Nova Scotia department turns 100 with fanfare

November 17, 2015
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Members of the Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia stand proudly by the department's first motorized fire truck, a Model T, bought in 1924. The truck is now on display at the fire hall.
Members of the Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia stand proudly by the department's first motorized fire truck, a Model T, bought in 1924. The truck is now on display at the fire hall. Photo courtesy Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department
Fire Chief Laurie Saunders, a 37-year veteran and 10-year chief of the Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia, has a few ideas as to why recruitment numbers are relativity high for his department.

"It's always been part of the backbone of the community," Saunders said. "There is a lot of pride within the members prior and the present members.

"Most people, they talk to the other firefighters so they have a pretty good idea before they even apply," he said.

The Berwick department turned 100 this year, on Jan. 20 to be exact, and its 50 or so members proudly celebrated the anniversary by swapping stories.

The department can trace its roots to 1915 when a group of concerned citizens met and pledged to spend no more than $100 toward fire equipment.

"It started off with just buckets and ladders," Saunders said.

In 1924 the department purchased its first motorized truck. That truck was restored several years ago and is now displayed at the hall.

Today, Berwick Fire serves about 7,000 people in about 160 kilometres squared, and averages 120 calls per year. The fire station, which was rebuilt in 2008, is a part of the Berwick town hall and houses two pumpers, two tankers, a heavy rescue, a light rescue and a personnel carrier.

The department's membership includes four women and, this year, two under-19 participants of a long-running junior program.

Nova Scotia Fire Marshal Harold Pothier and local chiefs attended the 100th anniversary banquet in January to help celebrate the thriving department.

"We're definitely proud of it," Saunders said. "Our veterans are just as active as our young people and we have two or three functions a year and they all sit down and swap stories. Everyone has a story."

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