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History


The Village of Houston was incorporated in March of 1957, and one of the first orders of business was to provide fire protection for the residents. Bylaw #5 was passed on September 21, 1957 to form a fire department to serve the village. Ben VanRhyn was appointed as commissioner by the first council and tasked with organizing the fire department.

The charter members of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department were Fire Chief Ben VanRhyn, John Veenstra, John Vandermooren, Bert Woelders, John VanderLinde, Henk Hofsink and Walter VanderHoek. John Veenstra took over as Fire Chief a couple of months after the fire department was established. In December of 1957, the Fire Department purchased its first piece of rolling stock, a 1942 Chevrolet Utility Wagon fitted with a water tank, which was known throughout the community as Engine #1. Since that time, the fleet has grown to include three pumpers, a tanker, a rescue unit and a command pick up. Some of these vehicles were built or refurbished by the firefighters themselves.

The first fire hall was located in an old school building. Later, the old community hall, built in 1939, was converted for use as a fire station. In 1965 the Village of Houston approved $13,000 for the building of a new fire hall. This building is in use today and has gone through a number of renovations and additions over the years. It serves the firefighters quite well for storing equipment, training and socializing.

The District of Houston has had over 200 people serve the community through the Volunteer Fire Department. From those first seven people who got things started, the department has grown to include 30 volunteer firefighters, five officers and a full time Fire Chief. In recent years, the Fire Department has also taken on Junior Firefighters in a program offered through Houston Secondary School. The members have given their time to provide protective services for the residents and also to support charities like Flowers of Hope and Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fire prevention education is ongoing with school visits and tours of the Fire Hall.

As always, the members of the Fire Department continue to look for ways to improve their service to the citizens of Houston. Partnering with neighbouring fire departments on training activities and using government grants to supplement the budget are just some of the ways to accomplish this.

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