Fire was a feared enemy in pioneer settlements. As most buildings were made of wood, the threat of fire was always present. Morden’s earliest fire protection was the bucket brigade whichever citizens were available to assist in battling the flames. At some point, the community established a volunteer fire brigade equipped with a horse drawn chemical engine. In 1897, the Village council agreed to pay a bonus of $5.00 to the first man that got his team hitched to the chemical engine after the fire alarm was given.
In 1904, a special Council meeting was held to arrange for a the purchase of a No. 7 Waterous Gasoline fire engine at a price of $2,700 which included 500 feet of 2 1/2 inch Arrow fire hose. The price was to be paid in five equal installments over five years with six percent interest.
As the community grew, the need for a more permanent fire fighting arrangement became apparent. An organizational meeting for a new fire brigade was held February, 1905. This marked the beginning of a continuous, organized fire service in the community. The Morden Fire Service celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2005.
A major problem facing prairie communities was lack of water and the means of getting available water to a fire. To address this issue, wells with reservoirs were constructed at strategic points throughout the community. A pump drew water from the reservoir to the fire, but often the reservoir ran dry.
A case in point was a fire at the Morden Creamery, which was located on Thornhill and 5th Street. A pumper was set up at a reservoir at North Railway and 8th Streets, almost a half mile from the creamery site. The brigade had the fire under control when the reservoir gave out. By the time that length of hose was moved and the pumper was setup at another reservoir, even farther away, the fire got away and totally destroyed the Creamery.
Morden was one of the first rural Manitoba towns to install its own water and sewage system in the 1950’s – initially for a small area in the town centre. The reliable water supply went a long way to ridding the town and firefighters of the curse of a lack of water.
The town’s first Firehall was located on Stephen Street, three doors east of the old Post Office. Fire crews responded to a bell (changed to an electric siren in 1928) mounted in the hall’s tower. Many of the men who volunteered for the fire crew had day jobs along Stephen Street, since they could hear the bell and respond quickly. The first Fire Hall, which also had space for the Constable, was in use until the late 1930’s. It was replaced by another building on the same site.
In 1964, a combine Firehall and Police Station was built on the southwest corner of Stephen and Nelson Streets. In 1982, the fire and police services moved to the new Civic Centre at 195 Stephen Street. In 2007, the thirty member volunteer fire department moved to its own location on Thornhill Street. The vacancy at the Civic Centre enable the police service to expand its space.
The bottom photograph is of the fifth fire hall. This is the firehall that is used today in Morden.