Monday, January 22, 2018

Memories of the Mimico Fire Department

Firefighter E.J. Moynahan
Mimico Fire Department 1963
Etobicoke Fire Department
Today's blog post is about the Mimico Fire Department and some of the great men who worked there like my father Ernest J. Moynahan.

My father started on the Mimico Fire Department in 1963 after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and working at the Canadian National Railways and Environment Canada (Toronto airport).

After submitting his application, he was offered an interview in October 1963 and was successful in being hired.

The request for interview; 1963
Mimico Fire Department: Request for Interview

Our family moved to Mimico when my father was working at the Toronto airport for Environment Canada in the early 1960s.

Picture from Chuckman's Postcard Collection
(circa 1966)
 
At the time of hiring, the Mimico Fire Department was a single-bay fire station located at 13 Superior Avenue (close to the Lakeshore) and our family lived at 61 Superior just up the road! It was wonderfully close and convenient.

The photo below was taken of my father on Christmas day at 61 Superior on his way to work at 13 Superior!

Firefighter E.J. Moynahan; Mimico; Christmas1962
On a recent trip to Toronto, I took a nostalgic drive through my old "Mimico" neighborhood and was surprised to see a condominium where the fire station once stood!

This is what the Mimico Fire Station looked like in 2011
It no longer exists except for the facade which has been incorporated into a condominium

The Mimico Fire Station 
in the Good Old Days (1955)

1946 Fargo / LaFrance pumper (serial B-1791) as seen in 1955. This picture shows the newly added second floor
Source: James V. Salmon photo, Toronto Public Library archives.
Firefighter Working Conditions
1960s

The working conditions of firefighters in the 1960s were naturally very different from the working conditions that exist today. It was and still is very dangerous work requiring constant training and firefighters depend upon each other in a way that exists in few other occupations.

There have been many improvements in equipment, wages and some recognition of the special health and safety hazards that exist uniquely for firefighters. But there are also many new hazards (such as fast-burning house fires!)

I was surprised when I read through Bert Mortimer's copy of this four-page collective agreement! (Bert Mortimer joined the Mimico Fire Department in 1952 later becoming Fire Chief)

The Mimico Fire Department Collective Agreement 1961-1962
Here are the salaries and Residence clause from this 1961-1962 collective agreement:

Salaries 1961-1962

In 1964, Fire Chief Wally King wanted to add six more firemen to his 15-man department and buy an aerial truck and renovate the fire hall but rumours of amalgamation were already in the air.

Toronto Star: 24 March 1964
  
The Provincial Federation of 
Ontario Fire Fighters (PFOFF)

1966 training at the Provincial Federation of Ontario Professional Fire Fighters -Ontario Fire College
(Source: E.J. Moynahan in the photo: far right middle row)
The first provincial organization of fire fighters was created in 1920 and was known as the Provincial Federation of Ontario Fire Fighters (PFOFF). It followed the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) which was formed in 1918.

(The 'new' Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) was formed in October 1997. Read more of the history here: Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association)

The PFOFF photograph above was taken at a 1966 training of executives from fire halls around Ontario. My father is standing in the middle row farthest to the right of the photograph (a dark jacket with the PFOFF crest showing). Beside my father in the same row is fellow Mimico fire fighter Gerry Leduc.

The fire fighters from around Ontario received PFOFF training on labour negotiations.

Source: Fire Watch (Summer 2007) Published on Jun 29, 2007 


Dr Eric Taylor was their discussion leader at this negotiation training session and Dr Taylor is remembered by his participation in the historic Ford strike in Windsor, Ontario as well as the 1957 infamous "Dr. Eric Taylor arbitration" regarding the reduction of working hours from 56 per week to the current 42 per week in the Toronto fire department (a win that forced the city of Toronto to hire 264 more firefighters and a benefit that Toronto firefighters still enjoy today)

Source: Fire Watch (Summer 2007) Published on Jun 29, 2007 
To read more about Dr. Taylor's ideas on negotiation and representation, visit https://issuu.com/local3888/docs/summer2007

Upstairs at the Mimico Fire Station
13 Superior Ave., Mimico

The photo above was taken upstairs at the Mimico fire hall after a first aid training session. (Source: E.J. Moynahan)
The firefighters in the photo at the first aid training session (above) are are:

Seated left: Bert Mortimer, Jimmy Henderson, Al Horniblow, Ernie Moynahan, Mel Jones
Seated right: in the suit is Fire Chief Wally King, in the white shirt and tie Gary Lang, the person in between these two is Tom Coulter
Standing left to right: Harold Neuman, the first aid instructor (name unknown), John McLaughlin, Stan Brownley, Bill Dicks, Gerry Leduc and Bernard Walsh.

(Source: E.J. Moynahan)

Back Row (Left to Right): John McLaughlin, xxxx xxxxx, Ross Bonner, Stan Brownlee, Ernie Moynahan, Bill Dix
Middle Row (Left to Right): Bob Barker, Don Coulter, Bert Mortimer, Wally King, Gerry Leduc, Mel Jones
Front Row (Left to Right): Harold Neuman, Al Horniblow, Vince Dubec, Bernard Walsh, Gary Lang, Jimmy Lathen

Fire Chief Bert Mortimer (1920-1975)
Joined the Mimico Fire Department in 1952


The Amalgamation of 1967 

On January 1, 1967: Etobicoke, Long Branch, Mimico, and New Toronto amalgamated and the Mimico Fire Department became the Etobicoke Fire Department.


Below are a number of news articles and photographs from our family scrapbooks that feature my father. (I intend to continually add to this page as  I find new photos and news articles)

Source: Etobicoke Gazette; 31 March 1977

Firefighter Moynahan at scene of fire (far right) (Source: E.J. Moynahan)

Firefighter Moynahan at scene of fire; (Source: E.J. Moynahan)

Firefighter Moynahan attends to accident victim; Source:The Toronto Saturday Sun; 9 Apr, 1988; Page 2
Firefighter Moynahan hosing down the 427 (Source and date unknown; from family scrapbook)
    Duties unrelated to firefighting! (Source: family scrapbook)

The Kimberly-Clark Tragedy of 1978


On December 4, 1978, my father and his fellow firefighters were dispatched to a structural fire at Kimberly-Clark on Disco Road. My father lost three of his fellow firemen at this call. It was a day that we will never forget.



Since 1980 in Ontario, 33 firefighters have died in emergencies, of which 20 were volunteers.
The last multiple firefighter fatality was in 1978 when three firefighters died fighting a blaze when large rolls of sprinkler-soaked paper collapsed and crushed them at Kimberly Clark Paper Co.

Rest in peace:

🌹Lloyd Janes
🌹John Clark
🌹Donald Kerr


Source: Fire Watch (Winter 2008)


Sources
Recent Mimico Firefighter Obituaries
  • Gerry Leduc (1932-2015): Born in Ottawa and raised in Field Ontario, Gerry moved to Toronto and worked for CN Rail before becoming a fire fighter. Gerry started with the Mimico Fire Department and then became a captain on the Etobicoke Fire Department. 
  • Gary Lang (1934-2006) Retired District Chief of Etobicoke Fire Department, 
Trick or Treat at the Fire Hall 
My brother and sister visiting the fire hall for some treats

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