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Mar 7, 2017 2:53 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Fire Department Raising Money To Restore 1912 Fire Truck

The first motorized fire truck purchased by the Southampton Village Fire Department. COURTESY CRAIG RAYNOR
Mar 7, 2017 3:06 PM

The Southampton Village Fire Department is raising money to make repairs to its century-old motorized ladder truck—the department’s first.

The truck, built by the Elmira manufacturer American LaFrance, was purchased by the department in 1912, a time when firefighters in the department were still using horse-drawn or hand-drawn apparatuses, explained firefighter Craig Raynor, who sits on the department’s antique truck committee. It was a “demonstrator,” meaning it was fully loaded with all of the “modern” features available at the time in a new motorized truck.

Over the years—with the help of Southampton resident Henry Austin Clark, a car collector and the founder of the now-defunct Long Island Automotive Museum, which had been located on County Road 39 near the intersection with Sandy Hollow Road in Southampton—the fire department rehabilitated and restored the truck while keeping it as close as possible to its condition when it first rolled into the village.

It is particularly significant that the truck was kept by the village, Mr. Raynor pointed out, because when the United States entered World War II in 1941, a lot of outdated trucks were taken apart so their parts could be melted down and made into bullets and other parts to help in the war.

It’s unclear how much the department originally paid for the American LaFrance truck. Over the years, he estimates that the department has put some $50,000 into keeping the truck running.

The department is working to raise money to replace the heads on the four-cylinder engine inside the historic truck. Mr. Raynor said he expects the work to cost a total of between $12,000 and $13,000. He explained that while each head costs only about $5,500 to replace, in order to have an authentic restoration, old tools from the early 1900s must be used for the installation.

On Saturday, the Southampton Village Fire Department held its second annual Comedy Show to raise money to help with the restoration of the truck. Mr. Raynor said the show received a good turnout, noting that they raised a little more than $1,000.

The village also has four other antique fire trucks: a 1915 T Ford Chief Car, a 1937 GMC fire truck, a 1939 Ford Maxim and a 1941 Mack pumper truck.

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As this truck is important to the village's fire department history in many ways, I'd also like to know if this is the same truck that was involved in the unfortunate accident in 1918 when Nathan Cooper Howell, a department founder, slipped when trying to get on a running board of a fire truck during an Armistice Day parade on Main St. Tragically, he died after being run over by the rear wheel. Anyone know if this is that same truck? Maybe a remembrance can be added to the vehicle?
By Rickenbacker (233), Southampton on Mar 8, 17 4:37 PM
There is a small memorial for Nathan Cooper Howell in the Windmill Lane Firehouse.
By 75Shovel (15), Southampton on Mar 8, 17 7:37 PM
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