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BFD History

Eventually, the novelty of firefighting wore off as Goose Neck’s resources ran dry. Robert Sproule addressed town council in 1852 and claimed that the dissolution of the service was possible.7 The result of this threat was the creation of an additional volunteer fire brigade called the “Exchange Company” in 1853. William Paterson, owner of the confectionary and cigar factory, was named captain. The Exchange Company obtained the “Exchange Engine,” and turned into an engine company (rather than only a hook and ladder). The engine was the property of Ignatius Cockshutt, who left the Goose Neck Company to join the new brigade. In 1857 the Goose Neck Company amalgamated with the Exchange Company to become the “United Fire Brigade.”  The United Fire Brigade was Brantford’s first fire company to have uniforms.

Although members of the United Fire Brigade were pleased with their work, local residents were not. A petition for a new fire company containing 114 names was presented to town hall in 1858. A grant of $560 was made by town council, and the new unit was called “Washington Independent Company Number 5. Once the Washington Independent Company was established, Ignatius Cockshutt, formerly of the Goose Neck Company and the Exchange Company, was named president. In 1861, to aid in the company’s coverage of the downtown area, town council funded the placement of 6 water cisterns for Washington Independent’s use. Town council funded the building of a Central Fire Station for the departments on 50-54 Dalhousie Street in 1862. All of the different apparatus and the men were housed in this building (Figure 1).

Other volunteer fire companies that formed during this time included the YMCA Rescue Company, the Independent Hose Company and the Undaunted Hook and Ladder Company. Additional fire companies were developed due to dissatisfaction, animosity and competition. The competition grew so fierce, that fist fights and brawls broke out between the different brigades in the Central Station. Town council was concerned that the competition was preventing the companies from protecting residents and businesses from fires. The result was another amalgamation in 1871. Approximately fifty members from the various fire companies were divided into two new companies: the Brant Hose Company No.1 and the New Victoria Hook and Ladder Co (Figure 2).