Monday, 1 August 2016

The History of the Maxville Fire Department

Maxville's current volunteer fire department has grown exponentially from when it began in 1903.  The town's now sophisticated force had modest beginnings using primitive fire-fighting techniques. Fearing large scale fires, which would have had the ability to cripple the relatively new village, town council approved the purchase of forty eight pails and three fire axes. In 1917, a Fire Marshall, Lorne McLean, was chosen and a fire brigade of volunteers was formed in Maxville, headed by Chief Duncan Kippen. These volunteers would have been responsible for fighting one of the largest fires to ever threaten Maxville, on May 8th 1921. In the end, the fire had destroyed two general stores, the hydro-electric station, the King George Hotel, the Maxville public hall, a restaurant and many personal residences. The damage exceeded $500,000 (which is approximately 6 millionin today’s dollars!) In 1925, after this mammoth inferno, the volunteers were given permission to rent their first fire hall for $25 dollars a year. At the same time, other fire-fighting equipment was purchased, including two axles and four wheels to carry a pump, a thirty-two foot ladder and a second pump which was stored offsite. At this time, it was decide that Maxville would have two fire brigades—one on either side of the railway tracks. Once again, on April 25th 1935, Maxville fire volunteers were needed when another large scale blaze broke out in the storage area of the Smillie and McDirmand general store, which rapidly spread to several residences and caused extensive damage to the Presbyterian Church. In 1940, for a third time, Maxville volunteers were called to another large scale fire which destroyed several buildings. In 1948 town council approved $8000 over ten years to be used on purchasing newer fire-fighting equipment and compensating volunteers. Until 1963 when a phone system was adopted, firefighters were alerted by a large siren which was set up in the center of the village and loud enough for all volunteers to hear whenever they were needed. This communication was updated to pagers in 1986, a system that is still in use today. Over the years, the Maxville Volunteer Fire Department has purchased many pieces firefighting machinery in order to better fight fires in Maxville and the surrounding area. As well, in May of 1958 the department was moved to their current location. Today the Maxville Fire Department is still reliant on volunteers who not only fight fires and respond to local emergencies but are also extremely active in the community. We thank our all of our Maxville Fire Department volunteers!
A view of Maxville after the 1921 fire. Borrowed from the webpage of the Township of North Glengarry. 

No comments:

Post a Comment