Olentangy Valley News

Liberty's first fire truck back in garage

By

Liberty Township's newest fire truck was also its first.

Members of the Powell-Liberty Historical Society have teamed up with a few firefighters to restore the Liberty Township Fire Department's first-ever fire truck.

The 1949 Chevrolet is currently stationed at the Sawmill Parkway fire station, where volunteers have been working on it in their free time for more than a year.

"Age has caught up with it," he said. "But by the time we're done, it's going to look like a brand new fire truck."

The truck was taken out of service in the mid 1970s, when it was purchased by a local farmer who used it to water crops.

But when the sprayer pump broke, it was purchased by the Liberty Township department's Lt. Jim Halas, who kept it for several years before selling it to the historical society in the early 2000s.

The truck was mostly rust-free, despite spending so many years hard at work, but the paint was worn and the engine badly in need of repair.

Volunteers got to work. The brakes were replaced and the exterior of the vehicle was sandblasted.

New stainless steel hand rails were fashioned and other mechanical repairs are ongoing.

The entire restoration process will take about another year, Coolidge said.

The effort was made easier when the historical society secured a second truck from the same line. Missing parts, including the lights, siren and other equipment removed when the truck was originally sold, are being borrowed from the second truck.

The trucks were two in a series of just seven constructed in 1949. Coolidge found the second truck listed for sale online from a seller in Michigan, where the vehicles were manufactured.

Liberty Township Fire Chief Tim Jensen said the truck comes from a different era in firefighting.

The small truck was designed to accommodate a driver, one passenger and two additional firefighters standing on the tailboard on the exterior of the vehicle.

It's equipped with a small 2.5-inch diameter hose, compared to modern hoses that measure 5 inches or more.

And the truck's high-pressure water delivery system is outmoded, Jensen said. The hose shoots water at a high velocity, but relatively low volume -- exactly the opposite of modern hoses, which are designed to pump out the maximum volume of water needed to cool a fire.

"The technology has really changed," Jensen said. "That truck is primitive, but when they bought it, it was new and shiny and I'm sure it was something the community was very proud of."

So far the historical society has collected about $7,000 through fundraising efforts for the project, including more than $5,000 from the Powell Sertoma Club. In total the renovations are expected to cost about $20,000.

Donations and volunteer work are gladly accepted, Coolidge said. Once the truck is completed, all contributors will be listed on a plaque to be kept with the truck.

Comments