Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t, but Chilliwack’s Pat Liebault hopes somebody’s seen the old auxiliary pumper for Rosedale’s antique firetruck somewhere.
“It may be completely gone, but it may be around and there’s only way to find out,” said the paid on-call firefighter.
In 1950, through the hands-on and financial contributions of volunteers, the Rosedale Volunteer Fire Department was able to build a community fire engine. The engine, which resembled a pick-up truck, carried 1,950 feet of hose, a 300-gallon tank, and it pulled an auxiliary pump that used to pull water directly from a slough, river, or ditch.
“A water pump is a motor,” explained Liebault. “Attach some hard hose and put it into a hard reserve, and it sucks the water and forces it through the fire hose. (The tanks can) only hold so much water … and this could be moved around and put within arms’ reach of the water and supply water to the fire.”
With a milk tank converted into a water tank, the engine and pump duo was used to battle blazes until the 1980s, when the department was able to upgrade its equipment. But having not lived out their use, both the truck and pump were sold to farmers who put them back to work on their land.
Which is where their stories ended. That is until the Rosedale department repurchased the fire engine in the early to mid-90s for nostalgic reasons.
“Longtime members of Chilliwack were involved in the building of the (original) truck, and (their) family members got involved for the (rebuild).
“It was an inter-generational connection,” said Liebault. “The fire department lives on through (the) sons and grandsons who are still with the department today.”
And now they’re looking to do it again with the pump.
“It went from one farm to another to another, but nobody knows where it is now,” said the 52-year-old firefighter.
But we’d “love to get our hands on it and restore it and put it back with the fire truck where it was for 30 years and reassemble the team with the pump in the back.”
Perhaps it’s in pieces far past any sort of recognition, says Liebault, but perhaps it’s also stored in the corner of a back field just waiting for the opportunity to be reunited with the fire engine from its glory days.