Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services
People Who Care About You
Agency overview
Established 1886
Employees 800
Staffing Career
EMS level First Responder
Facilities and equipment
Stations 20
Engines 12
Trucks 6
Ladders 6
Quints 12
Rescues 3
Fireboats 4

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (V.F.R.S.) was founded in 1886 and today serves the city of Vancouver, British Columbia providing fire, medical first response, rescue and extrication services. In 2014, the V.F.R.S. responded to 50,000 emergency calls.[1]

map of the fire and rescue service halls in Vancoucer, BC, Canada


The Vancouver Volunteer Fire Brigade was established in 1886 with one volunteer hose-wagon company assigned to protect the new city which mainly had lumber mills at the time, and within 16 days of its existence, the city of Vancouver burned to the ground.[2] A week after the fire the city purchased its first fire engine from Ontario, the item arrived in August of that year, which made the volunteers confident that they could handle any situation that occurred. A second engine arrived in 1888 along with two new firehalls growing the strength from one company to three companies. J.H. Charlisle was appointed the city's first fire chief who began motorizing fire brigade...the first motorized fire engine was purchased in 1908 from the Seagrave company of Columbus. By 1911, the department was ranked third best in the world, falling behind London and Leipzing Germany. By 1917 it was completely motorized (no more horse-drawn equipment) and was then recognized as the Vancouver Fire Department.[2][3] In 1929 the municipalities of South Vancouver and Point Grey amalgamated with the City of Vancouver which also meant the merger of the South Vancouver Fire Department and the Point Grey Fire Brigade, which added six new halls and increased the strength of the department by 100 men.

Since 1893, 48 Vancouver firefighters have died in the line of duty.[4]


Rank Structure[edit]

Fire Chief Deputy Fire Chief Assistant Chief Battalion Chief Training Officer Captain Lieutenant Firefighter Probationary Firefighter
Rank Epaulettes
VFRS Fire Chief.png
VFRS Deputy Fire Chief.png
VFRS Assistant Chief.png
VFRS Battalion Chief.png
VFRS Training Officer.png
VFRS Captain.png
VFRS Lieutenant.png
No Insignia No Insignia
Rank Pins
FIRE BUGLES - 5.1 (GOLD).png
FIRE BUGLES - 4.3 (GOLD).png
FIRE BUGLES - 3.1 (GOLD).png
FIRE BUGLES - 2.4 (GOLD).png
No Insignia No Insignia

Current Fire Chief and General Manager - John McKearney

Fire Hall Locations and Apparatus[edit]

There are currently 20 Fire Halls located throughout the city of Vancouver, organized into three Battalions.

Firehalls Neighborhoods Engines/

Rescue Engines

Quints Ladders & Towers Medics & Rescues Battalion Chiefs & Specials Addresses Opening Dates
1 Strathcona Engine 1 Ladder 1 Battalion Chief 1, Car 73 (Fire Investigator), Pod 1, Logistics, Mechanic 1, Mechanic 2, Special Operations HUSAR, Special Operations HUSAR Pick Up 900 Heatley Avenue 8/8/75
2 Downtown Eastside Engine 2 Quint 2 Medic 2, Medic 23 199 Main Street 8/8/75
3 Mount Pleasant Rescue Engine 3 Ladder 3 2801 Quebec Street 1/27/01
4 Fairview Quint 4 Medic 4 Command 4 1475 West 10th Avenue 5/11/92
5 Killarney Engine 5 3090 Rosemont Drive (Temporary Hall) 5/13/15
6 West End Engine 6 Quint 6 1001 Nicola Street 3/18/89
7 Downtown Engine 7 Ladder 7 Rescue 7 1090 Haro Street 12/5/74
8 Yaletown Engine 8 Ladder 8 Medic 8 Wildlands 8 895 Hamilton Street 12/5/74
9 Grandview-Woodland Quint 9 Medic 9 Technical Rescue 9 1805 Victoria Drive 2/12/60
10 Endowment Lands Quint 10 Ladder 10, Tower 10 Wildlands 10, Parade 2992 Wesbrook Mall 1982
12 Kitsilano Quint 12 Medic 12 Hose Tender 2460 Balaclava Street 7/11/87
13 Riley Park Engine 13 Air & Light 13, Rehab Support 13 4013 Prince Albert Street 4/4/03
14 Hastings-Sunrise Engine 14, Engine 29 2804 Venables Street 8/13/79
15 Renfrew-Collingwood Rescue Engine 15 Quint 15, Ladder 15 Medic 15 Battalion Chief 2 3003 East 22nd Avenue 3/26/12
17 Victoria-Fraserview Rescue Engine 17 Ladder 17 Rescue 17 7070 Knight Street 6/3/55
18 Shaughnessy Engine 18 Quint 18 Battalion Chief 3, Hazmat 18, Hazmat Tender 18. Mask Repair 1375 West 38th Avenue 7/22/00
19 West Point Grey Quint 19 4396 West 12th Avenue 7/3/80
20 Kensington-Cedar Cottage Engine 20 Antique 5402 Victoria Drive 11/9/62
21 Kerrisdale Quint 21 5425 Carnarvon Street 6/7/85
22 Marpole-Oakridge Rescue Engine 22 Ladder 22 Wildlands 22, Hazmat Tender 22 1005 West 59th Avenue 6/18/82

