-MVAFAA 2013 MUSTER-
Veteran's Memorial Park
Mr. Tom Jenkins' 1898 Waterous Gasoline Pumper (2007)
“All those damn steps!” Those seemingly never ending stairs were cause for complaint amongst any who were assigned to Fire Station 2 (Bldg. 206) on Wright-Patt AFB’s East Ramp of the flight line. A climb to the living quarters seemed like an ascent up Everest compared to the skip up the two short flights of stairs to the training room/office side. I knew of mail men who cowered at sight of those many steps—no, not really, but the point is made. The first floor was where the weight room was located, just off the apparatus bay—all it needed was a velvet painting and an eight-track stereo the size of couch to make it like the basement of a 1970s home. The decor and state of the kitchen and bathrooms certainly hearkened back to a time that saw Alice housekeeping for the Brady family (for those not so savvy with pop culture: that would be a reference to The Brady Bunch). The modernized bunk rooms (or sleeping quarters) were divided into two sections—each having a door leading to separate large rooms that had several individual, semi-private bunks (and were quite spacious). An exterior feature that I thought comical was the hydrant just outside the entry door that went out to the flightline. It was so close to the building that a special, short hydrant wrench was needed to use it. I always wondered: why put a hydrant so close to a building? Then I realized that maybe it was because there was only one, special hydrant wrench with a smaller handle and it would have been absurd to not ever use it. Or maybe the thought was that the closer your house is to a hydrant, the lower your insurance premiums?
I learned recently that the entire station was finally completely razed—its destruction had been going on in stages for the past few years. This station was in place for quite some time: it was added to the north-side of Bldg. 206 before Chuck Yeager screamed by during an experimental flight (I will need to look that up to be sure). I do know that another bay was built onto it in 1979 to accommodate the Hangar Queen—the monstrous P-15 crash truck. This behemoth carried 5000-gallons of water; needing two engines to move. The two turrets opposite of each other on its roof were operated by fire fighters who would look like gunners on a battle ship thwarting a Kamikaze pilot. But this article isn’t about the P-15—talk with John Shaw about that and he will undoubtedly show you his collection of photos from when that apparatus was a prized possession of WPAFB FD’s fleet (I believe that the Hangar Queen is now somewhere in Tennessee).
I was assigned to Station 2 beginning in 2004 for a short tour that saw a few changes: Ladder 10 was cross-manned with a TI-3000 (a crash truck with a piercing nozzle that replaced the P-15) and a P-23 (an ARFF vehicle) assumed the bay where Rescue 15 (a rescue truck reassigned to Station 1) once deployed from. It was a grimy, oddly-configured, dull station that was in need of many improvements (but doesn’t every fire station?) but one even the crew of This Old House would quickly run away from.
Amazingly Fire Station 2 contained a unique piece of history: the Air Force Fire Service’s tallest, in-service fire pole: an astonishing just-less-than 30 feet of brass! The pole was constructed of three, solid brass pieces that connected together. It was made at Wright-Patt in one of its machine shops. Descending it was a thrill for any probie or ROTC cadet touring the station—but mostly ignored by those long-assigned to its house. Fortunately, the pole was not done away with like the structure. It has been on display at the new Station 1—a couple blocks away from where Station 2 sat. When former Station 1 (Bldg. 163) and 2 consolidated back in 2006 the design for the new Station 1 included a large public entrance that was conveniently designed for a towering fire pole in it—and that is about all that it is built for.
So why are most new fire stations without poles? Apparently too many fire fighters were getting hurt—or there were instances where others would accidentally fall down the hole used to access the pole. Their removal is an unfortunate reality since fire poles, like the chrome bell on the front bumper of an engine, are pieces of equipment traditionally found in the fire service. And I ask: who doesn’t like the quick flight down a fire pole? Curly certainly showed us how to not do it in False Alarms (1936). Groucho, playing Rufus T. Firefly, raced to his introduction as the new leader of Freedonia via a fire pole in Duck Soup (1933). And in the 1984 hit movie Ghostbusters, Ray (played by Dan Aykroyd) immediately wanted the shuttered, broken-down fire station for their office just because it had pole. But like other former ways of doing the job (e.g.: riding on the tail gate to the call, not wearing an SCBA mask during overhaul, or not donning a pair of gloves or glasses for an EMS run) the profession has evolved toward what some may begrudge, but we know as ways of keeping fire fighters safe. I am admittedly torn though. I understand the liability that many cities want to minimize by not including a fire pole (or stairs for that matter) in a station’s design. Yet I also look at that tall, shiny, brass fire pole as I leave the station and think back when I slid down it and met the challenge to climb back up—that was always a fun way of proving one’s manliness (or juvenile tendencies). So yeah, our newest station has an antique fire pole, one that regrettably isn’t in use. Then again at least I don’t have to clean off all the fingerprints and grime on it every Monday like I once did. But more importantly: does anyone need a short hydrant wrench?
