1948 Fire Engine Returns Home to Strongsville
Coincidence and donation bring old pumper back where it started
Lt. Pat Greco remembers the old 1948 American La France pumper from when he started as a Strongsville firefighter in 1980.
It wasn't used often, but it was a back-up unit for major commercial fires.
"I drove it about six times to fires," Greco recalled. "It was quite an experience to drive it."
Then it was finally retired and sold. No one thought much about it.
Until this summer, that is, when Greco, who plans to retire in the fall, was shopping for a boat. He was checking one out at Battery Park Marina in Sandusky when a white truck caught his eye.
He went over and was shocked to see "Strongsville" written on it.
"I said, 'oh my gosh, that's our truck,'" he said.
The marina bought it sometime in the 1990s on eBay, filled the tank with antifreeze and used it to winterize boats.
Greco approached the boat brokerage manager, Dave Selz, who asked owner John Pfeiffer about it.
"They said they'd be happy to return the truck to Strongsville -- and donate it," he said.
Selz said when Greco saw the truck, "it was like he was seeing an old girlfriend."
He and Pfieffer talked about returning the truck to Strongsville and "we just decided, why not?"
"Pat was more excited about the fire truck than he was about the boat he was buying," Selz said.
Next, Greco plans to ask local civic groups to partner with the department to get the truck "refurbished back to its original beauty." It would then be displayed and used in parades.
It's actually the start of a long-term project, if Greco has his way.
"I'd like for this to be the catalyst for creating a fire museum for Strongsville," he said.
Greco wants to build a small vintage station, like the one that was here in the 1920s, that would house plaques, pictures, old fire equipment and memorabilia.
For now, though, he's just happy the truck has come full circle and is back where it started.
"When it left, we were thrilled to see it go because it meant we were getting something new," he said. "And now we're thrilled to have it back."