FIRE NOTES FROM PETROLIA
(Special correspondence of FIRE AND WATER.)
LIKE every other town that possesses a fire department, Petrolia, Ont., thinks it has the best.
Its department was first organized in the East End of Petrolia, which was then the main part, some twenty-eight or thirty years ago. This was brought about owing to fire starting among some frame buildings, when a large cable was procured and made fast to the burning building, which was dragged away to prevent the fire from spreading. Soon after a hookand-ladder truck was purctiased, and a company formed, with Hugh Smiley as captain and Joseph Ward first lieutenant. This truck was fairly well equipped, and among the equipments were Beventyfive palls. Then a few years later a brake engine was purchased, and the company became known us the “Union Reliable.” Later a steamer was bought and placed at the West End, and a company formed, known as the “Andes Fire company.” Then another steamer was bought and placed at the West End station, an old frame building on Front street, that just held the apparatus and no more, the hose carts being kept In a tower where the town bell was.
A new fire station has now been built at the East End, with a nicely-furnished meeting.room upstairs, where many a pleasant hour is spent by the company, and where the brake engine and hook-and-ladder truck, and also the hose carts are kept.
At the West End a new station has been built, and the two steamers and hose carts are kept here. One of these steamers was manufactured by Shand, Mason & Co,, of London, England; the other was made by the Manchester Locomotive Works, of Manchester, N. H., and called an “Amoskeag.” There are also three hose carts, with about 3,000 feet of hose; two chemical tire extinguishers, and a hook-and-ladder truck, with hose basket attached, capacity 400 feet, two and one-half inch in hose. It also carries twosixth gallon fire-extinguishers. The membership of the department consists of thirty members, three of whom are paid. There-are two companies, the Central fire station company and No. 2 company; two captains, two lieutenants, and chief.
Petrolla has been fortunate in the men who have been chosen as fire chiefs. First on the list are : M.O.W. Chamberlain, W. Oliver, J. H. Fairbank, former M.P., W. G. Fraser, J. W. McCutcheon; then comes the youug man who serves today, who is liked by all, and who takes as much interest in fire matters as anyone possibly could—Ernest Preston. He was elected by the council in April, 1806, to succeed J. W. McCutcheon, resigned. Chief Preston became a member eleven years ago of Andes fire company, and has always been a hard worker, and, although he joined the fire department at fifteen years of age, be has worked as hard as any of the older members —in fact,too hard for his own good. He has built up the department in many ways. It is just like a full paid department; meu sleep in the hail; members must obtain leave of absence on leaving town. Men are also appointed by the chief, and promotions are made by him. Hose is hung up and cleaned by the members after each fire and practice, and lazy firemen are dismissed by him. Everything is right up-to-date. The chief keeps a horse and buggy tor fire service. The wagon stands in the hall equipped with fire department lanterns, Dolfini’s smoke protector, and other useful tools. Chief Preston had a fire alarm placed in his home at his own expense; in fact, fire business is his hobby. Chief Preston joined the department sixteen years ago, and, although young, was tall and strong. He never knew what danger was at any time—and oil fires are dangerous. For many years he was a pipeman with the Central company, and has had many narrow escapes,as he would always take the hot corner. It was at this period when, no doubt, he learned to be always on the aggressive with the blaze as he is now. Many times he wants us where It is hard, but he will always go himself. After nearly every fire he receives a letter of appreciation and a check for amount ranging from $5 to $100 from parties interested.
Chief Preston was appointed assistant chief in 1895 by ten out of twelve votes at the council meeting, and appointed chief in 1890. He is thirty-one years of age. On Christmas of each year the firemen receive a little token of some kind from him. He says he loves a good fireman, but a poor one he does not like any better than a common citizen. He is also prominent in society circles—being a member of nine such orders, having for their object the raising up of mankind. He will not join any where a man’s creed is questioned.
The captains are both good men, as are the lieutenants. Captain Tim Gahivan and Lieutenant Peter Brogan,of the Central company,Captain Robert RobertBon and Lieutenant Geo. McCutcheon,of No. 2 company. The chief is a subscriber to FIRE AND WATER, which we appreciate very much. In fact, we would like it daily, instead of weekly. We have a system of waterworks second to none. We have 100 hydrants and many more are being set. The source is lake Huron, and the people just use all they want. We have a standpipe ninety feet high by thirty in diameter,which gives domestic pressure. The steamers pump from nydrants. But you had a nice write.up of our waterworks in the issue of FIRE AND WATER of March 13, 1897. The superintendent of waterworks is John T. Carmichael; commissioners: Oliver Simmons, Wm. English and Mayor McCutcheon.
The following letter is typical of the esteem in which the citizens of Petrolia hold their firemen and Chief Preston (all the citizens are alike iu this respect):
“PETROLIA. ONT., July 19, 1901. “MR. E. PRESTON, Chief of the Fire Department:
“Dear Sir.—We thank you and your brother firemen for the assistance and very able manner iu which they handled the fire in our storehouse on Saturday night last, knowing what you had to contend with and the danger from the inflammable material that we had in stock. We have very much pleasure in inclosing you check.
“Thanking you again.
“E. & S. POLLARD.”