Vintage Fire Apparatus Come to Mount Dora (FL)

A crowd numbering in the hundreds attended the Mount Dora Historical Museum on Saturday to catch a peek of the vintage fire trucks on display.

The event came courtesy of the Florida Antique Bucket Brigade, a statewide group of those who specialize in firefighting apparatus, tradition and history. They brought several fire trucks dating as far back as the early 1900s.

Les Westlake, 53, of Mount Dora, came with his 1928 model American LaFrance fire truck that came complete with antique soda and acid tanks — which provided water pressure. The engine featured wooden ladders strapped to the side, but no sirens.

The fire trucks and fire apparatus were part of fire-safety month as well as to help celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first fire station in Mount Dora, which now houses the museum.

Accompanied by his Dalmatian, Oreo, 81-year-old Bill Perdue, who was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, drove his 1938 fire truck to the event from his home of Merritt Island.

It included bucket seats, lights, open cab and a V-8 flathead engine, as well as wooden ladders strapped to the side. “It can still go 65 mph,” said Perdue, who is also the father of former NBA Chicago Bulls great, Will Perdue.

The event was held in an alley behind the museum and also included a 1964 red Ford Galaxy fire car and a Swan-Neck Village Fire Engine, the latter a water pump variety that had to be manually operated by teams on each side who pushed and lifted the handle bars. Patrons had the opportunity to give it a try.

The museum houses an antique leather and metal helmet, along with other fire apparatus.

Janet Westlake, Mount Dora Historical Society president, said the fire station was built in 1923 after a fire leveled part of the town. As the city of Mount Dora grew, the station was moved to a larger venue, allowing the building to be converted into what is now the museum.

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