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City has 'fiery' past

As we have noted a number of times this year, New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services is celebrating its 150-year anniversary.

As we have noted a number of times this year, New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services is celebrating its 150-year anniversary.

The city's history is filled with fires, large and small, and throughout that history the fire department has acquitted itself extremely well.

One very visible piece of the local fire department's story is the restored 1929 Mack Fire truck that makes many appearances during the year.

This is a wonderful piece of old firefighting machinery. Recently, when we were talking with a group about fire in this city's history, one of them asked about this old truck - "Is it true that this truck used to be in the New Westminster Museum? It wouldn't fit, would it?"

The short answer is yes - the truck was for many years on display in the basement of the museum.

For much of that time it was the centrepiece of a major display that featured artifacts, photographs and copies of fire stories on the history of fire in the Royal City.

The truck just barely fit through the museum doors to the lane, and, when it came out to be restored, it carefully inched its way through those same doors and into the caring hands of the firefighters who lovingly restored the vehicle.

An interesting piece of local Fire and Rescue Services history concerns a missing fire chief.

The fire chief before and during the City's Great Fire of September 1898 was Theron Ackerman, and most lists show that the next chief was J.H.

Watson.

There was, however, another chief between these two who came to New Westminster from years of service in Vancouver - William McPhie.

As we were going through our fire department materials to prepare for an upcoming tour, we noted an interesting Great Fire story from the B.C.

Electric Family Post of October 1947.

A reminiscence of a former B.C. Electric employee, Daniel McDonald, brought out yet another account from that fateful Royal City event. Speaking of the B.C. Electric McDonald noted:

"Our gang was called on to run a car into the blazing furnace and rescue the company's books and other valuables. It was a tall order, but we did get through the holocaust with no more damage than a bit of singeing.

"We ran our load up somewhere near where the Pattullo Bridge stands today, then headed out toward Queen's Park.

We unloaded the books on the veranda of a large house, which I was told later belonged to Judge Matthew Begbie . the books were not found for nearly a week - but they were eventually recovered."

Interested in more fire department stories? Join us on a tour at Fraser Cemetery on Sunday, Sept. 11 starting at 1: 30 pm for a walk dedicated to the history of the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services.

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