Fire Fighting:

A Brief History of Fire and Emergency Protection in the town of Corunna

By Sean Brooks

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1999

It is 4:00 am in the morning, the air raid siren is blaring; all over town volunteer firefighters are waking up to their pagers also sounding the alarm. They wake-up in a flash, get dressed and are out their doors in seconds on their way to the fire station. Once at the station they quickly put on their gear and jump on one of the responding units, Rescue#25, Pumper#23 or Aerial#21, and are on their way to the fire or some other kind of emergency.

The Corunna Fire Department has been around for a long time, but when it was first started it was run by the Corunna Women's Institute. The Women's Institute is responsible for the start of Corunna's fire department, they also were responsible for the fundraising in the early days of the department

In the beginning the Women's Institute had a sum of $176.08 to spend on emergency equipment. The very first pieces of emergency equipment the Institute ever purchased were three life preservers, ropes and grappling irons, which they purchased in May 28, 1925. The life preservers and the rope cost the Institute $36.00 and the grappling hooks cost them $12.84, this left $127.24 in trust so that they could buy more equipment. The Institute was also responsible for putting first aid bandages and iodine in the school.

At a meeting, on September 27th, 1928, the Women's Institute started to discuss whether or not if they should use the money in trust to buy fire protection. That was the first discussion on the matter of fire protection equipment. In May 1929, the Institute placed life preservers along the shore at every dock on the river. Seven years later, May 30th, 1935, the Women's Institute started a Fire Protection Committee, which decided that all of the equipment that they purchased was to be looked after by three local men. The Fire Protection Committee was appointed to look into the cost of fire protection equipment, like fire extinguishers, hoses, trucks, etc. In the December of 1935, a correspondent, from La France Company of Toronto, gave a presentation of their fire chemical apparatus. The Committee also saw a presentation, January 27th, 1936, on Bickle fire chemical engines. After a second presentation by the La France Company, on the 22nd of February, 1936, the Committee decided to by from La France. The Fire Protection Committee ordered one 45 gallon, one 15 gallon, and two 2 1/2 gallon chemical tanks, with the necessary valves, gauges, and connections. All of that equipment was going cost the Committee $345.00. It took one year for the full fire outfit to arrive, when it did the Committee was debt free. The full outfits final price was $364.24, the outfit was supposed to cost $25.00 more but La France Company of Toronto made a mistake, so they deducted the $25.00. At the same time the town got the air raid siren.

Now that Corunna had the equipment to fight fires, it still needed someplace to store the equipment. The next thing the Fire Protection Committee decided to save for was a garage. The Committee wrote the town council if they could build a Fire hall in a park. They had been granted the land, in December 31,1936, but they needed to raise the money for the project themselves. The Fire hall was going to cost the committee $528.98. The Women's Institute and Fire Protection Committee decided to use a portion of the money, in the equipment fund, and door to door canvassing. After a lot of fundraising the Committee finished the Fire hall in 1938.

Over the years the Women's Institute and the Fire Protection Committee have had different fundraisers, accepted donations, and canvassed door to door to raise money for the upkeep of the equipment.

Over the years the Dept. has gotten more equipment, like a A.R.P. Pumper. This was Corunna’s first mover of vast amounts of water. The A.R.P. Pumper could pump water from the river, wells and ditches. The first major piece of equipment was an actual fire truck. The fire truck was bought in 1948 from Polymer Corporation. The chemical equipment that was on the first fire vehicle was mounted on the truck. With the purchase of this truck the Fire Dept. no longer needed to rely on cars and trucks with trailer hitches because the Fire Dept. had to tow the fire tanks and other equipment in trailers. In 1953 a brand new truck was order and received. Also in ‘53, the Dept. obtained a rescue boat and motor, and the truck purchased in 1948 had water tanks installed on it. Lastly in ‘53 Corunna got fire hydrants. The next vehicle the Dept. got was a Rescue Truck. It was not until 1986 that the Fire Dept. replaced their oldest truck with a new Superior Truck. The newest piece of equipment is a75 foot telesquirt pumper fire truck, which they got in 1992. One final mention of new equipment, most of the fighters have pagers, just in case they don't hear the air siren.

So far in this essay I have commented on many things but I have left out the most vital part of the Corunna Fire Dept. the actual fire fighters. It was not until 1951 that the actual organization of the Fire Dept.began. Now the most important member of the force is the chief and over the years there has been quiet a few of them. The First chief was Mr. Wm. Graham, the second one was Mr. R.C Brock, after him was Mr. Clifford Knight, then Mr. Bill Munday, then Mr. Greg Stoudt and finally the present chief Mr. Blake Willock. Under the command of Chief Willock are 29 other men.

So after many years and many hardships the Corunna Fire Department is a well maintained Department that will probably continue to grow.