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 fire department records for the:

Curious about ancestors who served with the Fire Department?

The Municipal Archives has Halifax Fire Department companies ledgers, 1930-1947 (102-111-2), which detail the day-to-day work of fire stations and firefighters, as well as a roll of members documenting employee names, salaries, the fire station and house employees belonged to, and dates of hiring and retirement/resignation.

For Dartmouth there are lists of firemen (101-19C) 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.

Interested in historic fires?

Records of Fires, 1903-1980 (102-111-2) 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.

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 also 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. 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.

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.