A friendship forged during the 2017 wildfires has resulted in the McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. being gifted a fire truck.
Vicky Ortiz, a first responder and secretary for the fire dept. said the Western Canadian Powerstrokes (WCP) emergency response team from Alberta purchased the truck and delivered it on Saturday, Jan. 12.
“It’s a 1988 or 1990 vintage, but so much better than our trucks,” Ortiz told the Tribune Monday. “We have a couple of quite vintage trucks and every time we have to go on a call there’s some issue.”
Ortiz said the WCP’s “wildfire angels” purchased the truck from the South Green Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. and Jason Klapstein with WCP went to pick it up and drive it McLeese Lake.
Earlier in the week Klapstein contacted her to say he planned on coming down to McLeese Lake from Edmonton to do some sledding.
“I offered him a place to stay, but was worried about the roads and I didn’t think he knew the area very well,” Ortiz said, adding she knew nothing about the fire truck, but learned just this weekend that Jay Woolner of WCP had been secretly working on a plan with McLeese Lake VFD’s president Ian Hicks during the last month to purchase the truck.
Woolner had called her a few months ago asking for the department’s logo, but she didn’t suspect it was for a fire truck.
“He then asked me to do a write up about our fire department and I guess he used that to get the truck for us. Jay even did some fundraising on his own like a cake in the face and getting a tattoo.”
And in the summer of 2017, Klapstein en route for holidays, stopped in and presented McLeese Lake with a pump they needed.
On Saturday about a dozen people showed up at the McLeese Lake community hall because Ortiz had posted on the fire department’s Facebook that the community was getting a surprise.
“It was a happy day,” Ortiz said. “About a dozen people showed up to see the new truck. It has so many option the other trucks don’t have.”
Last June Hicks told the Tribune the department is planning to build a fire hall.
Ortiz said they are still in the process of acquiring land so in the meantime the other trucks are stored at a local resident’s property who is not a member of the fire department and the new truck is stationed at Hicks’ property for now.