The Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department answered its first call on July 27, 1962. It was one of less than a dozen that the newly formed department handled, under the direction of fire Chief Charlie Haggard.
Fifty years later, Haggard has passed on, the department’s fleet has grown to four trucks, and its volunteers respond to roughly 80 calls a year.
This weekend, the department celebrates a half-century of serving the Cherry Creek community.
The public is welcome to come and help celebrate at an open house this Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of Cherry Creek Road and Moore Road.
There will be free food, a mock-up fire house that kids can shoot water at, games, displays and demonstrations.
Festivities also include a private, invitation-only banquet that evening for members.
The department received $2,000 from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to pay for its celebration.
While the fire department still operates out of its original building, and the siren atop the building is still put to use, firefighters have seen some significant changes since it started, present Chief Mike Sparrow said.
In 1962 the department owned just four sets of turnout gear, and it was heavy. A fireman’s helmet cost $6.95.
“They’re about $80 now,” he said.
It costs approximately $4,000 to outfit one firefighter, and all 24 or so have their own gear.
Another big change is who qualifies as a volunteer. “Originally you had to be a married male with property,” he said.
“Now, you can be female, you can be single. Times have changed.”