-S. McKee (Apr 2013)
Frank A. Smith Grave Site Rededicated-Sept. 12, 2012
Angie's Fire House Tavern
Have you been there? Great food, awesome memorabilia surrounding you, outstanding staff! Check out their web site for their menu and directions: Angie's Fire House Tavern.
Jimmie's Ladder 11
I didn’t come from a fire service family—I am though proudly from a UAW Ford family. I am not originally from Dayton but Inkster, Michigan (you made need an assist from Google). And since I am not from here I am still taken aback with the fierce loyalty many of you from Dayton have with Marion’s Pizza (but that is no reason why you, dear reader, should be so dismissive of me or reciting such vulgarity against me in your head). I am though, like you, fond of what has valiantly endured the stress of time. Historic “things”—fire service technology, extraordinary fires, and the stories of those who have served before me.
I am particularly enthralled with old buildings and those who worked in those places of yesteryear. Jimmie’s Ladder 11 restaurant in the historic South Park neighborhood in Dayton invites a fond reflection of what was once a working fire station. This former fire station has much history to boast of—read the menu and you’ll learn such facts that it was the last house in the city to have horse-drawn steamers. Today it is a great place to have a meal; a beer from a hydrant or steamer-shaped tap; or while enjoying food and drink, absorb all of the efforts of the Brandell family and their designer to restore this building to its current splendor.
The theme to this restaurant becomes immediately apparent as you walk up to the front entrance (linger for a moment if the weather allows you to take it all in). Can you imagine the bay doors opened and eager horse teams readying to respond? Can you see the firefighter demanding and hurrying the pace of these horses? Can you see the impressive mustache of said driver? In the garden bed, next to the building, there are two stones, hitching posts actually, that are set in the ground beside each other. Together they form an eleven. Above you, just before you walk in, there is a sign in the shape of a fire fighter’s helmet shield that tells you that this is Jimmie’s Ladder 11. It’s on Brown Street. Their grand opening was on 11.11.11 (there's a theme here that only Inspector Clouseau might stumble upon). They invite you to come to their restaurant and see this achievement—and enjoy any of the excellent offerings on their menu.
Larry and I sat down with Sue Brandell, Jimmie’s wife, on November 17. There is much still to organize and make arrangements for—the cell phone rings and people come up to our table to give updates—Sue offers us an appetizer called Blind Dates. It was good, very good. I won’t blather with absurd adjectives on how it tastes—I don’t watch the Food Channel any more (I gained fifty pounds) so my compliments won’t nearly sound as savvy. Try it and it will be something you’ll then recommend to your friends. Sue’s enthusiasm reflects that this new venture has major plans ahead—from hosting this year’s Christmas parties to what will likely be a memorable first St. Patty’s celebration next year.
This is a new addition to Dayton; however, the Brandells are by no means new to the city. Jimmie graduated from Chaminade in 1974. This was a historic class in itself: it was the last class to be exclusively all-male. (In comparison Larry graduated in 1911—a pivotal year since it was the last class to use alchemy as a science credit). Sue and Jimmie owned the Cornerstone restaurant since 1988 but chose to move their operations here. But getting here took a level of commitment and vision that needed either a magical half-hour renovation of a HGTV show or a more realistic partnership with a designer who revived and modernized this fire house. They chose Mark Shannon, a designer, a talented man who is highly esteemed by the Brandells, and rightfully so.
While we prepared for our interview with Sue I looked back at the entrance and noticed the wooden fire pole. There were originally two poles—on opposite sides of each, in the front corners. This isn’t the original pole but there is another pole in this house of interest and form. Find your way upstairs and look closely at the periphery of the room: former radiators and a brass fire pole have been shaped into the railings that keep you from the open space below and separate another dining area from the gaming/bar section. Repurposed, former technology made into elegant modern and functional design—that was one of the many achievements of their designer Mark Shannon.
