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July 19, 2017

1949 American LaFrance Series 700 Pumper.

On July 19, 1975 members of the Centerville-Osterville Fire Department Muster Squad
took the ferry to Vineyard Haven (Tisbury) to pick up this retired 1949 fire truck to serve as a
"Muster Truck." The old truck which would spend the next 42 years on Cape Cod,
taken care of by members of the COMM FD.

Tisbury had established a fire company made up solely of Veterans of WW I in 1919
known as the American Legion Fire Company. Only Veterans of WW I, WW II and subsequent wars
were allowed to be members of the elite company for many years.

They operated an old fire engine for a number of years and in 1949 bought this
brand new 1949 American LaFrance Series 700 500 GPM Pumper which served
in Vineyard Haven from 1949 until about 1974 as Legion Pumper No. 1
and radio number "M-15."

The truck retired in 1974 when a new lime green 1974 Ford / Maynard 750 gpm pumper
replaced the old Legion Pumper.

It was then been purchased by a private owner on this Island  and operated pumping at a bog. 
Unfortunately it sat outside and was pretty faded and needed some TLC at the time the C&O Volunteers
purchased it to serve as a department Muster Truck, competing for over 10 years on the Cape & Islands.

The C&O members raised money with yard sales, pancake breakfasts, car washes and
donations to get the truck painted and lettered.  It had served as "M-15" on the Vineyard
and since the TV show "Emergency!" was very popular at the time the engine was renamed
"Engine 51" by the C&O Fire Department.

It served primarily as a muster truck, providing great training for younger members
and competed actively with other teams across the Cape, Islands, and SE Mass for many years.
While never officially in service as an active fire truck at C&O, the truck was used at
least once when a winter (1977?) rain storm on frozen ground resulted in basements being
flooded.  The hard suction hose from the old LaFrance was poked into the cellar
window and it pumped for several hours removing most of the water from the home.
In recent years it was used to deliver Santa Claus to the annual children's Santa Day
and also attended parades and fund raising events. 

On July 19, 2017 (42 years to the day!) the old muster truck was driven back to Woods Hole
where members of the Tisbury Fire Department's Legion Engine Company met the
truck and brought it home to Vineyard Haven.

COMM Firefighters Association (formerly C&O Volunteers, Inc.) President Bob O'Melia
drove the truck to Woods Hole where Tisbury Legion Captain Nicky Fullin and Lt Darren
Welch took the wheel and drove the pumper onto the ferry.  Upon reaching the Island
the old truck was met with much fanfare.  Well deserved!


Members of the Legion Pumper hope to return the engine to its original look
with "Legion No. 1" to be proudly displayed on the door once again.


Chuck Schneckloth joined the C&O Muster Team when he was about 17 years old.
He came to the station to see it off on July 19, 2017.

Retired Lt. Britton Crosby made the trip on July 19, 1975 at age 16 to pick up the truck
and was able to follow it to Woods Hole to see it board the ferry on July 19, 2017.

President Bob O'Melia got the honor of being the last C&O member to drive the old LaFrance.

COMM Firefighters Association President Bob O'Melia with
Tisbury Legion Lt. Darren Welch and Captain Nicky Fullin
at Woods Hole.


The old American LaFrance shown here when still serving in Vineyard Haven c. 1960s.