Model T Fire Truck Being Restored for Its 100th Birthday

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Model T from 1917 was Washington’s very first fire truck with an internal combustion engine.

The year 1917 marked a big breakthrough for firefighters of the city of Washington in the state of Missouri. Before then, those brave souls were forced to, in many cases, use horses to tote their fire hoses around. If you were unfortunate enough to suffer a small fire back then, you probably just sat in the yard and drew up plans for a new house while you waited on the fire department to arrive.

All changed in 1917, when the Washington Fire Department purchased its very first internal combustion engine vehicle — this Model T fire truck. To mark the truck’s 100th birthday, eMissourian spoke with members of the department and they shared some truly fascinating stories.

For the paltry sum of $1,200, the future of fire fighting changed forever. Even if you factor inflation, we’re pretty sure it’s still cheaper than the $400,000 or more that a new fire truck costs nowadays. Still, the department had to save up their pennies and take donations to purchase it.

Model T

The Model T provided many faithful years of service, but sometime in the late 1920s to early 1930s a local garage owner took possession of it. It would remain his for over 50 years, eventually sitting dormant in a field. Trees grew through the frame, and mother nature reared her ugly head upon its vintage sheet metal.

Eventually a pair of locals spotted it back in 1985, and decided the old truck was worth saving. After freeing it from the clutches of the trees that had taken hold, the pair began long research process before embarking on a full restoration. Years later the truck was resurrected better than new. Since then, she’s racked up many miles participating in parades and traveling to shows.

Washington’s first Model T fire truck finally returned to the fire department she served so long ago. Those days may be ancient history now, but the truck is an important piece of history that deserves all the attention it has received.

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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