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BFD History

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Brantford Fire Department
1835-1975
By Sara Neziol
Wildrid Laurier University
5 December 2003

 

 

NOTE: A PDF version of the history, including references, can be downloaded here.


Since its beginnings, the Brantford Fire Department has evolved in order to meet the needs of the city of Brantford. Changes have been made in the department to accommodate the ever changing requirements of the citizens of Brantford. These changes include the addition of new equipment, buildings and staff. Improvements have been made in the quirements to become a firefighter, along with

the continual training and the education of current ones. Additional programs, specifically fire prevention and public education, have increased public safety and saved lives. Today, the Brantford Fire Department is a team of highly skilled men and women dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of the city of Brantford.

It is difficult to cover the entire history of the Department in an essay of this length; therefore this essay will be confined to the following eras: Volunteer Era (1835-1889), Chief George Calder (1889-1898), Chief Dan Lewis (1898-1938), Chief Gordon Huff (1938-1954), Chief William Lambert (1954-1961) and Chief Charles Townsend (1961-1975). In each of these eras different improvements to the department were made.

A fire that occurred in 1835 was the catalyst for the creation of a fire service in the town of Brantford. The fire had to be pelted with snowballs by citizens in order for it to be extinguished. Although the method proved successful, the citizens knew that snow would not always be available to control their fires. Therefore in 1836, citizens in the town of Brantford developed a volunteer fire service, “The Goose Neck Company.” The founding members were Ignatius Cockshutt (treasurer), James Woodyatt, Robert Sproule and Squire Weyms. All funding for the operations was provided by the volunteers themselves as they were wealthy businessmen in the town of Brantford. At that time, Ignatius Cockshutt owned a general store in downtown Brantford. James Woodyatt was the owner of Woodyatt & Co., a manufacturer of stoneware, firebrick and draining tile. Squire Weyms was a shoemaker and Robert Sproule was also a merchant.