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A black-and-white image of a group of men standing outside a fire hall. There are 7 men pictured and three trunks behind them.
VFD staff outside the fire hall, then located at 3005 30 Street, in 1952. Fred Little is pictured in the middle, wearing glasses. The new ladder truck can be seen behind him.

Ladder Truck BYLAW

In 1951, the city’s taxpayers were asked to vote on an important bylaw that would see a new ladder truck purchased for the Vernon Fire Department (VFD).

While this might nowadays seem like a no-brainer, at the time it did require some effort on the part of the VFD to convince Vernonites that this was a necessary purchase. Vernon had only a few multi-story buildings at the time, so some likely felt that the $38,000 cost to purchase the truck was a needless expense, considering that the VFD already had a truck with a ladder in its possession.  

But Chief Fred Little disagreed. In letter addressed to the city’s taxpayers, he argued that a new ladder truck was a vital piece of equipment, since the old one was already 17 years old, and practically obsolete. The new truck would be equipped with state-of-the-art supplies, including metal ladders of various lengths, a 150-gallon water tank, night lighting facilities, protective equipment, and a variety of fire hoses and nozzles.

vOTE YES!

At the end of the letter, signed anonymously as “your volunteer firemen,” Little urged the public to vote “yes” at the upcoming bylaw, saying “a vote for the Ladder Truck Bylaw is a vote for your safety as well as ours.” On March 2, 954 taxpayers came out to vote. The bylaw passed 632 to 329 (with two spoiled ballots).

By October of that year, the new fire truck arrived in Vernon. It was constructed by the Bickle-Seagrave Company in Woodstock, Ontario, and was shipped to Vernon by train. A photo in theVernon News shows Chief Little beaming with pride over this new piece of equipment.

oOPS

Unfortunately, the fire department quickly discovered that the truck was actually too big for the fire hall! It passed through the doors easily enough, but an uneven floor designed on an angle for draining purposes meant that it couldn’t quite make it underneath a steel beam running the width of the hall. But the VFD was quick to pivot, and dug channels into the concrete floor for the rear wheels of the truck to nestle into.

Finally, the VFD had a truck with a ladder high enough to handle fire-fighting rescues in any building in Vernon.   

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives