Vintage: How a classic antique fire truck came back to Charlottetown, Canada
Randy Flanagan was just a kid growing up in Charlottetown, capital of Canada’s Prince Edward Island, when he first saw the 1942 Bickle Seagrave fire engine in action. He didn't know then that one day he'd be a fire fighter and that he'd be putting in countless hours in his spare time to restore that bright red fire truck. The Charlottetown Fire Department bought the Bickle back in 1942. But in 2003, the city determined the engine had past its prime and was just taking up space in the station. It was sold and re-sold a few times in Nova Scotia. Flanagan didn't know about the sale until after the truck was gone. "After all those years of watching it and then seeing it go to Nova Scotia, I didn't think I'd ever see it again," he said.
And then, a few years ago, a colleague was leafing through a fire fighting magazine when he spotted the old truck for sale in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Flanagan and his colleagues drove over to Bridgewater to see it.
Flanagan said he wasn't sure at the time what work was needed to restore it. "It was parked outside with a tent over it, so it was out in the winter elements," he said. "It didn't run at the time, so we were not quite sure what we were getting."
But Flanagan decided to bargain for the old engine. "We didn't do bad. They wanted $9 000 and then $7 000, then he come down to $3 000," he said. "The seller finally said if we go over and pick it up they'll sell it to us for a dollar."
The fire fighters handed over a toonie and told the seller to keep the change.
More money than he thought
Flanagan said the restoration has taken hundreds of hours. They took off the running boards, the tank and all the chrome. Flanagan is one of the few paid fire fighters in Charlottetown but he much of the restoration work is done on his own time. "The job's started. Somebody's got to finish it," he said. "It's more money than I thought it was going to need. We're into about $50 000 and it's not near done."
Much of the funding comes from the donation box next to the 1929 LaFrance that's on display out front of the fire station, along with countless barbecues. "We used to sell hot dogs and sausages every Friday for about five years," he said. "We raised enough money for the paint job. That was $13 500 for the paint job. That was a lot of hotdogs."
The city's heritage
Randy Flanagan said it's important that these historic vehicles are restored. "It is the history of Charlottetown and it is the history of the station. How fires were fought back then," he said.
"When you look at the trucks today, a ladder truck is $1,2 million for a new truck. The LaFrance out front, when it was built and bought in 1929, it was $15 000. It's just interesting to see how it's changed over the years. It's really good for the tourists. They love it."
Flanagan says the restoration of the 1942 Bickle Seagrave is almost finished. He's hoping that it will be ready to show off during the next Gold Cup Parade in August.
Source: CBC News