A small group of people were on hand for the unveiling of a restored 1924 Model T fire truck Tuesday evening in the plaza of the Monroe City Building and were not disappointed after seeing it.
After it was unveiled, Christina McElfresh, president of the Monroe Historical Society said what many were thinking, “I think it’s awesome.”
The Model T fire truck had been in storage at the Monroe Historical Society before the decision was made to restore it, Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mascarella said.
After the 2015 Fourth of July parade, firefighters took the truck apart to begin its restoration work.
The two-year, $15,000 restoration project was funded completely through donations, according to Mascarella.
Firefighters kept the restoration work under wraps until the unveiling Tuesday night.
“This (project) has surpassed my expectations,” said Fire Chief John Centers.
Mascarella said most pieces of the original fire engine where able to be reused, 100 percent of the original bodies steel was able to be reused along with close to 80 percent of the wood on the vehicle. The only wood that was replaced was the wooden running boards as the battery sits on the running board and had rotted this wood as well as the tailboard.
Nearly everything works on the fire truck including the bell and siren.
“It’s a labor of love for the guys,” Mascarella said. “We’re glad that it’s done so that the citizens of Monroe can enjoy it.”
Mascarella said firefighters looked far and wide as they scrounged to find original parts and equipment from that time period.
One donation included a fire extinguisher that still had an inspection tag dated from 1941.
Mascarella said he bought some ladders from a collector in Mason who bought them at an auction.
As it turned out, the ladders were once owned by the city of Norwood fire department. Mascarella said he knew Norwood was working on a restoration project of its own and contacted them only to find they had been looking for those ladders for the past 35 years. An arrangement among the departments was made to acquire ladders from a person in Okeana.
“It’s very close to what it originally looked like,” he said. “It’s neat to drive because you can feel the history and it gets attention when it’s on the road.”
Mascarella said the Model T fire truck will continue to be used for parades and events and will be housed at Station 62 on Ohio 4 until the fall when it will return to the historical society.
“It’s beautiful,” said Mike Grimes, a former association member and a longtime Butler County deputy sheriff. “Back in the day, we spent a lot of time keeping it running. We had a lot of older fellows back then who were familiar with the equipment.”
McElfresh said, “This is a piece of our history to be treasured for years to come. This is a true labor of love and the community doesn’t know how lucky we are to have it.”