About The Black Diamond Fire Department
The Black Diamond Fire Department is made up of a team of well-trained volunteer fire fighters, who give of their time and energy to keep the community safe. Please remember that if you call the fire hall directly, the phone will most likely not be answered, as all of our firefighters are volunteers. If you are experiencing an emergency situation, please do not call the Fire Hall, call 911.
The History of Black Diamond Fire Department
Actual extracts from the “Village of Black Diamond’s Minutes”:
March 7th, 1930 – Meeting at 7:30p.m. in the Village Office.
A demonstration by moving pictures was given by the Du-Gas people demonstrating their Du-Gas firefighting apparatus.
A lengthy discussion took place re firefighting apparatus and was finally moved by Scott seconded by Roughton that we purchase a Du-Gas 10 gallon, 2 cylinder fire engine – to cost $550.00 and a dozen fire buckets and 1 extension ladder to extend to 32 feet and such small firefighting apparatus as necessary for our present needs.
A lengthy discussion regarding a combination dwelling, fire hall and Village jail took place, and resulted in motion by Roughton seconded by Scott that specifications for a combination dwelling fire hall and jail be drawn up and Tenders called for material and labor separately.
March 12, 1930
1st & 2nd paragraph:
March 12 at 5 p.m. to discuss the question of ordering a Fire Engine from the Du-Gas people as per motion of March 7th meeting.
The question of financing this purchase was gone into and on request, Mr. Goodman, of the Bank of Toronto, came to the meeting to enter into a consultation regarding same, after the assurance from Mr. Goodman that the Bank would assist in helping this venture it was then moved by Mr. Scott, seconded by Mr. Roughton that we order a two cylinder, 10 gallon, Chemical Fire Engine at a cost of $550.00 F.O.B. Black Diamond, $350.00 to be paid upon delivery and acceptance of the machine in working order, and $200.00 payable May 1st, 1930, and Secretary gave an order to Mr. Barrington, the Du-Gas agent accordingly.
Fire trucks on North Side of Black Diamond
Actual selections from the book “In the Light of the Flares, History of Turner Valley Oilfields”.
“FIRE DEPARTMENT: During the early years of the Village, when a building caught on fire it usually meant that it burned down, everyone gathered and did as much as possible. If it was endangering another building a call would be made to the Imperial Oil truck, but even at that they had only a truck load of water, as there was no water service other than wells and the river.
The first Village Council ordered some firefighting material, the Municipal Administrator cancelled the order when he took over in 1930. At the June 11, 1946 meeting of the newly elected Village Council, consisting of Mayor Arthur Cobb, and Councillors Cecil Harris and Blake Sage, a motion was passed to purchase a Crash Truck from War Assets Incorp. for the sum of $3,605.03. The Village had to borrow the money to pay for this truck, a fire brigade was set up at the time, but there is no record or whom they were. On March 11, 1948 Ken Atkins was made Fire Chief with Deputies: Jack McIntrye, Hank Webster, Art Cobb and George Baird, who was also night watchman. The volunteers were: Cecil Harris, Blake Sage, Tom Woodford, Tom Brown, Jack Webber, Bill Meyer, Hank Stuart, John Tolman, Albert Webber, Bill Fisher, Dave Dunn, Gordon Bray, Francis Braconnier, Jim Oaks, Art MacDonald, and Ben Schelke.
There had been a lot of protesting from the local taxpayers for spending so much money on the Fire Truck, but the Council’s decision was vindicated, when on the morning of the 24th of April 1949 fire broke out on the main street. Damages amounted to over $200,000.00. This left a great void in the Village, but could have been so much worse if the Fire Department had not been well organized and ready to take care of such an emergency.
Black Diamond Centre Avenue before Fire.
The fire truck had been housed in a small garage until 1955 when the Village purchased the old Black Diamond Rural School and moved it to a lot purchased from Oilfield Motors. I personally remember the day the school building was moved in, because just as they turned the corner by the Office, a tire blew and shook the building, but Roy Farries never stopped moving as he was so close to the location.
The old Crash Truck was used for years until a new truck was purchased in the 60’s and fully equipped with a 250 gallon per minute pump, to boost the water pressure from the hydrants. With the installation of the water system in 1957 this helped the volunteer fire department to carry on more efficiently. Over the years many tragedies have been avoided due to the diligence of our fire department, still under the able Fire Chief Ken Atkins, who has had many deputies over the years: Dave Dunn, Floyd Buck and Ken Bird to name a few.”
THE BIG BLACK DIAMOND FIRE OF APRIL, 24TH, 1949, - as viewed by Ken Atkins, Fire Chief.
It was 5:30 a.m., Sunday morning April 24th, 1949, with a 60 mile an hour west wind blowing and it continued to blow until noon.
The fire started on the south side of the main street of the Town, just east of the Winston Theatre, in the Joe Riley Transport office and garage-warehouse building.
The fire alarm was turned in at approximately 5:30 a.m., and the call was immediately answered and responded to by Fire Chief Ken Atkins and Fireman Blake Sage, who lived near the blazing building; the rest of the 15 volunteer firemen were soon all there too, with the fire truck.
The Transport warehouse, by this time was completely enveloped in flames and quite out of control, and the fire was spreading to the next building east and west to the Winston Theatre.
A call was sent out to the other fire Departments in the area and the Okotoks fire truck responded, as well as the one from the Royalite Oil Co. The fire trucks were kept supplied with water by twelve local water trucks. These trucks were equipped with pumps to pump the water out of the river then into the fire trucks. The Town, at this time did not have a water system, the supply came from wells, mostly pumped by hand.
It was a long, hard fight all morning, battling wind and flames, but the fire was finally brought under control at noon, after it had demolished a goodly portion of the south side of the main street.
Destroyed were: the Winston Theatre, a modern one story brick building, owned by Jim McDonald; the Black Diamond Transport and garage, owned by Joe Riley; the district Calgary Power Office, managed by C.E. Stuart; a photographer’s shop, owned by R.D. McRoberts; a beauty parlour run by Mrs. N. Bobback, the Style Shoppe operated by Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Hicklin; a three story rooming house, the Welcome Inn, operated by William Myers; and Webber’s Groceteria; and Dry Goods, a one story frame general store with six rooms for living accommodations at the rear was badly burned.
Mr. Albert Webber, the owner, had been out late and did not awaken until the building was on fire. “I found my clothing and put it on and by the time I had dressed, my pyjamas had burned”, he said. “I woke my wife Elaine, my six year old daughter and my mother-in-law, Mrs. Lucy Cuthbert. We got out safely.”
Lloyd Hicklin told of their experience, they had only been in bed about five minutes when the flames shot through into their suite, at the rear of the Style Shoppe, they ran through the burning store in their bare feet, which were burned and cut, Emily Hicklin had to be hospitalized.
Twenty persons were sleeping in the Welcome Inn, but escaped injury, everyone fleeing and losing all of their possessions.
Stacks of lumber piled in lumber yards 500 yards to the east was threatened by flying sparks, because during the fire there were burning boards flying through the air and landing as far as one half mile east of town. Dozens of small fires and roof tops of many buildings were all on fire at the same time. It was the people that turned out with pails and wet sacks that kept the rest of the town from burning.
North East view of a block of burned buildings after the Big Black Diamond Fire.
A lot of damage was done to the buildings on the north side of the main street too, as windows broke due to the heat, and other damage done by flying debris.
It was a fireman’s nightmare, but we were so fortunate to have saved the dwelling on the west end of the street, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mart Hovis, and no serious injuries or deaths resulted. It took many years to rebuild the damage done to the Town that day.