Back downstairs there is a very inviting bar—not simply a place complemented with bar stools and small bowls of pretzels. What you might see first is a hydrant. There are those I know who would bring a hydrant wrench and use it with the expectation of a waterfall like the one Brother Moses made when he struck the side of a mountain. There are three taps fashioned into this hydrant that do bring forth delicious waters (OK, beer…but I was trying to maintain the Biblical train of thought). Beyond the hydrant there is a much larger and truly impressive tap. It’s in the shape of steamer—something you may have recognized if you have ever seen the steamer at Carillon Park. Mr. Shannon used the dimensions of Carillon’s steamer to help shape this magnificent focal point. They have several varieties on draft of what pleases your palate—especially Yuengling. How long have we waited?! (but that is for another article or blog). And speaking of Yuengling, if you look up from the bottom of the wooden fire pole you’ll see a customized mirror from them. Next to the mirror and all along the inner front wall there are fire marks. Those possess their own fascinating history that we’ll get back to later. Sue assures us that there is more to come with the décor and that this is only a start—this alone is marvelous, I tell her.
As I mentioned earlier there is a stage—one set for Larry’s timeless rendition of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart or a bag piper. Indeed it was a bag piper who first graced this stage and there are more musicians slated to enhance any evening.
-S. McKeeThey have a Facebook page up and we'll soon have much more for our readership--stay tuned! Here's the F/B link:
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The Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association of Dayton, Ohio began with monthly meetings in February 1981. These meetings were held in various fire houses around the Miami Valley area and at members' homes. They continued on a monthly basis throughout the 1980's. The group attended musters at the Troy Strawberry Festival, in Enon, and at Carillon Park in Dayton.
A Constitution and By-Laws were written which stated, in part:
"The purpose of this non-profit association is to promote a knowledge of antique fire apparatus and related equipment; to promote a public awareness and understanding of the history and development of the fire service; and to present these goals using the means of parades, meets, musters and public displays whenever possible."
In July of 1982 the Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association became an official chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Motorized Fire Apparatus in America (SPAAMFAA) where it is known as The Greater Dayton Chapter.
During the early 1990's, meetings were held less frequently. In 1994 there were no meetings after June. It wasn't until May and July of 1995 when several members tried to revive interest among the 35 members. At that time the chapter was close to becoming inactive.
In February 1996 four people met in Germantown to explore the possibility of activating the chapter. Last members of record were contacted. Fifteen people attended the March meeting. They elected officers and trustees, and decided to incorporate as a nonprofit organization. During that year members heard speakers of interest, participated in the Hamilton Dam Fest, and toured a private museum.
The organization updated its constitution and by-laws and received its not-for-profit status in 1997. The first annual antique fire apparatus show was held at Veterans Memorial Park in Germantown and newsletters were sent to members prior to each meeting.
The Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association is a family-oriented organization. Our 68 members enjoy meetings with programs and speakers of interest, road trips to see collections and participate in events. and an annual family picnic.
Each year we co-sponsor an antique fire apparatus show with the Germantown Firefighters Association. This show is held in Veterans Memorial Park in Germantown, Ohio, the first Saturday after the 4th of July.
MVAFAA enjoys a good, cooperative relationship with the Cincinnati and Columbus chapters of SPAAMFAA.
We invite anyone who has an interest in antique fire apparatus or the fire service to participate in our viable, informative, and fun organization!
Dear Antique Fire Enthusiast,
This letter is an
invitation to join the Miami
Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association.
Ownership of an old fire apparatus is not required for membership. Some of our members are owners and some are not. All you need is a genuine interest in antique fire apparatus and/or an interest in fire fighting history. Our members possess a wide variety of knowledge, experience and interests. As a novice, I have learned a great deal from the expertise of our members.
We schedule five meetings each year and sponsor an Antique Fire Apparatus Show in July. Members receive our newsletter which contains informative reports, special features, and meeting notice announcements.
Your dues are used to support the financial responsibilities of our organization; which, in part, include the following items: insurance, membership mailing costs, newsletter expenses, special mailings (fire apparatus show invitations and announcements), plaques for our show, advertising, and expenses for our annual picnic.
Please consider joining the Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association. Become part of a viable, informative, and fun organization. Simply download the Membership Application (pdf), complete the form and mail it to us with your membership dues.
Bob McClain, Membership Chairman
Below is a preview of our membership, historical apparatus, and past events. Enjoy!
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