Warwick retires oldest fire engine still used in state

  • Warwick Fire Chief Ron Gates stands in front of the department’s 1957 fire truck, the oldest still operating in the state until it was recently retired. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The Warwick Fire Department’s 1957 fire truck is the oldest fire truck in operation in the state. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkharttt

  • Warwick Fire Chief Ron Gates, in front of the department’s 1957 fire truck, the oldest fire truck in operation in the state. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The Warwick Fire Department’s 1957 fire truck is the oldest fire truck in operation in the state. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkharttt

  • The cab of Warwick Fire Department’s 1957 fire truck, the oldest fire truck in operation in the state. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The Warwick Fire Department’s 1957 fire truck is the oldest fire truck in operation in the state. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkharttt

For the Gazette
Published: 7/21/2016 3:02:29 AM

WARWICK — Fire Chief Ron Gates turned the key to one of Warwick Fire Department’s four fire engines. The deep red truck struggled to start before roaring to life, pulling slowly out of the station and into the blazing sun.

But Warwick Engine One is not what area residents might expect to see rushing to the scene of a fire. Engine One is a 1957 Dodge fire truck, the oldest engine in service in the state of Massachusetts, and as of this year, it is being retired.

Warwick recently purchased Northfield’s Engine One, a 1989 Pierce Arrow pumper/tanker, for $25,000.

Northfield paid $550,000 for a brand new, custom-ordered Pierce pumper/tanker and did not have room in its station for an additional vehicle. So, Gates arranged to have the old engine checked to make sure it was in good working order, and had it transported to Warwick’s station.

“They got a good piece of equipment that they know has been well maintained,” Northfield Fire Chief Floyd “Skip” Dunnell III said. “We’re happy to see it go to a neighboring town.”

“It’s going to bring us into the 21st century, that’s for sure,” Gates said.

All of Warwick Fire Department’s vehicles are more than 20 years old, with the newest being a 1991 engine. But the station’s old vehicles have never failed to get the job done, Gates said.

“That’ll respond to a fire today if we have one,” he said, pointing to the 1957 Dodge fire truck. “It still works great, too. It’s just too old and too small.”

New engines, Gates said, pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute, as opposed to the 1957 truck, which can pump 700 gallons per minute. New vehicles also seat five firefighters as opposed to two.

“We relied on it because that’s all we had. It’s served its purpose,” Gates said. “I personally can’t wait to retire it. There’s other guys on the department that love this truck.”

The truck will continue to be used frequently in parades.

“Pretty much anytime someone says they’re having a parade, one of the guys wants to take the truck,” Gates said, citing parades in Warwick, New Salem, Orange and Vernon, Vermont.

Gates said the department has not been able to get new vehicles because they are significantly larger than the old ones, and would not fit in the old station. However, since March 2015, the station’s firefighters have been working to construct a new station adjacent to the old one. Though some electrical and siding work still needs to be done, the station is able to house the town’s new engine.

Next, Gates wants to apply for a grant to purchase a new tanker, replacing Warwick’s 1968 tanker. With newer equipment, Gates hopes the Warwick Fire Department will be an asset for surrounding towns.

“We’re hoping the surrounding towns will utilize us a little more than they have,” he said. “If you don’t have the equipment they need, they won’t call you (and) I have a super dedicated team of men that really want to do the job.”

As the Warwick Fire Department most frequently assists with fires in Orange and Northfield, the new engine will continue to support its hometown, too.

“Through mutual aid, (the truck) will be able to come back and help Northfield again,” Dunnell said.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy