The 1937 Chevrolet was acquired by the Victoria Fire Department during World War II for the basic training of new firefighters. Several years old when it was purchased, the truck was a standard commercial model produced by Chevrolet. It came equipped with a heavy-duty chassis, rear axle, and dual wheels.
The body was suitable for several uses, notably as a wrecker, or carrying heavy cargo. Many trucks of this popular model were purchased for use as fire apparatus, especially during the war when few trucks were being produced for civilian use.
The VFD made modifications to the Chevy to suit it for use as a drill 'wagon': among which was segmenting of the body in order to separate the various sizes of hose carried. IN addition, a small pump was added, as was a booster reel and tank. This made the apparatus useful for fighting grass fires and other small non-life threatening blazes. This freed up the larger, more completely equipped font -line apparatus for more necessary duties. The equipment carried was for basic firefighting such as axes, and standard ladders. The VFD had a useful vehicle, which was affordable and available.
The truck was pressed into service in early December, 1947 when, tragically, a life was lost in a training accident. A ladder carrying firefighter Leonard Harper suddenly began to slide downward. Unable to save himself, he was tossed to the ground, suffering fatal head injuries. The truck, following fire service tradition, was used as the funeral vehicle.
The former drill wagon was sold to Esquimalt Public Works in the early 1950s and was finally disposed of by that municipality in 1964. The Eng family acquired the truck some time thereafter and subsequently turned the vehicle over the Victoria Fire Department Historical Society in 2008. Restoration was completed in 2010.
Text: David Parker, Historian/Curator,