New life for old fire truck

It starts with a photograph taken by Shawn Currie of an old, abandoned 1946 American LaFrance fire truck parked in a field in Fintry — on the side of the truck it was written: 

"Lumby and District Regional Volunteer Fire Dep't."

When Currie showed the photo to his first responder friend, Gary McLaughlin, the wheels were set in motion.

"It was old. Very old. 70 plus years old," said McLaughlin. "How the heck did a 70-year-old fire truck end up in a farm field in Fintry?"

For those that know McLaughlin, they know that once he gets something in his mind he usually goes full out until he gets answers.

McLaughlin approached the owners, the Oakes family, and asked if he could purchase the old firetruck, saying that he would like it to go to the Lumby museum. 

But first, McLaughlin had to prove that the truck was actually from Lumby. 

He dug up the old membership roster from the Lumby Fire Hall and started making calls. 

"It was some of the best conversations I have ever had," said McLaughlin. "Some of these guys are in their 80s and 90s, and for them, it was like looking at a picture of an old girlfriend." 

The old members started telling stories and sharing memorabilia from their days fighting fires.

"It turned into a big sentimental thing over this fire truck."

That was the proof McLaughlin needed that the truck was in fact from Lumby. 

McLaughlin approached Lumby council, who unanimously approved the purchase of the truck for the museum.

He and the Oakes family agreed on a price and the truck was purchased. 

Which brings us to the present day. 

The truck has turned into a bit of a local celebrity in Lumby. 

McLaughlin was able to get the truck to the village thanks to a generous donation of a flatbed tow truck.

So far people in Lumby have been offering up help to restore the vehicle, but McLaughlin has a goal. 

He wants to have the truck up and running by the Santa Claus parade in Lumby. 

His dream is to see the old firefighters he spoke with, ride in the truck in the parade. 

"We want to restore it to working condition," says McLaughlin. "Come hook or by crook that thing is going to be running well enough to be in the Lumby Santa Claus parade."

McLaughlin has set up a website where he will update the community on the progress of the work, but he is also looking for help through donations or hands-on help.

"The ultimate goal from the museum's perspective is to recognize the first responders, especially the ones that have retired in our community. Lumby, Lavington and Cherryville area there are a lot of first responders and there is a lot of great history here." 

McLaughlin's wife currently works for the Lumby Fire Department.

"A lot of this will be done for not a lot of money. The problem is, we don't have any money for the project, explained McLaughlin. "Right now it's just a big fire truck sitting at the museum."

McLaughlin says this is going to be a community project. From the kids at Charles Bloom to local mechanics to people of all walks of life in Lumby, they want everybody to be a part of this project. 

For more information on the project, check out Lumby Fire Truck Restoration Project.

or email McLaughlin at [email protected]

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