Hopkinton (MA) has History of Building Fire Apparatus

Hopkinton (MA) has been in the fire engine-building business for a long time.

“They say once fire truck is in your blood, it stays in your blood,” said Bulldog Fire and Emergency Apparatus owner Jeffrey Mazza, who worked for two of Hopkinton’s fire engine companies before trying his hand at finance, and finding himself pulled back to fire engines 22 years later.

On Winter Street in Hopkinton’s Woodville Historic District, Bulldog does business on the same plot of land that has housed fire truck industry since the 1930s, starting with the legendary Clarence Farrar.

“I knew him as a competitor,” said current Bulldog employee Byron Brooks, whose company, Blanchard Fire Apparatus in nearby Ashland, started up in the 1970s, just before Farrar passed away, and has since been absorbed into other Hopkinton fire companies. “I knew him by reputation and he was held in unbelievable high esteem.”

Farrar, according to Mazza and Brooks, bought the building from a defunct horse-drawn carriage business in the early 1930s, and steadily gained a reputation, selling the trucks he built to towns and cities throughout New England. Over the years, the companies on the land have kept a policy of designing engines with fire departments.

“Arthur Stewart was the fire chief in Hopkinton for many, many years,” Brooks said. “Arthur Stewart and Clarence Farrar were very close friends. Stewart would build his own trucks at the Farrar plant, and Clarence would let him.”

Over the town’s history, companies at 17 Winter Street have built or repaired, at one time or another, the fire engines for almost every town in the MetroWest and Milford areas, with the exception of Wayland and Marlborough. Photo albums at Mazza’s shop, filled with images of trucks built, sold and repaired over the years by the successive companies, even show old Department of Conservation Forest Fire Service trucks, and Mazza has Boston’s red engines in his workshop from time to time.

Mazza still makes the brush breaker truck Farrar was famous for, originally sold heavily on Cape Cod and capable of getting through tough vegetation to outdoor fires other trucks had trouble accessing. Farrar was also known for making trucks with pumps on the front.

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