The newest fire truck at the Red Oak Fire Department is a window into the department’s past.
The department recently took possession of a 1941 fire truck built by the American Apparatus Company. The truck will be used to educate the public about the department’s history, to market community events and to promote city events.
“We had a good opportunity come to us a couple of months ago with the previous fire chief with the city of Lancaster Dick Knopf. He was a collector of vintage vehicles. He had a passion for older cars and restoring them. One of his personal projects was a 1941 Chevrolet American Apparatus fire truck that he had purchased and completely restored,” said Eric Thompson, the Red Oak Fire Chief. “Well, Chief Knopf passed away. His wife had the truck and she approached us. She was concerned that the tuck would not get the proper attention and care that Chief Knopf would have wanted it to. She wanted it to be able to be utilized by a community, so they could enjoy it rather than have it sit in a garage.”
Thompson said discussion was held with Red Oak’s City Manager Todd Fuller and the parks board and the thought was that the truck would be a good way to market the city. The city purchased the truck for $12,000 using funds from the fire and parks departments.
“So the fire department houses it and maintains it and keeps up with it. We are going to make it available for park functions. If there is a park sponsored event, such as Founders day, it is deigned to where we can give rides on it,” Thompson said. “The hose bed has been converted and it has seats in the back, so we can put kids in the back and drive it around. It is pretty neat.”
When the department received the truck, it was in good shape for it age, Thompson said.
“We didn’t have to do anything. Chief Knopf completely restored the body. He went through the motor and it is completely functional, except for the pump. The pump has been removed completely from it,” Thompson said. “There is no power steering. There is no power breaks. It is standard. It makes you appreciate modern technology. It makes you appreciate the progression of the fire service.”
According to the department’s website, the Red Oak Fire Department was founded in 1949. The department remained an all-volunteer department until 1997. That is when paid part-time firefighters were brought in to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. In 2001, the city began 24-hour coverage, utilizing part-time personnel.
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