(From left to right) Fred, Prentice and Russell Kittredge are shown on the ramp at Atlantic Hall in Cape Porpoise about 1948, with other Atlantic Engine Company members Wendell Cluff (behind the wheel of the 1931 Reo fire truck), Dana Campbell and Arnold Stinson. The occasion was reportedly the acceptance of one of four 1948 Ford fire trucks purchased through fundraising efforts following the 1947 fire. The other Kennebunkport fire companies each received a new truck in the fund drive which was spearheaded by the Kittredge brothers.
"We believe that the most effective control of fire in small towns is accomplished by volunteer fire companies and we desire to encourage their continuance and the interest of their membership in our community by contributing to their support, therefore, it is our intention as a family to establish a Trust Fund for the Town of Kennebunkport for the Purchase of new fire-fighting and rescue vehicles, equipped and ready for service…"
- From the will of Russell Kittredge
The Kittredge brothers; Fred, Prentice and Russell, and their sister Alma, left an amazing gift to the people of Kennebunkport. The Kittredge Family Fire Equipment Fund is a fitting legacy for a family that had a very special interest in the safety of the community that they loved.
The Kittredge family came to Kennebunkport from Everett, Massachusetts, where they operated a very successful automotive battery firm. They also built fire trucks used by Everett during World War II and they developed a passion for firefighting and fire equipment. A popular story tells of them visiting the area by boat and furiously rowing in from their yacht moored in Cape Porpoise Harbor to go to fire calls!
In 1947, the Kittredge brothers brought hose, pumps and other equipment from Everett and helped to battle the wildfire that was sweeping the town. They eventually moved permanently to Kennebunkport and became actively involved with the town's fire companies and other public safety matters.
Over the ensuing years, the Kittredges donated the original Communications building on Crow Hill and, later, the present Cape Porpoise Fire Station. They also established the town's two-way radio systems, donated or contributed to the purchase of several fire trucks, and procured and maintained countless other pieces of equipment for the fire companies.
Later in their lives, the Kittredges still responded to the scene of every fire call, arriving in their well-known International Travel-All, a sort of early vintage SUV. The vehicle was filled with radios and spare fire equipment and functioned as a command post for emergencies. They could often be seen parked at the Cape Porpoise pier, enjoying the view while they monitored their radios waiting for the next call to come in.
In leaving their estate to the town's fire companies, the Kittredge family ensured that their efforts to improve Kennebunkport's firefighting capability would continue forever.
The Kittredge Family Fire Equipment Fund provides each of the four fire companies with an annual share in the interest generated by the fund for the sole purpose of purchasing fire trucks. The proceeds are allocated to each Company on the following basis: 24% each to Cape Porpoise and Goose Rocks Beach, 16% to Wildwood, and 36% to the Port Village Comapny. The allocation was determined by the number of trucks that each Company had in service at the time the fund was established. The cost of the two most recently purchased trucks, Ladder 34 and Tank 1, required the four companies to combine their shares. Listed below are those trucks the Fund has provided for our community.
We can imagine that the Kittredge family would be very proud of what their generosity has accomplished for the Town of Kennebunkport!
The Kittredge Trucks
Tank 1 2004
Ladder 34 2000
Engine 13 1991
Engine 33 1991
Engine 23 1989 (sold 2014)
Ladder 4 1989
Engine 12 1984 (sold 1998)
Brush Unit 15 1984