Historical Fire Department records

Colour photo of firefighters riding vehicle

An antique Bedford Fire Department truck travels in a local parade, [198-?]. HMA 103-8-1.4

The Municipal Archives holds records for the:

Curious about ancestors who served with the Fire Department?

See the photographs below, as well as these listings:

For Halifax Fire Department:

  • City Treasurer's Office superannuation ledgers list firemen, 1906-1954 (102-21B)
  • A roll of members with employee names, salaries, the fire station and house or station employees belonged to, as well as the dates of hiring and retirement/resignation, 1903-1911(102-111-7)
  • A daily log contains lists of staff on duty, procedures, visits, and training at the fire station, May 1928-June 1929 (102-111-7).

For Dartmouth Fire Department:

  • lists of the names of active and honourary firefighters and the widows of deceased firemen and the widows of deceased firemen (1885, 1891-1903, 1909), supplied by the Dartmouth Engine Co., the Union Protection Company of Dartmouth, and the Dartmouth Axe and Ladder Co (101-19C).
  • log books recording daily activity at each fire station, including the number and names of firemen on duty, 1965-1985 (101-85-3)

Interested in historic fires?

Records of Fires provide information on the date, time and address of a fire, the number of occupants in the dwelling, the cause of fire, and the cost of damage.

  • Halifax Fire Department Records of Fire, 1903-1980 (102-111-2)
  • Dartmouth Fire Department Records of Fire, 1963-1974  (101-85-3)

Annual Reports from the Fire Chief also give statistics and mention significant fires.  These reports were compiled in the City of Halifax Civic Reports, 1865-1920, and the Town of Dartmouth Annual Reports, 1887-1953.  Later the Fire Departments prepared their own Annual Reports:

  • Dartmouth Fire Department annual reports, 1987-1990, 1992-1995 (101-85-1)
  • Halifax Fire Department annual reports, 1963-1966, 1968-1982, 1992, 1993 (102-111-1)

Historic Fire Department photographs

Black and white photo of participants in a parade.

Postcard depicting a Halifax Fire Department fire prevention float, [19--?]. HMA 102-111-4-1.32

The Municipal Archives has images dating back to the 19th century from the Halifax Fire Department (102-111-4), Dartmouth Fire Department (101-85-2), Bedford Fire Department (103-8-1), and various fire departments within Halifax County, including Spryfield, Rockingham, and Fairview. These photographs include departmental sports teams; fire scenes, such as Kay’s Department Store fire in 1950; equipment and vehicles; and community outreach programs, such as fire prevention booths and local parades. The fire departments also took many aerial and streetscape photographs of the region, which provide new perspectives on Africville, downtown Halifax, and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Some photographs have been digitized and can be viewed in our online database. Some early images of firefighters are in a Flickr Album. All of the thousands of fire department photographs can be viewed at the Municipal Archives.

Black and white photo of a fire vehicle.

Driver Edward Ingram and Caretaker Frank Deyoung, Spryfield Volunteer FD, ca. 1948. HMA 400-8-3-3.01

In addition to photographs, the Fire Department records also contain important textual materials documenting the history and operations of various fire departments, including histories of the early incarnations of our present-day fire services: Union Engine Company and the Halifax Fire Insurance Company. We also have extensive newspaper clippings files and scrapbooks (102-111-3) dating from the 19th century right up to the 21st century which document all things fire-related. Fire departments played an important role in response to the Halifax Explosion.

Maps and plans related to firefighting:

The plans below are primarily from the Halifax Engineering and Works Department. They are listed in chronological order, though some maps and plans have no determined date. Very few have been digitized but they can all be viewed at the Municipal Archives, or you can request a scanned copy.

