Kelowna Fire Hall - Kelowna, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 53.099 W 119° 29.806
11U E 320647 N 5528832
On the site of Kelowna's original 1906 fire hall, this sturdy brick hall replaced the first wood frame hall in 1924. It was the home of the Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Waymark Code: WMPYQM
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 11/12/2015
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
Views: 1

The Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade retained this name until 1978, when it was changed to the Kelowna Fire Department, to reflect its, by that time, more professional nature.

The photos included are taken from across Water Street in downtown Kelowna, looking generally southwest at the fire hall. The Then photo was taken just after completion of the fire hall in 1924, while the Now photo was taken on November 7th, 2015.

The final work of architect Harold Joseph Rous Cullin, a native of England who came to BC in 1904, Kelowna's Fire Hall was built with three bays to accommodate the firefighting fleet of 1924. Over the years it has twice been enlarged and a fourth bay added on the east end. It continued to serve as the department's headquarters until 1973, when the headquarters was relocated to the Enterprise Way Fire Hall. Today the hall remains in use as Fire Hall No. 2 of the eight in the city.

Below is text from the Heritage plaque affixed to the building.

Kelowna Fire Hall

Many western North American towns were razed by fire, and so the Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1904. Little more than a bucket brigade, its firefighting equipment consisted of the "Broderick" a vintage, horse drawn firefighting device originally from San Francisco. The Broderick boasted a hand-operated pump, hoses, and buckets. In 1906, Kelowna City Council bought downtown lot #10 on which to build a fire hall.

A two-story wood building was constructed at the cost of $800. By 1924, the Kelowna Fire Brigade was fully equipped with modern fire trucks, and so a new home was needed. The old fire hall was demolished and this handsome brick building was constructed on the same site. A new ladder truck was purchased in 1928. Its ladder was too long to fit in the existing building, and so a hole was punched the wall to accommodate it. This fire hall has been added to over the years, but the brick tower has remained virtually unchanged. The fire hall's Klaxon horn blared out a coded signal to tell the firemen, and other citizens, the locations of the fires. This was a quick and easy way to pass along information, since many of the volunteer firemen would be working at their regular jobs.
Kelowna Fire Hall

The historic place is the prominent and familiar two-story, brick Kelowna Fire Hall located at 1616 Water Street, built in 1924 at the southwest corner of Water Street and Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna's Downtown area.

The Kelowna Fire Hall is a highly significant heritage resource, as a consequence of its lengthy and continuous role in protective service since the early years of community development, and for its landmark architectural quality, including having been designed by a distinguished and prolific, but poorly known, architect.

Frequent fires in the early years of Kelowna emphasized the need for effective fire-fighting services, just as they also encouraged the replacement of the original wood-frame structures on Bernard Avenue with those built of stone and brick in the first decade of the twentieth century.

The current Kelowna Fire Hall was constructed in 1924, replacing the first, wood, fire hall that had been erected on the present site in 1906. The new brick building had three truck bays and a tall hose tower. Living quarters upstairs were occupied by some of the bachelor volunteer firemen, who lived there rent-free in return for being quickly available.

The first fire engine, the 'Broderick', an 1850s-vintage hand-pumper, had been purchased (from Vernon) by Kelowna merchants in 1904. A regular Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1909, with Max Jenkins as fire chief. The Brigade's first fire truck was bought in 1912, and in 1914 another, a converted Cadillac, was added. Its ladders were reportedly a little too long for the existing fire hall, and a hole was cut in the back wall to accommodate them.

The limitations of the first hall led to the construction of the present building. It too has required adaptation and expansion as the City has grown, in 1945 and again in 1950-51. The changes along Water Street are seen in an additional truck bay, with a larger door, at the left; and the enlargement of one of the three original doors by removing the transom window. The building was also extended along Bernard [actually Lawrence] Avenue.

The handsome structure was the last building known to have been designed by architect Harold Joseph Rous Cullin, a native of England who came to BC in 1904 to work with Samuel Maclure, and who maintained a well-known practice in Victoria. The builders were Miller and Emslie, perhaps assisted (or with later additions) by Ward and Baldock. The fire hall displays Georgian Revival features, seen in the restrained classicism of the decorative features, such as the cornice, the corner pilasters, and the window details.

By 1962 the Brigade employed nine paid staff to supplement about thirty volunteers. As the city grew and firefighting became more technically demanding, the paid staff grew. The members of the Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade had other regular occupations. For example, James D. Pettigrew, one of the founding members in 1909 and Fire Chief from 1920 to 1945, was a jeweller and also served as Mayor of Kelowna in 1945 and 1946. Membership in the Brigade, while demanding, was also a kind of club for the young men of the town, and athletic and social activities focused around it. When not on call, firemen at the hall worked on social and charitable projects, such as making and repairing toys for Christmas gifts for needy children. Many members of the Brigade enlisted in the nation's service in both World Wars. The War Memorial at the Water Street and Lawrence Avenues corner of the site recognizes those who did not return.

In 1973 the headquarters of the Kelowna Volunteer Fire Brigade was moved to the new Enterprise Way Main Hall as the result of expansion of the city boundaries. Five years later the name of the service was changed to the Kelowna Fire Department, to reflect its professional nature. The Water Street Fire Hall continues as one of Kelowna's eight fire halls, serving the Downtown area. The community and the nation were reminded of the importance of Kelowna's Fire Department - and the value of this building - during the momentous battle to save the City from forest fires in the summer of 2003.

- The Georgian Revival features, seen in the restrained classical details, such as the broad wood cornice and entablature, the pilasters at the corners of the original block, the surrounds of the three truck bays, and the 12-over-1 wood-sash, double-hung windows
- The red brick walls, with banded courses
- The tall parapet
- The overhead vehicle doors
- The tall corner hose tower with bellcast metal cupola and bell
- The later addition to the left on Water Street, with a simplified, sympathetic design
- The light-painted headers and sills on the second-floor windows and tower
- The prominent corner location
- The landmark quality, appropriate for a public building
- Brick paved and landscaped plaza on the Lawrence Avenue side
- The continuous use as a fire hall
From Historic Places Canada
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Street parking and parking lots nearby

What Agency placed the marker?: City of Kelowna

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