The Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association

In 1975 a small group of fire buffs that had been meeting informally saw the need for a formal fire buffing group in the Metro Toronto area. Out of that need was born the Metro Toronto Multiple Alarm Association, officially formed on February 25, 1975. The group originally met in members’ basements. Later, the MTMAA would later benefit from the generosity of member Bruce Beauchamp’s family, setting up a meeting room above their tailor shop on Adelaide Street West. That location provided a great vantage point for watching responding apparatus from the Adelaide Street firehall.

Wanting to expand their service to the community, in 1977 the members of MTMAA took over the operation of the Scarborough Fire Department canteen truck. In late 1979 members began operation of a canteen service for the Etobicoke and Mississauga Fire Departments that lasted two years until a new fire buff club, The Lakeshore Fire Buffs, started up and took over the service. Forty years later, we continue to proudly provide canteen and rehab services to the amalgamated Toronto Fire Services.

The most infamous response in the club’s history began on the evening of November 10, 1979, when a Canadian Pacific freight train carrying volatile chemicals derailed near the intersection of Mavis Road and Dundas Street in Mississauga. The ensuing evacuation displaced over 200,000 residents. Members spent the next eleven days serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals to responding personnel, logging a total of 772 volunteer hours on scene.

Through the 1980s, MTMAA moved again. Buildings come and buildings go in the big city, and we were allowed the use of the Toronto Firefighters Association meeting hall at 39 Commissioners Street. Meetings were held on the former apparatus bay of Fire Hall #30 – an old single-bay firehall active until 1980. The 1990s were interesting and turbulent times for the Fire Service in Toronto. 1998 saw the amalgamation of the Toronto Fire Department with it’s five suburban counterparts. Metro Toronto was no more, so MTMAA became GTMAA – the Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association. The canteen service (now called Support 7) was expanded westward from Scarborough into the new City of Toronto.

Over the years, GTMAA has grown to about 40 members and twice as many subscribers. While many have moved on, new members are continuously attracted to our ideas of fellowship and inclusiveness. Our friends and alumni often walk through the door unannounced, always welcome from as far afield as the United States, Europe, and Asia.