On July 24, 1861, the Municipal Council formally organized the New Westminster Fire Department, better known as at the time as Hyack Company No. 1. Council elected New Westminster's first fire chief who hired the first full-time firefighters.
One of the most disastrous fires in the early history of New Westminster occurred in June 1864 at the Camp (Sapperton). It was caused from a forest fire which raged through dry timber and slashings and spread quickly, consuming the theatre and three Sapperton residences.
One of the most notable fires that the Hyack Brigade fought began on September 10, 1898, on the Front Street Wharf. The fire had originated in several tons of hay stored on the wharf, which extended approximately 200 feet along the waterfront. In a short time, the fire spread to adjacent buildings and devastated an entire portion of the city.
From 1898 to 1919 the horse played an important role in fire fighting. It was the primary means of pulling the fire engines to a fire and added greater speed in responding to fire calls.
The Hyack fire Brigade organized the first May Day celebrations on May 4, 1870, which became an important yearly celebration in New Westminster and still to this day.