For the first time in its 70-year history the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department has a three-vehicle fleet.
Chief Kevin Smith has confirmed that Truck 43 is now in service, but it took some doing to get it there.
It’s amazing what a community can accomplish when they work together.
“It’s been difficult over the years. Mesachie’s only had two trucks,” Smith explained. “Not that we go to any huge major incidents, but in the past there’s been large fires in Lake Cowichan, where we can only send nine people in two trucks.”
As well, just over a decade ago the Mesachie Lake Fire Department took on the responsibility of the Pacific Marine Circle Route but they can’t send their only fire engine out that way or it would sacrifice their own community’s protection. Instead they send their only pickup truck, and that means limited manpower.
The new to them 2004 pickup truck means more options for the little department.
Smith and company were given the truck in mid May by Lakeside Property Management owner Francis Clayton.
It needed a lot of front-end work.
The timing was right, though, as the CVRD recently acquired a structure protection unit and the Mesachie group started wondering where it on their trucks.
“Something would have to come off for it to go on and that started a conversation about maybe adding a pickup,” Smith explained.
So with their pig roast fundraising money in hand, and the gift from Clatyon, work on Truck 43 began in earnest.
Smith and his son Brad did the repairs out of their shop at Mesachie Lake Automotive. Next up was new paint.
The firefighters bought the paint and Smith asked his friends at Fix Auto Duncan (Island GM’s body shop) if they’d be able to paint the truck. They were willing, and not just that, they got permission from Island GM owner Randy Westlake to do it at no cost to the fire department. Then the dealership’s suppliers pitched in primer, seal and spray-in bed-liner.
“I can’t say enough about Island GM,” Smith said. “They did a phenomenal job. I was shocked. It’s a beautiful truck.”
While the truck was out getting painted, the department was given a light bar from Qualicum Beach Volunteer Fire Department and replacement bulbs from Mill Bay Fire Rescue.
Mesachie member Tyson Allnutt went to work installing the lights and sirens in his off hours at Canadian Tire. The CVRD found a working radio, and Katzza Logging donated a headache rack.
A deal with Mark from Mark’s Instant Sign Shop resulted in the truck’s decals.
Now, after two and a half months, hosts of donations and volunteer work hours, and roughly $1,600 of non-taxpayer funds, Mesachie Lake has a third truck in it’s fleet.
“It was a humbling experience asking people for help and getting so much,” Smith said. “We are so humbled. We’re a very self-sustaining community and to ask for help outside of town…it’s not something I’m super comfortable with but now, on the back side of it, I’m humbled.”
Smith said the truck marks a new beginning for the Mesachie Lake Fire Department, after a a particularly difficult spell.
“We’re trying to look ahead to the future and that’s what we’re trying to concentrate on.”