The Village of Norwich has had a fire department for over 120 years now. It all began in April of 1876 when a public meeting was held in Brady's Hall for the purpose of forming a fire company. Gilbert Moore was reeve at that time.
Before the Fire Company was formed, when a fire occurred, a pail brigade would form to carry water to extinguish the blaze. It was very disorganized since there was no leader for the group.
Thirty-four people volunteered to join the Fire Company at the public meeting. Officers were also appointed. Seneca Pitcher became the Fire Chief, F. Adams became Captain, Byron Addison became the First Lieutenant, J.C. Falls became the Second Lieutenant, and T. Switzer became the Engineer.
Some other well known names in Norwich were on that first roll, including: A.R. Bradley, H.S. Moore, William Walker, W.H. Miller, George Poldon, and Sam Strode.
At a later period, five or six water tanks were built to hold water. One of these tanks was still in use in 1960. Later in 1876, the council bought a wagon for the company to use for carrying equipment. A fire station was built in 1894 at a cost of $5000.00. It was located on Pitcher Street in Norwich. It was destroyed later in a fire. The fire hall was later relocated to John Street in Norwich.
Several people served as Fire Chief between this time and 1941. Frank Searls served as Chief for a number of years until 1941. During his time as Chief, a new 1938 Chevrolet Pumper truck was bought (see picture above). The truck was taken out of service in 1982 when it was sold to a private party. The truck was later bought by the Norwich Firefighters. The truck is used mainly for parades and special events although it is in perfect running order and could be used to fight a fire at any time if the need were to arise.
| Norwich Fire Chiefs Throughout Time |
In 1971, the fire hall was relocated to 83 Main Street West in Norwich. It consists of two large truck bays, and a training room. In 1978, the grid system was introduced for locating calls faster than the old alphanumeric method.
Up until 1982, a system of a siren and a few telephones were used to receive emergency calls. A person with an emergency would call the fire number. The telephones were placed in a few of the firefighters' homes. The firefighter, or the firefighter's spouse would answer the phone, take the information, then sound the alarm (the siren that is located at the fire hall) until a firefighter answered the telephone at the fire hall. In 1982, a pager system was introduced. People would phone a number in Woodstock, and a message was sent over the pager system repeatedly until the firefighters responded from the trucks. This system is still in use today. A replica of the tone that is used to page the firefighters is available here.
In 1996, the 9-1-1 system was introduced to Oxford County. Instead of having separate phone numbers for Fire, Police, and Ambulance, there is now only one number. Remember that you can call 9-1-1.
The Norwich Firefighters recently acquired two new fire engines. The trucks are built on a 2000 GMC Top Kick Chassis with a 330 horse power diesel engine and a 1050 gallons per minute Waterous pump. Pump 1 is a Rescue Pumper with a 600 gallon tank. Pump 2 is a Pumper/Tanker with a 1000 gallon tank.
|The First Norwich Fire Hall Fire||?|
|Norwich Post Office Fire||November, 1978|
|Scott's Big V Drug Store Fire||1979|
|Donna's Fine Dining Restaurant Fire||January, 1989|
|Norwich CO-OP Fire||December, 1989|
|Tillsonburg Town Fire||December, 1992|
|Norwich Vending Service Building Fire||July, 1995|
|Norwich Downtown Fire||June 12, 1997|
|Norwich Tornado 1998||June 2, 1998|
This site created by Dan Tapley