Fire Rescue History
By the mid 1800s, it became apparent to the citizens
of Nanaimo that the old "Bucket Brigades" were
no longer adequate fire protection. At a public meeting
on May 4th, 1878 the "Black Diamond Engine Company" was
The first fire station was built at the corner
of Wharf and Front Streets on donated land and with
The first fire engine was purchased from the City
of Portland for $700.00. Also purchased was five hundred
feet of hose for $250.00. The original personnel
of thirty volunteers who lived in the area of the
fire station. This original fire station was destroyed
fire that started in the Royal Hotel in 1894.
In 1890, a subscription list was started in order to
secure funds to construct a new modern brick fire station.
The new station, at the foot of Nicol Street, was officially
opened December 15, 1893. This building is still standing
and is presently owned by private interests.
With problems that developed over the years between
the Fire Department, Provincial Government and the City,
it was decided that the City of Nanaimo would take over
the fire department. John Parkin was appointed the first
Fire Chief and two Firefighters were hired to drive the
horses, "Tom and Jerry".
Nanaimo's Fire Department was one of the first departments
in Canada to purchase motorized fire apparatus. In 1913
Nanaimo purchased a pair of Type 10 Combination Hose
and Chemical Cars from American LaFrance. These vehicles
are still in existence; one at Station #1, Nanaimo (Shakey);
and the other at the British Columbia Government Transportation
Museum in Cloverdale.
In the early 1950s, the City amalgamated with Brechin
District and a small satellite station was built to house
one of the 1913 engines. By the early 1960s, the fire
station at Nicol Street was becoming too small and in
1967 the department was relocated to the new station
on Milton Street. This is the present #1 Station.
During the coal mining years, many small communities
sprung up around the original City of Nanaimo. These
communities of Harewood, Northfield, Wellington, Chase
River, Departure Bay, and Protection Island all had their
own fire departments. In 1975 when the City amalgamated,
these individual fire departments all became part of
the Nanaimo Fire Department.
More than 470 dedicated, full-time Firefighters and
seventeen Fire Chief's have passed through the department.
The Fire Training Center (the first of its kind in B.C.)
was opened in 1986 and provides training to Firefighters