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Andy Thorne believes refurbishing Corner Brook’s antique fire truck a chance for community to come together

This 1948 American LaFrance pumper fire truck, long retired from the Corner Brook Fire Department fleet, will soon be moved out of the elements and stored inside with the hope of eventually being restored to good working condition for posterity.
This 1948 American LaFrance pumper fire truck, long retired from the Corner Brook Fire Department fleet, will soon be moved out of the elements and stored inside with the hope of eventually being restored to good working condition for posterity. - Gary Kean

Corner Brook businessman Andy Thorne says he is ready to spearhead the restoration of an antique fire truck owned by the City of Corner Brook.

The owner of Sea Ply Ltd. has offered the basement of his store to house the 1948 American LaFrance pumper.

He was of the understanding that he already had the green light to get the project started, but the City of Corner Brook says it hasn’t made a firm decision about giving it a thumbs up just yet.

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In 2015, the city had announced it was planning to have the 60-year-old vehicle restored, but no money has ever been allocated to it.

Thorne said he has a team of five people ready to take on the work required to return it to good running mechanical order and give it a cosmetic makeover inside and out.

He remembers seeing the old truck in action when he was younger and then, after it was taken out of service, watching it roll through downtown Corner Brook during the annual Santa Claus Parade.

In recent years, Thorne has watched the condition of the former integral part of the Corner Brook Fire Department’s fleet slowly degrade from lack of use and exposure to the elements.

“It has been kicked around and allowed to deteriorate because somebody hasn’t been enthused about it,” he said. “It’s a sin to see it just going by the wayside.”

Restoring the truck won’t be cheap and will be labour-intensive.

Thorne’s plan is to turn it into a matter of civic pride for anyone who wants to help foster.

He will be encouraging more people than the team he has assembled to volunteer their skills or even just their time and labour to the effort.

“You don’t have to have any technical expertise to come in and sand a piece of metal for a couple of hours or lend a hand in any other way,” said Thorne.

Todd Flynn, the City of Corner Brook’s director of protective services, said getting approval to move ahead with the project will depend on the city getting a proposal from Thorne detailing what will be done.

“We were going to do it ourselves but the money just isn’t there to do it yet, so if this group of volunteers has a viable proposal that won’t cost the taxpayers anything, then we are supportive of that,” said Flynn.

The plan is to have the truck moved to Thorne’s building for storage at any rate. Flynn said the unexpected large amount of snowfall in the city has changed the plan to have thee truck moved already and said it should be transported to Thorne’s building soon.

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