HISTORY OF THE ST. THOMAS FIRE DEPARTMENT
1850 - The Beaver Fire Company, a strictly volunteer brigade, was formed.
1853 - The Town of St. Thomas purchased a hand-drawn, hand-operated Perry fire pump for $256.10.
1870 – The St. Thomas Fire Brigade suffered its first firefighter death in a building collapse. William Reeks, a married volunteer firefighter, was twenty-nine and a town councilor.
1871 - The Fire Brigade consisted of eleven volunteer members who would elect their own officers.
Due to annexation a second Company was formed in the east end of the City on Railway Street (Princess Ave.) with the main fire hall at Stanley and Talbot.
1873 – Other companies were formed such as The Torrent Hook & Ladder Company and The Fire Flies (a young boy’s group).
1887 – Herman Ponsford lost his life fighting a fire caused by a train collision that ruptured oil cars and covered an area the size of a city block with fire.
1879 – The annual fire budget was $700, with a clothing allowance of $2.50 per man.
1880 – The Fire Brigade was called out 28 times.
1882 – The Central Fire Hall was built on Southwick Street for $8300.
1883 – The City purchased two horses and two carts as well as hiring two men who worked at the fire hall twenty-four hours a day.
1914 – The first motor operated vehicle was purchased.
1924 – The chassis of the fire engine was changed to a REO Truck. There was an ongoing competition between the horse-drawn and motor-powered fire apparatus to see who would arrive at the alarm first; the motor driven vehicle did not always win the race.
The Fire Department was also responsible for ambulance service, first with horse-drawn and then with motor-driven ambulance. This continued until 1930.
1973 – The present fire station was built at 305 Wellington Street. The fire trucks were painted chrome yellow to make them more visible at night.
1997 – The St. Thomas Fire Department had a compliment of 32 full time Firefighters, 4 Dispatchers, 2 Fire Prevention Staff and a Chief and Deputy Chief.
2001 – Capt. Dennis Redman was killed in the line of duty fighting an apartment fire at 200 Chestnut Street on the night of January 5th during a blinding snowstorm.
St. Thomas Fire Department takes delivery of a new 75’ E-One ladder truck; unlike the other trucks in the department this truck is red returning the tradition of red fire trucks to the St. Thomas Fire Department.
2002 – A new red F550 Ford has been customized by Superior Truck into a Rescue unit. This unit will run in conjunction with the EMS service on medical calls.
2004 – Based on recommendations of a Coroner’s inquest the St. Thomas Fire Department has grown to 58 personnel. There are now 48 full time Firefighters (12 Officers, 36 men), 4 Dispatchers, 2 Fire Prevention Staff, 1 Training Officer a Chief and a Deputy Chief.
An E-One custom pumper with a raised cab has been purchased as a new front line truck.
This red unit will replace another of the chrome yellow trucks currently in service.
2005 - Ground is broken in November for a new substation to be built in the north end of the city just past S. Edgeware on Burwell Rd.
2006 - The Captain Dennis A. Redman Station #2 starts to service the residents of the north part of the City in July of this year. The official opening took place on Tuesday September 19th with many local dignitaries attending.
Dedicated to those who have died in the line of duty
1870 - William Reeks
1887 - Herman Ponsford
2001 - Captain Dennis Redman
They shall not be forgotten