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Old workhorse now a labour of love

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Volunteers charged with restoring a rare slice of Tauranga firefighting history have set up a Givealittle page to help them make their goal a reality.

The Tauranga volunteer fire brigade had spent the past several weeks beavering away at bringing a 1950 Ford firetruck back to life, but now need professional help.

Brigade station officer Bruce Nilson said the original truck attended countless fires throughout the city in its time of service.

We've all got day jobs. We've all got family lives but our hobbies, if you like, is what we do for the community.
Bruce Nilson

"That old fire truck was actually bought new in Tauranga in 1950 and was the main fire truck in Tauranga from 1953 to about 1970. Then it went elsewhere in the country."

The truck has spent the past 30 to 40 years sitting in a museum in Gisborne but its time had now come.

"They knew it had come from Tauranga and they wanted to get rid of it so they gave us a call," Mr Nilson said.

Mr Nilson put the proposal of bringing the old truck back home and eventually restoring it to the volunteer brigade, and received a resounding 'yes'.

"The biggest thing is it's from Tauranga," Mr Nilson said.

"It's part of our history, us as a city and us as a brigade."

Mr Nilson said firefighters used to sit in the back of the truck when heading out to jobs. Creating a custom-made deck to help recreate this was one of the things the brigade hoped to achieve.

"We want to get it running for the community and events. It's just restoring some of our history really and everyone is really quite behind it."

Mr Nilson said they have already spent some time working on it and will do most of the labour themselves.

The Givealittle page was set up to help cover the cost of things they need professionals to do such as panelwork and painting. The brigade estimates the total cost of restoring the truck could reach $20,000.

"Our volunteers in their day jobs come from all different backgrounds and there are a lot of different skills between us," Mr Nilson said.

"We've all got day jobs. We've all got family lives but our hobbies, if you like, is what we do for the community.

"Spare time is hard to find but we are finding it. It will be a long-term project. We are slowly ploughing away for it, but it will be worth it."

Among the other things the truck needs are custom cabinets and an engine tune.

Mr Nilson said the truck would be used to serve the community in parades, fire safety events and public events.

* If anyone would like to learn more or help, click here to access the brigade's Givealittle page.

Fire service:

* Tauranga has had a continuous fire brigade since 1909.

* It was not until 1912 that the George V Coronation Fire Station was completed on the corner of Wharf and Durham Streets.

* There have been a number of dramatic fires in the town of Tauranga. In 1916 11 shops and the Commercial Hotel on The Strand burned down. In February 1936 it was the turn of the Tauranga Hotel. However, by then there was at least an efficient alarm system and a well-established and competent brigade of firefighters.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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