1782 An Amendment to the Act of 1762

Historical period: The Union Engine Company

Empowering the Citizens of Halifax: The 1782 Amendment


• In 1782, the Legislative Assembly’s Act of 1762, entitled “an Act for appointing Firewards, ascertaining their Duties, and for punishing Thefts and Disorders at the Time of Fire” was amended. It is explained that originally, “no provision was made for the purchasing of the implements necessary to be used in putting a stop to, or extinguish fire, or to save the property of the inhabitants”. In the amendment, the following clauses are added:


  1. be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Assembly, That each Fireward, appointed agreeable to the directions of the above-recited Act, shall be forthwith provided with one ladder, at least twenty-four feet in length, and one ladder sixteen feet long, with hooks, one fire hook, two axes, twelve leather buckets, and twelve large bags, and one saw, which shall be by the said Fireward deposited in the most convenient place in such ward, and at which the inhabitants of such ward are to assemble, when the fire-bell rings, and from thence to proceed under the direction of the said Fireward, with such of the said implements as may be required to the place of danger
  2. And be it enacted, That the ward or district, of which each Fireward shall have charge, shall be numbered, and that the ladders, fire-hooks, bags, axes, saws and buckets, shall be marked with the number of the ward to which they belong, and within twenty-four hours after the extinguishing any fire, the said ladders, fire-hooks, bags, axes. saws, and buckets, shall be delivered at such place of deposit; and if after twenty-four hours any of said ladders, fire-hooks, axes, buckets, bags or saws, shall be found in the possession of any person, he, or she, shall forfeit and pay a fine of forty shillings, to be levied by warrant of distress and sale of the offender’s goods before any one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace; the said fine to be paid into the hands of the Fireward, and to be applied for the purpose of repairing the said ladders, fire-hooks, axes, buckets, bags and saws.
  3. And be it also further enacted, That the amount of the cost of the ladders, firehooks, axes, buckets, bags, and saws, so purchase, shall be levied on the inhabitants of the town and suburbs of Halifax, by assessment, in manner as is provided for levying the monies vested for the support of the poor, and recover accordingly.
  4. And be it enacted, That the Constables of each ward, shall attend with their staves on the Fireward of such ward, at times of fire, to receive his directions, and to assist in keeping good order and prevent thefts (Province of Nova Scotia 1782, 227-228).

• The sixteen-foot ladders with hooks mentioned in this amendment are still used today in Halifax, but they are made of aluminum instead of wood. They are referred to as “roof ladders” because the hooks on the end of the ladders are used to secure them on roof peaks to allow crews to work on a roof. The 24-foot ladders referred to in the first article of the act are still commonly used, and they are also made of aluminum.


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