1972 Mack CF refurbed by KME in 2015. (Photos by author.)
I have written many articles in the past on apparatus refurbs, especially for fire departments that are trying to save money on purchasing a new apparatus. I also try to investigate and write stories on unique apparatus from around the country.
Well, I was able to accomplish both for this month’s online column, and to accomplish this I didn’t have to travel far. My home town fire department Holtsville, Long Island (NY) just accomplished a refurb, but the twist of this story is that they did it to preserve some department history.
The Holtsville Farmingville Fire Department was a joint fire department until the early 1970s. It was decided the department should split and the Holtsville Fire Department was formed on its own. The first fire apparatus purchased was a 1972 Mack CF600 engine.
Roy Stillufsen, a former chief and current commissioner, along with his board of fire commissioners, was instrumental in restoring some history. “While new apparatus was purchased through the years, the Mack was never really taken out of service,” Stillufsen says. “In the early 1980s, the pumper was sent to Pierce to be refurbished. It was converted to a top mount from a side-mount pumper.”
“We came up with the idea around 2011 to take the Mack and return it to its original form and use it for parades and funerals in the local area,” Stillufsen continues. “To accomplish this, we looked around and were able to get the original blueprints from the archives of the Antique Truck Historical Society. We also had to find someone who could return the pumper to its original form. Since Mack went out of the fire apparatus business in 1990, we thought it would be hard to find someone to perform the refurb for us. Around 1992, KME bought the assets from Mack’s fire apparatus manufacturing division, specifically their technology, inventory, machinery, and apparatus body construction methods. This was a plus for us since we have dealt with KME for past apparatus purchases.
The Mack was sent to the KME plant in Nesquehoning (PA) in 2013. They were able to make the original sheet metal bends and restore the body to the original side-mount pumper that it was in 1972.
Some other modifications were made as well. They removed the 500-gallon water tank and lowered the hose bed and put in rollers to aid in casket removal if used as a funeral caisson truck. A new pump panel was installed; the pump was reworked and had new packings put in; the engine was reworked with new rings, wiring, and plugs; and the entire vehicle was repainted with new wooden ladders and pike poles installed.
New lights and lettering were installed to finish out the vehicle. “It basically looks like the vehicle when we first purchased it,” Stillufsen says. “It really turned out well. KME did a great job on the refurb. The engine has been used several times this past year at parades and funerals. It really instilled some fire department pride for our members.”
In my many years of being an apparatus buff and shooting numerous fire apparatus photos, I never thought of a Mack CF as being an antique, but as time has passed and as we all get a little older so do our memories of certain fire apparatus.
The Holtsville Fire Department did a great job of preserving history with the refurbishment of this Mack pumper and giving its younger members a glimpse of the past.