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History of first responders in Richmond

By Harvey Ng

Published 12:05 PDT, Fri September 16, 2022

Since Richmond was founded, systems for justice and protection have always existed to increase safety and keep the peace. 

Richmond Fire-Rescue has existed since the city’s early years. The first fire station was built in 1897 in the Steveston town and fishing port. At the time, 27 volunteers worked at the station, which was open until 1939. 

Once the Second World War began, this station along with six others were transformed into the Air Raid Protection Unit with the purpose of protecting citizens against air projectile dangers. These buildings defended all of Lulu Island for the majority of the war. 

Once the war ended, the Air Raid Protection stations were converted to fire departments responsible for all fire-related incidents in Richmond. Currently, more than 200 firefighters serve the city.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) began in the Northwest Territories. Before the RCMP was established, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), founded in 1873, was the first form of public order. 

Between 1873 and 1904, 4,483 officers served in the NWMP. In 1904, the NWMP was renamed to the Royal North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP), as it was given the royal title by King Edward VII for 30 years of service. 

A few years later, in 1914 and 1915, different branches for the RNMWP were created such as the Dominion Police, Criminal Investigation Branch, Security Branch, and Intelligence Branch. Four years later, Prime Minister Robert Borden met with the RNWMP commissioner and made drastic changes to the cooperation.

All the branches were combined into one single branch. The name RNWMP was changed to RCMP and the headquarters were changed from Saskatchewan to Ottawa. The RCMP is responsible for crimes all over Canada, except for Ontario and Quebec which have their own independent organizations. 

Ambulance service in Richmond began in 1960. For the first 10 years, every medical corporation was independent. Many unofficial unions were formed, but it wasn’t until 1974 that the provincial government created the British Columbia Ambulance Service. The service currently has over 4,700 members.

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