The Truro Volunteer Fire Brigade is once again hosting a combat challenge during its Walk in Our Boots recruitment drive. This year's drive is spread out over three days as the brigade celebrates its 150th anniversary. File photo

TRURO – Did you know the Truro Volunteer Fire Brigade was founded before Truro became a town?

Have you ever wondered who the founding members were?

You’ll have your chance to learn those tidbits, as well as many others, when the brigade hosts its 150th anniversary celebration this month.

“It’s one of those things that doesn’t happen very often,” said Ryan Geldart, one of the volunteer firefighters helping organize Walk in Our Boots, which runs Sept. 28-30. “This is normally our recruitment drive, but we wanted to go bigger this year. The idea was to take the whole weekend to celebrate.”

From 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 28, the brigade will host a 150 Years of Walking in our Boots history and memorabilia display at the Truro fire station.

“We actually have a book with the minutes of the first meeting,” said Rob Boudreau, adding names of those in attendance are included.

“There aren’t a lot of departments that are this old,” added Allan Donovan. “When you look at the majority of departments around here and the province, not many are as old.”
“We’re the third oldest brigade in Nova Scotia, and the fifth in Canada,” said Dan Morris.

Geldart said the brigade, which works alongside the career members of the Truro Fire Service, takes a lot of pride in the collection of memorability depicting its history.

“We’ve got scrapbooks of photos of scenes. When you look around the hall, you can look back upon the history of the brigade. It’s humbling to see where we started and where we’re at now,” said Geldart.

Donovan said it’s even more humbling to see the faces of those in the brigade from 1918 and 1919.

“It’s those little moments,” he said.

For the past few years, the brigade has included a combat challenge as part of their recruitment drive. This year, the combat challenge will run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29, on Prince Street. Firefighting displays and other demonstrations will be featured at the Civic Square as well.

The combat challenge, said Geldart, will see teams of four firefighters race through a course, simulating firefighting techniques for the crowd.

The third day will see visitors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature a fire truck show and shine at the station and Civic Square. All types of fire vehicles from other departments are welcome, with no restrictions.

Geldart hopes the fire brigade’s oldest member – Nancy – a truck from 1919 will be pumping water for the first time in 10 years.

That same time will also feature an open house with activities and displays for all ages at the station on Victoria Street.

The fire brigade currently has 35 volunteers working with the career staff of the fire service.

“We’re constantly growing,” said Geldart, adding Walk in Our Boots allows the public to see different positions and sides to firefighting.
“People are sometimes afraid of volunteering and giving their time, but I guarantee they will enjoy it,” he said. “A lot will have family who have come through here. We take a lot of professionalism in what we do and take the time to perfect our craft. The vast majority of us are volunteers who give up our time to protect the town. We do it because we enjoy it and we hope, by having this event, people will relate to it and say, ‘maybe I could do it too.’”

“It’s more than a pastime, we’re family here,” added Donovan. “At the end of the day, there’s a lot of trust you’re putting in your partner going into a burning building.”

Fire departments wishing to participate in the show and shine must register their apparatus by Sept. 24 by emailing Teams wishing to enter the combat challenge can also register by emailing the same address.