Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A story of The Fire Bowl Sunday.... Brooks, Alberta - City and Fire Hall 1970

Brooks, Alberta City and Fire Hall 1970 something

It was quite an honour to be commissioned for this drawing of the old Brooks City and Fire Hall.
As I stared at the reference photograph I was brought back to my childhood days. The summer days of 1973, when every Sunday afternoon was spent playing a game of football down at the Fire Hall Field. By the way the title -( 1970 something ) comes about that no one knows when the photograph of the old hall was taken...
A Story of The Fire Bowl Sunday..
If you look at the drawing, just to the left of the bus that's parked beside the Hall, was the field that we played in. Of course you can't see the field and It wasn't a regular football field, but never the less, it was the Fire Hall Field.
   Along the outside edges of the field were trees that were spaced apart 20 feet or so. All in a row too and they copied each other on the opposite side of the field. We used these tree's as our field lines. The field was only 150 feet long by 60 or 70 feet...or so. Well, it was big enough for us to play our game on, that's all that mattered at the time.
I can remember all the fun and excitement that we always seem to have. The anticipation that started during the week with the winners hoisting the trophy, the Fire Bowl Sunday trophy!...In short the Fire Bowl...Yes the trophy!?...It was this hub cap that one of us found along the curb while we were walking towards the fire hall one day....Simple, but Great! 
Well, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. One Fire Bowl Sunday, when our quarterback through a touch down pass that didn't quite make it to our receiver...! 
You see he over through the ball and it crashed into the middle set of windows. Breaking the bottom right pane..... Lets just say we didn't stick around to get our ball back....!

So your probably wondering what playing football on Sundays afternoon in the middle of 1973 summer has anything to do with this drawing....Well, if you look at the drawing and focus your site to the two garbage cans in the doorway. You will see our Fire Bowl Sunday football on the floor...waiting for the game to begin....By Joe Versikaitis

Detail of the Fire Engines
Visit Joe Versikaitis at  Versikaitis - The art of Sport

History of the
Brooks Fire Department

The following history of the Brooks Fire Department was prepared by Maurice Landry after reviewing clippings from the Brooks Bulletin obtained by Joe Yarrow.

Special Thanks to Susan (Smallbones) Zibin

Fire Chiefs

J.A. Bosley 1913-1914
Unknown 1914-1936
William Swanson 1936-1937
Graham Anderson 1937-1939
Fred Hansen 1939-1949
Oliver Ingram 1949-1955
George Anderson 
1955 - 1964
Edwin Smallbones 1964 - 1973
Gordon Wilson 1973-1991
Denis Cuninghame 1991-2002
Kevin Swanson 2003-present

Interesting Facts

1911 – A large fire destroys a whole downtown block. Constable Heskath expressed the need to organize a fire brigade and purchase a reliable fire pump as the existing one is in a state of disrepair.

 – November – A Fire Brigade was organized with J.A. Bosley as the Fire Chief.

 – January – The Fire Brigade moved to request Town Council to purchase a gasoline engine and force pump to be mounted on a truck which will be used in addition to the present chemical pump.

 – January – Fire destroys the Town Office, Fire Hall & Jail.

1920 – May – Council decides to spend $10,000 for a new fire hall and Town Office. The old chemical engine was reported in fair shape.

1937 – December – Fire Chief Graham Anderson recommends that Council purchase a new fire truck. The 1928 Model A chemical truck has been used in Ontario and the price of $750 plus freight is reasonable.

1938 – February – Fire Chief Graham Anderson’s year end report indicated the department attended 4 alarms and had 44 members. He recommended that the department should be appropriated $1 per capita instead of the present $0.03. He also stressed the need for a new fire truck.

1941 – Electric fire siren was installed downtown to alert fireman of an emergency call.

1945 – February – Town purchased the 1941 Ford for the Brooks Fire Brigade at a cost of $3,400.00. This was a much needed replacement for the existing 1928 chemical truck.

1949 – A crew from Brooks participated in a hose laying competition. They laid 200 feet of hose and had water in 34 seconds. The Provincial record was 27.4 seconds.

1952 – December – The new Town Office and Fire Hall are located on First Avenue at First Street West.

1955 – Firemen received $5 per month, which was called “soap money”. Most times the firemen, after receiving their $5, went to the local beer parlor for the evening.

1958 – February – Fire Chief George Anderson reports that the fire department had 10 calls in 1957.

1961 – Brooks Rural Fire Association is formed.

1963 – Rural Fire Department purchases a 1963 Dodge fire truck. It has a 500 gallon water tank and a 500 gpm front mount pump. The yearend report indicates there were 19 members in the Department and they attended 13 fire calls in Town.

1964 –  Edwin Smallbones is appointed Brooks and Distrct Fire Chief.

1966 – Firemen to receive $4 for the first hour of a call and then $3 per hour thereafter. The Fire Chief would get $6 for the first hour and then $4 per hour thereafter.

1967 - George Anderson is new Fire Chief...In appreciation for services as Fire Chief from 1964 - 1967, Edwin Smallbones receives recognition Plaque from Town of Brooks. 

1970 – The yearend report indicates there were 19 members and they attended 22 fire calls. Edwin Smallbones is appointed Fire Chief for another term.

1973 – Town appoints Gordon Wilson as the first full-time fire chief. The Fire Department ordered a new Ford fire truck at a cost of $29,700. The truck was not delivered until 1975. It was a 1974 Ford which carried 500 gallons of water and had a 840 gpm pump. The Town of Brooks presents former Fire Chief Edwin Smallbones a recognition Plaque for his services form 1970 - 1973. 

