On October 14, 1874, city council presented its first money plebiscite to eligible voters. It included an order to obtain a $25,000 line of credit for the purchase of fire engines and apparatus, and the construction of buried underground water tanks along Main Street for firefighting purposes. This was no surprise, given that the only people who were entitled to vote during this period were the property owners, a number of whom were also responsible for organizing the fire brigade.

The equipment ordered included the standard supplies for a city of Winnipeg’s size: hose reels, hose, a Babcock hook-and-ladder truck, and Babcock chemical engines. The committee also ordered a horse-drawn steam pumper from the Silsby Steam Engine Company. While this unit would normally have taken six months to arrive, a day after the committee approved the order, the Silsby Company telegraphed the city, offering to immediately deliver a highly finished engine . . . for an extra $500.

Nov. 8, 1873

Winnipeg incorporated as a city.

Sept. 24, 1874

Volunteer Fire Brigade formed. William Code was one of the originals in the brigade.

Nov. 18, 1874

Brigade receives equipment.

Jan. 25, 1875

By-law passed for organization & management of a fire department.

Dec. 25, 1875

Winnipeg Fire Brigade’s fire hall on Lombard Ave. burns down.

April 19, 1877

Brigade reorganized, Dan McMillan is elected as Chief.

May 3, 1877

Dominion House and stables burn, located at Main St. and St. Mary.

Aug. 14, 1877

Brigade meets Lord & Lady Dufferin visiting Winnipeg.

Jan. 3, 1878

New Fire station on Market Square opened.


Temporary headquarters at Smith and York until station No. 2 was built..

Mar. 13, 1878

A. Current’s store located on Main St. burns, tanks frozen.

Mar. 23, 1882

24 boxes for the street box system were installed along with 6 gongs.

May 17, 1882

Winnipeg Fire Department formed; W.O. McRobie is first full-time Chief.

Original assignments to Winnipeg’s New Fire Department – 1882

Chief- W. O. (William Orme) McRobie – Hired April 20, 1882
Asst. Chief- A. (Alexander) Aiken Hired May 3, 1882
Electrical – J. (James) Yuill – Hired May 3, 1882
Fire Inspector -J. J. (John) Johnson – Hired May 3, 1882
There were 150 Applications to become members of the Permanent Fire Department.
Twenty eight below were selected to serve in the three stations:
Central- 347 William Avenue- North side opposite Charlotte Street (Now Hargrave)
South- 150 Smith Street- North West corner of York Avenue
North- 47 Maple Street – North East corner of Fonseca Street (Now Higgins Avenue)

Central Station

W. (William) Code

Engineers (Steamers)
A. (Alexander) Short

Asst. Engineers (also known as Stokers)
J. (John) Stanish

Hook & Ladder Driver (Aerial)
J. E. (John) Gray

Hook & Ladder Tillerman
A. (Albert) Caulfield)

Ladder Truckman
W. T. (Walter) Rutherford
G. (George) McGillivary
C. (Charles) Parr

Hose Co. Driver (hose Reel)
S. (Sylvester) Sinnott

W.G.(William) Nicholson)
W. (William) Chester
T. (Thomas) Lake

Chemical Driver
W. (William) Almour

Asst. Chemical Driver
R. (Richard) Dargie

South Station

J. (John) O’Brian

Engineers (Steamers)
C.W.(Charles) Hutchison

Asst. Engineers (also known as Stokers)
C. (Charles) Akin

Hose Co. Driver (hose Reel)
A. (Alex) Young

J. (John) Follis

Chemical Driver
J. (John) McDonald

Asst. Chemical Driver
H. (Harry) Fogg

North Station

E. (Edward) Rodgers

Engineers (Steamers)
C. (Charles) Housley

Asst. Engineers (also known as Stokers)
J. (John) Smith

Hose Co. Driver (hose Reel)
J.M. (John) Wilson

J. (John) Russell

Chemical Driver
W. (Walter) Scott

Asst. Chemical Driver
S.(Samuel) Tait

Jan. 26, 1883

Chief McRobie moves into new Central Station on William Ave. at Charlotte. (Hargrave)

Feb. 1883

Approx. this time, North Hall built on NE Fonseca (Higgins) and Maple St.

June 19, 1883

South Hall – No. 2 station at Smith and York is built and first used.


Due to budgetary concerns, Hook and Ladder Company placed in reserve, and six men discharged.

May 1, 1892

Princess Opera house fire.

Nov. 16, 1894

One of the biggest battles, Western Canada Building.

Feb. 19, 1895

New 65-foot Hayes aerial ladder truck purchased.


End of year sees 49 street corner fire alarm call boxes in use.

Feb. 11, 1898

McIntyre Block, the finest business structure of the time burns.


No. 1 Fire Hall built at 110 Albert St. (demolished in 1965)

Feb. 9, 1899

The Manitoba Hotel fire, $800,000 damage, a huge amount in 1899 dollars.

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