Firetruck History
 
1955 FWD/Thibault Airport Pumper
“Big Trent”
Served CFB Trenton (Royal Canadian Air Force)
 
This FWD F1000T Pumper was one of ten built for the Canadian Department of National Defence – Royal Canadian Air Force (serial #1010 suggest it could be the last of the series). It features a the same International cab used for the production of heavy duty trucks by the Chatham, Ontario factory. This chassis was manufactured by Dominion Truck (Kitchener, Ontario) under license from FWD (Clintonville, Wisconsin). It is powered by a mighty Waukesha inline-6 cylinder engine with duel ignition which can run on either 6 or 12 Plugs. Unusual for this vintage, it could shift to 4WD while on the go. It has a top speed of approximately 37mph (60 km/h). It has a Waukishaw motor The body was built by the Pierre Thibault factory in Pierreville, Quebec and was completed in late summer, 1955.

September, 1955 at the Pierre Thibault factory just before delivery to the RCAF

Thankfully, airport “crash” trucks don't often get pressed into active duty as they spend most of their service life training and being prepared for emergency. One of the more notable occurrences involving this particular FWD is that it was on duty at CFB Trenton on February 2, 1959. On this day, British test pilot Peter Cope became the first and only pilot to land the CF-105 Arrow (RL 204) other than at its home base of the AVRO factory at Malton, Ontario (now Lester B. Pearson International Airport).
 

RL 204 making the only off-site landing of any Arrow at CFB Trenton on February 2, 1959. Unbeknownst to all, the Arrow program would be cancelled within weeks of this photo being taken.

Weeks later and after a personally heated discussion with the President of AVRO (Crawford Gordon), Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cancelled the Arrow airframe and Iroquois engine programs. February 20 was immediately headlined Black Friday as it resulted in the immediate termination of nearly 50,000 direct and indirect jobs across Canada (1959 population of 17M). Many of the engineers from the Arrow and Iroquois programs ended up working with NASA on development of Apollo while others went overseas to take part in designing the BAE Supersonic Transport - Concorde.

Diefenbaker's decision to terminate the Arrow program included the destruction of all airframes, tooling, parts and designs. At the time of cancellation, the Arrow was claimed to be decades ahead of its time in performance potential. The demise of the Arrow severely crippled the aeronautical engineering industry in Canada and has lead to generations of debate.

“Big Trent” is said to have retired in autumn of 1977 when it was sold at auction to Bye's Manor Farm of Peterborough, Ontario. It was apparently used to do some watering around the farm and keep horses hydrated. It spent 25 years in storage with only 13,000 original miles on the odometer before a major restoration was initiated in the spring of 2013.
 


October, 2012 when “Big Trent” was brought out for restoration.

 

July, 2014 “Big Trent” after restoration at Chatham Airport in front of a Boeing B-17.

Historical information courtesy of Walt McCall, Rick Sewell, Marc-Andre Valiquette, firetruckarchive.ca, CBC.