#TBT From The NFPA Archives: Boston’s Portable Drill Tower in 1938

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Aug 15, 2019

Boston's portable drill tower in 1938


From The NFPA Quarterly v.32, no.2, 1938:

What is believed to be the first large city portable drill tower designed for holding public exhibition drills in various parts of the city is shown above. The picture shows Boston firemen performing for the first time on the tower at a public exhibition held on historic Boston Common late in September and witnessed by approximately 10,000 people. The portable drill tower was the idea of Boston’s Fire Commissioner, William Arthur Reilly, and Fire Chief Samuel J. Pope as a novel and effective method of interesting the public in the work of the Boston Fire Department.

The portable drill tower, erected at various playgrounds and other public places throughout Boston during Fire Prevention Week, makes it possible for large numbers to witness fire department drill work. The tower is easily erected and dismantled and can be readily transported from place to place.

The purpose of the portable drill tower was to popularize the work of the fire department and increase the morale of the department.



For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.