Classic fire truck is Christmas hero ride

December 22, 2017 GMT

Whether it evokes the image of a Holiday parade or memories of the rescue after an unfortunate wintertime triple dog dare in “The Christmas Story”, classic fire trucks are often the ideal Christmas hero ride.

Believe it or not, though, when the first self-propelled pumper was introduced to New York City in 1841, the firefighters themselves sabotaged it, seeing it as a threat, and engine powered apparatuses weren’t really brought back into the fold in the United States again until the early 1900s. The transition still wasn’t easy, though, and in San Francisco, California, in 1912, they even had a race between the new motor-powered engine and the city’s fastest horse-drawn engine to test the speed and efficiency of the modern advancement. As you can imagine, the horse-drawn engine lost the race by taking almost twice the time as the new motor-powered engine did to arrive and to extinguish a controlled blaze.

SPAAMFAA is the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America, a car club for those who love vintage and antique fire engines. The group has a large membership, and has a chapter covering the Houston area, the Gulf Coast Chapter. Those in the know often refer to these iconic machines in their proper vernacular, calling them “pumpers” or “apparatus” instead of the more layman terms of “fire truck” or even “fire engine”.

SPAAMFAA member Justin Correa is, like many of the club’s members, a firefighter himself. He said that fact was a major help in convincing his soon-to-be wife, Caitlin, that this 1977 American LaFrance Century 1000 Series pumper would be the perfect restoration project to tackle together. The truck had formerly been in service as Engine 2 in Denton, Texas, before it made its way to Correa, who saved it and brought the rig home to Plantersville, Texas, where he and his future wife live. It was just earlier this year that it was on its way to the scrap yard, with only days to spare, when Correa took ownership of it. It was not running and in rough shape mechanically, but once it was at his house, Correa’s father, an auto mechanic, got to work.

Correa said he has been “slowly bringing her back to life.”

It wasn’t too long before it was running well enough to take a cruise in a local Plantersville parade, its first public outing since its revival. Correa and his fiancé, an elementary school teacher, are now looking forward to the future they have ahead for themselves, and for the apparatus.

“We are hoping to save up enough money to have it painted before our wedding in October of 2018, so we can ride away on her,” he said.

Their visions go a lot further than just their special day, though, as he lays out their idea for the rig.

“After the wedding we plan on using it for fire education for kids, weddings, parades, birthday parties and other events,” said Correa.

Continuing their mission to help and serve others, it looks like they have a great road to share ahead.

Happy Holidays to you all.

To submit your custom or classic ride to be considered for a feature in a future “Heidi’s Customs & Classics” article, send information and images to Heidi at HeidisCustomsAndClassics@gmail.com. Heidi Van Horne is an author, artist and media personality with more than 25 years’ experience in the entertainment industry and the car culture community. She has written about cars for the Houston Chronicle and Hearst Media since 2008 and is currently working on her first book about women in the automotive and motorcycle world and their rides.