Hand-Drawn Apparatus

DFFHS has in possession 3 (three) hand-drawn fire apparatus: 2 hose reels and the first fire apparatus built for the City of Duncan, a ladder wagon


1902 Ladder Wagon
1902 Ladder Wagon, pictured here at Centennial Square in Victoria in 2008, its first trip outside city limits
Builder Dobson & Grassie, local blacksmiths at Duncan, British Columbia
Equipment 16' Ladder, up to 6 fire buckets, axes, lanterns
In Service From 1902-1920s

This ladder wagon was constructed in a call to form a fire department in the growing settlement of what was then called "Alderlea", it is arguably one of the most simplistic ways to get ladders to a scene by using human power. A typical compliment would consist of 2 men up front to steer the wagon using the long handle attached to the front wheels, two men on the back to act as the "brakes", and any other personnel would assist in firefighting efforts once on scene at a fire.

The ladder wagon is one of the oldest artifacts in the City of Duncan, still in original condition to this day.


1902 Hose Reels
One of the hose reels in DFFHS possession, pictured here at Centennial Square in Victoria in 2008.
Builder Dobson & Grassie or LaFrance-Foamite
Equipment various feet of hose, "Underwriters" playpipe nozzles, rope, axes
In Service From 1902-1920s

The hose reel pictured above is an LaFrance-Foamite hose reel, one of a typical construction from the early 1900s. DFFHS owns two hose reels, the other (and smaller type) is an original Duncan construction. There were a total of at least 5 reels used by the department, 1 was a Chemical reel.

Typical hose reels would consist of 2 to 3 men pulling the reel to a fire scene, once they arrived, one must unwind the reel in order to hook up the now-unwound hose to a fire hydrant, the member at the fire hydrant would then use a hydrant wrench in order to start the flow of water to the men at the ready with the nozzle aimed at whatever was on fire.

It took at least 15 years to realise that getting additional hose to fire scenes was taxing the strength of firemen running (with hose reel in tow) to catch up with the recent motorized purchases of Duncan VFD; therefore they devised a "hitch" to hook up the hose reels to the fire trucks to augment their hose capacity.

Hose reels became obsolete by the late 1920s, with fire trucks being able to carry triple the amount of hose by that time. Duncan VFD stopped using hose reels by 1929.