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History of Scotland Fire Area Protection

I, Charles Hunter, was asked to record the history of Fire Protection in the Scotland area during my life. I found the following in Stewart Rammage’s history of Oakland Township, which gives a good beginning to my record.

“Mr. Charles Vandusen’s drug and fancy goods store in Scotland burned to the ground on September 8, 1891. The only protection was a bucket brigade which did little to save the wooden structure. Other fires in the village took Mr. Finch’s general store, Mr. John A. Eddy’s property, the store owned by E. G. Malcolm and Markles’ store to name a few from 1886 to the early 1900‘s. There was a definite need for fire protection in the village!”

In 1924 the Scotland Village Trustees purchased a single cylinder gasoline engine hand pulled fire cart for the sum of $500.00 ($705.00). This vehicle was stored under the Bandshell at the V of Simcoe and Talbot streets. About ten cisterns were built and filled with water and were located in different parts of the village.

In 1932 the Village Trustees bought a Buick car ($313.65) to make into a fire protection pumper. A box was put on the back of the Buick car containing a four cylinder car motor to power the pump. The local mechanic did not install a radiator on this motor. Water from the fire pump had to run through this motor whenever it was running to cool it. Racks were placed on the sides of the vehicle to hold a 12 foot roof ladder and a 24 foot extension ladder.

In 1937 T.L. White was Fire Chief and M. Ramsey was engineer. December 11, 1937 Wm. Mackey looked after the Fire Truck while M. Ramsey was absent. For 1938 and 1939 Wm. Mackey looked after the fire truck for $25.00 for the first year and $35.00 the second year. From January 29, 1941 C. Beemer was reappointed caretaker of the fire truck and in November was paid $12.50 for care of the fire truck while C.B. Hunter was also paid $4.00 for care of the truck. From November 25, 1941 to the end of 1950 C.B. Hunter was hired to take care of the fire truck. The stipend for this job started at $25 a year and ended at $39.37 for care of truck and Fire Hall in 1948. The first Fire Hall was the garage beside the barbershop at 50 Simcoe Street next to the grocery store. A siren was installed on this building and the Norwich Telephone Company would set the siren off when a fire call came in.

In 1950 the Village of Scotland Trustees, the Township of Oakland and the southern half of Burford Township formed a Fire Area Protection Board to purchase equipment and form a Volunteer Fire Department. The Fire Area Board members were Bruce Hill (Burford Township), Howard Edy (Oakland Township), and Oscar Gibson (Village of Scotland).

In 1950 Bruce Hill was Chairman and Charles Hunter secretary. The tax rate was Burford Township – 1 mil, Oakland Township – 2 mils and Scotland Village – 3 mils per year.

In August of 1950, the Fire Area Board purchased a Hickey Fire Truck which was an American Marsh 450 GPM with a 500 gallon tank and a two stage pump on a 1950 GMC chassis. The truck motor, by shifting the transmission, could power either the wheels or the pump. The Fire Area Board appointed Charles Hunter as Fire Chief at $75.00 per annum to begin January 1, 1951 and James Taylor as Deputy Chief for $50.00 per annum. The firefighters at that time were persons in business in the area or locally employed in the Village of Scotland because they were available and were paid $25.00 per annum plus $1.00 per hour while at a fire. Anyone missing a fire drill forfeited $1.00.

March 24, 1951 saw the delivery of the Hickey Fire Truck worth $8,575.80.

In 1951 the Ontario Government sent a Fire Marshall representative for a one time, two and one half hour training period in fire suppression for this volunteer Fire Department. Further training by the firefighters was taken either at the Niagara District Firefighter’s Training School or at The Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst.

In 1955 the whole Fire Area was mapped by the firefighters and each property was given a number which was posted at the front of the property. The numbers consisted of the Township letter (B for Burford and O for Oakland), a Concession number and Lot number with three Lots being in a mile. This information was transferred to two maps in the Fire Hall with all numbers starting at the edge of the Village, Burford Township proceeding west and Oakland to the east. A book for each area was in the truck containing a description of each property, directions to get there, buildings and water supply.

In 1956 a County Mutual Aid Fire Service Association was set up with monthly meetings. The Mutual Aid Association included South Dumfries Fire Area, Scotland Fire Area, Burford, Airport, Mount Pleasant, Tranquility, St. George, Cainsville Onondaga, Paris and the city of Brantford Fire Departments. The purpose was to work together to improve Fire Protection and First Response Medical Services. Charles Hunter was President of this association in 1971.

In 1960 a new three bay Fire Hall was built at 43 Simcoe Street in Scotland. At this time the Board members were Bruce Hill, Oscar Gibson and Clayton Smith. The Board sold the Buick car and hand cart. The same year the Fire Area Board installed a Bell Telephone system which had a phone in the Fire Hall and the same line in seven homes of Firefighters so any one, wives or men, could take the call and in turn set the siren off. The first firefighter to the hall would mark down instructions on a blackboard. As soon as another person arrived they would proceed with a truck to the scene.

From 1962 to 1987 the County Fire Departments would hold a competition and demonstration of new equipment at the Brantford Mall in September. It was a way of informing the public of new methods of firefighting and have some fun as well.

