First and only fire chief

FROM THE JUNE 17, 1959, EAGLE

A collection of eight fire trucks used by the Lenox Department during its 50-year history stood outside the central fire station there last night.

Most of them have been retired from service. But the man who bossed the use of the fire equipment, Oscar R. Hutchinson, is still the only fire chief Lenox has ever had.

Hutch was named chief in 1909 after a fire burned the center of Lenox and killed six people. At that time, as Hutch recalled last night, “fire protection in Lenox was practically nil.”

He has been chief ever since, shepherding his department through the end of the era of horse-drawn equipment to today’s fast pumpers. The trucks may have become antiques, but Chief Hutchinson is still as alive as ever.

He hates to see an old piece of equipment scrapped. If Hutch had his way he would keep everything, but not to fight fires. He only wants the newest and the best equipment used to protect Lenox.

In the past two years Lenox has purchased two new trucks. Hutch was a prime mover in getting the county Mutual Fire Aid Association started. He believes strongly in new techniques of firefighting and in the use of new equipment, especially the two-way radios Lenox firemen are now equipped with.

His tendency to collect and save carries on into his personal life. Librarians would love to rummage though his files, which are crammed full of old catalogues, pictures and clippings. He has a complete collection of catalogues of old-time automobiles. To the outsider, these files look cluttered, but Hutch can find what he wants in a minute.

Chief Hutchinson always had an interest in machines. Old friends recall his jumping out of the school window to watch the trains go by. One of the first jobs Hutch ever had was working for George Westinghouse, the inventor of, among other things, the Westing-house air brakes for trains.

Hutch has a reputation in Lenox as being a man who can do almost anything with machines. He was a pioneer as an automobile driver, dealer and mechanic. He was also one of the first men in the county to ride in an airplane and was well-known as a balloonist.

This Story in History