The development of the Hanna Fire Brigade was closely linked with the Board of Trade and the Village Council.
There were few roads and great tracts of unbroken prairie, so the serious fires could get out of hand very easily and go for many miles, causing heart breaking disaster to those in their path. Many tragedies were caused by the careless disposal of ashes.
A meeting of the Board of Trade on December 20, 1912, was called to organize a Fire Department. Murdo McLeod was chosen Fire Chief and Jack Odell as secretary.
Suggestions were made for equipment and procedure. In the mean time, a fire bell was donated by A.A. Woodle and would have to be mounted on a tower. Till further development, fire fighting would be done on a voluntary basis with the citizens running to the hardware to get pails and then forming a bucket brigade. Water would be obtained from the nearest well, likely behind the Dominion Restaurant.
The first fire to threaten Hanna was noticed by Fire Ranger Trenaman about 6:30 p.m. December 29, 1912. The fire was then about six miles south of Hanna. The men of the town and many from the railway gangs loaded into wagons and met the scene of the fire about four miles south. The wind was terrific and flames in the grass were leaping six feet in the air.
By superhuman efforts and a series of back fires being established the main fire was trapper in a triangular area where it burned itself out. The backfires protected to town and a number of farm homes and barns in the path of the fire.
Notice was immediately put in the Hanna Herald by the Board of Trade that prosecution would follow any careless distribution of ashes.
The first fire in town was a barn owned by the Crown Lumber Co. On January 23, 1913 the volunteer fire brigade under M.S. McLeod was called to fight it. Water was obtained from the Dominion Restaurant well.
January 30, 1913. Hanna purchased their first Fire Hall. It was a building moved from behind Jell, Bury and Halladay to 2nd Ave. near Brink and Jarrell's. Also C.O. Overton was instructed, by council, to keep a tank filled with water for fire fighting.
The first fire, after the bell donated by Mr. Woodle had been mounted on a tower, was discovered in waste paper behind the Herald Building. This was on March 13, 1913.
On January 3, 1914 a new fire engine was obtained from the Brandon Fire Engine Co. Angus Campbell became the janitor at the Fire Hall.
Regulations came in concerning brick chimneys and discouraging the use of roof jacks. No tents were allowed south of third avenue. No loose hay was to remain anywhere in the village, but must be housed in a shed. All ashes must be in cans. The scavenger would remove them once a week.
They soon found the tank for the fire engine was useless and wrote the company for a man to come to check it. Inflammable materials in the theater and other buildings were ordered removed. The last part of January 1914 Robert S. Bickel and Co. of Winnipeg offered to send a man to asses the needs of the town for fire fighting equipment and to make suggestions to the town on a plan for fire protection.
On January 22, 1914, J.G. Odell and the secretary of the town were instructed to purchase a 30 inch fire bell as soon as possible. This was done by J.G. Odell supplying it at the wholesale price of fifty-two dollars. Then a derrick was built for the fire bell. It weighed 570 pounds. Years later when a siren came into use the Anglican Church obtained the bell.
On February 5, 1914, the council passed a motion that the first team to the Fire Hall at the time of a fire would receive ten dollars. Each succeeding load of water would be paid for at the rate of five dollars per load.
Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald