William Albert White (1866-1953)
Regina’s 1st Fire Chief
Born in Hillsburg, Ont., William worked in his father’s store and was a volunteer with the local fire brigade. He moved to Regina in 1895. In 1900, he became chief of Regina’s volunteer fire brigade and was appointed chief of Regina’s first paid fire department. In 1914, Regina’s first motorized fire fighting equipment was purchased. Strong on fire prevention, White initiated a stringent inspection program. He served as Fire Chief for 38 years. In recognition of his service, the fire hall at Albert Street and 13th Avenue was named in his honour. White Bay also carries the name of Regina’s first Fire Chief.
William was Regina’s first fire chief. A native of Hillsburg, Ont., he worked in his father’s store before joining the town’s fire brigade. In 1895, he came to Regina and joined the staff of the Hugh Armour Store. Within a week of his arrival, he joined the Regina volunteer fire brigade.
In 1900, he became chief of the volunteer fire brigade and, in 1906, when Regina’s first paid fire department was organized, he left the retail store business to become the city’s first full-time fireman and chief of the new department. He married Ruth Alice McFarlen (1877-1953) in 1905 in Ontario.
In 1914, William purchased the city’s first motorized equipment. By 1938, the fire department was mechanized and the horses were transferred to hauling garbage. Equine revenge was meted out, however, when the six spirited veterans were commanded too sharply to “go”, and charged at full gallop in search of one last fire, spilling garbage in every direction — a broad trail of it following right behind their lightning hooves. During his years of service, he also instituted a rigid inspection program of all public buildings in the city. Regina’s comparatively low fire loss was undoubtedly a result of William’s ardent protectionism. He was a member of the Dominion Fire Chiefs Association, the International Association of Fire Engineers, and was president of the Western Fire Association.
During his 38 years as chief, William guided the fire department’s development from a bucket brigade to a modernized fire fighting unit. It was largely through his efforts that fire protection kept pace with the city’s development. William retired in 1938.