New Toronto Fire Department
The following article is reprinted with permission from Toronto Fire Watch, Issue #2, December 2005 by Toronto Fire Fighter JON LASIUK
Fire Station 435 ©
[Information in square parentheses added from the booklet “Town of New Toronto: A Souvenir” September 1951 unless otherwise noted]
“Very few Toronto fire halls have had the honour of serving three separate fire departments during their history. Station 435, located at 130 8th Street in the community of New Toronto, is just such a hall. Built in 1929, the building originally housed both the New Toronto municipal offices and the volunteer fire department quarters when they were relocated there from an old barn on 7th Street, south of Lakeshore Road. The NTFD was responsible for all calls between Dwight Avenue and 23rd Street, south of the railway tracks.
As the town grew in the 1920’s, the need for paid professional fire fighters increased. The first two paid members of the New Toronto Fire Department reported for work in 1930. With the help of the volunteers, they staffed a 1917 Buick McLaughlin pumper [purchased in 1918] and a city-service ladder truck. These were the first two paid fire fighters hired in the Etobicoke area. [In 1930, a 600 gallon per minute pumper was added to the equipment]. Along with two additional men hired in 1937, they were kept busy handling almost 200 calls per year, many involving hazardous chemicals used at the numerous heavy industries that kept New Toronto bustling.
[The equipment was augmented in October 1942 by a Sparton Triple Combination Pumping Engine, followed three years later by an emergency truck equipped with first aid and life-saving gear and salvage tools]. The Second World War kept local industries busy and, in 1945, new Toronto purchased the very first aerial in Etobicoke. A 1945 American LaFrance, it featured one of the very first steel aerials in Metropolitan Toronto – a fact that the new Toronto Fire fighters were justifiably proud of. Around this time, the New Toronto station was expanded with two additional bays. It remains today as one of the few four-bay fire halls in West Command, and encompasses a design not found anywhere else in Canada.
By the 1950’s the department had expanded to 26 paid men, with a crew of 6 on duty at any one time. The NTFD kept a very good mutual aid relationship with the other two Lakeshore communities, Long Branch and Mimico, along with the Township of Etobicoke to the north. The department switchboard was staffed in what is now the floorwatch, with fire calls received on the old CL-1-2121 phone number. Perhaps on of the busiest nights on record was in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel blew into town. Numerous persons were rescued along the Lakeshore that night, including several that had been swept into the Etobicoke Creek. [In Betty Kennedy’s book, Hurricane Hazel, Bryan Mitchell, a volunteer fireman for the Royal York station, comments about suggesting a call to the New Toronto Fire brigade for a rescue operation because they had an aerial ladder. Unfortunately, according to his recount in the book, the brigade “had already been called, and their aerial ladder was now buried in a hole in a collapsed section of the road.”]
The 1960’s brought great change to the 8th Street fire hall. In 1965, the NTFD disbanded their volunteer fire fighters. They were some of the last volunteers in Metropolitan Toronto, and had served since at least 1915. By then, as well, the push for the annexation of the smaller Metro communities was gathering strength. On January 1st, 1967, the New Toronto fire hall was folded into the Etobicoke Fire Department, becoming Hall #9. The Long Branch and Mimico fire halls closed on the same day, with those crews transferring to 8th Street to staff a third truck for the next few years.
The May 1989 restructuring of the EFD saw the relocation of Aerial 9 to Station 12 on the East Mall. At the same time, Rescue 1 was moved to 8th Street from Royal York hall. This move allowed for the commissioning of a third rescue truck in the City of Etobicoke. The EFD thus became the first Metro department to operate three heavy rescues. Another first seen at 8th Street in the 80’s was the introduction of one of the first rear-engined pumpers in Canada. The new Pumper 9 also incorporated one of the first ever 4-door cabs which was designed to increase crew safety.
The TFS amalgamation of 1998 brought even more change to the old 8th Street. Renumbered Station 435, the heavy squad was disbanded to reorganize an aerial at Station 433. Rescue tools were moved to a new rescue-pumper. Throughout all this, as their new patch says, the “Lone Wolf” remains “On Shore Patrol”, protecting the South-West corner of Toronto.”
Below is a picture of a pumper in front of the Fire Hall on Eighth Street from April 1955. The pumper in the picture is a 1954 LaFrance Foamite Fire Engine Model 710PJO. It was not called American LaFrance because it was built in Canada at LaFrance Foamite Truck at 195 Old Weston Road, although the chassis was imported from American LaFrance in Elmira, New York. The pumper was delivered to the New Toronto Fire Department on December 31, 1954. The truck could pump 850 gallons per minute. It became Pumper #9 when the NTFD amalgamated with Etobicoke Fire Department. The truck was recently scheduled for the auto wreckers, but Paul MacDonald, Fire Chief, Essa Township, recently purchased the truck and intends to restore it. On the right is a picture of the truck today. (if anyone has any further information on what happened to the truck after it went to Etobicoke, please e-mail our secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Below is a picture of the Fire Hall in October 2003.