50 years later and a Lawrence Co fire truck is still putting out fires

Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 9:48 PM CST
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One of the most important tools for the Mount Vernon fire department is now half a century old.

"You can see the scratches and marks on it. The once really bright red paint is more of an orange color now. It's faded over the past 50 years. But overall, it's still an excellent running truck," said Chief Brad DeLay, Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Protection District.

With low mileage and almost all of the original equipment intact, the 1970 Chevy truck is anything but outdated.

"It's kind of just basically a reserve engine. If we need it we know it's going to start and run and pump water for us," explained DeLay.

He said the classic fire apparatus is like family.

"Honestly it's just been part of this community for so long everybody just recognizes it," he said.

The basic, yet effective design, was built to last.

"We believe, since it's ours, we're going to say it's the first truck ever manufactured by that company which has now grown into a much bigger company, which is now Fire Master Fire Apparatus out of Springfield," said DeLay.

The truck is a part of the rich history of the Ozarks.

"To be able to take you back 50 years into the fire service. It's really kind of a living, mobile history museum in itself. This is what fire fighters had," he said.

Firefighters, like volunteers Donald and Ronald Wright.

"It was just a nice thing we were getting a new truck," said Ronald Wright.

He and his twin brother have been with the department since 1965 and were a part of the first team to use the truck.

Donald Wright said, "We took it down to Baptist Hill, to the big spring and they showed us how to run it and draft water with it."

All these years later, the pump on the front of the truck still sucks up as much as 500 gallons of water. It makes it just as useful today as it was when it was new, a half a century ago.

"It's still one of my favorites because I was here when they got it. I'd hate to see it given up. As long as I'm here I'd like to see it stay," said Donald Wright.

DeLay said, "If you just perform basic maintenance. We keep the oil changed on it. We keep the tires in good shape. Doing little things like that, replacing spark plugs, giving it a tune up. This truck, we hope, will last another 50 years.