Bermuda’s first evidence of fire protection is recorded in 1840, when a Common Councillor informed the Corporation of Hamilton of the purchase of six leather buckets from New York. In 1842, another one hundred buckets were purchased.

In 1846, the same Common Councillor suggested that a Fire Engine be purchased and in 1850 a Manual Fire Engine was purchased from England for 120-125 pounds sterling. In 1878, a Steam Fire Engine was purchased, which was able to pump 300 gallons of water per minute and send a jet of water 150 feet high.

The first legislation concerning the establishment of a Fire Service appears under the Fire Brigade Act 1905. In February 1907, the Corporation of Hamilton approved a set of regulations regarding the appointment of three Fire Wardens, four Fire Constables, twenty Firemen, eight Engine Men and one Engine Keeper. Other legislative clauses appeared under the Municipalities Act 1923 and the Fire Brigade Ordinance as revised in 1972.

1956 Mack Fire Trucks

The Hamilton Fire Brigade was housed in the “Old Town Hall” at #113 Front Street, Hamilton. On September 6, 1968, the Hamilton Fire Brigade (HFB) was moved to its present location. This building provides an appliance bay for twenty Fire Service vehicles, a Fire Dispatching facility, offices, workshops, and a training facility.

HFB later came under the control of the Bermuda Government with the assent of the Fire Service Act in 1982, birthing the name Bermuda Fire Service (BFS).

On December 24, 1971, one fire appliance was established at the west end of Boaz Island (West Sub Fire Station). This station was later relocated to the United States Naval Station Annex in 1984, until being quartered in March 1987 at its present location – a purpose-built facility, Port Royal Station (PRS) at #12 Middle Road, Southampton. The Naval Fire Department provided mutual Aid.

In June 1996, the Bermuda Fire Service opened the Clearwater Station (CWS) at Corregidor Avenue, which provides emergency coverage to the eastern end of the Island. Around the same time, BFS assumed the responsibility of providing Emergency Medical Services (EMS). To this end, part of the Services training includes personnel being qualified as: Emergency Medical Technician – Basic (EMT-B) and Emergency Medical Technician – Intermediate (EMT-I).

1878 Steam-driven Fire Pump

In the past, the Fire Service was mainly staffed by volunteers. However, following the fire on September 4, 1958, which gutted the Bermudiana Hotel, serious consideration was given to establish a professional Fire Service. Mr. Martin Grimes, QFSM, FIFireE, was the first Commissioner of the Fire Service and helped in its reorganization.

The Volunteers, or Fireman’s Social Club as they were known, was bought out by the Corporation of Hamilton and the club was dissolved. However, Volunteers remained a very important resource to the Fire Service for many years. Today, the only remaining group of Volunteers is in St. George’s under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of St. Georges.

In addition to the reorganization of the Fire Service, three engines were purchased, which were capable of pumping 1,250 gallons of water per minute at 150 pounds of pressure per inch.

In an effort to reduce medical transportation times in the Eastern and Western portions of the island, BFRS formed a partnership with the Bermuda Hospital Board (BHB). On January 1, 2015, an ambulance from King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) was stationed at PRS, while a BFRS ambulance is stationed at CWS. Both appliances respond to medical emergencies in the respective areas and transport patients directly to KEMH, which has significantly reduced the waiting time for patients to receive care from a doctor.

The Operations Division is the largest of the Departments with approximately eighty staff at its disposal. The Fire Service Headquarters is now located at # 15 Waller’s Point Road, St. David’s.