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Engine 1 returns to Plymouth Fire-Rescue

The Town of Plymouth's first motorized fire apparatus, a 1929 Maxim Pumper Truck know as Engine 1, rolled back into the fire station last week after some mechanical restoration work was completed last week. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
August 06, 2020
PLYMOUTH – Members of the Plymouth Fire-Rescue Department were excited to welcome Engine 1, their 1929 Maxim pumper truck, back home last week after it spent several years in storage to protect it from the elements.

Chief Tom Morrison said the engine was stored in New Hampton for a few years before being brought back to a garage in Plymouth in late 2019. Thanks to a $1,500 grant through Walmart, along with other generous community donations, it was moved this spring to Kirk's Truck and Auto Repair on Tenney Mountain Highway for some much needed repairs. Once there, owner George Kirk and his staff worked to restore all the mechanical components of the antique vehicle then presented it in sound running condition back to the department.

"George did a lot of pro bono work on this engine in the last month and got it running again for us," Morrison said. "He even rebuilt the generator."

When it was returned to the Highland St, station on July 30, the staff couldn't resist taking it for a short spin around town to show it off.

"When we got the vehicle back we took it for a ride then parked it out front for a while. People, especially a lot of the seniors in town, were so excited to see it back here again," the chief said.

There's other work to be done though. The pumper truck still has its original equipment on board, including wooden ladders, axes, antique fire extinguishers and more, but along with the vehicle itself, those, too, have aged. That brings an exciting challenge to the department however.

"A lot of the tools on here haven't changed much over the years so we're going to do all we can to get them looking good again," Morrison said.

The Maxim pumper truck, built in Middleboro, Mass., was the first motorized fire apparatus purchased by the Town of Plymouth 91years ago. It has an open-air seating compartment that is outfitted with two leather bucket seats for the driver and one other firefighter. Behind the seats sits a large silver bell, which was used to help clear the way as firefighters headed toward a fire. The original siren, along with antique gas lanterns that helped light up an emergency scene, are also still in place.

While uncertain as to when Plymouth's Engine 1 was taken out of service, former firefighter and a contributor to the restoration project, Pete Cofran agreed with Morrison that it was most likely sometime in the 1950s. Morrison said that while the truck had participated in many parades and community events since it was officially retired, the last time he could recall Plymouth's Engine 1 being used was in 2014 for the funeral of former Deputy Fire Chief Gordon Clay.

Cofran is among many still in the area that have fond memories of Engine 1 before the vehicle fell into disrepair. Among those is its former use for the department's annual Operation Santa Claus toy drive.

"I remember when we'd take it out on Christmas Eve with Santa on board to deliver gift baskets to families in town. It was a great time," Cofran recalled.

The staff of Plymouth Fire and Rescue had hoped to hold fundraisers this year to help complete their project, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, those plans had to be cancelled. Instead they will be rolling up their sleeves to work on the truck themselves in their spare time, with hopes of bringing it to parades and community events in the future.

Anyone willing to help fund their efforts for this final restoration phase of the antique fire truck is invited to contact the department at 536-1253 for details on how to do so.

Varney Smith
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