A Special Presentation
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By Britton Crosby
January 2001
(Updated November 25, 2007)

Page 3
1920's - 1930's


As early as the late 1800's, observation posts (fire towers) were constructed so that
observers could spot smoke early and try to locate fires while still small.
This tower was and still is located in Wellfleet.

The Falmouth Fire Tower was constructed in 1914.  

Barnstable Fire Tower on Shootflying Hill
in 1919.

Shootflying Hill in 1920

This fire tower in West Barnstable oversees much of the mid Cape
area.  It is located along Route 6.  The trees are all grown up now.

The Barnstable Fire Tower in 1992.

Inside the fire tower is a centrally located map.  Observers simply get a line
on the smoke and by crossing lines from two or more towers, the fire can
be located and communicated to fire fighters. 

Wellfleet Fire Tower

Sandwich Fire Tower, like most of the others, have become more
cell phone and radio towers than fire observation towers in
recent years.  This is somewhat poetic since the invention of the
cell phone had greatly improved the ability of the public to call in fires
early from their cars.

Another example of modern technology competing with the need for fire towers.
Bourne Fire Tower.

Brewster Fire Tower

Map display of Massachusetts fire towers in 1913



Locating and observing brush fires is key to extinguishing them before they get too large.
Barnstable County owned and operated a Fire Patrol airplane (P-18) for many years.
It could relay information on the size and movement of the fire to chiefs on the ground.

P-18 with pilot John Lemos and fire warden Robert Dottridge.






More Pages of Brush Breakers

Page 1 - 1920s - 1930s - First Brush Breaker
Page 2 - 1920s - 1930s - Forest Fires / Memorial
Page 3 - 1920s - 1930s - Fire Towers / Patrol Plane
Page 4 - 1930s - Early Brush Trucks / Breakers
Page 5 - 1930s - 1950s - First County Brush Breakers  
Page 6 - 1940s - 1950 - Early Brush Breakers
Page 7 - 1950s - Second Generation Brush Breaker
Page 8 - 1950s - Brush Trucks
Page 9 - 1950s - 1960s - Second County Brush Breakers
Page 10 - 1950s - 1970s - Breakers and Patrol Trucks
Page 11 - 1960s - Brush Trucks and Fires 
Page 12 - 1960s - Fires and Brush Breakers
Page 13 - 1960s - 1970s - Third Generation Breaker
Page 14 - 1970s - County & Town Brush Breakers
Page 15 - 1970s - 1980s - Brush Breakers & Tankers
Page 16 - 1980s - Breakers & Fires
Page 17 - 1990s - Brush and Forestry Trucks
Page 18 - 1990s - Brush and Forestry Trucks
Page 19 - 1990s - State Forest Fire Apparatus
Page 20 - 1990s - 2000s - Brush Breakers
Page 21 - 2000s - Breakers and Tankers
Page 22 - 2000s - Brush Breakers & Tankers
Page 23 - 2000s - Newest Breakers
Page 24 - 2000s - 2005 Brush Season
Page 25 - 2000s - 2006 Brush Breakers
Page 26 - 2000s - 2007 Brush Breaker Training


Related Links

Massachusetts DCR - Bureau of Forest Fire Control
Forest Fire Lookout Association
History Early Fire Towers
Massachusetts Fire Tower Locations - Plymouth Brush Breaker Drill April 2006 - Plymouth-Wareham Brush Fires May 2006 - Sandwich Fire Tower 2006

Photos in this series are from various sources
including fire department and personal collections.