Fire Boats[edit]

Fireboat J.H. Carlisle, 1928.

VFRS had 5 aluminium fire boats, Fireboats 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Under an agreement with neighbouring municipalities 2 were on the North Shore, 2 in Vancouver, and 1 in Burnaby.[5] They were designed by naval engineering firm Robert Allan Ltd in 1992. 4 were still in operation as of 2015. One new boat built by MetalCraft Marine of Ontario arrived in 2016, a second is expected to arrive in 2017, delayed, due to catching fire enroute. Two of the Robert Allen designed boats will be retired when the replacements are in service.[6]

Former fireboats:

  • J.H. Carlisle 1928-1971
  • Fireboat No. 2 1951-1987; worlds most powerful at 20,000 GPM[7]


VFRS uses a standard logo displayed on uniforms and vehicles:

  • Maltese cross
  • fire hydrant
  • EMS Star of Life
  • helmet,ladder, horn, hook and axe


Tap Out Response Medical Aids[edit]

Call Type Number Of Rigs Needed
General 1
Cardiac Arrest 1 (2 for full Cardiac Arrest)
Stroke 1
Stabbing 1
Shooting 1
Mass Casualty Incident

(5 or More Patients)

2 Rigs And Battalion
Medic 15 on scene with a medical

Tap Out Response Non Medicals[edit]

Call Type Number Of Rigs
Motor Vehicle Incident 1 Pumping Rig
Motor Vehicle Incident

Multiple Patients

1 Pumping Rig

1 Medic Or Rescue

Motor Vehicle Rollover 3 Pumping Rigs

1 Rescue and Battalion

Fire Alarm 2 Pumping Rigs
Rubbish Fire 1 Engine or Quint
Vehicle Fire 1 Engine or Quint
Vehicle Fire

Alternating Fuels

2 Pumping Trucks
Wildland Fire

Small Area

1 Engine Or Quint
Wildland Fire Large Area 2 Pumping Trucks
Engine 15 staged at Granville and Davie

Structure Fire Response[edit]

Alarm Pumping Rigs Ladders Rescue/Medics Battalions/Support
1st Alarm 3 1 1 1
Working Fire 1 1 Rescue

(Man Air Light RIT)

1 Battalion Air 13

RS 13 Car 73

2nd Alarm 2 1 (1 Rescue If Needed)
3rd Alarm 2
4th Alarm 2 Deputy Chief If Needed

Command Vehicle If Needed

5th Alarm (After

Approval Only)

2 1 Command Vehicle
6th Alarm 1 Chief 9
7th Alarm 1 Chief 11
8th Alarm 1 Chief 14/ Duty Chief
9th Alarm Mutual Aid
10th Alarm Mutual Aid
Fire Hall Location Number Of Calls Busiest Apparatus
Fire Hall 2 Downtown Eastside 1200+ per month Medic 2
Fire Hall 7 Downtown 100+ per month Engine 7
Fire Hall 8 Yaletown 50+ per month Wildlands/Medic 8

Call Volumes[edit]

Year Overall Busiest Unit Top Call
2013 30,000 Engine 7 Medical Aid
2014 38,000 Engine 2 Medical Aid
2015 44,000 Medic 2 Medical Aid

Major incidents and disasters[edit]

Great Vancouver Fire[edit]

On June 13, 1886, workers were burning brush to make way for development when high winds picked up the flames and began burning out of control. Vancouver Volunteer Hosewagon Company No. 1, comprising a dozen volunteers, grabbed buckets and axes in attempt to extinguish the conflagration. The city had purchased a fire engine which had not yet arrived resulting in most of the city being burned down in 45 minutes.

