It was 1954 and the Sooke Volunteer Fire Department needed a new fire truck.
At that time, the federal government had a fleet of fire trucks that had served at various airports across the country for airfield protection during WWll. Declared surplus, these trucks were available to local fire departments to purchase.
Fire Chief Bill Stephenson acquired a used 1947 International Bickle fire truck from the Victoria Airport for the princely sum of $500.
This truck served Sooke until January 1970 when two brand new Ford/Thibault fire trucks arrived from Quebec to replace the fleet.
The 1947 International fire truck was given to the Barriere Fire Department located near Kamloops. In February 1970 a brave group of men arrived from Barriere to drive the truck to its new home. Dressed in full winter gear, these firefighters braved the Fraser Canyon in winter, driving an open cab fire truck.
As the truck prepared to leave, a “gentlemen’s agreement” was made so that if the fire truck was ever to be sold again, Sooke Volunteer Fire Department would have first option to buy it back. In September 2011, the Sooke Firefighters Association received a call that Barriere no longer had room to store the truck and offered to return it to Sooke as per the 41-year-old agreement. A plan was quickly put together and on Nov. 6, 2011 after 41 years away, Sooke’s old fire truck came home.
The Firefighters Association now plan on restoring the truck as a parade vehicle and hope to have the work done by 2013 when it will be the 100th Anniversary of the Sooke Volunteer Fire Department.
Anyone who can provide old photos of the truck when it was in Sooke those many years ago, or is interested in assisting in the restoration of the fire truck, please give us a call at 250-642-3010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org