Conway (AR) Fire Apparatus Finds New Home

A 1960 Conway fire truck — used for major firessuch as the Sun Oil Pipeline explosion –has been owned by the Faulkner County Museum and parked in storage for the past 10 years. 

The fire truck came close to being donated to a museum in Louisiana, but the truck is being deeded back to the city of Conway and will be parked in a bay at Station 4 on Salem Road.

Faulkner County Museum Director Lynita Langley-Ware said she got a call in 2005 from then-Fire Chief Bart Castleberry about the truck.

“It was going to be retired, and they didn’t want to just scrap it,” she said. “It was used for a bunch of significant fire events in Conway.”

Being “young and naive,” Langley-Ware said, laughing, she quickly said the museum would take the truck, and her board members agreed.

With no room to display the truck where the museum is located in downtown Conway, then-board member A.J. Hambuchen offered to store the fire truck in a nearby warehouse he owned.

“We just let it sit there, hoping we’d have a big nice building someday where we could display it,” she said. [The Fire Department] gave us the title. We just never insured [the truck] where it could be driven out on the road.”

The Conway Fire Department would pull it out, put lights on it and display it at Christmas on the lawn of Central Station in downtown Conway, she said.

“They’d polish it up before they put it back,” Langley-Ware said. “It’s in great shape; it’s a really well-preserved truck.”

Langley-Ware said she talked to Conway officials, who told her the city didn’t have anywhere to keep the fire truck on a long-term basis. 

So, she started calling museums all over the country.

“I talked to places in Arkansas; I talked to the car museum on Petit Jean [Mountain]. A fire truck is pretty big; it can’t be stored just anywhere,” Langley-Ware said.

After months of making calls, she said a city-owned firefighter’s history museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, agreed to take the truck. However, when Langley-Ware reported this to the museum’s board of directors, one member asked if she’d talked to anyone at the Conway Fire Department.

She called Fire Chief Mike Winter, who said he was surprised to hear that the firetruck was in danger of leaving the city.

“We knew Faulkner County had it,” Winter said. “We have brought it back a couple of times during Christmas and decorated it, but it caught me completely off guard when she called and said she found a place in Louisiana that would take it.

“It’s a piece of history – not only for the Fire Department, but for the city. We want to do whatever we can to keep it here.”

For more information, view www.arkansasonline.com

 

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