The following article is from 2000 Golden Memories which was published by the Golden & District Historical Society in 2000.
The mountain community of Golden has one of the oldest organized fire protection brigades in British Columbia. A community meeting was held at the Columbia House in February 1898 to discuss and form a fire brigade. May 26, 1898 Golden’s Fire Fighters were officially incorporated to become “the Golden Fire Engine Association, Limited”. The first fire chief was a gentleman by the name of G.B. McDermot. Soon after, Golden’s Fire Brigade bought a Roland Steam Engine to help supply water for fire protection.
The first fire hall in Golden, built prior to 1898, was on the northeast end of the Kicking Horse Bridge. It was a two story building with a tower that housed a large brass bell. The fire hall was destroyed by fire in 1921.
The bell was recovered from the ruins, by Chief Harry Parson who kept the bell until his death. The Fire Deot then presented the bell to Bill Wenman in recognition of 50 years of service to the Department. In 1980, Bill moved into Durand Manor and Bill kindly gave the bell back to the Fire Department, where it now holds a place of honor in the current Fire Dept. Lounge.
After the loss of the original hall in 1921, there was no hall for over 20 years. The Volunteer Fire Brigade was called together by the Columbia River Lumber Companies mill whistle. The mill supplied water through wooden pipes to three hydrants located in town, to which the volunteers hooked up hoses carried by hand drawn carts. The C.R.L. mill closed in 1927, leaving the town with only a bucket brigade for Fire Protection.
After WW II, water was pumped from wells by a gas powered pump supplied by the Federal Government for the Air Raid Protection Volunteers. In May 1945 a public meeting was called and a Volunteer Fire Brigade was reformed with George Keenleyside as Fire Chief, and George Marrs as DFC.
The Fire Hall was established in a garage supplied by George Keenleyside, located beside the P. Burns and Co. butcher shop on the north side of the Kicking Horse River Bridge.
The first piece of apparatus purchased by the Fire Brigade was a Model A Ford Truck. Purchased from Thompson Motors for $188.80. The truck was used to pull a trailer, upon which was mounted the gas powered pump. The next apparatus was a 1952 Ford Pumper. This new truck necessitated a larger hall, so the Fire Department relocated to the old Weston dress wear building located between the present Big Bend Hotel and the Moon-Café.
A siren was purchased and placed on top of the building, with a switch placed on the power pole below to activate the siren.
In 1954 Ted Jacobson was appointed Fore Chief with Ray Drown as DFC. At this time the first two breathing apparatus were purchased.
In 1957 Golden was incorporated, and another move for the Fire Department. This time it was to the lower level of the Town Office. Tom Sime became Fire Chief with Ken Piggot as DFC in 1962. Ken soon retired and Lloyd Shibley became the DFC.
Fire phones were installed in the homes of seven volunteer fire fighters. These phones activated the Fire Siren. In 1977 the Town purchased a building from the Overwaitea company, which was then renovated by the volunteer fire fighters into the present facility. This building has proven ideal for the Fire Hall, allowing for the expansion of equipment and training activities. In 1969 the department purchased a King Seagraves 6259pm triple combination pumper. In 1979 Golden purchased again another new TCP Pumper, a superior with a pump capacity of 840 gpm. The volunteers through various fund raising activities were able to purchase and add an equipment van to their fleet. This van was used to carry Tum-Out gear and other equipment to the fire scene. The next major addition to the department equipment was a radio paging system which now provides immediate call out of the 30 volunteers who make up the current force.
November 1980, Tom Sime retired after 33 years of dedicated service in the department. Lloyd Shibley became the Fire Chief with Doug Fairbanks DFC. During Lloyds thirteen years as chief, he was supported by Len Pettman, Brian Englehart, Grant Sime and Earl Russel as DFC’s. During this time Chief Shibley purchased another TCP to add to the current fleet. The newest acquisition, a Superior with a 1050 gpm pump was 500 gallon water tank. This unit was state of theart for its time.
January 12, 1994, Lloyd Shibley decided to hand the reins of the fire department over to Earl Russel. George Keenleyside, accepted the position of DFC. The Golden Fire Department was moving along smoothly until the closure of Evans Mill in Donald. In the spring of 1996 Earl decided to move his family to Lillooet BC, and George Keenleyside managed the Fire Department was in-term Fire Chief.
In March of 1996, all the Golden Fire Fighters met with Golden’s Municipal Council. The discussion was the hiring of a paid Fire Chief for Golden. Justification was all the new standards and regulations, legislative rulings and the need to have a paid Fire Chief in Golden were reviewed. April 1996 Golden hired its first paid chief Fore Chief Muir Furzer, a retired professional fire fighter from the military arrived with his family from Masset BC. Chief Furzer’ position with the Golden Fire Department started as a half time paid position, but it was soon quickly realized that he was needed to be advanced into a full time job. His knowledge and professional expertise was the corner stone in improving the skill level of all the volunteers.
Chief Furzer, and Deputy Chief Raymond Johnson’s new challenge will be to bring the Golden Fire Department into the 21st century. Technological changes, new legislation and equipment acquisition are a priority. Also the planned expansion of the Town as we see the development of a four seasons resort within our growing and vibrant community.
August 1998 the Golden Fire Department held a reunion to celebrate the 100 the anniversary of organized Fire Protection in Golden. Fire Fighter Alumni from many points in BC returned to Golden, to renew friendships, recall past memories and enjoy the fellowship that only fire fighters understand.
The present members of Golden’s Fire Department are proud to carry on the traditions of dedicated service to Golden which started back in 1898.