The Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue Department exists to provide fire, medical and other life safety services to those who reside, work, or travel through the Cowichan Bay Improvement District, which borders the City of Duncan, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, Canada.
The Department currently operates under the authority of the Cowichan Bay Improvement District. Our fire protection area covers 65 square miles (170 km2) with an area population of well over to 10,000. Cowichan Bay Fire and Rescue responds to an average of 194 calls per year. Figures compiled in 1983 show the make-up of properties within the area to be as follows:
2058 parcels of land for assessment, 1550 of these were listed for residential purposes, 320 were listed for commercial use, 200 were listed as other types for miscellaneous use.
Some of the populated subdivisions have organized their own local Water Districts and have installed over 80 hydrants and standpipes to assist with fire protection of these areas.
Currently all 911 calls are routed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) 911 center in Nanaimo where the call is screened then forwarded to FireCom in Nanaimo who will then activate Cowichan Bays alert pagers through a special tone alert paging system, calls for service range from, what some might consider a minor emergency, to significant events that threaten lives and property.
The Cowichan Bay Fire Department (as it was known then) was started in 1947 with an old ARP (Air Raid Protection) unit pump and some lengths of 1½" hose and was stationed in a local gas station at Cowichan Bay and Wilmont road, the departments first piece of apparatus was a 3 ton Dodge truck purchased from Shell Oil inc. Converted into the department's first tanker, it carried a 500 gallon water tank and a McCulloch fire pump. The departments first pumper truck was a 1938 Bickles Seagrave purchased from the Oak Bay Fire Department for $2500, the truck was equipped with a 200 gallon tank and a 625 gpm pump and carried 300 feet (91 m) of 2½-inch hose and 1,000 feet (300 m) of two-inch hose.
In 1963 the members of the Fire Department realized that they needed a permanent facility, thus they created the Cowichan Bay District Fire Society and started to fund raise for a new facility to house the growing department. On Saturday, March 13, 1963, the Cowichan Bay Fire Hall was officially opened by Mrs. Myrna Ricketts who was the president of the Cowichan Bay Ladies Auxiliary. This new hall only 50 by 30 feet (9.1 m) was placed at the corner of Wilmont and Prichard Roads which gave a four-way access to anywhere in the protection district.
In 1967 Cowichan Bay finally replaced its outdated Bickles Seagrave and replaced it with a 1968 Ford Pumper to be designated Truck 41. This new truck was superior to any other piece of equipment the department had in operation since 1947.
1976 brought the department more equipment as it received a brand new 1500 Gallon 1976 Ford cab-over tanker truck to be designated Truck 42, this truck was equipped with a Briggs & Stratton portable pump, two 1000 gallon drop tanks, and two 2-inch (51 mm) hard suction hoses. Truck 42 is still in service today but with a new 1300 gallon tank.
By the 1970s, the Fire Department realized that it needed a new hall with a new truck arriving soon the department would not have room for its four pieces of apparatus and the departments response area had grown by seven times its original size and covered over 64 square miles (170 km2), thus they started a new campaign for a new hall and in 1979 the New Cowichan Bay Fire Hall was officially opened. The new hall, which was strategically placed on the Trans-Canada-Hwy and Wilmont road in the center of the response area and is still in use today. Along with the new hall came a 1977 International Hub Fire Engine designated Truck 44, this truck is now in use by the Nitnat Fire Department.
In the mid 1990s, Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue began participation in the EMA First Responder Level 3 program. The purpose of the program is to provide immediate professional emergency medical care to the public prior to the arrival of the ambulance.
The hall currently houses the departments eight pieces of apparatus in a six-bay fire hall and two-bay satellite hall directly behind the hall. The current hall also has many more facility's than the old station such as Chief offices, Equipment Officer's area, radio room, equipment storage, training rooms, lounge with TV, various games, banquet hall and a full service kitchen.