People can contribute through Mclaughlin’s website: lumbyfiretruck.ca. (Photo contributed).

Lumby fire truck restoration project honours first responders

The goal is to restore the 1946 firetruck in time for the annual Santa Claus Parade in December.

A firetruck is not always what one thinks when they hear the term vintage, but for the residents of Lumby, now it probably will be.

Gary Mclaughlin is an RCMP officer from Lumby who works in Vernon. He said he was playing slow pitch last spring when a teammate showed him a photograph of a firetruck from 1946. Sprawled across the vehicle were the words “Lumby and Regional District Volunteer Fire Dep’t”.

Related: Letter: Giving thanks to B.C. responders

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Inspired both by the image and by the first responders he knows — including his wife who is a firefighter in Lumby, — Mclaughlin decided tracked down the truck for himself. He contacted the Oakes family in Fintry. They agreed to allow Mclaughlin to visit and see the vehicle in person.

“So I drove from Lumby to Fintry the next day and had a look at it and took some pictures. I brought those back to the museum and we had a look at it and it was sort of like, ‘where the heck did this thing come from’ because there wasn’t a lot of mention of it. So I talked to the museum to see if we could raise some money to purchase it,” said Mclaughlin.

Soon, with the museum on board, he approached the family with an offer. He said the family was weary at first as it had been in their family for decades.

“Once I explained that I wasn’t going to cut it up or anything, he gave us a very reasonable offer to fundraise and I went home and made a pitch to the Museum of Lumby to restore the fire truck at a council meeting. We received unanimous support.”

Mclaughlin was then tasked with verifying the truck’s authenticity.

“I started doing research. The truck is a 1946 firetruck so I collected a list of people who are still around and went door to door of the fire fighters. The response was incredible actually.”

Unfortunately, the truck doesn’t drive anymore so after authenticating it, he then had to figure out a way to transport it home. Clay Harris stepped up. Harris is a local business owner of “Scrap Pappy” who happened to have a flat deck truck big enough to haul a firetruck. Mclaughlin said that within a couple of days, the truck was back in Lumby.

“We brought it back and so now begins the fundraising aspect of it,” said Mclaughlin.

He launched a fundraising website at lumbyfiretruck.ca. The hope is to get the truck functioning again in time to participate in the annual Santa Claus parade in December.

Though final numbers haven’t been determined, he is starting with a goal of $1,000.

“It’d probably be about a $2,500 project in the end with respect to everything that needs to be done to restore it back to the way it was when it rolled off the lot. We’re going to do it $100 at a time if we have to. We’ll do a bottle drive and crowd fund and ask for donations from different groups and businesses, and ask for grants and do everything we can. But, getting it to Lumby was the first big step and it’s home now.”

Ultiately, he said he wants people to know that the project is about more than the truck.

“It’s important that people know that we’re not just trying to restore a firetruck. We’re also using it to promote our first responders — to thank first responders who have come before us and who have worked in this area,” Mclaughlin said. “That’s the central focus in restoring this thing and I know it’s going to take time and money but it’s all about grassroots and having people within the community take and interest and help out. If we can get as many eyes on this truck as we can, I know we can really do something special.”

Related: A glimpse behind the fire lines

Related: B.C. first responders to get better mental health support

Related: First responders recognized

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