Built in 1986, Merritt’s retired fire engine No. 3 used to assist local firefighters in putting out blazes across the Nicola Valley; more recently the pumper helped Peruvian bomberos (firefighters) put out a huge warehouse fire at their Ministry of Education in Lima, Peru.

That fire, which occurred in central Lima, destroyed a block-long warehouse full of books and computers and burned for four days. Over 58 fire companies in metro Lima responded to the fire and among the fleet was the fire engine hailing from Merritt.

In 2010 the City of Merritt donated the fire engine, which went out of service in 2006, to Firefighters without Borders, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting fire departments in need of skills, training or equipment.

After a delay at customs, the fire truck was assigned to the Ancon fire station located about 40 kilometres north of Lima.

Since that time, the Merritt Fire Rescue Department receives periodic updates about the former Merritt engine from their counterparts in Peru. Most recently, Merritt firefighters learned the engine had been painted red to match the rest of the Ancon fleet.

“It was kind of the black sheep being lime green before that,” explained Merritt’s fire chief Dave Tomkinson. “It’s nice to be able to see it doing good in its new life.”

In addition to formal updates, Tomkinson said many of the Ancon bomberos have “liked” the MFRD Facebook page and left thank-you messages.

One comment from Bomberos de Ancon read: “Friends of the Merritt Fire Station, on behalf of the fire company Ancon 163, thank you greatly for the donation of your machine. … We will always be indebted for all the support you give to our company.”

Besides being utilized at the Ministry of Education fire, in April the Merritt fire truck was used to train over 400 bomberos from over 20 stations in Lima, Trujillo and Chepen, Peru, over 10 days.

This fire engine was the first apparatus Merritt has donated to Firefighters without Borders, though the MFRD has donated old turnout gear in the past.

Tomkinson said the engine went out of service in Merritt because it could no longer meet the pumping capacity. He explained that for insurance purposes, Fire Underwriters start to de-rate the equipment after a certain period of service to be sure municipalities don’t have aging infrastructure.

“Initially the engine pumped 840 gallons per minute, but that was de-rated essentially 50 per cent over its last five years,” said Tomkinson.

The City is facing a similar situation with engine No. 2, which was built in 1994 and is approaching its 20th year, he said. At that time the engine will start to de-rate and once it is retired council will decide what to do with it.