Celebrating the Calgary Fire Department with Engine 23

What is cooler than a fire truck? A fire truck in your lobby! Here are some great photos of the Calgary Fire Department from our historic photograph collection in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Firefighters rock!

"Cappy" Smart Residence, ca 1965

This is the house that Fire Chief James "Cappy" smart lived in (when he wasn't sleeping at the fire station). Cappy was a ladderman with the Calgary Hook, Ladder and Bucket Corps, a volunteer fire brigade, and when the decision was made to move to a permanent, paid fire fighting force in 1898, Cappy was hired as its first Chief. He was also the town's undertaker.

Fire Headquarters, ca 1966

This photo was taken by Alison Jackson, shortly before the fire hall was decommissioned. Notice that the bell on top of the tower had been replaced by an air raid siren some time in the 1940s and the swinging doors with their arched glass tops, which were great for horse-drawn wagons, had been replaced with modern overhead doors to accommodate the larger trucks and equipment.

Built to replace the "dangerous" and "unsanitary" wooden fire headquarters, the fire fighters moved in in October 1911. "Cappy" Smart, the Fire Chief, had his rooms on the second floor, with his own brass pole for easy access to the main floor. The building is a Provincial Historic Resource and can be seen at 140 6 Avenue SE.

This building served as the city’s Fire Department Headquarters from 1887, when the city’s fire crews were all volunteers, until 1913 when the new No. 1 Fire Hall was built. The old fire hall was demolished, as it was deemed unsafe and unsanitary (the horses that pulled the fire equipment lived in the fire hall along with the fire fighters)

Calgary Fire Department's first piece of motorized equipment was this Webb Car which was added to the department in 1911. The fire fighters who manned this piece of equipment were called "Calgary Flying Squadron"

Horses were used to pull fire equipment until the 1930s. This photograph shows a hose reel wagon in front of the No. 2 Fire Station which was built around 1904 at 119 12 Avenue SW




Calgary’s Fire Department has always been innovative and they were always quick to adopt any technology that would help them save lives. This picture shows an aerial ladder in front of the original main Fire Hall which was at 122 7 Avenue SE, where the Royal Canadian Legion is now.


by: Christine Hayes

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