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Calgary Fire Hall No. 1


Other Names:
Calgary Fire Station #1
Fire Hall #1
Fire Hall No. 1
Fire Hall Number 1
Fire Hall Number 1
No. 1 Fire Station

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 façade, 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.

Heritage Value
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 façade, the building has become a well known city landmark.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 0151).

Character-Defining Elements
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 façade, 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.


Street Address: 140 - 6 Avenue SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 21 to 26 , Block 31, Plan C
Contributing Resources: Building

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.047668 -114.060806 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/03/11

Historical Information

Built: 1911 to 1911
Period of Significance: 1911 to 1973
Theme(s): Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Governing Canada : Security and Law
Historic Function(s): Government : Fire Station
Current Function(s):
Architect: Lang and Major

Fire Hall Number 1 is one of the few remaining examples of early fire hall construction in the province, and, as far as we know, its design is unusual in Alberta.

Although not the first fire hall built in Calgary, Fire Hall Number 1 was the replacement for the first fire hall, erected in 1886. Fire Hall Number 1 was Calgary's main fire hall from 1911 to 1973 and retains probably the oldest fire-fighting tradition in the province.

Fire and this fire-fighting tradition are important aspects of Calgary's growth and the development of its sandstone architecture. It was the town's major fire of 1885 that resulted in the building of the first fire hall and the trend of sandstone building construction, for which Calgary is so well known.

Fire Hall Number 1 was associated with 'Cappy" James Smart, Calgary's fire chief for many years. Cappy Smart was not only a very colourful local figure, but he was also one of provincial importance. Through his constant efforts of upgrading Calgary's fire-fighting equipment and practices, this city has traditionally had one of the best fire-fighting forces in the west.

Cappy Smart was elected President of the Pacific Coast Fire-Chief's Association in 1904, Vice-President of the Western Canada Fireman's Association in 1906, President of the Alberta Fireman's Association from 1909 to 1914, Vice-President of the International Fire-Chief's Association in 1910, and President of the Dominion Association of Fire-Chiefs in 1932.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0455
Designation File: DES 0151
Related Listing(s): 4664-0267
Heritage Survey File: HS 20854
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 151)
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