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.
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.