Big happy family
Refurbished pumper truck welcomed back as part of the Deer Lake Fire Rescue family
Meet some of the proud members of Deer Lake Fire Rescue.
DEER LAKE, N.L. — Don Rowsell serves alongside two of his sons with Deer Lake Fire Rescue, but it was another old acquaintance that recently lit up his face.
The 47-year veteran of the department was the clear choice to get to be the first person to drive Pumper 1, the 1952 GMC Maple Leaf firetruck that had served the department well for 47 years until it was retired in 1999.
The old truck had been taken off the road in 2000 with the goal of refurbishing it. The project fell to the wayside until a couple of years ago when Deer Lake town council decided to get it back on track.
The reconditioned rig was finally delivered back to its original users in October.
Rowsell, who joined the department in May 1972, has held the rank of lieutenant, captain and deputy chief and has served on the executive committee as the communications officer and secretary.
Still quite active in the department, he shows up for every training scenario and responds to calls with as much passion as ever. He’s operated every truck the fire department has ever used and is the go-to guy for operating the pumpers and water flows, keeping up with the changing technology he’s seen.
The look on his face when he got to see and drive Pumper 1 again was priceless. Every firefighter in attendance gave the moment the respect it was due.
Rowsell’s two sons, Jason and Stephen, are also members of Deer Lake Fire Rescue, with 23 and 18 years of service, respectively.
Jason responded to calls on Pumper 1 before it was decommissioned. He was just as excited as his father to see it finally running again.
Stephen may not have responded to calls on the old pumper, but he remembers getting to ride in it as a kid. It had already been taken out of service and was slated to be rebuilt when he joined in 2001.
“I can remember being probably four years old and, at the time, the firefighters had to do truck checks on their own,” said Stephen. “Everyone took a turn. Dad and another firefighter took me out on a ride to give her a run and I couldn’t even see over the dash. I had to move over to one side every time he had to change a gear.”
The firefighting tradition in the Rowsell family is likely to continue for some time to come. Stephen’s 15-year-old son Colin joined the department’s Junior Firefighter Program this year after spending plenty of time at the fire hall with his dad, uncle and grandfather.
The 1952 GMC Maple Leaf truck known to Deer Lake Fire Rescue as Pumper 1 has been fully restored and returned to the fire department.
Firefighting is a family tradition for the Rowsells of Deer Lake. Firefighter Don Rowsell, middle, is flanked by his two firefighting sons, from left, Deputy Chief Stephen Rowsell and Captain Jason Rowsell.
Veteran firefighter Don Rowsell was the first member of Deer Lake Fire Rescue to sit behind the wheel of the refurbished Pumper 1.