The City of Revelstoke’s fully-restored 1923 International Bickle fire truck gleams in its showroom location at the Revelstoke Firefighters Museum.
The rest of the collection at the firefighters’ museum doesn’t shine as brightly. Antique leather firefighters’ hats are tucked in the corner, gathering dust as they rest atop an old dispatchers’ desk.
The large glass jars sitting on the floor used to contain acid – a fire suppressant that was mixed in with water in the olden days, explains fire chief Rob Girard. The helmets, jars and many other artefacts rest on the floor, window ledges and on each other. “It’s getting a little bit cluttered in there,” explains Girard.
Many of the displays aren’t labelled properly and the lack of proper display cases is a theft risk, he notes.
These are some of the reasons why the museum is planning an expansion that is set to start in the coming months. They’re doubling the size of the museum. The cinder block extension will be added directly to the existing one-room museum.
It’ll store the department’s 1938 engine, which is currently located at the city’s public works yard. “The idea is to get it back up here and restore it,” says Girard.
The other major component would be to better display and archive the existing artefacts. “[The Revelstoke Fire Rescue Society] wants to have this as an educational, interactive type thing,” he said.
The total cost for the project is about $160,000. They’ve secured $80,000 from tourism infrastructure funding, and a separate $7,500 from the fund to do the plans.
On Feb. 29, Girard went before city council to request $50,000 from the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District’s economic opportunity fund. That fund is essentially money from BC Hydro that is earmarked for Revelstoke projects.
Girard said that volunteer firefighters would also contribute in-kind work on the project. Currently, the museum is about $20,000 short of its fundraising target.
The Feb. 29 request was approved by council, but they did want some more documentation from Girard. Coun. Gary Starling requested a business plan for the museum that would include costs and other details, such as opening hours. He was also concerned the expansion could use up vital space needed for potential future expansion of the fire hall.
After the meeting, Girard said they could provide a business plan and other details to council.
A Revelstoke contractor has been selected to do the construction, but Girard said contract clauses prevented him from disclosing who at this point.
Girard says the society is hopeful they can break ground in April. Because it’s a relatively simple cinder-block building, construction is scheduled to only take a few months.