Fire Departments Observe International Anniversary

Fire Departments Observe International Anniversary

A ceremony marking the 120th anniversary of the Windsor, Ontario, fire to which the “Fire Brigade of Detroit” responded and was largely responsible for saving the cities of Windsor and Sandwich from destruction, was held on April 16 at the International Boundary Line on the Ambassador Bridge. Taking part were Detroit’s Executive Chief Charles J. Quinlan and Windsor Fire Chief Harold A. Coxon and officials of the two cities.

In the spring of 1848, an agreement was made between the two cities whereby Detroit, which possessed the facilities, would dispatch fire equipment by ferry boat in case of a large fire in Windsor during die night. A year later, in die early morning of April 16, the cities of Windsor and Sandwich were threatened by fire.

Two hand-drawn pieces of equipment, Engines 4 and 5, were placed on standby awaiting transportation across the Detroit River. When the ferry boat Hastings docked at 2:30 a.m. at the foot of Shelby Street, only Engine 5, because of its smaller size, could be taken aboard, along with two hose carts carrying a total of 250 feet of hose.

Engine 5 was positioned on the wharf to play a stream of water on the nearby Windsor Castle Hotel which was threatened by the flames. Engine 2, sent over at 5 a.m., assisted in the extinguishment of the fire. Saving the surrounding buildings prevented the destruction of the entire area. The loss was $30,000—high for that time—and would have been doubled had it not been for Detroit’s aid.

In appreciation for their efforts the Fire Brigade of Detroit was presented with a hand-wrought silver trumpet on July 2, 1849, which is on permanent display in the lobby of Detroit Fire Headquarters as a treasured symbol of the friendship between the two cities.

Detroit Executive Chief Charles J. Quinlan, holding the silver trumpet given in appreciation of Detroit’s help at the Windsor fire of 1849, greets Windsor Chief Harold Coxon at ceremonies marking the event.

Detroit F. D. Photo by Capt. J. A. Mancinelli

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