When we brought home Tanker 6 in the summer of 2006 Tanker 4 was moved out back. From there it responded to a few more fire calls. As the chill of fall came upon us it was decided to drain the tank one last time and retire the old girl once and for all. We moved the dump tank rack to Tanker 2 and the ladders to Tanker 6. We removed the radio, red lights, siren, hose, nozzles, etc. Tanker 4 was done.
Tanker 4 has served our department and the residents of Indian Creek township for over 25 years. It had been purchased from Shawswick Fire Department and had their greenish-yellowish color...hence its nickname of 'Old Green'.
It's kind of sad to see old fire trucks go, especially on small departments. Trucks are often hand-me-downs, require more maintenance than normal, and the work is usually done by the firefighters. You cuss at them when they tear up, fix them, then pat them on the fender when they're ready to go again.
Over the years since I've been on the department we've completed several projects on Tanker 4:
- We installed a dump valve system we got for free from Owensburg Fire Department. It was a major job as it required putting a 6" pipe under the tank and connecting it to the 5 separate compartments. While we were doing this we cut holes in the baffles so we had one big tank. This allowed the tank to vent from one air source and dump faster. This also uncovered several rust holes in the tank. We literally applied gallons of JB Weld to patch the tank. Miraculously, it has held all these years.I did several electrical upgrades to the truck. We added grille lights and a flasher to flash all the emergency lights. I powered all the emergency lights through relays, added a fast idle solenoid, and rewired the siren and radio to operate when the key was on. Previously, people would accidentally leave things on and kill the battery. We upgraded the alternator, added an auxiliary battery, and turned it into a first rate old tanker.
During the timeframe between getting Tanker 2 in 1998 and completing our station addition in 2000 Tanker 4 was housed in my garage. I got used to driving it when most people didn't want to. Everyone rushed to drive Tanker 2 and I'd hop in Old Green. It was slow, underpowered, cold natured, and scary loose to drive but it served us well.
There's something magical and special about firetrucks. You always remember the trucks that were there when you joined the department as a newbie. New or old, fancy or not, they take us into battle against the fire. For the past almost 17 years I've spent many good hours under the hood of Tanker 4 with family and friends fixing problems and making it better.
When driving Tanker 4 water would splash out of the vents and pool in the walkways. As the truck came to a stop the water would rush forward and splash the side of the cab. Many good people have had their arms soaked when the windows were down. Such a playful truck.
Good bye, Old Green.