The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
The Christchurch Fire Brigade, which is under the control of the City Corporation, has its principal stations in Chester and Lichfield Streets. The Chester Street station has a large frontage to the street, and is a two-storey brick building, with sleeping accommodation for the firemen, stabling for the horses, and quarters for the engines and other appliances. The Lichfield Street station is also a two-storey brick building, situated at the corner of Madras Street, and is equipped in a manner similar to that of the Chester Street station. The plant of the Brigade is considered to be one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere, although the city possesses no hydrant-water supply. There are two large Shand-Mason engines, which cost £600 each, and are respectively known as the “Extinguisher” and the “Deluge.” These engines are capable of throwing 300 gallons and 450 gallons of water per minute. Besides these fire engines, there are two chemical engines, the “Pioneer” and the “Beltana,” the former holding 70 gallons and the latter 150 gallons of a compound of soda and sulphuric acid, which has a quenching power equal to eight times the same quantity of water. The engines of the Railway Fire Brigade and the St Albans Fire Brigade also co-operate with those of the city in cases of emergency.
Mr. Edward Smith, Superintendent of the Christchurch Fire Brigade, was born in 1848 in Birmingham. When a little boy he was rescued from a fire by his mother, who dragged him down three flights of stairs by his foot, having no time to see what portion of his body she had taken hold of. The family having removed to London, Mr. Smith witnessed the great Tooley Street fire. Settling in New Zealand in 1864, the subject of this sketch served for three years in No. 1 Rifle Company. In 1867, he removed to Melbourne, and twelve months later visited the South Sea Islands, where he learned ship-building, the native language, and cotton planting. He formed one of an expedition to punish some Fiji mutineers, and received two bullet woundsin his right leg. He was nine years inthe Fijis, acting as interpreter and pilot, and was engaged in the labour trade. Returning to Christchurch in 1877, he joined the local fire brigade in the following year, and rose successively to be foreman, lieutenant, and superintendent. Mr. Smith is the inventor of a fire-escape which took the first prize in 1888, and which he presented to the Christchurch City Council. Since 1886 he has been a member of the St. John Ambulance Association, on the committee of which he has served, and received the society's medal. He has long been associated with the Canterbury Industrial Association, and was for some time on the executive. Mr. Smith is the founder of the firm of Messrs E. Smith and Co., boot importers and manufacturers.