A group of men in dress slacks, high collars, ties and tails, poses underneath an arching banner that says: “ALBERNI FIRE DEPT”. The sign features two leather firefighters’ helmets that were used during that time period. One of four celebrations at Alberni Fire Department held each year, (Halloween, New Years, July 1st and May Day), this may be a New Year’s Dance. The photo was taken in the Alberni Athletic Hall—possibly the old Athletic Hall (location of rescue hall and tennis courts). The men are identified from L-R: Dick Burke; Cameron Duff; D. Miles; P. Miles; Will Paul; E. White; George Forrest; Jock Redford; J. Forrest; G. Blady; E. McKay. The Alberni Valley Museum’s online photo archives are available to the public at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN06546)

A group of men in dress slacks, high collars, ties and tails, poses underneath an arching banner that says: “ALBERNI FIRE DEPT”. The sign features two leather firefighters’ helmets that were used during that time period. One of four celebrations at Alberni Fire Department held each year, (Halloween, New Years, July 1st and May Day), this may be a New Year’s Dance. The photo was taken in the Alberni Athletic Hall—possibly the old Athletic Hall (location of rescue hall and tennis courts). The men are identified from L-R: Dick Burke; Cameron Duff; D. Miles; P. Miles; Will Paul; E. White; George Forrest; Jock Redford; J. Forrest; G. Blady; E. McKay. The Alberni Valley Museum’s online photo archives are available to the public at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN06546)

LOOK BACK: The Alberni Valley’s first fire department

Take a peek back into history with the Alberni Valley Museum

The Alberni Valley’s first fire department began with 16 men and 48 buckets.

The Alberni fire department was organized in April 1909, according to an historical account on the City of Port Alberni’s website, and the first practice happened a month later. The new department was comprised of 16 volunteer firefighters and a management committee of five; the first practice saw firefighters haul water with the buckets from the north side of Kitsuksis Creek and passed 75 yards in the direction of the Alberni Hotel—what would now be behind the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293.

READ: Port Alberni firefighters adopt a piece of their heritage from AV Museum

There is some debate whether E.M. Whyte was named the first fire chief, or whether it was G. Forrest. Two deputy chiefs were also named: A. Waring and G. Ward.

The Port Alberni Fire Department has a storied history, from its roots as separate departments in pre-amalgamation Alberni and Port Alberni. It is now the only paid fire department in the Alberni Valley, with three volunteer departments in Cherry Creek, Beaver Creek and Sproat Lake.

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