Firefighters in Action Over the Years

01.04.2021 09:27 AM By service

Firefighters in Action Over the Years

For almost 90 years full-time and volunteer firefighters slid down two brass fire poles, scrambled along oak stairs, jumped onto trucks and sped out of Central Fire Station.

They fought fires large and small in houses, businesses, schools, apartment buildings, at factories and on farms. They rescued people from buildings, cars, canals, rivers and ponds. They felt the heartbreak of losses as well as the satisfaction of success.

Many of the Welland fires are legendary.

They include: 

     the East Main Street business block in 1961 which held the Olympia Restaurant, a shoe store and Welland Wines outlet;

     the Morwood Hardware store on West Main Street in 1968;

      Beaver Lumber Company on East Main Street;

     Jerry’s Army Surplus Store in 1977; 

     Howard Johnson fire on Burgar Street in 1982; 

     the Turnbull House fire on River Road;

     Sts. Peter and Paul Church fire on Beatrice Street in 1996;

      and Atlas Hotel in 2000.

One fire will always stand out as an oddity, a flash fire in the Central Fire Station hose tower on a Friday afternoon in April 27, 1962. 

The Deputy Fire Chief Ed Wilson and firefighter Stan Gifford received burns and two firefighters scrambled out second floor windows onto ladders. The fire trucks had to be pushed from the building to protect them.

Today, you can still see the effects of the fire in the different colour of bricks around the current clock. The fire destroyed the electric clock donated to the hall when it was built in 1920. It was eventually replaced by a fire hall clock from Preston, Ont.

For Welland, it wasn’t the first firehall blaze. In the 1880s, the original downtown firehall, on Cross Street beside the courthouse, went up in flames.