BACK IN EDGECUMBE: Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade members Ron van der Horst and Jarrad West stand with mechanic Steve Cory in front of the restored 1975 International fire truck. Photo Haylee King D8636-02

Edgecumbe’s first fire truck is back on the street and serving the community.

The Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade’s retro 1975 International truck has been lovingly restored and while it won’t be fighting fires, residents can expect to see it around often.

The truck was originally purchased new through funding from the Edgecumbe Lions Club and the Rangitaiki Dairy Company but was eventually handed on to other volunteer fire brigades around the country before it was retired.

Senior volunteer fireman Jarrad West said the brigade bought the truck back from a collector in Wellington in 2013.

“We’re planning on using it for events like the Christmas Parade and fundraising to show it off to the community,” said Mr West.

“Retired members will love to see it back on the road again and are excited to see it again at our upcoming honours night.”

In its heyday, the truck was the fastest around and was clocked at 168 kilometres per hour by police who, in their cars at the time, were unable to keep up.

Firefighter at the time, Brian Smith, modified the motor to slow the truck down after another firefighter nearly crashed it on a corner.

Unfortunately, despite being bought back six years ago, the fire truck has been languishing behind the fire station in an un-roadworthy state.

“It was in a state of disrepair, to put it lightly, and one of our guys who is a mechanic had been working on it, but it was a case of too much work to do and too little time,” said Mr West.

The brigade approached two local businesses, Altruck & Machinery Services Whakatane and Haddock Spraypainters and Panelbeaters who gave their services to the brigade at discounted rates

Steve Cory of Altruck & Machinery Services worked on the truck for seven months and said although it was a huge job, the local company liked to support local people when it could.

“There were no brakes, no clutch, we really had to strip it down,” he said.

“Parts of this era are really hard to find, so we had to outsource aftermarket parts and modify them. We were lucky in some cases like we found a second-hand gearbox. In cases like this it’s not about making money, it’s about helping the community and we try to do that when we can. These guys are volunteers out here doing what they can, and we wanted to give back to them however we could.”

Mr Cory said he worked on trucks like this often when he started his mechanic apprenticeship in the 1980’s but it is now rare to find them in working order.

“It was a little bit nostalgic for me, as I’m sure it is for all the firefighters,” he said.

The truck also spent 300 hours with the team at Haddocks Spraypainters and Panelbeaters who worked from an old photo to get it looking as close as possible to how it did when it was new.

“We completely restored the truck in regard to the panel and paintwork,” said Goose Haddock.

“We donated all our labour back to the brigade because it’s a great organisation and they do a great job. It was nice to be able to give something back to the community and it is nice to be involved somehow in the work that they do. It was a pleasure to be involved in it.”

charlotte.jones@thebeacon.co.nz