The rusty 1946 Mack fire truck parked outside Easton’s Volunteer Fire Department probably won’t work as efficiently as a modern-day pumper truck, but it sure has a story to tell.
After it was retired from service, the once bright red truck leap-frogged around town because no one knew exactly what to do with it. It’s seen the dusty interiors of several barns in town, shared space inside crowded suburban garages, and sat under the peaked bow of a plastic-clad hoop house with its rear end sticking out.
Many hands have tinkered with it – someone once put its brakes on backwards. It’s been bought, then sold, and bought again. No one knew if they really wanted it.
“It sure has had a challenging history,” said Tom Linley, a former firefighter and assistant fire chief who has tinkered with the truck.
The Mack truck is now permanently at the Easton Fire Department and will possibly get a much-needed makeover or be restored through fundraising events.
Around 2009, the department bought the truck for $5,000 from Linley who purchased it in 1998 for the same price when firefighters voted to get rid of it.
Linley held on to it for more than a decade. He spent his own money giving the truck love. He rebuilt the truck’s carburetor and master cylinder.
“I had a warm place in my heart for it,” said Linley.
Firefighter Michael Sabia said interest in the truck among firefighters comes and goes in waves.
“Do we keep it? Do we get rid of it? Restore it?,” said Sabia, who has even housed the truck in his own garage. “Guys get interested in it. Some guys don’t want it.”
Lucy Crossman serves as secretary for the Easton Fire Department and believes fire departments should keep their original fire apparatus because is part of a department’s history and can inspire future firefighters to join the ranks.
“People want to claim ownership (and be part) of a department with a rich documented history,” she said.
Crossman and her husband Wayne are steeped in Easton and Connecticut fire history. Wayne is president of the Connecticut Firemen’s Historical Society Fire Museum in Manchester. His father William (Bud) Crossman was an Easton fire chief for 18 years.
“It sure has had a life,“ he said of the Mack truck.
Linley remembers back in the day driving the pumper truck around town with junior firefighters to monitor controlled leaf burnings. He’d be on stand-by in the Mack with a water supply just in case it was needed.
Sabia would like to see the truck restored and stay in the department.
“There are (fire departments) looking on the Internet to buy a model of one of their original trucks, Sabia said. “Here we already have our own original truck.”
For now the 1946 Mack is back home where it began its journey many decades ago.