NORTH ANDOVER — Joseph “Louie” Bisson was kind to people in need and dedicated to knocking down fires, according to those who knew this man who suffered a fatal heart attack while battling a huge blaze at 1129 Osgood St. 61 years ago. He was 41 years old.
Much less is known about Edward Evans, who was not quite 25 when he dropped dead on Stevens Street while he and other members of Cochichewick Engine Co. No. 2 were rushing to a house fire at 1422 Osgood St. in 1886.
Yesterday the North Andover Fire Department honored the two fallen firefighters with a ceremony on the second floor of the Central Fire Station at 124 Main St. It was a tribute that was “long overdue,” fire Chief Andrew Melnikas said.
Evans and Bisson are now honored with two memorial plaques that will hang on the wall in the stairwell between the first and second floors of the station. Each plaque is adorned with a helmet, the firefighters’ names and their dates of service.
Retired fire Deputy Chief John McGuire, the department’s historian who arranged for the memorials, said Evans died Nov. 19, 1886. He has tried to obtain more information about this young volunteer firefighter, but so far has found out very little, he said.
“I knew Louis,” McGuire said of Bisson. In fact, McGuire, then a 15-year-old auxiliary firefighter and a high school sophomore, was at the barn fire that claimed Bisson’s life. The Oct. 26, 1952 fire destroyed two buildings and damaged two others, McGuire recalled.
McGuire, who retired from the department in 1986, said Bisson, a call firefighter, was known for his “dedication” to the mission of fighting fires. Noting that call firefighters in the 1950s were paid $500 per year, he said, “It wasn’t for money, it was for love and he (Bisson) expressed that.”
Bisson’s daughter, Betty Little, was only 11 when he died.