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CAPE COD BRUSH BREAKERS 

HISTORY - IN REVIEW
Brush & Forest Fire Apparatus History
BARNSTABLE COUNTY
 

~ THE STORY ~
~ SPOTTING FIRES - PATROL PLANES ~
PAGE 12
Page Updated January 26, 2022


 

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Cape Cod Brush Breaker
Barnstable County Forest Fire Service No.1 - 1957 Ford/Maxim
 

PAGE CONTENTS


M - Map
01 - The Cape Cod Forest Fire Problem
02 - Historical Cape Cod Forest Fires
03 - One Large Cape Cod Forest Fire - 1946
04 - Cape Cod Forest Fire Jumped Route 6 - May 1965
05 - Plymouth County Forest Fires
06 - Some More Recent Forest Fires
07 - The Fire Danger - Firefighter Memorial
08 - Fire Prevention - Only You!
09 - Public Education - Smokey Bear
10 - Spotting Fires - Fire Towers
11 - Spotting Fires - Fire Patrol Planes
12 - Locating Fires - Fire Patrol Trucks
13 - Early Firefighting - By Hand
14 - Early Fire Apparatus
15 - First Brush Breakers
16 - Barnstable County Brush Breakers
17 - State Forest Fire Trucks
18 - On The Islands - Brush Trucks
19 - Plymouth County - Brush Trucks
20 - Brush Breakers Working
21 - The Hey Day of Brush Breakers
22 - Tankers and Other Support Apparatus
23 - Forest Fire Training
24 - Small, Medium, and Large Brush Trucks
25 - The Newest Brush Trucks
26 - The END TIMES
 
 

M

MAP

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CAPE COD & THE ISLANDS

 

BARNSTABLE COUNTY


BARNSTABLE COUNTY
Cape Cod is located in southeastern Massachusetts. Historically and officially, Cape Cod is also known as Barnstable County. There are 15 towns within Barnstable County. Within those towns there are many smaller villages and communities. These towns and villages are served by a number of municipal, state, and federal fire departments and agencies. Over the years there were a number of town, county, and federal fire departments and agencies that no longer serve. Most of these departments and agencies have battled forest fires over the years and are recognized within this feature.

THE ISLANDS
The area is often referred to as Cape Cod & The Islands. This also includes the two major Islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Both are counties themselves. Martha's Vineyard is Dukes County and Nantucket is also a County. Several departments and agencies also provide firefighting on each of the islands.

PLYMOUTH COUNTY
Located adjacent to the Cape Cod & Islands region is Plymouth County, also made up of a number of towns, districts, and agencies serving their communities. All have also been involved in fireghting forest fires over the years.

BRUSH BREAKERS
This feature focuses on the Cape Cod Brush Breaker fire apparatus, but the effort to battle forest fires over the years involves much more that just those apparatus. Some structural fire apparatus was adapted over the years to battle brush and forest fires. Larger tankers are frequently used to re-supply and support the operation of other apparatus at major fires. Spotting, reporting, and locating fires quickly over the years included the use of fire towers, airplanes, forest fire patrol trucks, and other means.

FOREST FIRES
The Mutual Aid System, including sharing of large numbers of apparatus and personnel, was developed and utilized many times during large brush and forest fires in each of the Counties. Common radio channels and unit numbering were designated in large part to improve operations during these large incidents.

This feature addressing each of these topics and more to put into perspective the importance of Brush Breakers, and all other aspects of battling Forest Fires in the Cape Cod & Islands area.

 
 

01

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1 - THE CAPE COD FOREST FIRE PROBLEM
 

 

Forest fires raging through pine forest.


Cape Cod and other areas of Southeastern Massachusetts are known for the many serious brush and forest fires that struck communities over the years.
 

02

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2 - HISTORIC CAPE COD FOREST FIRES
 

 

Historic forest fires raged across Cape Cod many times.
Aug 1907 Fire


Going far back in history, large forest fires have impacted communities and industries.
 

03

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3 - ONE LARGE CAPE COD FOREST FIRE - 1946
 

 

The 1946 Forest Fire burned about 15,000 acres


A 1946 Forest Fire in the upper Cape burned for days. It covered about 15,000 acres. A documentary film was made showing the progress and response to the fire including the use of brush breakers of that time.
 