BC Forest Products[edit]

On July 3, 1960, a fire broke out at the BC Forest Products Mill near Oak St and W 6th Ave. Initial crews responded and reported large flames and smoke coming from the mill. The chief on scene quickly upgraded the alarm calling in additional companies. Flames started to spread quickly from the mill itself to a nearby dock, which resulted in the Chief declaring the incident as a five alarm call, VFRS's first five-alarm fire. All halls were tapped out which sent the fire boat and all but a few apparatus down to the fire ground. A total of 350 firefighters battled the flames for hours on the hot day. A large crowd had gathered to watch firefighting operations which hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze. Most of the mill burned before the fire was extinguished.

Stanley Cup Riot (2011)[edit]

On June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks were in the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Over 100,000 people had gathered in the Downtown core to watch the game on large outdoor screens. Around 8 PM the game was nearing the end with Canucks losing by several points, and at that moment the crowd started to become unruly. Families decided to leave before the game was over and headed out of the Downtown core. Police officers staged near the CBC live site at Georgia and Cambie moved into a large crowd of fans when they started throwing objects at the large screen. The crowd at the CBC live site preceded to flip over a pickup truck outside the Canada Post building and light it ablaze. Police offices formed a circle around the burning truck and cleared a path for Engine 8 to bring in a Supply line and crew. Engine 8's crew were able to knock down the fire, but were forced to leave the area as the crowd started throwing objects at police officers. The Emergency Operations Center was activated and Police teams were sent to various intersections to form up and don riot gear. Multiple fire apparatus were sent to key locations and were told to stage and remain visible in case people required medical treatment or had information to report. Around 8:30 violence spilled into other areas of the Downtown core resulting in fights, rubbish fires and burning vehicles. Fire crews were unable to reach some of the injured as violent crowds continued with destruction and mayhem. Orders were given at 9 pm for all staged apparatus to return to quarters and wait for further instructions due to the fact at the time Vancouver Police was deploying crowd control officers armed with tear gas and flash grenades. Dozens of 911 calls were being made from within the Downtown core reporting various incidents such as fires and medicals ; however, these incidents could not be confirmed without an apparatus being dispatched to the scene. Crews were sent to investigate the incidents while remaining in constant communication with the Emergency Operations Center. At around 10 pm a call came in reporting a fire inside a parking structure at Seymour and W Georgia, which sent a full alarm assignment including Ladder 7 who had just wrapped up an investigation of a possible person that had been severely beaten. Ladder 7 reported Georgia Street being as being completely impassible and informed dispatch that any crews responding to an incident on that street would have to walk into that crowd. Upon arrival at the parking structure Engine 7 found a fully involved vehicle on fire with several other vehicles burning. Battalion 1 went inside the parking structure and found people on the roof and determined that they were not willing to come down. Dispatch advised crews that a police line was headed in their direction to control the violent crowd outside the parking structure. Reports were later coming in of 2 vehicles burning on Granville Street in front of The Hudson's Bay, which was confirmed by a police helicopter. Engine 7 and Quint 6 were sent into the area but there was nothing that could be done as people were jumping through the flames and were smashing store front windows. Vancouver Police sent a Tactical Squad to the location of the fire and quickly cleared the street using tear gas and rubber bullets, which allowed fire crews to knock the fire down which was close to setting the building alight. It took only 3 hours for police and emergency personal to bring the situation under control and a full review of the incident was conducted by the provincial government.

Granville Seniors Center[edit]

4 Alarm Structure Fire At Granville Seniors Center

Calls started coming in around 6:50 pm on October 3, 2014 about a fire at a construction site on Granville Street and W 49th Avenue in Vancouver. Initial units that were dispatched were able to see the large column of thick black smoke that was visible all around the Lower Mainland. Vancouver Battalion Chief 3 made it a working fire before any crews arrived on scene. Once crews arrived on scene they reported a large working structure fire of a 4 or 5 story complex under construction. Fire had originated in the top floor and was spreading quickly. Before crews arrived it had engulfed most of the roof and was spreading to the sides quickly. On arrival of Battalion Chief 3, he immediately made it a 3rd Alarm Fire as large amounts of crews were required to knock the fire down and prevent exposure of nearby buildings. Granville Street was quickly shutdown, creating major traffic problems and the Vancouver Police Department were called in for traffic control. British Columbia Ambulance Service was also request for standby. The fire was quickly upgraded to a 4th Alarm before crews were able to get the fire under control. Security on site had reported that there may be some propane tanks inside the building for construction use. The roof and sides of the building began to collapse after about an hour and police pushed most spectators back a block or more. Rehab and Command was set up at Granville Street & W. 49 Ave. Staging was also set up on Granville Street & W. 49 Ave on W. 49 Ave on the North side. 1 Firefighter required medical treatment after the majority of the fire was knocked down and no other injuries were reported. The trolley cables for the electric buses were shut down on Granville Street due to the proximity of the fire. Crews remained on scene during the night and all day on Saturday October 4. In the late morning of the 4th Granville Street had to be closed to traffic for more than an hour after a large flare up required several units to be brought in to help fight the flare up.

