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 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.
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.
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