The Enfield Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) was formed in the late summer of 1957 and is one of the oldest departments in the area. The founding members were: Harold Ledwidge, Lou Parker, Floyd Logan, Jim Horne, Warren Gilby, Austin Adams, Jack Thompson, Joe Ledwidge, Murray Clarke, Alex McKeen, and Laurie Ledwidge. Lou Parker was the first Enfield Fire Chief.
Several of these dedicated men purchased the first fire truck in August 1957, by signing a bank note for $1500. It was an Air Force surplus 1941 International 5 ton open cab fire truck. To go with the truck, a portable pump and some hoses were obtained from the N.S. Department of Lands and Forests. With no building to house it in, the truck was parked in Laurie Ledwidge's yard for the first year but as winter was coming on, freezing temperatures did not allow water to be left in the truck. In the event of a fire, the firemen had to get the truck, fill it with water, and finally respond to a fire. Being all wet after a fire, the men became blocks of ice while returning to the hall in the open truck. Meanwhile, a request was made to the Roman Catholic Church regarding the use of a piece of church property to build a fire hall on. Permission was soon received from the Archbishop and the Department was given a five year lease. This was later renewed for a fifty year period and subsequently for another twenty five years in 2015.
The first "fire hall" was a humble 16' X 36' structure, which had room for one truck and an oil stove. During the winters of the first few years, the firemen took turns visiting the hall nightly to check the oil stove to insure that the water in the truck did not freeze. They also made sure that the driveway was cleared, and that all was ready for an emergency call. Acting as an unofficial auxiliary, the ladies of the local branch of the W.I.N.S. supported the Department by making lunches and working at fund raisers. The loan on the first truck was paid back by the Department holding ticket sales, dances, and levees in the local Legion Hall.
In June 1963, the construction of a new building was started. It consisted of what is now the front 45-foot portion of the current hall and included a sixteen-thousand gallon cistern under the back section, which was filled by capturing rain water from the roof. Money for the new construction was partly raised by gathering up and crushing old cars.The old building was donated to the community for recreational use, and moved to the Legion property. With no use being made of it, the old building was purchased by Albert and Anna MacDonnell of Enfield and was used for a while as a garage on their property.
The next truck purchased was a 1952 Ford 700 Pumper/Tanker and remained in use with the Fire Department until its sale in 1985. To finance the increasing assets of the Department, in May 1964, Chief Parker came up with the idea of holding a weekly bingo. He was so eager to support the program, that Parker Brothers Store provided the funds to get started. The Department held its first bingo game on May 4, 1964 and has been going continually ever since. At first, the games were held at the church hall until it burned down and had to continue for a short while at the Legion. Over the years the bingos have enabled the Fire Department to steadily upgrade and increase its inventory of equipment, while providing a source of enjoyment for many in the community.
Upon Lou Parker's retirement in 1968, Frank Horne became Fire Chief. Under his watch, a 1963 Ford F750 chassis was purchased and fitted with a 1000 gal tank to provide a badly needed taker. At a later date, a trailer mounted pump was purchased from Crown Assets, which was then removed from the trailer and mounted on the F750 to turn it into a pumper/tanker. In 1969 the Department bought its first new truck for about $12K. It was a 1969 Ford F600 Pumper/Tanker with an 840 GPM pump and a 500 gallon tank. Designated as Truck #1, it remains to this day as a restored "Parade" vehicle.
Water and sewer were hooked up to the building in the early 70s but it soon became necessary to look at expanding the hall. To facilitate this, additional land was requested from parish council and in 1974 Chief Horne layed a corner stone in memory of Lou Parker. Largely with the help of friends, the apparatus bay was extended to its current lenght and the "community hall" section was added. About this time the Department had its first female member by the name of Fay (last name forgotten). The reins of the Department were handed over in 1975 to the Postmaster, Ernie Blois as the new Fire Chief. Another significant event in the 70s included the acquisition of a "quick response" vehicle. This was a 1-1/2 ton '76 Dodge that carried 250 gallons of water and had a dominant hose reel on top. It also had other emergency equipment suitable for a quick response to small fires or motor vehicle accidents. Fire-phones were in use at this time that required each person to call a number of others. Since many members worked at the Enfield Hardware store (now Home Hardware), it would close so they could respond to the fire. Eventually, improvements to communications were made possible with the purchase of three mobile radios.
