This vehicle is the first motorized fire truck purchased by the town of Berwick in 1924 for the sum of $1,875.00.
The Ford Motor Company at the Windsor Ontario plant built the truck chassis, a Model 'T', in 1923. Due to an unfortunate fire at the plant, Ford lost much of the documentation about production in those early years. However it was one of seventeen million Model 'T's manufactured from 1909 to 1927. This is still the largest model run by any automobile manufacturer and there remain a million Model 'T's licensed in North America today.
The fire equipment was built and added to the chassis by the Bickle Fire Engine Company, also in Ontario. This type of apparatus is referred to as a 'chemical fire truck'. Pressure was created in a tank by mixing soda water and acid. The water was forced from the tank through various valves and plumbing to the hose and finally the nozzle. Two tanks were supplied so that one could be refilled while the other was in use.
Although small in stature by today's standard, this vehicle was a huge step in mechanized fire fighting. Prior to this type of machine, horse drawn wagons, hand operated pumps and bucket brigades were used.
With the automobile industry still in its infancy, many of the things we take for granted were not afforded the operators of these early machines. For instance, on steep hills the truck had to go up in reverse because no fuel pump was provided and raising the carburetor above the level of the fuel would starve the engine. There were no modern paved roads either. If the truck was needed in Kentville it was faster to transport it by steam railroad than to drive.
Despite its shortcomings the 'T' served the town well until 1949. By then the Model 'T' was obsolete, surpassed by automotive technology and firefighting requirements. The truck was sold, stripped of its fire equipment and sold again. The 'T' was used for a few years on a local dairy farm, and was again sold, this time out of the area.
Many years have passed since Berwick's first fire truck was sold. To most of the members it was just another faded photograph on the clubroom wall of the way things used to be. And why shouldn't it be. Most of the men and women who now serve the town's fire department were not even born until after the 'T' was retired.
For a progressive fire department in modern times we must think modern. Fire trucks must be large, carry masses of gear and be able to assist the citizens of the community with whatever the citizens' demand. Whether it is a fire, car accident, medical emergency, real or imagined the fire department must be capable, trained, ready, and able to respond with the best people and equipment possible. In such a department little room was left in the day-to-day operation for the contemplation of the past.
Such is the way things were when, in 1998, the family of Mr. Stanley Higgs of Halifax contacted us to see if we had any pictures of an old truck that he had purchased and wanted to restore. Sadly Mr. Higgs passed away before he could carry out his work.
That truck was the 'T'. The members of the department decided to try to reacquire the old Ford and turn it into a Veterans' Memorial. After all those years the truck was brought home on 19 Dec 1998, the day of the annual Children's Christmas Party.
Since then, the process of restoration has been ongoing, and will continue for some years yet.
It is our hope the truck that pointed the way to the future so many years ago will help to put us in touch with the past. For our Veterans, here is your 'T'. May it remain a symbol of the dedication required to build a strong fire department, past, present, and future.
VETERANS' HONOUR ROLE
|Keith Johnson||41 Years 1931-1972|
|Ernest Frost||40 Years 1953-1993|
|Cecil Rood||39Years 1939-1978|
|Ernest Hiltz||37 Years 1940-1978|
|Everett Millen||35 Years 1953-1988|
|Stewart Peterson||31 Years 1949-1980|
|Ronald Smith||30 Years 1956-1987|
|Donald Cunningham||28 Years 1955-1985|
|Gordon Johnson||26 Years 1960-1988|
|George Rainforth||26 Years 1967-1993|
|Dallas Simpson||26 Years 1950-1977|
|William Wollard||23 Years 1933-1955|
|Hardy Bezanson||22 Years 1936-1958|
|Donald Parker||21 Years 1937-1958|
|Whitney West||21 Years 1937-1958|
|Roderick Bethune||20 Years 1941-1961|
|Percy Beckwith||17 Years 1933-1950|
|Albert Dennison||17 Years 1939-1956|
|Robert Caldwell||16 Years 1950-1966|
|Alan Whittier||16 Years 1964-1980|
|Clyde Rice||16 Years 1953-1969|
|Cecil Huntley||15 Years 1951-1967|
|Leroy Salsman||15 Years 1942-1958|
|Joseph Clark||13 Years 1942-1955|
|Arthur Pearson||12 Years 1939-1951|
|Harlan Eaton||12 Years 1939-1951|
|Lewis Pierce||11 Years 1939-1950|
|Alfred Corkum||7 Years 1940-1947|
|Robert Spicer||5 Years 1939-1944|
|Kenneth MacLean||5 Years 1955-1961|
|Reginald Robicheau||4 Months 1966|
Model 'T' Donor
The Veterans' Memorial Fire Truck Committee would like to express its gratitude to the many people who have assisted in making this project possible. To the members of the Berwick and District Volunteer Fire Department, your support and help have been necessary and very much appreciated. To the many anonymous donors of parts, pieces and tales we thank you. To our Veterans for showing us the way we salute you.
Officer In Charge
Dep. Chief Laurie Saunders
Capt. Mark Marchant
Special Thanks to
Blair Rhodenizer, Ken Redden, Steve Palmer,
Alan Wagner, and Tom Easson