Bridgewater Fire Department History

Bridgewater Fire Department Ladder Company

On May 29, 1876, in the office of James Curll, a Hook and Ladder Protection Company was formed with Captain (Chief) John J McLean, a local Lawyer. At this time $156.00 was collected for fire apparatus, which consisted of 2 hose reels and a Ladder Cart. The first Fire Station was the Drill shed.

In 1882 The Hook and Ladder Protection Company had a membership of fifty. In July 1882, the Department met in their new Fire Hall on St. Andrew’s Street. Their equipment consisted of a Fire Engine and hand drawn Ladder Wagon as well as three hose reels. Having a new Fire Station and a good alarm the Department decided it was time new bylaws should be drafted to keep up with the growing times. A committee was appointed to look into the matter and one of the bylaws that stood out was that when a new member was brought into the Department he received his notification and before the next meeting he was required to supply, out of his own pocket, a belt and spanner. Failure to do so meant he immediately ceased to be a member. It was also drafted in the bylaws that no active member was entitled to be enrolled as an honorary member until he had actually served a full term of sixteen years in the Department. In 1883 the Department name was changed to the Bridgewater Fire Engine Company.

On March 18, 1919 a fire broke out in the Methodist Church, this was a very icy night, and the firemen had trouble getting the hose reels to the fire, the result was the Church burned to the ground. This loss awakened both the Fire Department and The Town Fathers; a joint committee was immediately set up to look into the purchase of a Motorized Hose Truck. August 1920 the Town purchased a Model T Hose Truck. This brought about another problem, that of an over crowded Fire Station. Wheels were again set in motion and things began to shape up between the Department and the Town Council. December 5th,1922 was the opening date of the new Fire Station on Pleasant Street and the equipment was moved in one week later.

As time went on the funds were growing substantially and the firemen decided the old Ladder Wagon had served its useful purpose so a committee was appointed to look into the purchasing of a truck chassis to replace this piece of equipment. After a great deal of study it was decided to purchase an International truck and build ladder racks with the volunteer help of Department members. The truck was purchased and the Ladder racks built at a total cost of $2,100.00. This was paid for out of Department funds. Thus our first motorized Ladder truck was officially presented to the town on August 28th,1927.

In 1948, the Old Ladder Truck was now very ancient and it was decided to ask the Town for permission to dispose of it, providing we would raise the balance of the money to purchase a new Ladder Truck. This request was granted on the condition that the new Ladder Truck would be purchased and in Town before the old one would be disposed of. Immediately things began to shape up, a hot dog stand was set up on Main Street and was operated on Saturday nights to raise funds. In the meantime, we were continuing our plans to get a Ladder Truck with two banks of ladders and a standing isle for Firemen in the center. We tried different Fire Equipment Manufacturers but none would build this type for us. Finally we had a letter from Hickey and Company stating if we could give them some sort of a blue print, they would endeavour to build this Ladder Truck for us. We immediately contacted the draftsman, Mr. Stan Forbes, at the Acadia Gas Engines Ltd. in Bridgewater and he drew the blue prints. They were forwarded to Hickey and Co. for a final decision whether or not they would build this piece of equipment for us. While we were awaiting word from Hickey we purchased a GMC chassis from a local dealer, Harry Corkum of Lahave Auto Service. Word was received from Hickey regarding price, the truck was sent from the factory to Hickey. The new Ladder Truck arrived in March 1949 at a cost of $5,962.94. We immediately called for tender on our old Ladder Truck and it was sold to the Lahave Fire Department for $825.00, Ladders and all.

On February 9, 1962 the Bridgewater Fire Department moved into their new Fire Station on 81 Dominion Street and were honoured by the Bridgewater Bulletin by having a Special Edition of the paper.

In 1963, the Department set up a committee to look into the purchase of a new Ladder Truck, but came back with a recommendation to repair the present ladder truck and set up a fund for the possibility of purchasing an aerial ladder truck at a future date. In 1973 the Department recommended to the Town Council that funds be put aside each year for the purchase of a piece of aerial fire fighting apparatus. A committee was formed in the Department to look into the price of a ladder truck; a quote was received from Pierreville of $71,000.00 for a 100 ft. aerial ladder. A motion was made that no charitable donations be made to other organizations until the Department received such a piece of equipment. On July 9th, 1975 tenders were received and opened for a 65ft. or 85ft. aerial platform unit. Tenders were received from Pierreville Fire Trucks Ltd. and King Seagrave Ltd. Following consideration of the tenders, Chief Frank Gow was asked what the present pumping capacity of the fire vehicles owned by the Town of Bridgewater is and he advised that one vehicle has been laid up over two months for pump repairs and that a second vehicle requires a priming pump which has to be ordered from the pump manufacturer in the United States.

Following consideration of the pumping capacity of the Town of Bridgewater equipment, it was moved by Councillor Hocking, seconded by Mayor Hirtle, that it be recommended to council to ask Mr. DeCoste the King Seagrave representative to prepare specs in cooperation with the truck committee for a 1050 gallon per minute pump mounted on a suitable chassis if one is available at the King Seagrave plant.

In March 1980 a motion was put forth and adopted to pledge $50,000.00 to the Town of Bridgewater toward the purchase of an aerial ladder truck. On November 29, 1980, a fund raising campaign called the “Roll The Ladder Truck Fund” began which consisted of a 26 mile walk around town, with the old hose reel, resulting in approximately $4,500.00 in funds. Ladder 2 was shown at the Fire Convention in Florida. This unit had many extras added for the show including double-sided compartment doors, checker plate and extra chrome. Four of our members flew to the plant to see the truck before purchase. There were three departments interested in purchasing this vehicle but we were the first department committed to purchase with very few hours to spare. The purchase price was about $165,000.00. On April 5, 1981 the 85ft. Thiabault was put in service. The truck is equipped with a water tower, a 1050 gpm pump and a remote controlled adjustable nozzle on the end of the ladder. The ladder truck was put to its first test on September 26th at the Riverport Seafood plant fire.

Work began in January 2005 with members of the Ladder Company and the Engineering Department collecting information. The truck committee was formed and met for the first time in January 2006. The committee met seventeen times and the tender documents were sent out in late July. In September Council awarded the tender to Mic Mac Fire and Safety to supply a Pierce apparatus. Staff from both Micmac and Pierce worked closely with Engineering and Fire Department staff over the next 11 months to ensure the final product met our specifications. Our new Aerial has a 100 ft. aluminum ladder, tandem rear axle configuration, 420 Imperial gallon water tank, custom cab design, 1750 Imperial gallon pump, hydraulic generator c/w cord reel, foam pro 2002 foam system, booster hose reel and bumper line. The New Ladder 2 was put into service on October 6th at 1200 hours. Captain Kevin Dolliver was our only member to respond on the last call aboard the old Ladder 2 and the first call for our new Aerial Unit.