Fire Department Info & History
The District of West Vancouver is situated on the North Shore from the Capilano River to Horseshoe Bay. Within its boundaries there is a mix of residential, commercial, and waterfront properties. Fire Companies respond to residential, multifamily, commercial, marine, confined space rescue, heavy rescue, auto-extrication and medical aid calls. The District of West Vancouver contains a large area of wildland including river canyons creating additional Fire Services such as: forest fire fighting, canyon rescue and swift water rescue.
Structurally District of West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services consists of four Fire Stations. Each station houses a pumper staffed by four firefighters. No. 1 Fire Hall houses a pumper, ladder and rescue vehicle and is staffed by six firefighters. Within the District of West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services there is a Fire Prevention & Public Education Section (4 persons), a Maintenance Section (1 person), and a Training Section (1 person).
The WVFRS are leaders in the Public Education field with programs involving all of its members. Dispatch is contracted to Surrey fire Services and the radio frequency is shared with the District of North Vancouver. Call volume fluctuates between 3,500 - 4,000 per year; 70 % of which are medical aid - 30 % are Fire and Rescue.
Members of West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services are represented by the International Association of Firefighters Union Local 1525 West Vancouver Firefighters Union Local 1525. Local 1525 is very active in charitable fund raising events and community volunteer programs. Examples - Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, & BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund.
Public Safety Fund-Raisers: Firefighter Solicitations
On occasion, West Vancouver Firefighters will carry out special fund-raising events and activities which are fully endorsed by West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services. An example was the "boot drive" which was held to benefit the families of the firefighters who lost their lives in New York City. During these officially endorsed events, Firefighters are in official uniform, carry identification, and the event is well publicized.
You may be solicited (perhaps over the telephone) from time to time to contribute to fire service organizations. Because firefighters risk their lives for the safety of your community, you may feel it is appropriate to show your support with a donation. You may even feel you are contributing to local public safety. Sometimes, however, these organizations are not charitable; instead they may be professional fundraisers or other groups that will not use your donation for charitable purposes. What’s more, having the word “firefighter” in the organization’s name doesn’t necessarily mean that local firefighters even belong to the group. In many cases, professional fund-raisers only provide ten to twenty cents out of every dollar donated to the named charity.
As is the case when contributing to any charity or organization, asking questions is the best way to make sure your donation supports activities that are important to you. Find out how your money will be used and distributed, and ask for written information, including the organization’s name, address, telephone number and other financial information (including what percentage of the funds will be distributed to the charity). Once you are assured that your money will be used in ways you consider appropriate, you can be confident in making your contribution. Also, be sure to ask for official identification. If someone approaches you for a donation, and they are not in an official West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services uniform, you can confidently assume that the fund-raising activity has not been endorsed by West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
Special Events Fund-Raisers
Sometimes professional fund-raisers produce variety shows as special fund-raising events. Tickets are usually sold over the phone or in person. If you express no interest in attending, the solicitor will often suggest you purchase tickets for handicapped or underprivileged children. In some cases, however, the number of children “eligible” to receive free tickets is limited and transportation is not provided. If you are considering purchasing tickets for this purpose, ask the following questions:
- How many children will benefit, and how are they selected?
- How many tickets have to be sold?
- How will the tickets be distributed?
- Is transportation for the children included?
Keep in mind that the public safety group you want to support may only receive a small portion of the total money raised once the promoter recoups costs associated with producing the event.
If you decide to purchase tickets, write a check payable to the non-profit organization, not the person collecting the money or the company running the event. If you receive unsolicited tickets in the mail, you are in no way obligated to pay for them or return them to the promoter.
If you have a question about the legitimacy of any fund-raising activity which uses the Fire Service as part of it's promotion, please don’t hesitate to call the West Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services Charitable Society at 604-999-9291.
Fire department records go back as far as June 1925. Below are some selected highlights compiled by Deputy Chief G.M. McDowell (ret.) and Deputy Chief G. Harrington (ret.):
- Acting Chief J. S. Yates. Telephone in corner drug store 400 which remained to the late 1950's.
