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Historic fire bell finds new home

Bell honours longstanding commitment firefighters bring to the community

March 14, 2023 
By FFIC Staff


March 14, 2023, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont. – An invaluable piece of fire-fighting history has been added to Bradford West Gwillimbury’s (BWG) new Fire Station at 77 Melbourne Dr. – a 123-year-old fire bell from the original Barrie Street Fire Hall. This historic item, used to call fire-fighters to duty has been refurbished and installed in Fire Station 1’s bell tower.

“This bell honours the longstanding commitment BWG’s firefighters continue to bring to the community. It serves as a reminder of firefighting history and dedication and represents a tradition near and dear to all firefighters,” said Fire Chief Brent Thomas.

Bells were installed at fire halls in the late 1800s to signal firefighters to begin their tour of duty and to signal the beginning of that day’s shift. These bells would also serve as an alert to summon these brave souls to fight fires and protect their community. When the fire was out, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of the call.

A bell was hung at Bradford’s first fire hall at 50 Barrie St. in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, the fire hall relocated to the Town Hall on Holland Street. When more space was required for firefighters and equipment, a new fire hall at 75 Melbourne Dr.

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The facility at 75 Melbourne Dr. was designed to service a community of 30,000 people. With BWG recently surpassing this population, a new facility was designed and built at 77 Melbourne Dr. The new fire hall was designed with a 200-square-foot ‘bell tower’ to accommodate the historic bell. Additionally, a heritage room was added with old photos, newspaper clippings and artifacts relating to BWG’s fire service.

In 2022, the bell was shipped to the Verdin Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it was completely refurbished and equipped with a fully functioning electronic striker. On Jan. 31, 2023, the bell was placed in the tower.

​“It is a privilege to restore such a prominent and important part of our past, and I am pleased that this priceless piece of BWG history will be prominently showcased in our brand new fire hall,” said Chief Thomas. “The fire service is steeped in pride and tradition, and in a small way the restoration of the fire bell honours and celebrates the members of our community who put their lives on the line to serve as firefighters. We will reserve ringing the bell for ceremonial occasions to mark this proud history.”


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