establishments and merchants
Return to Table of Contents

Return to Introduction

Fire Brigade


The Wiliams Creek Fire Brigade...

Barkerville before the fire

The Williams Creek Fire Brigade had been formed under a Mr. McNehanie in April, 1867. The Brigade had no equipment at this time other than buckets, so after the embers had died out from the Barkerville fire of 1868, a man named Isaac Oppenheimer set to work to reorganize the company.

Using what equipment he could get together, Oppenheimer whipped his men into shape and on May 24 1869, at about seven o'clock, the W.C.F.B. turned out to drill.

This was the first drill and, said the Cariboo Sentinel,

" like all first attempts, was a little imperfect, but quite perfect enough to give assurance that with a little practice we shall soon have a most efficient body of firemen. Captain Oppenheimer evidently understands the duties of his position thoroughly."
Barkerville after the fire

Scarcely 10 days had gone by before the Williams Creek Fire Brigade was called into action to fight a bush fire near Van Volkenburgh's slaughter house up near Richfield.

The fire broke out on June 4 and the owners of the threatened establishment inserted a card next day in the Cariboo Sentinel as a,

"tribute of our gratitude and sincere thanks for their heroic and persistent efforts in subduing the fire in the forest immediately adjacent to our Slaughter house and corrals, thereby saving our property, valued at $5,000 from imminent destruction."
Williams Creek Fire Brigade

The leather hose arrived in July, 1869, but the carriage for the hose did not arrive until October, 1871. From time to time fires would break out, and the church bell and the fire bell would sound the warning and the volunteer firemen would race for the reels. This equipment, with the locally made hooks and ladders, is still in use today. The original leather hoses, of course, have gone, and a modern siren sounds the alarm.

Other Brigades...

The Chinese community had their own fire fighting equipment, which for ingenuity could not be beaten. It consisted of a fire pump constructed of hollow bamboo and was operated by hand. It was designed to hurl streams of water from buckets on the ground onto the flames on the roof-tops.

Last updated November 30, 1998.
Produced by Industrial Art Internet Group Ltd. 1998-1999