In 1951, a fire insurance underwriters’
report critical of the state of fire protection in Victoria,
resulted in the decision to purchase of new apparatus—two
pumpers and a city service ladder truck—to replace then
elderly rigs in front line service. The VFD Annual Report
for 1951 recorded that...
A new Kenworth chassis and pump, approved
by the City Council, and purchased during 1951, has been
delivered to the city and is at present in the City’s
Shop, where work is being completed, under the supervision
of Mr. Findle, Works Superintendent of the City. This work
entails building a body and installing the necessary equipment
to make this chassis a complete piece of apparatus.
The specifications and design for two new
pumpers were heavily influenced by a Seattle Fire Department
Kenworth. However, there were some features that reflected
Victoria Fire Department preferences such as two booster reels
rather than one. The Seattle Kenworth was also fitted with
compartments, left off the VFD rigs, which meant that its
Canadian ‘cousins’ differed somewhat in appearance.
The first pumper was completed, then tested
and approved, by the B.C. Fire Underwriters. Upon approval,
it entered VFD service at the James Bay Fire Hall in June
1952. The second VFD Kenworth pumper, which was identical
to the first, was approved by the 1952 Council and entered
service a year later replacing an older piece of apparatus
at the Burnside Hall.
The third, and larger, Kenworth acquired
was fitted with an elegantly streamlined city service ladder
body. It joined the VFD roster on 22 June 1954. All three
Kenworths served Victoria into the 1970s.
The only VFD Kenworth to survive to the present
passed through several hands after its retirement, including
the British Columbia Provincial Museum Transport Collection
and Inland Kenworth, which undertook a limited restoration.
When the Transport Collection was dissolved, it, like the
1935 Studebaker Combination, was returned to the city and
the Fire Department it had served for so many years.
1969 Photo: David Parker, VFDHS
The Victoria Fire Department Historical Society
has been progressively restoring the 1952 Kenworth. It has
been, and continues to be, a very heavily used part of the
VFDHS Collection and considerable work is needed to keep it
operational. The original Hale pump was removed some years
ago but an equivalent pump of 1050 igpm capacity, by the same
manufacturer, is being installed in early 2006.
Text: David Parker, Historian/Curator,