From Humble Beginnings …
The Shawnigan Lake Fire Brigade, as it was once called, was always a source of village pride and grew out of the fire fighting division of the Second World War Air Raid Patrol of 1939-1945.
Following the war in 1945, the firefighters carried on as the Shawnigan Lake Fire Brigade and were able to keep the A.R.P. (now Civil Defence) equipment including hose, two pumps, the Bickle-Seagrave and Wajax, and the siren. This siren sat on top of Station 1 until 1995 when it was dismantled.
Over the next five years, the Fire Brigade acquired a 1929 Packard car which they remodelled as a fire truck. A building was erected on the old fire station site for the purpose of housing the Packard. Progress was made, albeit slowly, but seemingly in keeping with the size of the village, with funds raised mainly by donation.
In 1949 a tragedy occurred in Shawnigan Lake when the lives of two young girls were lost in a disastrous fire. The Fire Brigade attended and did everything possible within their means, but it was an eye-opener to the residents of Shawnigan Lake that no equipment is too expensive when the lives of loved ones are at stake.
In the early 1950s, the Shawnigan Improvement District and the Shawnigan Lake Volunteer Fire Department—successors to the Shawnigan Lake Fire Brigade—were formed. Immediately following, a new 1950 three-ton Chevrolet Maple Leaf cab-chassis was acquired. A front mount Martin pump with 500 GPM and a 485 gallon tank were added at the local garage with compartments and a hose bed.
Shawnigan Lake’s first new pumper truck was built, along with a fire station constructed almost exclusively by the firefighters. A 1954 1/2 ton GMC pick-up was bought as an auxiliary vehicle, towing the Bickel-Seagraves pump and to be used as an inhalator truck.
… Come Great Things
From humble beginnings in the shed behind the Shawnigan Garage, the fire department has grown to three fire stations and a fire/rescue boat house.
Shawnigan Lake Fire Department’s Station 1 is located on Shawnigan Lake-Mill Bay Road just east of the village and is where most of the department’s training takes place. The six-bay structure was built in 1983 and houses Ladder 1, Rescue Engine 1, Rescue 1, Tender 1, Wildland 1, and the ATV. The main building includes a training classroom, meeting room, offices, radio room, and lounge area. Behind Station 1, you will find a large concrete pad where vehicle extrication scenarios are practised, as well as fire scenarios. This is also where a four-story Sea Can structure is located which is used for several different training scenarios, such as high-angle rope rescue, confined space rescue, and fire suppression and search techniques.
The boat house is located on Thrush Road, was built in 1988, and houses Marine 1.
Station 2, located on West Shawnigan Lake Road, was built in 1991. This two-bay building houses Rescue Engine 2 and Tender 2, and has a small lounge area and radio room.
Shawnigan Lake Fire Department’s newest station, Station 3, is located in south Shawnigan on Sooke Lake Road. Built in 2016, the two-bay structure houses Rescue Engine 3 and Tender 3 and has a small lounge area and radio room.