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Fire department celebrates 100th anniversary of third fire truck

The 1925 REO Speedwagon purchased in 1924 has a long and storied history
Prince Rupert Fire Rescue’s miniature REO Speedwagon was also a big hit during the department’s 100th anniversary celebration for its full-sized truck. (Thom Barker/Black Press Media)

Prince Rupert Fire rescue celebrated the 100th anniversary of its 1925 REO Speedwagon fire truck with an open house at the Fire Museum April 6.

The now centenarian vehicle has a long and storied history.

In 1924, the truck was the third fire truck purchased by the City of Prince Rupert. It served the city for 26 years (1924-1950).

After decommissioning and being stripped of all its fire-fighting equipment, the Speedwagon, so named for its ability to reach a whopping top speed of 40 kilometres per hour, was sold to the Porcher Island community of Oona River.

The community used it as a sand and haul truck before abandoning it around 1965 to rust and decay in the salmonberry bushes alongside the main road, according to a history on the Prince Rupert Facebook page.

In 1985, a group of people from the fire department tracked the truck down in Oona River. The community donated it back to Prince Rupert and a meticulous restoration followed, including making it drivable again with a 30-35 H.P. 4-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission.

The restored vintage machine made its first appearance in the annual Seafest Parade in 1988.

The fire department served hot dogs and birthday cupcakes at the Saturday celebration.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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