Fire Department
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What We Do


New Canaan Fire Department serves the residents and businesses of New Canaan by protecting lives and preserving property when incidents involving fire or smoke occur. The Fire Department also responds to various emergency situations including motor vehicle accidents, downed electrical wires, and hazardous odors, leaks, or spills.

The New Canaan Fire Department consists of both career firefighters and volunteers. The Department has a full complement of twenty five made up of 16 career firefighters, 4 career lieutanants, 4 career captains and a career. Chief , supplemented by a well-trained group of volunteers. The Department relies heavily on volunteers, and it is vital that there is a sufficient pool of volunteers available to respond to the various calls for help. Applications for being a volunteer firefighter are accepted throughout the year.

The Town stresses the importance of keeping the fire-fighting equipment in excellent shape. Several pieces of aging fire apparatus have been replaced in recent years, with the latest being a pumper added in 2018. Such a replacement program not only helps provide first-class firefighting ability; it also enables the Department to meet fire protection standards established by the Insurance Services Organization, thereby enabling reduction of insurance premiums paid on homeowners insurance. In 2018 our rating is 4/4Y.

Members of the Department are trained to respond to structure and brush fires, hazardous materials incidents, motor vehicle accidents, confined space rescues, and a variety of other situations where residents need specialized assistance. The Fire Department responds to more than 1050 calls per year.

In addition to fire-fighting activities, the Department participates in other events that help to improve the quality of life in our Town. These include Fire Safety Day, assisting the Chamber of Commerce in preparing and installing the Christmas lights in downtown, and promoting safety in standing by at the Fourth of July fireworks site.

For further information about the Fire Department please visit the links below.

Career staff:

Volunteer staff:  

Burning Permit Information

A signed permit must be obtained in person at the Firehouse each day brush will be burned.
You may call the Firehouse after 8:00 A M to inquire if permits are being issued that day; 203-594-3140.

Burn Permit Restrictions

• When national or state ambient air quality standards may be exceeded:
• When a hazardous health condition might be created;
• When the forest fire danger is identified by D.E.P. Commissioner as HIGH, VERY HIGH, EXTREME and where woodland or grass land is within one hundred feet of proposed burn;
• When there is an advisory from D.E.P. Commissioner of any air pollution episodes:
• Burning of any material other than brush;
• On property other than residential property upon which the permitted resides

Burn Permit General Conditions

1. Open burning is limited to the burning of brush only, on residential property upon which the permitted resides and is subject to all Restrictions listed above.
2. Burning must cease if so directed by any member of the Town Fire Marshals Office or any officer of the Fire Department or any official of the Department of Environmental Protection.
3. All reasonable measures to assure complete combustion and reduce excessive smoke are to be taken
4. All reasonable safety precautions are to be taken, including the cleaning of grass and trees in the burn area, wetting down of the surrounding area, and the placement of fire extinguishers and hose lines.
5. Permit must be immediately available at the burning site.
6. Burning may only be conducted between the hours of 10:00 A M and 5:00 P M on a sunny or partly sunny day with the wind speed between five and fifteen miles per hour.
7. Violation of Restrictions or General Conditions may cause the forfeiture of your ability to qualify for a permit in the future.

Contact Us

Non-Emergency: 203-594-3140

Emergency: 911

John Hennessey, Chief  


Fire Headquarters
60 Main Street
New Canaan, CT 06840 

Annual Reports & Fact Sheets

2018 Annual Report
2017 Fact Sheet
2016 Fact Sheet
2015 Fact Sheet

Fire Department History

The history of New Canaan Fire Company, No. 1 can be traced as far back as 1845, if not beyond, when informal bucket brigades were first organized in town. The town’s fire service may have evolved over the years into an organized, formalized public safety department featuring both volunteer and full-time paid staff in the past 173 years, but the spirit that drives neighbors to respond when others are in need remains at the heart of the fire service.

Early History:

After a local newspaper called for better fire protection in 1869, the original Hook and Ladder Company was formed, which in 1873, lead to the formation of Quinnipiac Hook and Ladder Company No. 3, the precursor to the modern New Canaan Fire Company. The Fire Company as it exists today was chartered on December 8, 1881, and New Canaan Hook and Ladder Company and Fire Engine Company No. 1, was incorporated by the Connecticut legislature in 1885.
The original firehouse was erected on Forest Street and was paid for with a $500 loan. In 1891 a two-story firehouse was erected on Railroad Avenue, now known as Elm Street. In 1938, the current firehouse was constructed at the intersection of Main Street and Locust Avenue. The building has been renovated over the years to meet the needs of the firefighters, and included a large addition that doubled the space for fire apparatus, constructed in 1965.
Firefighters were once summoned to the firehouse by a bell, which was replaced by a large horn installed in the tower on top of the firehouse. The fire horn is still prepared for use in the event normal means of dispatching fire units are offline. New Canaan’s first fire engine was a Gulf Stream Hand Pumper, purchased from the City of Stamford for $400. Stevens Livery Stable provided the horses to pull the pumper. That pumper was traded in for a truss ladder capable of pumping 300 gallons per minute — an astounding feat in those days. In 1912, Mr. A. H. Mulliken donated a combination hose and motorized fire truck. On its first alarm, this truck had difficulty leaving the firehouse due to the number of firemen who climbed aboard.

