Fire Truck Restoration

A CRVHS sub-committee is working to restore the original Richmond Fire Truck that served the community in the 1960s.

In 1964/65 the newly formed Richmond Fire Brigade purchased it original tanker, a WW2 vintage Ford Blitz from local businessman and fire brigade volunteer Bill Casimaty.

Bill had acquired it due to concerns about serious fire risks at Richmond and the truck gave admirable service to the local volunteer fire brigade, none more so than during the devastating 1967 bushfires when it was the only tanker truck in Tasmania.

“The Ford Blitz truck was purchased by Bill Casimaty in 1964 after it had been inspected by Lou Holobradek who was the proprietor of the Richmond Garage at the time. Lou modified the tanker truck and resolved several problems to make it a suitable fire-fighting tanker truck which was believed to be the only tanker fire truck in Tasmania. Prior to the 1967 fires Bill was extremely aware of Tasmania’s fire risk having fought at fires near Dookie Agricultural College near Shepparton at which deaths were recorded. Approximately 20 tanker firetrucks fought that fire but two volunteers died. On his return to Tasmania the high fuel levels were similar to Victoria but there was not one firefighting tanker. Bill paid 400 pounds for the truck and as a Richmond Councillor he offered it to the Council at his purchase price. During the lead up to the 7th February 1967 holocaust there were several prior fires that exposed some weaknesses in the pump and fittings. Fortunately, these were resolved before 7th February 1967 and the Blitz truck was extremely valuable.”
[excerpt of an interview with 1967 Nuffield Scholar Bill Casimaty]

Richmond fire brigade truck at the Richmond Garage, Bridge Street in the 1960s [image: CRVHS collection]

After service at Richmond the truck was purchased by Mt Rumney Fire Brigade and later ended up as a timber hauler in various places around Tasmania.

In 2015 Lou Hanslow of Richmond purchased the Blitz truck with a view to restoration and at around the same time Bill Casimaty had begun a search for the local fire brigade’s original truck to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 bushfires in 2017.

After removing several layers of paint Lou realised that the truck he had was the original Richmond Brigade fire truck.

Richmond fire brigade truck rediscovered in 2015 and now to be restored. (L-R) Lois Green, Lou Holabradek, Hedley Hoskinson, Bill Casimaty, Lou Hanslow [image: Sam Rosewarne/The Mercury 9Aug2015]

Once restored the truck will be on display to remind the community of the need for fire awareness and the value of being well prepared.

The committee is working with experts who will restore the truck in stages and we are now fundraising and applying for grants to fund the restoration.

Your donation to the project would be much appreciated. All major donations will be accounted for through CRVHS.

For further information please contact:
Lois Green 0447 604 153
Bill Casimaty 0419 205 577
David Ekins 0418 122 233