History Overview

Original alarm bell from 1887

The rich history of Owen Sound’s Fire Department can be traced back to 1850 with the Village Council meeting deciding to purchase buckets and appoint 30 volunteers to become the first Fire Brigade of Owen Sound. In 1887 a large bell was mounted and placed into service, as soon as a fire was reported the alarm was rung to call the volunteers into action. This historic bell is now located on the new Fire Headquarters lawn on 3rd Ave East.

From the very beginning Owen Sound’s Fire Department (known as Victoria Fire Department at the time) a large part of the service was initiating socials, sponsored dances, the annual ball and participating in parades and excursions. This is a tradition that has been carried on for over 100 years of helping in the community and we strive to carry on the legacy of being involved and helping in the community.

In 1891 a horse-drawn steam pumping engine was delivered to Owen Sound. This machine delivered 300 gallons of water per minute. The only issue was the city only had one team of horses at the time for general work and for the fire department, when this situation came up a few horses were often hired in the town square to move the machine.

Over the next 30 years the fire department to work battling many fires and getting new gear in the ever evolving field of firefighting. With more industry and a growing population that passed 12,000, fires continued to climb and the need for change grew with it. In December of 1916 Owen Sound Fire and Emergency Service became a full time department.

On June 9, 1923, an American-La France fire pumper truck was shipped to Owen Sound from west Toronto on a C.P.R. car. This vehicle was in full-time service from 1923 until 1954, and then was kept as a reserve piece by the fire department until 1967. The last fire that it attended was the Owen Sound City Hall fire (1961).