Trucks of old

‘Antique Fire Apparatus Muster’
will take a look at the past

The unusual display
will take place at Fireman’s Park

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

Madison Bicentennial Logo

(June 2009) – Frank Taff is passionate about the history of the Madison Fire Department. And rightly so-as a volunteer fireman since 1974, he has witnessed technological improvements that have made his job a whole lot easier.
Taff became a volunteer fireman “to serve my community,” he said, and has “never regretted it.” He is a member of Walnut Street Fire Co. No. 4.
Years of experience has enabled him to become chair of a new event, the Madison Indiana Bicentennial Fire Muster. Taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 6, this event will be “a collection and display of antique fire apparatus,” he said. The event is being hosted by the Madison Volunteer Fire Department and the Madison Bicentennial Committee. The collection will contain approximately 20 apparatus, ranging from newer units that are no longer in service to the oldest, still surviving units.
“This is the first attempt to have this event for the community,” said Taff of the muster that will fittingly be held at Fireman’s Park on the corner of Jefferson Street and Vaughn Drive.

Frank Taff

Photo by Tara Gentile

“Muster” organizer Frank Taff poses
beside this Ahrens Fox-City Service
Ladder Truck that arrived at the
Walnut Street Fire Co. No. 4 station in
Madison on May 20, 1929.

“The Bicentennial has the broadest participation of any community event in my memory,” said Laura Hodges, Marketing-Events Coordina-tor for the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce and also marketing coordinator for the Bicentennial. Hodges said the Muster is a good example of this participation. “Frank Taff and his colleagues saw an opportunity to share their firefighting history with us and they followed through with this excellent event.”
One special truck Taff will have on display will be a 1929 Ahrens Fox-City Service Ladder Truck, which the Madison Fire Department purchased new for $8,000. When it was decided that a replacement truck was needed by 1953, two pigs were raised and fattened behind the firehouse to sell to help pay for this expense. The 1929 model was sold at raffle in October 1953 and re-purchased by the department in March 2005.
A pumping demonstration will also be held at the river’s edge as part of the Muster, said Taff. In addition to the display of fire apparatus, fire memorabilia will be for sale.
Many of the antique apparatus is privately owned by individuals, said Taff. He has invited current apparatus throughout the county and Madison to take part in the Muster.
“Madison is very proud of its volunteer firefighters, who have played a crucial role in preserving lives and historic buildings,” Hodges said. The Madison Indiana Bicentennial Fire Muster will “spotlight both the fire equipment and the brave men and women who have volunteered as firefighters during our history.”
The event will “allow collectors the opportunity to show off with pride their apparatus and give the general public an idea of the history behind them,” Taff said. Trucks will be coming from northern Kentucky, southern Indiana and southern Ohio.
Taff said that if he can display 20 trucks, he’ll consider the event a success. He has provisions for 50, but a national convention for fire collectors will be held the following month in Indianapolis that may hinder collectors from bringing fire apparatus to Madison in June who don’t want to go through any added expense of hauling the trucks to another location.
Open houses will also be held from 1 a.m. to 3 p.m. at all Madison volunteer firehouses on Saturday-Sunday, June 6-7.

• For more information about the Madison Indiana Bicentennial Fire Muster, contact Frank Taff at (812) 265-3762 or ftaff@verizon.net.

Back to June 2009 Articles.



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