Fire Department Created with By-Law...1880.

City of Stratford Flashback Friday series created by Mike Beitz, Corporate Communications Lead, highlighting some of Stratford’s more interesting or unusual by-laws over the past 150 years.

On August 2, 1880, Stratford passed By-law #302, “To organize a fire department in the Town of Stratford.”

The by-law set out the make-up of the department, which was to consist of “the Chief of Fire department, first fire engineer, second fire engineer and thirty men, one of whom shall be foreman and four of which thirty men shall be branch men…”

Fire Department at Albert Street Fire Hall c 1920 Stratford- Perth Museum

Vince Gratton dated the picture based on knowledge of changes to the Firehall and its proximity to Dr. Robertson's house next door. " Stratford did not have a permanent fire hall staff till after the hall was first built in 1897. Originally the fire hall had only three equipment doors facing Albert Street. Later maybe c. 1915 it was enlarged to 6 entrance large size doors. Dr. Robertson's home shows in the background and after the addition as in this photo the fire hall was quite close to his house."

It also outlined the annual salaries to be paid to firefighters:

  • Chief: $75

  • First fire engineer: $175

  • Second fire engineer: $50

  • Foreman: $25

  • Branchmen: $21

Equipment to be used by the fire department was specified:

  • That the apparatus of the fire department shall consist of fire engine, hose cart, hook and ladder trucks, and other necessary apparatus and water tanks and in such number as shall from time to time be deemed necessary by the said committee on Fire Water and Gas.

  • That until said Council shall have purchased horses to transport such apparatus to and from fires, said Committee shall procure if necessary the services of good horses and drivers for the transportation thereof to and from fires as aforesaid and for the performance of such other duties connected with said department as may be determined upon by said Committee of Fire Water and Gas.

Photos : John Kastner/Stratford Perth Museum

The by-law also included a number of restrictions:

  • Firefighters could not leave town for more than 24 hours at a time without permission from the fire chief.

  • They could not become “intoxicated or make use of profane, obscene blasphemous or grossly insulting language while on duty.”

  • And, “no spirituous or fermented liquor of any kind shall be allowed or used in the engine house or whilst actually on duty or at the engine at any time by any member of the fire department.”

  • In the event of a fire or an alarm, members of the fire department had to “proceed with all possible haste to the fire station and immediately assist in getting engine hose reels, hooks and ladder wagon and other apparatus to the fire as quickly as possible, also to perform such services as may be required of them by the chief of the fire department or officer in charge and not depart or absent themselves from duty without permission of said chief of the fire department or other officer in charge.”

The by-law also included restrictions for citizens in the event of a fire:

  • … no person or persons shall in any way impede or hinder any fireman or other person who shall be assisting in extinguishing a fire or be in the performance of any other duties connected therewith nor shall any person drive any vehicle whatever over any hose while in use or about to be used at any fire.

  • Anyone guilty of an infraction under the by-law could, upon conviction, face a fine of $50. Those unable to pay could be sent to jail “for the space of twenty-one days with hard labour.”

Source: City of Stratford FB.