1806 Manpower Increase for the Union Engine Company

Historical period: Fire Insurance Companies

The Fire Service Expansion (1806-1819)


• Citizens at large were always very much a part of every fire, but this period was characterized by a slow-but-steady social participation decline in fire extinguishment efforts. The populace was more intent on taking a walk to admire the flames and criticize those who worked than helping. Consequently, the Union Engine and Axe Fire Companies saw their ranks increased almost at the rate at which the inhabitant lost interest in helping. However, this was not the sole factor; Halifax was also growing, and most of the constructions were made of wood. In 1806, the Act of 1762 was amended again to increase the number of men working the engines. It also increased the number of Firewards from 15 to 20.

An ACT in further addition to, and amendment of an Act, made in the second year of his present Majesty’s Reign, entitled, An Act for the appointment of Firewards, ascertaining their duty, and for punishing Thefts and Disorders at the time of Fire.


WHEREAS it having been found necessary to provide more than two Fire-Engines for the Town of Halifax, it becomes expedient to increase the number of Engine Men:


  1. Be it therefore enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Assembly, That it shall be lawful for the Justices of the Peace, in their Sessions, for the Town and County of Halifax, to appoint a further number of discreet and prudent persons as Engine Men, not exceeding Twelve, in addition to the number already appointed, or to be appointed, under the Act or Acts, whereof this is a further amendment; and such persons shall be subject to the duties, and entitled to all the privileges and exemptions, granted by the said Acts to Fire-Engine Men.


And whereas the present number of Firewards in the Town of Halifax has been found insufficient:


  1. Be it enacted, That it shall and may be lawful, for the Justices of the Peace in the Town and County of Halifax, to appoint a further number of discreet persons as Firewards, not exceeding five in the several parts of the said Town of Halifax who shall be sworn faithfully to discharge their trust, and who shall be invested with all the powers and regulations, as are provided for, in, and by the several Acts aforesaid.
  2. And be it further enacted, That the exemption from working on the Highways, granted by Law, to Engine Men, in the Town of Halifax, be extended [...]

• No information was found regarding the addition of a fire engine, even though it was the premise of the amendment. However, the organization of the Union Engine Company into three divisions the following year meant that a third engine was purchased. It also reveals that, prior to this amendment, every fire engine ever bought, with the exception of the one purchased in 1789, was a replacement for an existing engine.


• On April 15, 1806, Daniel Spike was welcomed into the Union Engine Company (Nova Scotia Archives 1789-1807). Spike married Grace Cullimore on May 23, 1787 (Ancestry.com 2010), in Halifax and would leave the Company in 1822, with the rank of Lieutenant of Division 4 (Canadiana 1822). On November 18, 1806, the Company kicked a member out for having too many absences, which is not significant on its own, but it was the first time a disciplinary action, other than a fine, was taken on a member since May 12, 1789. On December 16th, an amendment to the by-laws was proposed by John Brown, a member of the company: “[…] should any member of this Company [be absent] from sickness in his family when his attendance is deemed necessary, it is to be excused.


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