By Lieut. Gerry Carruthers
The Parish of Coverdale Fire Department was formed in June of 1961 and officially opened on October 14, 1961. The department was housed in a new two bay fire hall which included living quarters for the fire chief and his family. Also incorporated in the basement of the fire hall was a water storage tank with a capacity of seventeen thousand gallons.
Apparatus included a new 1961 LaFrance pumper with a capacity of 500 g.p.m. carrying 800 gallons of water and a 1928 Willys Knight pumper which was originally owned by the City of Moncton.
Firefighting staff at the time of the official opening included permanent Fire Chief Frank Crawford and twenty volunteers.
Officials on hand for the official opening included Chief Crawford, Deputy Provincial Fire Marshall L.F.M. Strong, Fireward Retus MacFadyen, Chairman of the Fire Wards Committee Glen Cowan, Captain James Piers and Training Officer George Breau of the Moncton Fire Department, Dieppe Fire Chief Henry Leger, Aubrey Shaw and other County Councillors and Fire Wards.
It was noted during the opening ceremonies that the new station was built at a cost of $44,000 and the new pumper was purchased at a cost of $15,000. Prior to the formation of the Department the area was dependent on the Moncton Fire Department at a minimum charge of $200 per call.
The area served by the Department stretched from Stony Creek on the east to the Salisbury border on the west, and the Colpitts Settlement and the Pine Glen area to the south.
In 1963 a new tanker with a capacity of one thousand gallons was purchased to replace the old model pumper. This second truck proved of great value, giving the Department additional water capacity at all fires. It should be noted that at this time there were no fire hydrants in the area served, and the only water supply available to the Department was the seventeen thousand gallon storage tank located at the fire hall.
From the inception of the Department, training was of the utmost importance. Training sessions for all personnel were established on a weekly basis and included all facets of firefighting, rescue and first aid. Over the years the Department has won many awards for fire prevention for communities of comparable size.
In October of 1970 Chief Crawford retired and was replaced by volunteer Deputy Chief Everett McLennan on a temporary basis. Chief Don Garnett was appointed permanent Chief in February of 1971 after serving several years as a volunteer firefighter.
In 1973 the first permanent firefighter was hired to assist Chief Garnett, with three more added in 1974, four in 1975, two in 1977 and three in 1978. As well, a Clerk-Dispatcher was hired in 1977. Major equipment added to the Department included a rescue van and boat in 1972, a Chief's car in 1975, an ambulance in 1976, a pumper in 1976 and a pumper-tanker in 1983.
In 1973, the three villages of Bridgedale, Gunningsville and Riverview Heights were incorporated to form a town, now known as Riverview. With this changed the Parish of Coverdale Fire Department became the Town of Riverview Fire Department. The area to be covered remained the same but over the years the population and number of homes has increased dramatically. The population of the area to be covered by now had reached in the vicinity of twenty thousand as compared with approximately five thousand in 1961.
On August 12, 1974 Town Council gave approval for construction of a much needed new fire station. The cost of this building was $262,260 and it was erected next to the existing fire station. The expanded facilities are almost five times as large as the original building and adequately house quarters for six pieces of emergency apparatus as well as kitchen, dorm and training facilities for the firefighters. This new building was officially opened by His Worship, Mayor Harold B. Findlay. The R.C.M.P. was moved into the original fire hall next door.
The Department presently has in service two pumpers, one pumper tanker, one tanker, a rescue van and boat, an ambulance and a Chief's car. Staff included the Chief, Deputy Chief, twelve permanent firefighters, twenty-three volunteers, and a Clerk-Dispatcher.