The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 28th, 2012

History of the Springhill Fire Department

Part 3


     In 1906 a new fire station was built on Church Street.  It continued to be used until the present fire hall on Main Street was officially opened on November 18, 1972.  At that time the Department was composed of:  Chief Ray Best; Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Layton; Secretary Treasurer Doug Casey; Captain of the hose William Oulton; Captain of the ladders Robert Veniott; Driver and Caretaker of No. 1 engine Ronald Terris; Driver Two of No. 1 engine David Henwood; Driver of No. 2 engine Thomas Corkin; Caretaker of No. 2 William White; Driver of No. 3 Norman Kavalak and Caretaker of No. 3 Norman Kavalak. Firemen at that time were: Stewart Fraser, Hollis Gilbert, Kenneth Megeney, James Melanson, Murray Marshall, Ronald Burton, Gerald Hunter, Joe Rushton, Norman Melanson, Leo Thomas, Harold Nicholson, Ralph Marshall, Wendell Brown, Harold Terris, Murray Coleman, Victor Hunter, Darrell Terris and Ralph Sears.

     In 1975 the Springhill Fire Department through its Fireman’s Association decided that their first line of defense had to be upgraded.  They began a fire extinguisher refilling service manned totally by the Springhill Department. They worked out of a small room in the back of the fire hall, filled dry chemical extinguishers at the hall and sent carbon dioxide extinguishers and those that had to be hydrostatically tested ( a test that test the canister for cracks) to Halifax.

     This upgrade paid off because when the Main Street fire occurred in 1975 the Springhill Fire Department responded to 14 major fires in 10 days.  Volunteers, equipment and the modified compressors worked around the clock.  According to Doug Casey, a former volunteer related at a banquet in 2009 that “the alarm went off at 6:00 p.m. that a restaurant was on fire and we had it taken care of by 9:15.  Then at 10:00, there was a house fire and it stayed like that for 10 days.”

     But after seven years it came to a point where it was just too much for a volunteer service.

     In 1981 the firemen started thinking about forming a fire extinguisher company.  They applied to the Local Employment Assistance Program (LEAP) and ended up getting the money to start their business.  They had to change their name from the Springhill Volunteer Firefighting Association to the Superior Fire Protection Services.  It is one of a handful of protection services in the Maritimes that is capable of performing every aspect of the business including hydrostatic testing in one location.

      Since the beginning of the volunteer firefighters many men have served for long periods of time.  Some have served for 20 years, some for 35, but for many years the longest known firefighter was George McPherson who was with the Fire Department for a record 54 years. This record was broken by Harold Nicholson who served with the Department for 55 years.

     Over the years the Fire Department has had a number of Fire Chiefs including:

E.A. Potter, 1890 – 1906; Arthur L. Somers, 1906-1926;  O.C. Layton, 1926-1928;  Joseph Potter, 1928-1931; Charlie Murray, 1931-1933; Lusby Rooney, 1933-1950; Frank Crawford, 1950-1959; Andrew Marshall,1959-1963; Lloyd Rector, 1963-1970; Fred Schurman, 1970-1971;  Gerald Boss, 1971-1972; Raymond Best, 1972-1974; Kavalak, Norman, 1974-1978; David Henwood, 1978-1980; Ken McCormick, 1980-1981; Ken Megeney, 1981-1988; Stewart Fraser, 1988-1999; Terry Porter, 1999-2006; Fred Arseneault, 2006-2009; Tom Corkin, 2009- to present (2012)

      In 1971 a volunteer group of ladies comprising of wives of the volunteer firemen and other ladies, organized to help provide comfort for the firemen and to raise funds. The ladies are present nearby at each large fire and serve coffee and doughnuts to the firefighters, make calls, do errands, dry mittens or any other required service.

Here is a poem written in the Springhill Record on July 23, 1936.  The writers name is unknown.

  1.                                         Our Firemen

  2. Oh, it’s great to be a fireman – Think of all the fun you get,

  3. Riding out to fires in winter, just to get all soaking wet;

  4. Think of all the nice warm water ticklish down your spine

  5. And you feel your body tingle, like you had a drink of wine.

  6. Think of all the lovely comments you can get from “Know-it-alls”

  7. Who can give advice so freely, when they see the crumbling walls

  8. Falling dangerously around you; while they view it from far off

  9. Where they’re safe from sparks and water, and have plenty room to scoff

  10. At some poor unlucky fireman who is giving of his best

  11. For this very self-same scoffer, with the over-swollen chest

  12. But thank heaven there are others who appreciate the work

  13. Of these eager zealous ladies – one of whom is yet to shirk

  14. Any dangerous position his endeavour may require

  15. When he’s striving all he’s able to contain a stubborn fire

  16. They’re the ones who get real pleasure out of life’s tempestuous days.

  17. For they think the other fellow cannot be all wrong always

  18. So we’ll keep on having firemen and we will keep on having sneers;

  19. But we will always have the others to hand out the word that cheers.