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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 1962.022.001 - 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 1962.022.002 - Belt

1962.022.002 - Belt

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

Image of 1962.022.003 - 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 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 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 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 1972.041.015 - Ax, Fire

1972.041.015 - Ax, Fire

A fire ax, with its wooden handle finished in the grip area, and brightly-painted red and black at the top and bottom ends of the handle. The ax has a pick end at the back. OSFD is stencilled in black on the handle. Stamped in blue in the wood of the handle is GARANT. This axe has been kept for some years with the 1923 American La France fire pumper truck that was used by the Owen Sound Fire Department.

Image of 1972.041.016 - Extinguisher, Fire

1972.041.016 - Extinguisher, Fire

One of two matching American La France fire extinguishers for the fire pumper (1972.014.001). This one is serial number 885631. Embossed metal panel on front "LA FRANCE / ANTI FREEZING / 2 1/2 GAL. PUMP TYPE / FIRE EXTINGUISHER / LA FRANCE FIRE ENGINE AND FOAMITE LTD. OF CANADA. Made in U.S.A. "309" stamped at top area near the hose attachment. Has only a stub of red rubber hose left inside its coiled wire area at the top. The extinguisher also has a round metal cap affixed by a short chain so that it does not get lost. A black band was painted onto the canister area, which looks like it has a nickel plating. The inner pump piston is brass or bronze. There are two pivoting metal lift ha

Image of 1972.041.017 - Extinguisher, Fire

1972.041.017 - Extinguisher, Fire

One of two matching American La France fire extinguishers for the fire pumper (1972.014.001). This one is serial number 885657. Embossed metal panel on front "LA FRANCE / ANTI FREEZING / 2 1/2 GAL. PUMP TYPE / FIRE EXTINGUISHER / LA FRANCE FIRE ENGINE AND FOAMITE LTD. OF CANADA. Made in U.S.A. "309" stamped at top area near the hose attachment. Has a length of red rubber hose left inside its coiled wire area at the top. Its chained cap component is a replacement item, apparently fashioned out of a re-used can. A black band was painted onto the canister area, which looks like it has a nickel plating. The inner pump piston is brass or bronze. There are two pivoting metal lift handles at

Image of 1972.041.018 - Jack, Automotive

1972.041.018 - Jack, Automotive

Heavy-duty, round-based automotive jack (has opposing central sockets to turn it with something, but there no longer is a rod / bar with it to do this). There is a handle grip cast into the side area to make it easier to lug. The top surface has linear texturing. There is NO. 1 2-13 emboss-cast down one of the brace sides.

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 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 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 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 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 1986.030.008 - Wrench

1986.030.008 - Wrench

A cast metal fireman's hose coupling wrench, which was black painted in the past. It has a straight handle, which has two recessed sides. The working end of the wrench has a curved end which ends with short bent area of the metal. The shank has a maker's mark that looks like an angled top box, and some numerals, cast emboss style along it.