No. 1 Fire Station
Fire Hall Number 1
Fire Hall #1
Calgary Fire Station #1
CALGARY FIRE HALL NO. 1
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Calgary Fire Hall No. 1 is a two-storey, concrete and masonry building on six lots amidst high-rise office buildings in downtown Calgary. The front facade, with its five bay doors and pedimented metal cornice, is diagonally oriented toward the corner. Its exterior cladding is brick with sandstone details. A brick parapet surrounds the sloping roof, and a metal cornice decorates the exterior at the topmost level. A square tower with a reconstruction of the original copper-covered cupola rises in the northeast corner.
The heritage value of Calgary Fire Hall No. 1 lies chiefly in its historical and architectural significance for its association with the history of firefighting in Alberta, its connection to James "Cappy" Smart, and its excellent representation of an early twentieth-century, urban fire station.
Built in 1911 to replace Calgary's first Fire Headquarters, which had been erected in 1887, Calgary Fire Hall No. 1 represented advances in fire-fighting characteristic of the pre-war boom in Alberta. Emerging urban areas throughout the west had marked their transition from early settlement communities to more densely populated towns and cities by shifting from buildings constructed predominantly of wood to much more fire retardant structures erected of brick and stone. In the cities, fire departments were making the change from primarily volunteer bucket brigades to professionally trained, paid, and mechanized forces. Important figures such as James "Cappy" Smart, Calgary's first full-time fire chief, spanned the whole era of this historical development. As such, Smart personally participated in the planning of Fire Hall No. 1, and led Calgary's fire fighters from their headquarters there until his retirement in 1933. The station was in continuous use as a fire hall until 1973.
Architecturally, Calgary's Fire Hall No. 1 embodies several elements desirable in state-of-the-art urban fire halls of the period, and stands as one of the premier examples of this building type in Alberta. Designed by architects Lang and Major, the building was designed with a growing city in mind in terms of size and required facilities. Significantly, the building is oriented diagonally towards the street corner, enabling efficient access and ease of departure. Fire Hall No. 1 includes five wide bay doors, and the necessary hose tower required to hang and dry the canvas hoses in use throughout the early to mid-twentieth century. The large central garage area accommodated Calgary's first fire trucks. Additional spaces such as offices, bedrooms, and lounges provided room to accommodate fire fighters in a state of readiness for their tasks. With its highly identifiable facade, the building has become a well known city landmark.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 0151).
The character defining elements of Calgary Fire Hall No. 1 include such features as:
- size, form, massing, and diagonal orientation of the building towards the street corner;
- the use of red brick throughout as well as the rusticated sandstone elements surrounding the bay doors;
- the front facade, including the main entry doorway, and the five truck bay openings;
- fenestration pattern and 1-over-1 window profile;
- exterior cladding is brick with sandstone corbelling, lintels, and cap;
- brick parapet surrounds the sloping pediment inset with the lettering "FIRE HEADQUARTERS," and a metal and wood cornice decoration at the topmost level;
- square hose tower with belvedere including arched windows, side balustrades, decorative orbs, finials, and a copper covered dome in the northeast corner;
- configuration of the large open garage space on the main level, including the brick arches;
- interior elements such as the pressed metal ceiling panels, fire poles, and the wall murals in the basement social room.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- Fire Station
Architect / Designer
Lang and Major
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 151)
Cross-Reference to Collection