Port Metro Vancouver Fire[edit]

On March 4, 2015, a security guard at the Port of Vancouver noticed smoke coming from a shipping container. He immediately notified E-Comm 911 which in turn activated a report of a smoke call. Battalion 1 was placed in charge of the scene and upon arrival, declared the incident a structural fire for thick white smoke could be seen emerging from the container. A working alarm assignment was declared immediately followed by a 2nd alarm which included response from Hazmat 18, Vancouver Police, and BC Ambulance Service. Hazmat 18 crew identified the burning content as trichloroisocyanuric acid, a dangerous chemical. Command immediately declared the event as a 3rd alarm and additional police units were called in to evacuate the zone. Warnings were issued to people living in the vicinity to stay at home and lock their doors and windows to prevent gas from entering. At around 3 pm, a 4th alarm was declared and Command 4 was dispatched to the scene along with assistant chiefs. Command 4 requested fireboats 3 and 5 attend the scene. Fire boats worked from the water side to extinguish the fire while firefighters attacked the flames from aerial ladders. Crews remained on scene for several days trying to put out hot spots.

Carleton School Fire[edit]

Crews Attacking Stubborn Fire At Carleton Elementary

On August 19th, 2016, Vancouver Fire Dispatch received a complaint of possible smoke in the area of Kingsway and Joyce. Dispatch tapped out Engine 5, Engine 15, Quint 15, Quint 20, Medic 9 and Battalion 2 to the scene. While crews were enroute to the call, dispatch received multiple calls from area residents and passerby's about smoke billowing out of the roof of Carleton Elementry School. The call was quickly upgraded to structure fire and all crews responding were notified of the development. Upon arrival Engine 5 assumed command of the scene and, confirmed reports of smoke coming from the roof. Engine 5 radioed for Quint 20 to lay line at the rear of the structure, and requested all other apparatus to remain at level 1 staging. Quint 20 layed a 1/4 inch hoseline into the building and preceded to the 3rd floor where heavy fire was present. Command requested a working fire assignment and ordered all other rigs to lay lines accordingly. Before Quint 20 could contain the situation, the flames had already spread into the attic and upper cock loft area, which led to command requesting a 2nd alarm assignment. Quint 20s crew was able to clear fire from the main fire floor and proceed into the attic space however, the attic was quite tight due to the structure being around for over 100 years. A 3rd alarm assignment was called in for manpower as crews cleared the building quickly to resupply on breathing apparatus which ran low. Ladder 17 setup on Mckinnon st, and made an effort to assault the fire from the side of the structure which seemed to have only a small impact on the fire. Crews were unable to assault the fire from above as crews were directly underneath in the attic with hose lines. Command upgraded the call to a 4th Alarm as additional manpower was needed. Three firefighters had to be taken to hospital, as two members suffered smoke inhalation and one member strained his back. The fire was contained several hours later and crews remained on scene to investigate. The fire investigator revealed that someone had broken into the school, and had poured an accelerant near the door to the third floor.

Training Facility[edit]

The Vancouver Fire Rescue Services training facility (also known as the Chess Street training grounds) has a burn building and several classrooms. There is also a base for the CAN-1 HUSAR (Canadian Heavy Urban Search And Rescue Team), the only HUSAR team in Canada that can be deployed anywhere in the world. The training facility also hosts the department's youth academy outreach program, a week long firefighting academy for senior high school students. BC first responders level 3 and the first aid course required by firefighters is also taught at this facility.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services | City of Vancouver. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  2. ^ a b "History of Vancouver - Vancouver Fire and Rescue: Early Days". 2004. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "In The Line Of Duty". IAFF 18. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  5. ^ News, BC Local. "Sea of change: NV loses its fireboats - BC Local News". Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  6. ^ "Vancouver Fire and Rescue christens new boat". NEWS 1130. 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  7. ^ "Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service History/Facts". NEWS 1130. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 

External links[edit]