On Saturday, December 1, 2018, Magnolia Fire Department unveiled their restored 1952 American LaFrance firetruck, as it rolled through town in the annual Christmas Parade.
“We’re very proud of this accomplishment,” Magnolia Fire Chief Gary Vincent said.
When he joined MFD 13 years ago, he noticed they didn’t have a special parade truck, like so many fire departments worldwide, Chief Vincent said. He has years of experience restoring antique firetrucks and has served on the boards of directors of fire museums. Through the years, Chief Vincent has acquired many associates who work on antique firetrucks, including some members of Magnolia Fire Department.
One day, Chief Vincent was visiting with MFD supporter Tony Gullo, who asked what he could do to help the department. The Chief explained that he would never be able to use tax dollars to obtain a parade truck, but strongly felt obtaining and restoring an antique fire truck for the community and its children and future generations would be “an important legacy” to leave behind for all involved. Gullo agreed, and they began searching for an antique American firetruck.
Gullo found the 1952 American LaFrance firetruck in Clarendon, Pennsylvania. Gullo secured the truck and donated it to Magnolia Fire Department. That was three years before Saturday’s parade when the public finally got to see the pristine fully restored firetruck.
The Gullo family, MFD Board Members, members of the fire department, and benefactors from the community worked together to restore the firetruck. Chief Vincent said it was in good condition for a 1952 model, and the Clarendon Fire Department had done a good job of maintaining it. Turnkey Industries did bodywork and paintwork on the truck, and stripped it down to the frame, he said.
“Finding parts from 1952 firetrucks was a tremendous challenge,” Chief Vincent said.
However, the task was made easier by a group of firetruck enthusiasts who restore old trucks. They stepped in and helped find all of the parts, bells, nozzles, extinguishers and other parts to restore the truck to its former glory.
Chief Vincent said Chief Brett Peabody “did a fantastic job leading the group.” They worked Saturdays, Sundays and evenings while keeping the project quiet so that it wouldn’t be seen until their work was done.
Chief Vincent said the 1952 American LaFrance was “revolutionary” in its time and was one of the first to have its cab in the front of the axle making maneuvering easier.
“It was really an iconic firetruck,” Chief Vincent said, “American LaFrance built many of these.”
The proud Chief hopes the shiny red truck will be more than just a source of pride in the community.
“From the time we were little children and we watched old firetrucks in parades, and we watched the firetruck come by, many of us in this industry was inspired by those things,” Chief Vincent said. “We hope that will be the legacy we leave for the generations to come, and we hope as the little children stand there today, watching this old 1952 firetruck come by, they’ll be inspired and maybe they’ll be the next generation of firefighters.”

About The Author