  • Plan of H.M. naval and victualling yard - includes locations of gas, fire hydrants and water pipes    1877\08\07    102-39P-C-6-402 
  • Map of Halifax City showing buildings, waterlines, gas mains, Hydrants, Fire Alarm Boxes, Sentry Posts and Lamps. Chas. E. Goad, C.E.; published in London, England [microfiche only]    April 1889     CR10-005
  • tandard fire hydrant - Brown Machine Co.    1905-01/17    102-39P-K-8-1628
  • Fire station for the City of Halifax. Prince and Bedford Row. R.A. Johnson, architect. 8 architectural drawings    1906/04/12    102-39P-Q-2-1716 to Q-1722 [Scanned]
  • Plan of property on George Street to be expropriated for Fire Dept. purposes    1906/10/11    102-39P-Q-1-1657
  • Plan of high and low water service mains and location of #5 fire station    1906/10/27    102-39P-GG-6-7952 
  • Plan of ppty. purchased from Evans & O'Donnel for Fire Dept    1907    102-39p-Q-8-1863
  • Plans of proposed new fire station at Brunswick Street, these plans received from the Fire Chief    1943/11/14     102-39P-A-3-8047 to -8055
  • Proposed new fire station on Brunswick St.    unknown date    102-39P-A-3-8017 to -8046 
  • Engine House Plan of properties corner of George and Albermarle purchased for Fire Dept. purposes    unknown date    102-39P-Q-8-1863 
  • Plan showing location 40,000 Gallon Tank of John Tobin & Co. Simon Building by General Fire Extinguisher Co.    [191-?]    102-39P-W-7-3433
  • Pump - Worthington.  Sectional arrangement of Rees, Roturbo Chamber Fire Pump    unknown date     102-39P-S-6-3817  
  • Plan of general arrangement of fire hydrant    1913\11\21    W-8-3492
  • Fire service distribution plan [microfilm only]    1914/02/14    102-39P-T-5-2671
  • Horse drawn wagon with fire extinguisher    1914/02/20    102-39P-T-10-2418
  • Sketch of fire walls - John Tobin & Co - Water St.    1914/02/20    102-39P-T-10-2419
  • 4" standard compression fire hydrant    1915/04/16    102-39P-T-6-2867
  • Published map of Halifax and Dartmouth surrounded by business advertisements, fire box numbers, and a street index, and a geographic description of Halifax's wards and boundaries [scanned]    [192?]    CR10-082
  • Plans and Elevation of Drill Tower Brookline Fire Station no. 6, Boston, Massachusetts    [192?]    102-39P-BB-2-8743
  • O’Shaughnessy building - fire escape. O’Shaughnessy Hospital southwest corner of North Street Coffin building 1 architectural drawing    1920/10/15    102-39P-BB-4-4981
Image shoes a blueprint of the second floor of a fire station, including hay loft,  dormitory, library, and captain's room.

Second floor plan of the fire station at Prince & Bedford Row, 1906, 102-39P-Q-2-1716.

