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History of the
WEST VANCOUVER FIRE SERVICE
In 1954, the No. 1 Fire Hall was moved from the Bus Garage to the new Public Safety Building at 13th and Marine Drive. After the move to the new Fire Hall, the Volunteers, on hearing the Fire Siren, would phone 922-9311 and the Police Dispatcher would give them the fire location.
The trouble with sirens is the wind can affect the travel of its sound. Many Volunteers setup a buddy system. When the alarm sounded and the Fireman who lived on the west side of the siren location would phone a fellow Fireman located on the east side of the siren and vice versa.
In the Ambleside area in November 1959 a second siren was installed at Braeside Street and Lawson Avenue due to the number of Firemen who lived in that area.
In September 1969, the sirens were deemed in conflict with the Army’s Civil Defence policy; consequently the Army shut down and padlocked the siren at No. 2 Fire Hall.
The Fire Department was forced to go to a telephone alerting system which went into operation by November 6th, 1961. All Volunteers and paid staff had special telephone lines that were activated at No. 1 Fire Hall by the duty fireman or the Police Dispatcher by lifting the receiver and repeating the address. The telephone would keep ringing until picked up and if you were on the phone at the time of the alarm the other party would be cut off.
On February 24th, 1970, the telephones were disconnected and a new system was introduced to alert all our Firemen. It was the ‘Plectron’, which was a radio alerting Device. It was set up separately for each district and was activated from the control room in No. 1 Fire Hall. The Volunteer District Chiefs had one that monitored the radio transmissions. This system was used up to June 1981, when Volunteer Firemen were disbanded.
No. 1 Fire Hall received fire calls directly (922-1234) and dispatched the Volunteers and Fire Trucks to the various districts in West Vancouver from 1954 to 1990.
When 911 was introduced in 1990, all calls went to a central dispatch office, operated by E-Com and the individual Halls were notified by radio.
This article was compiled by Peter Cherry from our archives, with assistance from Tom Bell, Wally Galpin, Mrs. Heather McPherson, Art Ridley and Fred Titcomb.