Rush City, WI–A classic old 1937 fire truck will be reunited with the Rush City Community and the grandson of the man who originally built it, Elmer Abrahamson.
Abramson, who formed the Minnesota Fire Equipment Co. in Lindstrom, built the Chevrolet convertible-style open top mount pumper. He was
Jim Kirvida’s bid offer of $4,757 was just enough to unite him with a rare piece of history tied to both his family and the Rush City community. A 1937 Chevrolet open top mount pumper, the convertible-style rig was built by his grandfather, Elmer Abrahamson, a Lindstrom blacksmith who turned to constructing fire vehicles through Minnesota Fire Equipment in the 1930s.
Kirvida, president of Custom Fire Apparatus Inc., out of Osceola, Wisconsin, recently outbid five others for the oldest and most unique fire truck in Rush City Fire’s fleet. “I’m pretty darn excited. I’m biting my fingernails, waiting for it to get here,” said Kirvida, noting the truck is in storage for the time being. “It’s the only way I can grasp a part of my grandfather’s history.”
The Lindstrom facility that his grandfather used to build the fire truck no longer in exists, he said. The factory was located across from Abrahamson’s blacksmith shop, along Highway 8, which was eventually taken over by his successor.
In building the Rush City truck, Abrahamson used a 1929 chassis, Kirvida noted.
“All early fire trucks were convertibles so the captain or fire chief could stand up and scope the area for the fire. He would use a bull horn to yell out directions or orders to the crew. They were all standing.
“Necessary visibility was the reason for the convertible fire trucks,” he explained.
While the business of building motorized fire trucks had already been established in places such as Minneapolis, Abrahamson built the area’s first fire truck around 1931. He was active in the Lindstrom community as a member of the fire department and even as mayor, Kirvida said.
Kirvida eventually got involved in the family business, working side by side with his grandfather, who enjoyed the labor and camaraderie with the workers in the factory, his father, Mitchell, who ran the office part of the company, along with veteran crew members including Dick Scheele.
Scheele, of North Branch, enjoyed a 40-year career with the company, which went through a number of name and location changes over the years. He began working there around 1959, when Abrahamson was still the owner.