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May 13, 2010
By Laura King


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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Turns out it was a volunteer firefighter – it figures! – from Langley, B.C., who used his private helicopter to find the fire truck stolen on Saturday from the East Gate Fire Department.

An e-mail from Penticton Fire Chief Wayne Williams to the members of the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. today explains what happened:

“Gordon Blad from East Gate Fire phoned last night and advised they have located the missing vehicle. An off duty firefighter from Langley who owns a helicopter donated his time and helicopter, flew up and took one of the firefighters up to scout the forestry roads. They did not locate it on that trip. On the way home the Langley firefighter noticed it located high in a gravel pit out by Manning Park. The vehicle had been stripped of all valuable metal; they cut off all the brass fittings from the fire hoses.

"Gordon is asking that if anyone hears or knows of
scrap metal places to keep an eye and ear open to see where this
material will
surface. The East Gate Fire Department wishes to thank everyone for
their
help in locating their vehicle.”

The white 1997 Ford F-350 with East Gate Fire Department
on the front doors had  emergency lights
on top, a fire hose, water tank and pumps on the back.

According to reports, the truck was was only one that
could negotiate steep mountain roads in the region. It had been paid for
with
fundraising, donations, volunteer work and grants from the B.C. Lottery
Corporation.

OK, so, here’s one of those strange things editors come
across all the time. I Googled East Gate Fire Department for the item above and
found a
CBC story on the stolen fire truck. In the story, East Gate is two words. In
the accompanying photo of the fire department, Eastgate is one word.

Which reminds me of a story often told by the other
journalist in my family, who covered the Newfoundland election in 1989.

Travelling
by helicopter with then-premier Tom Rideout, he touched down in the hamlet of
Leading Tickles.

The
people were warm, wonderful and friendly and when the small chopper carrying
the four-person media pool landed in a ball field, the band broke into song and
people cheered.

The
community had both of its fire trucks out on display for the event, including a
new one they were anxious to show off, even to a bunch of journalists – good
journalists, who are paid observers and don’t miss a trick, including the
spelling of the town’s name on the new fire truck.

Old
truck: L-E-A-D-I-N-G  T-I-C-K-L-E-S.

New
truck: L-E-A-D-I-N-G  T-I-C-K-E-L-S.

In short
order word spread through the crowd that the new truck had a typo on the door
and soon more people were standing looking at the door than were listening to
the premier.

It was a
wonderful moment of Canadiana that has served as dinner party fodder in our house
for years.

And for
the record, my better half reported that the folks in Leading Tickles were
among the friendliest he ever met, offering their homes and phone lines so he
could file stories, feeding him fish chowder and  . . .  well,
is anyone who has been to Atlantic Canada really surprised?

 


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