Tribute to a Key Piece of Bennington History: The Hemmings Loan Department’s First Motorized Fire Truck | Local News
BENNINGTON – History in all its red and gold glory – in this case a 1924 American LaFrance fire truck – is on display at the Bennington Fire Department on River Street.
“This one is a bit special,” said Daniel Strohl of Hemmings Motor News, who loaned the historic truck to the fire department. “It was the first motorized fire truck in Bennington.”
On Friday morning, All-Service Citgo set (volunteered for the project) transported the truck to its new home at the fire station, where visitors can get a close look.
Strohl said the vehicle cost $10,750 when purchased new, making it a very expensive investment – American LaFrance (now owned by Daimler Truck North America) was known for manufacturing high-end fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
Although the fire truck appears to be in mint condition, it has a cracked cylinder block and is not running. And finding a mechanic to fix a 1924 fire truck is no easy task.
For now, the truck will be displayed in front of the fire station at 130 River St. But Strohl said the department hopes to operate the truck and feature in parades.
It’s unclear how long Hemmings has housed Bennington’s fire truck, though Strohl said at least 20 years. More recently, it was kept in the basement, in an area called Sibley Shop, which was open to the public before the pandemic. Strohl said Hemmings hopes to reopen the shop to the public and is looking at other ways to ensure valuable and historic vehicles are available to view.
Moving the American LaFrance truck to the fire department seemed the best fit for this vehicle.
“The fire department was a no-brainer,” he said. “We wanted him to stay in town because he’s so important to Bennington.”
Fire Chief Jim Wright, Deputy Chief Jeff Santarcangelo and Deputy Chief Nathan Berres released a joint statement, saying the department was “grateful and honored to become stewards” of the historic truck.
“There are fire truck collectors all over the country. We thought about talking to one of them,” Strohl said. But given the importance of the vehicle for the city, it was not a serious option. “We’re obviously so happy it’s here at Bennington.”