The Modern Era:

In over a century of service since 1881, New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 has continuously evolved to meet the needs of the townspeople of New Canaan and the fire service as a whole. Town Charter revisions in 1963 established a Fire Commission to oversee the Fire Company and Fire Marshal’s office. Members are nominated by political town committees and appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
Today, 24 career firefighters and 30 volunteers make up the New Canaan Fire Department. All personnel, including off-duty paid and volunteer firefighters, can be called to respond in an emergency.
fire apparatus and personnel are still quartered in the firehouse at the corner of Main Street and Locust Avenue, where they have been for over 75 years. Trucks are housed in the bays on the main level, as well as in the added, rear portion of the building, on lower level. Unlike the days when the horn or bell was the main means of summoning fire personnel for a response, radios, pagers, and cell phones alert firefighters to calls, and dispatching duties are now handled by the Westport Fire Department after both towns agreed to establish a new regional partnership on the issue of fire dispatching. A new regional dispatch facility is being built in Fairfield that will handle fire dispatch in late 2019.
The role of paid firefighters in New Canaan has also changed from years ago. Originally, career staff members were hired to be drivers, responsible for getting apparatus to the scene. Over the years, their responsibilities have expanded to include full-time firefighting duties. Now, twenty-four career firefighters, divided into four shifts of six personnel lead by a Captain and Lieutenant, work twenty-four hour shifts in the firehouse every day of the year.
The command staff of the fire department has changed as well. On July 12, 2013, Jack Hennessey was promoted to the position of Director of Fire Services for the Town of New Canaan and Chief of the New Canaan Fire Department. Chief Hennessey is the first paid chief fire officer in the history of the organized fire service in New Canaan. Currently, all personnel, paid and volunteer, report up the chain of command to the chief on matters relating to the administration of the department and Fire Company, and tactical decisions on the fire ground.
The modern fire apparatus currently in service are a far cry from their predecessors. They are custom built to meet the specific emergency incidents encountered in the community. The department owns four engine-pumpers, one rescue, one tanker, and one ladder. Each vehicle is designed to carry out a specific firefighting or rescue function.
With specialized vehicles and tools, the training of firefighters has become more rigorous and technical since the days of the bucket brigade. Gone are the days of throwing on a raincoat and boots and charging off to a blaze. Modern protective equipment is heavy and durable, breathing apparatus protects firefighters from smoke and noxious fumes produced by burning building materials and chemicals. These advances in personal protective equipment allow firefighters to be more aggressive in their efforts to save life and property, but require more intensive training for new firefighters, and a better understanding of fire science.
These changes were brought on, in part; by changes in the way homes are built and furnished. With more large homes being built in town, a quick response is needed to fight fires that burn more quickly and hotter than in years past. Newer furniture and building materials are often constructed using highly combustible glues made from petroleum-based products (plastics, synthetics). Newer, larger homes also tend to have more open spaces constructed using construction methods that while safe during normal use, can fail quickly and without warning during a fire.
Firefighters know their training can be put to the test at any time, in any number of situations. Every year, firefighters are called to structure fires, rooftop rescues, situations involving downed electrical wires, motor vehicle accidents, gas leaks and to extricate animals stuck in drain pipes. Although many of these incidents can be simulated in training environments, there are times where firefighters are required to think creatively to solve emergencies quickly and safely.
In the modern era, the vast majority of calls to which the department responds are not working fires. Even though these calls are taxing on fire apparatus, which see much tougher use than the average passenger car, they are evidence of the success of smoke detectors and fire safety education programs. 30 years ago, a fire that began in a pot left unattended on the stove might have resulted in a serious kitchen fire, but today, modern fire detection devices frequently help save property and lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  Is the New Canaan Fire Company interested in volunteer applications?
The New Canaan Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 is interested in and will accept volunteer applications throughout the year.

Please e-mail the Department and provide your name, your telephone number and a convenient time for someone to call you and discuss further the opportunity to volunteer:

Mail: P.O. Box 963 New Canaan, CT 06840


Any male or female between the ages of 18 and 55
Holds a valid Connecticut driver's license
Resides in New Canaan OR resides in Connecticut and lives within 5 miles of a New Canaan border

Why does the fire department need volunteers?

New Canaan is fortunate to have a "combination department" - a department that is comprised of both paid and volunteer fire fighters. This structure enables us to economically deliver high quality fire protection to all of those who live, work or travel through town. We rely heavily on volunteers, and it is vital that we have a sufficient pool of volunteers available to respond to our neighbors' calls for help.

What is the time commitment to volunteering?

Becoming a volunteer fire fighter requires a time commitment. After all, you play a vital role in protecting our community. Training sessions are usually scheduled twice a month. In addition, business meetings are held once a month.

Will I need to stay in the firehouse when I am on duty?

No, there is a staff of six paid fire fighters on duty in the firehouse 24 hours a day. Volunteers carry pagers and respond only when needed. This gives you the freedom to go about your regular activities.

Do I need any special training?

No training is required in order to sign up as a volunteer. When you join, you participate in training drills covering basic firefighting skills.. During the probationary period, you must complete the State of Connecticut Firefighter I course. After Firefighter I certification, training continues each month to keep skills current. An annual physical is also required.

What is the current Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) class rating?

The Town of New Canaan has a ISO PPC CLASS 04/4Y rating.