Estevan Fire Chief Dale Feser is excited that an old 1928 American LaFrance fire truck that is the oldest in the city is finally home.
The fire truck was moved into the front foyer of the Estevan fire hall on Oct. 2. It was moved to the fire hall from the Souris Valley Museum on Sept. 11, after spending more than 18 years on display at the museum.
The truck had been loaned to the museum years ago because there wasn’t enough space for it at Estevan’s old fire hall. The museum had been responsible for maintaining the fire truck.
Now the 1928 American Lafrance is a centrepiece for a historical display at the fire hall.
“We were waiting to touch base with some of our retired members to see if we could get some of the mechanical aspects of the road engine taken care of, and it looks like it’s still very manageable, but we were running out of time, because we wanted to have this in place for the upcoming fire school that we’re going to be hosting here from October 26-28,” said Feser.
The fire department will continue to work on restoring the fire truck after the conference, which will bring volunteer firefighters from across the province to Estevan for training.
The undercarriage, the engine compartment and the exterior components of the truck have been cleaned.
Feser noted the LaFrance was pushed into the front foyer, which he believes is fitting because that’s how brand new fire trucks are put into service for the first time.
“It was a very nice ribbon on the present to be able to actually push it into the fire station. It took about 10 people to push it in and put it in … here,” said Feser.
The department wants to use the fire truck for parades and other public relations appearances. The fire department has approached retired members about maintaining the mechanical aspects of the truck’s engine, but the actual pump itself has suffered some mechanical failures, so it will take a substantial overhaul to get it back to an operating condition.
The fire truck last structure fire as a primary truck was in 1973, during the International Hotel fire, which is one of the largest fires in Estevan’s history. After that, it remained in service, but only as a secondary or reserve truck.
Feser noted the fire truck has already attracted a lot of attention from former firefighters. Former fire chief Rick Perry came in for a visit last week to see the truck and brought a couple of his friends.
“This is something that’s definitely deeply embedded with the fire department and its members and the fire service history, so for us to be able to proudly display it back at home here is just amazing,” said Feser. “Words can’t really describe how proud we are of having this and being able to display it.”
The fire department has several other items on display to showcase the changes that have taken in firefighting. A 1914 12-person pull cart had been donated by the Village of Tribune and the Rural Municipality of Souris Valley to the Weyburn Fire Department. Wayne Satre, a retired firefighter from Weyburn, restored one of the two carts.
“It took more than 700 man hours in order to do the restoration on this particular item, and this is right in his wheelhouse, as he’s also a journeyman auto body person,” said Feser.
But there wasn’t room to display the cart and protect it from the elements, so a decision was made to bring it to Estevan.
The fire department also has old firefighting uniforms, and other items, such as three-quarter length slicker jackets that were worn for considerable time until advances occurred in personal protective equipment.
They also have old self-contained breathing apparatus, airway management kits for medical response purposes and other items will also be on display. The department would also like to have photos of every chief and deputy chief in the history of the department.
People can drop by the station from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays to view the items.