The heritage park, which has a close association with the local fire brigade, has an extensive collection of fire engines, from a 1933 Ford CV to a new arrival just decommissioned after 25 years’ service. The engines are a popular part of the town’s annual Christmas parade.
“We get them going and paint them up. They don’t have to have warrants, just be running nicely and able to stop,” says Mike Rooney, a former fireman who did time on a couple of the vehicles in the shed. Notable machines include a ‘Green Goddess’ fire engine from Otira that used to fight bush fires, a 1952 Ford V8 that used to serve at Reefton, and the park favourite, a Model AA Ford fire truck. “It’s a real honey,” says Mort. Built by the Ordinance Department at Trentham, it served at Burnham and came over to the Coast to Seaview Hospital after the war, where it was used by the hospital fire party. “It was left derelict when the hospital closed down and we got it in a very poor state,” he says.
The little engine’s pièce de résistance is a simple-but-effective frictiondriven siren, which runs off the fan belt and is operated with a pedal by the passenger.
Mike in uniform