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History of Firefighting in Port Rowan


The first mention of fire prevention in the present records of the village was a motion to appoint W. P. Ferris and E. Lymburner as a committee on protection from fire. This was passed by the council on January 10, 1921.

The equipment later was a two-wheeled cart with a tank, chemicals, and a length of hose. This was pushed or pulled by manpower or hooked behind any vehicle that could pull it to the scene of the fire upon the ringing of what was known as the fire bell, a special bell mounted in the steeple of the Baptist Church and was rung by anyone who was notified of a fire in the village. This equipment was stored in what was then known as Foster Brothers livery barn, located on the present site of the “Rod N Gun” Hotel.

On January 12, 1925, orders were given to have this equipment moved to the garage of S. C. Smith, where it was stored for many years. A motion on the books was passed on December 15, 1927, allowing Mr. Smith to purchase 150 feet of hose at 46 cents a foot and a dozen fire pails. These pails were to be kept in close proximity to the fire truck at all times. This writer remembers when these pails strayed away from the equipment and ended up as bailing pails in certain wooden boats around the bay. The old bucket brigade in the early days was the only means of combating fires as long as the water in the well held out.

On February 8, 1928, Mr. Smith approached the council about the feasibility of purchasing a truck chassis on which to place the fire equipment and was instructed to proceed with the same. This marked the start of a self-propelled fire engine in the village.

On August 14, 1950, a motion was passed by the council to purchase the necessary equipment for the fire truck to bring it up to the standard of Fire Underwriter’s Specifications.

On June 2, 1952, a delegation met with the council regarding the fire bell in the Baptist Church tower and its shaky condition. The council assisted in repairing the tower.

On June 15, 1952, Councillor E. L. Cline was appointed to re-organize the fire department and to order the necessary supplies for the same. S. C. Smith had been acting as Chief with any volunteers that he could round up to attend a fire. He was officially appointed Chief, and a number of volunteer firefighters were enrolled. A Fire Department Commissioner was appointed by the council to sit in at all fire department meetings, and the fire department was organized on a firm basis.

On February 2, 1953, an option was taken on the present building housing the Fire Department at a price of $4,500.00, and on March 2, an agreement was reached with the Township of South Walsingham regarding the area to be covered for fire protection. The charge at that time per run to fires in the township was $50.00.

On July 6, 1953, the clerk was authorized to notify Houghton Township that fire protection would be supplied to the southern portion for a period of one year or until the county area was formed, at a cost of $50.00 per run.

On December 15, 1953, the option on the new firehouse was picked up. The Fire Department was in business and has been going strong ever since.