A charter amendment of February 24, 1834 gave the Board of Trustees of Newport authority to create a full host of municipal services, including the first fire companies. Fire protection remained primitive for most of the ante-bellum era. Instead of organizing a full-fledged fire company in 1834, the city fathers evidently did nothing more than assign able-bodied men to bucket brigades in their own neighborhoods. The city acquired its first fire engine not because of city council but through the Army's Newport Barracks.
Captain Nathaniel C Macrae, the post commander persuaded the quartermaster at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis to ship him a fire engine by riverboat. Macrae organized Newport's first true fire company on November 2, 1845 when he named his engine, Water Spout. The city fathers eventually tired of relying on the military and on December 1850, chartered a volunteer body named Washington Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1. On June 1, 1868 the Common Council voted to replace its volunteer fire force with a paid department comprised of Chief Thomas Williams, Samuel Maxwell, James Woodside, Robert Pritchard, Thomas Hays, George Hornung, John Link and Chris Specht.
Thomas Williams held this post from 1871 to 1882 with a salary of $500 per year.
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