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Name Owen Sound Fire Department
Details in 1850, Village Council met and budgeted for the purchase of buckets to fight fires and appointed thirty men as its first Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Around 1876, the Village founded the Victoria Fire Department consisting of about 40 volunteers, and for about its first 12 years, was housed in the Town Hall (area we now call City Hall (until 1887).
The Excelsior Fire Department was created in 1890, so named after the insurance company which organized it (common practice around the turn of the 20th century).
IN 1891, a horse-drawn steam pumping engine was delivered (likely second-hand). On April 13, 1907, the Excelsior Fire Department was disbanded and later that year, a by-law was passed which established the same basic crew as the Owen Sound Fire Department, a paid muncipal fire service operated independently from any insurance company, consisting of four "regular" firemen and ten "on-call."

Owen Sound received its first motorized fire truck in 1918, and the last horses were retired in 1939.

On June 9, 1923, an American-La France fire pumper truck was shipped to Owen Sound from west Toronto on a C.P.R. car. This vehicle was in full-time service from 1923 until 1954, and then was kept as a reserve piece by the fire department until 1967. The last fire that it attended was the Owen Sound City Hall fire (1961).

The book SIRENS ACROSS THE SOUND (by John Christie), provides an excellent account and images of Owen Sound's firefighting history prior to 2006. Elizabeth Wilmott's book, WHERE'S THE FIRE? also provides some information re local firefighting history.

Associated Records

Image of 1962.022.002 - Belt

1962.022.002 - Belt

EXCELSIOR FIRE DEPARTMENT leather belt (1890s-1907). Might be a "parade belt". White and red.

Image of 1962.022.008 - Lantern

1962.022.008 - Lantern

Fire Chief's small-sized lantern. It has a hand ring at the top for carrying the lantern. The colourless glass globe inside is etched with the word "Chief" above a laurel motif. The globe is protected from breakage by wire that provides a cage around it. The metal is silvertone.

Image of 1962.022.009 - Lantern

1962.022.009 - Lantern

Large silvertone metal lantern (a), with globe (b), globe support fence (c) and screw cap (d). Marked "DIETZ KING FIRE DEP'T". Used by the Owen Sound Fire Department on the fire truck. Has a tubular frame and round base. Plated silvertone on brass.

Image of 1962.022.001 - Helmet, Firefighter's

1962.022.001 - Helmet, Firefighter's

Fire Chief's helmet from the EXCELSIOR FIRE DEPARTMENT (1890s-1907, Owen Sound, Ont.). This is a stiff leather and metal item that is painted white with a white and red crest on the front with CHIEF (the letters "I" and "F" are now missing) on top and OSFD on the bottom. There is a quatrefoil, cut out design positioned inbetween the two red areas. There is a gold painted metal leaping lion finial coming from the top of the helmet and it appears to be leaping over the crest. The brim sides are turned upward. There are four ridges on the helmet crown and a metal ring to hang it up affixed to the downwards curved back rim.

Image of 1962.022.003 - Mask, Gas

1962.022.003 - Mask, Gas

Fireman's oxygen mask and tank. The age of this vintage oxygen helmet (with tank) is not known yet. It is an "Eveready" No. 555.

Image of 1974.053.009ab - Helmet, Firefighter's

1974.053.009ab - Helmet, Firefighter's

Fireman's helmet (a), made by Anderson & Co., that has a badge (b) with "Engine Co. 1 OSFD" on it [Engine Company No. 1 of the Owen Sound Fire Department]. The helmet is made predominately of stiff, stitched leather, and has a thick metal rim. The interior of the dome has a circular, partial printed label from the manufacturer. The exterior of the helmet has a red paint on it. It has eight sections to it with ribs dividing the sections that create the dome.

Image of 1978.047.001 - Wrench

1978.047.001 - Wrench

An all-metal fire hydrant wrench. It has a straight shank. The head has a tilted square-shaped hole for turning square nuts.

Image of 1962.022.005 - Nozzle, Fire Hose

1962.022.005 - Nozzle, Fire Hose

One fire hose nozzle. This is called a "fireman's hose branch". Possibly from the 1880s. No maker's identification seen. It is 81.5 cm long. Has a slightly-tapering copper tubular middle. One end of the tube has a heavy brass nozzle. The other end of the tube has heavy brass formed into two lug handles and a circular join area with a threaded interior.

Image of 1962.022.006abc - Extinguisher, Fire

1962.022.006abc - Extinguisher, Fire

One large soda container (a) and lid (b) and brown glass soda bomb (c) for storing soda for fire fighting. The canister has a shiny silvertone plating on the exterior. There is a tanned leather strap at the top with a buckle. There is a silvertone, domed lid that has a lift handle.

Image of 1962.022.007abc - Extinguisher, Fire

1962.022.007abc - Extinguisher, Fire

One metal canister (a), lid (b), and brown glass soda bomb (c) for storing soda for fire fighting. Circa 1924.

