British Columbia

Thieves siphon gas from volunteer fire department's trucks

McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department's fire chief says each truck has about $200 of gas in a full tank, and rising prices at the pumps may have been the motive for stealing the fuel.

Theft was discovered after one vehicle wouldn’t start during emergency call

Two of the volunteer fire department's trucks had gas siphoned out of them. (McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook)

When firefighters in a small Cariboo community were called to an emergency on the weekend, the team of volunteers prepared to rush out — only to find that one of their pumper trucks wouldn't start.   

Ian Hicks, fire chief for McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department, later discovered that someone had siphoned off and stolen a full tank of gas from the truck.

"It didn't start and we didn't think much of it until we got back [from fighting the fire]," Hicks said.

"I get in and try to crank it up and, looking at the fuel gauge, it's just not even moving … there was just air in the tank."

The truck had been filled up a few days earlier. With no gas puddles or damage to the tank, there is no evidence it leaked out, Hicks said. 

"It either vanished or somebody had to get it out of there," he told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

A second truck was also found to have been siphoned, but had enough fuel left to attend the fire.

A second truck had also been targeted but had enough fuel remaining to get firefighters to the scene of a fire. (McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook)

Volunteer department

Hicks started the volunteer fire service in McLeese Lake — a small community about 40 kilometres north of Williams Lake, B.C. — six years ago as the only emergency service in the town.

He bought several fire trucks but, without a fire hall, the trucks are parked outside in an unlocked area.

"It's a tricky business trying to start a fire department from scratch. It's sort of going two steps ahead and one step back," he said.

Each truck has about $200 of gas in a full tank, Hicks said, adding that the rising price of gas may have been the motive for stealing the fuel.

"But fire truck gas is kind of priceless," Hicks said.

He's now looking at setting up cameras to monitor the trucks until a fire hall can be built.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops