LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Friday, for the first time in decades, a Lawton Firefighter found himself behind the wheel of a truck first used by the department in the early 1900s.
"I did get the privilege of driving it out. The breaks don’t work as well as they used to probably,” said Sergeant Kent James.
The truck was one of two pieces of equipment returned home to Lawton Friday after spending decades at the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum. Steve Lumry with the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association said the truck was used from the early 1900s until roughly the 1930s.
"It was used as a first line piece of equipment, they’d go out and extinguish fires. They had this one designed and built to be a chemical truck. What that means is if it was some kind of hazmat incident, at that time gasoline was a really big hazardous material per say. If you could use something other than water to extinguish it, it would go out a lot quicker,” Lumry said.
The other piece of equipment now back in Lawton is a cart, which Lumry said was one of the department’s first pieces of equipment, dating back to the 1850s.
"They used it to haul hose and it was actually hand drawn. Two guys would get on either side of the tongue and they would pull that to wherever the fire was. They would use it to roll hose off of and they would use that hose to pump water to the fire,” Lumry said.
The pieces were unloaded at Fire Station Eight, where the current trucks used by the department tower over the relics of the past. Both Lumry, who is a retired firefighter, and James said keeping the vehicles together offers a glimpse at the past and present.
"If you can look at pieces that help take you back to how it was before you were on the fire service then you can realize how you have arrived where you’re at, where you came from,” Lumry said.
"The fire service has a long history, no matter what part of the history you’re talking about. Bringing this back is just part of the history of us, of who we are, of who we are as a department,” James said.
For the time being, the vehicles will remain at Fire Station Eight but in the future, the department plans on putting them on display at Lawton Central Fire Station, where they were originally housed. The Lawton City Council approved the return of the equipment to the fire department from the museum at a meeting in February.