Lake Country - Life. The Okanagan Way.

THE HEART OF THE OKANAGAN
British Columbia, Canada
 

History

Station 91 Oyama

Bernie Gatzke, Harold Butterworth, Paul Pipke (behind), Fred Hayward (seated), Doug Elliot, Harry Byatt, Derek Eyles, Mac Dewar, Ira Thompson

The Oyama Volunteer Fire Department is the oldest of our three local brigades with its origins dating back to the 1950’s.  With money raised by the community and a small Centennial grant, the first fire hall was built and dedicated on August 12, 1958.  An air-raid siren used in Britain during World War II was installed on the roof of the packing house and the first fire truck, a used 1937 Ford, was purchased from the Rutland Fire Department.  Doug Elliot became the first Fire Chief of the Oyama Volunteer Fire Brigade.

A new fire hall was soon required to accommodate the expanding needs of the Oyama Fire Protection District, so in 1970 the volunteers moved into the old United Church.  In 1986 the district bought a new Ford L8000 fire truck for $134,000 to replace the aging 1961 international truck purchased new 25 years earlier.  The Oyama fire hall was expanded in 1988 with the help of a BC Lotteries grant and many volunteer hours.  That same year the fire fighters started a fund to raise more than $16,000 for the purchase of a rescue boat. By May 1989 a rescue craft was available for emergency use on the water.

In 1995 when Oyama became a part of the District of Lake Country, the Oyama Fire Protection District was dissolved and the Oyama Volunteer Fire Department became a part of the Lake Country Fire Department.

1937 Ford bought used in 1958

Station 71 Winfield

In February of 1956 the members of the Winfield Farmers Institute decided that  Winfield should have some form of fire protection.  The group of 10 residents, under the direction of Gordon Edginton, formed the Winfield Volunteer Fire Brigade.  A siren was installed on the roof of Al’s Cafe and residents were requested not to call the cafe if the siren sounded as the phone line needed to be free to call the volunteers.  Initially the only equipment consisted of shovels and garden hoses carried in the trunks of the volunteers’ cars.

During the years 1956 through 1958, Jack Green, then president for the Farmers Institute, carried on a relentless study of possibilities to form a fire protection district.  In June 1959 the Letters Patent incorporating the district were received from Victoria finally enabling organizers to collect taxes and purchase necessities such as a fire truck, fire hall and property to build it on.  The construction of a fire hall was undertaken in 1959 to house the brand new $15,000 fire truck that arrived in December of that year.  This is the same truck now retired to the Station 71 training grounds.  A public meeting was held to recruit volunteer fire fighters.  Ben Crooks was appointed as the first Fire Chief, a position he for 15 years.  A used 1953 GMC truck was purchased and converted into a 1,000 gallon tanker truck in February 1960.  The Winfield Volunteer Fire Department was born!

By 1974 the department had added a 1973 pumper truck and a used panel truck purchased from the Irrigation District and had responded to 44 alarms. In 1983 the number of alarms had grown to 107; 20 years later in 2003 the number of alarms was 560.  A record number of calls responded to grew to 888 in 2009.  In 1995 when Winfield became a part of the District of Lake Country, the Winfield Fire Protection District was dissolved and the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department became a part of thee Lake Country Fire Department.  The first full time paid Fire Chief was Nick Tresnich.

Left to Right (sitting): Henry Redecopp, Frank Baxter, Susie Taiji, Al Janzen, Dave Lodge, Randy Holitzki, Matt Kobayashi. Left to Right (standing): Murray Sheritt, Ruben Krebs, Gilbert Arnold, Art Arnold, Pete Rodall, Carl Hondl, Ben Crooks, Cliff Gunn, Line Lines, Otto Holitzki, Gilbert Berry

Station 81 Carr’s Landing

The new residents of Coral Beach established the first unofficial fire department in the Carr’s Landing area.  Volunteers pulled second-hand hose from a trailer that carried a Honda gas-powered water pump and built a fire hall garage on Coral Beach Road.  In 1982 a new home on Schaad Road burned to the ground inspiring the community of Carr’s Landing to form a steering committee, headed by Doug Pearce, to develop a fire protection area. By July of 1984, a temporary fire shed was built using volunteer labour and a used 1958 pumper truck was purchased from the Westbank Volunteer Fire Brigade.  The Carr’s Landing Fire Department was now officially a part of the Central Okanagan Regional District Fire Protection Area.  Ron Jackson was elected the first Fire Chief, and a number of volunteers began firefighting training.  By August 1984, the Coral Beach Fire Department amalgamated with Carr’s Landing Brigade to become one.

As the brigade grew, it became obvious that facilities for training and to house equipment were simply inadequate.  By January 1987, planning had begun on the construction of a new fire hall.  With a federal government job creation grant of $44,000, a BC Lottery Grant of $40,000 and hundreds of hours of volunteer labour, the project was completed in October 1987.

In 1995 when Carr’s Landing became a part of the District of Lake Country, the Carr’s Landing Volunteer Fire Department became a part of the Lake Country Fire Department.

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