. The restoration did not make much progress. The machine was moved to the East Greenwich Firemen's Club and stored for a period. In approximately 2008 it was then moved to the Jamestown Fire Museum for a short period. The Washington now made another trip back to the Firemen's Club and a restoration was started. The wheels were removed and disassembled, with the center hubs being shipped to Pennsylvania for new wheels to be made. With the help of many members of the Firemen's Club a lot of work was done. It was decided to bring the machine back to North Kingstown. It was brought to the Fire Department Maintenance Building, then moved to its current location at Station 6 in Quonset. The Washington was restored again in 2017 in preparation for the 150th Anniversary of the Fire Department. This restoration was for parade purposes only. At this time, it has not had its pumping capabilities restored.