Fonds - Nanaimo Fire Department fonds

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Nanaimo Fire Department fonds

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  • 1883-2000 (Creation)
    Nanaimo Fire Department

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Physical description

11.3 m of textual records;2 photographs : col.

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Biographical history

In 1865, following a public meeting at the Courthouse, Nanaimo's first fire brigade was organized, funded by a cash donation from the Vancouver Coal Company. By the City's incorporation in 1874, it had ceased to exist. However, from 1876, Council annually appointed a Fire Warden Committee to enforce its by-law regarding fire prevention and the regulation of chimneys and stovepipes. After a time, it became apparent that the brigades were ineffective and more modern, organized fire protection was necessary. John Hilbert, John H. Scales, Enoch Scales, Albion Tranfield, John Hamilton, W.E. Morton, George Davies, Robert Wenborn, and J. M. Brown met on May 14, 1878 and organized the Nanaimo Fire Company, also known as the Black Diamond Fire Engine Company, No. 1. The company received both provincial and municipal funding, but remained autonomous within its own secretariat. First officers included: Walter Wilson (Foreman), William Guillion (First Assistant Foreman), J.H.Pleace (Secretary) and George Norris (Treasurer). The first fire hall opened Jan. 21, 1879 at the corner of Wharf and Front Streets. It was destroyed by fire on Sept. 28, 1894. In 1890, a subscription list was started to secure funds to build a modern brick fire station. Located at the foot of Nicol Street, this new station was officially opened December 15, 1893. The company received its last provincial grant in 1899, and negotiations, which had begun as early as 1894, began in earnest for the City of Nanaimo to take over total financial responsibility. On Nov. 14, 1901, City Council assumed direct control of the Fire Department. John Parkin was appointed the first City Fire Chief, serving in that capacity from Nov. 14, 1901 to Feb. 25, 1937 (Parkin was previously an unpaid volunteer). Two firefighters were hired at the same time to drive the two-horse team for the fire equipment. In 1951, Brechin District was added to the City of Nanaimo. A small satellite station was built to house one of the pair of Type 10 Combination Hose and Chemical Cars bought from American LaFrance in 1913. By the early 1960s, the fire station at Nicol Street was becoming too small and, in 1967, the department was relocated to a new station at the corner of Milton and Fitzwilliam Streets. The City of Nanaimo amalgamated with surrounding districts in 1975. At that time, Harewood, Wellington, Northfield, Chase River, Protection Island, Departure Bay, each with their own fire departments, all became part of the Nanaimo Fire Department. Over time, additional stations have been built. A Fire Training Centre, one of the first of its kind in Canada, was opened in 1986 on Labieux Road to provide training for firefighters from Nanaimo as well as career and volunteer firefighters from Vancouver Island. In 2004, 911 Emergency Service was centralized in Nanaimo, with fire dispatch service amalgamated from Duncan to Comox. Currently, Nanaimo Fire/Rescue provides fire protection, rescue and emergency services to all areas of the City of Nanaimo. These include fire suppression, fire safety, inspections, fire prevention, public education, fire cause investigation, pre-fire planning, building upgrades, emergency preparedness and coordination and rescue and emergency medical aid services. More than 470 career firefighters and seventeen Fire Chiefs have passed through the department (2008).

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of records generated by the Nanaimo Fire/Rescue department and its predecessor organizations. Fonds is arranged in the following series: 1) Minutes; 2) Roll call records 3) Personnel records; 4) Fire reports; 5) Incident Reports; 6) Fire Records and 7) Miscellaneous.

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Series descriptions and file list available. Online Finding Aid

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BCAUL control number: NCAI-271

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