Cariboo volunteer fire department receives surprise gift from Alberta truck enthusiasts
Western Canadian Powerstrokes team donates 1988 firetruck to McLeese Lake fire department
The McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department has a new firetruck, all thanks to a surprise donation from a group of Albertan truck enthusiasts.
Vicky Ortiz, a first responder with the department, was surprised to learn the Western Canadian Powerstrokes Emergency Response Team was bringing a new truck and it would be there the following day.
The team is an Edmonton-based non-profit that grew out of the Western Powerstrokes, a group of Ford Powerstroke fans. Its members provide emergency assistance for communities and individuals in need.
"The only reason I got to be in on the secret ahead of everyone else was Jason, the gentleman from Edmonton who was going to drive the fire truck to us, needed a place to stay," she told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.
Ortiz said a relationship between the Powerstrokes and the fire department first developed in 2017 when the Cariboo was hit hard by wildfires.
Two members of the response team arrived in McLeese Lake with gas and water delivered to the firefighters after they ran out of both. They also sent thousands of dollars for supplies, and donated shovels and pickaxes.
"This WCP Emergency Response Team has adopted the McLeese Lake fire department for some reason," Ortiz said.
The reason, according to response team member Jay Woolner, is because of Ortiz.
"Vicky was our initial contact with McLeese Lake," he said. "She was such a wonderful person, such a good-hearted, amazing woman."
After seeing how the McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department operates, Woolner said, the two groups became instant friends.
The latest gift is a 1988 fire truck, complete with a built-in generator, ladders and hoses.
Though the department does have two trucks it uses to respond to emergencies, Ortiz said they often have mechanical issues with the older vehicles so newer equipment is welcome.
Ortiz said the group has fundraised for all of this entirely independently, not letting the McLeese Lake firefighters know about their intentions.
"It all started with a Facebook message saying 'Hey, we should buy McLeese Lake a fire truck," Woolner said.
"I can't sit here and watch these people struggling. You can't just sit and watch this stuff happen and not do something."
With files from Daybreak Kamloops