In 1965 a Mutual Aid Fire Radio System was installed in the County of Brant. Scotland had two-way radio equipped trucks which participated in this system. Calls for Mutual Aid between departments were handled by radio. Central Control in Brantford starts the siren of the responding department by radio tone. It also turns on the two-way radio in the pumper and in seconds transmits the sound of siren back to Central Control to confirm the siren response. The volunteers go to the hall, call on the two-way radio in the pumper and receive their instructions as to where and what the Mutual Aid call is. After writing instructions on the blackboard in the hall for the rest of the firefighters, the truck proceeds to the emergency. The radio can be used to communicate between trucks at any time and thus improve communications while at a fire. Eventually we were supplied with pagers. In 1985, because the siren motor failed and it was the same cost to change to pagers, equipment was installed in the Scotland Station to activate the pagers and alert the firefighters.

In 1965 Pumper #1 was purchased, a 500 GPM American Marsh with 500 gallon tank on a 1965 International chassis.

In 1970, purchased #3 a used 1962 Ford tandem chassis and outfitted it with a 2200 gallon tank built by Phil Gravelle.

In 1976, Pumper/Tanker Unit #2 was built using the pump from the original 1951 pumper at a considerable savings. It became a 500 GPM Pump on a 1975 GMC chassis with a 1500 gallon tank.

In 1984, the Rescue Unit #4 was acquired. It is a 1965 Ford, formerly the Brantford City Rescue Unit, purchased by South Brant Lions’ Club and refurbished by the Firefighters. The Firefighters donated their time and the Lion’s Club supplied the materials. Being used as Equipment/Rescue Unit, carries lighting equipment, extrication equipment. first aid supplies, breathing apparatus, other firefighting equipment. Total purchase and refurbishing cost was approximately $7000.00.

In late 1980’s a used King Seagrave Ford 900 chassis and 1050GPM pump was purchased and a 2000 gal. tank was built on the unit. (yellow)

In 1996 a new Rescue Truck was purchased which was a 1996 GMC Low Profile Chassis with a dependable built Rescue Body. This truck was designed by Charles Hunter for rural rescue.

Fire Area Details in 1985:
17 Volunteer Firefighters
Governed by an appointed Fire Area Board consisting of:
2 members nominated by Burford Township
2 members nominated by Oakland Township
2 members nominated by Scotland Village

Area Covered for Protection in 1985:
3 1/3 sq. miles in Township of Delhi, coverage sold by contract.
5 2/3 sq. miles in the City of Nanticoke, coverage sold by contract.
28 sq. miles in the Township of Burford-South, 3 1/2 concessions
17 sq. miles in Township of Oakland, all of the Township
Total 54 square miles.

A memo to the Fire Area Board 1985:
Under the leadership of Chief Charles Hunter and Deputy Chief James Campbell, the Scotland Fire Area is developing into a multi-faceted emergency service department. There are numerous members trained in First Aid and CPR. The department has been training also on vehicle extrication and rescue led by four Provincially certified members. With the donation of the Rescue Truck by the South Brant Lions’ Club, the purchase in early 1984 of the extrication equipment and the gradual improvement in First Aid supplies and training, the department desires to be a First Responder to medical emergencies and vehicle accidents. The ability to arrive sooner than the Brantford based ambulances and rescue truck and strong co-operation with these services, allows us to offer improved service to the public in the Scotland Fire Area.
For years the firefighters had been trained to give CPR and First Aid and finally, in May and June of 1993, they received further training from Provincial Ambulance personnel to qualify them to become First Responders and thus began a time to save lives before the ambulance could be on the scene. In September of 1993 The Scotland Fire Area First Response Team was officially activated.

Charles Hunter appreciates all the support he received from the Scotland Village Trustees, The Scotland Fire Area Board, The Mutual Aid Association, and above all the dedication of the many firefighters that worked along with him.

On June 13 & 14, 1953 and June 12 & 13, 1954 Charles Hunter received training at The Niagara District Firemen’s Training School.

In December 22, 1975, Charles completed The Ontario Fire College, Basic Fire Prevention Practices course.

In December of 1985 Charles Hunter completed the St. John Ambulance Safety Oriented First Aid Course.

On March 22, 1995 Charles Hunter successfully completed the BASIC RESCUER (C) program in accordance with the guidelines of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

On October 23, 1982 Charles Hunter received from the Fire Marshall of Ontario, The Fire Services Long Service Medal at Gravenhurst, Ontario.

On October 15th, 1989 at an Investiture at the Airport Community Centre, The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, presented the following medals to Chief Charles B. Hunter:

  1. The Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal in recognition of twenty years of loyal and meritorious service to public security in Canada (August 24, 1989)
  2. The Second award of The Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal in recognition of thirty years of loyal and meritorious service to public security in Canada (August 24, 1989).

On April 23, 1992 a Volunteer of Distinction AWARD OF MERIT was presented to Charles Hunter by the Brantford Expositor Volunteer of the Year Awards Program.

In 2002 Charles Hunter was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Award.

Charles B. Hunter retired as Fire Chief of Scotland Fire Area December 31, 1996 and Robert Charles Hunter became Fire Chief January 1, 1997.

A wonderful Surprise Retirement Party was held for Chief Charlie Hunter on September 27, 1997 at South Brant Legion after 55 years of service including 46 years as Fire Chief.

Submitted by Charles Bronson Hunter in 2013.