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Marking 100 years of fire fighting history

The first 100 years of the Chilliwack Fire Department is now captured in book form and ready for sale, said Fire Chief Rick Ryall.

The first 100 years of the Chilliwack Fire Department is now captured in book form and ready for sale, said Fire Chief Rick Ryall.

“We’re very happy with how this turned out,” he said, about the newly published book, Chilliwack Fire Department 1906-2006: The First 100.

A short presentation was held at the fire hall Wednesday to thank the many book partners, from Chilliwack Museum and Archives staff, to former fire chiefs Tom Beer, Bill Chambers and Wayne Green.

The project’s genesis was actually during the department’s 100th anniversary year in 2006, Ryall said.

“I tried to do some of the leg work finding photographs and researching the history, but I found there was very little written about the Chilliwack Fire Department and surprisingly few photos.”

The history detective work on the book began in earnest.

Literally hundreds of Chilliwack residents have historical connections to the department, from serving either in a career or paid-on-call capacity, since the first days with 26 members.

The past fire chiefs were asked to research and record the history, and were assisted in recording stories of courage and derring-do, by longtime Progress and West Coast Farmer contributor Grant Ullyot.

“I asked the past fire chiefs if they were interested in trying to reconstruct the first 100 years, and they agreed to come in and help,” Ryall said.

Then it needed some structural and organizational help.

The book was edited and composed by Shannon Bettles (Anderson) of the Chilliwack Archives, with Ron Denman and Paul Ferguson of the Chilliwack Museum.

After several editing sessions and reconfigurations of the book layout, it was completed.

“It’s taken a long time and was a fairly drawn out process,” he said.

“But we think this will be of great interest to anyone whose family members ever went through the department, and we know there are so many locally.”

The book features a mix of photographs and texts, and is selling for $25. There was a small print run of 50 books initially, but they’ll be taking orders for more at: 604-792-8713.

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