Mack Fire Tender
Meet 'The Mack'
The Mack Fire Tender is a 1938 model, left hand drive. The Mack, complete with its famous bulldog motif, has been fully restored by its owner, the Department of Environment and Conservation. It was originally commissioned as an airport Fire Tender in Perth in 1942 with the RAAF. In 1945, along with three other units, it was handed over to the then Forestry Department where it was applied to forest fire fighting. Today it takes pride of place in the Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Centre.
'The Mack' Comes To Dwellingup
The 'Mack' Fire Tender came to Fremantle in 1942, aboard the CV 'Langley'. Our 'Mack' survived, but the CV 'Langley' left Fremantle with thirty two US Army P-40 fighters and thirty three pilots aboard, accompanied by the freighter 'Seawitch' and two destroyers. On the morning of the 27th, Japanese land based patrols found them 27 miles south of Tjilatjap and crippled the 'Langley' which was sent to the bottom of the sea floor.
In 1945, the American Air Force apparently were going to dispose of the vehicles in the sea at the completion of the War, but decided instead to give the tenders to the Forestry Department. On arrival at Dwellingup the Mack Fire Tender was army green and later painted orange and black by the Forestry department. The chassis was fitted with a table top body and a steel tank of 3630 litres (800 gallons). At that time this was the largest capacity of fire fighting units in the department.
This particular Mack Fire Tender came to Dwellingup in 1945 or 1946 and was mainly used for town fires. It operated for 33 years in the town until 1978, when it was withdrawn from service mainly due to the modernisationof the fire fighting fleet, particularly with four wheel drive vehicles. Not long after its arrival the Mack Fire Tender was used to successfully douse the flames that threatened to destroy Banksiadale Timber Mill. It was also used in the Dwellingup fire in 1961 but mainly within the town site.
Restoring An Icon
Prior to the tank being removed from the vehicle it was used to flush debris from the town culverts. It was also used in the jarrah dieback program when the once executive Director of CALM, Syd Shea, was the officer in charge of the Research Centre. The pumper was used to wash and expose the roots of the infected jarrah trees so the scientist could study the spread of the deadly fungus. ‘The Mack’ tender has since had the pumper unit removed from the tray.
It was decided by the dedicated workshop crew at the WA Parks and Wildlife (formerly Department of Environment and Conservation), to restore this tender to first class condition and is housed at the Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Centre so that it may be appreciated by all.
“The Mack” still makes an appearance at the annual Community Christmas party; although now a vintage piece, could be returned to full scale active duty if required.