- Fire department consisted of 11 volunteer firefighter members and one chemical tank truck (La France mounted on a chassis).
- Call to Chinese Laundry on Clyde, between 14th and 15th Streets.
- Call to gas boat at West Bay - owner put out fire before arrival of the Fire Department. Fire in bilge and put out by partly sinking boat.
- Call to 2129 Bellevue - whole interior of house was ablaze on arrival - fire soon extinguished. Whole interior, furniture and clothing destroyed. Estimated loss $400.
- September 5, 21st and Argyle - the house was nearly burnt down on arrival of brigade - adjoining buildings were protected and fire put out. House was a total loss. Trouble with truck - broken valve. Estimated loss $1,200.
- January 1, call to 22nd and Mathers - chimney fire. On this trip, rear end of truck gave out and was towed back to hall.
- July 27, first call with new Fire Truck 1930 G.M.C. - Bush fire.
- Call to the Fortune Cup Inn, whole west end of building in flames.
- August 21, bush fire at Ambleside Beach.
- May 18, fire at Inglewood High School.
- Fire at Sherman on October 5 (at this time Sherman was a small community).
- Harry Normand - Fire Chief. July 21, B.C. Electric Powerhouse 18th Street.
- Total fire calls that year 64 - House 19, Chimney 22, Bush 21, Car 1, False Alarm 1. Amount of property endangered $85,900, damage for year $108.
- March 27, fire practice held for two hours at Firehall 13th and Argyle - all hose tested, couplings oiled, etc.
- April 13, 1962 Bellevue - ceiling fire caused by pipe through roof and rats nest against pipe. Damage $75.
- 39 calls - 9 House, 15 Chimney and Roof fires, 10 Bush, 2 practice calls.
- Estimated loss for year $1,253. Expenses - wages $570.50, Equipment $210.80, phone, light and heat $165.47, Insurance on equipment $84.72, Insurance on firefighters $42.00. Total Budget - $1,073.49.
- Bill Thompson - Fire Chief. Year's total damage $844.
- 44 calls. Estimated loss $19,010.
- June 29th, 9th and Kings - used new pumps for first time - 1942 International Bickle Seagrave.
- 51 Fires. Losses $10,755.
- June 9th, fire under Lions Gate Bridge - wrong location given. Soldiers at the Fort under the bridge put fire out (old shack).
- April 20, 8:15 p.m. - 4122 Marine Drive - through an error, all firefighters went to the fire and no one brought the fire truck.
- July 8, Caulfield Service Station - total loss $10,000.
- 25 Building fires, 18 Chimney fires, 21 Bush fires, 1 Overheated stove, 2 Car fires, 1 Pacific Stage, and 1 Truck on Lions Gate Bridge.
- First stand-by at bad accident - estimated loss $5,500.
- Equipment at No. 1 Hall - 1942 International; 1930 G.M.C.
- Equipment at No. 2 Hall - 1924 Dodge; 1929 Model "B" one ton panel.
- Estimated loss $20,187. Jeep fire truck delivered #34 (this Jeep still runs and is in the Community Parade each June).
- Bob Rhodes - Fire Chief.
- No. 3 Fire Hall formed - using one bay of Caulfeild Garage and the 1930 G.M.C. as their truck.
- 395 Stevens Drive - house fire - hydrant not on and another fire one month to the day later.
- 1949 International delivered #32 (this truck is also in Community Day parades). Old No. 3 Fire Hall built at the current location in Caulfeild.
- September 15, Caulfeild's new truck put through tests. A. Gisby - Fire Chief.
- September 21, Horseshoe Bay - Sewell's Marina caught fire while Imperial Oil filling and using metal dip stick.
- Instructional unit over from Fire Marshall's Office. to all Fire Halls.
- October 22, chair fire - burnt through chair, through floor, through $2,400 rug.
