Westville fire department restoring antique truck that served Pictou County for years

74-year-old truck was purchased for fire department by Westville restaurant owners

Westville Fire and Rescue is beginning an extensive restoration of the 74-year-old truck.

“Any part that we can get off will be sandblasted and painted, that’s our goal,” said Gordie Sutherland, first captain of the department.

The fire truck was used in Westville until 1976.

The last call it made was to a fire at the local Royal Canadian Legion. The truck was often in demand to fight fires around Pictou County because of its 50-foot ladder, which was longer than most fire trucks of that era.

The fire truck when it was purchased by the town in 1948. (Submitted by Westville Fire and Rescue)

The truck was eventually sold. In 2019, a member of the Westville department saw a Kijiji ad where the old pumper was being sold in Ontario.

“We did some checking and we found out that it was in an area close to Muskoka,” said Westville Deputy Chief Tom Steele. “They were asking $5,000 for it and we just didn’t have that kind of money to be spending on an old fire truck.”

Members of the fire department are hoping they can restore the pumper to its original condition. (Submitted by Westville Fire and Rescue)

Word spread around town that the truck was for sale.

That’s when the owners of a local restaurant stepped in.

“My stepdaughter was on Facebook and noticed someone was trying to get the fire truck back to Westville,” said Rhonda Cougias, co-owner of Acropole Pub and Grill in Westville.

“She mentioned it to my husband and I and we just said, let’s buy it and donate it.”

That moment was a turning point for the fire department.

With the truck purchased at a reduced price and then shipped back to Westville, a meeting was held to discuss how they could restore the old GMC pumper. But COVID forced a delay.

The goal is to have the restoration completed by 2024. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Other businesses have been offering their support.

Tri-County Towing has offered as many tows as the fire department needs and M.D. Holmes Trucking provided a space for the last two years for the fire truck to be stored until work could commence. The plan is now underway.

A flashing red light that was added after the truck left the factory is the only real problem that’s been found.

“That light wasn’t sealed right so water got down into the bottom of the cab corner and put a hole there,” said Sutherland. “But other than that every panel on this truck is solid and just needs to be freshened up.”

The truck is being stripped. All of the components, including the long ladder, are being stored in one area of the fire house.

Other businesses in the community have agreed to help with the body work and mechanical repairs. The plan is to have the truck’s water pumper restored so it will be able to run water through hose lines.

The plan is to have the truck restored by 2024. That’s when the department will mark its 150th anniversary.

Steele said there will be a special celebration and the 1948 truck will be prominently displayed. The department hopes the vehicle will be used for parades and auto shows throughout the province.