Fire Deptartment

The Regina Fire Department got its start in 1882 when a group of concerned citizens met to discuss the many problems that the fledgling town of Regina was facing. Within days, a collection was started to buy fire fighting equipment and the first fire chief, John Cottingham, was appointed. A fire brigade was vital to the survival of the small community - wooden houses heated by wood or coal were very susceptible to fire, and several severe fires had already occurred. Many residents feared that a single fire might wipe out most of the town's buildings, a fate that had happened to other communities.

The first paid employee of Regina was Fire Inspector Joseph W. Smith, who was in charge of inspecting stovepipes and chimneys. The operation was quite small. The all-volunteer squad called itself the Regina Pioneer Brigade and it had its first meeting in 1883. The first pumper was purchased in 1886 and was stored at the Town Hall. It was not until 1894 that a self-contained fire station was constructed. (The station, called Central Fire Hall, closed in 1907.)

The volunteer squad was not always able to successfully fight all of the fires in Regina . In 1890 a devastating fire ripped through South Railway Avenue , destroying twelve buildings. Another fire hit the 1700 block of Broad Street three years later, destroying another twelve buildings.

As the town grew into a city, a more professional fire department was needed. William A. White became volunteer chief in 1900 and six years later became the longest-serving and first paid Fire Chief. White oversaw the purchase of the department's first horses to aid in fire fighting in 1906. A new fire hall was built in 1907, with additional fire halls built in 1911 and 1914. The volunteer squad was phased out from 1906 to 1913. 1913 was a big year for the fire department in other respects, as motorized fire-fighting equipment was purchased and 25 fire-alarm boxes were installed in Regina .

In later years, the Regina Fire Department faced several spectacular fires. In 1925 the largest and most dangerous fire ever to strike the city occurred at the Canadian Oil Company plant. Buildings and, most devastatingly, inventory were destroyed in the fire - fireballs from the ensuing explosions could be seen as far away as Moose Jaw . Gasoline drums shot into the air like rockets, landing several blocks away from the site and spreading the flames far and wide. Two firefighters had to be hospitalized after being shot across the street from one of these explosions. Miraculously, no one suffered life-threatening injuries.

In 1949 a disastrous fire hit the car barns of the Regina Municipal Railway. The fire burned up most of the rolling stock of the Regina Municipal Railway and razed the buildings to the ground. 14 streetcars, 17 trolleys and 9 diesel buses were destroyed, to the tune of $1 million in damage.

Chief White retired in 1938. That year, City Council narrowly voted to close two fire halls and retire the last two department horses instead of granting firefighters a day of rest in each seven-day period.

  Title: Central Fire Hall
Date: ca. 1894
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  Title: Bank of Montreal Fire
Date: c. 1905
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  Title: Ladder truck, Regina Fire Brigade, No. 101
Date: ca. 1906
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   Title: E. Side Lorne & West Side Osler [1906 Census]
Date(s) of Creation/Date of Publication: 1906
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p. 37
  Title: Man with fire horses
Date: ca. 1907
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  Title: Regina 's second fire station
Date: 1911
Retrieval Number: CORA-RPL-A-788
  Title: McCarthy Block fire
Date: 1912
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  Title: Early fire engine
Date: ca. 1920
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  Title: An early fire engine on display
Date: ca. 1920
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  Title: An early fire engine
Date: ca. 1920
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  Title: An early fire engine
Date: ca. 1920
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  Title: Miscellaneous Brochures, Pamphlets
Date(s) of Creation/Date of Publication: 1938-1944
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Informational sheet on incendiary bombs.
  Title: Running Cards - Fire Trucks
Date(s) of Creation/Date of Publication: 1939-40
Scope and Content of Scanned Image:
Running card of fire truck orders.
  Title: Decorated fire engines
Date: 1941
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