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I Wanted To Be A Fireman - And I Want My Own Firetruck

Pipestone Flyer

Little boys grow up with a dream of wanting to be a firemen. Some big boys grow up dreaming about having their own fire truck. Back in 2010, two firemen, Larry Fald and Warren Stark of the South Pigeon Lake Fire Department had that dream. Larry had always wanted an antique fire truck - to rebuild, to restore - along with a personal desire to work on such a project. Lo-and-behold, in 2010, a vintage, well-preserved 1947 American La France was spotted east of Edmonton. Warren and Larry were on their way to have a look.

The ‘look’ soon evolved into Larry and Warren discussing plans they had for the truck – the restoration, mechanical and cosmetic. And how the finished product would be show-truck worthy. And how the truck would be able to take part in parades and other functions. It was a project Larry and Warren had looked forward to for a long time.

Sadly, Larry Fald passed away suddenly in February 2011, about five months after they purchased the fire truck. But La France lives on. The fire truck was restored by members of the fire department in Larry Fald’s memory, and now, the 1947 antique fire truck is proudly strutting its stuff at celebrations and public events, just as Larry had planned. It is a source of pride for the entire community and a tribute to a man who is greatly missed in the Pigeon Lake region.

Larry’s proud daughter, Karen Peacock, states, “I have so much respect for Warren, and all the other volunteers and community members who have given and continue to give so much towards this project. I know Larry (Dad) would be so proud of everyone. Every time that truck heads out to an event, I just know he is grinning ear to ear.”

The truck has become a fundraising tool. “It’s great to be able to use the truck to support the community. In fact, this year at the Lakedell Fair, the truck and our kid’s Firemen Hat Fundraiser raised $167 dollars that will be split between the trucks restoration/operating fund, and a donation to the Pigeon Lake Fire Department towards the purchase their much needed lifesaving equipment, the Jaws of Life.”

The truck underwent a significant restoration, including all new wiring, bumper to bumper, new master cylinder & wheel cylinders, new tires & rims, new windows, new brake pads, plywood for new floor boards, repair cooling system, new exhaust system and lots of miscellaneous small fixes. But it is ready and is being proudly displayed at events such as: Ma- Me - O Days, Lakedell Country Fair, Wetaskiwin Firefighters Santa Parade and the Mulhurst 1st Annual Show and Shine.

Karen provides an update. “We have been invited back again this year to participate in the Wetaskiwin Santa Claus parade, which is put on by the Wetaskiwin fire department. Last year, the South Pigeon Lake Fire Department volunteers were honored to host parade marshal Dot Brekke, and lead the parade with our fire truck. Not sure if we will be leading the parade again this year, but we will definitely be there, and the truck will be all decorated up.” The Wetaskiwin Santa Claus parade is November 14, 2014.”

Warren Stark summarizes the status of the project: “Significant progress has been made on the truck, but there is still a lot of work to be done. With the busy summer season nearing an end, we are looking forward to spending time finishing the motor compartment cleanup and painting. As budget allows, we hope to tick a few items off our wish list, such as purchasing the authentic side mirrors and chrome outlet covers. However, adding a heat source to the truck for winter parades, definitely moved up on the priority list after last winter.”

Larry Fald’s daughter, Karen, concludes by saying, “I have made some updates to the website: list of restoration items completed, supporter/volunteer updates, post on the Lakedell Fair, and new pictures added to our gallery.

In 2011, Larry Fald’s family and Warren Stark officially donated the 1947 American LaFrance Fire Truck to the South Pigeon Lake Fireman’s Association. The members of the SPLFR have officially named the fire truck, ‘The Fald Pumper #50’, in honour of Larry Fald.

Larry Fald was a long-time resident (62 years) of the Pigeon Lake area, dedicating himself endlessly to family, community, carpentry and the Pigeon Lake Fire & Rescue. Larry owned and operated his own home construction business ‘Fald Construction’, a highly respected business in the Pigeon Lake Community, known for quality work, and an honest and professional work ethic.

Larry was a member of the Pigeon Lake Fire Department for 16 years. Larry has two daughters, two grandsons, and a whole community left to cherish his memory. Larry Fald leaves a legacy of memories for his kindness, contributions, integrity, and, as so many people have described, his unforgettable, “contagious smile.”

Warren Stark moved from Lethbridge to the Pigeon Lake area in November of 2007, to be closer to the grandkids. Warren started volunteering with the SPLFD very soon after the move, in January 2008. Warren brought several years’ experience to the department as he volunteered with the Hanna fire department from 1982-1988.

When I asked Warren why he volunteers, he said, “It just needs to be done.” I believe it’s this kind of selflessness that also drives Warren to work so hard in facilitating the restoration and organizing events for the antique truck.

Warren is currently employed as a crop insurance adjuster, but he looks forward to retirement and spending more time with his family, volunteering in the community, and, of course, working on and taking the truck out to community events.

For more photos and stories about Fire Prevention Week, see this week’s special section, The Fire Brigade News, included with your paper.

Pictured: The Fald Pumper at Lakedell Parade. Photo by Barry McDonald