Throw Back Thursday - First New Piece of Apparatus at McKay's Beach VFD
By Vice President Michael (Mike) Roberts
April 27, 2023

This was Engine 62, the first new piece of apparatus owned and paid for by the McKay’s Beach VFD in 1952. It was a 1952 Ford with an American 500 gallons per minute front mounted pump. It carried 500 gallons of water and had dual booster line reels on the top with big pistol grip nozzles.

A few interesting and somewhat humorous stories I heard that involve this particular apparatus are as follows;

Robert Lynch told me this story about former member Al Franks. Mr. Franks was a member when the Department was still located at McKay’s Beach. Since he was retired, and lived very close by, he was one of the main drivers, particularly during the daytime. Mr. Franks had retired from the District of Columbia Transit Service, where he spent many years driving a bus in Washington DC. Mr. Lynch said that Mr. Franks was so good, he could shift gears without engaging the clutch on that unsynchronized manual transmission.
Some of the members back then (Knott brothers, Russell’s brothers) lived on or off of what is now Blake Creek Road, or near Hobbs Corner (Bailey & Betty Russell’s). They used to keep several sets of firefighting gear on the back of the truck. When the fire siren blew, Mr. Franks would go to the firehouse, get the information on the call, and head out. As he approached the “pick up” locations, he would slow the truck down enough so that whomever he was picking up could jump up onto the tailboard, but he never stopped.

Another story relayed to me by the late Puggy Russell went like this. About the mid-1960s, when the Department had received the 1965 Mack pumper in a white over red paint scheme, they had decided to paint all of the apparatus the same. Engine 62 had come from the factory painted a dark shade of red, closer to a maroon color. So, it was arranged to have the top part of the engine painted white. Puggy was the Chief at the time, and Mr. Robert Dean Sr. was President. So, they had it painted, and the story goes that the following morning, Chief Puggy and Mr. Dean showed up together to take a look at the paint job.
To their surprise, and dismay, the top part, instead of being white, was pink! Apparently, the dark red had bled through the fresh white paint. Eventually they were able to get it straight.

Around 1974/75, with another new Mack pumper scheduled to arrive in the Fall of 1975, Engine 62 was sold to the Ridge VFD. I have no knowledge of where this old piece went to after it left Ridge. Having joined in 1970, I have many fond memories of riding to many fires on the tailboard of old Engine 62, especially the marsh fires on St. George’s Island.