Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fire Hall No. 9

Another thing I did this summer was to attend an open house at my local fire hall - Fire Hall No.9, Grandview-Woodland at 1805 Victoria Drive. (I did a lot this summer!)

Nice building. I borrowed a book entitled It Began with a Ronald written by Alex Matches and the records he found show that the building was opened on February 12, 1960. The No. 9 fire hall before that was located at Salsbury and Charles Streets. That one had opened on October 11, 1909 and closed on February 12, 1960.
As anyone who has been reading my blog knows or anyone who is familiar with Vancouver history, the city was incorporated on April 6, 1886. At that time there wasn't any sort of fire fighters except for a small company manned by the men at the Hastings Mill and the town's protection consisted of citizens with buckets, picks and shovels.

On May 28 a meeting was held at a clothing store to organize the Volunteer Hose Company No. 1 and shortly after that a hook and ladder company was formed. By June 2 Sam Pedgriff had been elected chief of the new, properly organized, fire brigade.

But our fire brigade didn't have a fire engine and the newly formed city didn't have the funds to purchase one. The embarrassed city council was still discussing what to do about it when our fledging city was destroyed by a raging inferno on June 13, 1886.

As you can well imagine the blaze made everyone more fire conscious and got the attention of the city council. It didn't matter what the cost, an up to date fire engine had to be obtained for the city. So the city spent $6905 on an engine with four hose reels and 2500 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose and ordered the new equipment from the John D. Ronald Company in Brussels, Ontario.

What  a day that would have been when the Ronald arrived! It had travelled to Port Moody since that was the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway then hauled over 12 miles over dusty, rugged roads by Mr. R. Rutherford and his four-horse team. But the entire population of Vancouver was there to greet it. And when the grease and dust was cleaned away from the black Russian iron and gleaming brass, what pride the city had.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Vancouver Fire Department as well as fire fighters and police in general. Not long ago I was awake until the wee hours of the morning and smelt smoke. At first I just thought it was smokers on one of the balconies but when I looked outside I saw that a van parked in the driveway below my apartment window was on fire. I call 911 and in less than five minutes I could hear the fire truck coming down the alley and see its lights. It didn't take them long either to put the fire out and ensure nothing worse happened.

However if you were like me and envisioned these heroes sliding down the pole and speeding off to save the day you can adjust your mental image.

Due to Worker's Compensation rules those poles are a thing of the past. Now the fire fighters take the stairs.
I hope you find the beauty around you.

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