A piece of Joplin history is making a special appearance at the Christmas parade this year. Coming out of storage after almost 35 years, the Joplin fire fighters are restoring an old engine.
Right here is the report log from the last time the truck went out that we know of. August of ’84, it went to the Frisco Apartments. And now that old engine will be back on the road, making its way around this year’s holiday parade. After many years in retirement, the Joplin fire fighters are refurbishing a fire engine that’s almost 80 years old.
“It’s been in Joplin’s possession. They bought it new in May of ’39, and they’ve owned it ever since,” says Doug Nolan, JFD Battalion Chief.
The fire engine was the first aluminum aerial ladder fire truck west of the Mississippi River. Even though the labor is free, the project isn’t. A generous donation from an anonymous donor is helping to foot the bill. But the idea to bring it back to life all started at the station.
“It had been stored in the public works facility, and just mothballed, basically. And we thought we’d get it running again,” says Nolan.
From its foot clutch to its tiller aspect used to direct the back tires, the old relic has plenty of features that sets it apart. But one thing that that’s hard to miss is the bell.
“Pull bells! I mean that’s how you sounded your bell. You pulled it, the rope runs back to the cab,” says Nolan.
The renovation crew is excited to show off a piece of their history.
“Well, the people that are at the Christmas parade are going to get to see what state-of-the-art was in 1939,” says Nolan.
The truck does still need a couple more repairs to bring it up to par. But they are honored to get to restore a truck that’s one of a kind.
“It’s just rewarding to have something that has been used, and is still capable of being used in your fleet,” says Doug Nolan.