Monday, 23 February 2015

Where's the Fire?



Fire can give us life or give us death. Some people are fascinated by fire. As a Girl Guide I made many fires in the woods with friends.  Now I love fire as long as it is in a fireplace or fire pit.

The first "house" fire I remember was when I was quite young and a garage went up in flames one night, just 2 doors down from our house. All of us who lived on the street, and from a few streets down, were standing there, not too close as it was very hot and sparks were flying, mesmerized by the flames that no one could do anything about.  Our town had no fire department, and it was too late anyways. The owners built their garage first and they stored materials in that garage to start to build their house.

The second was the 1972 tragic case of arson at the Blue Bird Café in Montreal, leaving 37 people dead. The younger sister of my friend was one of the victims, there with some friends to see another friend off on a trip.



The third fire that touched our lives, was that of the empty old hotel right across the street from my house. I lived in the house built c1815 by Col John Scriver, the son of an Empire Loyalist.  John's son Julius had built his house across the street, and it later became the Frontier Inn. The Inn had been closed up for a long time, and the night it went up in flames the whole town came out to watch and mourn the loss of a beautiful historic building.  All the volunteer fire department could do, good as they were, was to keep the fire from spreading to near by homes.

Historically many a city has been destroyed by fire. A couple of the more famous being the Great Fire of London in 1666, the San Francisco fire caused by the earthquake of 1906, and the Great Fire of 1852 in Montreal.

Fire fighting has come a long way since those days, and the men and women who become fire fighters are a special breed. Many small towns have volunteer fire departments, which is not to say they are untrained.  Ours was one of the best in the country! Our village firemen came around and checked everyone's fireplace and chimney on request in the fall. I must say the Chief was quite impressed with our old Rumford fireplaces.

Was your ancestor one of these brave people that risked their lives for others?

I have gathered some links to fire departments and the men that served there. You can find more by searching using keywords "[city] fire department (+history)" and "firefighter roll of honour". Also do the search at HahtiTrust, they may have others and some photos may be clearer.


Relevant Links:

List of historic Disastrous Fires

Montreal's Blue Bird Café Fire 1972

Montreal's Blue Bird Café Victims

Fire fighters of Houston - 1838-1915

Reminiscences of the old fire laddies and volunteer fire departments of Brooklyn 1885

History of the Toronto Fire Department 1924

Our Firemen: faithful to duty, true to friendship NY 1891

Descriptive and illustrated price list of firemen uniforms - US 1893

The 30th anniversary and annual fire book of the veterans Fireman's Association of San Francisco, Inc - 1929

The Exempt firemen of San Francisco; their unique and gallant record 1900

1st to 21st Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Firemen's Relief Fund -MA 1911

Our Firemen: History of the New York fire departments, volunteer and paid; 1887

Our Firemen; the official history of the Brooklyn Fire Department 1892

Souvenir book of Indiana State Firemen's Association convention held at Fort Wayne 1920

Our Firemen: history of the Pittsburgh fire department, 1889

Our Firemen: a record of the faithful and heroic men who guard the property and lives of the city of Detroit - 1894

Souvenir program; Firemen's Relief Assoc - Manila, Jan 1909

History of the Calgary Fire Department 1910

Souvenir of the Vancouver Fire Department 1905

Souvenir of the Ottawa Fire Department 1905

Souvenir of the Saskatoon Fire Department 1905

History of the Fire and Police Departments of Paterson NJ 1893

South Australian CFS Fire Fighter Roll of Honour

South Australian MFS Fire Fighter Roll of Honour

Queensland Fire and Rescue Honour Roll

Toronto Fire Fighter Honour Roll

Victoria Australia CFA Honour Roll

Souvenir of the Silver Jubilee -  Avenel Fire Company NJ 1913







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