Pringle Bay Volunteer Fire Fighters' Museum
Where to start with how the idea of a museum came up in a operational fire station, it would be unheard of but definitely a possibility. The idea came up when we were approached by an ex fire fighter from Cape Town who asked us if there was a possibility of a fire fighting museum in our Pringle Bay station because he had lots of old souvenirs and fire fighting equipment that was standing in storage for no-one to see. Pringle Bay is a small coastal town on the R44 and has limited attractions for visitors so why not go ahead and try this new venture. The owner and curator of the museum is Danie Louwrens. We partnered up and got started with the lay-out of the museum. We can explain and describe to you what you can see but it will do injustice to the museum, as they say “seeing is believing."
In the museum there are lots of fire fighter badges from all over the world, there are fire fighting tunics from way back as 1967 which was donated to the station on opening day. The equipment and fire extinguishers are also from way back, there are lots more to see and talk about but as we would advise you to visit the station and see.
Just as a teaser we have a 1942 Willys Fire Jeep with the equipment on and as original as possible with the water pump mounted on the front of the vehicle, it has no water tank, so in short the vehicle gets connected to a hydrant or operates with the water pipes which has a strainer which gets placed in a dam/river.
The museum will be open only over weekends for a limited time frame but if contacted arrangements can be made if you are in the area for opening and viewing. Everybody is most welcome and we would like to meet the older generation fire fighters.
We would like to highlight the following and we stand corrected but it is my understanding that we are the only fully operational volunteer fire fighters in western cape that has a museum.
A bit of back ground information on when and how we got to build Pringle Bay Fire Station. As the town grew and grew it was a no brainer that the trailer we had for fire fighting was not enough, we had 400 litres of water and then also had to tow the trailer with a private vehicle. We appealed for a vehicle and received a Nissan l tonner bakkie with a bakkie sakkie on it with the capacity of 500 litres of water. This bakkie did its job but not have the ability go into the veld for veldfires, thus just adding hoses and in the end no water pressure.
The answer was to get another vehicle a 4x4 that could go into the veld, which we did by collecting money by having functions and donations. We then bought a Unimog 4x4 with the ability not just to go into the veld but also have the capacity of carrying 2200 LT of water and to support Overstrand Fire Department in the whole area. Now we had a vehicle but no station as yet, only a concrete garage where the bakkie was stationed.
So now we had a greater challenge for a station to be built went through the same process as for the truck and with the assistance of the municipality and many businesses giving donations we’ve got the job done. It must be said that most of the work inside the station was done by the volunteer fire fighters.
The station was opened by the mayor in 2016 and we are still going strong.
Source: Lester Smith: Senior Manager: Fire and Disaster Management and Security Services