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Restored fire engine returned to company

August 29, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT

erinc@herald-mail.com

A loud siren shrieked Sunday in Byron Memorial Park. As some young children held their hands over their ears, others beamed with pride.

The fire engine producing the loud blast, a 1929 Seagrave model, had not been in use since the 1950s.

"Sounds pretty good for 76 years old," said Don Bowman, local entrepreneur and chairman of D.M. Bowman Inc.

Six years ago, volunteers from Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co. asked Bowman if his company would restore the engine, he said. The work was done in the company's restoration shop and took employees nearly 4,000 hours to complete, Bowman said.

Work was done to the engine in the 1940s, but it was restored to its 1929 condition, he said. Bowman said much research was done before work began.

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"It looked pretty tired and dull," he said of the engine when he first saw it. "Now, most everything on there is what it looked like when it was new."

Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co. President Jay Grimes drove the engine into the park Sunday during the town's annual C&O Canal Days. His father-in-law drove the engine when it was in service years ago. It was the station's first fire engine.

Before the station paid about $6,500 to purchase it in 1929, Grimes said firefighters had to haul the equipment on push carts to fires and other emergencies.

Grimes said he had trouble in the past finding a place to house the engine. For some time, he paid rent on a garage to store it.

"Some people wanted to get rid of it," he said.

Now, Grimes said, the restored engine will be kept at the fire station and will be used for parades and public events.

"It's history you can't get back once you lose it," he said.

Bowman said he was pleased to return the engine to the fire company.

The engine last saw action in 1948 during a fire on Sunset and Artizan streets in Williamsport. It was put out of use in the 1950s when the station purchased newer equipment.

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