04

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4 - CAPE COD FOREST FIRE JUMPED ROUTE 6 - MAY 1965
 

 

1965 Fire jumped Route 6 in Sandwich


A rapidly moving forest fire that started in the Otis/Camp Edwards Military Reservation raged to and jumped over the Mid-Cape Highway (Route 6) in Sandwich on May 1, 1965. It scorched and blackened many acres of forest visible for a number of years.
 

05

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5 - PLYMOUTH COUNTY FOREST FIRES
 

 

Map showing some of the historic Plymouth County Forest Fires.


There is a map inside the Myles Standish State Forest District 2 Headquarters showing some of the many significant fires that have struck Plymouth County over the years.
 

06

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6 - SOME MORE RECENT FOREST FIRES
 

 

The PAVE PAWS Forest Fire burned in the 1988.


A large fire known as the PAVE PAWS Fire occurred on April 22, 1988. It burned about 1600 acres around the radar site. Photo taken from Fire Patrol Plane P18.
 

07

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7 - THE FIRE DANGER - FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL
 

 

Firefighter Memorial Route 130 in Sandwich


A forest fire on April 27, 1938 burned out of the Camp Edwards National Guard Camp, eventually covering a 5 mile wide by 12 mile long area toward Sandwich into what would be the Shawme Crowell State Forest. Three of the firemen who battled the blaze were trapped, burned, and killed by the fire. The memorial remembers Thomas Adams, Ervin Draber, and Gordon King who were lost that day.
 

08

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8 - FIRE PREVENTION - ONLY YOU!
 

 

The prevention of forest fires became a major effort.


"Only you can prevent forest fires." 
 

09

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9 - PUBLIC EDUCATION - SMOKEY BEAR
 

 

Smokey Bear


Public education and fire prevention go hand in hand.
 

10

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10 - SPOTTING FIRES - FIRE TOWERS
 

 

Fire towers, like this one in Barnstable in 1919, were staffed by spotters who
overlooked the Cape and other areas looking for smoke as fires started.


Fire towers became a vital part of combating forest fires. The earlier the fire could be detected and reported, the sooner it could be contained.
 

11

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11 - SPOTTING FIRES - FIRE PATROL PLANES
 

 

Barnstable County Fire Patrol Plane P-18


Barnstable County and Plymouth County both operated Fire Patrol Planes for many years. Going back to at least 1954, and perhaps before, these planes could provide assistance in locating fires and advising chiefs and personnel on the ground how to safely access them.

 

 












 





 

 

12

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12 - LOCATING FIRES - FIRE PATROL TRUCKS
 

 

Fire Patrol Trucks were also a vital aspect of battling wild fires.


Before many fire departments were staffed, there were staffed Fire Patrol trucks that would be in contact via radio with fire towers and the fire patrol plane and often reached fires first. Shown here around 1958 at the Marstons Mills Airport are the Town of Barnstable Patrol truck 210 and the State Patrol Truck Car 3, as well as some chiefs.
 

13

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13 - EARLY FIREFIGHTING - BY HAND
 

 

In the beginning, fires were fought by hand


Many of the largest fires were fought before there were many motorvehicles
 

14

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14 - EARLY FIRE APPARATUS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

15

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15 - FIRST BRUSH BREAKERS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

16

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16 - BARNSTABLE COUNTY BRUSH BREAKERS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

17

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17 - STATE - FOREST FIRE TRUCKS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

18

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18 - ON THE ISLANDS - BRUSH TRUCKS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

19

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19 - PLYMOUTH COUNTY - BRUSH BREAKERS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

20

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20 - BRUSH BREAKERS WORKING
 

 

Photo

Info
 

21

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21 - THE HEY DAYS OF CAPE COD BRUSH BREAKERS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

22

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22 - TANKERS AND OTHER SUPPORT UNITS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

23

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23 - FOREST FIRE TRAINING
 

 

Photo

Info
 

24

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24 - SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE BRUSH TRUCKS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

25

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25 - SOME OF THE NEWEST BRUSH BREAKERS
 

 

Photo

Info
 

26

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26 - THE END TIMES
 

 

Photo

Info
 
 
 
 
 

 

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CAPE COD BRUSH BREAKERS 

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Cape Cod Brush Breakers

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