The Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department was first organized in 1935; prior to that time, there was no organized fire fighting force that was dedicated to protecting the town. Oakland Farm, a Vanderbilt property located just south of Union Street, owned the first motorized fire truck in Portsmouth sometime during the early1920's. A second fire engine was purchased by Glen Farm sometime during the last half of the 1920's. It is believed that this purchase was made after one of the Glen Farm barns burned to the ground; despite the response of the Oakland Farm fire truck and a fire engine from the City of Newport.
The first home for the Portsmouth Fire Department was Quaker Hill Garage. Quaker Hill Garage was a service station owned by the Hall Family; the building also housed Hall Brothers Construction. The building is located across form Clement's Market and currently houses Aquidneck Construction. The Hall Brothers convinced town leaders to purchase a fire truck for the Town of Portsmouth; the truck they purchased was a 1922 Model T Ford Chemical Wagon. This vehicle was essentially a big chemical fire extinguisher. This fire truck and a fire engine purchased in 1935 remained at this location until 1940. In 1940 the department was moved to building next to the Portsmouth Town Hall.