A spirited debate
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
News Staff It appears that “fire water” – and not the type required to extinguish blazes – was a hot topic during the infancy of Alexandria’s fire department well over a century ago.
In an item included under the Local News section of the Sept. 18, 1896 issue of The News dealing with a meeting of the town’s recently-incorporated fire brigade, it’s pointed out that “the practice of having pails of whisky passed around after each fire was discussed and unanimously condemned by those present.”
D.J. Macdonald, presumably a member of the force, profferred a more practical alternative, sug- gesting that “people desiring to offer refreshments to those who were tired and wet after a fire should pass around a potful of hot coffee instead.” Industrialist J.T. Schell, the fire brigade’s secretary, “thought the best way to avoid chills on an occasion of this kind would be to keep moving, thus promoting the circulation and warding off of ill effects until a change of clothing could be had.”
Final decision on the ”wet” or “dry” debate was slated to be put to a vote “at the first meeting in which nearly all the members of the brigade may be present.” There doesn’t seem to be a written public account of the outcome, but it’s safe to assume that the town’s firemen threw a wet blanket on the idea of any future post-blaze “blitzes.”