  • Plan of brick chimney - Veteran Firemans Hall    1923/10/04    102-39P-BB-1-5630
  • Plan of chimney - Veteran Firemans Hall by L. Cuvelier [on back of ad for the cuvilier permanent chimney cleaner]    1924    102-39P-CC-5-5697
  • Chimney at Grain elevator Veteran Firemans Hall microfilm    [unknown date]    102-39P-P-8-1360
  • Plan of proposed plumbing AT West St. Fire Hall    1924/04/09    102-39P-BB-6-5666
  • Plan of proposed Plumbing (Fire Hall) Quinpool Rd    1924/04/09    102-39P-BB-6-5667
  • Plan of proposed alteration at N.E. corner of Maynard Street - Plan of Watson H. Isnor property - garage and filling station [shows James St. fire station]    1924/06/34    102-39P-CC-6-5740
  • Proposed Fire Alarm building - ground floor & proposed plan for fire alarm circuits    [Between 1930 and 1935]    102-39P-GG-11-7017 & -7018
  • Halifax Incinerator. Details of special fire brick. City Engineers Office - Griscom-Spencer Co., NY. 1 architectural drawing    1931/03/24    102-39P-Q-3-6703
  • Halifax Incinerator - Details of special fire brick Robie & Young    1931/03/24    O-3-6703 and O-3-6704
  • Fireman's drill tower - Framing and sectional details    1931/11/23    102-39P-BB-2-6737
  • Firemen's drill tower  Proposed Drill Tower, elevators and site plan    1931\11\23    102-39P-BB-2-6736
  • 62' drill tower for Halifax firefighters    1932/04/12    102-39P-BB-2-7636
  • Plan of proposed central fire alarm building - site plan;  front elevation     1933/06/27    102-39P-GG-11-7627 and -7628
  • Plan of Property #65 & #67 Brunswick Street acquired for Fire Station by the City    1934/10/03    102-39P-P-4-7678
  • Central Fire Station. [includes floor plans and details]. Pickings and Wilson, architects. 33 architectural drawings    November 1934    102-39P-A-3-8020 to A-3-8047
  • Plan New concrete floor, Morris Street fire Station    1936/04/04    102-39P-HH-7-8274
  • Proposed fire alarm building - front and rear elevations; basement and ground floor plan; roof and ground floor plan    1937/03/24    102-39P-GG-11-8397 to -8401
  • Proposed fire alarm building - North and South elevations;  longitudinal section, site plan and details    1937/03/24    102-39P-GG-11-8398 to -8401
  • Plan - fire drill tower - not constructed  (microfilm only)    1939/12/26    102-39P-KK-6-9024
  • Plan - Steel Details.  Fireman's Drill Tower    1940/01/15    102-39P- BB-2-8742 and -8743
  • Plans - Steel Framed - Fireman's Drill Tower    1940\01\15     102-39P- BB-2-8741 and -8743
  • Siren Tower at Fire Station. Also includes specifications for towers    1941/11/13    102-39P-LL-4-10043
  • Siren Tower, West Street, Fire Station. Also includes specifications and revised specifications [microfilm only]    1941/11/17    102-39P- LL-4-10044
  • Plan – proposed Young St. Fire Station – basement; first floor; second floor - front & east elevations    1942\12\04    102-39P-KK-10-9180 to -9188
  • Proposed Fire Station.  Incinerator Field. North End   microfilm only    unknown date    102-39P-KK-10-9189
  • Old Fire Station ground floor plans – Brunswick St. microfilm only   1943/03/26    102-39P-LL-4-10042
  • Central Fire Station - basement, ground second and third floor plans    1943/03/29    102-39P-JJ-6-9246
  • Layout in Basement of Fire Alarm Building    1943/06/30    102-39P-KK-1-9280
  • Young St. Fire Station - Showing alteration in basement    1944/09/25    102-39P-KK-10-9490 
  • Young St. fire station - part plan and sections     1944/09/26    102-39P-KK-10-9491
  • Young St. fire station - Proposed addition to Boiler Room - elevations and sections - Fundy Construction Co.    1944/10/23    102-39P-KK-10-9497
  • Crane Autocoal Stoker Morris St. Fire Station [microfilm only]    [BETWEEN 1940 AND 1945]    102-39P-JJ-2-9030
  • Site of new Fire Station on Oxford    [BETWEEN 1947 AND 1952]    102-39P-NN-6-10943
  • Fire Station - Showing Fences Quinpool Rd  [microfilm only]    1947/02/18    102-39P-LL-3-9930
  • Proposed subdivision on Connaught Avenue between Chebucto Road and Bayers Road [shows shopping centre, police & fire, traffic circle] approved at Town Planning Board    1947/04/08    102-39P-LL-3-9983
Image is a numbered list of fire alarm boxes and their locations.

Crop of CR10-082, 1920s map of Halifax, showing numbered list of fire alarm boxes & their locations

