VITTORIA VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS
On July 4, 1956 a meeting was called in the Vittoria
Public School for the purpose of finding out whether citizens and organizations
would be interested in organizing a Fire Department for Vittoria and the surrounding
area. The response was enthusiastic and a number of individuals and organizations
were very interested.
It was decided at that meeting that the name of the organization would be "The Vittoria and District Volunteer Firefighters".
Meetings were held through the month of August and
interest increased rapidly. The following committee was organized:
Chairman Harry Thompson, Secretary Murray Church,Treasurer Max Jarvis, Murray Boughner, E. L. Butler, John Cooper John Dick, "Scotty" Findlay, Tom Hill, Howard May and Charles Racz.
A sub-committee consisting of Murray Church, John Dick and Max Jarvis with the assistance of Ex-Fire Chief Cecil Pettit from Kenmore, New York was appointed to inquire about a pumper and equipment.
They reported that a pumper could be purchased from King Seagrave at Woodstock. The project was approved by Charlotteville Council and funds were loaned for purchase of the equipment.
With a donation from the Vittoria Lions Club and money borrowed from Council, they purchased a 1939 Bickle Seagrave and some equipment for a total price of $4,829.
Land was purchased from Harry Ferris for the price of $500 and by October 1, 1956 a building was in progress. With the help of private donations, support of the council and voluntary workers the building, although not quite finished, could be used.
Fill was purchased from area landowners at $2 per load. Trucking was done by Grassett and Glen Wilson at $3 per hour.
On June 28, 1957 the first meeting of the Vittoria and District Firefighters was held in the new fire hall. There was a motion passed that dues be paid at a rate of 25¢ per month.
Charter Members of the Fire Department were:
Fire Chief Ray Hodgson, Deputy Chief Harry Thompson, Captain Murray Church, Captain Tom Hill; Firefighters Knisely Bingleman, Ambrose Franks Tommy Hill, Max Jarvis, Allen Lloyd, Robert McKenzie and Robert Weaver
A 1953 GMC Van was purchased for $300 to add to the equipment. It was repaired and painted at Victor Kish Body Shop for $75.
The year of 1958 was spent finishing the building. In 1959 a Class A 625 GPM King Seagrave Triple combination pumper was purchased. As time progressed it was decided that a tank truck would be of great value. A 1947 Diamond T Truck and tank was purchased for $250.
Although most of the equipment was now in place, the department set its sights on another project. It was decided to build a recreation room on back of the fire hall. Money for this project was raised by Turkey raffles, Ham rolls, Barn Dances and from fire calls. Fire calls were $15 each and were paid by taxpayers of the township regardless of how many men went or how long they were there, until the fire was out.
Each year a little was added, a well and pump, septic tank and tile bed, washrooms, kitchen, pool table, card tables, large table, dart boards etc.
On June 24th, 1966 the department purchased and equipped a 1962 Pontiac station wagon at a cost of $1,500. This was strictly the firemen's project - money was raised from raffles and other fundraising activities.
The Vittoria Fire Department hosted the first Norfolk County Mutual Aid Fire School in 1967. This school has been an ongoing educational tool for firefighters since then. Each fire department throughout the region takes its turn hosting it.
In 1968, the Fire Department received a used truck chassis from the Township of Charlotteville Roads Department. The Firemen's Club raised money to hire Chad's Welding to put new water tanks on the chassis. In 1974, the Vittoria Firemen's Club joined forces with other community groups to build a ball diamond, known as the Thompson Memorial Park. Also in 1974, Regional Government was imposed on Haldimand-Norfolk. It took a long time to get used to the change of name from Charlotteville Station #1 to Township of Delhi Station #3. This same year, the Fireman's Club sponsored the local Midget Fastball team.
In 1976, the Township of Delhi purchased a new Chevrolet Tandem chassis for a tank truck.
In 1977, the Township retired the 1939 Bickle. The last fire it was used at was at the Lindsay residence on Brock Street. Coincidentally, this was the same building that burned in 1956, when it was Lloyd's Groceteria, that led directly to the formation of the Vittoria District Fire Department.
The Bickle was turned over to the Vittoria Firemen's Association. The Firemen and the Firefighters' Ladies Auxiliary spent much time and effort raising money to restore the Bickle. We held walkathons and raffles to pay for the restoration.
The truck was taken apart to the bare frame and painstakingly rebuilt, all but the engine, which after 57 reliable years has still not been touched.
Harold Stewart rebuilt the pump on the truck, and others helped where they could. We had the truck professionally painted.
We were very fortunate to get Stan Mitts from Tillsonburg to do the lettering and gold leaf. He started on the job, but then had trouble getting the gold leaf, and finally had it shipped in from Montreal.
Stan Mitts put the finishing touches on the Bickle on a Friday night, and the next day we took it to Simcoe's Muster and won first prize with it. Although it took until 1984 to get our truck fully restored, it was well worth it.
In 1979 the Township of Delhi purchased a Rescue Van, and a 1979 Ford Pumper fire truck to replace the one purchased in 1959.
In 1987 we paid off our first pledge of $15,000 to the Community Centre and then immediately pledged another $15,000.
In 1989 we participated in the first Great Vittoria Pickup Truck Raffle, in conjunction with the Vittoria Lions Club and the Thompson Memorial Park Committee, with all proceeds going to the Vittoria & District Community Centre. This project was repeated in 1991, 1993 and 1996.
In February 1990, the Vittoria Fire Department was involved with the Hagersville tire fire under the Mutual Aid agreement of Haldimand-Norfolk.
In 1991 we made a $2,000 donation to help pay for paving at the Community Centre. We also raised $26,000 from the community for Jaws of Life Rescue Equipment.
The Vittoria Fire Department provides fire protection to Port Ryerse, Fisher's Glen, Normandale, Turkey Point, north to the 9th Concession, one road west of the Turkey Point Road, on the 9th concession from Green's Corners east to Bill's Corners, south to the 8th Concession and east to the Hillcrest Road. The station is equipped with two pumpers, one tanker and one rescue van, and is staffed by 21 volunteers.
Over the past 40 years the community has had over 200 men volunteer their services to the Vittoria Fire Department.
All donations by private citizens or organizations and money raised by the department through raffles and other fundraising activities have been spent locally, on firefighting equipment or the Fire Hall. As well, we have financially supported: the Thompson Memorial Park Committee, the Vittoria & District Community Centre, the Charlotteville Minor Sports Association, the Salvation Army, Muscular Dystrophy, the Heart Fund, the Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, Area Scout Groups, Big Brothers & Sisters, the Community Information Centre, the Hamilton Burn Unit, the Brownies & Guides, Journey for Sight (Lions), the Special Olympics, the Youth Bowling League, Canadian Mental Health and Norfolk Musical Arts.
Your support at any Firemen's project is gratefully acknowledged and appreciated. We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the public for its support.
Vittoria Fire Department Members.