Fire truck rings bell from past

LONGFORD volunteer firefighter Damian Saunders was yesterday left thanking his lucky stars he was not a fireman in the 1930s.

He had just driven the brigade’s 1937 Dodge fire truck from one end of Launceston’s Willis Street car park to where it was being displayed as part of the annual National Automobile Museum of Tasmania community awareness weekend.

‘‘It has a very heavy clutch, a crash gearbox and no power steering,’’ Mr Saunders said, once the unit had been manoeuvred into position.

‘‘It’s also very cramped for a tall fellow like me.

‘‘It’s a beautiful old vehicle to be in charge of, I’m just glad I’m a firefighter in the modern era.’’

Tasmania Fire Service district officer John Hazzlewood said that the Dodge was one of seven vintage fire vehicles displayed yesterday and came from the TFS collection.

‘‘We have these vehicles stored in sheds all around the place and we love getting them out to show people,’’ Mr Hazzlewood said.

‘‘The Dodge saw most of its service at Burnie and doesn’t have a front bumper bar because they pranged it one day going to a fire in the 1950s.

‘‘While it was repaired the front bumper bar was never replaced.

‘‘All the old trucks have what we call ‘armstrong’ steering — you need a strong arm to steer them.’’

Among the estimated 1000 people who visited the museum yesterday were Monty Clark, of Riverside, and his son, Baxter, 2.

Mr Clark said that Baxter was obsessed with fire engines.

Tasmania Fire Service district officer John Hazzlewood, in front, and Longford Fire Brigade volunteer Damian Saunders with a 1937 Dodge fire truck.

Tasmania Fire Service district officer John Hazzlewood, in front, and Longford Fire Brigade volunteer Damian Saunders with a 1937 Dodge fire truck.

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