Welland’s Central Fire Station Celebrates 100th Virtually

Central Fire Station (Supplied photo)

WELLAND — On Dec. 17, 1920, with the official opening of the Central Fire Station, firefighting and public safety in Welland rolled into the 20th Century.

A stylish and practical $43,851 fire hall, built on an easy-to-exit 45-degree angle at Hellems Avenue and Division Street, contained the latest firefighting features of the period.

For the hall’s centennial on Dec. 17, 2020, the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI), which leases the closed fire hall from the city, had planned to hold an “at home”, a traditional fire department open house.

The Covid-19 emergency, however, made that impractical. It will be held when safe to do so during 2021.

Meanwhile, CSEI will mark the 100th birthday virtually on its website, http://www.centralfirehall.ca,  and on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/wellandcentralfirehall with stories about the fire station’s history.

 It also will welcome your memories of the Centennial Fire Station.

CSEI leases the closed fire station from the city and is raising funds to preserve it.

When it opened in 1920, Central Fire Station, designed by architect Walter La Chance, would hold a hook-and-ladder truck, hose and chemical truck, fire chief’s car and ambulance in its first-floor engine room. Horse-drawn equipment was fading from use.

Informally the new building became known as the central fire hall. It had a control board linked to alarm boxes throughout the city. An efficient hose cleaning system included an underground washing tunnel and 70-foot drying tower. The second floor contained eight sleeping rooms, exercise room and chief’s office. The third-floor was a meeting and recreation room. 

Two fire poles linked the floors to give firefighters quick access to the engine room.

 CSEI believes this 100-year-old fire station is the only one surviving in Canada intact with its original 1920’s equipment, furniture and firefighting artifacts.

An incorporated not-for-profit, CSEI is raising funds to restore and to open the hall as a self-supporting community hub. It will have a free public heritage display showing how Welland’s firefighters lived and worked from 1920’s to 2005.

“If we can’t do this,” said CSEI president Nora Reid, “the City will undoubtedly sell or lease the building to business interests and dispose of the collection losing the opportunity to preserve this unique intact piece of Canadian history and to honour the history of our first responders.”

Donations can be made through the website http://www.centralfirehall.ca .

(Source: Central Station Education Initiative news release)

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