By Ron Jeffers
Great River, NY—For the second year in a row, apparatus enthusiasts gathered at a remote section of Hecksher State Park for a well-organized photo shoot of area firefighting apparatus on June 12, 2016. Avid photographer Tom Rinelle, of Lake Grove, organized the shoot under a strict incident command system. Assistance was provided by many, including local fire police organizations, vendors, EMS, and friends, to name a few.
Last year's theme was antique apparatus. This year, there was a mix of firefighting units from hand-drawn veterans of the fire service to the most modern vehicles. Rinelli said the event drew more than 120 pieces of firefighting equipment. They were both privately owned and municipal vehicles. As word of the photo session got out, some units that had not received an invitation showed up and were welcomed to participate. They came from as far as Maryland and Maine.
It took nine months to plans this year's event. Goals included setting a Guinness world record for the most antique fire apparatus photographed in a group.
As was the case in 2015, photographers had to apply in advance to participate and be placed on a list that was on hand at the command post. After checking in, the photographers received a wrist band to allow them to enter the area set aside for individual apparatus photography. Rinelli estimated 1,000 spectators were present and 60 fire apparatus photographers.
Fire apparatus also reported in at the command post and were sent down one of three aisles set up and maintained by fire police personnel. A section of the park that provided the proper sun angle was set up for individual photos of the rigs. Three rigs at a time were called into the photo area by the “photo staging” official. Those three were then set up for photos by three to four other persons that were selected for the project. Photographers moved from rig to rig to photograph them as expeditiously as possible to keep the line moving.
With the exception of a few passing clouds, the sky was blue, making for another day of excellent photography. Apparatus photographers came from several states for the event after hearing how successful the 2015 event was.
Rinelli's group also sent down bottled water in the middle of the shoot as the sun beat down on the park. In addition, there were refreshments set up under tents, for a donation, and there were some vendors present. This was all done in cooperation with Rinelli's business, Fire & Rescue Equipment Sales.
Vendors also supplied equipment for the shoot, including four new four-seat Gator vehicles on loan from a local John Deere dealer. In addition, 10 fire police units were on hand, as well as 11 members of RACES amateur radio club and members of two junior fire departments.
After the individual photos, the apparatus were moved to the opposite end of the park for a group shot that was taken by Rinelli from a tower ladder bucket. It should be noted that the individual apparatus photo session of more than 120 rigs occurred between 9 a.m. and noon, right on schedule.
Besides the common apparatus names that were present, fire vehicles bearing nameplates from the past like Pirsch, Approved, American Fire Apparatus, Nott Steamer, Ward LaFrance, Day Elder, and many others showed up.
Another hit of the day was a replica of the Dodge rescue squad truck that was used in the 1970's TV series “Emergency!” Ron Morin, of Sugarloaf Ambulance/Rescue Vehicles, Wilton, Maine, had the vehicle assembled using a 1971 Dodge chassis from a fire unit that saw duty in Alna, Maine. He located a paramedic rescue box on eBay and traveled to California to bring it back to Maine for the project.
Four tower ladders were put into operation: two to hold up a giant American flag, one for aerial views, and one for the aerial photo.
Appreciation is extended to all fire companies and private apparatus owners for their time participating on a great day of apparatus photography. Kudos to Tom Rinelli, the Long Island Antique Fire Apparatus Photo Shoot committee members, local fire police, vendors, families, and friends who made the day worthwhile.