1757 Fire Devastates Lunenburg

There was a terrible fire in 1757 that razed and destroyed considerable property within Lunenburg and the surrounding area. Through the efforts of Colonel Patrick Sutherland, a grant of monetary assistance was given to the Lunenburg community by the Halifax City Council, to the amount of Seventy Pounds (approximately $200).

The first officially organized fire company was formed in 1820, and in 1829 was given the name of “Crown Fire Company,” this being a bucket brigade. The 32 members of this brigade apparently, responded from their homes at the sound of an alarm. Each member had his own leather bucket which bore a crown and the firefighter’s name embossed on the front. One of these original leather buckets is on display at the present fire station, in the name of J. Jo’s Rudolf. The bucket is approximately 180 years old.

In 1838, the fire company was reorganized and assumed the name of Lunenburg Crown Fire Company this still being a bucket brigade. In 1842 a hand pumper was purchased. This was the first mechanical firefighting device used by the Fire Company. This acquisition prompted plans to build a fire house. Records are unavailable as to the date the first fire house was built, however, we know it was constructed on the corner of Cumberland and Prince Streets sometime after 1842.

In 1886, as the fire company outgrew its facility on Prince Street, a new fire house was built on Cumberland Street in close proximity to the present Firefighters Monument beside the Town Hall.

Horse-Drawn Steam Fire-Engine Bought

Following construction of this new fire house, a horse-drawn, steam-powered fire-engine was purchased. It was a water pump with steam engine and boiler, mounted on wheels, and was named “On Time”. The name of the fire company was changed to Relief Company No. 2. In 1886, the motto “deeds not words” was adopted by the fire company and remains the motto of the Lunenburg and District Fire Department today.

Other apparatus such as a ladder wagon, two hose reels, hose and other equipment were added. The fire hall at this location had to be enlarged in 1888.

In 1888 a second fire company was formed. It was known as the Fire Protection Company. The situation of having two independent firefighting agencies lasted about six months after which time it was felt that an overall force of one unit would produce better results. On October 9, 1888 the Fire Protection Company merged with Relief Company No. 2 and became known as Relief Company Number 2 of The Lunenburg Fire Department.

In 1889 following the 1888 incorporation of the Town of Lunenburg, the fire department was placed under the jurisdiction of the town council. Certain reservations and conditions were laid out by the fire department members with mutual agreement of town council. The first water system in Lunenburg was installed in 1895 with hydrants coming into use in 1903. This changed the concept and methods of firefighting again. In 1915, a 60-foot 20-metre bell tower was added to the fire house.

In 1928, as a result of the planned purchase of a fire pumper with gasoline engine and chain drive as well as the ever increasing need for more space to house the fire department’s increasing list of equipment, another new fire hall was planned.

The cornerstone for this fire hall was laid June 7, 1928. It was built during the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Town of Lunenburg. This new fire hall was located on the corner of Cumberland and Duke Streets. The fire department was again reorganized and took on the new name of Lunenburg Fire Department.

This fire hall served the community and surrounding area for 48 years. Renovations to increase the size of its four bay doors, to accommodate the ever increasing size of apparatus, was carried out on three separate occasions. Numerous pieces of older equipment were replaced as the years passed; with newer, more modern pieces of firefighting apparatus.

1928 Gasoline-Powered Chain-Drive LaFrance Pumper

Upon acquiring the 1928 gasoline-powered chain-drive LaFrance pumper the old steam pumper “On Time” was sold for fifty dollars for scrap metal.

The 1842 hand pumper is on loan to the Nova Scotia Firefighters’ Museum in Yarmouth. The LaFrance Pumper has is currently being restored by a committee headed up by Pump Operator Randy Weagle. A 1932 Dodge hose truck is still in the hands of the fire department and is in operational condition. Two old hose reels are on display in front of the present fire station.

The Department’s 1929 LaFrance Pumper, currently under restoration

During the 1980s after a number of expansions to the fire hall at 42 Duke Street and the need for more space; it was being realized, that a new, larger fire hall was again required.

After severe structural problems arose with the apparatus bay floor; and the need to relocate fire apparatus to the Electric Light Department it was determined that a new building was a priority. In 1993, the planning process was put in high gear and by 1996 a new state-of-the art fire station was built at a cost of $1,700,000.

During this period of time the Lunenburg Fire Department name was changed to Lunenburg and District Fire Department to reflect the important role the District #1 and #2 Fire Commission plays in the operation of the fire department. The parties involved in financing this new building project were the federal and provincial governments, the Town of Lunenburg, District Lunenburg #1 and #2 Fire Commission, and The Lunenburg and District Fire Department.

The new fire station, at 25 Medway Street, was officially opened May 4, 1996. It is located on former Canadian National Railway property where the locomotive turntable once was located. Between 1996 and the year 2000 three new pieces of fire apparatus were purchased through the efforts of the Town of Lunenburg, the District #1 and #2 Fire Commission, and the Lunenburg and District Fire Department.

Fire department history prepared by James Flet and Retired Fire Chief Robert Parks, (active service 1957 to 1997.)

The Department’s 1842 Hand pumper and Bucket- on display at the Nova Scotia Firefighter’s Musem in Yarmouth NS.

The Department’s 1932 Dodge Hose Truck

Fire department history prepared by James Flet and Retired Fire Chief Robert Parks, (active service 1957 to 1997.)