Fire ser­vice evo­lu­tion

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

To­day, we take fire pro­tec­tion for granted. Lo­cal de­part­ments, com­prised pri­mar­ily of vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers, re­spond to a plethora of emer­gen­cies 24-7, 365 days of the year.

The ser­vices are a far cry from the early brigades that were poorly equipped and woe­fully un­der­funded. While Alexan­dria was pros­per­ing, lit­tle at­ten­tion was be­ing paid to pro­tect­ing the bur­geon­ing busi­nesses from the de­struc­tive el­e­ment.

In Jan­uary, 1896, flames con­sumed the Alexan­dria Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co., prompt­ing the loss of 30 jobs at the fur­ni­ture fac­tory, and calls for the es­tab­lish­ment of a vol­un­teer fire bri­gade.

Chief D.D. McDougall and Captains Alex Lalonde and A.D. McDonell led the bri­gade in its ef­forts to se­cure money for sup­plies from vil­lage coun­cil. The chief quit when funds were not forth­com­ing. How­ever, coun­cil’s tune changed af­ter fire de­stroyed two more busi­nesses that Sum­mer. The bri­gade was re-or­ga­nized in Septem­ber. In 1898, the pay of the 12 fire­men was set at $5 per year. In 1904, the bri­gade was re­or­ga­nized again. The chief was paid $15 per year. Fire­fight­ers got $10 if they at­tended 12 prac­tices.

In early 1944, the fire bri­gade was ex­panded to 12 mem­bers; the men were to re­ceive $30 a year.

In­cred­i­bly, there were no fa­tal fires dur­ing this era.

FILE PHOTO

EX­PECT THE UN­EX­PECTED: Fire­fight­ers know that no two calls are the same. Over the years, vol­un­teer brigades have be­come bet­ter equipped and bet­ter trained than the pi­o­neers who started small-town forces in the late 1800s.

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