The early eighties saw the purchase of the "Twins", which were two GMC Pumper/Tankers with 840 gpm pumps and carrying 1000 gallon of water. These were identical except that one truck had a place for carrying a Port-a-Tank. A 15-passenger Econoline van was also acquired to transport the firemen to fire sites or such but this did not last very long. The first annual Dinner/Dance was held in '85 and more renovations took place. The second floor was added above the apparatus bays, which took care of the frequent roof leaks. Also added was the radio room along with the stairwell leading upstairs.
Other events of the 80s included the joining of District 14 Mutual Aid Association and the undertaking of financial support for Multiple Sclerosis and the Nova Scotia Burn Treatment Society. With many members working away from the area during the day, Bordie Oakley was hired as a daytime attendant for the Hall. A notable event for the Department in '87 was a response to a helicopter crash near the airport. Also in '87, Ernie Blois resigned as Chief and moved to Ottawa, resulting in Terry Jones being called upon to become Fire Chief. As a fitting tribute to a founding member, Herald Ledwidge, the #3 was retired and a display case for his gear was built some years later.
By the '90s, the Department was responding to medical emergencies and motor vehicle accidents in its custom built heavy rescue vehicle. A Lifepac 300 defibrilator was purchased to aid this effort as the number of emergency calls were now approaching 140 for the year. Speaking of medical emergencies, Bordie Oakley was injured in '92 and this necessitated that Cecil Dixon fill in during Bordie's convalescence. However, by the time Bordie returned the Department decided that it would be good to have two firefighters available for daytime responses and so Cecil was kept on. In the early 90s, a very worthwhile undertaking in colaboration with the Enfield elementary schools, was the launching of the Learn Not To Burn program that has been crdited with saving many childrens' lives in other jurisdictions. At about this time the Department adopted the wearing of Dress Uniforms for special occasions.
Further into the '90s saw the implementation of the 911 and paging systems along with an early draft of Standing Operating Procedures. In 1994, Terry Jones did not re-offer and Cecil Dixon was elected as the new Fire Chief. Major equipment procurements included the switch to Draeger SCBAs and the purchase of a 1983 Thibault 100 ft. Aerial truck. The Department was registered as a not-for-profit society and work began to produce new Bylaws. Emile Boudreau became Fire Chief in 1995 but by late in the year, Terry Jones had returned as Chief on a temporary basis.
New Bylaws were put into effect in 1996, which saw a major change in the Department governance. A five-member Executive was henceforth elected using a preferential ballot method and now included the new Executive position of President. Also, the Deputy Chief was given the responsibility for overseeing the Department's training program. The position of President was filled by Ernie Blois, who has returned to the area, and the new Fire Chief was Francis Ledwidge. The Fire Officers were now appointed by the elected Executive and were to serve as the Operations Committee along with the Chief and Deputy Chief. These changes were designed to eliminate popularity as a basis for becoming an officer and allow for command positions to be more merit based. As for major purchases in 1996, the Department bought an IHC Crew-cab "Budget Buster" fire engine.
By the end of the decade, the Department had developed good vehicle extrication skills and some members were starting to get involved in competitive events throughout North America. Cecil Dixon became Atlantic Canada's representative for Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee (TERC). The Department hosted an Extrication Competition in 2000 in Enfield, which was attended by a dozen Fire Departments from as far away as Texas. Also in 2000, the adjacent Horne property was purchased to provide a much needed parking area for the many events that take place at the Hall. Another purchase during this time was a 1999 IHC Superior 50 ft. Aerial truck with the previous aerial and an older engine being traded in on the deal.
