1849 – The Great Fire of Windsor. The community is ill-equipped to handle the situation. Detroit’s fire department crosses the Detroit River to save its little neighbour. Grateful Windsor presents the Detroit fire department with a speaking trumpet as a token of appreciation.
1867 – A major fire roars through downtown Windsor, leaving devastation in its wake. Most of the downtown is lost. Windsorites realize they must organize proper fire protection for their growing community.
Early 1900’s – Three fire departments are in place around the city. Horse-drawn wagons rush fire fighters to burning buildings.
1910 – Windsor purchases an 85-foot aerial. It requires three horses to pull it
1914 – Windsor purchases its first motor pumper
Early 1920’s – Aging equipment is replaced. The fleet is completely motorized. The cabs are open and the fire fighters ride on the runners. There are no windshields. Fire fighters are equipped with rubber boots and a helmet. The men earn respect when they are dragged out of a burning building and vomit on the sidewalk.
The Great Depression – There is no money to update equipment. Windsor’s fire departments make do. Walkerville and Sandwich amalgamate with the City of Windsor, increasing the fire and rescue service’s territory.
1936 – Windsor finds the resources to purchase a much-needed Lafrance aerial.
World War II – With men fighting the war overseas, the fire departments’ ranks are thin.
Late 1940’s – WW II is finally over and the fire departments receive new equipment, at last! The cabs are enclosed and there are now seats for the fire fighters. The trucks are equipped with radios for contact with headquarters. One original machine will prove to be a real work horse. It was still on the road in 2000!
1946 – Chief Clarence Defields retires, after 30 years of service
1950’s – The fire and rescue service’s facilities are modernized and equipment is updated.
1967 – Windsor responds to the call of its much larger neighbour, Detroit, in July. Racial riots spark fear and fires, as rioters torch vehicles and buildings all over the city. Detroit thanks Windsor for its timely aid. Windsor is proud to repay the favour, more than 100 years later.
1970’s – Old fire alarm boxes located on Windsor street corners are removed. Public education teaches people to dial 911 for emergency service.
1971 – Fire fighter Bondy falls from a ladder while extinguishing a fire downtown Windsor. Bondy’s death is the last on-the-job fatality for the department
1974 – Chief Harold Coxon sparks a city wide debate when he decides to change the colour of his fire engines from traditional red to lime green-yellow. The brilliant shade was said to increase visibility, and ultimately, the safety of the fire fighters. Engine No. 6 was the first to undergo a new paint job. All new equipment was ordered in lime green-yellow.
1983 – New fire engines sport four-door cabs and seats inside for the fire fighters.
1990’s – Old equipment is replaced with diesel powered machines. Windsor Fire & Rescue Service undergoes its most significant change since the 1920’s, when new Sutphen towers are purchased.
New training methods are implemented so fire fighters will know how to combat chemicals, gases and other hazardous materials found in commercial buildings.
1994 – New warning light technology and reflective side tapes enhance the visibility of fire engines. Windsor rejoices as its lime green-yellow fire and rescue vehicles are repainted in fire engine red.
1999 – The Holiday Inn, situated on downtown Windsor’s waterfront, is aflame. The Detroit fire department’s water boat arrives to help fight the fire.
Major blasts from the past:
1953 – Paint company fire
1959 – Labelle fire
1960 – Metropolitan Store explosion
1961 – Fraser Lumber fire
19?? – Edna Street fire
1985 – Walker Road fire