Bobsled

VICTORIA FIRE DEPARTMENT

Bob-Sled: 1916

bob-sled
Photo: VFDHS

Bob-sleds of this configuration were commonly used in regions accustomed to heavy snowfall to haul a wide variety of ‘cargo’. It was ideal for moving long loads such as lumber or pipe, or when a cargo body was added, it could easily haul almost anything that would fit. Many of the latter bodies were purpose-built, as in this case, by the purchaser.

Thomas Deasy, who was Victoria Fire Chief in the 1890s, knew that if the City experienced a major snowfall, fire apparatus likely wouldn’t be able to respond to alarms. A Bob-sled was the answer. Instead of cargo, however, a large box could be easily carry firefighters, and the necessary equipment.

He purchased the ‘gear’- basically everything apart from the box–around 1895, but as it turned out, it remained unused, in storage, until February 1916 when a blizzard hit Victoria. Deasy’s purchase appeared to be exactly what was needed: wheeled fire rigs were unable to move in the heavy snow.

A box was quickly built, dropped onto the gear, and loaded with the necessary equipment. Although it was placed into service, it did not work as well as hoped – the snow was probably too deep and the runners too narrow. Luck was however with the firefighters and there weren’t any fires. This apparatus did enable the VFD to maintain a presence in downtown Victoria until the roads cleared enough for conventional apparatus to respond.

Text: David Parker, Historian/Curator, VFDHS

Photo: Dave Noren, VFDHS

Working from the preserved original, Dave Noren, VFDHS,
built this professional-quality, museum standard, replica.

Victoria, BC & Toronto, ON Fire Department Musuem