Glenbow, Lougheed House & Us!

It’s official. We’re everywhere! As most of you know, we’ve partnered with Lougheed House in the exhibit Pomp & Circumstance: Celebrations of the Fire Department Kind – opening in just one week! (It runs from October 26, 2016 to January 29, 2017). Our Museum Assistant Catherine has assumed the role of lead preparator for the project and has done an amazing job!

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Museum Assistant Catherine prepping foam core for the display cases!

We’ve also just been given the keys to our new location in partnership with the Glenbow Museum! THAT’S RIGHT! We’ll be installing a pop-up exhibit in the old Manny’s Cafe! Pop by for a visit starting November 4 and running until the end of April! Stay tuned for progress reports. Rumour has it there will be cake.

We are thrilled to be connected with these two cultural institutions and hope that our partnerships allow us all to make more connections within the community. We’re stronger together!

 

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Museum Board Director & CFD Firefighter Lieutenant Stephen J. measures the space to make sure all his good ideas are going to fit! You’re going to have to come and check it out!

And of course, we’re working on our new space to open in Summer 2017. In the interim, please stop by any of our satellite locations (Lougheed House and Glenbow Museum) to say hello, check out our exhibits – who knows there might even be a firefighter or two hanging around!

#teamawesome

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A view of the creative chaos in our office! How my brain feels sometimes.

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LODD: Lieutenant Harold Smith; May 26, 1971

Forty-five  years ago, on May 26, 1971, CFD Lieutenant Harold Smith answered his last alarm becoming the fifth active Line of Duty Death in the Calgary Fire Department.

Accident: May 26, 1971, approximately 11:15 pm
Location of Fire: Suite #12, 2nd Floor (rear) north end. McTavish Block – 815 Macleod Trail SE

Description of Occurrence: While aggressively attacking a fire in Suite #12, 2nd floor rear of the McTavish Block, Lieut. H.E. Smith indicated he was having difficulties and while attempting to leave the fire area, collapsed. He was removed to the street and given resuscitation. The ambulance in attendance took him to the Calgary General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 24:00.

(as per the preliminary investigation report)

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Newspaper articles regarding CFD LODD Harold Smith; May 1971; Firefighters Museum of Calgary Collection

May 27, 1971

Please be advised that funeral services for Lieutenant Harold E. Smith will be held Saturday, May 29, 1971, 1:30 pm at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 18th avenue and 1st street Sw.

Members are required to assemble at the C.N.R. Station no later than 1:10 pm and will parade to St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Dress will be Uniform Tunic, Light Blue Shirt and Tie weather permitting and Burberries will be worn if weather inclement.

C.A. Harrison, Chief

Calgary Fire Department

(as per CFD memo)

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A Fireman’s Funeral

 

Harold Smith, born in Bigger, Saskatchewan, on June 10th 1920, served with the Calgary Fire Department for almost 26 years. Initially employed following his discharge from the Navy in 1945 until January 1952, Smith returned to the job later that year.

Following his return, Smith gained a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant in April 1969, a reward for his loyalty and hard work. He earned a reputation as a respected and well liked firefighter, and his service to the City of Calgary extended beyond the working realm, displayed by his role in the apprehension of a serial robber in October 1952, who was in the act of stealing a woman’s purse!

On May 26, 1971, B shift at Number 1 Station responded to an alarm at 815 McLeod Trail SE. Upon arrival, they discovered the male resident of the second floor apartment, Alfred S. Brown, unconscious and badly burned.

While a number of firefighters tried to help Brown, Lt. Smith and others tried to put out the burning hot blaze inside the apartment. Lt. Smith fell victim to the heat and smoke, rumoured to have called out ‘Boys, I’m getting dizzy, right before he passed out. His colleagues tried to resuscitate him to no avail.  Lt. Harold Smith died at around midnight, on the way to Calgary General Hospital, while Alfred Brown also died from his injuries in the following days. Smith left behind a wife, and two sons.  Lt. Smith was to start his annual vacation on May 28, 1971.

Arson investigators determined that the accidental ignition of a sofa by a lit cigarette caused the fire. Many changes have taken place in fire prevention over the last 45 years, but tragic events such as the McTavish fire are a reminder of the need for awareness at home, as well as the risks the Fire Department faces when protecting the public. Protective equipment is much better today, compared to 45 years ago, but accidental fires still present a huge threat to the safety of firefighters and the public.

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Letter from CFCN Calgary, May 31, 1971; Firefighters Museum of Calgary Collecton

Musings from the Board- December

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Russell Stratton, President, Firefighters Museum Society, Calgary, 2015

The festivities are often a time when we gather with family and friends and spend time celebrating together. However not everyone will get the opportunity to be with their families over the holidays.

I remember when growing up my late Father would often be working a shift over the holiday period. He would not only miss out on the excitement of Christmas morning, but would often return later that evening to eat his re-heated Christmas dinner, long after everyone else had eaten and had now retired to watch television or play games. I remember him sitting at the table, still in his uniform, eating his dinner whilst other family members passed through the kitchen wishing him a belated Merry Christmas.

So as we come up to the Christmas and New Year holidays please take a moment to spare a thought for the Emergency Services, Hospital Staff, Military Personnel and others who will be away from their families and working to protect the public and save lives this Christmas.

On behalf of the Staff and Directors of the Firefighters Museum of Calgary, I’d like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful holiday season.

Russell Stratton

President

Firefighters Museum Society, Calgary

 

 

There and Back Again

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A local photography studio captured this picture of Calgary firefighters before they went off to fight in the First World War. A handwritten note on the back of the photograph identifies them as Clarence Brooks, Clem Whitbread, Dave McCartney, Fred Carr, Morley Markle, Heck Frazer, Bill Cowan, and George Rosam. Calgary’s Fire Department carefully tracked the names and fates of these men, along with every other firefighter who enlisted to fight or called back to active duty, in this log book:

The logbook shows us that these firefighters enlisted on the same day – March 5, 1916 – which accounts for the group photo. It also indicates when they “Returned to Duty,” meaning the date they resumed their jobs as firefighters after the war.

Every firefighter in the above photograph made it back to Calgary’s Fire Department in 1919. When they enlisted, they did so knowing that they would be able to return to their jobs. Fire Chief James ‘Cappy’ Smart made this policy explicitly clear in a letter from the Chief’s office. Of the sixty-one firefighters listed in the logbook, four were noted to have died in action, and forty-three resumed their duties in Calgary after the war.

Letter from Chief James Smart, circa 1914-1918, Calgary. City of Calgary Archives.