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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Venerable old Engine 2 is now retired.

clip_image002There is a name for people who become attached to inanimate objects but when I Goggled it, there were 5 pages of information so I decided not to look into it. I thought about that because of the old girl in the picture to the left. Greenville Fire Dept.’s Engine 2. There has always been the attachment thing but in the beginning it was with the horses. Cincinnati bought their first motorized fire apparatus around 1910 but never put it in service because they couldn’t figure out which horses to get rid of first. When half of the town was on fire one night, they figured it out. We didn’t have that problem at Greeenville.   Engine 2 was a very welcome sight back in 1972. It was amazing! For the first time we had an engine with seats so we could get ready on the way to the fire. A few years after that, we actually got enough people to do that. Its rated capacity was 1250 gallons per minute but pumped well over that when it was new. After the first rehab it was outfitted with 3 pre-connected 1½ “ hose beds allowing us to yank a line off and immediately begin fighting the fire instead of fiddling around getting it hooked up. There was also pre-connected 2½ “ hose on the rear for added extinguishing power as well as two beds for supply lines. Later large diameter supply hose, 4” and now 5” supply line was added.

Officially it was a 1971 Mack CF series delivered in 1972. It joined a 1958 Mack Aerial Ladder truck on the front line. The Maxidyne Diesel powered it and never missed a lick. At one time almost all of the FDNY apparatus were built by Mack. They were just about indestructible. The speedometer on a fire apparatus only tells half of the story. It tells nothing of the hours spent pumping water on fire scenes. One of the more memorable pumping assignments was the night the Old Darke County Tile Mill on Chestnut burned. It was Friday the 13th. The tinder dry structure caught fire and already had a fire storm going across Chestnut when we arrived. E2 tied up at the hydrant at Chestnut and Bickle Hill which at the time was one of the best hydrants in town. It was pumping all of the pre-connects, supplying an engine from New Madison and deluge gun water curtain down Chestnut protecting those houses. It never missed a lick all night. That was the same day the Darke County Home was hit by lightning Like I said Friday the 13th or when it rains it pours. We were tired that day, the Mack wasn’t.

E2 was on the scene at Corning Glass for every one of the tank breaks after 1972. Since Corning’s fire pumps on their fire loop were capable of over 2000 GPM, E2 usually ended up in the cave area attached to a hydrant and being used as a distribution point. A couple of those tank breaks lasted 8 hours. The need for water sometimes approached around 1500 GPM on those incidents and was so critical that the water plant had to be notified to add a pump on line out there.

Always first in on a structural fire with the attack crew in the back seats, you got a real pattern nailed down in your head approaching the scene. Get the engine stopped past the fire so you all see three sides of the building, emergency brake on, gear shift goes in 5th gear, flip the switch to engage the pump, let out on the clutch and hear the pump kick in. Out of the cab and on the ground the engine was waiting to do its thing. Next you watch for the attack crew to drop the attack line and the sign to charge the line. You’ve opened the tank to pump valve, open the attack line valve, up the engine RPM’s and you can tell when they’re throwing water, gauges move, it’s time to get the supply line hooked up to the pump. One blast on the air horn and the hydrant man flows water, as the water hits the pump impeller, close the tank valve. You made it. Time to see what the inside crew needs, E2 will run itself for a while.

After getting axes, ladders, pike poles and whatever else, you get time to refill the tank for later when the supply line is taken up and things wind down. E2 is still running. By now she’s pumping a couple of attack lines, running flood lights, fans and whatever else. Her compartments have been ravaged for supplies and tools. It’ll be a while to put this all back together.

She was rebuilt 3 or 4 times, each time saving the taxpayers a ton of money. If ever there was a piece of equipment that the City of Greenville got there monies worth out of this was it. Built like a Mack Truck wasn’t just a saying. Guys all over the US who had a Mack Fire Truck will tell you that. I don’t have a piece of the truck but I’ve got something as good as that. When E2 was delivered it actually came through a local dealer, Harvey Hole Mack in Versailles. Holes were very proud of the Mack Trucks they sold and real proud that there now was another fire truck besides the one Versailles had. All of the firefighters got a replica of the famous Mack Bulldog tie tclip_image004ack. It was a little different; he had a fire hat on his head. Not many of those around anymore. I know where mine is. Mack doesn’t make fire trucks anymore so there won’t be another one. Boy, the one we had sure was a dandy. Forty years on the line. That’s a pretty good record. I hope the new ones last that long. See you around you old double clutcher.

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