Firefighters fundraising to restore antique fire truck

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Creemore firefighters are fundraising to refurbish the village’s first fire truck so it can be put back into service (on special occasions that is).

Until a few years ago, the 1941 International Harvester fire truck was used in parades and available for birthday parties or when a local team won a championship, but recently it has been taken off the road.

Clearview Fire Station 4 Captain Ed Van Severen said it will cost about $10,000 to repair the body and have the paint job redone.

Unit 41, a pumper, was the first motorized self-propelled fire truck purchased in Creemore and held 400 gallons of water. The truck remained in service until 1989.

It is now owned by the Creemore Firefighters’ Association.

Unit 41 was purchased from the RCAF in 1958. It had been used by the RCAF fire brigade in March of that year to fight the fire at the 13x ammunitions depot explosion at Base Borden. Three Creemore area residents were counted among the seven people who died in the explosion, still one of the worst peacetime ammunition explosions in Canadian history.

In the fall of 1958, Creemore ratepayers expressed mixed emotions about council’s proposal to purchase the truck from the RCAF at a cost of $2,100 (about $17,800 today) but they did vote in favour of the purchase.

In August of 1959, with rising tension over the purchase of the fire truck within the Creemore Fire Brigade, Unit 41 got its first call, responding to an electrical fire at Machesney’s Groceteria (now the Post Office).

“Luckily the smoke was noticed early by passersby and, with no wind to fan the blaze, the fire was confined to the smouldering stage,” states a Creemore Star report. “Fire Chief Lloyd Hall was on scene following the sounding of the fire alarm and the village’s new fire truck was called to its first action. An indication of the unorganized state of the local volunteer fire department following the recent series of resignations and dismissals was seen in the fact that only three members of the department responded to the call.”

In 1962, the fire brigade saved St. Luke’s Anglican Church from fire, when a furnace malfunction caused a small fire. Ernie Roberts was on site putting up Christmas decorations and alerted the fire brigade, which responded quickly, saving the church. Damage was confined to the parish hall.

Unit 41 went on to accompany firefighters responding to many fires in Creemore and surrounding area, including mills in Avening in 1963 and Creemore in 1970, both of which were levelled.

Creemore Fire Department purchased a brand new 600-gallon GMC fire truck in 1972. In 1990, the department purchased a 1989 Ford Diesel Cargo Fire apparatus, Pump 42, its first major purchase in 17 years, greatly improving fire protection for the town and resulting in the retirement of Unit 41, which was taken over by the Creemore Firefighters Association.

“The Midtown Express” continued to serve Creemore and Clearview Township until 2015 when it was replaced with a 2016 Pierce pumper, Squad 45.

The association has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the restoration of Unit 41. To donate online, visit www.gofundme.com/unit-41.

A portion of proceeds from the Canada Day three-on-three ball hockey tournament will also go to the restoration. Participants are invited to register as a team or an individual in the competitive or family division. Cost is $15 per player. Games will be played on Veteranʼs Way, between the Creemore Arena and the Legion, where most Canada Day activities are taking place throughout the day. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Games start at 10:30 a.m. To sign up, or for more information, e-mail Van Severen at [email protected]

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