Monday, March 15, 2010

Calgary Fire Department: 125 Years Strong

This year marks a significant milestone for the Calgary Fire Department. In 2010, the department celebrates 125 years since the first fire service was established in our city.

“We’ve come a long way from the 22 volunteers who made up the Calgary Hook, Ladder and Bucket Corporation in 1885,” said Fire Chief Bruce Burrell. “Today, more than 1,350 men and women of the Calgary Fire Department are dedicated to serving and protecting our community.”

To kick off the fire department’s anniversary celebrations, a permanent display was set up this year at the Calgary International Airport. Life-sized mannequins placed around carousel no. 9 depict the varied activities carried out by the fire department today.

“We were fortunate to have the space donated to us by the Airport Authority, and we’ve used it to educate the public about what we do as a fire department,” said Burrell. “We’re about much more than fighting fires – we’re responsible for rescuing people from all kinds of predicaments, provide pre-hospital care support services, enforce various codes and safety regulations, and educate the public about fire safety.”

The airport display focuses on the fire department’s technical or “rescue” teams. Water and ice rescue, hazardous materials clean up, rescues requiring rope work, vehicle extrication, and “heavy” or structural collapse rescue teams are all featured in the display.

“We respond to almost 50,000 incidents in a year,” said Chief Burrell, “but 46 per cent of those are medical in nature and about 2,400 are fires. We hope that by profiling some of our technical teams, people will understand the vast expertise of the fire department, and that we participate in many different types of activities to keep Calgarians safe.”

The fire department has a host of events planned for the upcoming year to celebrate its 125th anniversary. The Firefighters Museum of Calgary will open May 29, and July 7 will see Fire host a huge Stampede Breakfast. A large public celebration to mark Fire’s birthday month will be held at the Fire Training Academy Aug. 21.

“To celebrate our birthday, we have several activities planned; from flying 125th flags outside our stations to hosting a curling bonspiel and putting some of our antique apparatus on display at Heritage Park. It’s going to be a great year!” said Burrell.

History buffs will also want to get a copy of Yours For Life: 125 years of Courage, Compassion and Service from the Calgary Fire Department. This hard cover coffee table book chronicles Fire’s history from inception to present-day, complete with historic photographs. Written by a professional writer and researcher, and designed by Creative Services, the book situates Fire’s history within the broader context of Calgary history.

“I’m extremely proud of this book – the articles are easy to read and the photos are breathtaking,” said Chief Burrell. “We also had tremendous support from the community to produce it – we raised $45, 000 to cover production costs.

“Anyone wanting a copy can purchase it after March 1 from Fire’s Hot Property store,” adds the Chief.

Hot Property is located in the new Emergency Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance Building at 1755-18th Ave. N.E. The book costs $35, and all proceeds go to support the Firefighters Museum of Calgary.

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