Firefighters, retirees ‘keep history alive’

Erin Wood
Retired firefighters ride in the nearly refurbished 1924 American LaFrance fire truck during the homecoming parade earlier this month.

It might not be the Washington Fire Department’s best fire fighting tool, but it is the oldest and among the prettiest.

The 1924 American LaFrance fire truck rolled through the streets of Washington two weeks ago during Washington Community High School’s homecoming parade.

The shiny, cherry red engine is in working order thanks to some hardworking volunteers and donors, said Washington Fire Chief Mike Vaughn.

Washington Township supervisor Dave Weaver, his son, Scott, and firefighters Ehren Hammond and Tom Brecklin, collectively, were the driving force in refurbishing the antique truck. Other

members and retirees of the department pitched in, as well, Vaughn said.

“We’re trying to get it as close to the original as we can,” Vaughn said. “It has a new pump, new wood and new paint thanks to donations of labor, money and materials.”

The fire truck, the first motorized one owned by Washington, was fixed up for the first time in the 1970s. It sat inside the Legion Road fire station until one weekend more than two years ago a handful of firefighters decided to tow the truck to the Fire Department’s headquarters on Wilmor Road.

“Once we got it up there, we started talking about how it would be nice to refurbish it 35 years later,” Vaughn said. “Firefighters and retirees have worked on it non-stop for the last six months.

Some were here at 5 in the evening and didn’t get home until after midnight.”

Vaughn estimates about $10,000 worth of work has gone into the fire truck. The priciest upgrades were $3,500 for the chrome work and the red paint, which cost $400 a gallon.

While the fire truck is drivable and looks good as new, there is still work to be done.

“Our plan is to get it so it can pump water,” Vaughn said. “We have a pump on it, but it doesn’t

work yet. That’s something we’ll tackle this winter.”

The truck also needs new back tires, which cost $800 each, Vaughn said. A sign listing other needs will be posted on the truck soon.

Donations can be made by calling the fire station at 444-4650.

Vaughn said the antique truck is a good, old-fashioned symbol of the community. It is displayed at fire department open houses and in local parades.

“It’s nice to show pride in the department and keep history alive,” he said.