  • Siren Tower on Roof of Fire Station and specifications for tower. Microfilm only    unknown date    102-39P-LL-4-10019
  • Alterations to Fire Station [see mm-6-10278 for same plans]  [microfilm only]    1947/09/30    102-39P-MM-6-10246
  • Alterations to West Street Fire House - 3 sheets    1947/09/30    102-39P-MM-6-10278
  • 3 sheets - West Street fire Station, alterations to building. Dumaresq Plan    1947/09/30    102-39P-NN-1-10444
  • Alterations to West Street Fire Station.  3 sheets. Dumaresq Plan    1947/09/30    102-39P-NN-3-10652
  • Plan of scene of accident with Fire Truck corner of George Street and Granville Street between George and Prince Streets     unknown date    102-39P-RR-1-12690
  • Plan of Fire Station and City owned land Bayer’s Rd Microfilmed    unknown date    102-39P-SS-2-14164
  • Plan showing underground street lighting & fire alarm system Westwood Park    unknown date    102-39P-SS-7-15245 
  • Quinpool Road showing location of Fire Station, traced from assessment plan    1948/02/18    102-39P-MM-7-10297
  • Plot Plan - new Fire Station, corner of Oak and Allan Streets. P. Dumaresq    1948/02/01    102-39P-NN-5-10861
  • 4 plans - proposed revisions to heating system at Morris St fire station  [microfilm for NN-1-10423 & NN-1-10424 are missing]  [possibly only one plan in hard copy]    1948/03/10    102-39P-NN1-10423 to -10426
  • 3 sheets - West Street Fire Station, alterations, wall covering details. Dumaresq Plan    April-May 1948    102-39P-NN-2-10533
  • Incinerator Field - Traced from Official Plan with Additions [shows Young St. Fire Station]    1948/07/14    102-39P-NN-2-10545
  • Grafton Park showing old Fire Station. microfilm only   1948/11/30    102-39P-NN3-10724
  • Proposed new Fire Station for residential district.  Dumaresq Plan. microfilm only    1949    102-39P-NN-6-10900
  • Contour plan - Halifax County adjacent to Dutch Village Road [contour Plan showing general layout of Fairview Area (partly) from Upper End of Main Ave., Deal Street, Deal Street, Ashdale Ave., Flint Street, Borden Street, and Skeena Street. Shows building footprints and terrain, including location of fire hall    1949/02/01    102-39P-TT-16-19680
  • City Home Property showing buildings.  Also showing Morris Street Fire Station    1949/03/02   - 102-39P-NN-1-10430 
  • Halifax / Fire Station - Oak and Allen St. Plan of floor plan for fire station ; plan of elev. plan for fire station; basement plan; roof details; wall details; wall elevation. scanned    1949/04/01     102-39P-TT-30-26647 to -26656 
  • Plan showing land to be exchanged between Martha B. Allen & City of Halifax to improve site of fire station. Scanned    1949/05/12    102-39P-NN-5-10866
  • Fence for incinerator [Robie St. Fire Station]. 1 drawing. shows location of pump house    1951/05/28     102-39P-QQ-3-11875
  • Plan showing Watermains around Hospital Area - Robie, University and South Street. PSC Plan shows footprint of City Home, Fire station, Isolation Hospital, Tuberculosis Hospital, Children's Hospital and Pathology Building    1951/06/19    102-39P-TT-3-16180
  • Area under consideration for redevelopment [plan showing Maynard Street and vicinity area under consideration for redevelopment with labelled building footprints noting dwellings, vacant houses, a fire station, service station, and businesses.]     1953/02/04    102-39P-RR-1-12641
  • Plan showing location of house civic nos. 13 and 15 James St. [Properties adjacent to West Street Fire Station property. Plan also includes note about right for access to rear of property granted to City of Halifax June 26, 1935]    1954/07/09    102-39P-RR-1-12780
  • Halifax / Spryfield Dam Road Plan Showing Fire Station lot description and abutting lots. Scanned from microfilm only    1955/07/04    102-39P-OO-10-17736
  • Plan of Robie and Young streets showing relocation of street lines and curbs [Shows location of Imperial Oil land and footprint of fire station on northwest corner of intersection.]    1956/08/15    102-39P-RR-5-13554
  • Compiled plan and profile of Bicentennial Drive entrance to City comparing possible underpass and overpass grades. [Also shows location of water course and culvert, and footprint of Presbyterian church and fire station on Ashburn Avenue.]   1960/02/16    102-39P-SS-5-14771 
  • Plan of railway crossing at Bayers Road and Howe Avenue showing overhead fire alarm wires. [Shows surface crossing of railway. Howe Avenue now Joseph Howe Drive. Fire alarms had been connected to call boxes across the city.]   1960/03/06     102-39P-SS-5-14841
  • Plan of street lines of area bounded by Kempt Road, Young Street, Robie Street and Stanley Streets. [Also shows locations of fire station and pump house on Robie Street.]    1960/04/20    102-39P-SS-5-14802
Image is a faded copy of a side elevation of a fire station

Crop of 102-39P-TT-30-26650, East Elevation of fire station at Oak and Allen Streets, 1949/04/01

