The Ladysmith Fire Department was founded at the turn of the last century and has continued to be a happening concern into the present. After the discovery of coal in 1904, Ladysmith became a booming coal town that was coated in highly flammable coal dust. This made having a fire department an immediate priority.
In its infancy, the firefighters didn’t have fire hydrants or fire trucks, only wells and hose carts that had to be filled and then pushed by hand to the location of the fire. Things improved in the the mid-twenties when the first motorized fire fighting vehicle came to Ladysmith. This 1914 Cadillac Soda Acid pumper helped immeasurably with the department’s ability to effectively fight fires. A Soda Acid pumper was a portable canister filled with baking soda and a vial of sulphuric acid. When the vial was broken there was an expulsion of carbon dioxide gas which propelled the water out of the fire hose or nozzle at a high velocity. Although this type of pump is no longer used, at the time, this was deemed an effective and innovative way to fight fires.
The Ladysmith Fire Department started out as a 14 man Volunteer Fire Brigade and now boasts 35 paid members. These members are dispatched to around 200 calls a year and despite coal dust being a thing of the past, the department remains an essential part of the area’s fire protection services.