Sherwood Park 50 years
August 23, 2006
The original Sherwood Park firefighters pose with their new ladder truck
In 1958, the Municipal District of Strathcona started construction of a fire hall, which was opened in February 1959.
The building, on the corner of Alder and Ash, now houses the Strathcona County Museum and Archives.
A new pumper truck also arrived, along with protective clothing, breathing apparatus, a resuscitator, and other firefighting equipment. This was welcome equipment for the volunteers who had formed the brigade in November 1956.
In July 1959, automatic telephone service came to Sherwood Park and five firefighters had fire alarm phones installed in their homes, which rang simultaneously when a call was placed to the emergency number.
From their homes, these firefighters could activate the siren on the roof of the fire hall to call the other volunteers. The siren also rang daily at 7:30 p.m. to check the siren and was an unofficial "curfew" for many of the neighbourhood children, who would head for home when they heard it.
In 1962, a second pumper truck was purchased and the fire department began to respond to rural fire calls.
In 1964, Wayne Stanyer became the full time fire chief. Bob Oscroft became the first full time firefighter in 1965 and a year later, Tom Lukinuk was also hired. Wayne, Bob and Tom had all been volunteers.
Ambulance service was not added to the responsibilities of the fire department until April 1972. Prior to this. time, a private ambulance service operated in Edmonton, but Sherwood Park residents sometimes called the fire department and the fire chief's station wagon was often called into service. The first paramedics joined the department in September 1985.
Henry Unrau, one of the original volunteer firefighters, remembers his time with the fire department as a highlight.
"It was so far removed from my teaching vocation and if you've never ridden in a fire engine with the siren screaming and the lights flashing, you really haven't lived! It was exciting and you never knew quite what you were going to find when you got there. We really relied on each other. We formed a very close-knit family because each of us knew that our safety depended on the back up behind us."
In 2006, Strathcona County Emergency Services answers over 4,000 calls a year throughout the county and operates out of five fire stations located in Sherwood Park, Ardrossan, South Cooking Lake and Josephburg. Personnel are trained in fire, rescue and emergency medical response, resulting in an integrated service to residents.
Check out the Strathcona County Museum and Archives for more stories and actual artifacts from the early days of Sherwood Park's first fire hall.