  • Site of Spryfield Fire Station.  Civic no. 241     1960/05/19    102-39P-OO-11-18879
  • County Plan showing Proposed Sewer; also shows footprint of buildings including Armdale Fire Station    1961/12/15   102-39P-TT-15-19413
  • Plan showing land to be acquired by City of Halifax from the Trustees of the Calvin Presbyterian Church for Bicentennial purposes. [Bicentennial Drive development. Shows location of fire station on Ashburn Ave.]    1962/07/16    102-39P-SS-8-15460
  • Bayers Road Desmond Avenue to Dutch Village Road, plan of proposed traffic improvements. [Also shows footprints of several buildings, including Bayers Road United Baptist Church and fire station on Ashburn Avenue. Also shows railway crossing.]    1963/03/25   102-39P-SS-9-15645 
  • Morris Street Fire Station repairs to concrete floor    1963/06/17    102-39P-SS-10-15737
  • Halifax / Spryfield Plot Plan.  Spryfield Fire Station.  Scanned    1963/08/01    102-39P-OO-10-17731
  • Plot plan showing Bayers Road Fire Station    1965/09/08    102-39P-TT-4-16315
  • Repairs to concrete floor Bedford Row Fire Station. Microfilm only    unknown date    102-39P-SS-4-14673
  • Repairs to concrete floor Fire Station. Microfilm only    unknown date    102-39P-SS-6-14903
  • Plan showing proposed underground street lighting and fire alarm service. MicMac, McAlpine, Chisholm, St Andrews streets. Microfilm only    unknown date    102-39P-SS-6-15073
  • Westwood Park phase 2 - Plan showing proposed underground street lighting and fire alarm system. [Also shows building footprints.] MicMac, McAlpine, Federal, St Andrews streets    unknown date    102-39P-SS-9-15563
  • Existing fire station on Agricola St.  Microfilm only.     unknown date     102-39P-TT-8-17269
  • Plan showing Children's Hospital Area showing existing buildings: City Mental Hospital, Nurses' residence, laundry, Children's Hospital, Convalescent Hospital, Fire Station, Health Centre, and the Scheme K land. - Duffus romans Single & Kundzins Architects     January 1966    102-39P-TT-7-16922
  • County plan showing improvement survey of Treetop Drive including footprint of buildings including Spryfield Fire Station     1966/08/31    102-39P-TT-15-19438
  • Plan showing Treetop Drive, Spryfield, Halifax Co., N.S. showing building footprints with landowner names and location of fire station. Shows locations of wells    1967/01/26    102-39P-TT-16-19673
  • Plan showing proposed boundary of Fire Station    1967/04/25     102-39P-TT-7-16974
  • Lands to be acquired for West St. Fire Station. Microfilm only    May 1967    102-39P-TT-7-16918
  • Plan showing lands to be acquired for West Street Fire Station shows neighbouring land-owners and footprint of station    1967/05/09    102-39P-TT-7-16981
  • Plan showing West Street Fire Station.  Plan 1" = 20'    1967/07/25    102-39P-TT-7-17052
  • Plan showing Central Fire Department Head quarters Preliminary Plans.  Microfilm missing since Dec 8, 1993    1967/09/25    102-39P-TT-7-17077
  • James Street - Roberts Street to West Street plan and profile (curb and back of walk) [Plan / Profile Showing Curb and Back of Walk and Sewer  from: Roberts St. to: West St. Shows footprint of proposed fire station.]    1968/03/22    102-39P-TT-8-17237
  • Maynard Street - West Street to Roberts Street plan and profile - west curb line and back of west walk [Shows footprint of proposed fire station.] Microfilm only    1968/03/29    102-39P-TT-8-17246
  • Plan of fire hydrant, house connection and washout connection.  To watermain also showing reducer and valve and typical 90 degree bend in watermain    December 1968    102-39P-VV-2-217
  • Expropriation plan for West Street  (Maynard Street to Agricola Street) Fire Station. Scanned    1968/08/17    102-39P-TT-9-17370
  • Dartmouth land use survey maps (Dartmouth grey book) a bound volume of maps showing the building density of every lot in the City of Dartmouth from a survey that was done in 1970 or 1971. Stores, businesses, schools, fire stations are identified but not always uniquely named   [1970]    101-80B-13
  • Proposed Fire Station site, existing conditions including location of pumps and spot elevations    1970/11/19   102-39P-TT-13-18784
  • Halifax Plan Showing 600 scale map showing existing street classifications and proposed fire alarm. REF. R-227 (oversize plan so scanned image not complete )     1975/08/14    102-39P-TT-25-23229
  • Street Light - Hollis Street. A single plan of Sackville Street to Prince Street showing existing and proposed conditions for underground street light, fire alarm and traffic light wiring. Related record in: 102-39P- TT-37-28563    [1986]    102-4.1986.09/220-1

Other Sources on regional firefighting history:

Halifax Municipal Archives gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Council of Archives in supporting the Young Canada Works intern who prepared these records.