Daughters of the American Revolution has presented state and national awards to the Sellervillse (PA) Volunteer Fire Department for a full restoration of a hand-powered pumper that has been with the fire company since it was formed in 1888. The pumper was manufactured in Seneca Falls (NY) by Cowing & Co. in either 1859 or 1860.
“We want to build a museum so the public can come see it,” said Richard Wagner Jr., a fire company member since 1973 who helped spur the restoration. “We’re in the process of drawing up plans for that now and how to finance it.”
The countless hours of work spent on research and other parts of the restoration are in addition to the many hours the volunteer firefighters have to put into becoming certified and continued training.
An older newspaper article reported the pumper was “guaranteed to throw water to a distance of one hundred and fifty feet, which it accomplished by actual test” To do that, rows of firefighters on both sides worked the pumps, with one side pushing up while the other side pulled down.
It is assumed the pumper was replaced in the early 1900s when it would have been replaced by motorized equipment.
Research on restoration began in 2007. The actual work, which began in 2009 and ended in 2011, included rebuilding the pump and returning the original green paint to portions that had previously been repainted in red. It was done by Firefly Restoration in Hope (ME).
At the 132nd annual Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania Convention in Lake Harmony in September of last year, the pumper won a first place in the Fire Company Owned Non-Motorized Antique Category and the inaugural President’s Award for Best of Show for an antique fire apparatus.
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