The new Number 1 fire hall in Squamish is operational and to mark the official opening the fire hall was re-confirmed as a memorial to Alexander H. Munro, Sr. Munro was the founder of the Squamish Fire Department and the first Fire Chief in the community. To celebrate the occasion, members of Munro's extended family were on hand and participated in the ceremony. Some of the family members travelled from Victoria to attend.
The family members were part of a in a push-in ceremony with retired fire fighters, current fire fighters and members of Squamish Council.
It's a tradition amongst fire fighters to mark the opening of a new fire hall by pushing the apparatus (fire fighting vehicles) into the fire hall bays in memory of the days when horses pulled the fire fighting equipment. When the horse-drawn era fire fighters returned to their fire hall they unhitched the horses then used people power to back the equipment into the fire hall. The traditional push-in ceremony at the Alex Munro fire hall included Dan Munro and Julie DesJardins, grandson and daughter of Alex Munro. Members of Dan and Julie's family also helped push trucks along with members of the Halverson and Knox families. In total, more than a dozen relatives of Alex Munro took part in the festivities with many more participating in spirit all over British Columbia.
"It was wonderful to have my mom there and Dan Munro and family came over from the Island," wrote Janice DesJardins, grand daughter of Alex Munro, after the event. "Mom hadn’t seen Dan for many years. They grew up together in Garibaldi Park, and Alpine Lodge with Alex Munro’s pack horses in the park. Magical days that don’t exist anymore. They cut the cake together and it was a special few hours."
Mayor Karen Elliott introduced Roxy Williams to open the event with a Squamish Nation song. Fire Chief Bill Stoner noted that a large team of people came together to build the new facility. Chief Stoner also said the new fire hall will improve response times to Valleycliffe and Downtown Squamish.
The middle photo above features Julie DesJardins (in the wheelchair) saying hello to Councillor Eric Andersen.
The new fire hall is a post-disaster facility located above the flood plain with the potential to operate for seven days if power from BC Hydro to the building is lost.
This event was particularly special for me as my father, Chris French, was a fire fighter for 30 years. He retired as the Volunteer Deputy Fire Chief more than a decade ago. A few of the current fire fighters, including Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Foote, served with my father while he was a member of the department. The fire truck pictured was in service when my father started volunteering with Squamish Fire Rescue in the early 1970s.
Daniel Scott (pictured at right) is the son of Janice DesJardins. He attended to honour the memory of his great grandfather. The extended family members at the event included great great grandchildren of Alex Munro.
The new firehall is located just off Highway 99 at the entrance to Valleycliffe at a site many long-time residents will remember as the former curling rink location. Ironically, the wooden building that contained the curling rink burned down in the early 1980s.