Firehall #6 – Nicola Street

Fire hall #6, in the West End, was commissioned in 1907 and opened in 1908. Even though it was developed in the period when the building permits have been lost, we know the architects of the project. Honeyman and Curtis designed the building, possibly the first in North America specifically designed for motorized firetrucks.

It was photographed in 1908 with its Seagrave Hose Wagon and Auto Chemical Engine – both state-of-the-art equipment for the time. After the 1886 fire the City was willing to fund the fire department generously. The Seagrave machines cost around $5,000 each – more than it cost to build most West End houses at the time. (Seagrave still make fire trucks today, but the entire Vancouver fleet are now built by Spartan).

There was a delay getting the building started; the architects reported to the City Council that it was such a busy time for contractors that it had been difficult to get any of them to bid. “The public advertisement had not drawn a single call for the specifications, but by personal effort several contractors had been Induced to figure.” In the end Peter Tardif won the contract to build the fire hall.

The building was expanded in 1929, with a design by A J Bird, and there was another picture taken by Stuart Thomson, with the latest engine proudly on display.

As far as we can tell, that’s an American La France ladder truck in the picture on the right. Not too many were built with the firemen sitting over the front wheels.

Our main image dates from 1975. The hall received a further makeover, and was seismically upgraded in 1988, designed by Henry Hawthorne Architect. The fire staff continue to fight fires and attend other emergency calls throughout the West End, equipped with a Spartan Gladiator Sirius LFD engine, and pump. Recently the city’s ladder trucks have changed from 75 foot units to 105 foot (to better service fires in 6-storey buildings) so the ladder trucks are now located in other West End and Downtown fire halls.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-395, CVA 99-3730 and FD P39.2

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Posted 10 June 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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