Continuing into the next decade, the Extrication Team participated in the Burlington Ontario event in 2001 and in the Amherst NS event in 2002. Other significant events include the paving of the parking lot and Hurricane Juan ripping the roof off the community hall side in 2003. In 2004, Reg Sweeney was elected President with Francis continuing as Chief. The number of calls annually was now in the range of 175 or so. Some major equipment purchases included a Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC), a new furnace for the hall, and re-shingling the roof. New SCBA sets were required and the bay door had to be replaced. Prompted by Hurricane Juan, a back-up generator system was installed. Finally for 2006, the Department received its new Heavy Rescue that was built by Lantz Truck Body Ltd. of Port William, N.S.
In 2007, John Csutorka became President after Reg did not re-offer due to ill health, to which he succumbed later in the year. In memory of Reg and any other members that may pass away in the future, a Memorial Fund was set up with a bursary being awarded to deserving graduates of the two local High Schools attended by residents of the area served by the Department.
A major expense in 2007 was the renovations to the Hall exterior. Bordie Oakley was recognized by the Province for his 50 years of service to the community and in 2009, John Mettam assumed the Presidency. The community hall was fitted with an air conditioning system and station-wear was adopted as the uniform of the day. To further enhance the reputation of the Department, the Extrication Team performed well at the Atlantic Auto Ex Challenge. The decade ended on a sour note with Wilbert (Junior) Dearman's passing away.
In 2010, it was again necessary to look at the Hall heating system that resulted in the installation of a new efficient propane system. The Extrication Team continued their conquests in Burlington, Myrtle Beach, and Ottawa. They received a letter of commendation from the Halton Ontario EMS regarding the assistance provided them by Enfield members Fraser and Nicholson. Due to the restricted access to some of the homes in the serviced area, it became necessary to consider a smaller truck. A 1-1/2 ton Dodge crew cab was purchased, seating five and carrying 400 gallons of water with forestry equipment and pumps. This unit was to also serve as the prime response vehicle for after-hours medical calls. With the heavy traffic on the ramp in front of the Hall, a decision was made in 2012 to re-surface the ramp with concrete. Inside the Hall, the personal gear lockers were updated to a Ready Rack system while a new electronic sign was purchased for outside.
Terry MacAlloney became Fire Chief in 2013 with Francis Ledwidge becoming President. The new cab-over Spartan fire engine that was approved the previous year was put in service. In 2014, major upgrades were carried out to the breathing air compressor system in order to allow filling of 4500 psi SCBA air cylinders. Technological upgrades included switching to a Trunked Mobile Radio (TMR) system and the implementation of "I Am Responding" computer program for tracking of member availability, call paging, and response monitoring.
In 2016, Pat MacNamara became President while Terry remained as Chief. Continuing the practice of replacing a major piece of equipment every five years or so, a new 100 foot platform truck has been ordered in 2017, with delivery in early 2018. This made it necessary to again modify the bay doors to facilitate a larger vehicle. All this was considered a necessity as numerous four-storey apartment buildings have appeared in the area while the nearest similar apparatus is at least an hour away. The whole East Hants Mutual Aid group will be well served by this latest EVFD acquisition for the area.
Some notable fires over the years include Ledwidge Lumber and the IGA store with eight apartments upstairs that used to be across from the fire hall. There was also the Enfield Legion, the Endale Funeral Home that used to be where Curly Portable's is today. Ironically, Curly's also burned down as did the church hall. This is to say nothing of the dozens of house fires, chimney fires, brush fires, and hundreds of motor vehicle accidents, and medical calls over the years. With annual calls now well over 300, the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department continues to proudly serve the community of Enfield and the surrounding area and always welcomes new members and visitors.
...to be continued