- New No. Fire Hall opened at 13th and Marine (P.S.B.) - April 15 - 1954 T.B.F. (Flint) McKim taken on as first paid Fire Department member.
- October 20 - Purchase of Truck #31.
- 12:27 p.m. Granville Bros. - Cleaners.
- Vehicle inventory - 1954 Thibault #31, No. 1 Hall
- 1942 International #36, No. 1 Hall
- 1931 G.M.C. Service vehicle.
- 1953 Chev., Chief's car.
Housed at new Fire hall, which we moved into on August 15.
1949 International #32, No. 2 Hall
1948 Willy's Jeep #34, No. 2 Hall
1951 Ford LaFrance #33, No. 3 Hall.
Purchase of Ambulance (Volkswagen) and intoduction into the Ambulance business.
Purchase of new Chief's car - 56 Ford Ranch Wagon.
209 Calls for year.
December 7 - fire at 950 Sentinel Drive - Hullah House.
Opened Fire Hall No. 2 in Horseshoe Bay.
Purchased 1958 Ford Amblewagon #38.
Purchased 1958 Thibault #39.
Built new Fire Hall No. 2 Hall on Nelson & Marine.
New Chief's car.
1961 Ford C850 Pumper #36 added.
One firefighter added for Warden duties.
New car #38 - 63 Pontiac Ambulance.
Hired three firefighters.
Hired one firefighter.
Hired Control Room (radio dispatch) firefighter.
Hired replacement Control Room firefighter. Bought Rescue Truck #40 and new Chief's car #37.
Opened new No. 1 Fire Hall (current building) at 760 16th. Street.
Mrs. Ruth Stout, moved the Santa Claus Fund operation into No. 1 Fire Hall’s basement in November.
Hired Mechanic and 4 men firefighters - November 19. Fire chiefT.B.F. McKim leaves.
November 19 - April 1, 1969 - Chief W. Galpin, Acting Chief.
Fire Hall No. 3 staffed with 2 firefighters during the day only.
Purchased #41 and #42.
Hired five firefighters.
April 1 - Fire Chief R. Chandler.
Creation of Fire Prevention Office.
Hired 17 firefighters.
Opened No. 4 Fire Hall in British Properties (current building).
Fire Hall No. 3 staffed on night shift.
Hired one firefighter.
Purchased #44, #32 and #35.
Hired three ffirefighters.
#45 - Ambulance donated by Mr. Bull.
Hired 10 firefighters.
Purchased #37, new Fire Chief's car.
Hired five firemen.
Ordered 1 Pumper and 1 Warden's car.
Fire Prevention Office Inspector appointed November 1974.
Colin Evans becomes Fire Chief (Jan. 15)
Scott Aerial 100ft. purchased.
June – Volunteers phased out.
2 Mack Pumper Trucks purchased.
Opened new Fire Hall. No. 3 (current building)
1 Mack Pumper Truck purchased.
August – 4 District Chiefs start on shift.
New Rescue Truck purchased.
Simon Duplex Pumper Truck purchased.
John Rowlands became Fire Chief (June 1).
Ron Olson becomes Acting Fire Chief (Feb. 27) and Fire Chief on Dec. 16.
Fire & Safety Educator hired.
Smeal Quint Truck with 55 foot ladder purchased.
West Vancouver Fire Department becomes West Vancouver Fire & Rescue.
Smeal Pumper Truck purchased.
Smeal 100 foot Aerial Truck purchased.
Doug Trussler arrives from Toronto Fire Services to become Fire Chief (April 24).
Ron Olson retires as fire chief on April 30.
Deputy Chief and 3 Assistant Chiefs each take over 1 shift each to manage.
First two female Firefighters hired.
Final year of West Vancouver Santa Claus Fund. Ruth Stout had run this since the opening of No. 1 Fire Hall – 1967.
New Smeal engine and SVI rescue truck.
New No. 2 Fire Hall relocated to 6272 Marine Drive (current building).