Fairview Volunteer Firefighting Unit
Submitted by Devonna Edwards
The Fairview Volunteer Firefighting Unit began in 1940 during the Second World War with the establishment of the Air Raid Patrol (A.R.P.)
Men from Fairview volunteered to check houses in the area to make sure no light was coming from their homes that could be seen by possible German airplanes flying overhead. They also trained to combat air raids, and fires, perform rescues and administer first-aid and distribute water.
After the war in 1946, Fairview A.R.P. had twenty-seven trained volunteers. These volunteer firemen held their organization together through fire and financial crisis to continue fire protection activities on their own time. The Fairview Men developed a disciplined, efficient county fire department equipped to cope with local fire problems. Leo Nelson was chief of the A.R.P. firemen in 1940 and after the war in 1945, he called his A.R.P. firemen to a meeting and suggested carrying on the group as a volunteer organization. He then became chief of the Volunteer Fire Department.
With a small number of former A.R.P. workers he helped organize what became known as the Fairview Protection Association.
Some of Chief Nelson’s original A.R.P. firemen that continued on with the Fairview Volunteer Fire Department were:
Deputy Chief George Boston, Captain Jack Mercer, Captain Guy Meisner, Captain Stewart Beckman, and Fireman Harvey Aalders, Frank Beckman, John Daine, Jack Smart, Hubert smart and Arthur Cooke.
After the A.R.P. days the Fairview ranks were strengthened by the addition of Captain Clifford Cole, Captain Carroll Mansfield, Captain-Instructor Bill Merrigan and fireman John MacIsaac, Melville Rogers, Norman Orlando, Howard McCully, George Crawford, Everett Smith, Harris Young, Louis Smith, Lawrence Hartlen, Art Blumsom and Frank Denty.
The association collected, salvaged or bought enough equipment to get into business. They began with several hundred feet of hose; trucks, one homemade, purchased from the Halifax North End A.R.P. and one other with trailer and portable pump. But they were still without headquarters.
Chief Nelson’s associates raised a building on Fairview School grounds, located on the corner of Main Avenue and Ford Street. They paid for it with money raised through social functions held in the building. Additional funds were obtained by a form of taxation which the members agreed to pay themselves. They were able to stay there until 1948. School officials moved in and wanted the land for playground expansion. The Fairview Firefighters had to move to temporary headquarters on nearby oil company property. They then had to look around for a permanent site for their fire station. With the help of then Councillor William Gates under what was called the Gates Plan, Fairview got five hundred dollars of the County’s funds as a starter. Fairview associates also took all the money in their treasury and the five hundred dollars to purchase the land which cost eight hundred dollars.
That land was located on Main Avenue (corner of Main Avenue and Maple Street). Many willing hands came to help build their station. Private donations also helped to fund the effort to buy helmets, fire-coats and boots. The Ladies’ Auxiliary was also instrumental in raising funds for them.
The Fairview Volunteer Fire Department began to grow into a modern, well- equipped station.
In 1942 the Fairview Air Raid Patrol (A.R.P.) workers devised a plan for the storage of water. The water supply, in case of fire, had always been a problem in the community. The A.R.P. workers obtained the use of about a half- acre of land and built a man- made pond and across it built a substantial dam which had taken the volunteers a few months and all their spare time.
Through the use of pipes going into the pond they flooded the area with thousands of gallons of water. In some places the artificial pond was six feet deep. A pump was purchased and another type was supplied by the authorities. The Fairview men were widely commended for the excellent demonstration of initiative and industry.
The old pond and dam was located behind the Rock Quarry on the Bedford Highway (now a car dealership) and located between the back of Centennial Arena on Vimy Avenue and a large apartment building called Granburg Place.
In 1954 the Municipality of the County of Halifax donated a two and a half ton truck to the Fairview Fire Department. The fire fighters volunteered nights, and week-ends transforming the truck into a firefighting unit. They designed and built on an aluminum body.
The Fairview Volunteer Firemen attended about five hundred fires during six years alone and they assisted the Halifax Fire Department at the Mount Saint Vincent fire in the winter of 1951.
The Fairview Volunteer Fire Department had one death that we know of and that was the death of William Boston, one of the department’s oldest and most valued member. He died fighting a fire, at the scene of a Harrietsfield grass fire (outside fire jurisdiction of the Fairview Department). The volunteers had been called out of their home territory while two other county crews were busied elsewhere.
In 1969 the community of Fairview was no longer the county but part of the city of Halifax along with Rockingham, Spryfield, Armdale, Clayton Park, and Purcell’s Cove. Therefore the Volunteer Fire Department was no longer needed and it became just a memory and part of Fairview’s history.