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Kaleden Volunteer Fire Department celebrates a milestone this year as the volunteer group celebrates 40 years of service to the community


Kaleden Volunteer Fire Department celebrates a milestone this year as the volunteer group celebrates 40 years of service to the community.

The department had a modest beginning in 1966, when the first attempt to form a department was made.

Ten men, using financial aid from the hall board, purchased a four cylinder Continental pump from Salmon Arm, along with two war time gas masks and two lengths of two and a half inch hard suction hose. Two hundred feet of inch and a half line was also purchased and stored with the pump at the community hall. Members transported themselves and their equipment in personal vehicles.

Members wore whatever they had on to a scene, often damaging their pants or boots fighting a fire. The pump often broke down, and money for gas was hard to comeby.

Without a steady supply of funding, the department eventually asked the community for a five dollar fee from each home.

The department was utilizing water from nearby lakes or pools, and a small number of hydrant standpipes that  had been scattered through the community.

It wasn’t long before it was discovered that a supply of water was necessary at each fire. Len Swales, who operated Kaleden Esso at the time, donated a ‘48 Reo truck to the department, to be paid for when funds could be raised. The department added a 300 gallon tank to the truck and installed the pump, leaving it parked in the community hall parking lot.

A plebiscite was taken in 1969 in order to find funding for a war time crash truck the department wished to purchase from the Penticton Fire Department. Funding in the order of $22,000 was requested in order to buy the truck, build a firehall and buy equipment.

The referendum failed its 60 per cent requirement by six per cent. With no money to continue, and no doubt discouraged by the lack of resident support, the members resigned, leaving the community, which was entering a phase of increasing subdivision, without fire protection.

Not long after the failed plebiscite, a “Save the Truck” committee was formed, Dick Gale chairing. Forty-six Kaleden residents paid $125 each to purchase and operate the ‘42 Chev pumper with the hope that another referendum could be held in the not too distant future. The fire department that came out of this organization was known as the “Skaha West Volunteer Fire Department, with Fred Keenan serving as the first fire chief, followed by David Ure.The fire truck was stored in Ure’s barn, and no regular practices were held, which was fortunate, because there were only a few calls.

The fire department is also running its 31st annual garage sale, an event that has become tradition for the community and for residents throughout the region.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday, May 12.

Fortieth anniversary open house June 17, 1-3 p.m.