1974 - Former Fire Chief Ed Smallbones from Brooks Fire Brigade, receives recognition Plaque from Town of Brooks for volunteering his Service from 1961 - 1974 to the Brooks Fire Department.  From October 1967 - October 1970, even though Ed Smallbones could not hold the position of Fire Chief while a councillor for the Town of Brooks. He did continue as a volunteer fireman for those years.

1975 – The fire department moves to a new building on First Avenue at Centre Street. The equipment to be stored in the new building was the ’41 Ford, ’63 Dodge (Rural), ’74 Ford and an equipment van. Fireman remuneration increased from $4/hr to $8/hr.

1977 – Purchased a 1952 85 foot Ladder truck. The truck was used by the Edmonton Fire Department. It was built by the Saskatoon Fire Engine Co. and had a King Seagrave Chassis with GMC power train.

1978 – The fire department purchased a foam maker for fire fighting. Council was also requested to purchase pagers for each fireman.

1979 – Fire department equipment consisted of 2 Town pumper trucks, one Rural pumper truck, an 85 ft ladder truck, equipment van and a rescue vehicle. The department had 3 two-way radios.

1980 – The department obtained additional rescue equipment which included air bags, an electric winch and an oxygen/acetylene cutting torch. Also the hose drying tower was added to the firehall. The fire department purchased a new 1-ton rescue truck. They responded to 73 fire calls in Town.

1981 – The Rural Fire Department receives a new fire truck. It was a 1981 Ford Louisville with 1000 gallon tank and a 625 gpm front mount pump. This replaced the 1963 Dodge which was purchased by the Town. Fire Chief G. Wilson reports that it is difficult to recruit firemen who are available during the day.

1982 – Volunteer fireman, George Anderson, is voted the Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year, for his many years (34 years) of service to the community.

1984 – The fire department purchased a rescue tool called the Jaws of Life. Also acquired 700 feet of 4” high volume fire hose.

1988 – A new Ford pumper truck was purchased at a cost of $150,000. This truck would replace the 1941 Ford which will be moved to the museum. It had a 1050 gpm pump and carried 1000 gallons of water.

1989 – The fire siren was taken out of service. All firemen were now equipped with pagers.

1991 – Gordon Wilson retires and Denis Cuninghame is appointed Fire Chief. The department answered 101 fire calls during year – 71 were in Town and 30 were in the rural area. Volunteer firemen receive $10.50 per hour while fighting fires.

1993 – The Rural Fire Department purchases a Volvo fire truck at a cost of $170,000 to replace the 1981 Ford. It carried 1000 gallons of water and had a 1050 gpm pump. An addition to the firehall for a workshop and storage area was completed.

1995 – The department purchased a new Volvo truck to be used as a rescue truck and a mobile command centre at a cost of $144,000. They answered 109 fire calls during the year – 69 were in Town and 40 were in the rural area.

1996 – A new law was passed to allow volunteer firemen to use flashing green lights to advise motorists they were responding to a fire call.

1997 – Fire Chief Denis Cuninghame suggests to Council that a new fire hall is required as the department is outgrowing the present building. Kevin Swanson was hired as the second full-time firemen.

1998 – The department purchases water rescue equipment including a 14 foot Zodiak inflatable boat. In August, all emergency calls are switched to a 911 service.

1999 – A new fire truck was acquired. It had a 1250 gpm pump and replaces the 1974 Ford Pumper.

2000 – The department answered 133 fire calls during the year – 90 were in Town and 43 were in the rural areas.

2001 – The department responded to 191 calls – 145 were in the Town and 46 were in the rural areas. The staff of 28 firefighters received 1,199 hours of training. Department hosted Southern Prairie Fire Fighter Combat Challenge.

2002 – The department responded to 173 emergency calls. Two volunteer firefighters, Terry Welsh and Shane Cote, were presented with Life Saving Awards. Volunteers participated in the Fire Fighter Combat Challenge in Swift Current. Brooks hosted the Battle of the Badges Charity Hockey Game. Denis Cuninghame resigns as Fire Chief.

2003 – A total of 218 emergency calls were answered this year. Kevin Swanson is new Fire Chief and Keith Martin is hired as Assistant Chief. Ten members, Joe Yarrow, Rick Evans, Kevin Swanson, Maurice Landry, Ron Hagg, Denis Cuninghame, Barry Yokoyama, Liam Latta, Shawn Bryant and Ron Redelback were presented with Alberta Emergency Services Medal for 12 years of service. Two members, Denis Cuninghame and Liam Latta, were presented with the federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 20 years of service.

2004 – 310 emergency calls were responded to this year. Land purchased for a new fire hall.

2005 –A total of 341 emergency calls were answered. Three members, Jim Bonora, Terry Welsh & Keith Martin, were presented with the Alberta Emergency Services Medal for 12 years of service. Two members, Keith Martin & Joe Yarrow, were nominated for federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 20 & 40 years of service.

2006 - A total of 355 emergency calls were answered. Received delivery of the new Rapid Response Vehicle. In May, the new Regional Fire Training Facility, located at 280 Canal Street, was opened.

2007 - 394 emergency calls were answered during the year. A 2007 109 ft Rosenbauer Aerial/Pumper was purchased. Construction of New Fire Hall (Protective Services Facility) was approved by City Council. Ground Breaking Ceremony occurred May 12, 2007.

2008 – In January the Brooks Rural Fire Protection Association disbands and their two trucks were signed over to the Brooks Fire Department through an agreement with the County of Newell. The new fire hall is completed with Grand Opening Ceremonies held on September 6. Two members, Mike Stewart and Darcy Seitz, were presented with Alberta Emergency Services Medal of 12 years of service.

I would like to thank the Brooks Bulletin for providing this wonderful photograph 
and the memories that came with it..

I would also like to thank Frameways Gallery & Frame Shop (  Brooks, Alberta )

for searching of the reference photo for this project....