BROOKVILLE — An old-time pumper has returned to the Brookville Volunteer Fire Company after nearly two decades with another owner.
Old No. 3, a 1932 Ahrens-Fox pumper, had been sold to the Coolspring Power Museum just shy of 19 years ago, according to Brookville Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Ryan Pearsall.
According to information at the museum, the fire company had purchased the engine new in 1932. It was said the pumper had been last used in the early 1980s during the Baptist church fire, however Pearsall said he spoke with several older members of the fire company and they did not remember this particular pumper being used after the 1960s.
While Pearsall will not say what the fire company paid to bring the pumper back, he said the museum gave them a great deal and they are very appreciative of that and of being able to bring the pumper back to the fire company.
While the pumper’s seats, which are showing cracks, will be reupholstered, not a lot of repairs will be made to it. Pearsall noted he has gotten the siren working on it again but that the company will be leaving the visible “battle wounds” and do not plan to repaint the vehicle. He pointed out a couple of small spots of rust on a running board and noted that the rust spots had been there when the company owned the pumper the first time around and those spots had not gotten any worse. Pearsall said the pumper would not be getting any salt on it, as its only use will be for parades.
It has already had its first showing in a parade in downtown Brookville last month for the Brookville Laurel Festival. Older members of the company drove the pumper along the parade route to the delight of borough residents.
“Mechanically, it runs great,” he said. “We haven’t tried to pump it yet, or if we will even try. We may not, we don’t want to hurt it, but it will do 50 mph down the road.”
While it can be fun to drive, he said it is also “scary” because the pumper has manual brakes and no power steering. “It’s three pumps of the brakes and then you’re done.” Standing in front of the fire station, Pearsall pointed down Madison Avenue toward the intersection with Barnett Street, saying, “I want to stop down there, I have to start thinking about it now.”
Older members of the fire company consider it an honor to drive the 1932 pumper, he said, and then added with a laugh that younger members are not allowed to drive it. “You stick around a while, you get to drive it; you just join in to drive it, that’s not going to happen,” he said.
The older members, he said, are happy to see it back and they are the ones who will be driving it in the parades while others drive the current in-service trucks.
The truck is a piece of history for the fire company but it also memorializes those individuals who were on Brookville Borough council as well as the fire company leaders when the pumper was purchased in 1932. The council members are listed on one door and the fire company leaders on the other door. It is a reminder of those who serve the community and a piece of firefighting history.