The Kentville Volunteer Fire Department was formed when a group of residents met in Chipman Hall on February 22, 1888 to form the Kentville Volunteer Fire and Protection Company. Active members were required to pay a membership fee of $1.00 on their initiation and $.25 quarterly. Honourary membership fees were $3.00. Members were divided into two companies and took part in bi-weekly practices and a monthly meeting which dealt with applications for membership; resignations; roll call; uniforms; care of equipment; various committees; community events and the annual election of officers. The first known fire vehicle was a two wheel hose reel (now housed in the museum) pulled by manpower. By 1920 fire alarms were called in by phone to a central location. In 1922 the DAR (Dominion Atlantic Railway) asked if their firefighters could join with our department.
The first motorized vehicle for the department was the purchase in 1921 of a Bickle Pumper. It was one of the most up-to-date pieces of equipment in the Maritimes at that time. The Department outfitted their first hockey team in 1923 and completed in hose reel race competitions against Windsor, Truro, Halifax and Yarmouth departments. In 1925 the veteran corps started with five men applying. We also had 55 members and responded to 26 alarms. During the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s we distinguished ourselves from other Canadian departments as a leader in fire prevention activities and received many national awards. In 1935 we purchased a $16,000.00 new “Seagrave Pumper”. This unit is now part of our museum. At this time our equipment included 2 pumpers (one large and one small) and a homemade ladder truck. By the end of this decade the department had four fire trucks. In 1940 an ambulance corps was added to the department. Also in 1940, any member who joined the military for active service (WWII) was granted a leave of absence for the duration of the war and for 6 months thereafter.
In February of 1946 KFD member Frank Meister age 49 was fatally injured while on duty during a fire at a garage and storage building owned by Edward Twoig in New Minas. Following the fire, Meister was loading hose on a fire truck parked on the main highway when a passing car skidded and crashed into the truck, crushing him.
A LaFrance 75 foot aerial ladder was purchased for $27,000.00 in 1946. The department reorganized its companies to include Hose No. 1, Hose No. 2, Hose No. 3, Hook and Ladder. The following year, The Gryo Club donated our first resuscitator (now in museum). During 1949, KFD supplied equipment to the newly formed Nova Scotia Sanatorium Fire Department. In 1950, discussions took place to organize Mutual Aid in the area from Mount Uniacke to Yarmouth under the name The Association of Volunteer Fire Officers and Firemen, which is known today as Western Nova Scotia Firefighters Association. Kentville Fire Chief Bev Wade and the Deputy Fire Marshall were the first coordinators.
MacLean’s Magazine featured an article on the KFD in 1951 (article available in museum). That same year we produced a movie for National Film Board demonstrating staged mock fires, answering alarms and the use of various types of equipment. In 1959, Maritime Tel & Tel decided not to be responsible for answering calls for us and firefighter Walter Whalen and his wife Rose took over the answering of alarms.
In 1954 Lt. Bert Bishop suffered multiple injuries following an accident on the Deep Hollow Road. The pumper failed to negotiate a sharp curve and skidded on an icy patch of snow while travelling to a barn fire in Black River. There were 6 firefighters on the truck but Lt. Bishop was the only one injured. The truck appeared totaled but was towed back to the station. Members repaired the truck and within a short time it was back in service.
The Ladies Auxiliary was formed January 18, 1961. A new 1500 gallon tank truck with 200 GPM pump was purchased in 1963. We incorporated in 1964 and became known as the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department. On October 3, 1967 we moved from the former station at Town Hall into our new station, located on Main St. In 1972 KVFD voted to change the color of their vehicles from red to lime yellow. Studies concluded the new color was the safest choice for fire vehicles. Two years later we purchased two new triple combination pumpers with 840 GPM pumps.
A new paging system was installed in 1975. Scotian Gold suffered a $4 million loss following a February 9, 1981 fire and 1984 saw the arrival of a new $218,000.00 pumper. In 1986 we were involved with a Mutual Aid call to Canning for a major chemical fire at Maple Leaf Building Supplies. 1988 was a busy year as we celebrated the 100 Anniversary of KVFD (see book “A Century of Service” in museum). In 1987 the department answered 218 alarms and fire damage was $100,000.00. KVFD spent 136.5 hours at fire scenes and we purchased our first 2 chemical suits. Expansion for the fire station took place in 2000 and the Grand opening was the following year. Membership was 67 firefighters and we had 243 incidents, building losses were $635,200. We also applied for our first area rate.
The Kings Mutual Insurance Company and the Operating Engineers donated our first Thermal Imaging Camera. 2003 was the year of the big flood, we responded to 77 incidents during the flood week starting March 31. There were 346 incidents logged in during the year and new ladder truck arrived in April. Joint water rescue (Kentville, New Minas and Wolfville) were involved in the 2004 rescue of dolphins in the Cornwallis River. 2005 saw the formation of the Cold Water/Ice Rescue Team with New Minas and Canning. New International Superior Tanker arrived in 2006 at a cost of $325,000.00. This was the year when we ceased the operation of our Bingo’s. In 2008 the department went to a paid Chief and in 2009 purchased a new $500,000.00 rescue vehicle. The following year we purchased a Pierce Pumper for $650,000.00. In 2013 the department reverted back to a Volunteer Chief under new regulation changes. As part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations in 2013 we erected in front of our auditorium, a monument dedicated to our members.