On July 1, 1935 the City of Windsor annexed the neighboring towns of Walkerville, Sandwich and East Windsor. This historic amalgamation drastically altered the size and composition of the Windsor Fire Department which immediately absorbed the men, apparatus and fire stations of the three smaller departments.
Prior to annexation Windsor had three fire stations. Station No. 1 was a single-story, single-bay engine house at 199 Wellington Ave, just north of Wyandotte St. W. This station was closed and demolished in 1961. Fire Station No. 2, at 254 Pitt St. E. across the street from the Windsor City Market was opened in 1928 and served as Windsor Fire Department Headquarters until it was closed in 1970 when the new headquarters station was opened on Goyeau St. Station 3, also a single-story, single-bay engine house, was at 740 Langlois Ave.
The two Walkerville fire stations and the former Sandwich Fire Hall became Windsor halls. The East Windsor station on Drouillard Road near Riverside Dr. E. was closed. Walkerville’s former Station 1 on Huron St. (now Richmond St.) at Walker Road became Windsor’s new Station 2. Walkerville Station #2, on Turner Rd. at Tecumseh Rd. E. became the W.F.D.’s Station 3. The former Sandwich at fire hall at 217 Mill St. was renumbered Station 6. Windsor’s former Station 3 on Langlois Ave. was renumbered Station 4 and the former Station 1 on Wellington St. was renumbered Station 5. The W.F.D. headquarters station on Pitt St. E., formerly Station 2, was redesignated Station 1.
In 1934, the year prior to annexation, the Windsor Fire Department had four motor pumpers, one city service hook and ladder truck, one tractor-drawn 85’ aerial ladder truck, a rescue squad truck and a salvage truck. Following the 1935 restructuring, the W.F.D. fleet virtually doubled in size, with a total of eight pumpers, three city service ladder trucks, two aerial ladder trucks, a rescue and a salvage truck.
The former Walkerville apparatus included two pumpers – a 1927 Gotfredson-Bickle and 1929 Bickle and a 1913 W.E. Seagrave aerial drawn by a 1927 Gotfredson tractor. The former East Windsor (Ford City) rigs included a 1922 American-LaFrance pumper and a 1924 LaFrance service ladder truck. These units were relocated to various Windsor stations. The former Sandwich rigs, a 1930 Bickle pumper and 1927 Gotfredson-Bickle service ladder truck, remained at the former Sandwich Fire Hall on Mill St. for the rest of their careers.
Just one vestige of this historic amalgamation remains to this day – the W.F.D.s 1959 Elcombe parade rig. Built for Walkerville in 1927, the Gotfredson-Bickle pumper was rebuilt by Elcombe Engineering in 1958-59 and remained on the W.F.D. apparatus roster as a spare pumper until 1977. It was refurbished in the W.F.D. shops in the early 1980s and is used as a parade unit today. On several occasions – including the funeral of former Chief of Apparatus Mike Koehl in 1990 – it has been used as a funeral caisson for deceased fire department members.
Written By: Walt McCall