Central Fire Station Built Within Months

12.21.2020 01:12 PM By service

The process of building the Central Fire Station in 1920 was similar to construction of today’s new fire halls in Niagara --- but perhaps, a little quicker.

As Welland Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 outlines in its 2001 centennial book, Welland in 1910 had three fire wards. Each had a fire hose house, hose foreman, hydrant man and branch man.

Pressure for a centrally located fire hall began to mount in 1912. In 1917, neighbouring Crowland Township asked to share fire protection.

Meanwhile, firefighting techniques were changing. In 1913, the volunteer fire company asked the town for a full-time driver with a new horse team and cart. Four years later, motorized trucks and cars were replacing horses and wagons in the new 1917 “City of Welland.”

Welland grew as factories and neighbourhoods started to sprout along the Welland Canal, railways and roads.

When council did move ahead with a new fire hall project in 1919, it received an eager response from the community.

By February 1919, a dozen sites for a hall were offered for selection. Council picked one, owned by Mr. Crowther, at Hellems Avenue and Division Street. The city paid $12,000 for the site.

In April 1919, council appointed St. Catharines architect Walter LaChance to oversee the project. It made its choice based on plans that council members said were complete and avoided mistakes made in recent Toronto fire halls. According to a Welland Tribune report, the architect would receive a fee of 5% of the cost.

In June 1919, council awarded the construction contract to Gardner Construction Company of Welland. Its bid of $43,851 was the lowest by $7.43. In its plans, Gardner suggested oak staircases instead of steel to lower costs. The oak staircases remain in today’s Central Fire Station.

To finance the project, city council listened to an offer of $50,000 to cover all costs from a Toronto financial firm. However, it decided to stay local. It sought debentures from area financial groups.

By July 20, 1920, a Tribune headline read: “Welland’s new fire hall now near completion”. The Central Fire Station was officially open on Dec. 17, 1920.