Firefighters have the intense job of fighting and extinguishing fires that threaten lives, property, and the environment. Their schedule is demanding and the work is dangerous, but the service they provide is crucial. Fire has been as much a danger to human life as it has been essential to advance society.
Firefighting in Canada began as a collective effort. Citizens and soldiers worked together to fight flames with water and axes. New settlements in Canada were constructed with wood, in tight quarters, leaving them vulnerable to the very fire used by settlers to heat their homes and cook their food. Firefighting evolved to deal with the threat of fire, with the first organized fire department opening in Halifax in 1754 and the first fire engine operating in Montreal in 1765.
Established towns continued to enhance their capabilities, creating volunteer firefighting companies after the 1824 Upper Canada Parliament fire. Firefighting transitioned into a career after the addition of new machinery, equipment and horses required a full-time staff. A shift toward relatively sophisticated fire protection occurred at the end of the 19th century with the introduction of improved building codes, professional fire departments, fire hydrant systems, steam fire engines and horse-drawn apparatus. Firefighting has since continued to evolve in the face of new challenges.