Image of 1986.030.001 - Adapter, Electrical

1986.030.001 - Adapter, Electrical

SCHRADER Adaptor Hose and Gauge. The tube of this hose has a brown fabric exterior flecked with small pink dashes. The cylindrical nozzle of the hose is a dull, golden colour, with a silver tip and a protruding, knurled rim. A cylindrical gauge is screwed into a metal section along the length of the hose. The glass face of the gauge is cracked and begrimed, obscuring the device's readings. There is text engraved on the nozzle of the hose, including the manufacturer's name and the product information, "U.S. Pat. No. 2444.952 8888"

Image of 1986.070.001 - Gun, Grease

1986.070.001 - Gun, Grease

This grease gun consists of a hollow, cylindrical metal body with a spout on one end and a pumping mechanism on the other. The spout has a circular opening. The pumping mechanism runs into the cylinder through a domed bottom of the cylinder. The pump's handle is long, and fairly thick and wide, designed to be ergonomical for a hand. The maker's mark has "MADE BY / THE ALLYNE ZERK CO / CLEVELAND USA".

Image of 1978.047.002 - Wrench

1978.047.002 - Wrench

A wrench used to open a fire hydrant. It has a straight shank. The head has a tilted square-shaped hole for turning square nuts. It was made by a blacksmith for use by the Owen Sound Fire Department's hydrants that were on the site of the old National Table Factory at 1882 3rd Avenue E., Owen Sound.

Image of 1975.098.005 - Whip

1975.098.005 - Whip

Leather horse whip, formerly used by firefighters at Owen Sound when the fire department had horse-drawn fire wagons in service.

Image of E1972.041.001 - Truck, Pumper

E1972.041.001 - Truck, Pumper

1923 Type 75 engine, American La France Pumper Fire Truck and pneumatic tires (installed in the late 1920s), square steel tank installed in the late 1930s to allow transport of temporary water supply to fires and for pump priming. The truck has an in-line six cylinder engine with a dual ignition system, and a three-speed transmission with chain drive to rear wheels which permitted the manufacturer to adopt one power plant and drive train to vehicles of varied bed length. It has rear brakes only, which are of the mechanical drum and outside band type.

Image of 1972.041.013ab - Lantern, Kerosene

1972.041.013ab - Lantern, Kerosene

A metal and clear glass DIETZ fireman's kerosene lantern (found with the 1923 American La France fire truck). The lantern font and frame (a) is now corroded. The reinforced bale (bail) carrying handle pivots up or down, and there is a thick wire pivoting "hook" below it. The tubular frame has a hinged thick wire cage to protect the globe (b). Embossed with FIRE DEP'T DIETZ on the top surface of the metal font. The filler cap has a knurled edge. The top end of the glass globe (b) has DIETZ FIT ALL NEW YORK U.S.A in moulded lettering. The metal piece above the globe has embossed lettering as well AMERICAN LA F. F. E. CO. LTD. TORONTO (American La-France Fire Engine Company Limited Toronto

Image of 1972.041.014abcde - Bell

1972.041.014abcde - Bell

A brass firetruck bell, that was installed on the 1923 American-La France fire pumper truck and used at Owen Sound. The top of the bell (a) has a cast beaver on a ball motif, and there are four convex slotted screws at the top end as well. Inside, there is a thick red-painted harp shaped frame to support the bell, and inside it, there is a pivoting, red-painted, round bottomed metal clapper with a bottom eye to hold a pull cord. Below the frame is a silvertone hexagonal metal socket / post cover piece (c) that is stamped with "2733" and what looks like a "1" with a 3 over a 6 fraction notation, as well as "WALDEN WORCESTER MADE IN USA" (this was an automotive wrench / socket manufacturer).

Image of 1986.030.002ab - Wrench

1986.030.002ab - Wrench

A T-Bar (wheel nut) wrench of a socket type, and its t-bar handle that accompanies it. Both pieces are cast iron that has been painted red. The wrench (a) has one end with a hexagonal socket. Above the socket is a hole with a diameter of 2.2 cm. Then there is a bar, another hole, and a smaller square socket end. The item is an accessory of the 1923 American La France Fire Engine (1972.041.001) and was kept in the engine's toolbox.

Image of 1986.030.003 - Wrench

1986.030.003 - Wrench

A cast iron fireman's hose coupling wrench, that has been painted red. There is a flattish hooked working ned that is rounded on one side, and flat on the interior curve. It ends with a short bend of the metal. The handle end is plain. This tool was used in conjunction with the 1923 American-La France Fire Engine that was used by the Owen Sound Fire Department, and kept in its toolbox.

Image of 1986.030.004 - Wrench

1986.030.004 - Wrench

A red-painted, cast iron T-bar handle for a t-bar wrench that was used by the Owen Sound Fire Department. The firemen kept this handle in the toolbox of the 1923 American LaFrance fire engine truck (1972.041.001). One end of the handle has a thorough intentional hole with a diameter of 8 mm. Also at that end is an area of cross hatching to add a better grip. At the other end, there is a small protrusion on the bar part.