Vintage fire truck returned to Cromwell by volunteer fire brigade, Highlands

Dec 20, 2022

A vintage fire truck that helped put out Cromwell fires in decades past is set to get a new lease on life.

In October 2024, the Cromwell Volunteer Fire Brigade will celebrate an incredible 150 years of service to the Cromwell community.

To celebrate this milestone, the crew have discovered an old truck that used to serve right here in Cromwell.

Together with the Highlands, a skilled crew of volunteers and other local sponsors they plan to restore it back to its former glory.

Highlands CEO Josie Spillane is proud of the partnership. “They are an astonishing organisation, who support not only our community but all our events, completely voluntarily. When they reached out to us to let us know they had found an old Cromwell fire engine - a 1976 Bedford - in Nelson and needed support to help restore the engine to its former glory, we couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”

Station officer Clayton Andrews, a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade in Cromwell for around 11 years, is extremely grateful for the support.

“The brigade’s relationship with Highlands started back in 2013 when then chief fire officer Steve Shaw coordinated the FENZ volunteers to provide crash response crew and fire response services for all their race meets – Mr Shaw continues his coordination role to this day.

"Thanks to Highlands' generous donation, we are closer to restoring the old fire engine to its original glory with a new red and white paint job – as a fire engine should be. It’s currently painted black, which looks pretty cool, but just not quite right for this integral part of the Fire Brigade’s history.”

Bringing more to the Cromwell community

As well as returning some incredible history to the Cromwell Fire Brigade, the refurbishment of the engine will provide an amazing opportunity to support some of Cromwell’s key community events.

As well as Highlands events, the plan's to use the restored truck to bring some excitement to events such as Light Up Cromwell, school fairs and colour runs (to name a few).

Mr Andrew's excited about the positive presence it will bring as well.

“A huge part of the plan is to enable the brigade to be at a community level. Many locals will only ever see us when we’re needed – often not at the best of times.

"This truck will enable us to create a more encouraging impression around the fire service and enable us to support more community events than ever before.”

Funding the restoration – a real community effort

Ms Spillane says supporting the community that hosts the business is important.

“This project is just one way to give back to our incredible volunteers and support them to continue the focus on the amazing work that they do for our community. While we provide thanks on the day, it was really important to us to be able to really recognise their efforts in a meaningful way.”

The operation of the brigade is funded by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, but any projects outside of their core scope are financed through fundraising and donations.

The major sponsors for the renovation so far are Highlands as a key sponsor, as well as local businesses (namely R&R Hiab Services and Carter’s Tyres Cromwell).

Mr Andrews says the brigade is grateful for support from its members and others in the town to see the project through.

“The majority of the preparation work, glazing and minor repairs will be completed by the Volunteer Fire Brigade Members themselves, who have an incredible mix of trades.

"We have also had other local businesses express a great amount of interest in supporting the restoration – it’s going to be a real community effort".

Where to see it for yourself

Over the summer look out for the old fire engine at a number of events – namely the Cromwell Classic Car Show and Hot Rod Festival and Friday Night Cruise in January. Over the winter the work will really begin.

Main image (Supplied): Standing alongside the old fire engine that used to serve Cromwell are Scott Pinfold-Woodcock, Clayton Andrews, Josie Spillane, Steve Coup, Toni Andrews, Neil Gillespie, Fliss Matheson.

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